2016 TBR Challenge: I Capture the Castle

I Capture the Castle, Dodie Smith

Published: 1948

Source: Chicago Public Library

31122Through six turbulent months of 1934, 17-year-old Cassandra Mortmain keeps a journal, filling three notebooks with sharply funny yet poignant entries about her home, a ruined Suffolk castle, and her eccentric and penniless family. By the time the last diary shuts, there have been great changes in the Mortmain household, not the least of which is that Cassandra is deeply, hopelessly, in love.

Ok so I’m basically failing at our self made 2016 TBR Challenge.  But if I’m going down without reading those 10 books, at least I picked up I Capture the Castle.  This was just a delightful read.  I almost felt like I was a kid meeting Anne Shirley for the first time again. Or Emily Starr and the letter bills that she filled with her writings.  So if you enjoy either of those LM Montgomery heroines you should definitely pick up I Capture the Castle.  

Yes, Cassandra’s family is kind of ridiculous, but they have a lot of charm.  I kind of wanted to poke her father and hug her stepmother – but I still enjoyed them all!  Maybe I didn’t love how things played out between Cassandra and her sister, though that could be simply because my sister is my favorite and I couldn’t do those things!  This was a short, sweet and sometimes silly read.  Definitely one I needed this year.  If you need a book to put a smile on your face leading into November I definitely recommend this one.  I just spotted Primary Colors on my bookshelf – now more than 10 years waiting to be read. Maybe that will have to be my next challenge attempt for a swing in the opposite direction…

Just Couldn’t Finish: The Devourers

The Devourers, Indra Das

Hardcover, 306 pages

Published July 12th 2016 by Del Rey

Source: e-ARC from NetGalley

On a cool evening in Kolkata, India, beneath a full moon, as the whirling rhythms of traveling musicians fill the night, college professor Alok encounters a mysterious stranger with a bizarre confession and an extraordinary story. Tantalized by the man’s unfinished tale, Alok will do anything to hear its completion. So Alok agrees, at the stranger’s behest, to transcribe a collection of battered notebooks, weathered parchments, and once-living skins.

From these documents spills the chronicle of a race of people at once more than human yet kin to beasts, ruled by instincts and desires blood-deep and ages-old. The tale features a rough wanderer in seventeenth-century Mughal India who finds himself irrevocably drawn to a defiant woman—and destined to be torn asunder by two clashing worlds. With every passing chapter of beauty and brutality, Alok’s interest in the stranger grows and evolves into something darker and more urgent.

Shifting dreamlike between present and past with intoxicating language, visceral action, compelling characters, and stark emotion, The Devourers offers a reading experience quite unlike any other novel.

The description for the Devourers is certainly correct that this book is dreamlike.  At first I was entranced. Alok meets a stranger standing outside a party and feels like he’s in a dream himself and I was drawn right in.  The story begins as kind of spellbinding and then the details became violent, gritty and honestly just too gross for me.  

I was ready to get into the idea of Indian werewolves – or many multicultural werewolves as it appeared to be going – but the darkness and the rape just overwhelmed me honestly.  The cover is beyond gorgeous and this book is getting rave reviews so maybe this was just a miss for me.  The Devourers promises quite a story and an emotional one at that, just be ready for really visceral reactions as you’re reading.

Thank you so much NetGalley and Del Ray for this advanced copy in exchange for an honest opinion.  

It’s Monday: What Are You Reading?

So last week I decided to finally read A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas.  Basically I’m not broken for fiction, especially fantasy.  If you didn’t listen to me when I loved A Court of Thorns and Roses then listen now!  I just don’t know where to turn so for this week I’m going to stick to nonfiction and go for a totally different genre when I’m ready for fiction.  

Last week was also my 10 year wedding anniversary and my husband and I went to The Girl and The Goat to celebrate.  I’m still in recovery from the meal.  My first reading inclination was to follow this meal with rereading Sweetbitter for the restaurant experience – but see the above ACOMAF issue; so I started Generation Chef: Risking it All for a New American Dream by Karen Stabiner.  I’m really enjoying how Stabiner is unfolding the opening of a new New York Spanish-style restaurant, even though I’m going into work hungry after reading.  I just checked The View from the Cheap Seats: Selected Nonfiction by Neil Gaiman out from the library again so hopefully I’ll finish this time before it has to go back to the library.  I also have Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman by Lindy West which I’ve seen nothing but raves about.  All good options for my broken book heart. 

When I’m ready for fiction I think I’m going to pick up A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles – reviews like The Gilmore Guide to Reading have me ready to love this.   I might also be ready for some fabulous Flavia de Luce in Thrice The Brinded Cat Hath Mew’d.  Eva at The Paperback Princess enjoyed this one and I can’t wait to see what else Flavia gets into. 

I really wanted to love The Devourers by Indra Das but something about the violence has just put me over the top.  I think I have to call it a DNF.  

What are you reading this week?  Thanks to The Book Date for hosting this check-in!

Review: Wonder Women

Wonder Women: 25 Innovators, Inventors and Trailblazers Who Changed History, Sam Maggs

Published October 4th 2016 by Quirk Books

Hardcover, 240 pages

Source: ARC from Publisher


Ever heard of Allied spy Noor Inayat Khan, a Muslim woman whom the Nazis considered “highly dangerous”? Or German painter and entomologist Maria Sibylla Merian, who planned and embarked on the world’s first scientific expedition? How about Huang Daopo, the inventor who fled an abusive child marriage only to revolutionize textile production in China?

Women have always been able to change the world, even when they didn’t get the credit. In Wonder Women, author Sam Maggs introduces you to pioneering female scientists, engineers, mathematicians, adventurers, and inventors—each profile a study in passion, smarts, and stickto-itiveness, complete with portraits by Google doodler Sophia Foster-Dimino, an extensive bibliography, and a guide to present-day women-centric STEM organizations.

Basically Sam Maggs has found the way to my feminist non-fiction book nerd heart with this delightful book of portrayals of awesome women.  I was totally head over heals when Maggs referred to German mathematician and physicist Amalie Emmy Noether as “a total BAMF from the beginning”.  I love non-fiction that is just fun to read on top of being full of great information.  Wonder Women doesn’t take itself too seriously even while dealing with seriously amazing moments in history.  Each “chapter” is no more than 4 pages so you’re getting information but are definitely left wanting to know more.  

I hadn’t heard of the majority of the women Maggs features in Wonder Women which was really cool too.  Marie Curie is obviously amazing – but I liked that she got a paragraph versus Bessie Coleman who had a section to herself.  Side bar – Is it just me that wanted to know more about Bessie Coleman  everytime I drive to O’Hare?  It can’t be just me right?  

Maggs gives us women from all over the world which was great – every time period, every religion, sexual orientation.  I can’t imagine how much research she had to do to go far back into women’s history in places like China and India.  So I will say Maggs must be a BAMF herself!  Wonder Women is funny and witty and tells the story of every kind of woman.  I want to put a copy into the hands of all the smart ladies I know!

“It’s made to believe

Women are same as Men;

Are you not convinced

Daughters can also be heroic?

Wang Zhenyi

Thank you so much Quirk Books for this advance copy in exchange for an honest review!

Library Checkout September 2016


This move at least forced me to not hoard my library books because I was so afraid of losing them!  However, instead I’ve lost my kindle which is really a terrifying feeling.  I have such good ebooks checked out and I can’t get to them!  

Checked Out and Currently Lost Ebooks

  • Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman by Lindy West
  • A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas (yes this is because I also can’t find the hardcover I preordered.  Shut up)


Checked Out Currently Reading

  • The Traitor’s Wife: The Woman Behind Benedict Arnold and the Plan to Betray America by Alison Pataki (meh)
  • The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe by CS Lewis. The kid is up and down on this so far. I will make her love it! 
  • The Cartel by Don Winslow – I’m not reading this but my husband is. He’s obsessed and in love. So if Mexican cartels are your thing this is apparently highly recommended!  I don’t think I can do the violence he’s describing personally though it sounds excellent.

Checked Out Read – These are August too

  • The Sight by Chloe Neill 
  • Sons and Daughters of Ease and Plenty by Ramona Ausubel – Check out this review at the Gilmore Guide to Books but I really enjoyed this! 
  • Apprentice in Death by JD Robb (perfect post move read)


  • Love Loss and What We Ate by Padma Lakshmi  (Thanks Sarah for the reminder!)
  • Overruled by Emma Chase
  • My Own Words by Ruth Bader Ginsburg
  • Magic Binds by Ilona Andrews
  • Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo (I’m 17th in line and might not be able to handle this wait! But if I buy it will I just lose this too?)
  • The Hating Game by Sally Thorne
  • The Princess and the Pony by Kate Beaton – this has been in transit since May. I’m slightly worried that the kid will never get to read about the pony that toots too much again. 
  • Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

Returned Unread – Too many good things to list. It’s kind of sad. I’ll just put them back on my list and pretend August/September never happened! 

Thanks Shannon at River City Reading for this check-in! What’s on your library shelf this month?

Reading and Stickering with Babycakes

My kiddo got her very own box of book mail!  Aside from reading those stinking Rainbow Fairy books we’ve been diving into these and I want to share our new favorites.

Polar: A Phototacular Book

Carol Kaufmann, October 6, 2015, Workman Publishing


These pictures are awesome!  I love that this is land and water animals and even shows the Northern Lights. I want my kid bitten by the travel bug as soon as possible so she can dream of seeing the world!

Paint By Sticker: Zoo Animals

Workman Publishing, September 20, 2016


This book is so fun!  Anything that keeps the kid entranced without help is a win but this is also really fun to do together.  This is like the classic paint by numbers but no mess!  I was even more excited when I saw Andi’s ABCs post about an adult version! I know what is going in a lot of Christmas stockings this year.

Eek! Halloween! Sandra Boynton

Workman Publishing, August 23, 2016


If you read with littles at all and haven’t read Sandra Boynton you’re missing out!  These are always fun and silly and easy to read again – and again – and again!  My little one is getting so close to reading her self so this is a fun one for her to practice sight words on and get excited for Halloween.  She would have loved this totally a few years ago too.

Thank you so much Workman Publishing for these fun books!

It’s Monday – What Am I Not Reading?

Hi!  I’m still alive and reading! Holly – well she’s still alive.  She’s still reading.  Maybe if I send her enough obnoxious emails and texts she’ll even tell me what she’s reading and come review it. We moved which was suck-tacular and I still can’t find all my books which is traumatic. As a result of the trauma and just way too much going on for all of August I am compensating by reading all the books at once.  This is me basically

There’s water. There’s brooms. There’s Mickey. This craziness ...

Here’s what I’m reading – when I’m not reading Rainbow Fairy books with Babycakes (oh the pain – we’re starting The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe this week)

Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake – sister queens who want to kill each other and magic?  Yes please.

The View from the Cheap Seats by Neil Gaiman – totally savoring this and then forcing it on the husband.

The Swan Riders  by Erin Bow – Deliciously creepy. I loved The Scorpion Rules and I’m excited to see where this goes.

The Devourers by Indra Das – so compelling yet also grossing me out.

Can I say I’m still reading Here Comes the Sun if I haven’t picked it up in weeks?  They’ve been rough weeks.  I will restart it because I need to give this a fair shot!

What are you reading?  Have you read any of these books with an opinion on what I need to finish first?

Thanks to The Book Date for hosting this check-in!