JL's Bibliomania

Bibliomaniac. Daughter of a Bookaholic. Wife of a Bibliovore.  Mother of 2 Bibliophiles.


While my first love was SF and fantasy, I read widely in YA, urban fantasy, police procedurals, and non-fiction. 


Also occassionally on GoodReads as J L's Bibliomania:


and Litsy @jlsbibliomania






More SF Award nominations

The Locus Science Fiction Foundation (aka Locus Magazine) has announced the top ten finalists in each category of the 2018 Locus Awards.

Dewey’s April 2018 Starting Line


I'm not actually home right now, so this post is brought to you by the magic of pre-scheduling 


What fine part of the world are you reading from today?


South Jersey (near Philadelphia)


Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?


I’ve been Saving Lake Silence by Anne Bishop for today. 



Which snack are you most looking forward to?


As I’m not trying to get anywhere near 24-hours of reading, and we always have food around, I didn’t spend any time pre-planning food and snacks. 

Tell us a little something about yourself!


I should be working on camp paperwork for my sons, but instead I’m reading or hanging out online with you!


One of my favorite quotes is “Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend.  Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read.”  I’ve seen it attributed mostly to Groucho Marx, but also occasionally to Mark Twain.  Regardless, it's a great sentiment.



If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today?


My plan for this read-a-thon is read less, socialize more, I’ll be spending the morning listening to a visiting scholar at my synagogue and may also head over to the local Earth Day Extravaganza for part of the early afternoon.  I really get a buzz out of the energy of so many people reading together, so I plan to spend as much or more of my time cheering other readers on as reading myself (I might even be brave and turn on Twitter for a while).

Audiobook Sync 2018 starts this week!

Free Audiobooks!  


While nominally aimed at a teenage audience, they don't ask for your age (just an email address).

Invisible City

Invisible City - Julia Dahl

First in a series is tough. Making the jump from journalist to novelist is tricky. 


Invisible City is a solidly plotted murder mystery that reads more like a police procedural than a cozy (though our main girl is a journalist not an officer of the peace).   While better than many first novels, there's plenty of room for growth.  In particular, I felt like the book was a hodge-podge of thinly veiled elements from a number of recent sensational news stories rather than being fully original. 


Like the main character, author Julia Dahl has a Jewish mother and a Christian father.  While it's always difficult to write about insular communities without a true in, I felt like a lot of Ms. Dahl's personification of the Ultra-Orthodox characters was built on stereotypes.


I'm counting this as an IRL bookclub read because Julia Dahl will be speaking in my community about book #3 in the series (released about a year ago) on Sunday.  I read Invisible City because Conviction was checked out of the Library and I wanted to have read something by the author before I went to brunch.

The official list of Hugo nominees

Reblogged from Debbie's Spurts:
Source: http://www.thehugoawards.org/2018/03/2018-1943-hugo-award-finalists-announced/#more-3163

Dewey's and Caldecott

It's a bit over a week until Dewey's 24-Hour Readathon on Saturday, APRIL 28, 2018.



Reader Sign-ups are open:



There are over 700 people signed up already.


I've made a tradition of reading the  2018 Caldecott Award winner and some of the Caledcott Honor books as a change of pace between novels during the Spring Deweys.  You can find the winners of the Caldecott, Newbery and other awards from http://www.ala.org/news/press-releases/2018/02/american-library-association-announces-2018-youth-media-award-winners 


This is nicely compatible with the low-key Readathon I'm planning, since there is also a visiting scholar at my synagogue and the local Earth-Day celebration competing for my attention.  I don't expect I'll actually read much, since I'd rather spend my time social media-hopping and cheering others on.


Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail - Cheryl Strayed

I did not like Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail very much.  I just couldn’t get past Cheryl Strayed’s unpreparedness for long-distance hiking and found her a distasteful person who I didn’t particularly want to spend time with.  I also found the narrative disorganized and the insights she gained from her journey pedestrian. If Wild hadn’t been the selection for my office book club, I probably would not have finished the book.  As it was, partway through I stopped reading and started skimming.


Several of my co-workers also didn’t like Wild very much either, including one person who said that she expected much more from the author of Tiny Beautiful Things (which I have not read).  A number of others hadn’t finished, but had seen the movie, so we spent as much time comparing the book to the movie and discussing other wilderness journey movies as discussing the book itself.


In other news, the office book club appears to be turning into a book-to-movie club, which isn’t actually such a bad thing. Our first selection was Room, our second was Wild, and our next choice is The Immortal Life of Henrietta LacksThe Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is a re-read for me (I listened to the audiobook a few years ago). I’m looking forward to re-reading it and  I’m interested to hear what the others think. And we’ll see how the scheduling goes, but we’re also starting to kick around the idea of a movie night where we watch the movies and talk some more.

February and March 2018

Round-up of books read in February and March that I don't intend to write standalone posts for.


The Obelisk Gate - N.K. Jemisin  The Stone Sky (The Broken Earth) - N.K. Jemisin  


My favorite of the books I've read recently were probably Books 2 & 3 of N.K. Jemisin’s The Broken Earth Trilogy.  I typically don’t like to read books by the same author or in the exactly same genre right in a row.  But this trilogy benefited from keeping the characters and situations very fresh.  If you like speculative fiction, I definitely recommend 2016 Hugo Winner The Fifth Season and the solid sequels The Obelisk Gate  and The Stone Sky.


Cast in Shadow - Michelle Sagara West,Michelle Sagara  Cast In Courtlight - Michelle Sagara  Destroyer - C.J. Cherryh  


I restarted the Cast In ____ series by Michelle Sagara and continued the reread of C.J. Cherryh’s Foreigner Series with volume #7.  Ms. Sagara’s writing isn’t anything extraordinary, but I’m enjoying the multi-species world and their interplay (with DRAGONS!).  Cast in Shadow and Cast In Courtlight  are definitely light reading unlike the convoluted language used by Ms. Cherryh in Destroyer, but there's a place for both types of books.  


We Should All Be Feminists - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie   A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier - Ishmael Beah 


And while I haven’t made much progress on I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life, the Flat Book Society selection, I’ve read some non-fiction during February and March including:



  • Ishmael Beah’s  A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier, which was assigned to my 10th grade son.  I think A Long Way Gone was groundbreaking when first published in 2007, but I found it rather dry and not particularly well organized,  As the world continues to spiral with horrors, I hope they can come up with something better edited to represent the child soldier experience. 


I'm currently on-pace for my goal of 52 books read this year, despite my other responsibilities, which makes me happy.

A Wrinkle In Time

A Wrinkle in Time (Time Series, #1) - Madeleine L'Engle

Warning – mild spoilers for the 2018 movie version of A Wrinkle In Time.


I remember loving the A Wrinkle In Time in late Elementary  School (and it was only a trilogy then not the quintet it eventually became). But with the years and so many other books in the interim, the details were hazy. So I listened to the audiobook version last month so that the story would be fresh before I went to see the movie.


The story of A Wrinkle In Time has weathered the intervening years relatively well and worked well as an audiobook (though there were moments when dragging out the words of the incorporeal Mrs. Which got a bit tedious).  When I was a child, I was tone-deaf to the overt theology sprinkled throughout, but it really stood out to my adult ears. Still, it doesn’t detract from the basic story or from the prickly/lovable characters themselves.  I still love the image of Mrs. Murry cooking stew over a Bunsen burner in the lab and Meg stole my heart. 


Even as short a book as A Wrinkle In Time is too much material for a movie, and they left out about 2/3 of the nuances of the book in the Ava DuVernay adaptation currently in the theaters. I do question some of the choices of what to show and what to cut in the book (why does it matter if Mrs. Whatzit stole the neighbor’s sheets if you don't know why - and at the expense of the wonderful visual of the too many scarves and hats during the storm? Why cut the twins, doesn’t that cut out options necessary to make movies from the subsequent books? Where was Aunt Beast?)

But in general, knowing that simplification is unavoidable, I was pleased with how the movie captured the spirit of the book, except for one thing.  I didn't like cutting Calvin out of the rescue of Mr. Murry and the final conflict with IT. From my perspective, the message of the original book was "Love and teamwork can conquer all." The movie transformed that into "Love and self-reliance can conquer all." Still a powerful message, and one that is very in-fashion, but not, quite, the same.

Happy Holidays!

Hello friends –


Hope you had a good Passover, Easter, or just 1st day of Spring.  We had a laid-back celebration with just my father and C that featured daffodils in the yard, and beasts and frogs appearing at Seder.





Work has been crazy and by the time I get home, my writing energy is pretty much gone.  However I’ve read a few things since the end of January that I haven’t yet written about and hope to schedule a few posts over the next few days.


Flat Book Society: I Contain Multitudes

I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life - Ed Yong

Just started I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life.  I like the "voice" of the intro and hope it continues throughout.    

Reading progress update: I've read 40%.

Dune  - Frank Herbert, Orlagh Cassidy, Scott Brick, Euan Morton

I have such different ears than when I first read Dune as a young adult.  This time through, I keep being struck at just how sexist much of the beginning is despite having Jessica as a strong female lead.


Room - Emma Donoghue

Folks at my work are trying to start an IRL book club that will meet about once a month. The organizer gave us a choice of 3 things that were on her TBR and the others picked Room - Emma Donoghue as the first selection (I voted for one of the other selections


I was a bit hesitant about Room and thought that the artifice of a 5-year-old narrator would quickly get tiresome.  But surprisingly, even though the kid narrator worked the best for the first section and didn't quite feel right for some of the later sections once the wider world intruded, I enjoyed the whole book. 


Things I had issues with after the spoiler tag



I didn't like the cliffhanger at the end of the 4th chapter when you aren't sure whether or not Ma survives her overdose


I also was surprised that Jack wasn't more agoraphobic and having more visible discomfort once there wasn't a roof over his head or rooms that were larger than Room (but maybe I've just been reading too much SF with former spaceship-dwellers being agoraphobic once they leave the ship.

(show spoiler)




January Round-Robin

Now that the year-end report has been submitted for my primary project, and I'm down to 2 competing work deadlines, I actually have the brainpower to update you on what I read in January.


Naked in Death - J.D. Robb 


First entry in the long-running In Death series by J.D. Robb (now up to 45 volumes).   I enjoyed the audiobook read by Susan Ericksen, but am not sure that I will continue with the series.  Many people prefer more sexy-times in their books that I typically do and Naked In Death skirted the edge of what I'm comfortable with.  I wasn't really surprised with the focus on sexuality in this book considering that the cover blurb states that prostitutes are being murdered and J.D. Robb is one and the same as Nora Roberts. I was a bit annoyed at the insta-attraction between our protagonist Eve Dallas and rich-boy Roarke, and the late bombshell about Eve'd background, but otherwise liked the flow of the story.  In many ways what I found most appealing was how much the 2058 that JD Robb imagined in 1985 looks like the world we have today (granted minus the flying cars). 


Ancillary Mercy - Ann Leckie 


Finished the Imperial Radch trilogy regarding AI Breq Mianaai.  Ancillary Mercy felt much like the second half of the previous book in the trilogy rather than its own independent story. While I liked spending additional time with Breq, I found the resolution of the story an anticlimax, While it wrapped up some of the story's threads, I wasn't satisfied with where the story stopped.  


Rosemary and Rue - Seanan McGuire 


I've very much enjoyed the other books I've read by Seanan McGuire, so thought I would try her traditional Urban Fantasy series.  I enjoyed Rosemary and Rue, but didn't find it nearly as original as the InCryptid universe. While there were some 1st in series wobbles, I will probably give the rest of the series a go. I read this in the thick of report-writing frenzy, so don't have anything more insightful to say.


I also started and skidded out of 2 non-fiction books, though I chalked that up to long-hours and general exhaustion rather than any fault of the book.  So both are back on my list of books to consider reading at a later date.


Storm in a Teacup: The Physics of Everyday Life - Helen Czerski  My Russian Grandmother and Her American Vacuum Cleaner: A Family Memoir - Evan Fallenberg,Meir Shalev  


All of these books, including the ones I didn't finish count towards the Library Love Challenge and Naked in Death counts towards the Audiobook Challenge

The Fifth Season

The Fifth Season - N.K. Jemisin

After a rather confusing start, NK Jemisin once again delivers the inventive speculative fiction that I love. 


I was confused about the timeline of the story and how the 3 viewpoint characters were connected.  But about 1/2 way through the text confirmed that the story was showing 3 different time periods from the same person's life. 

(show spoiler)


Great way to start the reading year!

2018 Reading Goals & Challenges

I studied Hebrew as a child/teen, but stopped before becoming fully fluent.  And then, as happens when a language isn’t used regularly, I lost a lot of what I once knew.  I’ve been thinking about trying to regain my Hebrew for a while, and despite really not having time for ANYTHING except work through at least February, I’ve signed up to audit a Hebrew class that starts January 4th. My goal is to be able to read the newspaper or listen to the Hebrew version of Israel Story.   So as a result my 2018 reading goals are going to be a bit different:


  • Keep up with the Hebrew class reading/studying
  • Read at least 12 newspaper or magazine articles in Hebrew (or listen to –and understand – an equivalent number of podcasts).
  • Read (or listen to) more than 52 books
  • Be social in my reading – whether it’s participating in Flat Book Society Reads, Dewey’s Readathon, 24in48, or reading challenges such as Halloween Bingo here on Booklikes.
  • Make progress on the mountain of unfinished series – especially continuing my re-read of the Foreigner series by CJ Cherryh.


I like to keep my reading goals low-key, so even though I was intrigued by the Women Writer’s Bingo and browsed through the excellent Master List of 2018 Reading Challenges list of challenges published by Girlxoxo  I’m going to stick to two year-long challenges that are incidental to my existing reading habits 


Angel's Guilty Pleasures


2018 Library Love Challenge hosted by co-hosted by Angel’s Guilty Pleasures and Brooke Blogs. Challenge sign-up is HERE or HERE.  With my no-stress challenge mentality, I’m going to stick with the Overdrive Junkie: Read 36 books Level


2018 Audiobook Challenge


2018 Audiobook Challenge hosted by Caffeinated Reviewer and  and Hot Listens.  Signup is HERE or HERE. I’m selecting the Weekend Warrior (I’m getting the hang of this) Level and shooting for 5-10 audiobooks


Currently reading

Heaven's Queen by Rachel Bach
Progress: 273/400pages
The Inner Life of Cats: The Science and Secrets of Our Mysterious Feline Companions by Thomas McNamee
All the Light We Cannot See: A Novel by Anthony Doerr, Zach Appelman
Progress: 7/16pages