TBR Challenge: Snowspelled, by Stephanie Burgis

This month’s TBR Challenge prompt is “We Love Short Shorts,” always a gentle introduction to the Challenge.

I’m pretty sure I had Stephanie Burgis’ novella Snowspelled in my TBR because of Ana’s review. I like fantasy with an alt-Regency setting, and this sounded fun.

And so it was, a good balance of romance and fantasy, with enough background to make some sense of its world but leave me wanting to read more about it.

Clarissa Harwood lives in a world where men do magic and women do politics. Her mother was a leading member of the Boudiccate, the elite circle of women that governs the country. But rather than following in her mother’s footsteps, Clarissa has fought to study magic at the Great Library. While she finally succeeded and was top of her class, Snowspelled opens four months after an event that took her magic (what that is isn’t clear at first, and I don’t want to spoil it). Now Clarissa has been persuaded to attend a house party where the Boudiccate has gathered for a winter solstice ceremony, and where she will encounter her ex-fiancé Wrexham, himself a powerful magician. Continue reading

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Form(at) and Meaning

I’m in the middle of a couple of books. It’s been a slow reading book, both because it was my first full week of the semester and because these aren’t books to be read quickly. Both deal with some difficult subjects (though lightened with humor) and their style is complex. But for both, I had to think about what format I wanted to read in, so here are some musings on what difference format makes. I want to say up front I don’t want to create a hierarchy of formats, suggest ebooks or audiobooks aren’t “real” reading, or anything like that. But format does affect my experience of a book, and I think in some ways my understanding of it, and I’m always interested in pondering that difference and hearing about other people’s experiences.

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The Long Take, by Robin Robertson

What a way to end one reading year and start the next. I found Robin Robertson’s The Long Take devastating, fascinating, and beautiful.

I had never heard of Robertson until he was long-listed for the Man Booker Prize, but he’s an award-winning poet “known for his exquisite descriptions of the natural world and dramatic, violent retellings of Greek myths,” according to Sibbie O’Sullivan’s review of this verse novel in the Washington Post. I’d say those talents are both on display in this story of Walker, a World War II veteran with PTSD. Marked by the war, he feels he can’t go home to Nova Scotia, to his family and the girl with “pure blue” eyes he left behind, so he wanders through New York, San Francisco, and most of all Los Angeles, looking for a way to live with himself and his pasts. Walker’s story is told mostly in verse, with prose flashbacks. But if you’re not a poetry person, don’t be put off by that. It’s simple, readable blank verse full of powerful images. Continue reading

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My Year in Reading, 2018

I would have said 2018 was not nearly as good a reading year for me as 2017, but when I sat down to look back, I realize that feeling is more a reflection of my mood this year than of the books I read. It’s true I didn’t read anything I loved and admired as much as 2017’s standouts, Autumn and Reservoir 13but there were plenty of highlights. Here are some, along with trends in my reading and possible directions for the new year.


The first book I finished in 2018 was Susan Cooper’s The Dark is Rising, and that last was Norton Juster’s The Phantom Tollbooth, both books I loved as a child and still do. That made a nice (though unintentional) frame for my reading year.

My best 2018 resolution was one I stole from someone at Book Riot: to “bookend” my days with reading. Part of my goal was to cut down on my social media and screen time. Starting the day with politics news on Twitter was not good for me. I didn’t stick to this every day, certainly, but I kept coming back to it and overall shifted my habits in a happy way. I’m renewing this one for 2019. And as a result of this “bookending,”

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My 2018 PopSugar Challenge

I have a year in reading post in the works, but I’ve been knocked out for several days by the traditional holiday family cold, so that will have to wait a bit. Here instead is an overview of my PopSugar 2018 challenge reading, which I managed to finish a couple of days ago. I wrote a little something about most of these at Goodreads, but I am afraid I’m way too  lazy to link each book. I stretched some categories, and I used two books I’d read before (Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats and A Murder of Quality). So a little cheating, but not bad.

Thanks to the challenge, I got to some TBR books I wouldn’t otherwise have dug out so soon–or maybe at all. I found some interesting things I wouldn’t otherwise have read. But by the third quarter of the year, I was tired of it; I felt obligated to finish but it mostly wasn’t stretching my reading in ways I cared about. So I won’t do a challenge like this again.

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