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Showing posts from January, 2017

book journal: A Good Thief's Guide to Amsterdam by Chris Ewan

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This year, Mr. Nomadreader and I are starting a new tradition for our family: we hope to visit one new country each year with Hawthorne. Our family is complete, and I'm excited to be starting a new family tradition. Hawthorne will be two and a half next month (!), and we're ready to start showing him the world. Our first destination: Amsterdam, this spring. While we've been studying the guidebooks and planning our days, I've also been busy making lists of fiction I want to read that is set in Amsterdam, both past and present.

I've been intrigued by Chris Ewan's The Good Thief series, as each one is set in a different city, but our trip made me pick up his first in the series, The Good Thief's Guide to Amsterdam. The titular good thief is Charlie Howard, a novelist who writes books about a globetrotting thief named Faulks. He also secretly works as a thief himself.

There is a lot going on in this novel. In its opening pages, Charlie gets an intriguing offer…

book journal: The Foremost Good Fortune by Susan Conley

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Books are one of my favorite ways of exploring new places and revisiting familiar places. When I travel, I've always loved to read books set in the place I'm visiting. This year, I'm leading a J-term travel seminar to Chiang Mai, Thailand. The course is the culmination of almost two years of work, and I'm spent a lot of time learning about Thailand. When our flights were finalized, I learned we're flying through Beijing both ways. I began seeking out books about China, and I was intrigued by Susan Conley's memoir about the two years she and her family spent living in Beijing. Conley is a novelist, and I'm drawn to memoirs written by fiction writers. Moreover, I wasn't necessarily interested in immersing myself in China; I wanted to see it through the eyes of a western woman so I could anticipate my own experience with culture shock. I sought answers to the questions I didn't even know to ask. I wanted insight into Chinese culture and the difficulty …

My Favorite Reads of 2016

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2016 wasn't my most productive year of reading, but I did manage to read 104 books, which averages out to two a week, and I'm pleased with that. I didn't review most of those, so this post is not full of linked reviews as in years past,  but I did rate eight of them 5 stars. 19 more were 4.5 star reads. The books I loved were incredibly diverse in genre, so this year, instead of ranking them, I offer my favorites by categories. Dig in! (Pictures take you to Amazon and linked titles take you to my reviews--if I actually wrote one.)

Best Comic (tie)


Something New by Lucy Knisley & Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson

Best Nonfiction



All the Single Ladies by Rebecca Traister

Best Short Story Collection



American Housewife by Helen Ellis

Runner Up: Almost Famous Women by Megan Mayhew Bergman

Best Mystery (standalone)



Dodgers by Bill Beverly

Runner Up: The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson

Best New Mystery Series (tie)



Blood Defense by Marcia Clark (Samantha Brinkman series) & City …