Bookish Chatter | Settling In For Winter

Welcome to Wednesday, friends. I’m starting to wrap my head around the fact that Christmas and the new year are just around the corner. That also means winter is nearly here and it’s time to take stock of my indoor plans. I’m thinking about the stitching projects I have lined up as well as the books I hope to read. I’m feeling hopeful and excited about what’s in store! I hope that excitement can last until spring, when I will be slipping on my gardening gloves and getting my hands into the dirt. But one step at a time, right? Today’s agenda is to share what I’ve read in the last week. I’m excited to chat about three popular newly published novels as well as another Captain Underpants. Because of course.


I was the second person in line* for my library’s copy of A World of Curiosities and you’re not going to believe this, but it was returned to the library while I was at storytime last Wednesday. While we were checking out our giant stack of books the librarian said to me, and this just came for you. I squealed. I was expecting to wait at least another week and was excited to begin it almost as soon as we got home and I got the kids settled in with a giant snack plate.

I couldn’t stop reading. I had been in a small reading lull before this book arrived; nothing was holding my attention and I wasn’t itching to pick up anything. I thought I needed a little reading break, no big deal. And this came and it became clear that I was just reading the wrong books for me right now. This installment took us back to the first case Gamache and Beauvoir worked on together – a really terrible one that involved a mother who overdosed and children who were sexually abused, so trigger warnings there. I think this was the most intricately woven plot of Penny’s that I’ve read to date. Gamache paired memories of several old cases with a newly found room that had been bricked up for over 100 years in Three Pines to unlock the mysteries of this novel. And the food was top-notch, friends. I only wish there was more of it to balance out the truly terrible things that happen in our world. Now we wait another year for the next book!

(And so many of you have mentioned that you’re 200-something in line for your library’s copy of this book. I am sorry! I wish I could share my library’s copy with you because I don’t even think there are 200 people in my town who use the library.)

Lucy by the Sea was another book that I didn’t want to put down. I’ve been on the waitlist for the audio version on Libby but decided to pick up the hard copy at the library last week. I love these books on audio but didn’t want to wait anymore after finishing Anything Is Possible. If you were curious about what Lucy Barton did in 2020, then this is the book you’ve been waiting for. It was a smidge frightening to relive those early days of 2020, watching the news unfold through Lucy’s eyes. She and her ex-husband, William, were lucky enough to leave NYC and stay at a house in Maine. I felt so lucky to have a house and a yard for the kids to play in during those dark days and still, I would have welcomed the chance to stay at a house by the ocean in Maine! Lucy was just like so many of us: scared, restless, outraged. It was quite comforting to have the knowledge that we were — eventually — going to get through this, sort of.

And then we relive George Floyd and the protests. And then January 6. Oh friends, I wept. In so many places. It was almost cathartic for me. I had a moment of thinking that I wanted to crawl into this book, make a pot of coffee, and just sit with Lucy. But then I remembered that I did NOT want to return to 2020 or early 2021! So I stayed put and kept a hankie nearby. I love Lucy Barton. How many times I have written that in this blog? But it’s true. And now that I’ve read all of the Lucy Barton novels, I’m going to reread Olive Kitteridge and then go through her series, but I will miss Lucy!

I spent weeks with Demon Copperhead and struggled to get through it. Luckily, I found the second half of the novel much more compelling than the first and was able to gain some momentum over the last couple of days. This book is narrated by a young boy who is nicknamed Demon Copperhead and lives in Appalachia. His family is extremely poor and he deals with extraordinary hardships. Demon’s narration is pitch perfect: he is smart, observant, and the epitome of a teenage boy (I think). At times, though, he really grated on me for personal reasons that are too complicated for this short summary. But I think that’s why I struggled with this one so much. This book is still a worthwhile read and I’m glad I stuck it out and finished, but I don’t think it will end up on my list of favorites this year.

I couldn’t help but compare the narrators of Demon Copperhead and Lucy Barton. They were both, essentially, speaking to the reader. How could one work so well for me and the other be such a miss? I loved how it felt like Lucy was speaking TO me, while it felt like Demon was speaking AT me. I love Lucy’s quiet, observing nature, while Demon felt brassy, loud, and know-it-all-ish. In essence, Lucy feels like ME and Demon feels like people in my life who I try to avoid. And teenage boys are kind of gross, so that probably has something to do with it, too. I am still anxious to read more Kingsolver next year with my blogging friends!

Bryce and I finished Captain Underpants and the Big, Bad Battle of the Bionic Booger Boy Part 2: The Revenge of the Ridiculous Robo-Boogers late last week, after finishing the Part 1 of the Big, Bad Battle of the Bionic Booger Boy a couple of weeks ago. I have to admit that I don’t remember much about the plot of this one. I know that Melvin Sneedly and Captain Underpants switched bodies again and George and Harold were trying to figure out how to separate them. I’m sure the exact plot isn’t essential to today’s post though, so I’ll try not to worry too much about getting it just right.

I started Winter Solstice by Rosamunde Pilcher yesterday and the main character is currently in Cornwall visiting her brother and I’m trying to decide what I should bake today that will pair well with this story. How does Pilcher know how to make me feel so perfectly cozy?! We’re expecting rain most of the day today so I expect to have plenty of opportunities to settle in with a page or two here and there. Perfect Pilcher weather!

I’m planning to be back on Friday with a stitching update. Until then – take good care!

*I have an imaginary competition with a woman in town who also reads this series. I try to be the first to ask the librarian about the Armand Gamache series prior to publication, because the first person who asks is the first person on the list. I’ve lost the last TWO years. There’s always 2023.


31 thoughts on “Bookish Chatter | Settling In For Winter

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  1. Right now I’m reading My Name is Lucy Barton and loving it. Your post makes me all the more excited to keep going. Had read Oh William! awhile ago and just love how Strout’s books fit together without needing to be read in any particular order. Kinda like life! (Looking forward to Louise Penny, too — maybe will wait for the first snowfall to dive into that one.)


  2. I’ve heard so many mixed reviews about Demon … what you noted about being talked AT (even preached to) is a theme for many folks. After reading and loving Lucy by the Sea, I’ve wanted to read The Burgess Boys. I seem to be enjoying backlist way more than the new releases this year (Marraige Portrait and Signal Fires excepted)!


    1. I hate to not praise Barbara Kingsolver about anything, but this one was very hard for me despite how popular it seems! I’m also wanting to read The Burgess Boys and to learn more about Tom. He was an interesting character in the book! And I loved that Olive made a cameo in Lucy by the Sea. So clever! I have Signal Fires out from the library now and can’t wait to get to it 🙂


  3. I love that you compete to be first on the list for a book. I am eagerly awaiting my name to come up for the third Richard Osman. If I have timed it right I shall have it for over Christmas. Meantime I have started on my own books with Christmas in the title.


    1. The competition is totally imaginary!! But I can make a competition out of anything. I hope you love the newest Richard Osman — that series is so funny. Enjoy your Christmas books!


  4. I love it! A library hold competition. It sure warms my nerdy heart. I read and liked the first Lucy Barton book but haven’t been tempted to read any more. Not sure why. But your description and reaction to the current book makes me think I should reconsider. Pilcher really does know how to do cozy as well as come up with compelling characters. At the same time there’s always something horrible that happens in her books, which provides a good balance.


    1. I think I’ve read all four of the Lucy Barton books this year – they are definitely worth revisiting if this has piqued your interest. I find them short and completely absorbing! I’m just over 100 pages into the Pilcher – these characters are all so iinteresting!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Well I had to look and found that my library system currently had over 800 holds for the 150 ebook copies and 650 holds for the 140 hardback copies of that Louise Penny book 😂. I am undecided about the Kingsolver read along. I have read a lot of her books but is has been hit or miss. We will see. I am very interested in your stitching plans!


    1. Oh my goodness… I am so glad that I don’t have to compete within your library system!! I hear you about Kingsolver… and of course, it’s more than okay if you choose not to read all of the books for the read along! I am very excited about stitching right now and can’t wait to share what I’ve been working on and planning for!


  6. I liked Demon Copperhead, but didn’t love it. I kept thinking of Douglas Stuart’s characters, Shuggie Bain and Young Mungo, and how much I loved them. I didn’t feel the same connection to Demon/Damon, in fact, I didn’t feel connected to any of the characters. I think Douglas Sturart’s books may have affected my reaction to Demon Copperhead.


  7. I am so far behind with Louise Penny/Inspector Gamache…I started reading print then decided to listen using my Audible account but don’t… I have a fiend who has all the books so I think I may (try to) catch up using her stash. Thanks for these reviews and the stories that go with your reading . Always enjoy and am inspired. Read on!


    1. The books aren’t going anywhere, Honoré! And I think they’re equally good on audio and in print, so I think you’ll be happy with whatever you choose. I think they’re worth going slowly and savoring 🙂 Thanks for your kind words!


  8. I identified with Lucy a lot in this most recent iteration of her story, and I really felt that how she experienced the early days of the pandemic is how I did. I’m almost halfway through Demon Copperhead, and though I’m reserving judgment until I’m finished, I think I am liking it more than you did.

    I’ve moved up two places in the hold line for Gamache (72nd out of 134 total), but there’s still only one copy available. I certainly hope they add some more copies!


  9. I love that you are in this imaginary competition for first! Do you have any idea who your competitor is? And how lucky that you were IN the library when the book was returned! Serendipity!


    1. Ha! I only know her first name but wouldn’t know her if I saw her. I suspect that the librarians told her that I’d likely be in at story time and she timed her return her well, but I’m not sure. But it’s one of the benefits of living in such a small town!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Your imaginary competition for the Gamache books cracks me up! And how perfect that the book came in the day you were there for storytime!

    I will read Demon Copperhead but I’m gonna wait a bit. For some reason it’s not grabbing my attention like a normal new Kingsolver would.


    1. Well, I can make a competition out of anything. It’s just in my nature!! And I think waiting on the Kingsolver is a good plan, especially if it’s not grabbing your attention. I now see that it’s getting a lot of mixed reviews, while I’d only seen glowing ones before I picked it up.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I recently finished Demon Copperhead too – it was slow going at the beginning but like you I thought it picked up. I didn’t really have an opinion on Demon as the narrator, he didn’t annoy me. I did think the book could have been shorter though. I’m laughing at your hold competition, so funny!


    1. I agree that the book could have been shorter AND I expected it to follow Demon’s entire life. So it surprised me when the story ended and he was so young. (I hope that isn’t a spoiler for anyone who might be reading this comment.)


  12. Thank you for your thoughtful review of D. Copperhead. I may or may not read it but am not in a hurry. The Louise Penny novel is a different story. I’ll get on the library list and wait for the audio. I enjoyed the first Lucy Barton book and then skipped the next few. I wonder if they would benefit from sequential reading. Through the Erdrich along, I have gained such an appreciation for her reading that I didn’t have when I read her books here and there. Stay warm and cozy. December is indeed upon us.


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