Caramellunacy's TBR Excavations - 2022

Diskutera2022 ROOT CHALLENGE

Bara medlemmar i LibraryThing kan skriva.

Caramellunacy's TBR Excavations - 2022

Redigerat: okt 26, 2022, 6:28 am

Greetings excavation enthusiasts!

After a successful (though limited) 2021 season, I am happy to report that we have secured the backing to continue the digsite at Mt. TBR! Given current difficulties, the goal for the excavation will remain low in terms of artefacts, and I will separately be keeping track of de-accessioned artifacts under the Spoils Heap below.

As always, I appreciate all your support for these excavations. Happy digging!


Spoils Heap:


Redigerat: dec 31, 2022, 7:02 am

Artefacts Excavated in 2022
Catalogue Note: Items listed in italics below are exhibits on loan (library) or ephemera (digital) and therefore are not being counted for purposes of this excavation as the intention is to work through the physical digsite. Items listed in bold are the exhibit of the month (favorite read). (Monthly Total/Overall Total). Items with * have Fieldnotes in thread.

January - (8/8)
*1. Shiny Broken Pieces - Sona Charaipotra & Dhonielle Clayton
*Love, Hate & Other Filters - Samira Ahmed
*2. It Ends With Us - Colleen Hoover
Hearts Unbroken - Cynthia Leitich Smith
Loveboat, Taipei - Abigail Hing Wen
We Keep the Dead Close - Becky Cooper

3. The Girl Who Knew Too Much - Amanda Quick
*Call Me Maybe - Cara Bastone (audio)

February - (10/18)
*In a Holidaze - Christina Lauren
Tuesday Mooney Talks to Ghosts
*Spoiler Alert - Olivia Dade
Uncharted - Adriana Anders (e-book)
People We Meet on Vacation - Emily Henry
The Red Notebook - Antoine Laurain

*4. Walking the Amazon - Ed Stafford
5. Fup - Jim Dodge
All the Feels - Olivia Dade
*The Girl Who Played with Fire - Stieg Larsson

March - (10/28)
Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake - Alexis Hall
*6. The Perfect Love Song - Patti Callahan Henry
*The Whistler - John Grisham
*7. Easy - Tammara Webber
8. Expedition Whydah - Barry Clifford
The Witness - Nora Roberts
9. Pride & Premeditation - Tirzah Price
The Uninvited - Heather Graham
10. Day of Deliverance - Johnny O'Brien
The Great Soul of Siberia - Sooyong Park

April - (5/33)
The Pillars of the Earth - Ken Follett
The Inheritance Games - Jennifer Lynn Barnes

11. The Book of the Seven Delights - Betina Krahn
Infamous - Suzanne Brockmann
*12. Better Nate Than Ever - Tim Federle

May - (8/41)
A Woman of No Importance - Sonia Purnell
One of Us is Lying - Karen M. McManus

13. The Love Hypothesis - Ali Hazelwood
Educated - Tara Westover
*14. Fleshmarket - Nicola Morgan
*15. The Marriage Ring - Cathy Maxwell
16. Code Name Verity - Elizabeth Wein
17. Something Wilder - Christina Lauren

June - (8/49)
Boyfriend Material - Alexis Hall
*The Riddle of the Labyrinth: The Quest to Crack and Ancient Code and the Uncovering of a Lost Civilisation - Margalit Fox
Six of Crows - Leigh Bardugo
The Hawthorne Legacy - Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Death Comes to Bath - Catherine Lloyd
I Wanna Be Where You Are - Kristina Forest
A Trip of One's Own - Kate Wills
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest - Stieg Larsson

July - (5/54)
Heartstopper, Vol. 1 - Alice Oseman
*The Wit and Wisdom of Bridgerton - Julia Quinn
*The Murder Rule - Dervla McTiernan
The Trouble with Emma - Katie Oliver

18. Wicked Intentions - Elizabeth Hoyt

August - (13/67)
*The Summer I Turned Pretty - Jenny Han
*Empire of Pain - Patrick Radden Keefe
Heartstopper, Vol. 2 - Alice Oseman
*It's Not Summer Without You - Jenny Han
*We'll Always Have Summer - Jenny Han

*19. Carnet de Voyage - Craig Thompson
*The Adventures of Maud West, Lady Detective - Susannah Stapleton
The Appeal - Janice Hallett
All Our Hidden Gifts - Caroline O'Donoghue

20. Flood Child - Emily Diamand
*21. Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops - Jen Campbell
*22. Kingdom by the Sea - Kathryn Le Veque
23. Squire - Sara Alfageeh & Nadia Shammas

September - (6/73)
Size 12 is Not Fat - Meg Cabot
The Twyford Code - Janice Hallett

24. Master Thieves - Stephen Kurkjian
25. The Ink-Black Heart - Robert Galbraith
The Uncommon Reader - Alan Bennett
The Windsor Knot - SJ Bennett

October - (12/85)
A Three Dog Problem - SJ Bennett
The Hunting Party - Lucy Foley
*Nightwork - Nora Roberts
Future Perfect - Suzanne Brockmann

*26. Perfect Shot - Debbie Rigaud
*27. Killer Insight - Victoria Laurie
The Tale of Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle - Beatrix Potter
The Tailor of Gloucester - Beatrix Potter

*28. Ripper - Amy Carol Reeves
American Predator - Maureen Callahan
*29. A Touch of Chardonnay - Pamela Gibson
*30. Maid Marian - Elsa Watson

November (15/100)
*31. L.A. Requiem - Robert Crais
*32. Tutu Much - Airin Emery
*33. When You Were Here - Daisy Whitney
*Grave Reservations - Cherie Priest
*My Friend Anna - Rachel DeLoache Williams

*34. Wolves in Winter - Lisa Hilton
Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry - Joya Goffney
*The Judge's List - John Grisham
*35. Adventures in the Screentrade - William Goldman
*36. My Life as a Snow Bunny - Kaz Delaney
*Revenge of the Librarians - Tom Gauld
Station Eleven - Emily St John Mandel
One of Us Is Next - Karen McManus
Better Than the Movies - Lynn Painter

*37. A Little Bit Psychic - Aimee Avery

December (8/108)
Nothing More to Tell - Karen McManus
38. Stump Your Lawyer! - Howard Zaharoff
*39. The Winter Queen - Amanda McCabe
*40. Texas Baby Sanctuary - Linda Conrad
The Yellow Wallpaper - Charlotte Perkins Gilman
Talk Bookish To Me - Kate Bromley

41. Codename: Dancer - Amanda Brice
42. A Knight in Shining Armor - Jude Deveraux

Redigerat: dec 29, 2022, 7:28 am

Spoils Heap - Deaccessioned in 2022
1. Treasures of the National Gallery London - Langmuir
2. American Art of the Twentieth Century - Treasures of the Whitney Museum of American Art
3. Walking the Amazon - Ed Stafford
4. The Perfect Love Song - Patti Callahan Henry
5. Le Petit Prince - Antoine de Saint-Exupery
6. Petals on the Wind - Virginia Andrews
7. Fleshmarket - Nicola Morgan
8. It Ends with Us - Colleen Hoover
9. The Marriage Ring - Cathy Maxwell
10. Embrace - Mark Behr
11. DK Eyewitness Florence & Tuscany (2005)
12. DK Eyewitness Vienna (2006)
13. DK Eyewitness London (2007)
14. The Mini Rough Guide to Paris (2011)
15. They Shoot Horses, Don't They? - Horace McCoy
16. The Blonde Geisha - Jina Bacarr
17. Numbers - Rachel Ward
18. Day of Deliverance - Johnny O'Brien
19. The Know-It-All - A.J. Jacobs
20. The Resurrectionist - James Bradley
21. Silent Scream - Lynda La Plante
22. I've Got Your Number - Sophie Kinsella
23. Hex and the Single Girl - Valerie Frankel
24. Neptune Noir - ed. Rob Thomas
25. The War at Ellsmere - Faith Erin Hicks
26. Carnet de Voyage - Craig Thompson
27. We Need to Talk About Kevin - Lionel Shriver
28. Bordeaux Housewives
29. Notes from a Small Island - Bill Bryson
30. Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops -Jen Campbell
31. Black's Law Dictionary
32. Rome (2019)
33. Flirting in Italian - duplicate
34. Kingdom by the Sea - Kathryn LeVeque
35. Perfect Shot - Debbie Rigaud
36. Killer Insight - Victoria Laurie
37. Dance of Shadows - Yelena Black
38. The Likeness - Tana French
39. The Stranger Beside Me - Ann Rule
40. Down Under - Bill Bryson
41. Veronica Mars: The Thousand Dollar Tan Line - Rob Thomas & Jennifer Graham
42. Above Suspicion - Lynda La Plante (duplicate)
43. Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World (2020)
44. Attachments - Rainbow Rowell
45. American-English Dictionary
46. Maid Marian - Elsa Watson
47. A Touch of Chardonnay - Pamela Gibson
48. Ripper - Amy Carol Reeves
49. The Orchid Thief - Susan Orleans (duplicate)
50. Tutu Much - Airin Emery
51. L.A. Requiem - Robert Crais
52. Adventures in the Screen Trade - William Goldman
53. When You Were Here - Daisy Whitney
54. Wolves in Winter - Lisa Hilton
55. A Little Bit Psychic - Aimee Avery
56. Texas Baby Sanctuary - Linda Conrad

jan 3, 2022, 7:28 pm

Happy new year! Looking forward to seeing what you read, and I'm still loving your digsite theme :)

jan 3, 2022, 10:45 pm

>4 curioussquared: Happy New Year to you too! I enjoy the format and the chance to play Literary Indiana Jones :)

jan 3, 2022, 11:00 pm

Artefact: Shiny Broken Pieces by Sona Charaipotra & Dhonielle Clayton
(Tiny Pretty Things, Book 02)

Trove: Hardback
Status: Auditioning For Other Companies

American Ballet Conservatory (in NYC), Contemporary (p. 2016)

3 POV characters
2 Coveted Apprenticeships with the Company
Swan Lake

1 Personality Swap
1 Very Mean Girl Amongst a Sea of Mean Girls
Countless High-Stakes "Pranks" Involving Danger/Injury
1 Fairly Obvious Puppet Master/Culprit

1 *Very* Inappropriate "Relationship"
1 Eating Disorder
1 Suicide Attempt

1 Rather Abrupt Ending that is Sort of Happy, I Guess?

The Short Version
I picked this up because I read the first one several years ago and wanted to know what happened next. I haven't reread it recently, but did watch the super-drama-filled Netflix show based (loosely) on it.

I love a book set in the dance world and I don't mind some drama, but I prefer a character or two that I can like / root for. Everybody in these books is pretty horrible to basically everyone else. Maybe it was just because I hadn't re-read Tiny Pretty Things, but I felt like there wasn't a ton of actual story - just ever-escalating drama. A quick read that entertained to start me off, but not one I need to keep. I think the show will give me enough flavor if I ever feel the need to pick this up again.

jan 4, 2022, 2:42 am

Hi CL, good to see you preparing for digging in 2022. Let's see what you come up with.

jan 4, 2022, 4:56 am

How wonderful to see you are back on the digsite!

jan 4, 2022, 11:58 am

Hooray, you're back! Looking forward to seeing what gets excavated this year!

jan 4, 2022, 4:58 pm

>7 connie53:, >8 MissWatson:, >9 Jackie_K:
Welcome to the digsite, I can always use extra researchers about the place!

jan 5, 2022, 10:23 am

Glad to see the digsite up and running for another year! I'll keep the archaeologists well supplied with tea and toast ;)

jan 7, 2022, 9:39 am

>11 rabbitprincess: Always appreciated - we're not quite the historians from The Chronicles of St. Mary's (hopefully less of disaster-magnets), but the digsite does appreciate being tea-soaked!

Redigerat: jan 7, 2022, 10:00 am

Artefact: Love, Hate & Other Filters by Samira Ahmed
Trove: Ephemeral (Library)
Status: Ready for a Movie Night

Batavia, Illinois, Contemporary (p. 2018)

1 Muslim Indian American Teen
1 Film-making Dream that Meets with Parental Disapproval
Many Classic Movie References That I would Like to Explore

2 Overprotective Parents
1 Very Cool Aunt

1 Love Triangle that Lasts Maybe Half a Minute, Featuring:
* 1 Football Playing High School Royal with Dimples and Secret Depth
* 1 Handsome, Witty, Charming, Understanding College Boy with the Death Knell of Being Deemed "Suitable"

Tone Whiplash When the Cute RomCom Suddenly Involves:
* A Terrorist Attack on a Federal Building
* Islamophobia
* Actual Assault

The Short Version
When I picked this up, I was thoroughly charmed by Maya - her fascination for old movies, framing her life as scenes from movies and even hiding behind the camera to avoid the starring role. The tone felt similar to Netflix's Never Have I Ever (which I thoroughly enjoy). I wasn't enthusiastic about the love triangle (Forbidden Fruit v. Suitable Boy), but I'm rarely a fan of those anyway.

Despite the hints from small passages from the terrorist's point of view, I was taken aback (as was Maya) by the sudden and personal impact of Islamophobia. A lot of the aggressive and ignorant comments sounded incredibly familiar - though the teachers at my school certainly did even less to help address it. The incident really upends both Maya's life and the narrative - quite an effective device, but the tone doesn't stay changed. The climactic moments are drastic, but the epilogue is quite cute and hopeful with very little exploration of the emotional impact of the big decision.

I felt the ending lets the book down as the stakes suddenly climb to astronomical but the ending feels Hallmark-y. A shame because I was really quite invested in Maya and loved her POV.

jan 9, 2022, 11:27 am

>6 Caramellunacy: super-drama-filled ... ever-escalating drama
Yikes, good summary.

So glad the digsite backing is continued!

jan 9, 2022, 6:08 pm

>14 detailmuse: To be fair, I have a lot more patience for pointless drama in my TV watching (probably because it can kind of be on in the background while I putter and then I stop and actually watch the dancing) compared to my reading...

jan 11, 2022, 3:54 am

>15 Caramellunacy: Agree! I like my books to be interesting and my TV series entertaining.

Redigerat: jan 21, 2022, 4:56 am

Artefact: It Ends with Us by Colleen Hoover
Trove: Paperback
Status: Taken Out a Restraining Order

Boston, Contemporary (p.2016)

1 Young Woman with the Perfect Name for a Florist
1 Troubling Rooftop Meet-Cute that Inspires her to Reach for her Dreams
1 Edgy Flower Shop
1 Absurdly Wealthy Employee with a Pinterest Obsession

2 Love Interests with Absurd Names
So Much Trauma
Jealous Descent into Betrayal and Domestic Abuse
Graphic Descriptions Thereof

Flashbacks to Her Relationship with a Teen Homeless Boy
Utterly Delicious Cookies
Graphic Descriptions of her Abusive Father
Cycle of Domestic Abuse

Oddly Amicable Co-Parenting All Things Considered That Struck Me as Minimizing/Wishful Thinking Regarding the Dangers of Leaving Your Abuser

The Rant-Filled Version: a bookstore clerk gave this to my partner when he was trying to buy me romances for a special occasion. This bookstore clerk needs to be removed from their profession immediately - this is like filling a mixtape for your crush with break-up songs. Just more implicitly threatening.

This book is everywhere, it has flowers and pink on the cover. IT IS NOT A ROMANCE! IT IS ABOUT DOMESTIC ABUSE! FFS, PEOPLE!

Ok, with that out of the way:
Lily Bloom is stuck in a boring marketing job until she "meet-cutes" a neurosurgeon on a rooftop who very directly tells her he a) doesn't do relationships - EVER and b) wants to have sex with her. He also demands she come away from the edge of the roof which is both a) overly controlling behaviour seeing as how they just met and b) understandable because...stop sitting on the edge of a building, Lily, WTactualF??? Anyway, she turns him down, but this conversation leads to her opening her own edgy flower shop. (Yeah, I know, I rolled my eyes too)
A random woman pushes her way in and demands to be taken on as an employee (to distract her from fertility woes) and this wealthy Pinterest paragon happens to be our neurosurgeon's sister. So almost a year later, they meet again. His name is Ryle. (This is absurd.)

We also have a lot of flashbacks to Lily's teen romance when a homeless boy moves into an abandoned house behind Lily's and she starts sneaking him food and water and letting him hang out at her house - though he has to scamper off before her father gets home. There are a lot of complicated feelings about her dysfunctional family life that are no-doubt-cathartic, but I am distracted by the utter creepiness of an 18-yr-old boy counting down the days until this girl turns 16. This is not as romantic as you think it is, Ms. Hoover.

Ryle abandons his "no-relationships" rule because he is obsessed with Lily and they get super-deep, super-fast and end up married WAY TOO QUICKLY on an impulse. And Lily sees homeless boy Atlas (another absurd name) again at a fancy restaurant and...just everything descends into despair and jealousy and ugliness until there is a tearful "ending the cycle" speech.

Look - this is a nuanced book that really attempts to understand and personalize how easy it is to rationalize. How unhelpful it is to think of abusers as black-and-white monsters. How much easier it is to stay in the familiar than to face an uncertain unknown. How difficult it is to deeply love the person who hurts you. And it succeeds at that. It is a difficult book about a difficult, terrifying situation. But it also feels REALLY manipulative - and the number of reviews I have since seen that declare themselves "Team {Abuser}" is really very disconcerting.

Ok - so the book is "deeply personal" as we learn both from the creepy dedication and an author's note talking about her parents' abusive relationship. But honestly, the weirdly rosy "we can co-parent and despite your rage-blackouts, I trust you to be alone with our baby/toddler" thing seemed dangerously saccharine wishful thinking. He was also super chill about her leaving in a way that I do not believe is representative of abusive partners and severely downplays how dangerous it is to leave.

This was definitely not for me and also deeply NOT a romance.

jan 21, 2022, 11:46 am

>17 Caramellunacy: Big yikes. I've seen this one everywhere and I know it's super popular on BookTok. I figured I'd give it a try so have it on hold right now, but, uh, I think I'll just cancel that....

Redigerat: jan 21, 2022, 11:57 am

>18 curioussquared: I was wary of the title / tagline, more so about the dedication. But I figured - no, a bookstore employee would not have put a book about AN ABUSIVE RELATIONSHIP into the hands of my partner asking for a romantic anniversary present. SURELY NOT.
I was wrong...

I know everybody has been super excited about how powerful it is emotionally - and it is based on the author's own experiences, so I don't want to take away from that, but it didn't work for me at all. If you are only tangentially interested due to the hype, I wouldn't blame you for turning elsewhere. I wish I had.

jan 26, 2022, 2:53 am

>19 Caramellunacy: That's really a stupid thing to do. And not a nice gift for that festive occasion too!

jan 26, 2022, 6:37 am

Artefact: Call Me Maybe by Cara Bastone (Love Lines, Book 01)
Trove: Audio
Status: Seeking Partner

Brooklyn, NY, Contemporary - BeforeTimes (p.2020)

1 Enterprising Young Woman with a Cool Small Business
1 Very Messed Up Website
1 Helpful (and Funny) Tech Support Guy

0 Installed Software/Security Updates
8 Hours of Support Call
1 Sparked Relationship
1 Misunderstanding
1 Very Important Career Event

2 Mistaken Identities
1 Threatened Cat Who Yowls "Romeo"
Some Very Odd Extortion
1 Meddlesome Brother
2 Sets of Parental Issues (Mildly Angsty Variety)

0 On-Screen Smooches (Disappointing)

The Short Version:
Vera Hoffman has a serious problem - her brother talked her into using Curio (think SquareSpace) to design her business website, and the entire thing now looks like complete gibberish. After being on hold for ages, she is finally put in touch with Cal to provide tech support - and she refuses to let him hang up until the issue is fixed. Over the hours, they get to talking and enjoying one another's quirky sunshiny selves and a sweet romance blossoms.

Written originally for audio, this is really adorable and low angst. Our main characters are genuinely nice people and the Big Misunderstanding is not a big source of drama. I'm looking forward to listening to the next one in the series (about Vera's brother, Eliot).

jan 26, 2022, 11:49 am

>21 Caramellunacy: Sounds cute!! I'll have to look into that one...

jan 31, 2022, 4:10 pm

been busy reading, glad you're back!

feb 1, 2022, 5:13 am

Dig Site Report - January

The digsite proper has been relatively quiet this month with 3 physical artefacts excavated and (to date) none consigned to the spoils heap. Which is not to say excavations have been so quiet - I have excavated a total of 9 (3 Roots, 5 Library, 1 Audio) with 3 more currently in progress.

Expeditions took the team to 3 countries (US, UK and Taiwan) with an unexpected confluence in the Boston area (It Ends With Us, We Keep the Dead Close and the in-progress Tuesday Mooney Talks to Ghosts).

With a total of 4 sets of Fieldnotes completed, I'm fairly happy with progress on that front. A quick look at what is in progress:

Tuesday Mooney Talks to Ghosts - (Library) an eccentric billionaire launches a city-wide treasure hunt for rights to a bequest leaning on his love of Edgar Allan Poe. Our introverted Goth-leaning Amazon researcher heroine sets off with the help of her teenaged neighbor, a rich charmer from a rival family and her dramatic but good-hearted friend Dex. I'm not far into this one yet but the premise was too fun to pass up!

Geekerella - (Audio) teenaged Elle Wittimer (our Cinderella character complete with influencer stepsisters and a wicked stepmother) is a big-time "stargunner" a super-fan of the classic sci-fi series Starfield which she grew up watching with her (now-deceased) Dad. She's not terribly happy with the casting of a box-office heartthrob as the brooding Prince in the remake of the show...and that's as far as I've gotten. Audio is always very slow going for me.

Uncharted (Survival Instincts, Book 02) - (E-book) Helicopter pilot Leo Eddowes is up in Alaska looking for a scientist who can help them thwart an elaborate plan (involving a virus found in Antarctica in the previous book). When one of the locals sends her to evacuate a man with the villainous Chronos team in pursuit, she flies into the wilderness, but bad weather, bad luck and bad guys in pursuit mean she crashes onto a frozen lake. She and survivalist Elias Thorne will need to a) escape with their lives, b) thwart Chronos and c) fall in love in the Alaskan wilderness. Also there is a dog!

feb 1, 2022, 11:11 am

I enjoyed Tuesday Mooney and loved Geekerella. Enjoy!

feb 13, 2022, 7:57 am

Artefact: In a Holidaze by Christina Lauren
Trove: Library
Status: Travelling Seasonal Exhibit

Park City, Utah, Contemporary (p.2020) - BeforeTimes

1 People-Pleasing Protagonist
1 Groundhog Day-style Time Loop
1 Week of Christmas Traditions, including
- Paired Scavenger Hunt
- Competitive Snow Sculptures
- Unexpectedly Sensual Sledding
- Sardines! (Game, not Fish Variety)
- Too Much Mistletoe
1 Epic Crush (Nurtured for 13 Years)
2 Brothers (Not Alike In Dignity)
1 Found Family
1 Wise Obi Wan Family Friend / Father Figure

1 Wish about Happiness with Unintended Consequences
1 Love That Is Totally Requited But Neither of Them Will Say Anything so They Both Think It Is Unrequited
Heaps of Inside Jokes and Banter
Actually Facing Consequences (Gentle Variety)

The Short Version
I really enjoyed this one - a silly, fluffy romantic comedy that involves a lot of banter, a bit of self-examination and things coming right in the end. Our protagonist makes mistakes but doesn't irritate me needlessly. Our love interest is great and the tension comes off the page in the best way. I thought the Groundhog Day trope was a bit underutilized, but ultimately I didn't really care. This is a hot chocolate with marshmallows sort of holiday read and I would happily spend time with these two again next Christmas.

feb 16, 2022, 5:32 am

Artefact: Spoiler Alert by Olivia Dade (Spoiler Alert, Book 01)
Trove: Library
Status: Invited to Cosplay at All Future Cons

San Francisco, Contemporary (p. 2020) - BeforeTimes

1 Cultural Phenomenon Fantasy TV Show Based on the Aeneid (Which Is Not At All Referencing Game of Thrones, Not Even A Little Bit)

1 Vapid Muscle-Bound Public Persona Hiding Secret Depths of Intelligence and Kindness
1 Plus-Sized Geologist in a Gorgeous Cosplay Picture
Countless Internet Trolls
1 Unexpected Sort-of Publicity Stunt Date

2 Secret FanFic Writing Identities with Potential to Ruin Careers
1 Ship to Rule Them All
1 Amazing Date to the Science Museum, including Earthquake Simulator!

Several Excerpts from Marcus' Ridiculously Bad Movies
Many Hilarious FanFiction Tags
Loud Shouty Spectating of the Bake-Off

2 Families who Suck (in Unfortunately Believable Ways)
1 Found Family of Cast Members
1 Sequel Bait Couple (Effective)

The Short Version:
A fun romcom that also had a fair amount of depth. The premise is major wish fulfillment, fanfic style - a devoted fan ends up asked out on a date by the star of her favorite show. But neither of our protagonists are cookie cutter - April is fat in a fandom (like many) and a society that uses "fat" as a shorthand for lazy, greedy, etc. Marcus is treated like a dopey Labrador - a role he has played up for his own reasons, but which is demeaning nonetheless - he's also in his 40s, has his own angsty issues to deal with and has to choose between lying to the woman he is falling for and blowing up his career.

There is a lot of really fun, flirty banter and their tension is great. Plus we break up POV sections with amusing excerpts from Marcus' terrible movies, excerpts from fanfiction (including descriptive tags) and chats between the two leads' fanfic noms-de-plume. I liked the format and it really felt like hanging around enthusiastic fandom people - something I've missed.

I'm looking forward to the sequel!

feb 16, 2022, 9:02 am

>27 Caramellunacy: That one sounds fun!

Redigerat: feb 21, 2022, 11:17 am

Artefact: Walking the Amazon by Ed Stafford
Trove: Paperback
Status: To be flung with great force into a recycling receptacle

The Amazon River Basin (all the way from Nevada Mismi, Peru to the river delta in Brazil, 2008-2010

1 Self-Absorbed, Overconfident and Underprepared "Adventurer"
Many Idiotic Ground Rules
1 Pointless Expedition ("Getting into the Record Books" doesn't count as a point)
860 Days
Over 4,000 Miles
Over 200,000 Mosquito/Ant Bites (His Reckoning)

Too Much Motivational Speaking Nonsense Focused on "Controlling One's Mental State"
Not Enough Description of Flora, Fauna, History, Culture, Geography or Issues facing the Amazon
Complete Lack of Self-Awareness Masquerading as Self-Reflection

The Lengthy Rant:
Look, I should have known to get rid of this early on. Stafford's overbearing machismo "laddishness" was on display early on when he talked about how the entire expedition was essentially born of a drunken brainstorming lark and then a game of chicken about backing down while ball-scratching in line for the shower (the ball-scratching detail the first of several unnecessary descriptions of the state of Stafford's scrotum).

On page 79, he's run off his expedition partner through adherence to undiscussed, un agreed-upon and nonsensical "ground rules", bubbling resentment and a desperate need to blame every suffered discomfort on the other man (and other asshole behavior). But I persevered because I thought we would start getting descriptions of the Amazon.

Reader, we didn't. Ed talked about thorns in his feet, about his crappy footwear, about his poor mental state, about how much Inca Kola they drank. He does not talk about any of the things that make the expedition interesting - descriptions of scenery, people, wildlife, history. He talks about Ed. And only Ed. Anything else only exactly how it relates to Ed and his feelings.

And Ed has a lot of hurt feelings around the indigenous populations making him the butt of hurtful unfunny jokes because he is a white guy - including telling his local guides to keep an eye on him, or they will kill him. I agree. These aren't funny jokes. But he talks about how foreign the attitude toward women, gays and other races is to him. And I can't help but furrow my brow. This guy - a Sandhurst Army officer, a lad in London finance pre-financial crisis, a man who thought it would be a) funny, b) appropriate and c) would get him financial backing to stage a "skit" about refusing to help his partner with medical care with the punch line being a blow-job... (from the blog, not the book) doesn't understand why they insist on making mean unfunny jokes about someone for something outside their control? I'm not buying it - that sort of "bants" gets thrown around a TON in the milieus he operates in . The only difference is that he's now the target. (Not even to speak of the time ON PAGE that Ed says after several weeks of walking on insufficient calories that they are eating like they had "just been let out of a concentration camp". JUST NOPE. NOT AT ALL THE SAME, ASSHOLE).

Most frustratingly, the expedition just seems a mess - he didn't realize the first leg was through a desert, so they don't have sunscreen or adequate gear. They never seem to carry adequate water or food supplies - so his "no hunting" policy is abandoned with simultaneously smug and defensive justification about "the food chain". He lets medical insurance lapse. He doesn't bother with visas because he paid a bad fixer and he decides being illegal for 6 months is a better choice than sorting it. He's too tired to make observations about the jungle and hasn't learned the languages enough to speak to people (nor does he have the energy to make an effort). The whole things sounds a misery and as such, it's miserable to be slogging through the book.

The rest of the book is a mess of Ed trying to convince the readers (or himself) about how he "controlled" his mental state through positive self-talk and coaching. A springboard for the motivational speaker career he touts in the author's note. No, thank you.

feb 21, 2022, 12:03 pm

>29 Caramellunacy: Big yikes. I will stay far, far away

feb 21, 2022, 1:24 pm

>29 Caramellunacy: Well, thank you for taking that one for the team! That sounds like a giant NO for me too.

feb 22, 2022, 3:57 am

>30 curioussquared: I can't say that I blame you - I wish I had a better Amazon book to recommend...

>31 Jackie_K: I am glad to at least be able to warn others away from books they also won't find enjoyable!

Redigerat: feb 22, 2022, 6:28 am

feb 28, 2022, 4:33 am

Dig Site Report - February

The digsite remains very quiet this month with only 2 physical artefacts excavated though mild progress has been made on the spoils heap with 3 deaccessions. Excavations have been ongoing with a total of 10 (2 Roots, 7 Library, 1 Digital) with 1 currently in progress.

In a Holidaze - Christina Lauren
Tuesday Mooney Talks to Ghosts
Spoiler Alert - Olivia Dade
Uncharted - Adriana Anders (e-book)
People We Meet on Vacation - Emily Henry
The Red Notebook - Antoine Laurain

4. Walking the Amazon - Ed Stafford
5. Fup - Jim Dodge
All the Feels - Olivia Dade
The Girl Who Played with Fire - Stieg Larsson

Expeditions took the team to 8 countries - mostly the US (including Alaska for Uncharted!), but with People We Meet on Vacation adding snippets from an additional 3 (Canada, Italy, Croatia), Walking the Amazon including 3 (Peru, Colombia and Brazil) and then France (The Red Notebook) and Sweden (The Girl Who Played with Fire).

With a total of 3 sets of Fieldnotes completed, I was hoping for better progress, but still respectable!

feb 28, 2022, 9:16 am

Artefact: The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson (Millennium, Book 02)
Trove: Library
Status: Returned

Stockholm, Sweden, 2004-2005

1 Hard-hitting Expose on Sex-Trafficking
3 Murders
1 Manhunt for the Prime Suspect
1 Shadowy Mystery Man

3 Parallel Investigations
2 Very Bad Policeman
1 Cocky Boxer
1 Blonde Giant

1 Very Entangled Conspiracy
Several Unconvincing Fights

The Short Version:
I found this installment considerably less compelling than the first in the trilogy - and if I'm honest, it felt like the author did too. We set up a thorny problem with exploitative sex trafficking - and that gets largely dropped in favor of what felt like cheap reveals of Salander's past. We don't get to follow along in the investigation nearly as much and instead get a lot of details on what Salander purchases at IKEA, at the 7-11, which streets and buses she takes to get anywhere and how many coffees she (and everyone else) drinks.

I was fine with the slower beginning (though the entirety of Grenada was so irrelevant as to be painful) but annoyed by both the "big reveal" and the climactic / action scenes which didn't really seem to have anything to do with the set-up. Meh.

feb 28, 2022, 12:11 pm

I think I agreed with your assessment of The Girl Who Played with Fire, though it's been a decade so I can't be sure.

You read some fun romcoms this month! I really enjoyed In a Holidaze and Spoiler Alert when I read them, and I loved People We Meet on Vacation.

How did you like Tuesday Mooney? That's one that I wanted to love based on the premise and ended up more just liking

mar 1, 2022, 4:50 am

>36 curioussquared: I felt pretty much the same as you about Tuesday Mooney - I wanted to love it based on the quirkiness, the literary references and puzzles and Dex' self-imposed game of karaoke roulette (for example). But I found myself a bit deflated during the climactic scenes - maybe because of the wallowing? - so I didn't love it as much as I wanted to.
That said, I bet it would make a really fun single-season TV show!

mar 1, 2022, 11:15 am

>37 Caramellunacy: Oooh, yes, it would be such a fun tv show! Who do we write to to make this happen? 🤔

mar 3, 2022, 4:45 am

Artefact: The Perfect Love Song by Patti Callahan Henry (Claddagh Ring, Book 02)
Trove: Hardcover - My catalogue tells me I received this as an ARC once upon a time...
Status: Off to Seek its Mate

Palmetto Pointe, SC & Claddagh, Galway, Ireland, Contemporary (p.2010)

1 Country Music Singer
1 Doormat Fiancee
1 Love Song that is Appropriated as the Perfect Love Song
1 Hallmark movie in Novel Format
Unanticipated Fame Corrupting The True Meaning of Christmas Love!

1 Pre-established Couple's (from Previous Book) Destination Wedding
Many references to an Important Character from the Previous Book
The Claddagh Ring Legend

Poor Decisions
1 Race to the Airport
A Heavy-handedly Metaphorical Nativity with Actual People in the Explicit Roles of Angel, Guiding Star, Shepherd, etc. (oof)

Claddagh Ring!
Happily Ever After

The Short Version:
A short Hallmark holiday movie of a novel. The third person narrator inserting herself didn't really work for me as (to me) it felt like the reader was kept at a remove from the feelings of our protagonists which made it difficult to really become invested. Also, the tone didn't seem quite natural to me.

Altogether there just wasn't enough specificity to the characters or their love stories. Some of the language was lovely, the holiday message was sweet, but all told this just wasn't terribly memorable.

mar 11, 2022, 8:22 am

Artefact: Easy by Author (Series, Book no)
Trove: Paperback
Status: Still Uncertain

State University, Contemporary (p.2012

What I said then:
1 Self-Absorbed (Ex)Boyfriend
1 Missed Economics Midterm
1 Flirtatiously Emailing Tutor

1 Frat Boy Who Doesn't Understand No
1 Rescuer with Shining Lip Ring (Sexy Variety)
1 Gutsy Roommate/Best Friend
1 Incredibly Tragic Backstory
1 Empowering Self-Defense Class

Going in to Easy, I knew nothing about it other than that it had been a bit of a New Adult sensation. Had I known more about the plot (which involves attempted sexual assault), I probably wouldn't have picked this up because I find books that deal with it uncomfortable. But I was very engaged with Webber's Easy and am very glad I read it. Not sure whether it's a keeper yet (leaning towards, yes), but it was definitely a good read.

What I say now
I had a nasty bout of illness this week and wanted something familiar. If I had remembered how much the story revolved around sexual assault, I probably would have picked up something else. But just as last time, I enjoyed reading it - the heady full-blown emotions of college are all there and there's a nice (if wishful) sense of camaraderie among the girls. I liked that Jacqueline actually studied / worked at her classes and the book reminded me of my college days (though mine were significantly less dramatic).

mar 13, 2022, 7:54 am

>40 Caramellunacy: Oh, sorry to hear this. I hope you are well on the mend now!

mar 13, 2022, 8:39 am

>41 MissWatson: Feeling much better, thank you!

mar 21, 2022, 1:25 pm

Artefact: The Whistler by John Grisham (The Whistler, Book 01)
Trove: Library
Status: Returned to Its Investigations

Florida Panhandle, Contemporary (p.2016)

2 Smart Determined Investigators
1 Unknown Whistleblower, sort of protected by
2 Useless Go-Betweens after a Payout

1 Complicated Conspiracy Involving:
1 Very Corrupt Judge
Organized Crime
Indian Casinos
Kickbacks Galore
Scummy Property Developers

1 Serious Not-So-Accident
1 Mysterious Disappearance
1 Hitman
Following the Money

The Short Version:
This felt like a return to form for Grisham - I have not been a fan of his Camino Island stories and generally prefer his thriller set in and around the world of law. Here we have a determined, ethical investigators out to root out corruption in the judiciary, a complicated scheme (don't think about it too hard), informants and legwork and making sure justice is done. As with the most enjoyable Grisham stories, it feels a bit like a "case a season" TV show with a quick-moving plot. Enjoyable - a great airplane read - if not particularly memorable.

Redigerat: aug 4, 2022, 4:10 am

Dig Site Report - March

The digsite remained fairly stable this month with 5 physical artefacts excavated though progress has been made on the spoils heap with 3 deaccessions. Of course, there was a discovery of a cache of 4 new artefacts that needed to be included in the digsite, so matters are not necessarily headed in the preferred direction. Excavations have been nonetheless been ongoing with a total of 10 Artefacts (5 Roots, 3 Library, 2 Digital) with 2 currently in progress.

Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake - Alexis Hall
6. The Perfect Love Song - Patti Callahan Henry
The Whistler - John Grisham
7. Easy - Tammara Webber
8. Expedition Whydah - Barry Clifford
The Witness - Nora Roberts
9. Pride & Premeditation - Tirzah Price
The Uninvited - Heather Graham
10. Day of Deliverance - Johnny O'Brien
The Great Soul of Siberia - Sooyong Park

Expeditions took the team to 4 countries - mostly in the US (fighting corruption in Florida (The Whistler), hunting for a pirate ship in Cape Cod (Expedition Whydah), ghost hunting in Philadelphia (The Uninvited), hiding from the Russian mob in small town Arkansas (The Witness), falling in love in South Carolina (The Perfect Love Song) and trying desperately not to fail economics on a college campus (Easy)) with forays into a Bake-off style tent in the UK (Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake), adventures in Elizabethan Cambridge and London (Day of Deliverance) and a thrilling murder case in Cheapside (Pride & Premeditation), a wedding in Galway (The Perfect Love Song) and a cramped bunker in the wilds of the Ussuri peninsula hoping to catch a glimpse of a Siberian tiger (The Great Soul of Siberia).

With only 3 sets of Fieldnotes completed, I had hoped for better, but given that the global plague caught up with me this month, I'm not sure I can realistically hope for more brain power!

apr 1, 2022, 10:27 am

>44 Caramellunacy: I'm sorry to hear that the global plague caught up with you! Hoping you feel better soon.

apr 1, 2022, 12:22 pm

Thanks, rabbitprincess! Our household have all recovered now and none of us had a particularly severe case, but nonetheless NOT recommended. The brain-fog has been pretty awful.

Redigerat: aug 4, 2022, 4:12 am

Dig Site Report - April

The digsite was quiet this month with only 2 physical artefacts excavated - much of the month was taken up with library artefacts (that Pillars of the Earth is a massive chunkster) and travel (!) which always has a bewildering combination of more time to read (planes/trains) and none at all (so much on the go!). So a total of a mere 5 Artefacts (2 Roots, 3 Library) with a smorgasbord currently in progress.

The Pillars of the Earth - Ken Follett
The Inheritance Games - Jennifer Lynn Barnes

11. The Book of the Seven Delights - Betina Krahn
Infamous - Suzanne Brockmann
12. Better Nate Than Ever - Tim Federle

Expeditions took the team to 5 countries - mostly in the US (solving the puzzle behind a mysterious bequest by an eccentric billionaire while trying not to fall for any of his grandsons in Houston, TX (The Inheritance Games); acting as historical advisor on a movie set bringing a (misguided) Western legend to life in Jubilation, AZ (Infamous); and auditioning for ET: The Broadway Musical Version in NYC (Better Nate Than Ever)) but also building a cathedral in Kingsbridge in Wiltshire, UK (with brief forays into both France and Spain) in Pillars of the Earth, and seeking an offshoot of the Great Library of Alexandria and dodging ne'er-do-wells in the deserts of Morocco (The Book of the Seven Delights).

No fieldnotes completed this month, but I am hopeful that things will improve!

maj 1, 2022, 6:12 am

A revisit of Fieldnotes from an early thread of mine:

Artefact: Better Nate Than Ever - Tim Federle (Nate Foster, Book 01)
Trove: Paperback
Status: Auditioning

(Ripley-Grier Studios, NYC, Contemporary (p.2013)

ET- the Broadway Musical Version Auditions
1 Bullied Musicals-Obsessed 13-year-old of Undecided Sexuality
1 Cross-Town Rival with a Stage Mother Extraordinaire
1 Repurposed Monologue
2 Sets of Ill-Fitting Clothes
Several Musical Flop Inspired Curses
Unexpected Call-backs

1 Surprise! Estranged Aunt
1.01 Greyhound Trips
1 Stolen(?) Coat
1 Actor Roommate
Family Drama

1 Sequel-Bait Ending (and It's Working)

The Short Version:
I picked this up again after having stumbled across the charmingly silly movie adaptation on Disney+ and enjoyed it.
Nate is 13 - with all that entails: he is awkward, self-conscious, on the cusp of puberty and needing to wear deodorant (strike that - he definitely does). He feels in the shadow of his popular, jock older brother Anthony. He wants desperately to belong somewhere, but when he's being realistic, just being ignored instead of bullied seems like a big win. He's "undecided" on his sexuality and mostly wishes people would leave him alone about it because he's just not really "there" yet.

And he sets off on a grand adventure to NYC on the Greyhound with a dying Nokia and his mom's debit card to audition for Elliot - and despite things going far from smoothly and every other kid in the room seeming to be a better fit, there's something compelling about him. He's such a histrionic delight to spend time with on page that I will be looking for the sequel (even as i send this one off on its own grand adventure).

maj 2, 2022, 1:54 pm

Any month with The Pillars of the Earth is bound to be a little light in completed reads! I haven't tackled that doorstopper myself, yet.

maj 6, 2022, 4:27 am

>49 curioussquared: You're not wrong! I treated myself to a re-watch of the mini-series to celebrate completion (which makes the whole thing even *more* soap operatic!)

maj 13, 2022, 3:55 pm

Pillars of the Earth -- agree: so long; but so readable. I haven't read the rest in the series but I did acquire the prequel, The Evening and the Morning. Read Pillars ten years ago...might need to look up the mini-series you mentioned for a refresh.

maj 14, 2022, 5:10 am

>51 detailmuse: It's chock-full of a really impressive cast - Rufus Sewell, Matthew Macfadyen, Eddie Redmayne, Hayley Atwell - but they definitely have changed some of the storylines around for extra drama (including some weird dynamic between the Horrid William and his mother that was just gross and unnecessary).

Redigerat: maj 16, 2022, 2:38 pm

Artefact: Fleshmarket by Nicola Morgan
Trove: Paperback
Status: Sent out into the Smurr

Edinburgh, 1828

1 Gruesome, Unfortunate Surgery
1 Tragedy Ending in Bankruptcy
1 Alcoholic Absentee Father
1 Winsome Little Sister
Sordid, Squalid Poverty

1 Burning Hatred for
1 Self-Important Surgeon
1 Secret Illegal Anatomy School
Inadequate Amounts of Not Quite Resurrection Men Burke & Hare
1 Self-Destructive Spiral

The Short Version:
I picked this up because of its Edinburgh setting and because it was (ostensibly) about Burke & Hare - a rather gruesome set of criminals from the 1820s. But while this was admirably vivid as a look at the squalor and misery of poverty at the time in Edinburgh, the actual plot just...didn't really work for me.

Robbie's mother died after (unanesthetized) surgery done by Dr. Knox when Robbie was only 8. Robbie blames Knox and when Robbie encounters him by chance 6 years later, he becomes consumed by his hatred and drive for revenge to the point of losing his job and neglecting his sister, sending them deeper into squalor - but he discovers that Knox is buying cadavers for an illicit anatomy school from Burke & Hare.

Fine...but somehow Robbie gets entangled working for Burke & Hare (why???) as a lookout and his path just keeps on crossing Dr. Knox who increasingly is shown to be just a person - self-important, but a skilled surgeon who plays the violin as Robbie loves to. Without really caring a jot for Robbie he ends up saving him from prison once and his life another time.

This kind of nuance should be interesting, but ultimately it just seems like the story has no heart. It seems like the sort of thing that would be assigned at school because there are a lot of tie-in subjects that could be discussed, but in terms of plot - none of it really seems to drive the story forward and I found myself putting the book down more often than not with little drive to pick it back up.

maj 25, 2022, 10:10 am

Culling Embrace by Mark Behr unfinished - I started reading it several years ago, but the weirdly rosy/romantic look at a teacher grooming a 13-year-old boy is not something I need to come back to or read.

maj 25, 2022, 11:06 am

>54 Caramellunacy: Yikes! I support this cull.

Redigerat: aug 4, 2022, 4:16 am

Dig Site Report - May

The digsite has been going rather well this month with more of a focus on physical artefacts (5) excavated and mild progress has been made on the spoils heap with 2 deaccessions. I'm not going to lie - this surprised me a bit as I had a big exam I was studying for, so I didn't expect much progress...

Excavations have been ongoing with a total of 8 Artefacts (5 Roots, 3 Library) and 2 currently in progress. I expect the Roots number to go down as I just had a ton of holds come in from the library.

A Woman of No Importance - Sonia Purnell
One of Us is Lying - Karen M. McManus

13. The Love Hypothesis - Ali Hazelwood
Educated - Tara Westover
14. Fleshmarket - Nicola Morgan
15. The Marriage Ring - Cathy Maxwell
16. Code Name Verity - Elizabeth Wein
17. Something Wilder - Christina Lauren

Expeditions took the team to 4 (stops make it 6) countries - helping American diplomatic hopeful turned SOE field agent Virginia Hall (deemed A Woman of No Importance) set up Resistance networks in WWII France (with stops in Spain, London and Izmir in Turkey where she had the accident that cost her her leg) and witnessing the field mission gone awry of another young SOE agent and her pilot best friend in Occupied France under Code Name Verity.

Excavators went on a road trip from London to Inverness to clear up a blackmail scheme and discovered The Marriage Ring and separately got mixed up in a bodysnatching scheme with lowlifes Burke and Hare in the Fleshmarket in Edinburgh, Scotland.
Adventure was afoot with Something Wilder when the team tagged along on a canyoning treasure hunt seeking the lost treasure of Butch Cassidy in The Maze at Canyonlands National Park in Utah.

The rest of the time was spent in educational facilities (apparently even book excavators must attend lectures now and again - even Indiana Jones had to fund his trips somehow) - ours were spent investigating a maybe-frame-up for murder of a vicious gossip blogger in a high school near San Diego where One of Us Is Lying, clawing out of a fundamentalist lack of education all the way to Cambridge to become Educated, and shadowing a science grad student at Stanford through an awkward (but cute) fake relationship to test The Love Hypothesis.

With a total of 2 sets of Fieldnotes completed, documentation needs to catch up, but things are looking up!

maj 30, 2022, 10:08 am

Yay for a successful May dig! I really enjoyed The Love Hypothesis, Educated, and Code Name Verity. Christina Lauren can be hit or miss for me, but I have the new one on hold at the library to read soon -- Wilder is actually my last name so I couldn't resist the pun 😂

maj 31, 2022, 6:27 am

>57 curioussquared: I've only ever read one other Christina Lauren (In a Holidaze) - but I really liked the adventure focus in this one, but I wanted a bit more witty banter. I hope you enjoy!

maj 31, 2022, 10:04 am

Artefact: The Marriage Ring by Cathy Maxwell (Scandals and Seductions, Book 03)
Trove: Paperback
Status: On its Own Roadtrip

London Theatres & On the way to Inverness, March 1810

1 Scottish Songbird Actress
1 Stick-in-the-Mud Accountant/Lawyer
1 Blackmail Scheme
1 Roadtrip to Scotland

Sex to Save Your Life

1 Attempted Kidnapping
2 Attempted Sexual Assaults
1 Attempted Drowning
1 Attempted Strangulation
Horse Thievery

1 Travesty of a Trial
1 Rather Unsportsmanlike Boxing Match
1 Marriage Ring (We knew that was coming)

2 Very Broken Families, Unhappy In Their Own Ways
2 Sordid Backstories
1 Almost Forgotten Fiancee

The Short Version:
For me...this just didn't age well. Our hero is angry at the heroine for blackmailing his family, storms down to her dressing room to confront her - only to save her from assault. But then in his priggish moral rectitude says something along the lines of "that's the price you pay for flaunting yourself/asking for attention". And I just wanted to flatten his nose.

He does get better, but the whole improbable crime-filled road-trip is just a lot, especially when it culminates in questionably-consensual-sex-to-save-you-from-hypothermia... When you then add how terrible the families are that our hero and heroine are trying desperately to win acceptance from, it just doesn't leave me with the warm and fuzzies that I would like from my romances.

I wouldn't hesitate to pick up another by this author, but this one doesn't need to live with me any more.

jun 5, 2022, 7:31 am

Hi CL. I've been neglecting the ROOTers for some time. Live, sunny days, babysitting the grandkids and doing volunteer work for the library at Lonne's school. And reading of course. Today is a rainy day with some thunderstrokes. A perfect Sunday for reading al those neglected threads.

So sorry your family has been ill. I know it might be not that bad, but my son was also doing poorly for a few days. It's not like him at all to stay in bed for days.

I loved De pilaren van de aarde and the other books in these series.

Redigerat: jun 11, 2022, 7:12 am

Artefact: The Riddle of the Labyrinth by Margalit Fox
Trove: Library
Status: Returned

Knossos/Brooklyn/Hampstead, 1900-1952

1 Mysterious Language/Script
3 Key Figures:
1 Archaeologist
1 Classicist
1 Architect

1 Useful Grid Plotting System for Syllabary
Code-breaking Techniques
Stinginess with Inscriptions
2 Untimely Demises

1 Brilliant Solution

The Short Version:
Long-lost languages, code-breaking techniques, archaeology...
I think maybe the digsite theme here may indicate how much catnip this book appeared to be. Maybe I didn't know anything about Linear B (the language of the inscriptions found on Knossos) before this book, and maybe I couldn't quite follow all of the specifics that were given around how it was deciphered, but the subject was fascinating and the writing quite clear.

We follow Arthur Evans who unearthed a cache of tablets at Knossos, classicist Alice Kober who worked on deciphering Linear B in what little spare time she could steal with her teaching load and imposed secretarial duties and contributed the key methodology, and finally Michael Ventris, the architect and amateur linguist who ultimately deciphered Linear B.

It is clear that the author's real interest lies with the largely underestimated and under-sung Alice Kober - who, she argues, would likely have cracked the decipherment if she had had more time. The sections on the other two contributors are fine, but feel more cursory - the author's heart and attention just aren't really in them. Particularly Ventris feels much like an afterthought. The final chapter on the significance of what was deciphered was, frankly, rather dull. But the book's close and careful look at the linguistics - interactions and relationships between words and languages remains fascinating and enjoyable.

jun 5, 2022, 12:59 pm

>60 connie53:
Happy to see you stopping by - we are having a bit of gloomy weather here as well, so I'm using the time to catch up on journaling.

We are all feeling much better now, and I hope your son is also feeling better!

jun 6, 2022, 8:07 am

>62 Caramellunacy: That's good news! My son is doing fine too. He lost his taste and smell for a few weeks, but that has returned, slowly but it did.

Redigerat: aug 4, 2022, 4:19 am

Dig Site Report - June

The digsite didn't make any progress this month as I have been reading - but almost exclusively library/digital (6 Library, 2 Digital) with no Roots to report (though 1 is in progress).

Boyfriend Material - Alexis Hall
The Riddle of the Labyrinth: The Quest to Crack and Ancient Code and the Uncovering of a Lost Civilisation - Margalit Fox
Six of Crows - Leigh Bardugo
The Hawthorne Legacy - Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Death Comes to Bath - Catherine Lloyd
I Wanna Be Where You Are - Kristina Forest
A Trip of One's Own - Kate Wills
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest - Stieg Larsson

Expeditions took the team to 3 countries. We observed the throes of an adorable fake-dating relationship turned real in London because the parties were Boyfriend Material, assisted a pair of married Regency-era detectives solve the death of their irascible neighbor by examining his thoroughly dysfunctional family while taking the waters when Death Comes to Bath. We helped decipher The Riddle of the Labyrinth - an ancient language discovered in Crete, Greece, examined in a methodical scholarly fashion in Brooklyn, NY and finally solved in the UK.

While in the US, we road-tripped along the East Coast to audition for a ballet school because I Wanna Be Where You Are and separately unravelled a complicated family mystery for The Hawthorne Legacy in Houston, TX.

We unraveled a complicated plot involving the security police and a sociopathic defector in Sweden while Lisbeth Salander recuperated in the hospital as The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest and we traveled on A Trip of One's Own in the footsteps of intrepid female explorers and adventurers around the world while being distracted from their awesomeness by our narrator's man-woes.

Finally, in Fictional Lands, we planned (in Ketterdam) and executed (in the Fjerdan Ice Court in Djerholm) an impossible heist with the help of a band of misfits.

Once more, 2 sets of Fieldnotes completed and 2 artefacts consigned to the spoils heap. Slow progress, but something! The plan is to focus more on actual Roots this coming month.

jul 5, 2022, 4:29 pm

Ok no ROOTs, but what variety in other excavations!

while being distracted from their awesomeness by our narrator's man-woes

jul 13, 2022, 5:24 am

Artefact: The Wit and Wisdom of Bridgerton by Julia Quinn (Bridgertons, Companion)
Trove: Library
Status: Asked for Tea

London, 1813-1825
8 Alphabetically Named Siblings
3 Beloved Spouses
1 Matriarch
1 Meddling Dragon of a Lady
1 Gossip Columnist with a Secret Identity

Lovely Art Nouveau-esque Cover & Design that puts me in mind of (Charming) Period Wallpapers
Countless Passages and Quotes Illustrating Character
13 New Lady Whistledown Columns

The Short Version
A pretty book that made me smile - nothing particularly new, but a nice way to visit the Bridgertons without committing to an 8-book re-read. It felt rather like paying a call to Bridgerton House and being surrounded by the boisterous family all vying to be charming to me and vexing to one another. I was very pleased to be there.

jul 13, 2022, 4:02 pm

>66 Caramellunacy: I love that cover too!

I'm slowly making my way through the Bridgerton books but don't mention them on my ROOTs thread because I borrow the audiobooks from the library. I'm planning to start book 5 soon. So far my favorite is book 2 or 3 -- probably book 2. Have you watched the TV series? I'm really enjoying it, but I'm also someone who didn't start the books until after the series came out so I'm less sensitive to changes they make.

jul 14, 2022, 4:56 am

>67 curioussquared: I have been loving the TV series and while I'm normally huffy about changes to source material, I am enjoying the updates the show has made to the world. The most important thing (for me) is that they've kept the *feeling* of the books and characters - and that they included Pall Mall. (I think I may have joined the riot if there hadn't been Pall Mall!)

jul 14, 2022, 9:42 am

>68 Caramellunacy: Same! The Pall Mall scene was SO good. My only problems with the series so far are that 1. I felt like the changes they made to season 2 really did a disservice to Edwina and 2. the fact that they revealed who Lady Whistledown is so early made reading book 4 pretty boring since so much of it is based around that reveal.

jul 14, 2022, 10:30 am

>69 curioussquared: Ooh, yes, very much agree on both points - I had already learned the "reveal", but that would definitely impact enjoyment of that book.

jul 20, 2022, 6:22 am

Hi CL. Here I am again visiting your excavation. Very interesting to see what you have dug up.
Always a pleasure to read your fieldnotes.

Redigerat: aug 4, 2022, 4:21 am

Dig Site Report - July

The digsite has been very quiet this month due to travels (I always think this will give me resting time to read - it never quite works that way) with 1 artefact excavated and no progress on the spoils heap. Excavations have been ongoing with a total of 5 (1 Root, 4 Library) with 2 currently in progress (the very bulky Empire of Pain and The Summer I Turned Pretty for lighter fare.

Heartstopper, Vol. 1 - Alice Oseman
The Wit and Wisdom of Bridgerton - Julia Quinn
The Murder Rule - Dervla McTiernan
The Trouble with Emma - Katie Oliver

18. Wicked Intentions - Elizabeth Hoyt

Expeditions took the team to 2 countries - UK and the US (although the US descriptions were dubious enough that I'm not convinced it counts). A massive crush gave us fluttery feelings in the first volume of Heartstopper (and the Netflix adaptation hits the beats beautifully). We essentially went for tea with the full Bridgerton clan and listened to them tease one another with The Wit and Wisdom of Bridgertons, then followed an extremely muddled law student (who didn't appear to know how long law school was...) in her attempts to sabotage a case with the Innocence Project in Virginia (but a weird Virginia where you need a coat in August...) which had nothing to do with felony murder (the supposed "The Murder Rule" of the confused title). We assisted a meddlesome young woman with getting her family home on to reality show Mind Your Manners for a revamp, but frowned on her misguided matchmaking which is The Trouble with Emma, and finally we trailed around the slums of St. Giles rescuing foundlings and looking for a vicious murderer (while falling in love, of course) with Wicked Intentions.

With only 1 set of Fieldnotes completed, I am aiming to pick up the pace this coming month!

Redigerat: aug 1, 2022, 7:44 am

Artefact: The Murder Rule by Dervla McTiernan
Trove: Library
Status: Disbarred

UVA Innocence Project, August 2019 (Journal 1994)

1 3L Law Student with Revenge on the Brain
1 Attempt at Blackmail
1 Innocence Project Case with Possible Links to the Protagonist
1 Journal Detailing a Very Bad Thing
Sabotage & Other Unscrupulous Acts

Several Murders (and Attempted Murders)
Corrupt Law Enforcement
Very Bad Home Life

Many Instances of Hollywood Movie Law
1 Passing Lecture on "The Murder Rule" (Felony Murder) which Has Absolutely No Bearing on the Plot
1 Climactic Courtroom Scene of Approximately as much Verisimilitude as That Scene in Legally Blonde (but less charming)

A Plot that Doesn't Actually Make Sense
1 Sequel Bait Case

The Short Version:
So I knew within a few short pages that this wasn't going to go well. Within the first 6 pages, it was so abundantly clear that the author had never set foot in Virginia (Hint: you don't need a jacket in August & Dulles is IN Virginia), didn't have even passing search engine knowledge of the US legal or legal education system (high school is only 4 years, law school is only 3 years) which made even the set-up of the story confusing and unlikely - nobody was actually supervising the students in this Innocence Project Clinic and instead was allowing them to visit inmates, interview witnesses and generally put themselves in harm's way with no qualified lawyerly oversight...

The premise is perplexing - apparently the Innocence Project has taken on the case of one Michael Dandridge. Our protagonist weasels her way onto the team covering that case through blackmail and other unscrupulous behavior and soon finds herself essentially leading the investigation (which she is trying to sabotage for the utterly obvious reason that she thinks he is responsible for hurting her alcoholic, PTSD-ridden co-dependent mother).

Apparently, we are meant to nod along when she tries to make sure Dandridge is re-convicted of a crime he probably didn't commit because she thinks he committed a different one and agree with her that the Innocence Project team is naive in assuming he is innocent. Because it's definitely never a problem when people are put away on dubious evidence because someone thinks they've done something worse that they can't prosecute them for... the whole idea just left a nasty taste in my mouth.

So, setting was a big NOPE and legal point/moral argument a big NOPE. Was there at least some fun legal drama? the entire denouement rested on police corruption so outrageously over-the-top and murderous that it masked the real purpose of the Innocence Project (to combat insidious and invidious profiling and prejudices that result in mishandled evidence and unjust convictions). And the big "showdown" in the courtroom was absurd and not satisfying.

Deeply disappointing.

aug 1, 2022, 1:43 pm

Glad you liked Heartstopper! I loved the Netflix show and have the first volume on hold at the library, but so does everyone else so who knows when it'll come in for me.

aug 2, 2022, 3:14 am

aug 2, 2022, 6:38 am

>74 curioussquared: They're a very quick read, so hopefully it won't take too long for it to come through!

aug 2, 2022, 6:47 am

>75 MissWatson:
I should have put it down after the first few pages, honestly. The odd avoidable mistakes were distracting, but everyone had such good things to say about it that I thought the plot would make up for it. And now there's apparently a TV show in the works...

aug 2, 2022, 11:56 am

>76 Caramellunacy: I've been in line for a few months already, lol, but I get it, everyone wants to read it after the show. And don't worry, I still have plenty else to read...

aug 3, 2022, 3:11 am

>77 Caramellunacy: A TV show? Some things are beyond imagination.

aug 5, 2022, 7:40 am

Artefact: Empire of Pain by Patrick Radden Keefe
Trove: Library
Status: Returned

Across the US, 1950s-2021
1 Dynastic Family with
3 Generations of Dysfunction
3 Doctor Brothers
1 Particularly Nasty Drug

Unscrupulous and Convoluted Business Arrangements
Deceptive Medical Advertising
Strongarmed and/or Corrupt Regulators
0 Safeguards to Prevent Addiction as It Might Impact Profits

Philanthropy with Many Dangling Strings
1 Family Name Plastered Everywhere

A Worldwide Opioid Crisis with
An Appalling Toll in Death and Addiction
Billions of Dollars Siphoned Off
0 Justice

The Short Version:
Heartbreaking and infuriating, Keefe's lengthy book does an informative deep-dive into the history of the Sackler family (rather than focusing particularly on addiction or the victims specifically) essentially looking on how the family made, grew and spent its fortune.

The answers are (in simplistic brief form) - Depression-era hustle and deceptive practices to create an interconnected web of medical advertising, drug companies and regulators; aggressively hawking a dangerous drug using claims known to be false and ignoring the impact on patients; and philanthropy - but less out of generosity and more PR - the strings attached were many.

The whole story is fascinating but rage-inducing. While the Sackler name is finally, slowly being removed from (some) museums and schools, the long and short of it is that they siphoned off billions and left a shell of a company holding the bag while admitting to no wrongdoing and pocketing their ill-gotten gains. I'm glad I read it, but I need something happy and hopeful to restore my faith in humanity.

aug 8, 2022, 5:01 am

The Summer I Turned Pretty (01)
It's Not Summer Without You (02)
We'll Always Have Summer (03) by Jenny Han

Trove: Library
Status: Returned

Cousins Beach, Contemporary (p.2009-2011)

3 Books

2 Brothers, Both Alike In (Teenage) Dreaminess
- 1 Mysterious, Brooding & Emotionally Unavailable
- 1 Sunshiney, Laid-Back Best Friendly
1 Latin Class Crush
1 Summer Where Our Protagonist Finally Brings All the Boys to the Yard

Beach Parties
1 Mother Figure with a Devastating Not-As-Secret-As-She-Hopes Illness
Parent Issues

1 Very Ill-Advised Proposal
Terrible Decision-making
So Much Drama

The Short Version:
I picked this up after enjoying the first episodes of the TV show and previously being a big fan of the author's Lara Jean in To All the Boys I Loved Before. But this was a bit more teenage melodrama than I was interested in as it focused pretty exclusively on a love triangle with the two paragons of Dreaminess that are the Fisher brothers. A lot of the storylines/characterization worked better for me in the small bit of the show that I've seen.

Book 1 - probably the one that worked best for me. Isabel "Belly" Conklin is about to turn 16 and when she shows up at the beach house to spend the summer at Cousins with her mother's friend Susannah and the Fisher boys like they always do - this summer is different. It's the summer they *notice* her. A bunch of flashbacks to episodes from previous summers fleshing out the relationships with the two boys a bit - give a real sense of family history. Belly swoons over Conrad since she's had a crush on him forEVER. Essentially Team Conrad's book.

Book 2 - Conrad mucked up their whole relationship by being emotionally distant between books, so Jeremiah gets his chance & we as readers get some of his POV. This book is also about grief, perhaps mostly about grief and how differently people react. Sweet, sunshine, supportive Jeremiah gets short shrift. Team Jeremiah's book.

Book 3 - The Book to End It All. This book. It's a mess. To get us back to the Love Triangle, there's a complete mess of drama and to get to the Obvious Outcome from the Beginning, the author just trashes Jeremiah in his entirety. He's a lazy, entitled, self-centered frat boy who behaves like a complete asshole and evades consequences through a Grand Gesture that 1) throws both families into disarray and 2) he does no work to follow through on. I knew better than to be on "Team" Jeremiah when it is made clear that for Belly "it's always been Conrad" since Book 01. But this guy is AWFUL.
They all just need to meet and date OTHER PEOPLE.

Will definitely watch the show, but no need to pick up the source material again for me.

aug 8, 2022, 11:55 am

>81 Caramellunacy: Totally agree on all counts. I also much preferred the TATBILB series and came to this one after those books only to be disappointed. I watched the first episode of the TV show and enjoyed it, though.

aug 8, 2022, 1:13 pm

Was cleaning today and happened across a stash of old travel guides that can be de-accessioned. So that's 4 more to add to that ticker!

aug 8, 2022, 4:07 pm

>80 Caramellunacy: Loved that book...enraging. Seeing philanthropy as a particularly self-aggrandizing form of charitable giving was memorable.

aug 9, 2022, 5:36 am

>84 detailmuse: Absolutely - I'm just...ALL HACKLES at that

aug 14, 2022, 5:32 am

Adventures in Deaccessioning:
Some major changes coming for the collection, so trying to go through things a few books at a time to determine where to focus my investigations. Here are a few that didn't make the grade (mostly these notes are to help me let go...):

The Resurrectionist by James Bradley - I tried this one previously and just didn't get along with it. Given its average rating here and how little I am inclined to pick it back up, I think it's fair to leave this to another archaeologist.

The Know-It-All by A.J. Jacobs - Abandoned near the end last time as I found the author insufferable and the idea of spending more time with him doing something stupid so that he could write this book sounds deeply unpleasant.

Day of Deliverance by Johnny O'Brien - Finished recently. It skewed a bit young for my tastes and I was uninterested in a helicopter battle in Tudor times...Not one I will pick up again.

Numbers by Rachel Ward - Tried this one previously and the only thing I really remember is how much the author went on about her friend's terrible sour body odor.

The Blonde Geisha by Jina Bacarr. Ummm, no thanks.

They Shoot Horses, Don't They? by Horace McCoy - I read this one and am left with an impression of dour bleakness and misery (and a reminder of the dance marathon episode in Gilmore Girls). I don't think I would want to intentionally revisit said misery, so this can go.

aug 16, 2022, 8:28 am

Another round of deaccessioning:

The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton - It worked fairly well for me in a Gothic atmospheric kind of way, but I did find it overly complicated and ultimately unsatisfying in terms of the "why"/ underlying premise. I think I could have dealt with the general unpleasantness of the hosts in the interest of the Clue game of the murders, but the meta-plot (or whatever you want to call it) spoiled things for me as I didn't think it made any sense. I kept kind of wanting his last host to be the footman with some sort of explanation as to why he wanted to keep himself from succeeding...rather than the pseudo-redemption of a past serial killing sadist through the power of forgiveness through forgetfulness? Meh.

I'll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara - I found it very interesting, but don't need it to live with me.

The Queen Bee of Bridgeton by Leslie DuBois - I am too old for this level of teen girl nastiness. It can go.

Redigerat: aug 18, 2022, 6:42 am

Artefact: Carnet de Voyage by Craig Thompson
Trove: Paperback
Status: Sent off into the World

Morocco/South of France/Barcelona, March 5 - May 14, 2004

1 (Acknowledgedly) Self-Indulgent Travel Diary
1 Apparently Miserable Time
1 Temper Tantrum Before He Left
2 Injuries

29 Counted Instances of the Author Whining about Being Lonesome / My Lover Who Left Me / Wishing He Were Elsewhere
7 Weird Uncomfortable Goo-Goo Eyes About "Cute Girls" Who Were Uninterested
7 Scatological Jokes (Travel Diarrhea Just Isn't That Funny)
6 "Hick" Jokes That I Found Irritating

At least 2 references to "remembering this (something good) during my whiney moments"
0 Times he remembers such a thing during his MANY whiney moments

The Not-So-Short Version
I didn't like Blankets. At all. If I had realized that this was the same author, I would have left it at the bookstore. But I like to travel (both armchair and otherwise) and love to see sketchbooks of people's travels (especially as I don't have the talent to capture things I see in that way).

The author self-describes that his being "sickeningly sad and desperate to the core" is really "just whiney & egocentric & somehow oblivious to the real suffering outside of you" and a "doofy tourist acting out Orientalist fantasies in a poverty-stricken land". So if self-awareness makes you as a reader more able to stomach that behaviour, maybe this will work better for you.

Me? I found the author frustrating, sulky and unpleasant. I understand that he was grieving his prior relationship with a woman who was very ill, but that doesn't mean I want to wallow with him. I've spent a lot of time abroad and sometimes bitter and homesick and unhappy, yet this didn't resonate for me. I just rolled my eyes at the most recent drawing of him crying because he is so lonesome. Honestly, he just doesn't seem to be able to deal with his own company at all, which makes him a rather needy companion (even in print form). Add his need to see the "real" Morocco while simultaneously doing "his best to provoke the fundamentalists" and you have a person whose tribulations begin to seem awfully self-inflicted. Top off with a panel about travel diarrhea and this shall be immediately recycled.

His drawings of the cities he (sometimes) explores and the people he meets are gorgeous - though especially in Morocco, I really felt the lack of colors - drawing the Bab Bou Jeloud without any blue just doesn't capture it.

aug 18, 2022, 10:11 am

>88 Caramellunacy: Oof. I will avoid.

aug 18, 2022, 3:39 pm

>88 Caramellunacy: Thanks for taking one for the team, I won't rush to get that one!

aug 21, 2022, 3:32 pm

>88 Caramellunacy: Ahh I thought I recognized the author's name in your first line. Blankets was one of the first graphic-format memoirs I read, and I liked its almost-completely visual, no-text format. But I also remember it feeling completely adolescent, sooo different from the similarly visual Stitches, or the Maus, Barefoot Gen and other series.

aug 22, 2022, 7:11 am

Artefact: The Adventures of Maud West, Lady Detective by Sussanah Stapleton
Trove: Library
Status: Returned with Regret

*Love the Art Deco inspired cover and the colors are gorgeous. The illustration in the bottom left is from Maud West's own advertisements showcasing her love of disguises.

London, 1905-1930s

1 Researcher Sleuth with a love of Golden Age Crime
1 Reading Slump
1 Idle Search Leading to the Discovery of

London's Foremost (though far from only) Lady Detective
Several Advertisements
12 Lurid Sensationalist Stories of Cases (as written by Maud West)
A Fondness for Disguises
A Possible Music Hall History

Passing Connection to the Scandalous Crippen Case
Several Ugly Divorce Cases
1 Private Family with
Family Tragedies

The Short Version:
This was great fun - a woman grows restless with her crime novels and decides to idly check if there were any real lady detectives during the "Golden Age of Crime" - which sparks a whole research project (and this book).

I liked the Susannah Stapleton on the page immensely. She said things like: "I surveyed my own desk. Was I a woman in command, a worthy match for the slippery Maud West? My own filing system comprised various unstable ziggurats of loose papers, a sprawling database into which everything digital got dumped, countless sticky notes and a jumble of tea-stained notebooks. From where I sat, still in my pyjamas, it seemed doubtful."

As I sit here surrounded by towering piles of books and pens and the occasional small teddy bear, I feel a distinct kinship. When the author also confesses her teenage crush on a historical figure which she nursed through artefacts at the British Museum...well...we were to be happy companions on this quest.

I enjoyed the digging into Maud West's career - the snide advertisement war she waged with her competition, her proximity (in the same building!) to a famous case, her hobnobbing with Dorothy Sayers, and most of all her absurdly sensational stories of her adventures.

The fact is, though, that Maud West's career depended on her discretion - so there isn't a lot of her actual case history to pull together. A lurid divorce here and there, an occasional newspaper mention, photos of her disguises, but not much concrete. And while the research was no doubt interesting, I had far less interest in pinning down Maud West's family life and connections, so the back end of the book was less amusing for me - not to mention that there were (inevitably) family tragedies.

Nevertheless, I found this an absorbing and entertaining read. If Phyrne Fisher and Harriet Vane make you happy and you'd like to read about women like them in "real life", this is one to grab.

aug 22, 2022, 2:06 pm

Artefact: Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops by Jen Campbell (WTCSIB, Book 01)
Trove: Hardcover
Status: Chuckled at and passed along to a former bookseller in my life

Bookshops, Contemporary (p.2012)
119 Pages of Anecdotes and Cartoons Illustrating the:
Things that Customers Demand of Booksellers

The Short Version:
This was recommended to me by Jackie_K a few years back when I posted the story below on another thread. Truly the nonsense that booksellers put up with from entitled and variously bigoted customers is astounding, but thankfully sometimes also entertaining. A bit like a bookstore version of Not Always Right. Hit the spot.

My Own Contribution
In Shakespeare & Co. back in the BeforeTimes, a man was looking for a copy of Les Miserables, which I obligingly pointed him to as he was trying to climb all over me to look (do not work there...). And the following exchange occurred:

Huffy Man: But this is in English!
Store Clerk: Yes?
Huffy Man: I am in France. I want it in French!
Store Clerk: We don't have books in French. We're an English language bookstore...
Other Patron: This is Shakespeare & Co.? Possibly the most famous English language bookstore in France?
Store Clerk: You could go to any other bookstore here in Paris? There is one not far from here...

I don't know why he thought they could magically produce a French copy for him...

aug 24, 2022, 6:28 am

>93 Caramellunacy: Customers can be so unreasonable!

Redigerat: nov 21, 2022, 8:56 am

Dig Site Report - August

The digsite has been busy this month (finally a return to something more normal) with 5 physical artefacts excavated and good progress has been made on the spoils heap with around 15 deaccessions. However, about 10 have been acquired...Oops
Excavations continue with a total of 13 for the month (some quite short graphic novels/humorous books helping progress there) (5 Roots, 8 Library) with 4 currently in progress.

*The Summer I Turned Pretty - Jenny Han
*Empire of Pain - Patrick Radden Keefe
Heartstopper, Vol. 2 - Alice Oseman
*It's Not Summer Without You - Jenny Han
*We'll Always Have Summer - Jenny Han

*19. Carnet de Voyage - Craig Thompson
*The Adventures of Maud West, Lady Detective - Susannah Stapleton
The Appeal - Janice Hallett
All Our Hidden Gifts - Caroline O'Donoghue

20. Flood Child - Emily Diamand
*21. Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops - Jen Campbell
22. Kingdom by the Sea - Kathryn Le Veque
23. Squire - Sara Alfageeh & Nadia Shammas

Expeditions took the team to 6 countries - the US, UK, Ireland, France, Morocco and a fantasy land inspired by Jordan.

First, we spent The Summer I Turned Pretty observing Isabella Conklin at Cousins Beach (which could be any number of wealthy East Coast vacation hotspots for the wealthy) absorbed in a love triangle with two handsome brothers - but also dealing with grief.

We then turned to something completely different digging into the consequences wrought by the Sackler family's Empire of Pain in the US particularly, but also around the world.

In the UK, we observed Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops, then turned to the ongoing high school adorableness of the relationship between Charlie and his Heartstopper, Vol.2, rugby lad Nick. We followed The Adventures of Maud West, Lady Detective and delved into some of her family history during the Golden Age of Crime. Sadly, Maud was not available to investigate the many twists and turns in The Appeal when a young child's illness and an amateur dramatic society end up with a murder.

On a more fantastical note, we swapped tall tales and folklore during a (less romantic than apparently intended) Viking raid on the Kingdom by the Sea before visiting the flooded marshes of the UK after climate change has truly taken hold to follow the adventures of a Flood Child determined to rescue a hostage from marauders.

In Ireland, we came to terms with All Our Hidden Gifts through a mysterious tarot deck to combat a terrifying religious cult that preys on young people.

We perused Craig Thompson's Carnet de Voyage as he went on a book tour/vacation through France and Morocco.

Finally in a Jordan inspired medieval style fantasy, we follow Aiza as she struggles with training to become a Squire despite the prejudices her Bedouin-inspired tribe faces from those in power.

With a total of 6 sets of Fieldnotes completed, altogether a very productive month on the digsite! I don't really expect the progress to continue as work obligations rear their heads again from next week, but momentum of any kind is helpful.

sep 12, 2022, 5:56 am

Finally reached your thread and had a great time reading your reviews! Made me grin like crazy. Love it.

Redigerat: okt 19, 2022, 6:10 am

Dig Site Report - September

A bit late this month as Mr Fox and I have been traveling & I started work again - which has also resulted in a fairly quiet digsite this month. Excavations unearthed 2 physical artefacts, but no further progress on the spoils heap or fieldnotes.

A total of 6 Artefacts (2 Roots, 4 Library) with 2 more currently in progress.

Size 12 is Not Fat - Meg Cabot
The Twyford Code - Janice Hallett

23. Master Thieves - Stephen Kurkjian
24. The Ink-Black Heart - Robert Galbraith
The Uncommon Reader - Alan Bennett
The Windsor Knot - SJ Bennett

Expeditions took the team to 2 countries - the US and UK. We oversaw a residence hall off of Washington Square Park in NYC and helped a former teen pop star investigate suspicious deaths while reassuring her that Size 12 is Not Fat, then skipped over to Boston to keep tabs on the Master Thieves in the mafia who may have stolen art from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.

In further inquiries (there was a lot of investigating this month), we accompanied detectives Cormoran Strike and Robin Ellacott in their investigations into deaths around the cartoon The Ink-Black Heart. We sought to decipher The Twyford Code hidden in the twee children's books of WWII-era Edith Twyford (who isn't at all modeled on Enid Blyton). Then, in honor of Her Late Majesty, we observed her grow into The Uncommon Reader and investigate The Windsor Knot - both featuring Queen Elizabeth II (and both charming in their own way).

okt 6, 2022, 5:20 pm

Happy October! Hope your travels were lovely :)

okt 10, 2022, 4:12 am

>98 curioussquared: Yes, we went chasing beautiful weather and attended a bookish retreat (after several years' hiatus), so I got to spend some quality time with "my people". The "down"side is that I ended up with a metric tonne of new books when I am trying to downsize...
Ah well...

okt 10, 2022, 9:31 am

>99 Caramellunacy: That sounds lovely! And as down sides go, it could have been an awful lot worse!

okt 12, 2022, 5:48 am

Artefact: Nightwork by Nora Roberts
Trove: Library
Status: To be returned

Chicago/New Orleans/Small Town Virginia, Contemporary (p.2022)

3 Bouts of Cancer (Tragic Variety)
1 Life of Crime (Squishily Moral)
1 Eidetic Memory
10 Very Light Fingers
Many Languages

1 Very Good Father Figure/Friend
1 Kooky Aunt
1 Bewitching Tarot Reader
1 Beautiful Redhead with a Shakespearean Name and Sea Witch Eyes

1 Interrupted College Education
1 Very Bad Man
2 Unwilling Heists
1 Superbly Complicated Revenge Plot

The Short Version:
Don't make this one your first Nora Roberts. This is far more in the "pleasant people living their lives with great competence" than a full-blown romantic suspense (even though our POV character is a jewel/art thief), but once I settled in to the slow pacing, I found (as usual) that I enjoyed spending time with Nora Roberts' characters even when they were doing small homey things. Here Booth has a facility with cooking as well as languages and he and Miranda share a knowledge of Shakespeare that is fun and doesn't come off as pretentious.

I would have preferred to see less Booth the Teacher and Director of a High School Musical and rather more of The Heist Turned Satisfying Revenge Plot and How It Played Out. But we can't have everything and this was enjoyable. Not Run Out Immediately and Purchase for me, but a good read and a nice one to sink in to when a Nora Roberts where everyone good is good-hearted and competent is exactly what you need. Which, if I'm honest, is exactly what I needed as the days get shorter and I need something calming yet engrossing.

okt 12, 2022, 7:22 am

>100 Jackie_K: Second that. We have all seen those down sides.

okt 15, 2022, 1:50 pm

Artefact: Perfect Shot by Debbie Rigaud (Simon Pulse Romantic Comedy)
Trove: Paperback
Status: Three Beautiful Books Stand Before Me, But I Only Have Two Photos In My Hands

Teawood, NJ, 2009

1 Driven Volleyball Star
1 Handsome Photographer
1 Fashionista Best Friend
1 Player Ex-Boyfriend

1 Modelling Competition
1 Arch Frenemy
3 Judges (of Varying Levels of Disapproval)
3 Eliminations by Internet
1 After-Game Smoothie

The Short Version:
A fun romcom featuring POC leads - the pop culture references are dated/foreign enough to be pretty well incomprehensible to me, but the underlying story was cute. Volleyball star London Abrams has to raise money if she wants to attend a prestigious volleyball skills camp, but she gets side-tracked from her weekend job when a cute photographer comes in to buy supplies. When she happens to run into him again with her fashionista best friend and he happens to be helping manage the line of hopefuls for a modeling competition run by a local celebrity for her boutique...well...the form includes contact information, right?

So London signs up for the competition hoping to spend more time with a cute boy, but finds herself chosen - along with her frenemy from her time on the child modeling circuit, Kelly. And while her mom is psyched that London is trying out modeling again, she herself has to sort out some feelings she has over her mom's lack of support for her volleyball games. Not to mention her jerk of an ex-boyfriend keeps trying to sabotage any time she spends with Brent (the cute photography intern).

This was a fun one-and-done for me. London is very relatable and I really liked her driven best friend. Plus I enjoyed the ANTM nods, but there wasn't enough of that (or of the volleyball games) for me to want to keep this around long-term.

Redigerat: okt 22, 2022, 10:05 am

Black's Law Dictionary - cull
Rome (2019) - sadly outdated
Flirting in Italian - duplicate

okt 23, 2022, 7:38 am

Artefact: Killer Insight by Author (Psychic Eye, Book 04)
Trove: Paperback
Status: Crossed Over

Denver, Colorado, Contemporary (p.2006)

1 Dire Opening Foretelling the Author's Death

1 Very Bad Valentine's Day Present (Useful Variety)
Several Over the Top Valentine's Day Presents (Too Much)
1 Pseudo-Maybe-Not-Quite Break-up

1 Childhood Best Friend's Wedding
1 Hot Law Enforcement Brother
1 Kooky Aunt
Several Missing Bridesmaids

1 Deranged Killer About
1 Framed? Fiance
1 Kidnapper

Very Bad Driving
Blank Premonitions
Lengthy Afterlife? Scene

The Short Version
Not one of the strongest in this series, we don't really get much in the way of visions/help from Abby's crew. Just a lot of prophetic death dreams - which we KNOW because the book opens with Abby being killed.

We get nowhere on the relationship front since Abby high-tails it out to Denver for a best friend's wedding to get over the heartache of thinking she and Dutch have broken up without ever actually talking things through like a pair of adults. And the replacement version is just Imitation Dutch, basically. Hot law enforcement prone to scolding her (though a bit more prone to believing in her powers)...

The mystery and the culprit felt fairly predictable, which wouldn't have been a problem if we had had more interaction with side characters I enjoy (Dave, Cat), but being in a new place, we didn't have much there either.

okt 23, 2022, 10:53 am

Artefact: Kingdom by the Sea by Kathryn LeVeque(Series, Book no)
Trove: Paperback
Status: In a Sepulchre By the Sea

Kingdom of Hendocia, 1101 / South Shields, Present-day

1 Inspirational Poem
2 Stories within a Frame Story within another Frame Story (Reincarnation Variety?)

1 Disinterested Boyfriend
1 Archaeological Site
1 Tomb by the Sea with Stone Pillar

1 Viking Raid
Much Death and Destruction (Ignored Variety)
1 Sentinel Guarding a Secret Room
1 Battle of Swords and Wits
2 Tall Tales with Riddles
1 Significant Nickname
1 Deeply Strange Kiss

The Short Version
Inspired by Poe's poem Annabel Lee, this is a medieval set, tragic fairy tale style story.

We have a contemporary frame story of a young woman traveling with her disinterested boyfriend and his parents. At an archaeological site on the coast, she finds herself drawn to a tomb carved with bluebells.

The heart of the story is set in 1101 along the English coast in the tiny fictional kingdom of Hendocia, which is suffering a raid by marauding Northmen eager to bring it under their rule. A lone sentinel guards a secret hidden room and is willing to kill or die to protect it. When the raid leader matches swords, wits, and tales/riddles with the sentinel they become intrigued by one another and agree to marry. But tragedy strikes...

The mood was quite lovely, but I couldn't get over the fact that this woman supposedly fell in love with an invader over witty stories as his men raped and murdered her people above their heads... not conducive to romance. Further, the one kiss as described was quite off-putting. Not for me.

okt 24, 2022, 2:38 pm

Artefact: Ripper by Amy Carol Reeves (Ripper, Book 01)
Trove: Paperback
Status: Abandoned in Whitechapel

Whitechapel, 1888

1 Manipulative Wayward Teen with
Unrealistic Knife-Throwing Skills, and an
Unsubstantiated High Opinion of Her Ability to Solve Medical Problems after 1 Week of Cleaning Bottles
2 Handsome Suitors, of which
1 Golden and Serene and Respectable, and
1 Dark and Brooding and Connected to the Pre-Raphaelites

1 Long-Suffering Grandmother Hoping for Respectability
1 Dark Horse of a Butler
Several Prostitutes and Poverty-Stricken Women Used Largely as Plot Decoration

1 Highly Improbable Charitable Job at Whitechapel Hospital
1 Deeply Implausible Chase Across London (5 miles!)
1 Frenzied Mob Bent on Vengeance
1 Perplexing Familial Web of Illegitimate Children and Adoptees
1 Avuncular Doctor who Treats Our Protagonist as an Intellectual Equal with Absolutely No Basis

Several Psychic(?) Visions of:
1 Serial Killer on the Loose in Whitechapel
5 Canonical Victims & Patients
1 Hapless Police Inspector
1 Conclave of Cultish Conspirators (Gothic Variety)
1 Ritual Chalice
1 Dodo

The ranty version:
Honestly, I should have given up after chapter 1 when our 17 year-old heroine of supposed gentle birth chased a ragamuffin pickpocket at a dead run for FIVE MILES across the entirety of London from Kensington to Whitechapel in a BUSTLE and presumably a CORSET and HEELED BOOTS without so much as noting it. THIS IS NONSENSE OF THE HIGHEST ORDER.

But I persevered, unfortunately. Our heroine is Miss Arabella Sharp (but call her Abby) - she has been saved from impecunity when her governess mother dies in London by a grandmother who wants to restore her family to respectability. But Abby, far from being grateful in any measure, thinks she can run off to become a governess (and the book quotes a lot of Jane Eyre at us to make us see parallels between the headstrong heroines). So, in a last-ditch effort to drum some compassion and sense of the life she is escaping with her grandmother's help, she is sent to do some charity work at the Whitechapel Hospital for Women among the drunks, the disease-ridden and the prostitutes of the slums of the East End. Far from acknowledging the danger she faces, Abby decides that she wants to be treated as a "colleague" and will go to medical school... *oof*

We have two young men vying for Abby's affections for no apparent reason. One is the golden-haired, calm and respectable Simon St. John. He is (obviously) destined to lose out to the dark, brooding and inexplicably hostile William Siddal - adopted by Dante Rossetti of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and named after his (deceased) muse. William lives with poet Christina Rossetti who has her own charitable work with prostitutes and unfortunates. It turns out later that Abby's mother also painted with the Pre-Raphaelites for a while and this is when she lost her mother's approval.

Patients of the hospital are being murdered and Abby is seeing visions of the murders and some sort of ritual involving a chalice. There are occasionally moments that were suitably creepy (the footsteps in the attic, for example), but for the most part the Ripper background seemed tacked on and the victims (despite our meeting them on-page) largely throwaway. Abby keeps running around the Whitechapel rookeries in the dark with no apparent regard for her own safety and seems to think being able to throw knives with the street urchins of Dublin has prepared her to fight off a murderer. This truly bone-headed assumption often turns out to be correct in ways that had me gritting my teeth at her supposed "strong will" and "gumption" that in any world that obeyed normal physics would have seen her killed by Chapter 3.

The ultimate explanation for the Ripper murders and the chalice is frankly absurd: the chalice is used in a ritual involving an elixir from the philosopher's stone and the doctor at the hospital and his cabal of housemates are immortal (from natural causes). The murders are perpetrated by Max - and are intended merely to draw attention to the poverty and misery of the East a messed-up social engineering. Also apparently he can possess others' bodies and crawl down walls like a spider.... I didn't like Abby and thought her stubborn insistence on playing an "active" part in her life amounted to nose-cutting spiteful teenaged stupidity rather than any sort of useful or legitimate drive. The love triangle was banal and neither of these milquetoasts had any actual personality. I will not be continuing the series.

okt 24, 2022, 2:58 pm

>107 Caramellunacy: Oof, sorry about that one. I laughed at your description of her improbable run, though :D

okt 25, 2022, 4:52 am

>107 Caramellunacy: I love a good rant. Too bad you had to read such a bad book for it!

okt 25, 2022, 5:48 am

>108 curioussquared: FIVE MILES. She started running and describing all the things they were running past...and I'm imagining this in my head going...this is FAR. Clearly the author was looking at a map with no sense at all of scale...

>109 MissWatson: At least it's a book off the shelves NOT to return.

okt 25, 2022, 1:13 pm

>110 Caramellunacy: I can just picture her picking as many landmarks to include as possible while totally ignoring their distance from each other. Hilarious.

Redigerat: okt 30, 2022, 10:45 am

Artefact: A Touch of Chardonnay by Pamela Gibson
Trove: Paperback
Status: Redeveloping elsewhere

Sonoma Coast, CA, Contemporary (p.2015/2019

1 Dilapidated Mansion
1 Wealthy Developer (Team Tear It Down)
1 Cultural Archaeologist (Team Restore It)
2 Possible Hidden Tiffany Windows

1 Former Tennis Star with
1 Very Bad Manager
1 Very Bad Ex-Wife
1 Devastating Injury
Too Many Secrets

1 College One-Night Stand, Resulting in
1 8-Year-Old Boy

Waffling About When and How to Share
Hurt Feelings
1 Fairly Traumatic Boat Ride

The Short Version
Lindsay Reynoso (the cultural archaeologist) and developer Chris Brandt are at odds. She is looking for historical significance/treasure to save and restore the dilapidated family mansion that Brandt is eager to tear down to rid himself of bad memories of his broken family.

They've also met before - when he was a rising tennis star, the two of them had one romantic night - that resulted in an 8 year old son he doesn't know about. His manager wouldn't let Lindsay reach Chris, and soon after Chris descended into enfant terrible behaviour until an injury forced him into retirement. He seems to have his life together now, but will he be a positive influence in his son's life?

This is a sweet book - I'm normally not a fan of the "secret child" trope, but here everyone's reasoning made sense to me. As does the reunion between the two characters - this is actually quite sweet (if a bit fairy tale). What didn't really work for me was the battle over the house. Both of them feel very strongly, but I'm not sure really why Lindsay cared so much - nor why Chris didn't tell her to take a hike when she decided to armchair psychoanalyze his reasons for wanting to tear down HIS OWN family property that was a genuine safety hazard. (Not that I'm not thrilled that he ends up restoring it for her - no doubt at exorbitant cost - but it didn't make SENSE).

Redigerat: nov 21, 2022, 8:58 am

Dig Site Report - October

The digsite was very busy this month with 5 physical artefacts excavated and good progress on the spoils heap with at least 14 deaccessions (I've been very bad about logging those). Excavations have progressed beautifully with a total of 12 artefacts (5 Roots and 6 Library (with 1 additional read at a museum exhibit)) and 1 currently in progress.


A Three Dog Problem - SJ Bennett
The Hunting Party - Lucy Foley
Nightwork - Nora Roberts
Future Perfect - Suzanne Brockmann

26. Perfect Shot - Debbie Rigaud
27. Killer Insight - Victoria Laurie
The Tale of Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle - Beatrix Potter
The Tailor of Gloucester - Beatrix Potter

28. Ripper - Amy Carol Reeves
American Predator - Maureen Callahan
29. A Touch of Chardonnay - Pamela Gibson
30. Maid Marian - Elsa Watson

Expeditions took the team to only 2 countries - the UK and the US, but we accomplished a great deal there!

On the mysterious end, we helped Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II work through A Three Dog Problem of a favorite painting of hers which turned up where it shouldn't - and lead to corruption and murder. We attended The Hunting Party in the Scottish Highlands to ring in the New Year and puzzle out who was murdered, by whom and why amongst a group of terrible people behaving badly. We also followed a headstrong teenager's psychic visions throughout Whitechapel in London's East End to discover the culprit and reasoning behind the murders committed by Jack the Ripper.

In more pleasant excavations, we traveled to the Lake District to hear The Tale of Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle - a charming hedgehog laundress - and helped The Tailor of Gloucester prepare a suit of clothes for that city's mayor. We also accompanied Maid Marian to Sherwood Forest to beg the help of a certain handsome Saxon outlaw to escape from an unwanted marriage and regain control of her inherited lands.

In the US, we traveled all around the country in the footsteps of an American Predator - Israel Keyes - with more victims than we will perhaps ever confirm.

In happier travels, we spent time in Chicago, New Orleans and a small town in Virginia watching our hero Booth (one of his many names) plan and execute his Nightwork of jewel and art heists. We flew to Denver with psychic eye Abby Cooper who turned her Killer Insight to discovering who was responsible for disappearing bridesmaids, before traveling to the Sonoma Coast to inspect a dilapidated mansion and enjoy A Touch of Chardonnay.

We stayed at a Victorian-themed inn outside of Boston and watched a writer imagine his Future Perfect as he fell in love with the lady of the house. In New Jersey, we watched volleyball player London Abrams and her cute photography intern love interest both get the Perfect Shot as she competes in a modeling competition.

With a total of 6 sets of Fieldnotes completed, it feels a bit like we are starting the final quarter of 2022 back on track!

okt 31, 2022, 2:07 pm

The Tailor of Gloucester is my favorite Potter, possibly tied with The Tale of Two Bad Mice. I had VHS animated versions as a child that I loved watching and I think inspired my love of all mouse fiction :)

nov 1, 2022, 8:09 am

>114 curioussquared: I had never read it before, but was so pleased to learn that the trade paper featured on the cover was so charmed by the mouse-y enthusiast that they reviewed the book.

nov 6, 2022, 2:46 pm

Artefact: Maid Marian by Elsa Watson
Trove: Paperback
Status: Hiding in Sherwood Forest

Shoutout to the cover art - The Princess Out of School by Edward Robert Hughes (1851 - 1914); National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Australia

Warwick Castle/Sherwood Forest/Denby-on-Trent, 1190s

1 Virginal Widow (Teen Variety)
1 Scheming Mother-In-Law
1 Unscrupulous Queen
1 Stolen Inheritance

1 Norman/Saxon Class Divide
1 Very Merry Outlaw
Cudgel Lessons
1 Timely Escape
1 Fairy-Tale-Like "Love" Story (in that sort of abstract way)

Chekhov's "Juliet" Potion
1 Elaborate Ruse to Regain Rightful Inheritance

The Short Version
A historical novel looking at the Robin Hood legend from the point of view of the class divide between Normans and Saxons...sort of. It talks about it some, but any nuance of the matter is pretty well ruined by the fact that every Norman we actually speak to other than Marian is villainous to a greater or lesser extent.

Not to mention that I was hoping for a young lady who was driven to *do* something rather than passively be bartered about. But mostly what Marian seems to do is run away and/or be rescued. When she lacks the courage to run away from her second marriage and is paralyzed by fear and indecision, I may be able to relate, but it is frustrating. Thankfully she is saved by Robin Hood, but I found him to be simultaneously smug and naiv (rather than idealistic) and more irritating than attractive which makes Marian's mooning after him annoying as well. Their relationship seems out of a fairy tale - in that they are in love because they are both young and attractive and near one another rather than any actual connection.

On the whole, this spent rather too much time on the inescapable drudgery that is a woman's lot with most of the interesting action and political scheming in the novel taking place off-screen as Marian minds the camp or is hiding in a peasant cottage or she has such poor eyesight that it must be described to her. None of which makes for a particularly enjoyable main character.

Redigerat: nov 6, 2022, 3:08 pm

Artefact: Tutu Much by Airin Emery (Dance Series, Book 01)
Trove: Paperback
Status: Sent Off to Audition

New York City, Contemporary (p.2012)

1 Prestigious Ballet Summer Intensive
All the Usual Ballet Book Problems
Too Pat Resolutions

5 Main Characters:
1. The Fish Out of Water from the Competitive Dance Circuit
2. The Talented One who Just Wants to Tap
3. The Waitlist Talent Who Dances Injured
4. The One with Bulimia
5. The One Struggling to Outshine Her Family Members

Not Enough Follow-Through/Drama
No Real Feel for the Dancing

The Short Version:
I'm a sucker for ballet books - I love them even when they're formulaic. These characters didn't have actual personalities beyond their role in the story and the problems were telegraphed and then solved far too quickly and easily. Usually in the ballet book world, we get a whole book to cover one of these issues, not a mere 117 pages to get through all of them.

Fine for kids, I guess, but not particularly endearing.

Redigerat: nov 11, 2022, 11:07 am

Artefact: Grave Reservations by Cherie Priest (The Booking Agents, Book 01)
Trove: E-book
Status: Meh

Seattle, Contemporary (p.2021)

1 Travel Agent with Fuzzy Psychic Powers
1 Police Detective
2 Cold Cases
1 Murdered Fiance

1 Bar with Klairvoyant Karaoke
1 Found Family of Misfits
2 Active Crime Scenes
1 Retired Detective with an Army of Obnoxious Dachshunds

The Short Version:
Look, I'm a sucker for a cozy mystery with psychic elements. I was hoping this would be like Abby Cooper but less obnoxious. It was the first, but not the second.

The real issue here is that our largely ineffective psychic Leda, who is utterly uncertain of her powers to begin with, keeps dragging extra people on investigations/to crime scenes, sharing confidential information and butting into interviews. Whenever she is given warning looks or told to back off or that she can't come, she sulks like a petulant child because it is "her murder too". She even gets upset and self-righteous when she is told that the culprit (who is discovered wholly through her psychic flashes and not at all through police work) cannot be arrested based solely on her say-so and that Grady (the actual police detective whose job is on the line) needs evidence and probable cause to do so.

Clearly this was meant to be zany and quirky and light-hearted. And I liked some of that - the found family at Castaways and the entire concept of klairvoyant karaoke to strengthen Leda's "clairsentience", but jeopardizing a conviction by constantly texting her best friend confidential information because they are "comfortably co-dependent" and pouting about everything feels very early-2000 throwback chicklit, and I'm not in the mood.

nov 11, 2022, 2:05 pm

>118 Caramellunacy: Priest is a local author for me but I've only read one of hers (I Am Princess X). I enjoyed it, but it was YA and a different vibe from the one you read. It's also sort of a love letter to Seattle in a lot of ways, which endears it to me.

nov 12, 2022, 4:27 am

>119 curioussquared: She is very clear that this is a change in tone from her other work - on the strength of the writing, I'd be open to trying another of hers (just no more in this series!)

nov 12, 2022, 6:28 am

Artefact: L.A. Requiem by Robert Crais
(Elvis Cole, Book 08)
Trove: Paperback
Status: License Revoked

Laurel Canyon, Contemporary (p.1999)

1 Wise-ass Private Detective
1 Taciturn Former Cop / Military Man
1 Missing Ex-Girlfriend
1 Rich Man Pulling Strings

1 Extremely Hostile Robbery/Homicide Detective
2 Doctored Reports
1 Serial Killer
1 Impostor

1 Hot Cop Stuck on Babysitting Duty
1 Girlfriend Who Moved Across the Country for an Immature Commitment-phobe
Romantic Woes of the Protagonists' Own Making

1 Dead Former Partner
1 Chaste Mooncalf Lurve
Misplaced Sense of Honor

The Short Version
I liked reading Pike's backstory flashbacks and wish we had gotten to actually work cases with him rather than just moon about with descriptions of his ice-blue eyes.

Elvis Cole remains irritating, stuck in self-inflicted romantic woes because apparently everyone finds him so irresistible as to fall in love with him after 3 meetings (what??) and he doesn't know how to say no to this.

I would watch this as a TV show (where I don't actually expect the motives to make sense since I just look to be entertained for 48 minutes). But as a book, I'm annoyed at the motivations not making a lick of sense and the clues that would have been necessary to play along being misleadingly obscured.

nov 12, 2022, 10:38 am

>121 Caramellunacy: My reactions were pretty much the same and the series has been on hiatus ever since. Maybe I should just part with them.

nov 15, 2022, 9:41 am

Artefact: When You Were Here by Daisy Whitney
Trove: Paperback
Status: Flung From Me With Force

Tokyo, Japan, Contemporary (p.2013)

1 Self-Absorbed Entitled Grieving Boy
1 Devastating Loss to Cancer
1 Adopted Sister Coming to Terms with Her Identity
1 Sudden Miserable Break-up (Past)
1 Unnecessarily Dramatic Secret

Grieving Through Rage and Destruction (Self- and Otherwise)
Belief that Having Lost a Parent Gives You a Free Pass
Entitled Conviction that His Mother's Friend Should Fix Everything He Screws Up Because...She Can?

Utter Disregard for Visa and Other Laws
1 Manic Pixie Not Harajuku Girl
1 Mystical Tea House

1 Blonde California Ex Desperate to Rekindle Their Friendship For Inexplicable Reasons
3 Keepsakes that Provoke Temper Tantrums

1 Very Good Dog

The Short Version
All the reviewers seemed to love the "raw emotion" in this. And the main character is grieving the devastating loss of his mother right before his graduation from high school. I understand that. But can we please be honest? A lot of times when people are grieving - they're self-absorbed assholes to other people (including others who are grieving).

So, first off, Danny acts like a self-absorbed asshole - he destroys his sister's stuff because he thinks she "quit the family", he rams a neighbors car because the bumper protruded into his driveway. He takes painkillers and shags a woman probably a decade his senior (ew, ew, ew) and holds loud, irritating parties at his house all the time. He expects his mom's best friend to take care of him - fix any fall-out from his self-destructive (or just destructive) behavior while he sulks and lashes out at anyone and everyone. Is this realistic? Quite possibly. Is an entitled, miserable, raging, destructive teenage boy someone I want to spend 250 pages with? ABSOLUTELY NOT.

On an impulse, Danny decides to go to Japan - run away from his problems and his memories, learn some more stories about his mom, throw a temper tantrum at her doctor because she chose to stop taking meds...

He apparently has no fixed return flight (which drew me up short because I'm pretty sure immigration in Japan needs proof of a return/onward flight), but ok. He does have a family apartment in Shibuya that has caretakers. He meets with the teenage daughter of the caretaker who Manic Pixie Friend Girl teaches him how to not be Sad Boi (thank goodness this isn't a romantic arc), but all his time in Japan, we're also getting him sulking about his ex-girlfriend he's still hung up on but is angry at because they broke up when she left for college even though they said they wouldn't... right...
But instead of it just being a case of them breaking up because Holland discovered the wild world of college and realized a bratty high school student wasn't her best option even if they had a nice summer, there's a DRAMATIC SECRET REASON just in case we needed additional trauma to pile on the main character.

I didn't like this. I didn't like the main character who never did get any reality check that the world doesn't owe him just because his mom died and that in much of the world most people won't pat him on the head when he throws a temper tantrum like a toddler because his life has been hard and/or other people have emotions and make decisions NOT centered around how HE feels. I had no interest in Holland getting back together with him and I got angry in what was meant to be the happy end when once again everyone decided to circumvent immigration laws so he could spend the summer with his dog without quarantine... UGH.

nov 21, 2022, 6:53 am

Artefact: Wolves in Winter by Lisa Hilton
Trove: Paperback
Status: Left for Cesare Borgia

Renaissance Florence/Forli, 1492-1500

1 Intersex Protagonist of Muddled Age
1 Maybe? Affinity for Wolves
Forbidden Knowledge
The Spanish Inquisition

2 Daring Escapes

The Medici
Selective Mutism
1 Medici Loyalist Bludgeoned by an Angry Mob
1 Ever-Present When Needed Troupe of Acrobats
1 Search for the Philosopher's Stone

Caterina Sforza
Cesare Borgia

1 Ill-Conceived Plague Letter
1 Awful Siege
Weird Flirt Threatening Negotiation
Altogether Too Much Sexual Assault
Apparently Curing Syphilis with Wolf Drool


1 Improbable Surgery
1 Mind-boggling Resurrection
1 Incomprehensible Romance?

The Short Version:
Mura is an intersex heroine with a morisco father fascinated by the cornucopia of learning from various cultures in Toledo and a Nordic mother who apparently imparted some magical affinity for wolves. Her father falls foul of the Inquisition and Mura (at age 5) is whisked off to a brothel for safe-keeping (???), eventually sold as a slave to the Medici before being taken as an apprentice to their resident alchemist as an alchemical symbol.

She gets cranky at not being treated as a person so is almost relieved when she is given as a gift to Caterina Sforza - the Tigress of Forli. It's a bad time there, too, because Caterina in her pride makes an enemy of the Borgia pope who sends his famously cruel son Cesare (confusingly called that and Il Valentino throughout) to besiege her hometown.

Mura is a confusing character who doesn't actually feel like a real person - her age is written muddled and she sounds no different at 5 than at the end of the book when she is no more than 14-15 (and we are meant to rejoice in the "love" she has found in marriage). As a modern reader, this was extremely jarring. The decision to make her intersex felt more like a gimmick than a considered choice and I never really got a handle on what Mura *wanted*. Book main characters need some sort of thread if I'm expected to trail around in their head for a few hundred pages, especially through the amount of unpleasantness (sexual assault, plague victims, vicious unformed revenge) the book put me through. There wasn't even soap opera drama - on the whole it was just rather dull.


Redigerat: nov 21, 2022, 7:20 am

Artefact: My Friend Anna by Rachel DeLoache Williams
Trove: Library
Status: Returned

New York City/Marrakech, 2016-2019

1 Fake Heiress
1 Narrator with an Agenda
62k Credit Card Debt

Lies Upon Lies
1 Court Case
1 Vanity Fair Article

Names Dropped All Over the Floor

The Short Version:
I came to this knowing nothing about Anna Delvey, the fake German heiress who apparently left a string of unpaid hotel and restaurant bills in her wake - and who was turned in by a former friend who was left footing the exorbitant bill from a Moroccan luxury hotel.

Never has it been more clear to me when reading a memoir that there is a purpose, an intention, a goal behind writing a memoir. In Rachel Williams' case? To convince everyone (possibly including herself) that she was the victim because of her good nature - and not because she was fascinated by/greedy for the high life and made (understandable) mistakes accordingly.

Rachel spends a lot of time talking about how she is so shy and quiet and processes things internally - and that she didn't turn to others to help sort out her looming debts because of this. Of course, she has now written a Vanity Fair article and this memoir, which isn't the most supportive evidence. She also name-drops celebrities, restaurants, photographers.

All this did was remind me that she was in her mid/late 20s and thought anyone outside of that bubble cared about any of those things. It's hard for me to get worked up about how she's "broke" while she simultaneously talks about "lunching" at 5 star hotels and how her father is running for office. I would have had more sympathy if at any point she had acknowledged that she got caught up in the "VIP treatment". Instead she spent a lot of pages crying that the police implied that maybe she wasn't such a victim - since she actually went on the luxury vacation and signed the credit card slip that she now didn't want to pay for. And she definitely lost me when she acted as if cyberstalking Anna's social media and screenshotting everything and forwarding the vaguebooking to the DA to "demonstrate Anna's insensitivity" meant the DA asked if she had considered a career in investigation...

Redigerat: nov 21, 2022, 7:31 am

Artefact: Adventures in the Screen Trade by William Goldman (Adventures in the Screen Trade, Book 01)
Trove: Paperback
Status: Out for Development

Hollywood, 1982

A Memoir in
3 Parts
1 Breakdown of the Process and Players
11 Individual Movie Discussions
1 Short Story Adaptation to Screenplay

The Short Version:
This was just set too early for me, really. Of the movies he discusses in detail, I've only seen Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (of which Goldman is very proud), and honestly...I didn't like it. So a lot of the specific movie screenwriting stuff he discusses I ended up glazing over.

But a ton of what he says is still very relevant. Stars still have to be protected. Nobody has any idea what the public really wants and how to give it to them. So some of the more general stuff is interesting while a lot of the gossipy stuff was fairly dull.

I also found the final section on adapting a short story into a screenplay an interesting exercise - though I admit I mostly agreed with the interviewed director's comments on how these things would actually work (i.e., they wouldn't). To an extent Goldman talking about how he wanted to sit down to talk about what he intended with every scene makes me want to roll my eyes - he repeatedly insists making the movie is a team effort but gets frustrated when he (and his "vision") isn't the most important part of that effort, which seems particularly amusing given his vociferous disdain for the idea that the director is the "auteur".

Redigerat: nov 23, 2022, 7:24 am

Artefact: The Judge's List by John Grisham (The Whistler, Book 02)
Trove: Library
Status: Returned

Pensacola, Florida, Contemporary (p.2021)

1 Sitting Judge / Serial Killer
8+ Victims
1 Unusual Knot

1 Anonymous-ish Complainant
Not Enough Investigation

The Short Version:
Unlike the previous book in the series, when it felt like Grisham was back in form, this one is a bit disappointing. The trouble is that we neither spend enough time with the complainant investigating the murders and putting all the pieces of the puzzle together with her (kind of like Darby Shaw in his Pelican Brief) nor do we spend time building a case to make sure the judge gets his comeuppance. So we're stuck in a strange limbo between investigation and courtroom thriller - either of which I would have been happy to read. But I'm not sure what the through-line of this story was meant to be and the lack of structure/purpose shows.

nov 24, 2022, 11:05 am

Artefact: Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry by Joya Goffney
Trove: Library
Status: Call Me Sometime

Austin, TX, Contemporary (p.2021)

1 Main Character Prone to "Ostriching"
1 Notebook Full of Secrets
1 To-Do List Before Graduation

3 Awesome New Friends
Important Conversations about Identity & Race
7 Tasks
2 College Visits
1 Trip to a Childhood Happy Place

1 Excellent Grandmother

The Short Version
I didn't think I'd like this in the early chapters. Quinn was a privileged, self-centred, judgmental mess who made very bad decisions. The enmity with Carter was rough - to the point where I didn't know if their relationship could be turned around.

But I persevered and as Quinn started being honest with herself and the reader and tried to deal with her messes, I became a ton more invested. The romantic stuff with Carter is fun and bantery, but I particularly loved her relationship with Livvy (as there is more to this book than just romance). And her inspiration from her grandmother Hattie is wonderful as well.

There are a lot of stressful things that Quinn was trying to bury rather than cope with, but as she comes out of her shell - thanks in part to the blackmailer threatening to reveal her secrets to the whole school - she grows up a lot. Plus we got to see a great scene when she does go to her parents for help and her lawyer Mom is a real badass.

I'd happily read more of Goffney's YA stories.

nov 29, 2022, 8:11 am

Artefact: Revenge of the Librarians by Tom Gauld
Trove: Library
Status: Returned Promptly, Fearful of Revenge if Overdue

The Library, Once Upon a COVID Time

176(ish) pages of Comics
9 Smiling Groans of Complete Recognition
Several Chuckles
1 Happily Spent Afternoon

The Short Version:
A charming way for a bibliophile to spend an afternoon - amusing cartoons on a writer's life/procrastination, COVID rules as inspired by/applied to literary genres, CYOA attempts to escape a bookstore, re-imaginings of classics. It's all here and very fun.

Redigerat: nov 29, 2022, 8:27 am

Artefact: A Little Bit Psychic by Aimee Avery
Trove: Paperback
Status: Lost in a Cave

London (Inexplicably Hyde Park), Contemporary (p.2009)

1 Literature Grad Student at Greenwich
1 Business Heir
5 Year Age Gap (MADE CREEPY)

2 Psychic Visions (there may have been more, but I can't be bothered to go check)
1 Psychic Sex Dream

1 Childhood Crush
1 Confusing Summer Retreat - where is this? England? US? Have people flown internationally for this?
1 Irritating Nickname

Several "Tutoring" Sessions that Inexplicably Take Place at Starbucks on Oxford Street/Bond Street - the Busiest and Noisest Place rather than in GREENWICH where they go to school
1 Inexplicably Vindictive Former Roommate
Some Light Stalking
1 BIG Misunderstanding
1 Surprise! Wedding to Make a Vision Come True

The Short Version
I think this must have been self-published fan-fiction. The characters and plot beats bear no real resemblance to the source material other than in names. The psychic visions are dull and seem like a writing exercise rather than a fun plot point.

The geography of Liz's existence is incredibly confusing - if you are studying in Greenwich, why would you go to Hyde Park instead of Greenwich Park to study? Who studies outside for 5 hours in London? Why did we need to discuss the exact Underground lines and changes all the time?

But this could have all been a simple forgettable interlude had the book not reminded us in far too much detail that 17 year old Will had to be warned off of TWELVE year old Liz because she "blossomed" early and her dad caught him "enjoying himself" grunting her name. Just...ick. And then when our protagonists are going to have sex for the first time, they CALL BACK TO THIS and it DOESN'T squick anybody out or anything, they carry on. THIS IS NOT SEXY TALK!

Let me NOPE right on out of this.

nov 29, 2022, 9:10 am

Artefact: One of Us is Next by Karen M. McManus (One of Us is Lying, Book 02)
Trove: Library
Status: Returned

Bayview, CA (near San Diego), Contemporary - 18 Months after One of Us is Lying

1 New Cyber-Bullying Game
2 Life-Destroying "Truths" Leaked
2 Silly Dares
1 Death

4 Original Bayview Students
3 New Bayview Sleuths
2 Potential Romantic Pairings
1 Upcoming Wedding

1 Revenge Pact
1 Law Internship
1 Possible End to Remission
1 Spelling Bee

The Short Version
I sped through this so as not to spoil it with Season 2 of the Netflix show. I needn't have bothered as they aren't the same storyline.

In this novel, the Original Bayview Four have graduated, but a new cyberbully has it out for Bayview High - and Maeve Rojas (Bronwyn's little sister), her best friend Knox and Phoebe Lawton who works at their favorite hangout seem to be in the crosshairs. When a student ends up dead after a Dare and Maeve discovers disappearing posts on a revenge forum, they do some serious sleuthing to work out who is responsible.

A fast-paced thriller. I enjoyed it, especially Maeve and Luis Santos getting closer, but in a popcorn sort of way. Not sure I'll remember much about it in a week.

nov 29, 2022, 12:00 pm

>130 Caramellunacy: Yiiikes. I was like, five year age gap? That's not that bad.... 😬

nov 29, 2022, 4:39 pm

>129 Caramellunacy: That looks excellent, I love Tom Gauld. I'll have to try and get hold of it (or maybe put it on my letter to Santa).

nov 30, 2022, 4:57 am

Dig Site Report - November

The digsite was very productive this month with 7 physical artefacts excavated AND progress has been made on the spoils heap with 6 deaccessions (though that does need to speed up. Excavations have been ongoing with a total of 15 (7 Roots, 7 Library, 1 Digital) with 2 currently in progress (1 Long-term audio & 1 Library).

*31. L.A. Requiem - Robert Crais
*32. Tutu Much - Airin Emery
*33. When You Were Here - Daisy Whitney
*Grave Reservations - Cherie Priest
*My Friend Anna - Rachel DeLoache Williams

*34. Wolves in Winter - Lisa Hilton
Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry - Joya Goffney
*The Judge's List - John Grisham
*35. Adventures in the Screentrade - William Goldman
36. My Life as a Snow Bunny - Kaz Delaney
*Revenge of the Librarians - Tom Gauld
Station Eleven - Emily St John Mandel
*One of Us Is Next - Karen McManus
Better Than the Movies - Lynn Painter

*37. A Little Bit Psychic - Aimee Avery

Expeditions took the team to 7 countries (+ The Literary World) - US, Canada, UK, Italy, Spain, Morocco & Japan.

In the US, we spent a fair amount of time on the West Coast solving crimes. We explored the mess of the relationship between Elvis Cole and the ever-enigmatic Joe Pike in L.A. Requiem, tracked down a cyberbully in California as we feared One of Us Is Next, and despite Grave Reservations accompanied a Seattle-area psychic helping a police officer with cold cases. Crime-fighting carried on in Florida where we tagged along with the Bureau of Judicial Conduct to determine who made The Judge's List of victims.

We also listened to screenwriter William Goldman tell us about his Adventures in the Screen Trade, watched a teenager in Nebraska learn what made relationships Better Than the Movies and learned to ski with a not-so-Swiss instructor as a teen described My Life as a Snow Bunny. A summer ballet intensive in NYC proved Tutu Much, so Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry in Austin completing a to-do list before high school graduation.

In the Great Lakes area in both the US and Canada, comics about Station Eleven helped keep us sane as the world collapsed following a pandemic (too soon!).

My Friend Anna took us to NYC and a luxury resort in Morocco with famous fraudster Anna Delvey, while a teenage boy grieving his mom roamed Tokyo thinking about When You Were Here.

In an unnecessary-Underground-trip-filled London, a modern day Elizabeth Bennet was A Little Bit Psychic where Will Darcy was concerned, and we followed Wolves in Winter through the Inquisition in Toledo, Spain to the downfall of the Medici in Florence and the siege of Forli with Caterina Sforza and Cesare Borgia.

With a total of 13 sets of Fieldnotes completed (possibly a record?), I'm feeling good about how things are progressing before the inevitable influx from the holidays!

nov 30, 2022, 5:05 am

>132 curioussquared: I agree...normally. It has been safely recycled now.

>133 Jackie_K: I hope Santa is kind!

dec 1, 2022, 7:37 am

Artefact: My Life as a Snow Bunny by Kaz Delaney
Trove: Paperback
Status: Fond Holiday Memory

Colorado ski resort, Contemporary (p.2003)

1 Appallingly Bad Skier
1 Hunky Swiss (Nope! Australian! ) Ski Instructor with Olympic Dreams
1 Holiday Romance
1 Snowball Fight Resulting in Steamy Smooching
Boys Who Have Feelings/Nerves over Sex

1 Bad Dad (Workaholic Variety)
1 Girlfriend Who Isn't That Bad After All
1 Terrible Family Sharing the Chalet
1 Entitled Drug-Addled College Jerk

Missing Diamonds
False Accusations (Obviously)

1 Soppy Reconciliation
1 Appallingly Quick Move-On Given Professions of Affection

The Short Version
Jo Vincent is dragged along on a ski holiday with her work-obsessed dad who doesn't have time for her (except to essentially offer her up as a sacrifice/companion to his new business connections' college-age son). She makes the most of it by taking skiing lessons from a handsome foreign teen ski instructor who ends up giving her a fair amount of personal attention (*chaste eyebrow waggling).

This is a cute, not particularly memorable teen romcom. There are some nice bits where they actually have a conversation about sex where the boy talks about being nervous/not always "raring to go" and the reconciliation with her Dad while soppy is sweet. The weird drama with the missing diamonds is dealt with far too quickly and the weird sexual pushiness of the college jerk not at all.

dec 2, 2022, 8:23 am

Deaccessions time!

I've tried multiple times with Blowing My Cover, but I just didn't like the author (a tricky thing in a memoir). She seemed utterly confused about what her job would entail (and how dull and mundane it would often be). Not to mention surprised at how much sexism and misogyny prevails both at the agency and in the areas she was stationed. But mostly, she seemed to spend most of the memoir whining about menfolk and feeling vaguely sorry for herself.
When she shook her head at how unreasonable it was for the Balkans to be considered a hardship post while in the next breath referring to fearing being lynched or "bubba-raped" on a driving course that resembled southern (US) backwaters...well, I knew we weren't going to get along. So this is going away.

Fangirl - I know this gets a lot of love, but it's just not for me.

The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher - readily available at library.

dec 4, 2022, 5:11 pm

>126 Caramellunacy: If you want an excellent take on an adaptation, try Brokeback Mountain: Story to Screenplay -- the story, the screenplay, and essays about the collaboration.

And >129 Caramellunacy: sounds fun!

dec 5, 2022, 5:42 am

>138 detailmuse: Ooh, that sounds fascinating! I will just balance that gently over here on TBR mountain...

dec 6, 2022, 9:44 am

>139 Caramellunacy: A balancing act I think many of us recognise! (argh)

Redigerat: dec 11, 2022, 6:23 am

Artefact: The Winter Queen by Amanda McCabe (Tudor Queens, Book 01) (Harlequin Historical - Nov 09)
Trove: Paperback
Status: Sent to its Estate

Whitehall Palace, London, Christmas 1564

12 Days of Christmas
1 Frost Fair

1 Handsome Swede
1 Challenged Petition for an Estate
1 Maid of Honor Sent to Court to Weaken an Unsuitable Attachment
2 Wagers (Dancing Related)
1 Unsuitable Suitor

1 Irascible Queen
3 Delegations of Royal Suitors
2 Candidates for Mary Queen of Scots, including
1 Sulking Royal Favorite
1 Sulking and Drunk Lord Darnley

2 Unsettling Incidents
1 Useful Resemblance
1 Kidnapping
1 Daring Rescue (Involving Ice Skates)

1 Happily Ever After

The Not-So-Short Version
An unusual time period for a historical romance, and one I enjoyed a great deal. Having Elizabeth throwing things and generally being Tudoriffic is great fun. Honestly, I would have enjoyed either more intrigue (I'm not buying that Cecil's involvement at the climactic kidnapping was not intentional) on page and rather less lustful groping behind tapestries, but the category length means a tight focus on the couple getting together rather than the plot points around the estate / the conspiracy around the Queen / Robert Dudley.

I liked that Elizabeth's input involved making sure our leads were thrown together to dance the volta and that there were masquerades and merriment (except for Dudley who sulked around dramatically as was his wont).

Our central romance is a bit light (again, expected for a category). Rosamund has formed an unsuitable attachment with the young man at the neighboring estate, so her parents send her to Court to be a lady-in-waiting to Queen Elizabeth I (who dislikes her ladies forming romantic attachments/leaving her). Before she even gets there, she sees a handsome man ice-skating who is struck by her "winter fairy" beauty. Turns out Anton is a member of the Swedish delegation for Her Majesty's hand, but also has his own petition as he has been named heir to an estate in England (by his now-deceased grandfather), though a cousin is contesting this. Elizabeth wagers that Rosamund can teach Anton to dance and we're off.

We have masquerades, a hunt, a visit to the frost fair, dancing practice and ice skating parties, not to mention plenty of illicit smooching. And then the unsuitable suitor shows up to be villainous (of course), and Anton's skill at ice-skating helps him save the day. Because why not?

Enjoyable, but not move-across-an-ocean.

dec 12, 2022, 3:43 am

"Tudoriffic" is a gorgeous word!

dec 19, 2022, 2:48 pm

Artefact: Texas Baby Sanctuary by Linda Conrad (Chance, Texas, Book 01)
Trove: Paperback
Status: Home on the Range

Chance, Texas, Contemporary (p.2012)

1 Witness No Longer with WitSec
1 Baby
1 US Marshal with a Crush

1 Family Ranch
Sequel Bait Brothers

1 Cartel Kingpin on the Search for His Offspring
So Much Family Trauma
So Much Guilt
1 Very Bad Disguise

Shooting Lessons

The Short Version:
Sam Chance, a US Marshal responsible for Witness Protection, bonded with Grace Baker and her baby boy while guarding them before she testified against notorious cartel leader Jose Serrano - the man who kidnapped her, murdered her parents and assaulted her for years. Now that she is away from Witness Protection, trying to live a normal life with her child, Sam tracks her down, saves her from cartel goons and spirits her off to his hometown ranch to protect her among his family.

There is a LOT of family trauma (his & hers) that is largely unresolved - especially on his side, which I assume is a throughline as sequel-bait. I found it quite questionable that the two of them would be able to form a healthy relationship without more time for her to heal, but at least he acknowledges in text that she will need help.

A bit darker than I expected, but good people win out and find love in the end. Enjoyable.

dec 22, 2022, 6:16 am

Hi CL, Popping in (Again)

I want to wish you and yours all the best for 2023 and Happy Holidays, I hope to see you again in 2023.

dec 24, 2022, 2:16 pm

>144 connie53: Thanks for stopping by, Connie! Happy holidays to you and your lovely family!

dec 30, 2022, 8:17 am


Alas, it's line in the sand and onward to next year's threads, I'm afraid. One of my new year’s resolutions is to be a better LT friend.

dec 31, 2022, 7:15 am

Dig Site Report - December

The digsite was a bit quieter this month with the holiday madness. 5 physical artefacts excavated and progress was made on the spoils heap. Excavations for the year are drawing to a close with a total of 8 in December (5 Roots, 3 Library).

Nothing More to Tell - Karen McManus
38. Stump Your Lawyer! - Howard Zaharoff
*39. The Winter Queen - Amanda McCabe
*40. Texas Baby Sanctuary - Linda Conrad
The Yellow Wallpaper - Charlotte Perkins Gilman
Talk Bookish To Me - Kate Bromley

41. Codename: Dancer - Amanda Brice
42. A Knight in Shining Armor - Jude Deveraux

Expeditions took the team to 3 countries - US, UK and Italy for a jaunt.

We spent more time in Elizabethan England than expected, first honoring The Winter Queen at Whitehall at Christmas time and attempting to avoid a multitude of conspiracies and plots while falling for a Swedish courtier. Then we had time-travel both ways when a wet dishcloth of a woman wished for A Knight in Shining Armor and ended up with a wastrel who accused her of witchcraft before they both realized some of their very hidden potential.

Though everyone thought there was Nothing More to Tell, a teen pitching a hometown murder to a true crime podcast near Boston led to a lot more twists and turns (and crimes) than expected. We evaded drug cartel henchmen hiding at a Texas Baby Sanctuary with a US Marshal while we watched teens at an arts school in Arizona investigated sabotage on a reality dance competition using Codename: Dancer in between practicing their routines.

We did our best (with mixed success) not to go absolutely batty staring at The Yellow Wallpaper during an extreme rest cure, learned how to Stump Your Lawyer with amusing trivia facts, and overcame writer's block in New York City by asking a college ex to Talk Bookish to Me before scampering off to Rome for several months.

With 3 sets of Fieldnotes completed, it's time to turn to the year-end round-up!

dec 31, 2022, 8:06 am

Dig Site Report - 2022

The digsite was very productive this year with 116 artefacts excavated in total (45 Roots, 61 Library, 7 Digital, 2 Audio). Good progress has been made on the spoils heap with 93 tracked deaccessions.

Favorite Reads of 2022

Spoiler Alert - Olivia Dade
All the Feels - Olivia Dade (Big Harpy Energy!)
Call Me Maybe - Cara Bastone (audio)
Infamous - Suzanne Brockmann (gift from my grandmother)
Something Wilder - Christina Lauren (more adventure romance!)

Loveboat, Taipei - Abigail Hing Wen (travel abroad, romance, small rebellion)
Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry - Joya Goffney
Better Than the Movies - Lynn Painter
The Inheritance Games - Jennifer Lynn Barnes (for the puzzles, not the love quadrangle)

Code Name Verity - Elizabeth Wein (re-read that still makes me cry)
Six of Crows - Leigh Bardugo
The Windsor Knot - SJ Bennett


The Adventures of Maud West, Lady Detective - Susannah Stapleton
The Great Soul of Siberia - Sooyong Park (tigers)
A Woman of No Importance - Sonia Purnell (WWII SOE - Virginia Hall)
The Riddle of the Labyrinth: The Quest to Crack and Ancient Code and the Uncovering of a Lost Civilisation - Margalit Fox (linguistics!)
Empire of Pain - Patrick Radden Keefe (Sacklers)

Expeditions took the team to 19 countries.

And within the US to 21 states

With a total of 48 sets of Fieldnotes completed, I'm pretty proud of my progress!

Favorite Fieldnotes

*1 Summer Where Our Protagonist Finally Brings All the Boys to the Yard
* 1 Handsome, Witty, Charming, Understanding College Boy with the Death Knell of Being Deemed "Suitable"
*Unexpectedly Sensual Sledding
*Sex to Save Your Life

Plot Holes and Other Strangeness:
*Apparently Curing Syphilis with Wolf Drool
*3 Keepsakes that Provoke Temper Tantrums
*1 Climactic Courtroom Scene of Approximately as much Verisimilitude as That Scene in Legally Blonde (but less charming)
*Several Prostitutes and Poverty-Stricken Women Used Largely as Plot Decoration
*Chekhov's "Juliet" Potion

*1 Retired Detective with an Army of Obnoxious Dachshunds
*1 Threatened Cat Who Yowls "Romeo"
*Loud Shouty Spectating of the Bake-Off
*1 Life of Crime (Squishily Moral)