Monthly Archives: May 2016

Audiobook TBR List

Any book hoarder worth their salt has an untold number of books on their TBR list (my Amazon list alone is sitting at 727 books). With the advent of my new job last fall, I’ve embraced the awesomeness of audiobooks. They are a different way to experience a story, and for some types of books, a better way to enjoy them – I’ve found I prefer listening to memoirs instead of reading them. I’ve also discovered a new favorite author – Molly Harper, and new favorite narrators – Amanda Ronconi and Wil Wheaton.

With a 45 minute one-way commute, and an inordinate amount of time spent in a file room, I have blown through over 60 audiobooks since I started this job last fall. Admittedly, I’ve listened to the majority of my Audible selection at 1.25 speed (reserving 1.5x for books that just. need. to be. over.).

Recently, shifting duties have kept me from my earbuds on most days, causing my queue to grow to 22 books. Audible’s Daily Deal and other promotions make it too easy to add books to my ever growing list. I have an eclectic mix of books, though split fairly evenly between fiction and nonfiction. What I read comes down to what grabs my interest.

 

agent stars invention of nature witch's handbook trigger warning tipping velvet sea wolves scary mommy rocket girls republic of pirates predictably irrational off to be wizards ocean end of lane menagerie man on moon little history philosophy lamb isabella warrior queen girls atomic city ghengis khan gc victorian britain curious beginning blood starlight

 

The Hub – April Progress

I finally read enough books to reach the required 25 needed in order to complete the challenge! I am skipping the mega read-every-listed-book challenge since some books I don’t have access to, and others I don’t want to force myself to read. That being said, there are still a handful of books I want to read, so I’ll keep plugging away until I’ve finished those as well.  I would like to be completely done by the end of May, but my life won’t melodramatically end if I don’t.

ghosts of heavenThe Ghosts of Heaven by Marcus Sedgwick
This is an odd book. Very thought-provoking in the sense of time and connections. I liked that elements of each story showed up in the other stories, and that it doesn’t matter in which order you read the stories.

 

 

march 1March: Book One by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell
I love reading history presented in a graphic format. It makes feel more real, warts and nastiness and all. It is hard to fathom what it was like to live through the Civil Rights Movement for anyone who did not. My kids will be reading this when they’re older.

 

trashedTrashed by Derf Backderf
An interesting look at trash – how much of it we make, how it’s picked up, and what happens to it afterwards. The dynamic between the main characters reminds me of some of the guys I was around in the military. They share a similar black, macabre sense of humor.

 

boy in black suitThe Boy in the Black Suit by Jason Reynolds
A slice of life story, focusing on Matthew’s grief of the death of his mother, its repercussions on his father, and how he personally copes with everything. At one point in the story, the funeral home owner used the card came war as an analogy for life (108). Throughout everything, Matthew maintains a sense of humor, referencing working at a funeral home: “Perfect. I was officially weirder than the goth kids. Even better, I was the kid the goth kids wanted to be” (122).

A Silent Voice, Vols 1-3silent voice 1 by Yoshitoki Ooima
I ended up liking this more than I thought I would. Shoya’s behavior was absolutely horrible at first, and I almost stopped reading because of it. He was very much an immature bully, acting out from boredom. Once he started suffering the consequences of his actions – Shoko leaving school, and the other children ostracizing him for the rest of his school years – he began to grow on me. After years of being on the receiving end, Shoko realized exactly how horrible he was. I liked that he found Shoko and tried to atone for what he did to her.

future violenceFuturistic Violence and Fancy Suits by David Wong
This is not a book for everyone. It is odd, kind of crass, and definitely on the violent side of things. Zoey is jaded and seems resigned to her fate, but at the same time, tries to exert some level of control over her situation. Even after finishing it, I still don’t know exactly how I feel about it, other than it was odd.

Thailand Reads

thai books 1

I flew to Thailand in April to be a groomswoman for one of my best friends. Given the travel time, I assumed I would have ample reading time. *cha-ching!* However, it didn’t really work that way. On my first  flight (Toronto to Taipei, 15 hours), I discovered too late that some previous passenger had changed the angle of my reading light, so it was shining on the person two seats over. And because the light was situated directly above that person, there was no way for me to adjust it. Just like that, my reading was limited to the books I had on my phone. Not a bad thing, per se, but I really wanted to knock out some of my hard copy books. It didn’t help that I chose A Great and Terrible King as my first selection. That book was slow reading. Interesting, but slow reading.

During rare moments of down time in my hotel room, I split my reading between A Great and Terrible King, The Martian, and These Vicious Masks. I didn’t manage to finish the first two until I was back home. The third book I didn’t finish at all. I liked the idea of X-men set in Victorian times, but I couldn’t stand Evelyn. When a story is set in the Victorian era, there are rules that need to be followed even if it’s not set in our universe. Evelyn had too much of a modern sensibility, one that did not fit in with the “when” she was in.  Proper young ladies don’t just break through established social mores to save their sister. It can be done, but it has to be done within the context (looking at a lot of the Regency romance novels on the acceptable breaking of social mores). My annoyance at Evelyn, and at Sebastian, overrode my ability to read and like the story.

The books I did manage to read completely were all on my phone: Bryony and Roses, The Seventh Bride, Skies of Fire, and Not Another Vampire Book. Bryony and Roses was a unique and interesting take on Beauty and the Beast. I liked how Bryony broke the curse, and I liked how the story ended. The Seventh Bride felt like a re-imagining of Bluebeard (which it probably was). It wasn’t as good as Bryony, but still enjoyable. Skies of Fire was forgettable, as evidenced by the fact I don’t really remember it. Not Another Vampire Book was a re-read as it is one of my favorites.

Hard Copy Books (hyperlinked)
The MartianMan vs. Mars
The Dud AvocadoAdventurous young woman in 1950s France
Blackass: A Novel Nigerian man wakes up white
These Vicious Masks Victorian Era X-Men
DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: ThailandOne of the best travel guide series around
A Great and Terrible King: Edward I and the Forging of Britain Needs money for wars and crusades
Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of NazarethJesus the man within his historical and political context
The Flooded Earth: Our Future In a World Without Ice Caps New places for snorkeling adventures?

eBooks (hyperlinked)
Bryony and Roses – Roses are evil
The Seventh Bride – Creepy lord with a creepy manor
Skies of Fire – Steampunk spies in the sky
Not Another Vampire Book – Stuck in the worst troped-out vampire romance novel ever

Inner courtyard of the hotel I stayed at (Bodhi Serene).

Inner courtyard of the hotel I stayed at (Bodhi Serene).

iphone thai extra 220 ed

Prayer bells. (Wat Phra Doi Suthep).

Elephants on Wat Chedi Luang Wora Viharn.

Elephants on Wat Chedi Luang Wora Viharn.

 

Read Harder – April Progress

Well…April was a very weak month, as I was the only person who actually read any books for Read Harder. I managed more than last month, but the majority of my reading energy was again directed at The Hub’s challenge. I had big plans for my trip to Thailand, but decided instead to go crazy and socialize with other people (making military guys do jazz hands multiple times while suffering through somewhat formal wedding photography was a definite highlight).

Challenge-wise, it looks like there are only four categories untouched by any of us:

  • #8 – pub in birth decade
  • #10 – more than 500 pages
  • #12 – transgender author/mc
  • #20 religion (fiction or nonfiction)

I’m hoping to get three of those done in May, but I can’t speak for either Sophia or my husband. The latter of whom has been turning up his nose at the RHC acceptable books I’ve been throwing his way. Why read when you can build lethal roller coasters on RollerCoaster Tycoon 3?

With out further ado:

Me 15/24
My Husband 6/24
Sophia 14/24

#6 – Biography

edward

A Great and Terrible King: Edward I and the Forging of Britain by Marc Morris
My interest in Edward I stems from a book I read last year, The Greatest Knight: The Remarkable Life of William Marshal, the Power Behind Five English Thrones by Thomas Asbridge. Pretty much anything I know about Edward comes from Braveheart, and I wanted to learn more about him. His invasion/domination of Scotland only took place in the last decade-ish of Edward’s life, and the motivations behind it was much more complex than I realized (not surprising). His entire life reinforced the idea that medieval kings were pretty much all about the money, strong-arming anyone and everyone in order to get it. Mo’ wars, mo’ crusades.

gimme cash

 

#16 – First book in a series by minority author

dawn

Dawn (Xenogenesis #1) by Octavia Butler
To start with – where has Octavia Butler been all of my sci-fi reading life? This goes back to when I was around 10 years old, so I don’t know what kind of excuse I can even come up with for not reading her before now. Dawn was an amazing book. There is enough going on that it takes a while to realized it’s actually all happening. Yes, the Oankali have come to save humans from themselves, but the cost is tremendous – both in what humans lose and how the aliens accomplish their “trade”. The Oankali justify the wholesale destruction of species and planets because they feel their trade makes the receiving species better. Their trade essentially strips away everything that makes humans human, with the belief that humans should be happy and grateful for the interference. After reading the trilogy, as far as I’m concerned, the Oankali are biochemically-sexual manipulative parasites. I had a hard time listening to parts of Imago because it was just so squidgy. Imago was written from the perspective of a human-Oankali Ooloi (the genderless Oankali in charge of reproduction and genetic manipulation), which put a whole different spin on what was going on. This trilogy is a gold mine for critical analyses.

#18 – Movie adaptation

martian

The Martian by Andy Weir
I did this task backwards, watching the movie before reading the book. As to which one is better? I guess it depends on what you like. The movie is more streamlined, cutting out huge chunks of time and challenges. The book goes into more detail, which clarifies some of the situations in the movie that felt either out of place or not fleshed out. That being said, I know I will watch the movie again, but I don’t know if I’ll read the book again. Matt Damon was the perfect choice for Mark Watney, and I liked that ABBA’s “Waterloo” was the montage music used when Watney stripped the Aries 4 MAV to beyond the bare minimum.  In both formats, I like that his adversary was a planet. There were no bad guys, no aliens; just man against himself and nature. I also liked his nerd-boy humor.

April Reads

My reading streak calmed down a bit in April with only 31 books read (down from 62 in January, 46 in February, and 45 in March). I blame Thailand. I didn’t get as much reading done as I thought I would, but ended up spending most of my time socializing. It was an awesome trip that was well worth the 33 hours total travel time it took each way.

Favorite April Reads: Bryony and Roses, Dawn

Audiobooks (11)

better homes hauntings kiss of steel ninth grave heart of iron
lady quicksilver turn of the screw fangs memories forged by desire
dawn adulthood rites imago

The London Steampunk series were fun to listen to. My favorite was My Lady Quicksilver, followed by Kiss of Steel. I didn’t care for the other two as much since the heroines felt too hand-flappy and weren’t necessarily proactive about their situations. I admit that part of my strong dislike for Lena (heroine of Heart of Iron) could be because of how the narrator read her, but Lena annoyed me in pretty much every scene she showed up in in every book. The same could be said of Turn of the Screw. I wanted to throttle the governess. If she had just talked to the children the situation could have gone better. Or at the very least, the children could have had someone to help them cope with the sexual abuse they suffered at the hands of the valet and previous governess. The Xenogenesis trilogy was incredibly good, if disturbing, and at times squidgy. More on that in my Read Harder post.

Novels (10) / Novellas (2) / Nonfiction (1)

undead xmas bryony and roses seventh bride skies of fire not another vampire
edward american duchess martian ghosts of heaven boy in black suit
barbarian 7 barbarian 1 future violence

Bryony and Roses was a very good retelling of Beauty and the Beast. I have not come across another version quite like this – the reason why the Beast was a beast, and how his curse was ultimately dealt with. Not Another Vampire Book was a re-read. Ignoring minor grammar issues, Karalynn was snarky and no nonsense. I loved how pop culture vampires (and other references) were used to highlight how ludicrous being stuck in a horrible vampire romance novel was. It took me about 100 pages to start enjoying The Martian. Once other characters were brought in, and the informality of Mark Watney’s log entries were balanced by narrative, it was much easier to read. I ended up really enjoying it. Harkening back to my alien romance kick last year, I read the latest in the Ice Barbarian series, Barbarian’s Mate. Some of the books in the series lack plot and focus on the romantic leads, but thankfully this one actually had something else going on. I re-read the first one, Ice Planet Barbarians, because I wanted to compare how much of an actual plot there was versus agonizing over sexy-time. Book #1 had more, but book #7 had a decent showing. Book #6, Barbarian’s Prize, pretty much had no plot, and could be completely skipped (assuming the reader cared about exploration, regaining lost technology, adapting to the new environment, and potential interactions with the original abductor aliens).

Manga (3) / Graphic (3)

march 1 delilah shilling trashed silent voice 1

Kids (1)

cs time machine