People who read books need to Wander with Virgil in this Leif Enger book

You know that moment when you finish a book, when you close it and all is right in the world? Except for a fear of the next book you pick up because, honestly, how could anything be as good as this one was?

That is Virgil Wander for me. I’m afraid of my next book because the story Leif Enger created is too good, too perfect, too hard to leave.

(I do now plan to read anything else Leif Enger has written, including his grocery list if I can get it!)

Virgil Wander, you see, is a man of never defined age who wanders, there are some fantastic themes running through this novel, through life until he splurges and buys a failing old movie theater called the Empress in a tiny, seemingly failing town on Lake Superior. And then, in a storm, he drives off the road and into icy water. The novel is not so much about his survival as it is about the life he lived compared to the life he could life compared to the life he wants to live. It is about the community he lives in, and how he is a part of it.

The characters Enger creates in this novel, from Virgil himself on down to ones who died before the story behinds, are so incredibly vivid and unique. Even the scenes in story that might seem small and insignificant are packed with deeper meaning. The underlying meaning and message of the novel seems to be that community is family, even if you don’t realize it in the moment. Virgil, for example, knew he lived in Greenstone and had a few close friends. After he survives the accident, he begins to find out just how much he meant to the people in town.

It’s heartwarming. It’s heartwarming because we all need this. We need to know what we mean to the people around us. We need to tell them what they mean to us.

And we all need to read this book, because I don’t want to be the only one dreaming of bike riding with Virgil, fishing for giant sturgeon with Galen, snowplowing with Lily, and flying fantastic kites with Rune.

Please, people, read this book. I know I will read it again. And again.

I received an uncorrected proof of Virgil Wander through BookishFirst in exchange for an honest, original review.

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My first #Readathon… #ContemporaryAThon! (which I will likely fail at)

It’s time.

It’s time for me to give a seven-day #Readathon a try. I don’t know why I keep hashtagging the word instead of putting it in quotation marks. Is there a proper way to say it? Don’t blame me, I’m new at this.

In any case…

It’s time.

I was watching #booktube (really, why stop with the overuse of hashtags now, am I right?), as you do, and found myself watching TBR videos for #ContemporaryAThon (there’s actually supposed to be a hashtag there!). This Readathon is hosted by @chelseadolling (her Twitter handle) and some other people (I apologize to the other people, I looked on Twitter for the proper hashtag and saw her first so we’re going with that… and now overusing parentheses).

For Contemporary-A-Thon, the goal is to read seven (contemporary) books in seven days. The seven days are tomorrow, September 17 through Sunday, September 23. My nephew and niece may be coming to visit this weekend so I will not read seven books, almost certainly, but I figured it’s also a good week to get my feet wet, so to speak, and see if I can read, say, a book a day before trying to actually complete a seven books/seven day challenge, you know, later.

Good plan?

I think so.

Anyway, as you do with these things, I’ve worked up something of a TBR/plan/thought process for this so, without further ado…

  • read a contemporary with orange on the cover –> The Waiter by Matias Faldbakken
  • read a dark/spooky contemporary –> Me (and) Me by Alice Kuipers
  • read a diverse contemporary –> Instructions for a Funeral by David Means
  • read a contemporary written in a non-traditional format –> Julia Jones Diary – Book #1 by Katrina Kahler
  • read a contemporary with my initials somewhere on the cover –> The Mansion by Ezekiel Boone
  • read a contemporary by a new to you (me) author –> Virgil Wander by Leif Enger
  • read a contemporary that is a 5 star prediction –> Paris for One by Jojo Moyes

And that’s my TBR. We’ll see what happens!

My (let’s say) 7 1/2 Days of Confusion (and happiness) with Evelyn Hardcastle

Right. So. I’m giving this book five stars.

This is a surprise.

To me.

Because I’m not entirely sure what I just read but… apparently I loved it? *shrugs*

My experience reading this… gotta be honest, I’m not even sure how how to classify this book so let’s say… this book by Stuart Turton went something like this…

*while reading*

me: ooh, historical fiction murder mystery, I like
me: huh?
me: oh that makes…
me: no, that doesn’t make sense at all
me: now it’s starting to make sense
me: no, it’s really not… is this dude (is he Sebastian or Aiden?!?! like, originally) inhabiting other people’s bodies?! wtf?!
me: this is such a… weird way to tell this story
me: these people take a lot of naps
me: huh?
me: and also, huh???
me: why I am emotionally invested in Evelyn Hardcastle and who murdered (or didn’t… and also keeps murdering) her?
me: I accept my emotional investment in these people, how many ever of them are in one body at the same damn time
me: still a little bit huh?
me: omg, I did not expect that!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
me: that was a ridiculous and perfect ending! it should not be the same ending with those two words
me: I’ve gotta read this again
me: also, Stuart Turton, sir? are you writing a prequel? a sequel? a series? more to explain the twist? I’d totally read them! I have no idea why, but I will!

(Many thanks to NetGalley and Sourcebooks Landmark for the ARC copy of this book, which I reviewed in happy confusion, or tried to, with all honesty.)

Better late than never… seeing how I’m doing on reading challenges: part 1

I had grand plans, people. Grand plans of being a Reader this year. Not just reading books but reading books to complete challenges, reading those books because they’d make me a ‘better’ reader. I thought. Good times, those grand plans were. I wished to complete a challenge or two. But, as they say

if wishes were horses, the world would be knee deep in horse shit

(I think it was Stephen King who said that, maybe? Don’t quote me on it. My grandmother said ‘beggars would ride’ so there’s a PG option to it too. You’re welcome.)

Anyway, life happened.

As it does.

I’ve read 41 books so far this year (one ahead of my Goodreads goal schedule, go me!), nothing to frown about at all, but I actually lost the list I was using to keep track of (in this case) the PopSugar 2018 Reading Challenge. Then I forgot about the challenge until I rededicated myself to… this.

So here we are, seeing how I’m accidentally faring at the PopSugar 2018 Reading Challenge by reading whatever the hell I want when I want. Should be fun, right? Hmm…

There are, strictly speaking, 50 prompts on this challenge – 40 regular and 10 ‘advanced’. There’s no way that I’m even close to all 50 so it’d be silly of me to type them all out when I could be, you know, reading. And you would not want to read a list of my… not failures but… things I didn’t do. I hope.

So here’s the plan. I’ll look at the list and give you, should you actually care, only the list of things I did do. It won’t be a rose-colored glasses, make myself look like Super Reader sort of thing because I already told you there are 50 and you’re about to see the paltry number assigned to what I did do. Good deal?

Good. Now, without further ado…

Prompts I Can Accidentally Check Off

  1. the next book in a series you started – Scandal Above Stairs by Jennifer Ashley (book 2 in the Kat Holloway Mysteries)
  2. a novel based on a real person – Auschwitz Lullaby by Mario Escobar (based on the life of Helene Hanneman)
  3. a book set in a country that fascinates you – The Last Days of Cafe Leila by Donia Bijan
  4. a book with a time of day in the title – After Nightfall by A.J. Banner
  5. a book by an author of a different ethnicity than you – How to Love a Jamaican by Alexia Arthurs
  6. a book about mental health – Ten Days in a Mad-House by Nellie Bly
  7. a book you borrowed or that was given to you as a gift – Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare (I adore you, Jaclyn, my parabatai!)
  8. a book about or involving a sport – Brave Enough by Kati Gardner (ballet counts as a sport!)
  9. a book that’s published in 2018 – Bunburry – Murder at the Mousetrap by Helena Marchmont
  10. a book set in the decade you were born – Entangled Lives by Imran Omer
  11. a book you meant to read in 2017 but didn’t get to – Hausfrau by Jill Alexander Essbaum
  12. a microhistory – Seven Sovereign Queens by Geoffrey Trease (7 microbiographies of 7 queens)
  13. a book about a problem facing society today – The Same Sky by Amanda Eyre Ward (illegal immigration)

Hey! Thirteen! That’s not bad at all, if I do say so myself. And I do.

I’m not stressed about completing the challenge, we’ll just pretend I’m going to try harder for their 2019 challenge, but I will check back in at the end of the year for sure.

What about you? How are your 2018 reading challenges going?

Books, Books, and Books – September 2018 TBR List

Look at me, being like a Real Reader who has internet access, posting a true and proper TBR (to-be-read, if you were confused) list for the month of September! I’m a little pleased with myself for it because, thanks to the lovely and good influence of my very dear friend, I am both addicted to #booktube, #bookstagram, and (on an unrelated note but still her influence) have just started to keep a Bullet Journal*.

It’s like making a New Year’s Resolution on September 1, really.

And I’m fine with that. Who wants to do things whenever everybody else does them? Not me, that’s who!

Anyway, it’s time to get start and do more than just post book reviews. Which is not to knock the posting of book reviews. I love reading book reviews. I love reading books. Writing book reviews is a bit trickier but that’s what I do. Let’s say the challenge is nice. So I will, worry not, keep posting reviews of 98%** of the books I read.

But I’m not going to be filming videos of myself, not now or probably ever, even talking about books. And I do post some #bookstagram photos on Instagram (@nilyov) and I’d like to think I’m getting better at it. But writing is what I’m best at so…

Here we are.

Eventually getting back to the point of this darn post.

My September 2018 TBR

Let’s do it. First, let me say that I have a Goodreads goal of 60 books this year. I made that on January 1. Ish. I don’t really remember, but I do know I haven’t altered it. Haven’t altered it despite being a whopping 8 books behind at one point! But I have, thanks to miracles I’d rather not question, accepting is always better, caught up! Go me! This means I’m on schedule and have a baseline goal of six books I need to read this month.

And they are… *bangs drums*

  • The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton
  • Virgil Wander by Leif Enger
  • Me and Me by Alice Kuipers
  • The Kennedy Debutante by Kerri Maher
  • The Accident on the A35 by Graeme Macrae Burnet
  • Shell by Kristina Olsson

These are also six books I need to read (though technically only the first is required of September) because they are ARCs and/or so kindly granted by publishers through NetGalley, a Goodreads giveaway, and BookishFirst and are scheduled to be released in October (again, Turton’s book is scheduled for September although… it seems like maybe it was already released in England and/or Canada?

I’d like to read more books, because I love books, but those six are goals and we’ll see what happens. Why? Because I’m going to a proper social media book person and post a wrap-up in 30 days, that’s why. Woot!

Anyway, that’s my TBR for September so, if there’s anybody here actually reading, any thoughts? What are you reading this month? Please do discuss with me!

*I use this term loosely. I’m making stuff up as I go, as you do. As she said to do. So maybe I should call it a “bullet” journal instead? Thoughts?
**The other 2% are not reviewed because I’ve a) read & reviewed them before and have nothing to add or b) “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all”

“Bunburry – Murder at the Mousetrap” by Helena Marchmont

“A pessimist is never disappointed.”

I like that line in Helena Marchmont’s Bunburry – Murder at the Mousetrap. It’s very relatable to my philosophy in life, whether accidentally or on purpose. It is, however, not the only line in Marchmont’s book that I like because…

I like them all!

I’ve only read a pair of cozy mysteries, that I remember, and they and I did not get along well. Things are definitely looking up now that I’ve read this. I adore this, absolutely adore it! I could not love it more!

(I should say here, before you think “hmm, that seems a little extra… they must be paying her to say that”… no, I am not being paid to say this. I honestly mean every word. Though I did receive an advance copy through NetGalley and Bastei Entertainment in exchange for an honest review, and this is my honest review.)

Bunburry is a tiny, fictional town in the Cotswolds of England (where I want to go) which is famous for it’s fudge. The fudge, to be fair, plays a minor role in the story. Far bigger is the AA. Not Alcoholic’s Anonymous, as main character Alfie McAlister thinks first, but Agatha’s Amateurs. Every year, for charity, a small, unique band of Bunburrians (idk, maybe that’s what they’d be called?) puts on a production of Agatha Christie’s “The Mousetrap.” This year, as Alfie arrives, having inherited his Aunt Augusta’s cottage, there has been a death… a death which adorable busybodies Liz and Marge quickly decide is murder.

Murder!

But, as they say, whodunit?!

You’ll have to read the book to find out. And you really should read the book to find out. Really. Just go read the book, it’s on sale tomorrow (September 1, 2018) so you really don’t have any excuses, do you? No.

Now that I’ve given you a plot summary, here are the reasons I love this book and think you should read it too…

This is the first book in a series (yay!) so a portion of it is world-building of sorts. But what a good world it is! The village of Bunburry is idyllic, one with lots of secrets and unique characters. I want to live there, murdered amateur directors aside. There is a mix of young and old, the characters ranging from hard-working young married couples with some marital problems to the very elderly with some medical problems. The plot is typical but not so much that it’s tired. It keeps the story moving and helps introduce the cast of characters I want to spend time with. It’s a quick read, as cozy mysteries seem to be, so saying to much risks giving something away and, as I said, I really need everyone to read this book with me!

One last thing I’d like to say is this… are male leads a thing in cozy mysteries? Because it struck me as unique that Alfie McAlister, a man, is the lead in this story. Unique in a good way, for sure. Alfie is the perfect character to get me interested and there are so many questions about his story that are unanswered that I will, without a doubt, read more of the Bunburry series!

Thanks to the author, Bastei Entertainment, and NetGalley for introducing me to this world!

“Riding into Battle: Canadian Cyclists in the Great War” by Ted Glenn

The Great War, the War to End All Wars, World War I… whatever you like to call it (especially since it was ‘great, definitely did not prevent any future wars at all, and was followed by another world war not a full quarter century later) often seems ignored compared to World War II. You can watch Hitler and the Nazis for days on pretty much any television channel that deals a bit with history. It seems to take a special event to get attention for the First World War to get it’s due.

I do realize this may have something to do with far less film footage being available but… still.

In any case, I developed an addiction to World War I fiction a few years ago (Birdsong, A Farewell to Arms, The Cartographer of No Man’s Land – all recommended absolutely) but I’ve never been brave enough to try a history of battle, despite all the histories I’ve read of World War II. So seeing Ted Glenn’s Riding into Battle: Canadian Cyclists in the Great War available for request, I jumped at the chance. After all, I had no idea that cyclists were used in battle in war so it seemed as good a place as any to start.

And I was lucky enough to be granted a copy. And I only have one regret.*

I learned so much from this history of a very specific part of the First World War. It was quick, it was engrossing, and made me very much want to move on to more non-fiction accounts of that war.

Anybody got any suggestions?

*and that is that I have an e-ARC and maps would be soooooo much easier to see and follow in a physical copy so, should the kind people at Dundurn or Mr. Glenn want to allow me to read it again, but better, I’d happily accept a physical copy. I am not to proud to humbly beg!

I received a copy of Riding into Battle: Canadian Cyclists in the Great War through NetGalley via Dundurn in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts are my own.