Meredy's 2023 reading journal

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Meredy's 2023 reading journal

Editado: Jan 2, 10:48 pm

Dear Reader,

Welcome, and thank you for checking out my reading journal.

2023 is my twelfth year of cataloguing my reading on LibraryThing and posting my reflections. Recent years have been a bit rough for me, but I hold out hope for better times. It turns out that (a) I can't control what other people do very much at all, and (b) doing a better job of controlling myself would go far toward improving my life.

Working on it.

It's great to come here and feel that I'm among friends, friends who read and think and share their thoughts and extend warm camaraderie to one another. Thanks, all, for being a part of that..

Here's to a great reading year for all book people.

In friendship,

Link to 2022 reading journal.

Editado: Jan 17, 8:53 pm

This is my reading record, begun January 1st and updated over the course of the year, with links to comments and reviews. I truly hope to have more of those this year than last. And I look forward to seeing the thoughts and recommendations of my fellow readers on LT.

My first completed book of the year will be A Man with One of Those Faces, by Caimh McDonnell.


And so it is:

A Man with One of Those Faces (The Dublin Trilogy Book 1), by Caimh McDonnell (3 1/2 stars)

Jan 2, 8:59 am

Jan 2, 9:55 am

Happy New Year, Meredy! I hope to see this thread overflowing with excellent reads!

Jan 2, 10:49 am

Happy New Year!

Jan 2, 11:00 am

A very good year to you, Meredy, in both books and everything else.

Jan 2, 11:02 am

Happy New Year and happy new thread!

Jan 2, 11:53 am

What they all said!

Jan 2, 12:12 pm

Happy New Thread. I will be lurking.

Jan 2, 1:04 pm

Happy New Year and happy reading!

Jan 2, 2:26 pm

Happy new year; happy new thread!

Jan 2, 6:20 pm

>1 Meredy: & >2 Meredy: You don't need a placeholder, you already have a permanent place in our hearts! Best wishes in this New Year.

Jan 2, 6:22 pm

Happy New Year. I'll be lurking too.

Jan 2, 7:57 pm

Oh, thank you so much! It's very cheering to receive so many guests right at the start. I'm hopeful for a better year too, and wish all GDers the same.

>3 Bookmarque: I'm delighted to be a recipient of your special GD greeting. Thank you. It's already ornamented many a new thread. But I don't see it on yours!

Jan 2, 8:18 pm

Aww, thanks but I made it for all of you.

Jan 3, 1:56 pm

>1 Meredy: found and starred your thread!

Jan 3, 4:44 pm

Glad to see you're doing this again! Is January 3rd too late to wish you a Happy New Year? (If so, we can just pretend it's left-over confetti on the rug and sweep it under the couch.)

Jan 4, 9:01 am

Happy New Year! I look forward to following your reading adventures again!

Jan 4, 9:40 am

Happy New Year! hope it all works out better for you.

Jan 4, 11:54 pm

Thank you again, kind friends. It's by no means too late to wish each other a happy new year. I think anytime until about mid-January is fine for someone you haven't seen since last year, like maybe your dentist or a friend you meet occasionally for coffee. Me, I can use all the happies I can get. I'll be trying to make some changes in 2023.

Jan 17, 8:55 pm

Well, I'm on my second novel in The Dublin Trilogy, namely, The Day That Never Comes, going by the numbering I see here for the series. I really enjoyed the first. Go ahead and crow, Peter, you got me with an exploding bullet that ricochets.

Three and a half stars are a good score in my reckoning. I could go higher, but my reading of the Brother Cadfael novels when I was a new LTer calibrated my rankings, and I gave most of them 3 1/2. Either I'd have to go back and rescore hundreds of books or I'd have to say these books are better than Ellis Peters', and I can't say that.

Has anyone else dealt with this dilemma?

Jan 18, 2:49 am

>21 Meredy:
I am glad A Man With One Of Those Faces worked for you. McDonnell's books have become comfort reads for me. He has managed to keep the quality up.

In terms of ranking calibration; I have not worried too much about it. I can see how you could not give a higher ranking to McDonnell when comparing it to other books that you have loved and ranked. As it happens, in my ranking a "3" means it is a good book, so "3.5" is a good ranking. I reserve 4s and 5s for books that have really meant something to me or have totally engrossed me.

Jan 18, 10:03 am

>21 Meredy: On the ranking, yes. I often come up against that. My guideline is Agatha Christie and Tony Hillerman mysteries. I enjoy those very much, I can reread them with pleasure, but I don't feel the need to collect them all on my bookshelves. So they rate 3.5 (or I may have given a lot of them 3), which signifies a book I enjoyed reading, but don't need to keep. The only way I would revisit my ratings of them is if I reread them and find them better or worse. Otherwise my ratings stand for how I felt about them at the time I read them.

McDonnell for me is 4 or 4.5 stars as a rule, because I can see myself enjoying them again, but I doubt I will trouble to buy them for my shelves since I have them on my Kindle. 5 star mysteries for me are Cadfael, Sayers and Stout. :)

I'm not sure I'm always consistent rating books. Sometimes I feel really good after finishing a book and rate it higher than if I think carefully about comparisons such as above. My ratings are definitely emotional.

Jan 18, 5:02 pm

>21 Meredy: I find myself going back and forth on "grading." Some years I feel I'm falling into grade inflation, and some I think I'm being quite Scroogish. I think a lot of my variation is between 3 and 3.5, and less frequently between 3.5 and 4. On the whole, it has come to feel less important to get everything very consistent; I try to reflect accurately my rating for different books in the same genre or category, and also for books read in the same time period, since those seem like the scenarios where a comparison could be useful. Beyond that, I figure I'm not actually the same person who gave those ratings ten or fifteen years ago, and I don't sweat it too much.

Jan 18, 5:45 pm

>24 Jim53: " ... I figure I'm not actually the same person who gave those ratings ten or fifteen years ago, and I don't sweat it too much."

This is my take on it too. After all, when I re-read a work and come away with a completely different rating than previously, it's not the book that has changed.

Jan 19, 9:19 am

>23 MrsLee: I'm not sure I'm always consistent rating books. Sometimes I feel really good after finishing a book and rate it higher than if I think carefully about comparisons such as above. My ratings are definitely emotional.

Sometimes I see a book in my library that I've read a while ago and revise my rating, either up or down, having had a "cooling off" period. That post-read high (or low) is definitely a Thing.

Jan 22, 8:20 pm

I think sometimes one can rate a book highly, but sharing a subsequent revised rating can be much more useful (and valuable). How much of the book is memorable a few years (or even a few months) after you've finished it? Perhaps a phrase or scene lingers, despite one's initial reaction to the reading experience. There's always the possibility that the book resonated with you when experienced in a certain mood but wouldn't if read during a separate set of circumstances.

Jan 25, 1:20 pm

>23 MrsLee: for me 3 stars is good but out the door, 3 1/2 starts might stay on the shelves, 4 star probably will stay.

Editado: Fev 14, 3:26 am

I'm currently reading Jodi Picoult's Wish You Were Here, the first novel I've read that's set in covid time. She makes excellent use of the pandemic as a plot element.

Has anyone else stopping by here seen other recent fiction that incorporates Coronavirus?

I'm thinking it's about time for a reread of Camus' The Plague, which Picoult assuredly knew would come to mind for some readers.

(Edited to fix touchstones.)

Fev 14, 5:23 am

>29 Meredy: In a totally different genre and tone, John Scalzi's Kaiju Preservation Society was written and set during Covid.

Fev 14, 9:06 am

>29 Meredy: Glad you posted here, I was thinking about you yesterday and that we hadn't heard from you for a bit. :)

Jun 10, 12:25 pm

>29 Meredy: I hope all is well. You've been very quiet.

Set 11, 12:31 am

>32 clamairy: Thanks for checking. I'm okay, as long as you don't hold me to too high a standard for okayness. At least some of the drama has gone down. I've missed being active here, but I have lurked, and I've composed many a post in my head. I've reserved my mental energy mostly for things that made tougher demands.

Set 11, 12:47 am

And I will add: the discovery of N.K. Jemisin's trilogy The Broken Earth, in the fantasy genre, is a fabulous find. Plenty of stuff with special powers, but no faeries or dragons or scrying pools; much harder stuff than that. I've read the first two installments (The Fifth Season, The Obelisk Gate) pretty much straight through and have just begun the third, The Stone Sky. The author is a master hand with world building, plotting, character depiction, narrative style, and control of her story. Not that I didn't find a number of editorial lapses, of course, but she has held my attention magnetically through these volumes, and I will be looking for others when I finish this series.

Meanwhile--ah, Peter et al., I printed out a list of all the Caimh McDonnell books, including the Stranger Things series, and checked off the ones I've read, and there aren't any left! I've read them all, one after the other (with a very few interruptions). What do I do now?

Set 11, 7:48 am

>34 Meredy:
Great to see posts from you.

I understand there is a new Bunny Stateside coming out, so there is that to look forward to.

It is good to know you are watching out for editorial lapses, just like I does.

Set 11, 11:18 am

>34 Meredy: It's great to see you posting again! Like you, I loved The broken earth trilogy. It's unusual and welcome to find Science Fiction where the science is Geology

Set 11, 11:26 am

>33 Meredy: I set no bar for 'okayishness.' I'm just happy to see you posting. I also enjoyed that series. I have since bought several more of her books, but haven't gotten to them yet.

Set 11, 1:16 pm

>34 Meredy: There's a new Stranger Times book coming out in January; title is Relight My Fire. I'm about halfway through Love Will Tear Us Apart. Also there is a Stranger Times podcast that my husband really loves. I probably will also love it, but haven't had a chance to listen yet.

Set 16, 7:43 pm

>38 tardis: I'll be standing in line for it. Alas, that puts me in wait mode permanently. My rule, seldom broken, is to wait until a series (book or TV) is complete before I start it, so I can race on through at my own pace. I want the next one now.

Set 21, 3:34 pm

Wheee! New Bunny Stateside book hits Publish on October 17. I just preordered for Kindle at $4.99.

Editado: Set 25, 5:08 pm

Just finished The Stone Sky, part SFF, part allegory, and altogether a work of powerful intensity that stretches the bounds of fiction. I'm reluctant to leave its world, dark and dangerous though it may be, but it appears that the author has performed this feat more than once. I will wait a little and then seek out another of N.K. Jemisin's titles.

(Edited to fix touchstone.)

Editado: Set 24, 8:36 pm

And now I've begun Strange Practice, courtesy of BBs from @MarissaDoyle and friends. Seems like it will follow nicely on the Stranger Times series and keep me going until the next McDonnell comes out. I don't want to be engaged in some mammoth tome when that one hits the stands.

Set 25, 1:47 pm

>42 Meredy: I hope you enjoy it. In the Turnabout Is Fair Play Department, I've seen enough posts about the Stranger Times series now to push those to the top of my to be acquired list.

Set 30, 3:47 pm

>41 Meredy: I am happy to hear you enjoyed this series. I was very impressed by her writing, so after reading this I bought a few of her other books for Kindle, (when they went on sale) but still haven't read any of them yet.

Editado: Out 12, 4:27 pm

As a short interlude after finishing Strange Practice and while awaiting the next McGarry Stateside (releasing October 17th), I picked up John Scalzi's new Starter Villain. I've read one other Scalzi work, Lock In, and didn't care for it, but I decided to give this one a shot, maybe just because I liked the cover. It caught my interest very quickly and breezes right along, with just barely enough depth to keep it from being a comic strip. I'm past the 1/3 mark and enjoying it, almost in spite of myself.

(Edited to fix touchstones.)

Out 12, 8:00 am

Oh I liked Strange Practice, but alas, haven't read any of the rest of them. Fun though for sure. I've only read a few novellas from Scalzi - The Dispatcher Series, but I really liked those, too. They're audible originals and I wish they'd make more!

Editado: Out 16, 5:29 pm

Starter Villain

I've finished the Scalzi novel. I don't know how to rate it. If I simply rated on the pleasure scale, I'd probably give it a 5 because I thoroughly enjoyed it. But I also rate on substance, and it's practically weightless.

I liked the main character, Charlie, who seems as ordinary as a Sears sofa but who does have an amazing reserve of wit and nerve. I also liked the complicated plot-and-relationship contrivances and the mounting complexities of villainy. It was, in the end, rousing entertainment.

(Edited to fix touchstone.)

Out 16, 3:45 pm

>47 Meredy: But sometimes, isn't "rousing entertainment" exactly what's needed? The thing that has struck me sometimes when reading humorous books is that it's really a somewhat challenging note to hit in one's writing. There's always someone who (for any variety of reasons) misses the joke.

Out 16, 10:37 pm

>47 Meredy: Shortly after my first book came out, I received a letter from a woman thanking me for writing it because it helped her get through the first weekend after her soldier husband was deployed overseas to a conflict zone. Since then, I've decided that if I can continue to do that with my stories then my fluff is serving a noble purpose, even if it is fluffy.

Editado: Out 17, 12:06 am

>48 jillmwo: >49 Marissa_Doyle: Oh, in no way was I meaning to disparage a work for lacking gravitas. That's exactly what I needed, and it fulfilled its promises in every respect. I think I even loved it. Recalling it continues to deliver pleasure, despite all the villainy and the shooting. (There is quite a lot of violence in this story, but there's no chance of confusing it with something real.)

My point was that my ranking system doesn't afford me a good way to rate books of this sort because my scale was originally calibrated on "goodness" in a literary sense and not on how much I liked them. So I don't feel that I can do it justice with stars.

I also know that a frothy book might look deceptively effortless because it goes down so easy, but that appearance of effortlessness is part of the author's art.

Out 17, 9:36 am

>50 Meredy: Absolutely agree with you!! And, just in passing, rating with stars is so fraught with subjectivity that I rarely factor concern myself with them. I have always admired your assessments here in the Pub!

>49 Marissa_Doyle: Well done! Speaking as a daughter of a military family, that is an amazing accolade.

Out 17, 5:33 pm

Hurray! Other Plans, the new Bunny McGarry yarn, released today, has made it safely into my Kindle library.

I chose Muriel Spark's Memento Mori (a BB from Sakerfalcon) as a short one to tide me over. But I don't want to rush through it. I want to savor it. So I'll be starting the latest Caimh McDonnell when some readers hereabouts have long finished it.

Out 17, 8:41 pm

>52 Meredy:
I have had a peep at the first few pages of Other Plans. It is in danger of sucking me in and forcing me to put my current read on hold.

Out 19, 4:54 pm

>47 Meredy: For what it is worth, Scalzi has been describing Starter Villain as a light, fun read, not to be taken seriously.

Out 20, 3:47 am

>53 pgmcc: That's why I don't dare look. I'm humming along with Muriel Spark, a very different sort of experience, and I don't want to shortchange it, but the temptation would be great.

>54 Karlstar: I would certainly have to agree with him. Are you thinking of taking it in?

Out 23, 12:09 pm

>54 Karlstar: Definitely! It almost sounds like we could have had a group read, but a number of folks here have already finished.

Out 23, 4:58 pm

>55 Meredy: I have finished my current read and am likely to pounce on Other Plans when I go to bed shortly.

Out 24, 3:38 am

>56 Karlstar: Oh, I think some of us couldn't have waited patiently for others. But maybe we could have a group giggle presently.

>57 pgmcc: I was in a doctor's waiting room today with my Kindle, and I had to keep a grip on myself to avoid starting it. A few more days yet for Muriel Spark.

Editado: Out 24, 3:41 pm

>57 pgmcc: & >58 Meredy: I am skimming my book about Thomas á Beckett, being very impatient with those stubborn men, so I can begin Other Plans.

Out 24, 4:18 pm

>59 MrsLee:
Go for it.Tell Thomas he can wait. You have Other Plans.

Out 24, 4:34 pm

>56 Karlstar: & >58 Meredy: We could do a group thread. If I remember I will start one in a bit.

Editado: Nov 6, 6:32 pm

Your wish is granted!

A tiny - 5mm across - crab spider in its traditional ambush position on the tip of a blade of grass. This is an image made by stacking 6 separate photos, each with a different focus point to increase depth of field. At these magnifications it's razor thin.

Editado: Nov 7, 4:08 pm

>62 Bookmarque: Wheee! Thanks so much. It's beautiful.

Q: "At these magnifications it's razor thin." What is?

Reference for the bewildered:

Editado: Nov 7, 4:16 pm

The depth of field meaning the zone of focus from near to far. We are talking a millimeter or less for something like this. This spider is wicked tiny and my macro lens gets VERY close. In this combined photo you can see lots of things in focus that are not in each individual photo that used to make the final one. For example, in the shot that has the eyes sharp, the legs and abdomen aren't and vice versa. Make sense? Glad you like it. :)

Nov 16, 3:28 am

>64 Bookmarque: How do you even see these minuscule things to begin with?

Nov 16, 4:15 am

>65 Meredy:
She went to SpecSavers.

Nov 16, 7:22 am

I can't take all the credit. The human visual cortex is great at picking up breaks in patterns. This spider was backlit in the grass about 6 feet from me while I sat on the porch. A puff of air was actually moving it along a path of blades of grass and that movement caught my attention. It broke the pattern. Once you train yourself to see certain things, it gets easier. I've been a photographer of very small things for a long time so my brain has had lots of practice. Try it with mushrooms sometime. You'll see one, then another and suddenly the undergrowth is full of them and you'd swear they weren't there a second ago.

Nov 16, 11:32 am

>67 Bookmarque: I know what you mean about movement. I've been watching and photographing birds, other nature since I was a child, and the slightest movement, a change in pattern, gets my attention. It's kind of like predator vision, ha.

Nov 20, 7:24 pm

Oh, no, I missed noting my Thingaversary on the 15th: 12 years. All day I was bugged by a feeling that "today must be something", but I didn't realize what until today. Forgive me, please, Cheese-Devouring Enforcers. (Heading off to prepare a propitiatory platter.)

Nov 21, 8:59 am

Happy Thingaversary!

Nov 21, 9:32 am

>69 Meredy:
Happy Thingaversary! I am sure your cheese platter will calm the enforcers.

Nov 21, 11:56 am

>69 Meredy: Happy Thingaversary! What kind of cheese?

Nov 21, 12:52 pm

>69 Meredy: Happy Thingaversary! Best post photos of that cheese platter ;)

Nov 21, 1:25 pm

>69 Meredy: Happy Thingaversary and many more!!! But just one word of reassurance, it appears that recent events (pigs in treetops, cats and dogs living together, etc.) has exhausted the enforcers to such an extent that they are apt to simply nod gratefully over any left-over cubes of Velveeta you may have lying about and then be willing to wash it down with a swallow or two of tap water.

Absolutely any platter you provide will be far above any existing expectations and may move them to weep with tears of gratitude. Propitiating the enforcers is not what it was back in the day.

Nov 21, 1:43 pm

>74 jillmwo: Dear gawds... Not Velveeta! :oP~

Nov 21, 1:48 pm

>75 clamairy: Agreed on the Velveeta but... you are ok with the tap water...?!?

Nov 21, 1:55 pm

>76 ScoLgo: I assume that one depends on where you live. I drink tap water, but I double filter it to get out the chlorine and the calcium.

Nov 21, 2:14 pm

>75 clamairy: and >76 ScoLgo: I'm just saying that's what I'm hearing. It may just be an ugly rumor, but my source seemed quite sure.

Nov 21, 2:26 pm

Velveeta? That's a hangin' offense here in Wisconsin. And they like stuff like orange cheddar and cheese curds!

Nov 21, 3:36 pm

>79 Bookmarque: I think that's a hanging offense almost everywhere, thankfully... A serious flogging should be administered, at the very least.

Nov 21, 9:44 pm

Now I want cheese curds. And poutine. mmmmmm.

Nov 22, 8:19 pm

How's this one?

Or this?

Nov 22, 8:20 pm

Thank you all, and a happy Thanksgiving to you!

Nov 22, 9:00 pm

>82 Meredy: I'm drooling. Soooo much better than Velveeta!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Nov 22, 11:23 pm

>82 Meredy: You are doing it right.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Nov 23, 5:40 am

>82 Meredy: You have outdone yourself Meredy! You are a Queen of Cheese!

I wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving and hope your feast is at least as delicious as the ones in your pictures!

Nov 23, 6:46 am

Meredy, your cheese boards will calm the soul of any enforcer.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone who celebrates it.

Nov 23, 8:41 am

>82 Meredy: Those look lovely!

Happy Thanksgiving :)

Nov 23, 10:05 am

>82 Meredy:. The enforcers are overcome by the bounty of cheeses. They consider you to be forgiven just about any breaking of any regulations. (I am told that it was the prosciutto that knocked it out of the park.)

Happy Thanksgiving!

Nov 23, 10:35 am

>82 Meredy: Happy Thingaversary! Wish I had one of those platters ready for today, but I put no thought into the pre-dinner spread.

Dez 2, 12:17 pm

>47 Meredy: I've got a hold on Starter Villain and am looking forward to it. Last year I read his Kaiju Preservation Society, which was one of my favorites of the year just for its humor. I recommend that if you decide you'd like another dose.