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moonlightreader

Moonlight Reader

Lawyer, mother, avid reader. Game host extraordinaire! Partner in crime to Obsidian Black Plague! My bookish weaknesses include classics, fantasy, YA, and agreeing to read more books than is even remotely possible.

Currently reading

The Circular Staircase
Mary Roberts Rinehart
Progress: 40 %
In Siberia
Colin Thubron
Progress: 50/304 pages

Updated BL-opoly: Rolls 18.1, 18.2 & 18.3 + extra rolls!

Faithful Place - Tana French A Great Reckoning - Louise Penny Pocket Apocalypse - Seanan McGuire Wildfire at Midnight - Mary Stewart By Gaslight: A Novel - Steven D. Price

Just in time for the long holiday weekend, I finished Partner in Crime for Roll 17, and then rolled doubles twice!

 

Roll 18.1: I rolled a doubles 3, which sent me to the Start square, which is a free square! I will be reading The Faithful Place by Tana French for this task!

 

Roll 18.2: I rolled a doubles 4, which sent me to square 8: read a book tagged mystery, or that begins with one of the letters in CLUE! I will be reading A Great Reckoning by Louise Penny for this square. It's tagged mystery on GR by 668 users!

 

Roll 18.3: I rolled a 5 for this one, which puts me on the BL square. I rolled a 1, which tells me to let my BL friends choose a book for me! My list of four books is:

 

1.  The Love Interest - Cale Dietrich

 

Plot summary: There is a secret organization that cultivates teenage spies. The agents are called Love Interests because getting close to people destined for great power means getting valuable secrets.

Caden is a Nice: The boy next door, sculpted to physical perfection. Dylan is a Bad: The brooding, dark-souled guy, and dangerously handsome. The girl they are competing for is important to the organization, and each boy will pursue her. Will she choose a Nice or the Bad?

Both Caden and Dylan are living in the outside world for the first time. They are well-trained and at the top of their games. They have to be – whoever the girl doesn’t choose will die.

What the boys don’t expect are feelings that are outside of their training. Feelings that could kill them both.

 

2. The Hate U Give - Angie Thomas:

 

Plot summary:

 

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

 

Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil's name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.

 

But what Starr does or does not say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.

 

3. Pocket Apocalypse: InCryptid, Book Four - Seanan McGuire:

 

Plot Summary:

 

Endangered, adjective: Threatened with extinction or immediate harm.
Australia, noun: A good place to become endangered.

Alexander Price has survived gorgons, basilisks, and his own family—no small feat, considering that his family includes two telepaths, a reanimated corpse, and a colony of talking, pantheistic mice. Still, he’s starting to feel like he’s got the hang of things…at least until his girlfriend, Shelby Tanner, shows up asking pointed questions about werewolves and the state of his passport. From there, it’s just a hop, skip, and a jump to Australia, a continent filled with new challenges, new dangers, and yes, rival cryptozoologists who don’t like their “visiting expert” very much.

Australia is a cryptozoologist’s dream, filled with unique species and unique challenges. Unfortunately, it’s also filled with Shelby’s family, who aren’t delighted by the length of her stay in America. And then there are the werewolves to consider: infected killing machines who would like nothing more than to claim the continent as their own. The continent which currently includes Alex.

Survival is hard enough when you’re on familiar ground. Alex Price is very far from home, but there’s one thing he knows for sure: he’s not going down without a fight.

 

4. Field of Blood - Denise Mina:

 

Plot Summary:

 

A sensational murder provides the young journalist Paddy Meehan with her big professional break when she realizes that she has a personal connection to one of the suspects.Launching her own investigation, Paddy uncovers lines of deception that go deep into the past - and that could spell even more horrible crimes in the future if she doesn't get the story right.

 

What say you? Which one should I read? First to comment chooses!

 

I will be reading Pocket Apocalypse!

 

I decided to go ahead & add my extra Memorial Day rolls to this post as well:

 

 

This one puts me on Haunted Mansion #19: Read a book tagged gothic or horror, or that is a ghost story. For this one, I will be reading Wildfire at Midnight by Mary Stewart.

 

And, the next roll is: 

 

 

Which sends me back to Paradise Pier, where I started today, on space #28: reach a book set during the Victorian era, or that is tagged steampunk. For this one, I've decided to read By Gaslight by Steven Price, which is set in 1885.

BL-opoly + the long weekend!

Two things:

 

1. The jail library is accepting donations all weekend, in honor of Memorial Day! Anyone playing can donate any number of pages between 1 & 100 between midnight Friday & midnight Monday. Double pages if you read a short story that has something to do with any modern war (WWI or later) (so, up to 200 pages).

 

2. Everyone gets two free, additional Memorial day rolls! You can take them at any time over the weekend, and add them onto your current game play. Like with the extra readathon rolls, you have to finish all of the books you intend to read before moving on.

 

I am also posting this on the Q&A page!

Reading progress update: I've read 50%.

The Mists of Avalon - Marion Zimmer Bradley

I have been listening to this 50 hour audiobook for what now feels like forever, & I am only 1/2 way through. It's so freaking long that it has been broken up into 6 smaller parts, and I just started part 4.

 

The narrator, Davina Porter, is incomparable. She also narrated the Outlander series, so I knew she was fantastic going in, and was one of the reasons that I decided to listen to this book.

 

However, Guinevere is on my last fucking nerve. I don't think I've ever encountered an adaptation where she was more annoying. 

Roll 17!

Partner In Crime - J.A. Jance

I landed on Paradise Pier 31, which calls for a book that involves a carnival, or a book where the title begins with one of the letters in PIXAR.

 

I decided to continue with the Joanna Brady series! Partner in Crime is book 10 & I needed to read book 11 - Exit Wounds - for a different GR game by Saturday! These are quick reads & I'm already at 50%. It's a cross-over between Jance's two primary series, Joanna Brady and J.P. Beaumont. I've never read any of the J.P. Beaumont books, but all of the action takes place in Cochise County, so that doesn't seem to be a problem so far.

My canon: the little house years

Little House in the Big Woods  - Laura Ingalls Wilder, Garth Williams Little House on the Prairie - Laura Ingalls Wilder, Garth Williams On the Banks of Plum Creek  - Laura Ingalls Wilder, Garth Williams By the Shores of Silver Lake  - Laura Ingalls Wilder, Garth Williams The Long Winter  - Laura Ingalls Wilder, Garth Williams

When you are a reader it's possible to mark your life in books. There are those books that are so immutably connected to a prior time and place that opening the book is like time-travel - a way to be your younger self once again.

 

I could list the books that do this for me, although I would always add to the list as the thought occurred to me: A Little Princess, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, A Wrinkle in Time, From the Mixed of Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, Anna Karenina, Tales of the City, More Tales of the City, The Anna Papers, Charms for the Easy Life. Sooner or later, I will tell you about all of those books. And many, many more.

 

But today, I'm going to talk about Laura Ingalls Wilder and the Little House books, which I read into tatters. I was a bookish girl, and I still remember the Christmas that I was 7, in the third grade. We were living in a house in Omaha, Nebraska, on Hickory Street. Is there any street name that feels more Americana than a street named after a tree? My husband grew up on Birch Street. I lived on Hickory Street for a short time, and while I lived on Hickory Street, I woke up one Christmas morning, and ran downstairs and found the complete series under the tree for me.

 

The covers were the gingham edged version, I think. Although, I suppose I could be wrong about that because I no longer have my childhood editions. I read them into shreds, and they disappeared somewhere along the way. I own the gingham edged editions because I bought them when my daughter was small, hoping that she would love them as I did. She didn't, but I've unequivocally gotten my money's worth, because I've read them all, more than once. 

 

These might have been the first books that I truly loved. I devoured the first book, laying on my back under the tree on Christmas Day, watching the Christmas lights winking above me. I dragged myself out from under the tree to have Christmas dinner with my family - they wouldn't let me read during dinner, and I still remember racing through dinner, trying to be polite and conversational because all I wanted was to get back to Laura and Pa and their cabin in the Wisconsin woods, where Laura and Mary played in the attic surrounded by pumpkins and squash and the other harvested foods that would keep them fed during the long, dark, snowy winters. I can still see Garth William's illustrations in my mind's eye.

 

I read these books ten times. Twenty times. More times than I can count. I was always partial to the first two, and I never liked On the Banks of Plum Creek, probably because that was the year that they lived in Minnesota, and that horrible Nellie Oleson makes Laura's life so terrible.

 

As an adult, I am most astonished by The Long Winter, which has the most harrowing description of a town on the edge of starvation that I've ever read, although the terrible anxiety and danger is only apparent by reading between the lines. To a child, a long winter sounds like a lark, a delightful time-out-of-mind experience of endless snow days tucked in warm, in front of a fire. Only when I realized how close to death they were did I recognize the incredible courage demonstrated by Ma & Pa and the townspeople who kept themselves, their children, and their neighbors fed through a famine.

 

The television series premiered the same year that those books showed up under my Christmas tree. I don't connect those two things in my mind, although it seems obvious to me now that my parents gave me the books because of the series. For years, I faithfully watched every episode, laughing at Laura's antics, identifying with her enthusiasm, her heedlessness, her lack of interest in girlish things. The series ran until I was a junior in high school, long after I had left Laura behind for Ray-Bans and Tolstoy.

 

When I read the books now, I am that girl, all over again.

I believe in people

I was talking to someone the other day, and we were talking about religion, and he tossed out to me that old talking point "there are no atheists in foxholes." And I said to him, that I was an atheist. 

 

(And you know what I do, right? I am a child abuse prosecutor. I've handled cases involving small children who were murdered by parents, sexual abuse of kids, extreme physical abuse. The worst stuff that anyone will see anywhere, ever. Those are my days).

 

I told him that, given everything that I had seen, I could no longer believe in any sort of a god, because if there was a god, and he stood idly by while a three-year-old was starved and beaten by her parents until she died, well, then he was no god I wanted any part of believing in. And I said to him that I didn't care what he believed, but that I was really unable to remain silent when people talk about their religion and their god in a way that suggests that god is keeping them safe.

 

Because I've seen dead toddlers on dirty floors. 

 

And, I said, I don't see god doing a goddamned thing about it. God is sitting around, sitting on his hands - if he has hands - and not lifting a finger - if he has fingers. Nope, I said, do you know who is doing something about it?

 

Me. I'm doing something about it. Me, and a lot of people just like me, who get up every morning, and we fight, and we stay there all day, and we fight, and we go home to bed exhausted so that we can get up tomorrow morning. And fight.

 

So, when you start to feel like the world is just a mess, and everything is falling apart, and there's apparently no good in a world, stop and look around. Because every place that you see a disaster, you won't just see people running away from it. You will see people running INTO danger. You will see people running into danger to rescue the injured and fight for the endangered. You will see ordinary men, and women, and even children, jumping into rivers, running into burning buildings, tackling gunmen, to save strangers that they have never even met.

 

And then, when it's all over, you'll see doctors and nurses working all day and all night and all day and all night, over and over and over again, to save their lives and restore them to health. And you'll see the police and the prosecutors holding the bad guys accountable so that they can't hurt anyone else. You'll see ordinary people stepping up to the plate and taking action to make the world a better, safer, kinder place.

 

You would think that what I do would've caused me to lose my faith in humanity, because it did cause me to lose my faith in god. But, to the contrary, it has made me believe in people more. For every one monster, there are hundreds, even thousands, of heroes who will risk their lives to save someone else.

 

That's us, guys. We're the fight against violence. We're the ones who will save the world, given half a chance.

A Personal Literary Canon, Part 1

Jane Eyre - Michael Mason, Charlotte Brontë Pride and Prejudice (Penguin Classics) - Vivien Jones, Tony Tanner, Claire Lamont, Jane Austen The Song of the Lark - Willa Cather The House of Mirth - Edith Wharton

I've been spending a lot of time watching the implosion of my democracy, reading Washington Post and The New York Times, generally with a knot in my stomach, wondering what shoe will drop next. I have decided that in the service of my mental health, I have to limit myself to an reasonable amount of exposure to the terrifying Tumpshow per day. 

 

So, I logged onto my wordpress reader for the first time in ages & started reading the posts written by some of my favorite bloggers. One of them mentioned that he had been challenged by another blogger to identify his "literary canon." I found this intriguing - and it begged the question - what is a personal canon? If we assume that:

 

"The term “literary canon” refers to a body of books, narratives and other texts considered to be the most important and influential of a particular time period or place. Take a 19th century American literature course, for instance."

 

Then a personal canon would be: a body of books, narratives and other texts considered to be the most important and influential to me. I googled "personal canon" and found a number of posts written by bloggers - many of whom are pretty obviously far more intellectual than I am - that described their personal canons. I thought that was a pretty cool idea, so I started thinking about mine.

 

This is likely to be an ongoing project - I'm going to set up a page to collect my "Canon" posts, and write some argumentative posts where I identify a book/author for canon and go through an identification of why I am or am not going to include the book in MR's Personal Canon. At the outset, there will be some low-hanging fruit that I can easily identify (including the four authors listed above - I'll get to those amazing women in a moment). I'm also going to work on identifying some elements or questions to consult when I am working out whether or not something gets the imprimatur of canon from me. 

 

As a starting place, I've selected four works that are clearly part of my personal canon:

 

1. Jane Eyre - Michael Mason,Charlotte Brontë: One of the elements of canon that I intend to adopt is "personal importance." Identifying a book based upon a high level of personal importance means that it is a book that I strongly remember reading in the past, and that has been influential in some way. While Jane Eyre is widely considered to be a well-written book, a book that receives a high score on the personal importance element need not necessarily be well-written or well-regarded. Just important to me.

 

2. Pride and Prejudice (Penguin Classics) - Vivien Jones,Tony Tanner,Claire Lamont,Jane Austen: Another element of canon relates to "rereadability." In order to qualify as re-readable, a book needs to have some resonance that draws me back to the book. Pride and Prejudice is a book that I have reread more times than I can count. It is unlikely that a book will make it into my personal canon unless I have read the book more than once. Probably even more than twice. 

 

3. The Song of the Lark - Willa Cather: Related to re-readability is the quality of the book or the author being horizon-broadening in some sense. It needs to be something that enriches my life or perspective. Willa Cather scores very high on this element for me - I find her writing to be near perfect, and the ground-breaking nature of her writing as an American woman writing about the American west, has been a personal touchstone.

 

4. The House of Mirth - Edith Wharton: The last thing I can think of right now is thematic importance, especially as the themes relate to feminism, womanhood, and issues of equality. I would imagine that my canon will be heavy on women writers, because those are the writers to whom I gravitate. 

 

While the four books that I've mentioned so far are undeniably classics, not all books in my personal canon will be classics. I suspect that A Wrinkle in Time will make it in there, as will all of Harry Potter. On the other hand, Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald will be conspicuously absent, as those two authors leave me entirely cold, although they might prominently appear in someone else's canon.

 

Do you have a personal canon? What books do you think you would put on your list?

Booklikes-opoly: Roll 16

 

I finished my timeout! Roll 16 took me to Indiana Jones 26, which calls for me to read a book that is tagged genre: adventure or thriller.

 

The Likeness - Tana French 

 

While I was waiting for my time-out to end, I started re-reading Tana French's In the Woods, because I am interested in continuing her Dublin Murder Squad series, and it's been so long since I read this book the first time, I thought I needed a refresher. So, I'm not counting that one for BLopoly at all, but will read the second in the series, The Likeness, for this square, once I finish!

SPOILER ALERT!

The Woodlanders by Thomas Hardy

The Woodlanders (Penguin Classics) - Thomas Hardy, Patricia Ingham

As part of one of my Goodreads groups, I am doing a Hardy project this summer. The Woodlanders isn't the first Hardy I've read - in 2015, I read Far from the Madding Crowd and I read The Mayor of Casterbridge some time prior to 2011. As is my custom, I saved the scholarly introduction for my edition until after I read the book.

 

The Woodlanders is one of Hardy's later books, published in 1887, and is set in the woodland village of Little Hintock. It explores many of the usual Hardy themes: marriages (not good), sexuality (unrestrained), and social class (snobbery), especially class mobility (resulting in misery). It wouldn't be Hardy without a fair amount of melodrama, including several assaults, a man who dies because he is deathly afraid of a tree, and attempted maiming with something called a "man-trap," an off-screen murder, and a lingering death from typhoid. I don't think that Hardy hits the melodrama meter quite as aggressively as he did with Far from the Madding Crowd, but since that book was basically bat shit, that's damning with faint praise.

 

The primary plot revolves around a young woman, Grace Melbury, and her romantic travails. She is in love with a young man, Giles Winterbourne, who is a "woodlander," by which I mean that he works in the woods cutting down trees and pressing cider and the like. Grace is the only daughter of Mr. Melbury, who is a bit more affluent than most of the citizens of Little Hintock, and he has made substantial financial sacrifices to send Grace away from her home to a school. She returns after completing her education, and, as a result, is "neither fish, nor flesh, nor fine red herring," as the old expression goes.

 

From her father's perspective, she has been elevated above Giles, and he encourages to look a bit higher in marriage than an impoverished woodlander who doesn't even have a house. Along with Giles & Grace, we have Edred Fitzpiers, a young doctor who comes to Little Hintock to practice medicine, and Felice Charmond, the wealthy and beautiful young widow who owns a nearby estate. Notice that on the one hand, we have two very staid British names - Giles & Grace - and on the other hand, we have two poncy French names - Edred & Felice. This is not a coincidence.

 

Edred falls hard for the lovely Grace, who is persuaded by her father to let him pursue her. Initially, it seems that Edred has less than honorable intentions, but he ultimately marries her. It's unclear if this is because he knows that she won't engage in a dalliance with him, or if he actually falls in love with her. 

 

Once Grace & Fitzpiers are married, the book grows much darker. Fitzpiers strikes up an affair with Felice, which Grace learns of from her father. Winterbourne mopes around like Bella after her sparkly vampire abandoned Forks, going into a decline. It's sort of fun to see the Victorian male version of a decline, since it's usually the Victorian woman who fall into a decline for no apparent reason whatsoever. It involves typhoid and a cider press because a man's got to eat, even if he is desperately unhappy over the loss of his beloved. There is weeping, gnashing of teeth, a spot of assault, and a flight to the continent. Things end badly for Felice - who is murdered by a stalker that she has bewitched with her saucy flirtations - and Giles - who expires in noble sacrifice, nursed by Grace, clearing the road for a reconciliation of the miserable couple.

 

The Woodlanders explores the unhappy impact of unwise marriage. Victorian society was moribund, and social mobility was out of the reach of most people. The single exception to that rule was really marriage - through marriage, partners reach one another's level. It pulls up lower classes and pulls down upper classes. We are left with the impression that it was Mr. Melbury, by educating Grace above her station, put into motion a series of events that resulted in misery pretty much across the board. As a well-educated woman from the twenty-first century, this sort of irritates me. On the other hand, I get his point.

 

This book has a semi-happy ending, with Edred and Grace finding some equilibrium. It was apparently one of Hardy's favorites of his own books, which makes me pity his wife. A lot of people find Hardy very difficult to read because he is so grim. I can't take him seriously, however. There is just too much drama.

The Bone Tree by Greg Iles

The Bone Tree - Greg Iles

Wow. This was one of the most intense books I've ever read.

I have come to believe that the United States was founded in atrocity, and that we bear a scar that can never be healed without a full reckoning of the horror of slavery, Jim Crow, the Klan, lynchings, and the tremendous injustices that have been perpetrated on the black community. As Faulkner said:

"The past is never dead. It isn't even past."

Corruption has two meanings. In the first, it refers to government corruption - where the government operates in a way that is dishonest, typically to the benefit of the wealthy or well-placed. In the second, it refers to decay - the corruption of a corpse as it decomposes. In this trilogy, Iles is exploring both kinds of corruption, and how the first festers in such a way that it ultimately causes the entire society to decay.

If I have one complaint about this book, it is the entire subplot related to the Kennedy assassination. There is so much power in this narrative about racial injustice and terrorism and its effect on both its victims, its adversaries and its perpetrators that I feel like that entire tangent is unnecessary and weakens the force of the book. As Nietsche said:

“Beware that, when fighting monsters, you yourself do not become a monster... for when you gaze long into the abyss. The abyss gazes also into you.”

I'm not sure that there will be a single character left who hasn't descended into the abyss by the time this trilogy concludes.

Who spends their days white-knighting Ivanka Trump?

Women Who Work: Rewriting the Rules for Success - Ivanka Trump

I posted a "review" of this nonsense on GR (and I suppose that reposting it here is probably a good idea, since it is possible that GR could delete it as violating their reviews must be about the book not the author "rule").

 

This is really nothing more than my unedited ramblings that someone like Ivanka Trump had the temerity to publish a book called "Rewriting the Rules for Success."

Honey, you didn't "rewrite" anything. In order to need to rewrite the rules for success, that would imply that some sort of rules actually applied to you. Au contraire - you've never been subject to "rules" in your entire life. A better title for this book would be "Billionaire Daughters Who Benefit: Suspending, Evading and Transcending The Rules Via Nepotism, Entitlement and Privilege."

There can be nothing that this woman could possibly say that would be relevant to anyone other than herself, or possibly the other gilded daughters born of platinum vaginas into unimaginable privilege.


It's genuinely hard to be a woman who works. Hell, it's hard to be a person who works. Our society isn't great at supporting families. Ivanka Trump's despicable father and the rest of the Republican leadership is trying to make this worse. That makes the publication of this book an even greater affront to women who work. And women who don't work. And men. Human beings, actually.

Ivanka Trump is the diet coke member of the Trump family - she's sparkly, full of fake sugar and empty calories and is attractively packaged. Fundamentally, though, she is entirely substance free.

 

And now I have some useful idiot claiming that I've personally diminished the integrity of the site, and am not participating properly. Lol.

 

 

WTF.

A Monstrous Regiment of Women by Laurie R. King

A Monstrous Regiment of Women (Mary Russell, #2) - Laurie R. King

So, this one is a bit of a stretch, I admit. I landed on Electric Company, which meant that I needed to read a book with a character in STEM - science, technology, engineering and medicine. I restarted the Mary Russell series after finishing The Murder of Mary Russell, and decided that I could reasonably shoehorn this one into that category. Mary Russell is a student at Oxford University in the disciplines of theology and chemistry, Sherlock Holmes himself is constantly conducting scientific experiments, and Dr. Watson is a doctor. There you have it - 3 characters in STEM.

 

 This one is a favorite in the series. I really like Veronica Beaconsfield, and enjoyed going on a shopping spree with Mary now that she has reached her majority and gotten her inheritance. 

Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen

Saint Anything - Sarah Dessen

For Tomorrowland 34, I read Saint Anything because it is a YA book. This was my first book by Dessen - I've been seeing a lot of her books pop up on OB's feed, and I've been meaning to try her out for a while. It turned out that I owned this book, so I decided to read it, and while I had some issues with it, overall, I enjoyed it. I really liked Sydney, and her relationship with Layla.

Essentially, the book opens with the MC, Sydney's, brother being sentenced to some sort of prison/juvenile detention facility for a DUII crash in which he has paralyzed a 15-year-old boy named David. Peyton has been in a downward spiral for what seems to be described as at least a couple of years, but has been largely insulated from the full impact of his prior criminal behavior by affluence. The family is now struggling with the aftermath, while Peyton is off in prison. Neither parent handles it very well - Sydney's mother, Julia, essentially approaches it as yet another opportunity for inappropriate interventionist parenting and her father, whose name I don't even remember, is just basically checked out. 

 

I found the parents, actually, to be pretty believable, even though their behavior sometimes appears bizarre to someone who isn't involved with the criminal justice system. Parents of defendants have a limitless capacity to excuse the behavior of their child, even when their offense - and the consequences of it - seem entirely indefensible. Julia's behavior with respect to Peyton's incarceration seemed entirely plausible to me. There is more than one really uncomfortable moment of victim-blaming, where Julia points out that the 15-year-old victim shouldn't have been out riding his bike at night, and that if he'd been at home, where he should've been, her son wouldn't have been able to mow him over while blind-ass drunk, completely failing to acknowledge that her underage son also shouldn't have been out driving his car while hammered at night. These moments will make you want to slap Sydney's mother, and they are entirely consistent with the behavior of parents of individuals (no matter how old the children are, actually) who harm other people.

 

I liked the fact that Dessen included a scene with Peyton's lawyer where he points out to Julia that trying to contact the warden was inappropriate - I wish that she had expanded on this point a bit, actually. There are kids like Peyton, and one of the reason that kids like Peyton exist is because of parents like the Stanfords who insulate them from the true consequences of their behavior by using money and influence.

One of my friends, Obsidian Blue, mentioned in her review that she kept thinking of Brock Turner while reading this book. I would add that an even more obvious parallel is Ethan Couch, the teen with "affluenza" who got essentially a free pass for killing four people through the intervention of his parents money and influence.

I admired Sydney's clear-eyed view of her family, and Dessen did a good job demonstrating her discomfort with her parents behavior.

The one area that I had a serious issue was a subplot involving Ames, who was Peyton's AA sponsor before Peyton committed the crime that got him sentenced to prison. Ames is definitely not in the same social class as Sydney and her family - and he saw an opportunity to gain access and privilege for himself beyond his wildest dreams. His behavior towards Sydney was obvious to anyone who is less delusional than her mother. He was just gross, and no matter how delusional Sydney's parents were about Peyton, their integration of him into their lives was bizarre, incomprehensible and implausible. These are people who insulate themselves from the "common folk" with massive infusions of wealth and privilege - they send their kids to an expensive private school, and literally think that they can get a prison warden to ease up on their son when he's lost privileges inside of the institution. Inviting someone like Ames into their homes is completely implausible and incredibly frustrating.

 

Dessen did a good job describing the fractures within a family when one of the kids is extremely troubled, and what happens to the more functional child as the family tries to cope after they've lost control of one of their children. It is frustrating to watch Sydney be alternatively ignored and micromanaged by parents who are struggling with their son's behavior and their former inability to change, control or manage it. It is Sydney and, even, Peyton, who seem to be capable of assuming responsibility for their own behaviors as their parents try to wrest control back to themselves.

 

Taking these themes and generalizing them, I've both parented teenagers (my daughter is 20 & my son is 17) and been involved in the juvenile justice system (I actually prosecuted juveniles very much like Peyton - in my jurisdiction, he would've gone to prison for much longer than Dessen's plot indicated for the kind of injury he inflicted on the victim). These parents, and the juvenile system he was involved in, did Peyton no favors when they let him skate on his earlier criminal behavior, which included burglary. Ultimately, it is up to the delinquent to change his behavior, but parents who make excuses - far from helping their child - enable escalating criminality, which is precisely what happened here. I thought that Dessen's focus on these issues was effective. I'd really be interested to have her revisit this family once Peyton is released - according to the book, his sentence was 17 months. 

Booklikes-opoly Roll 11

This turned out to be such a complicated roll, I thought it demanded it's own post!

 

I finished my book for Frontierland 1 yesterday, but couldn't roll again until today!

 

My first roll was doubles 6:

 

Which put me on square 12 - a BL square. I rolled a 12 sided die and it came up 12.

 

 

Which called for me to use the wheel decide to move to a different land:

 

 

And I spun all the way around the board to Tomorrowland. I decided to land myself on Tomorrowland 34, since I literally just commented on one of OB's reviews that I was interested in reading something by Sarah Dessen book & that square calls for a YA/MG book.

 

Next, I rolled again for my doubles roll:

 

 

Which sent me to Electric Company: read a book where the MC is in STEM (science, technology, engineering or medicine, or where the authors first & last name contain all of the letters in TESLA.

 

Wouldn't it have been hilarious if I had rolled a 4, and ended up back on Frontierland 1?

The Murder of Mary Russell by Laurie R. King

The Murder of Mary Russell - Laurie R. King

Welp, I'm all caught up on this series now, as this is the most recently published book. I've been working on catching up on some favorite series in the lasts couple of months, & I've made progress on Three Pines (one remaining book), Sebastian St. Cyr (two remaining books), and Ruth Galloway (caught up).

 

I'm not sure how many more Mary Russell books are likely to be written - it feels a bit like Ms. King is coming to the end of the natural lifespan of the books. As the series matures, I admit to be terrified at the prospect that she will, sooner or later, kill off Holmes. 

 

However, I will continue reading them as long as she continues writing them.

 

This book is, of course centered around "The Murder of Mary Russell." I don't want to spoil anything for those of you who haven't read it, but 

Mary Russell doesn't actually die. Gasp. I know.

(show spoiler)

 

It focuses us on Mrs. Hudson, the landlady from 221B Baker Street and surrogate mother to Mary Russell. In this book, Laurie King takes one of the stories from the Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, IV. Gloria Scott, and she unravels it like an old sweater being remade, reknitting it with the same yarn, but in a pattern that reveals much more than the original, and that provides the backstory for Clara, nee Clarissa, Hudson. Much more than even The Moor, The Murder of Mary Russell goes back to the roots of Holmes and takes the interstices of the tale and fills them with detail and life. I had never read Gloria Scott, and when I read it after finishing this book, the weaving of the new story out of the old tale was fairly brilliant.

 

I don't think I've ever read the entire Holmes canon, and reading this reminds me anew that I need to do that sooner, rather than later. 

Readathon Recap

Who Buries the Dead (Sebastian St. Cyr Mystery) - C.S. Harris Natchez Burning - Greg Iles Within the Sanctuary of Wings - Marie Brennan

I ended up with about 12 hours of reading - I got in some good solid reading in the morning, and finished Who Buries the Dead by C.S. Harris - I was at about 60% at the beginning of RAT.

 

After that, I rolled my extra-rolls and figured out my reading strategy. I ended up starting Natchez Burning by Greg Iles, which is a very long book (816 pages) and made it to 61% (540 pages), which burned up (pun intended, lol) most of the day. I also took a break and read about 10% of Within the Sanctuary of Wings by Marie Brennan.

 

I got sidetracked in the middle of the day by yard work, however. It's been an incredibly wet and rainy spring here in the PNW, so we haven't been able to get outside and start the spring clean up of our property. My house sits on an acre, and about 1/3 of the acre is wooded with huge old pine trees, so we get a lot of downed limbs and other forest debris every winter. It's a big project! We also don't have any yard debris service, so everything needs to be burned before the end of the burn season.

 

Yesterday was dry, and the sun even came out for a while, so we decided to burn while the burning was good (burning seems to have emerged as thematically relevant). I dragged an adirondack chair up to our fire ring and sat out and read and tended the fire. 

 

We also just bought a new tool! We bought a battery operated chain saw that works a treat for lopping off limbs and cutting things up. I am here to tell you, fellow readers and individuals of the allegedly more delicate sex, that there is nothing more empowering than wielding a chainsaw. I went mad with power, trimming trees and dragging limbs down to the fire pit to be cut up and burned. It was awesome, and made me feel like a fucking goddess wreaking vengeance on winter.

 

So, yeah, that got in the way of reading. A bit.