"Outside a dog a book is man's best friend, inside a dog it is too dark to read!" -Groucho Marx========="The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid." -Jane Austen========="I don’t believe in the kind of magic in my books. But I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book."-JK Rowling========"I spend a lot of time reading." -Bill Gates=========“Ahhh. Bed, book, kitten, sandwich. All one needed in life, really.” -Jacqueline Kelly=========

Sunday, September 24, 2023

Sunday Salon -- Ready, Set, Go. Time for an adventure.

Don and friend after the football game Saturday.

It is raining tonight (Saturday). The weatherperson used the words "atmospheric river" but this is not that. We'll see what tomorrow brings. Earlier in the day it was overcast and muggy which made it seem warmer than the predicted 68 degrees.

And we're off: Monday we are heading out on a big adventure. In 1923, 100 years ago, my father's father (my grandfather) left his job on the Panama Canal and went to Ecuador as an outfitter for a missionary who was planning a trip down the Amazon. Granddad kept a journal so we know approximately where he went and what he did. We never knew this grandfather as he died during the construction of the Bonneville Dam on the Columbia River dividing Oregon and Washington State when my father was six-years-old. But his journal and those stories have become part of our family lore. My brother dreamt up a trip to cover some of the territory that Granddad covered and Monday the adventure begins. Five of us (3 sibs and 2 spouses) will fly to Ecuador and spend a week exploring different locations from volcanoes in the high Andes down to a tributary river of the great Amazon and a lot of sight-seeing in between. Next we hop on a short plane ride to Panama where we will get to see the canal that our granddad helped build. We fly home thru Miami, another city we've never visited, and hope to visit two more National Parks, The Everglades and Biscayne Bay, before flying home in mid-October.

Will I be taking a blogging hiatus? I am not sure but I am not traveling with my computer. If I do post something it will have to be from my phone and I've never done that before. So it is unlikely you will hear from me but don't panic if I seem to disappear for a while. I'll be back, hopefully with lots of stories to tell.

What books am I taking on the trip? 
  • The Aleph and Other Stories by Jorges Luis Borges -- This book was on some list of books to read before you die. Since Borges is a Latin American author I thought it would be a good time to read it. (Short Stories. Print copy.)
  • Maame by Jessica George. I hoped I could finish this book which is set in London with a Nigerian-Brit main character but I had to return it to the library before I was done. Now I have the audiobook version and I may use some of my time on the plane listening to it. (44% complete, print and now audiobook.)
  • Tom Lake by Ann Patchett. A mother tells her three daughters a story from her past which involves a famous actor. (20%, audiobook.)
  • A book about a person's experience in Ecuador. (Not sure of it's title at this moment. Print.)
New phone: I finally got a new smart phone. My last one was so old it wasn't so smart anymore. Just in time for our trip, too! The photo below of our dog was one of the first photos I took on the new device.

Bingley is looking quite apprehensive, isn't he?

See ya in October!

Thursday, September 21, 2023

Review and quotes: SHRINES OF GAIETY

Shrines of Gaiety by Kate Atkinson

Book Beginnings quote: 

Friday56 quote, from page 24, one of the last of preview pages:

London 1926. Roaring Twenties.
Corruption. Seduction. Debts due.

In a country still recovering from the Great War, London is the focus for a delirious nightlife. In Soho clubs, peers of the realm rub shoulders with starlets, foreign dignitaries with gangsters, and girls sell dances for a shilling a time.

There, Nellie Coker is a ruthless ruler, ambitious for her six children. Niven is the eldest, his enigmatic character forged in the harsh Somme. But success breeds enemies. Nellie faces threats from without and within. Beneath the gaiety lies a dark underbelly, where one may be all too easily lost. (Publisher)

Review: I just realized that I am a fan of Kate Atkinson. This is my third book of hers and I enjoyed each of them, Shrines of Gaiety is no exception. Set in London in that time period between wars, Nellie Cocker and her children run several night clubs in London and to stay out of trouble with the police they have bought Maddox, an influential police inspector. But when his protection breaks down, Nellie is placed in the Holloway prison for a short stint. When she gets out she is determined to never go back, but every part of her kingdom seems to be falling apart. Sometimes she is not even sure which side her children are on.

Two parallel stories run concurrently with Nellie Cocker's. The story of Gwendolyn Kelling, a librarian from York, who makes her way to London to search for her friend's teenage sister, Freda Murgatroyd and her friend Florence. Gwendolyn's first stop in her search is the police station where she talks to the Detective Inspector, John Frobisher. Frobisher is very concerned about all the girls who have gone missing lately and hires Gwendolyn as an informant on Nellie Cocker and her organization.
Needless to say, the story gets all tangled up. Many of the good guys are actually bad and the bad people are the ones who are trying to do right. The ending was satisfying and not entirely unexpected.
My hubby and I listened to the audiobook together. We both enjoyed it very much.

Book Beginnings on Friday is hosted by Rose City Reader. First Line Friday is hosted by Reading is My Super Power. Share the opening quote from current book.The Friday56 is hosted at Freda's VoiceFind a quote from page 56 to share. Visit these two websites to participate. Click on links to read quotes from books other people are reading. It is a great way to make blog friends and to get suggestions for new reading material. 


Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Bookish and Other Thoughts

Just a few musings for this Tuesday...

1. We leave for a sixteen-day international trip this coming week. And I'm not ready! I keep thinking of things I might need and have spent $$$ on items I might need/want. The last batch of ordered items are set to arrive tomorrow, then I think there is no more time to order anything else. Still expecting: two microfiber travel towels, a portable neck fan (tee-hee), an ultra-thin portable phone charger, new Keen sandals, and a lightweight top. Egads, I'll have so much stuff there will be no room for clothes.

2. I've been on a bit of reading slump lately, or at least it feels that way. I blame it all on Middlemarch! What with the packing and travel scheming, reading is taking a back-burner. Since I have to read a chapter a day of Middlemarch it often the only thing I read. I'm over page 500, so it's not like I'm not reading, just making awfully slow progress. BTW-- I will not be able to keep up on the read-along project since I am NOT taking this tome of a book with me on the trip. 

3. Let's see, what have I read/listened to so far in September, not counting Middlemarch?
  • They Called Us Enemy by George Takei. About his experiences as a Japanese-American during WWII, being interned with his family by the government. A graphic novel. Complete.
  • Shrines of Gaiety by Kate Atkinson. Set in London in the Roaring Twenties about a crime family and other oddities of the time. I love this author and enjoyed the book. Audiobook. Complete.
  • The Carrying: Poems by Ada Limon. I found this small and thoughtful book of poems at the library. Complete.
  • Hello Beautiful by Ann Napolitano. Sort of based on the Little Women story, four sisters and their relationships over the decades. I ended up liking it but wasn't sure mid-book. Audiobook. Book Club Choice. Complete.
  • Life, the Universe and Everything by Douglas Adams. The 3rd book in the Hitchhiker's series. Need I say more? Very silly. Audiobook. Complete.
  • Tightrope: Americans Reaching for Hope by Nicholas Kristof. Nonfiction about the state of people's lives in America today. Depressing and hopeful at the same time. Audiobook. Book Club Choice. 50% complete.
  • Maame by Jessica George. Another book set in London. This one in modern times a Nigerian-Brit woman navigates life and career. Print. 33% complete.
  • Tom Lake by Ann Patchett. Another book club selection by a favorite author. I just started this one on my Audible account. Audiobook. 16% complete.
4. Speaking of travel, I keep juggling books trying for the best selections(s) to take with me. I own a copy of  The Aleph and Other Stories by Jorge Luis Borges and have planned to carry it in my purse. I like reading short stories when I'm on the road but I wonder if these stories will seem like too much work? I have another short story collection by Alice Munro, so I may throw that in my bag, too. I found a copy of My Brilliant Friend at the library sale shelf and bought it for $.50, but have decided it weighs too much to lug around with me. It is a very heavy paperback. Just today, I borrowed two additional audiobooks from my library, using the Libby app. We will be in the air for over six hours, so I might enjoy listening to books for a while. I borrowed Maame (so I can finish it) and Mister Impossible. I know I won't read/listen to all four books while we are gone, but I want to have options! When we traveled in Europe several years ago we would utilize the free loan libraries in many hotels. I'm not sure if we can plan on this on our trip to South America. We'll see.

5. Book club sad thought. I have been in the same book club for over 28 years. It won't be many more years until we age ourselves out of a club. Many of the members are in their 80s. I guess we can't keep going forever. It is a sad thought but I know we still have several years a head of us before any decision to disband  is imminent. 


Monday, September 18, 2023

TTT: My Fall Reading List

Top Ten Tuesday: Fall Reading List. 
Below the line is how I did on my summer reading list.

Fall reading list:

Book Club Selections:

  1. Tightrope: American's Reaching for Hope by Kristoff (Oct, Group #1)
  2.  Tom Lake by Patchett (Oct., Group #2)
  3. Heaven and Earth Grocery Store by McBride (Nov/Dec., Group #2)
  4. News of the World by Giles (Dec, Group #1)

Challenge Books:

  1. Classics Club Spin Book TBA from this list -- The Aleph and Other Stories
  2. A Past Pulitzer Prize winner from list -- Possibly The Orphan Master's Son
  3. Printz Award winner or honor book from this list -- Possibly Scout's Honor
  4. A National Book Award winner or finalist (Not named until November)

Books I've already started, recently acquired, and/or have on-hold at the library:

  1. Maame by Jessica George
  2. Middlemarch by George Eliot
  3. My Brilliant Friend by Ferrante
  4. Yellow Face by Kuang 
  5. The Financial Lives of Poets by Walter
  6. Impossible Escape: A True Story of Survival and Heroism in Nazi Europe by Sheinkin
  7. Babel by Kuang
  8. The Covenant of Water by Verghese
  9. Tiny Habits by Fogg
  10. Mr. Impossible by Stiefvater
  11. Accountable: The True Story of a Racist Social Media Account and the Teenagers Whose Lives It Changed by Slater

Update: How I did on my summer reading list.
Highlighted yellow: completed. 
Highlighted aqua: in progress or 
Highlighted green:  not completed but read note.

Summer reading list:

Book Club Selections:

  1. Long Division by Laymon (August, Group #1)
  2. The Loneliest Polar Bear by Williams (September, Group #1) 
  3. Hello Beautiful by Napalitano (September, Group #2)

Challenge Books:

  1. Classics Club Spin Book TBA from this list -- Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
  2. A Past Pulitzer Prize winner from list -- Trust by Diaz
  3. Printz Award winner or honor book from this list -- Starfish by Fipps
  4. A Big Book (over 400 pages) for Big Book Summer Challenge -- Shrines of Gaiety by Atkinson

Books I've already started, recently acquired, and/or have on-hold at the library:

  1.  Pray First by Hodges
  2. After by Greyson
  3. The Wager by David Grann
  4. Victory City by Salmon Rushdie
  5. I Have Some Questions for You by Makkai
  6. Shrines of Gaiety by Atkinson
  7. Our Missing Hearts by Ngo
  8. It's All Absolutely Fine by Eliot
  9. House of Light by Mary Oliver
I did it! I read every book on my list, a first! I just finished Hello Beautiful and Shrines of Gaiety this past week, so I was running all the way to the end of the race! Yippee!!


Monday, September 11, 2023

TTT: Favorite literary siblings

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Literary Siblings

I have close relationships with my own siblings, especially my sisters, so I am always interested in siblings and their relationships in literature.

The March Sisters -- Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

I was the second of four kids. When I first read the book as a pre-teen, I had it all figured out. My older sister was Meg, the oldest. I was Jo, of course. And my younger sister was either Amy or Beth, depending on the day. My brother could be Laurie if he wanted. He didn't.

The Bennett Sisters -- Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

I've always admired the close relationship between Jane and Elizabeth, the eldest sisters in the Bennet family. But I think we also have some windows into how siblings work together and form alliances when we view all five sisters together: Mary in the middle traying to find her voice; Kitty and Lydia the youngest and silliest but also the most pampered.

Danny and Maeve Conroy -- The Dutch House by Ann Patchett

I think the reason I love this book so much is because of Danny and Maeve's close relationship. They always have each other's backs even over the years, decades.

The Price Sisters // Rachel, Leah, Adah, and Ruth May -- The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

The girls and their mother are forced to move to the Congo in the late 1950s with their father,  a wanna-be missionary. When they make the move they realize they know nothing about the culture and language of the people they are trying to "save." The girls find comfort only among themselves. 

Jem and Scout Finch -- To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

The devotion that Jem has for his younger sister is so inspiring. Of course, so is the whole book.

The Gold Children -- The Immortalist by Chloe Benjamin

Four young siblings sneak out of their house to get a reading from the Immortalist, who tells them when they will each die. All of their lives are profoundly changed and ruined by this knowledge, even when they try to look out for each other. 

The Kopp Sisters -- Girl Waits with Gun by Amy Stewart

Constance Kopp and her sisters, Norma and Fleurette, try to keep their home by finding their own way in the days, early 1900s, when men thought women were helpless. Based on actual women. Constance became the first female sheriff's deputy in New Jersey. (There are several sequels to this book.)

Isabelle and Viann -- The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

Two sisters in the Loire region of Occupied France during WWII. Both act bravely in their own way.

Marianne and Elinor Dashwood -- Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

These sisters have each other when it seems like they have both lost everything they hold dear.

Nina, Hud, Jay and Kit Riva -- Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid

The Rivas are the offspring of the famous singer, Mick Riva, but that is all they got from him, his name. They support and love each other as they make their own ways, with their own talents.

Emmett and Billy Watson -- The Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles

Sibling love is so apparent in these brothers in this fantastic book.

Can you think of any other literary siblings?

Sunday, September 10, 2023

Sunday Salon --- End of Summer edition

Images from our day at the Pacific Science Center in Seattle

Weather: Beautiful. September is often a lovely month in our part of the country. We survived an odd, cold-ish streak last week but now we are experiencing nice warm and beautiful days to wind down summer.

End of summer flurry: We got home from a family reunion in early August and have basically been home bodies since then until the last week of August when we started a flurry of activity, several involving our grandsons. First, I helped organize a school supply drive for our church. In the photo below you see me (with my husband who took the picture) delivering those supplies to a local charity who helps families prepare their children for school. Next our daughter took her dad to the Mariners baseball game. I tagged along. We had fun but our team lost. The next day we took our grandsons to the local wildlife park. We did see lots of animals but the boys like horsing around in the children's play area best. Grandparents need to recover after a day with busy boys!
Top: School supply delivery; Mariners Game; Northwest Trek boys with the moose. Middle and bottom: Boys horsing around and bald eagle who was recued in Alaska and can no longer fly due to injuries.

End of summer flurry, part 2: Even though we needed a rest, we didn't get one. The very next day after the trip to NW Trek we jumped in the pickup and headed to Eugene for the first college football game of the season. My mom lives less than a mile from the stadium so we all use her house as a gathering spot. It was surprisingly hot and muggy during the game. I kept reminding myself that the games in November will be miserably cold, so buck up! During our drive up and down the freeway, Don and I listened to a very good audiobook: The Shrines of Gaiety by Kate Atkinson.

End of summer flurry, part 3: Our oldest grandson is in 1st grade this year. Knowing his first day of school was Wednesday,  we decided, as a early birthday gift, we'd take him and his younger brother to Pacific Science Center in Seattle on Tuesday. It was to be his last summer fling. We made arrangements with our daughter and Ian was really excited, then we figured out the center isn't open on Tuesdays! Waa! Big tears. We quickly shifted plans and ended up going to the Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium in Tacoma, rescheduling a visit to the science center for Saturday. Whew! See photos below for highlights of our zoo day!

Highlights from zoo day: Ian with Ivan the gorilla; megalodon mouth; feeding budgies; watching the polar bear sisters (new to the zoo); holding a caterpillar for the Hummingbird moth; pretending to be octopuses; playing in the kid zone or where ever there is a sculpture to pose on..  

Taking a break from all the end-of-summer activities: Thursday Don read in the newspaper that the rodeo breakfast and parade was the next day. We've lived in our town for over 40 years and never attended the parade and cattle drive that precedes it. This rodeo event is part of the Western Washington State Fair in Puyallup. It happens on the first Friday of the fair. For years I could never go because I was always back to work as a teacher. Why not go now that we're both retired? The cattle drive was very small, according to Don's standards, with just 20 of so animals. The parade was pretty small, too, mostly just people driving tractors down the road. There were a few school bands, but not many. The best horses were the teams that come in as part of the fair's entertainment: the Percherons, Belgians, and Clydesdales in their gear.
Top: One of the cows saw the decorative grass alongside the parade route and headed straight for it. She managed to get a mouthful, too. Middle: Uni-corn (get it?) and tractor guy (this one cracked me up since he had a 'For Sale' sign.) Bottom: two of the teams of the big horses.

End-of-the-summer flurry, part 4. Pacific Science Center and family birthday party for two young boys: Yesterday we took the boys to the Pacific Science Center, as promised. We had a fantastic time with just the right amount of sitting and watching and active learning, aka playing. Highlights: The illusion show where Ian got to be the volunteer on stage; the IMAX movie about trains; the laser light show set to Disney songs; lots and lots of imaginative activities the favorite being the space capsule with launch sequence and other buttons to push and the water wheel. Even the bathrooms got into the act of science education with poster about the body's elimination system. They called it grossology. The birthday party is here today after church. Just family. The cake frosting is green with googly-eyes. Should be a hit! (For highlights of the Pacific Science Center see photo collage at the top of the page.)

Books: I am making remarkable progress on Middlemarch by Eliot. I am reading a chapter a day and have passed the 50% mark. Also, I'm listening to an audiobook, Hello Beautiful by Napolitano. I'll catch up on a full book report tomorrow.

Get out there and enjoy the end of summer weather (or up-coming spring weather to my friends down under!)


Thursday, September 7, 2023


Cover of the original 1962 paperback

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey

Book Beginnings: 
They're out there.

Friday 56:

Instead of rising to the argument, McMurphy just keeps on looking at Harding, finally asks in a level voice, "And you really think this crap that went on in the meeting today is bringing about some kinda cure, doing some kinda good?"


You've never met anyone like RANDLE PATRICK McMURPHY.  He's a boisterous, brawling, fun-loving rebel who swaggers into the ward of a mental hospital and takes over…. He's  a lusty, profane, life-loving fighter who rallies the other patients around him by challenging the dictatorship of Big Nurse. He promotes gambling in the ward, smuggles in wine and women. At every turn, he openly defies her rule. The contest starts as sport but soon it develops into a grim struggle for the minds and hearts of the men, into an all-out war between two relentless opponents: Big Nurse, backed by the full power of authority and McMurphy, who has only his own indomitable will. (Publisher)

Review: I've carried my very own 1962 paperback copy of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest around with me for several decades. I don't remember where or when I got it but it is likely that I bought it used when I was in college in the late 1970s in Eugene, not far from where the author, Ken Kesey, lived. I, like most people I suppose, became aware of the book because of the movie starring Jack Nicholson as Randle McMurphy and Louise Fletcher as the Big Nurse. Both won academy awards for their performances. The movie won a total of five academy awards in 1975, including Best Picture. Everyone I knew at the time had seen the movie, not once but many times. And it wasn't as easy to see movies-on-demand in those days! In addition to seeing the movie, many people had to read One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest in high school or college English classes, catapulting the book into the status of 'modern classic.'

Certainly there is something very classic about One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. We could say it is a twist on the theme of good verses evil; big vs. small; powerful vs. powerless. Big Nurse rules her ward at the Oregon State Mental Health Hospital in Salem. If her patients don't behave, she has them overly sedated or sent for electroshock therapy (fortunately that doesn't happen any more today.) Many of the men have chosen to be in the mental hospital and could sign themselves out any day. When McMurphy swaggers onto the ward, he not only finds himself at odds with Big Nurse and her rules, but at the passivity of the other patients. He is completely flummoxed why anyone would want to be in the hospital voluntarily.

The narrator is a half Indian, Chief Bromden. His role in the book is much larger than in the movie and the reader is allowed to see his growth as his head clears from the sedatives he is given to keep him calm. In the beginning he spends quite a bit of time in his mind trying to determine reality from fantasy. Everyone assumes he is deaf and mute, so he is allowed to eavesdrop on critical conversations. As he and McMurphy become friends, Chief describes himself as getting bigger. Which is a wonderful metaphor for what is happening.

Unfortunately racism was also written into the novel, making me wonder if most schools have or will soon remove the book from the curriculum.  The orderlies are two Black men who are called "boys" and they always do the bidding of Big Nurse, but are also working deals on the side. At one point, when a particular nasty treatment is prescribed by Big Nurse, these orderlies are gleefully torturing the patients and McMurphy comes to their defense by not only physically standing up to the orderlies but also calling them by racists and horrible names.  As I read this I had to remind myself that 1962 was before the Civil Rights Act and it wasn't as shocking in those days to hear such horrible names in books. But today we have different sensibilities. Although the formula for why a book becomes popular or many even a classic is an impossible mystery to solve. It's popularity may also fade as culture changes. I guessing that is what has and should happen with Cuckoo's Nest.

Ken Kesey, a famous hippy of the 1960s penned one of twentieth century's most popular books. Today as culture shifts it will likely have to shift over for other books that fit our expectations and today's struggles, but I would argue that there is always room on the shelves for books which show the little guy making more room for everybody in the world. In the end McMurphy's biggest accomplishment was he taught not just Chief, but all the patients, how to live like men again.

A review found in the Houston Chronicle at that time of publication in 1962.

Post script to my review: After writing the above review I found a review written for the LA Times by  Carolyn Kellogg (Feb. 2012) on the 50th anniversary of the publication of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. She initially asks the question, is the book worth reading? She answers her own question this way:

As the culture changes, some books that appear significant for a time may fail to endure. I had feared “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” would be one of those books. But it isn’t. In it, a stranger walks into a closed environment and subverts the rules, asking all along why anyone would passively live that way. This was a message embraced by the hippies of the ‘60s, but it resonates just as strongly with those who occupied Wall Street; two copies of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” are in the Occupy Wall Street library. Fifty years later, Kesey’s work is still great.

This shocked me a little bit since nowhere in the review did she mention the racism. Giving one more chance to stop and review history. Ten years ago George Floyd hadn't been killed for all of us to see by a police officer with a grudge. The Black Lives Matter movement wasn't up and running. See what I mean about culture changes?

Later in the day I read a comment on my Goodreads account from a blogging friend who used to be an English teacher. He said: 

I taught this book for years and enjoyed helping students see its literary aspects. Then it dawned on me how it was portraying women, and I lost faith in it. (Gary)

Egads. I was so focused on the negative stereotypes of Blacks in the book I didn't even think about the anti-feminism messages. 

Time to call it. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest is a book which had value for it's time. But culture has moved on. Let's leave this popular book to the 20th Century and move on from it in the 21st!

Book Beginnings on Friday is hosted by Rose City Reader. First Line Friday is hosted by Reading is My Super Power. Share the opening quote from current book.The Friday56 is hosted at Freda's VoiceFind a quote from page 56 to share. Visit these two websites to participate. Click on links to read quotes from books other people are reading. It is a great way to make blog friends and to get suggestions for new reading material. 


Wednesday, September 6, 2023

Big Book Summer 2023 Challenge Wrap-up

Big Book Summer 2023 Challenge Wrap-up

400+ page books I read this summer


1. Horse by Geraldine Brooks
401 pages
Completed May 25th

2. Humans by Brandon Stanton
448 pages
Completed May 30th

3. Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin
416 pages
Completed June 9th

423 pages
Completed June 10th

5. Trust by Hernan Diaz
416 pages
Completed July 5th

6. I Have Some Questions For You by Rebecca Makkai
438 pages
Completed August 10th

and one I almost finished in time...

Almost 7. Shrine of Gaiety by Kate Atkinson
416 pages
Completed Sept. 6th (Today, two days late!)

Thanks Sue at Book by Book for hosting this challenge again this summer.

Monday, September 4, 2023

TTT: Books That Defied My Expectations

Top Ten Tuesday: Books That Defied My Expectations

How to Be a (Young) Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi and Nic Stone ò

I'd heard wonderful things about How to Be An Antiracist by Kendi so I was really excited to read the YA version of the book co-written by Nic Stone. Here is what I said in my Goodreads review: The book tells Kendi's story through Stone's mouth, but she is not exactly a interviewer. It is confusing. Then to make points and add to the confusion, Kendi's story doesn't unfold in a chronological way. As an adult I can cope with jumping around narratives, but a lot of younger readers have a hard enough time holding together facts if they are presented in a very linear fashion let alone bouncing around. The emphasis on vocabulary is essential but it is also confusing. Terminology is important but couldn't it be shortened or consolidated to make a few terms more memorable?

If I were still a high school librarian I'd have to think twice before purchasing this book for my library. My expected rating: 5. My actual rating: 3.5.

Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin ñ

At one point it seemed like everyone in the blogosphere was talking about this book then I started noticing that the reviews were very mixed. Several people mentioned they had abandoned the book midway. I entered my reading experience with trepidation. I agree with this reviewer:  "Zevin’s delight in her characters, their qualities, and their projects sprinkles a layer of fairy dust over the whole enterprise" (Kirkus Reviews).

My expected rating: 3; my actual rating 4.5

Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshirazu Kawaguchi ò

Another book it seemed like all book bloggers were reading. I checked it out with out any research on my own. I honestly was disappointed. I had high hopes for a sweet time travel story and what I got was very little about time travel and a lot of coffee. I kept wondering if it was the author or the translator.
My expected rating: 4; my actual rating: 2.

Long Way Down: The Graphic Novel by Jason Reynolds and Danica Novgorodoff ñ

I had fairly high hopes for this graphic adaptation of the original novel, Long Way Down. But even with high expectations the book exceeded them. Honestly I think the graphic novel surpasses the original because the illustrations are so impactful.
My expected rating: 4.5; my actual rating: 5+

Breakfast at Tiffany's (and other Stories) by Truman Capote ò

What happens when you think about reading a classic book or short story? I usually expect my experience to be positive, otherwise why would that piece of literature be a classic? In this case, the short story "Breakfast at Tiffany's" disappointed me. It felt dated and unimportant.
My expected rating: 4-4.5; my actual rating 3.25

Queer Ducks (and Other Animals): The Natural World of Animal Sexuality by 
Eliot Schrefer ñ

Based on the title I didn't have the best expectations of this award-winning YA nonfiction title. Here is what I said about it on Goodreads: "This book is not only excellent and must-read material, it is also eye-opening and important. I can't tell you how valuable of a resource this is. Get this for every library who services teenagers!"
My expected rating 3.5-4; my actual rating: 5.

Trust by Hernan Diaz ñ

I knew this book must be good because it was a co-winner for the Pulitzer Prize this year, but the description or summary didn't sound very good and it was so long. I was pleasantly surprised and found it a very enjoyable book.
My expected rating: 3.5; my actual rating: 4.25

The Wager: A Tale of Shipwreck, Mutiny, and Murder
by David Grann 

I had super high expectations after loving Grann's previous books. To say I was disappointed is to say it mildly. Let me say this, three of us, my husband, daughter, and myself, listened to the audiobook together in the car coming and going to a family reunion 6 hours away. Day one we finished about 3/5th of the book. I thought it was pretty boring but was determined to finish the book. When we got in the car, several days later, we all dutifully listened to the rest of it. The whole time I was thinking, I can only give this book a rating of 3. The writing is strong but I didn't feel any connection with any of the persons involved in the real-life drama. I thought for sure that my husband would like the book better than me, so I didn't say anything out loud until we were finished. When I asked for his evaluation he told me that he thought the very most he could give the book was a 2.5 but felt it was more a 2. My daughter said her evaluation was a 1.5. When asked why, she answered with a one word reply: "boring."
My expected rating: 5; my actual rating: 3

The Accidental Tourist by Anne Tyler ò

I've wanted to read this book since it was published in the 1980s. I should have read it earlier, since I found it dated. 
My expected rating: 4+; my actual rating: 3.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey

Actually this book was almost exactly what I expected. That one exception was the blatant racism. I hadn't even thought of it being an issue but the book was written and published in the early 1960s so it shouldn't have surprised me, but it did. ò