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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. 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,
  2. 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.
  3. 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!
  4. Thanks for the recommendation, @Kareni. I'm not quite ready for another starship story as I just finished the first in the Expanse series, Leviathan Wakes. I thought it was a very fun page turner, but am not motivated to jump into the rest of the series. Holden is such an annoying main character.... I never reported on my reading this week, but other than finishing Leviathan Wakes there isn't much to talk about. I'm halfway through a surreal Irish novel called Beatlebone. The premise is that John Lennon in 1978 decides he needs to escape to a tiny private island he owns off the west coast of Ireland. He wants to go for 3 days for some serious primal scream therapy, but I'm not sure he will ever make it. His driver is taking him on a magical mystery tour of Mayo county and has them hanging out with and drinking with all sorts of colorful characters. It is good, but very stream of consciousness, with no quotation marks for dialogue and most paragraphs just being a sentence or two. @mumto2 I'm glad you enjoyed Almost Sisters. I've looked at other books by the author but can't bring myself to try any of them as they are all family sagas.
  5. Comic-Con weekend takes over our lives every year, but I only actually attended one day this year. It is the first time in, oh, 20 years, that I came home from comic-con without a single new book. Which is fine as I have too many unread books around the house, but it is odd! My reading (listening actually) has me firmly in the grips of pop culture, though. I've been getting a big kick out of the first title in the Expanse series, Leviathan Wakes. Great literature it ain't. But it is a great summer page turner. I've watched the first episode of the Amazon Prime series, but wasn't as captivated by it as many people are. The show was heavily promoted at Comic-Con. Still working on Mozart's Starling, a delightful non-fiction about starlings ( the birds) with a bit about Mozart too. And I'll be starting an Irish title just came off the hold list. Beatlebone by Kevin Barry is a novel, often described as being surreal, set in West Ireland imagining John Lennon living on a private island there in 1978. But my house is still consumed by all things pop culture announced at Comic-Con, from the Marvel movies to the new Star Trek Picard series. My boys were extra delighted this afternoon to help me set up the computer game Portal. The way to make millenials happy is to enter their world, even if it is a virtual world!
  6. I'm so sorry the technician was so insensitive and that your dd bruised. Some techs are indeed curt but many more are understanding and kind. If your dd does have thyroid issues, it will mean lots more blood draws as they strive to get the right medication level, so she may need to come up with some coping skills. I HATE needles, so just don't look, and I joke with the technician. I like the idea of asking the intake clerk for the most gentle person working that day. Definitely ask for the thyroid antibody test if they decide to do more blood work. It is, from my experience, the definitive test for Hashimoto's. My TSH was 5+, but had been told for the last 2 years that I had chronic fatigue syndrome, and there was nothing they could do. I was in really bad shape for most of the year til my primary care doc ordered the antibody test. Bingo! Hashimoto's! Between the levothyroxine, a gluten free diet and acupuncture (can't feel those skinny little needles) I am a new woman. More energy and stamina -- a new lease on life!
  7. Awwww, sweetie. I'm just seeing this and want to send you a virtual hug. Been there, done that (difficult mom who is ill, and feeling sandwiched between her and kids). Got the t-shirt. And survived to tell the tale. Positive thoughts and prayers for you, for handling it all with calm reason, for not taking her bait, for steel plated armor to protect yourself from any barbs thrown your way.
  8. I know a couple of you have already read the recent Anthony Horowitz mystery, The Sentence is Murder. I both liked it and disliked it. I liked the mystery, liked several of the characters (the poet was a delightfully unlikable character!) But I found Anthony Horowitz's character (he wrote himself in as a Watson to the detective) to be unnecessarily and annoyingly stupid, far more clueless than a successful mystery author should be. I'm finally joining the bandwagon and have started on the Expanse series with the first one, Leviathan Wakes. It certainly draws you right in, doesn't it?! I'm listening to it and can tell it will be the perfect book for long drives. I have not watched the tv adaptation, but will wait to do so til after getting a few of the books read.
  9. Puffins!!! @mumto2 Will they be gone by late August? Your photos started me thinking that there will be some great bird watching on my trip later this summer.
  10. @mumto2 Those Detective Galileo books look great, and, based on the holds for both the ebooks and print editions around town, very popular. I'm another huge fan of the James Herriot books and of the old tv series from back in the 70s. We have used, on a few occasions, the term "flop bottom" (remember the dog Tricky Woo?) to describe our dog's behavior. I finished a fascinating memoir yesterday, one that ties in with this week's ancients theme. It is An Odyssey: A Father, a Son and an Epic by Daniel Mendelsohn. The author teaches college classics courses, and his dad asks to sit in on the Odyssey course one spring semester. Father and son then take a cruise that follows Odysseus's path back home to Ithaca. It is a lovely story of a son trying to get to know his father, tied in thematically with the Odyssey. It inspired me to pull my copy of the Odyssey off the shelf and to reread sections of it. I also recently finished a book that is outside my usual genre. I tend to avoid the modern fiction sagas of tight knit families who uncover a shocking secret that upends everything. But the Almost Sisters by Joshilyn Jackson was utterly delightful. It is set in the South and is delightfully free of stereotypes as the author herself is a true Southerner. The lead character, a female comic book artist finds herself pregnant after a comic-con one night stand with cosplay Batman, has a great voice in telling us in the story. The comic book and nerd aspects of the book were also delightfully free from stereotype as well. I just started the newest Anthony Horowitz mystery, The Sentence is Death. And I'm about a third of the way through the non-fiction Mozart's Starling, which I put down somewhere around the house...
  11. Look at the small liberal arts colleges listed in "Colleges that Change Lives". Lots of great nerd schools there. My ds graduated from College of Wooster, and had, for a time, 4 separate D&D groups he played with weekly. Thanks to the miracles of the internet, he has continued to DM weekly games with his college buddies, even while he was living in Japan! 3 years post graduation and they still play every Saturday night. I'm trying to remember all their majors -- not a single computer or engineering type in the bunch, though there were 2 geology majors and one chemistry. Maybe the others were history and poli sci? Another avid D&Der I know is in seminary right now, so clearly techies are not the sole population passionate about role playing games! Beloit College, as I recall, had a sci-fi/fantasy dorm. And the great thing about these small schools is that everyone can be involved in anything, from sports to the arts. And they are filled with professors who want to teach and mentor.
  12. Ugh! I made it all the way through cold and flu season with nary a sniffle, but woke up Sunday with a nasty bronchial virus. I'm a useless blob, lying in bed, binge watching the first season of Outlander on Netflix (I had read the first book in the series) and re=listening to favorite audio books. I finished Bear and the Nightingale last night around 3am. Why does insomnia come with being sick?!! Has anyone read the next two books that follow Bear and the NIghtingale?
  13. @Kareni It was only one book that I wanted to hurl in disgust! We have many books in common and you are my fellow Goblin Emperor re-reader!!
  14. OK, I'm going to show my age again. With every mention of the Linesman books, the opening line of the Glenn Campbell song, Wichita Lineman, just pops in my head. "I am a lineman for the county..." Ahem. Perhaps I should read the book and substitute imagery from that for 1960s pop songs....
  15. Hello everyone!! I've been AWOL, but have a good explanation. DH and I were in Seattle for the better part of a week -- he had some work for a couple of days then we played tourist. What made it extra fun is that some friends who grew up in the area were there the same time, and took advantage of us being tourists to revisit the Space Needle for the first time in 20 years. It made for a terrific afternoon. I read another Sebastian St Cyr mystery on the plane going and coming, the 7th title [insert correct interrogative here] Maidens Mourn. When? Why? Where? I can't remember, but it was another delightful entry in the series. I always look forward to reading her historical notes at the end as she does a great job of weaving the historical with her own made up details and characters. I'm part way through the audio version of The Almost Sisters by Joshilyn Jackson, and am really enjoying it. It starts out with a woman comic book artist getting drunk with cos-play Batman at a convention....and winding up pregnant. It isn't farce, but it is sharp and witty, though things are about to take a turn. In fact, I'm itching to get back to my hand quilting so I can continue listening! I bought a couple of books at Elliot Bay Books in Seattle, both of which I've started. One is Mozart's Starling by Lyanda Lynn Haupt. I read her Rare Encounters with Ordinary Birds earlier this year and just love her writing. The other is a truly niche book. It is Murakami discussing music with symphony conductor Seiji Ozawa. They are sitting in Murakami's house, pulling out titles from his prodigious record collection, listening to them and discussing them. I wish it was an audio book with the actual music clips!! I am giddy with delight that to hear that the next Horowitz murder mystery is out!!! My ds and I both love him, having discovered him through the Sherlock Holmes mysteries he wrote. And though I'm a California girl, the West Texas vet book sounds great! Consider yourselves all "liked" as I may not have stopped to click on each message!
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