Author Archives: natalieinne

About natalieinne

A reader of many books.

The Poppy War by R. F. Kuang

I can’t remember why I put it on my TBR in the first place, but I decided to read it now because it’s a Time top 100 fantasy book. I found it on hoopla, so I was listening to it for months.

Narrator: Emily Woo Zeller

Published: 2018

Genre: fantasy

Length: 531 pages or 18 hours 57 minutes

Setting: various locations within the Nikara Empire, a medieval Chinese-type society

Summary: Short version: Rin’s life as she gets into military school and fights the Federation Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Book review

Stone Fox by John Reynolds Gardiner

I’d finished the latest morning read aloud to the kids (Ozma of Oz), so it was time for a short story filler between books. Stone Fox is a classic that’s been on my “read to the kids” list for a while. I decided now was the time to read it.

Published: 1980

Genre: historical fiction novelette

Length: 84 pages (but the text was big and there were numerous illustrations, so there’s no way it was actually novella length)

Setting: early 1900s Wyoming, fall to winter

Summary: Little Willy tries to save the family farm by winning a dog sled race Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Book review

The Septic Saga

Sadly, “The Septic Saga” is not the name of a book I just finished. Instead, it describes the current problems I am having with my house. If you’re interested in hearing about the saga, read on. If not, more book reviews are coming, I promise, just maybe not this week. It’s been a bit crazy.

It started on Christmas Eve. I had thrown in a load of laundry and ran downstairs to dry the laundry before we started making cut-out cookies. Unfortunately, I didn’t notice that the front-loading washing machine hadn’t emptied until *after* I opened the door. Smelly water started pouring from the washing machine, all over me. Once I got over the stunning fact that there was way more water in the washing machine than there should be, I hurriedly shut the door and started cleaning up the floor. We were able to spin most of the water out of the washer, but something was obviously wrong.

My husband figured there was just a clog in the line somewhere so he snaked the line leading out of the house. That led to water pouring out of the line leading from the house. My poor son was stuck behind the washing machine, holding a bucket to catch the gallons of water that was coming from the pipe.

OK, fine, the kitchen was off line. We figured we were still OK because when we had to replace the septic line leading from the house to the septic tank earlier this spring (the guys installing a charging station for our new electric car cracked the pipe digging a trench for the electric line), they had said that the kitchen and washing machine didn’t empty into the septic tank. However, when I rinsed out the clothes that were in the washer, a gush of water came out of the pipe leading out of the house from the kitchen line. It seems the lines were connected, and we couldn’t use any drains. It was Christmas Eve and my mother-in-law had just come to spend the night with her grandkids. Obviously, we couldn’t stay if we couldn’t use the drains. So, we packed up Christmas to move to my mother-in-law’s two-bedroom apartment 30 minutes away.

We spent Christmas Eve and Christmas Day at my mother-in-law’s house. (For those of you keeping score, there were five adults (or nearly so) and three dogs in this apartment.) The day after Christmas, we decided to go home and check on the status of the house. No more water had drained into the washing machine and the basement wasn’t flooded. We still had the camp toilet and decided to stay in the house during the day and head to my mother-in-law’s for dinner and overnight until we could get someone to take a look at it.

We got the septic guy to come in and look at the system. The septic tank wasn’t backing up, but there was a problem with the kitchen line. We got someone to come in and pump the septic tank, and it seemed to be working fine. We got a contractor to come in to install a pump to hook the kitchen line into the septic tank. When it came time to tap into the kitchen line, he discovered the washing machine was full of water again and water poured from same pipe. Since all he was going to do was cap that pipe, and the cap wouldn’t hold under too much pressure, we told him to stop what he was doing. It seemed to be a problem with the leach bed.

So, once again, we have no drains at the house. This time, we’re spending a few nights at a local friend’s downstairs apartment they rent out. It’s close to the house so easy enough to head home during the day. Even so, we’re out of sorts. I just want to be able to take a shower or flush the toilet without worry where the water is going to end up. Thursday, the excavator is coming to find our leach bed (we have no idea where it is) and do some analysis. Let’s hope it’s not too expensive of a fix.

So, that’s the reason why there might not be many blog posts this week! And, college classes start up next week for a class I’ve never taught and I only have two weeks of lecture written for the class. Needless to say, I’m a bit stressed.

Leave a comment

Filed under Activities

Bringing it to the Table by Wendell Berry

My first new book of the year! At the end of the year, I decided to read the top book on my TBR. It was a Wendell Berry book recommended from The Constant Farmer. My library didn’t have that book, but this one looked perfect, especially since I’m teaching a People, Plants, and Places class next semester.

Published: 2009

Genre: nonfiction farming

Length: 234 pages

Summary: Short version: Essays about farming, farmers and food Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under Book review

2021 Reading Challenges

It’s a new year so it’s time to set up my reading challenges for the year. Mr. Curiosity is a senior this year, so he won’t be able to participate in our usual Reading the Alphabet Challenge. Therefore, I decided to add in a monthly reading challenge. That way, he can participate for as long as he’s at home. As a bonus, Miss Adventure decided she wanted to join in our reading fun. For the Monthly Challenge, we created a list of categories and chose three for each month. No category could be chosen more than three times and every category had to be chosen at least once. Also, no category could be repeated in back-to-back months. Since I’m adding in a Monthly Challenge, I’m going to reduce the Reading Alphabet Challenge to either a title or author to complete a letter. I don’t want to stress about finishing both challenges. These are supposed to be fun, not stressful.

For GoodReads, I’m going to stick with my usual 125 books this year. I’ve been pretty steady at near 100 novels (at least 200 pages long) a year. I should read enough novellas and graphic novels to make up the difference.

I’ll keep track of the books I’ve read in the Current Reading Challenge, which will move to Past Reading Challenges once this year is over.

Leave a comment

Filed under Activities

Best and Worst of 2020

It’s time to look back on my reading for the year and post the best (those I highly enjoyed) and worst (my did not finish books) of 2020. I’m going back to the book logs in my bullet journal for my highly enjoyed books, because I only marked five books as “highly recommend” on the blog and I know I read more great books than five. All links go to my original reviews.

One page of my color-coded book log from 2020

Let’s start with my favorite genres – scifi and fantasy. This year, TWO new Dresden Files books came out, Peace Talks and Battle Ground. Both were awesome additions to the canon. I can’t wait to see where he goes from here. I started a few new series that I will need to read more of, like The Utterly Uninteresting and Unadventurous Tales of Fred, the Vampire Accountant, House of Earth and Blood, The Calculating Stars, A Discovery of Witches (although I liked the first book better than the second), Dread Nation, and The City We Became.  There was even some standalone scifi/fantasy I enjoyed, like Space Opera (a much needed boost of humor).

I did enjoy some fiction as well, like The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane, The Bookwoman of Troublesome Creek, The Bookshop on the Corner, Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine, and A Curious Beginning (I’m a sucker for Victorian female scientists). Again, I found some delightful short story collections in Roar and His Hideous Heart.

Finally, a bit of nonfiction. I didn’t get to travel much this year because of Covid, so I traveled by book instead. I found Dear Bob and Sue to be an amusing tour of U.S. national parks and The Lands of Lost Borders just made me miss bike touring even more.

I only picked up two books I didn’t finish this year. One was Frankenstein – we watched the play instead of me reading the long, dreary book to the kids. The other was Black Leopard, Red Wolf – I wasn’t in the right frame of mind for the violence and disjointed story.

Overall, the 2020 was not a great year, but I did read some great books during the year. I’m looking forward to finding new books I love in 2021.

Leave a comment

Filed under Book review

Jade City by Fonda Lee

This is my last book of 2020 that I somehow skipped posting last year. I’ll sneak it in now. This was one of Time’s top 100 fantasy novels, and gave me a J title (the last letter I needed in my Reading the Alphabet Challenge).

Published: 2017

Genre: fantasy

Length: 495 pages

Summary: Short version: The Mountain Clan tries to take control of the jade trade Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Book review

2020: Year in Review

I’ve actually kept up with blog posts this year (probably because I never got behind while traveling since we didn’t travel after January). That means, I can do a year in review on the last day of the year. I’m spending the day watching Keeanu Reeves movies. We’re starting with Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure. I’ve got lots of extra brain capacity for writing a blog post.

According to GoodReads, I read less books this year, 126, than last year, at 133. That came out to be 101 novels (although it looks like I missed one of the books. I’ll post it tomorrow). However, I increased my page count by about 1,000 pages for the third year in a row, up to 43,583 pages. That’s interesting because I didn’t read any 1,000+ page books or many graphic novels this year. Without being able to browse at the library for much of the year, I had a harder time finding graphic novels to take home. My shortest book was a graphic novel of only 64 pages, Castle in the Stars (it was so short I didn’t even write it up). My longest book was the illustrated Game of Thrones book, at 896 pages.

While I only did the Alphabet Challenge this year, I successfully completed the challenge. Mr. Curiosity is going off to college next year, so he won’t be able to join me in the alphabet challenge next year. I think I’m going to add a monthly challenge next year so he can join while he’s still home.

I made more of an effort to read books set around the world and got my country total up from 15 to 25. That was 14 new countries. I also read books set in 22 different states, with eight new states. I’ll continue to try to add more countries to my list going forward.

Leave a comment

Filed under Book review

Soul Music by Terry Pratchett

This was a book off my Kindle. I needed a quick book, since it turned out the second book I’d requested from the library, I’d already read this year (it was The Fate of Food). I also wanted something that was a near certain good book. Discworld is always good, if not great. This is the 16th Discworld book and the third Death book.

Published: 1998

Genre: fantasy

Length: 424 pages

Setting: mostly Ankh-Morpork

Summary: Short version: Susan has to take over from Death and doesn’t want Buddy to die Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Book review

The Last by Hannah Jameson

I saw a GeekDad post that described this book as a cross between Station Eleven and The Shining. I was intrigued, and decided I wanted to read it as my last book this year. That didn’t work out so well when it turned out I had already read the second library book I requested. But, it’s close to the last book I’ll read this year.

Published: 2019

Genre: post-apocalyptic fiction

Length: 340 pages

Setting: L’Hotel Sixieme, Switzerland, present day

Summary: Short version: Jon documents events at the hotel after nuclear war

Long version: Nuclear bombs were dropped on many large cities around the world. The people staying at L’Hotel Sixieme have to decide what to do. While many leave, a core group of people stay. That includes Dr. Jon Keller, a historian. He decides to make a record of events at the hotel going forward and tells some of the inhabitants’ stories before arriving at the hotel. They find a dead girl in a water tank and Jon starts investigating who she was and how she got there. Everyone else questions his desire to solve the mystery. Eventually, they end up moving to the nearby town.

Final thoughts: Another “just fine” book. I never really got drawn into the story (unlike with Station Eleven). None of the characters felt sympathetic. That was probably because everyone was stressed out and worried the world was coming to an end. They were in a remote location and so cut-off from news. What if they were the only ones left? How were they going to survive the winter? Even with all the supplies of a big hotel and not too many people, they would run out. The people who started hoarding first were at a definite advantage. Relationships begin to break down in their small community, and then they find out there’s a perfectly functioning society in the nearby town. All that stress and worry could have been avoided if they had been willing to leave their little bit of sanctuary.

A central plot line is Jon’s questions about the dead girl they found. He can’t understand why no one else want to learn more about who she was or how she got there. I wasn’t satisfied with the answer to that mystery. Jameson seemed to set up a theme of everyone was meant to be where they were. An then there was the whole subplot of Jon having a toothache and refusing to get it looked at. Why at that to the story? I found it annoying detail.

Title comes from: The people at the hotel thought they might be the last ones alive

Reading challenges fulfilled: book #99 for 2020

If you’re interested in purchasing the book, you can click on the cover image to follow an Amazon affiliate link to the book and thanks for supporting my blog!

Leave a comment

Filed under Book review