It's already snowed three times in the Twin Cities so I'm extra glad to have escaped to the Chicago suburbs and then Louisville for the last week and a half where it's much warmer. This may be a theme in the coming months.
Read and Reading
Many people are comparing The Heart's Invisible Furies (Boyne) to A Prayer For Owen Meany (my all-time favorite novel) and I see why. It very much has a John Irving vibe and the characters are so uniquely weird in their own way. At the same time, it stands on its own as an epic tale. The cruelty shown toward gay men in Ireland, particularly in the 50s and 60s as Cyril grew up, was staggering. We clearly see why Cyril became the way he did. He was timid as a child due to his unconventional adoptive parents and he remains timid as an adult, regularly veering into cowardice. But even his cowardice is understandable when his sexuality is viewed as a threat. At some point, however, we have to own up to our actions and Cyril makes sizable mistakes and runs from them. This sets him up to become a better man but his actions still have consequences for him and others. The exploration of this over the course of many years had me in complete thrall. I loved Cyril, even when he disappointed me, and I wanted him to be happy, as much as I wanted him to do better. The Heart's Invisible Furies broke my heart and mended it back together. The character growth was phenomenal and I could have kept reading for many more pages. A masterpiece through and through.
Reading The Firebird cemented the fact that I really must make my way through Susanna Kearsley's entire backlist as soon as possible. I was enthralled while reading this! From Nicola and Rob's psychic abilities to the way the Jacobite revolution is connected in the past storyline to what a dreamboat Rob is, I could not get enough of this story. I had no idea Jacobites were in Russia so I learned a ton via the past storyline. Sometimes when you're reading a past-present novel, you're more into one storyline but in this case, they both held my attention. Reading about Anna's upbringing and how she ultimately landed in Russia (and then met swoon-worthy Ned) was fascinating. There were a few twists that really brought out the angst and I was here for it, especially because of how Kearsley brought it all together. Reading about Rob and Nicola trying to piece together Anna's past and learn the origin of an artifact was equally compelling, especially because of their psychic abilities. Rob was so good for Nicola and I loved how he forced her to figure out more of her ability. The two of them together was magical. I could not get enough of either storyline and I was genuinely sad when it ended because I wasn't ready to say goodbye to the characters.
They Both Die At The End (Silvera) was surprisingly lighthearted and compelling for a novel about two teenage boys who, as the title states, are going to die at the end. It's really about Mateo learning to live for the very first time and about Rufus making peace with tragic events in his life. Watching Mateo and Rufus evolve from complete strangers to friends to the promise of something more was life-giving. The writing was perfection, both deft and beautiful. I didn't want to stop reading it but I also needed to know what would happen. Was there any way the title could be wrong? The way Silvera brought it all together was moving and I could not have imagined a better way to handle the plot. Did I tear up at points? Yes. Did it make me think about what I would do if I knew this was my last day? Yes. But it also made me consider our limitations and hang ups in a new light. This is the kind of YA everyone should read.
“Are you happy with your life?” An abductor asks Jason Dessen this question in Dark Matter (Crouch) and his life is never the same again. We probably have all wondered at some point about what might have happened if we hadn’t made this decision or that. But how would we react if we were yanked from our reality and thrust into another? This novel blew my ever-loving mind and I say that as someone who doesn't normally read science fiction. I was hooked within pages and could not stop thinking about the idea of a multiverse. I couldn’t read fast enough. The ending was a small letdown (as if the author painted himself into a corner and didn't know what else to do) but the rest? Extraordinary.
American King (Simone) cemented New Camelot's status as one of my favorite series. If you read romance, you simply have to read it, even if it's out of your comfort zone. With American King, we finally get Ash's perspective on present events, as well as past events that we've seen through Greer or Embry's eyes. Let me tell you: it exceeded all of my hopes and expectations. Ash is such a beautifully complicated man. The character growth across this trilogy was tremendous. Each character really came into their own. I love each one of them so much and I especially love them as a three. There was so much pain and angst amidst the beauty and love. I cried a lot while reading this because I could not see how a HEA would be possible given the circumstances and because Ash has been through so much and I only wanted good things for him and our Greer and Embry. Plus, the way the Arthurian legend itself figures into the plot was amazing. I love a good retelling and I am in love with how Sierra made it her own. I was surprised to learn a menage King Arthur retelling totally fits within the actual legend but the way Greer, Embry, and Ash came alive in the page, it makes total sense. I felt so much hope and happiness and completion when I finished reading. It was everything!!!
Heads up: Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine is one of December's Book Of The Month selections! This is one of my favorite novels I've read this year and definitely worth picking- or joining BOTM for. I want everyone to read it! Also, if you gift a subscription to BOTM, you'll get a free book yourself.
Currently reading: Write Naked: A Bestseller's Secrets to Writing Romance and Navigating the Path to Success (Probst), What Happened (Clinton), Divine Intuition (Robinson), This Is Where You Belong (Warnick), The Bourbon Kings (Ward), The Gentleman's Guide To Vice And Virtue (Lee), You Are A Badass (Sincero)
Listen to the What I'm Into playlist.
I loved Overdue's discussions of A Wrinkle In Time and The Great Gatsby. I've never read Ender's Game and don't plan on it but their discussion of the novel and the way they wrestle with their feelings about it in light of the author's bigotry made for fascinating listening.
What Lisa Ling Regrets on Death, Sex, and Money was thought provoking on so many levels. I only wish it had been a longer episode!
Penny Reid's interview on Women With Books Podcast was so, so good. I adore her!
I loved how many White Sox fans were representing at Code Switch's live show in Chicago. Also there was a great discussion of Chicago neighborhoods and gentrification.
If you want to learn more about the transgender experience, I highly recommend Smartest Person In The Room's interview with Bethany Cole.
I am still freaked out by Reply All episode #109: Is Facebook Spying On You?
- My friend Chris Ann brought me back Irish Breakfast tea from Crumpet when she visited Seattle. So thoughtful!
- Organizing Chris Ann's bookshelves. This is my kind of helping.
- Which then inspired me to really organize my own small bookcase (pictured above.) I have such limited book storage that I use it for the books I'm prioritizing reading...which still manages to fill both shelves easily. Hoping I can knock a bunch of these out before the end of the year!
- Sarah and I went on a Little Free Library tour in her neighborhood. It was incredible!
- Gretchen and I had a great dinner at Lago Tacos and then we saw the delightful play Miss Bennet: Christmas At Pemberley at Jungle Theater. It was so funny and heartwarming! If you live in the Twin Cities and you enjoy Jane Austen, you definitely need to see it.
- My aunt and uncle hosted Thanksgiving and as nice as it was to see everyone, the real highlight is when they introduced me to their cat Lucy. Apparently, Lucy isn't keen on many people but she snuggled right up in my arms and was the sweetest thing ever with gorgeous green eyes. One of these days I'm going to get my own cat.
- Writing date with Ellie at Starbucks. It's so helpful to have built-in accountability whenever I'm back in my hometown.
- Unexpectedly great finds at the ongoing library book sale in the alcove.
- Decorating for Christmas with my parents.
- Introducing my mom to Prairie Path Books. I love that bookstore!
- The amazing food at Pita Pita and unending conversation with Laura.
- Visiting Will, Anne, and the kids in Louisville for the week. I like that we can go visit places but we're just as content to sit in a room reading together. My kind of pals.
In the Blogosphere:
You can find the best of what I've been reading at Storify.
#12daysofbookstagram Day 2: book stack
Trick question: how many books is too many books when you’re going out of town for a week and a half? (Not pictured: my Nook with 10 ARCs and a bajillion ebooks as back up.) #booknerd #bookstack#LeighReads #bookstagram
(If you want to follow me on Instagram, my user name is leighkramer.)
On The Blog:
(The best way to see updates in your newsfeed is by liking and commenting on my posts regularly.)
What I'm Into Link Up Guidelines:
1. Today’s link-up will stay open for one week. The next What I'm Into link up- the last of 2017!- will be Tuesday January 2.
2. Link the unique URL of your post, not your blog's home page. Readers peruse link ups months after the fact and you want to make it easy for them to find your What I'm Into post.
4. Visit at least 2 other posts in the linkup!
What have you been into this month?
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