Monthly Archives: October 2016

Audiobook TBR List 2.0

Looking back, I last did a TBR list for my audiobooks at the end of May. I’m not binge listening as much as I was earlier this year – my new position focuses more on people than files, so headphones aren’t an option. I still listen during my commute, though. I’ve tried driving while listening  to music, and it is not a pretty sight.

From my previous list of 22 books, I listened to 19, DNF two (A Curious Beginning and The Girls of Atomic City), and still have not listened to one (A Man on the Moon – it’s over 23 hours long, and nonfiction, so…it will probably be “need to clear the queue” read). I also listened to an additional 31 books (I did to a bit of binge listening recently).

My current queue is at 16 books, and that is only because I am forcing myself to put potential reads in a wishlist instead of buying (and buying) more credits. I’m sure there are some books I could get from the library, but I have a really hard time listening to CDs anymore because I can’t make the listening speed go faster. My library does have some books in Playaway (which as several listening speeds), but I haven’t had a lot of success in finding books I want to listen to in that format.

anubis-gates artful breakfast-at-tiffanys critial-failures crucible-of-souls gemina hungry-earth lesser-beasts medieval-world nice-dragons-finish-lasat queens-poisoner single-undead-moms-club understanding-japan view-from-the-cheap-seats magicians american-gods-10th

The Anubis Gates – A fantastical, madcap, time travel adventure.
Artful – The Artful Dodger battles anti-monarchy vampires.
Breakfast at Tiffany’s – A society girl and her fascinated neighbor.
Critical Failures – D&D just got real.
A Crucible of Souls – Epic fantasy. Young orphan learns about sorcery and evil.
Gemina – Sequel to Illuminae. What goes down on the Heimdall while Katy battled Hal9000 and its crew of Reavers.
Hungry Earth – Sequel to Dark Waters. Magical boarding school/college + murder mystery.
Lesser Beasts – A history of the creature that (in part) becomes bacon. Mmm…bacon…
The Medieval World – 36 lectures about the medieval world. Pretty self-explanatory.
Nice Dragons Finish Last – A dragon forced into human form has to prove his ruthlessness or stay a human forever.
The Queen’s Poisoner – Young boy, hostage in a king’s court, must learn to survive.
Single Undead Moms Club – Newly turned single mom learns to navigate being undead.
Understanding Japan: A Cultural History – A history of Japan.
The View From the Cheap Seats – It’s Neil Gaiman nonfiction collection. Do I really need to say more?
The Magicians – Magical university mashed with Narnia.
American Gods –  Old World Gods vs. New World Gods in America.

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PopSugar Fall – September

PopSugar Fall Challenge (4.5 tasks)

rookThe Rook by Daniel O’Malley
#3 – A book and its sequel
I liked this book more than I thought it would. It was an interesting concept with a pre-amnesiac self helping her post-amnesiac self a la Jason Bourne and X-Men. It was snarky and somewhat slow, but generally the plot moved forward. It could have lost 100 pages and been fine. The information dump letters helped flesh out the world, but at the same time they were pages worth of info dumps that bogged the story down. I liked how post-amnesiac Myfawny had to simultaneously figure out who her pre-amnesiac self was and how she worked, and create a new identity.

sabrielSabriel by Garth Nix
#10 – Published in 1995
I know this is a well-regarded YA fantasy novel that’s been around since I was in high school, but it was mind-numbingly boring. It felt endless without a lot actually happening. It meandered. There was absolutely no romance or chemistry between Sabriel and Touchstone, and it came out of left field at the end of the book. There was no sense or progression. It felt like an afterthought. There were interesting elements – the juxtaposition of magical and modern, the rules of magic, and the recent history of the Old Kingdom, but it wasn’t enough to save me from boredom.

ghoul-to-doWhat’s a Ghoul to Do? by Victoria Laurie
#13 – Pun in the title
If I hadn’t chosen this book for a reading challenge, I would have dropped it within the first 50 pages. I didn’t like how Steven Sable was shown as an incredibly intelligent surgeon, who sometimes spoke English very well, and other times botched it terribly. It wasn’t consistent. I also didn’t like how MJ corrected him all the time. The chemistry didn’t feel believable. MJ was also annoying.

it-happened-one-autumnIt Happened One Autumn by Lisa Kleypas
#14 – Takes place in the fall
I had never read any of Lisa Kleypas’ books before this, but I am now a fan. I’m a sucker for smart, sassy MCs in romance novels, and Lillian fit the bill. She was opinionated, but not to the point that I wanted to throw the book across the room. Marcus was also a well done “asshole with a heart of gold”. He was cold and gruff and superior, but even in the early stages, he still looked out for Lillian’s welfare and safety. I loved how they played off of each other.

gentlemanThe Gentleman by Leo Forrest
#15 – Orange cover
This was a madcap adventure kicked off by Lionel losing his wife, Vivian, to the devil. The story was a bit uneven, but still fun. I liked the creativity of the premise and the writing style. Vivian and Simmons, the butler, were my favorite characters. They were the most sensible of the lot. Vivian was intelligent and devious. Simmons was the consummate, subversive British butler (Jeeves to Lionel’s Wooster). And Lionel was a bit annoying with his total self-absorption and obliviousness to reality.

PopSugar Ultimate – September

PopSugar Ultimate Challenge (5 tasks)

nerveNerve by Jeanne Ryan
#11 – Becoming a movie this year
I ended up liking this book more than I thought I would. Yes, the plot is driven by a teen girl making stupid decisions, but the more I thought about it, the more I had to stop ragging on her stupidity. Why? Because what she did is entirely plausible. Teens and adults alike get sucked into games on the internet.  People can get so addicted to the thrill of “winning” in an electronic environment that they forget there can be actual consequences. The Big Brother overtones were creepy, yet also completely realistic. The owners of the game were able to pull personal information and use it to lure players to continue playing by offering customized prizes – think personalized ads on Facebook.

badassYou Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living and Awesome Life by Jen Sincero
#13 – Self-improvement
This is a love it or hate it kind of book. I’m on the love it side of the fence. She is no nonsense and doesn’t pull any punches – you control you. While this sounds very obvious, most people don’t actually live that way. We like the idea of doing something, but not necessarily doing it. I like the idea of getting up before work and going for a run, but it’s just. so. hard. How badly do I want to get back into shape? Obviously, not badly enough. And that’s the gist of the book – you have to want something badly enough to make sacrifices in order to get it. Things will get harder before they get easier.

evelinaEvelina by Frances Burney
#17 – At least 100 years older than you
This book got my attention while reading How to Create the Perfect Wife by Wendy Moore. Frances Burney had a connection to one of the young women who were being raised to be “perfect wives”. If it sounds a bit crazy, it was. I tried reading this book, but wasn’t able to get into it. Instead I listened to an Audible production, that included Judi Dench. Burney offers a cynical view of the Regency upper class, as seen mostly through the eyes of a sheltered 18-year old, Evelina, as she is thrust into society for the first time. Along with various social gaffes, interactions with heretofore unknown (very crass) relatives, and meeting her scheming francophile grandmother for the first time, Evelina tries to find love and happiness.

act of godAct of God by Jill Ciment
#25 – Takes place during the summer
I did not like this book. It’s billed as a screwball comedy (it’s not, there’s no comedy at all) and as a horror story (no horror, no suspense, the mold overlooked for four obnoxious and unsympathetic women). I thought there would be more focus on the killer mold – the impetus of the entire novel – but it was relegated to bit player status; a backdrop to the interconnected lives of the four main characters. The mold should have been the focus of the book, it had so much potential. Instead, the focus was on: Vida, Ashley, Edith, and Kat. Of the four, Vida was the only one I had any amount of sympathy for, and I’m fairly sure she was supposed to be the “bad guy” of the bunch. Ashley was a stilted, stereotypical-can’t-speak-English-very-well, house squatter with an entitlement complex a mile high. Edith was extremely hidebound and came off as the annoying tenant who calls their landlord for any and all perceived issues. It’s no wonder Vida didn’t return her multiple voicemails. And Kat was a self-absorbed “free spirit” whose poor life choices caused her to end up broke and crashing in her sister’s apartment. At the age of 65.

ink and boneInk and Bone by Rachel Caine
#29 – Dystopian
Ink and Bone turned out to be one of the more original and complex dystopian YA books I’ve read. No love triangle, and if there were any tropes, they were done well enough that none of them jumped out at me. It’s technically set in the future, but steampunk and alchemy rule the day. Global power is held by The Library, and incredibly Big Brother-ish entity that controls access to all knowledge and suppresses anything that could remotely be considered a threat to their authority and power. So often, dystopian lit focuses on the aftermath of society’s collapse from disease or war or alien invasion. In this case, the dystopian society grew organically from an initial wish to make sure knowledge was available to all. It made me think of early libraries – knowledge available to the masses, but only for their education and betterment.

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September Books

Thirty-ish books seems to be my monthly average. It helps that I listen to a lot of audiobooks and read manga/graphic novels. There isn’t much else to report. I read. A lot. To the exclusion of things I should not be ignoring.

Audiobooks (12)

tipping-velvet-2 gc victorian britain rocket-girls
khan nice girls fangs invention-nature philosophy ocean
badass evelina flirt werewolf gateway-fourline

My audiobooks this month were split evenly between fiction and nonfiction. Three books were rereads (Nice Girls Don’t Have Fangs, The Ocean at the End of the Lane, and How to Flirt with a Naked Werewolf). Victorian Britain was a basic overview of the Victorian Era. Given that each lecture was 30 minutes long, it did not go into a lot of depth. Rise of the Rocket Girls was amazing! I’ve known about women computers for since I was child, but never really knew anything beyond that they existed. Rocket Girls focused on the women who helped turn the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) into the powerhouse it is today. It is boggling to think that (for example) the Viking mission trajectory calculations, etc… were done longhand by women. Ghengis Khan was also fascinating. Yes, he was ruthless, but he was also incredibly progressive and religiously tolerant. The Invention of Nature kept the amazing/fascinating nonfiction train going. Alexander Von Humboldt is the father/grandfather of modern natural science. His central idea was that all living things were connected – the web of life. This might seem blasé to us now, but the idea was incredibly revolutionary when he first presented it. His ideas inspired scientists such as Charles Darwin – whose own ideas had a strong foundation in Von Humboldt’s. Henry David Thoreau and John Muir are two other men who wouldn’t have become who they were without Von Humboldt.

Books (15)

act of god ink and bone scot-dark across the universe thinking-woman rook gentleman nerve gilded-cage ghoul-to-do it-happened-one-autumn devil-in-winter sabriel prom-goer shade-of-vampire

I’m skipping over my thoughts on eight of the listed books because I read them for various PopSugar challenges and will talk about them in other posts. Sarah McLean is one of my favorite romance authors, and as I mentioned in another post, assholishness is something I can overlook in male characters. Most of the time. A Scot in the Dark was not one of those times. Neither Lily nor Alec did anything for me. They had zero chemistry. Alec also drove me nuts. Really, give the man a fedora or some black eyeliner. Kudos that he was in touch with his inner self, but he spent too much time agonizing over how unworthy he was, and in his drive to “protect” Lily from his unworthiness, HE LEFT HER multiple times when she needed him. Nope. Just nope. The Thinking Woman’s Guide to Real Magic was alright. I liked the concept; kind of Alice in Wonderland. It’s gotten a ton of mixed reviews, and it’s easy to see why. It’s rambly, not a lot actually happens, and there is a very poorly executed attempt to draw parallels between Elizabeth/Darcy and Nora/Aruendiel. Again, with the total lack of chemistry or romance. The Prom Goer’s Interstellar Excursion was a cute book – dorky guy asks the popular girl he has a crush on to the prom, she says yes…then gets abducted by aliens. Dorky guy then has to figure out how to rescue her, and ends up on his own adventure with a washed up alien rock band. The book doesn’t take itself too seriously, so neither should the reader.

Graphic (5)

white-donkey tg-8 silent-voice-4

Read Aloud (2)

all-hail-queen candymakers

I never thought I would say that a Magic Tree House book is a preferable read, but I would gladly read a stack of 40 of those suckers before I would even think about picking up another Anna & Elsa book. Beyond the horrible writing, it’s just obnoxious on too many levels. The Candymakers was good book. I liked how the story was told from multiple perspectives, and having to piece together what was going on. The only thing I didn’t like was that the tension was built up and then let down without an explanation for how the issue was resolved.

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Husband’s Books: 2016 3rd Quarter

Gardening and YouTube videos on science and movie sins have replaced my husband’s Roller Coaster Tycoon phase, and the number of books he’s read seems to be holding steady. What is shocking is the fact that I managed to get some thoughts out of him on three of books – The Doomed City, Terminal Lance: The White Donkey, and Heaven’s Ditch (mostly paraphrased).

*The Doomed City – This is a dystopian novel written during the Soviet-era, only recently translated into English. My husband said it’s definitely different from the American perspective based on how some situations were written, and how they played out. He liked it, but felt like he was missing things because he doesn’t have the context for what living in the USSR was like. There were many references and nuances that went over his head. He also said the book kind of ended abruptly without a real resolution or answer.

*Terminal Lance: The White Donkey – When he finished it, his first comment was, “Yep, that’s about what happens when you deploy.” He agrees with its portrayal of war – a whole lot of boredom interspersed with craziness. How when you get back home, it can be hard to adjust because people back home don’t get it; don’t get how cushy their lives are, don’t get the snarled mix of emotions that go with deployment/reentry.

*Heaven’s Ditch – Given that my husband grew up in the greater Buffalo area, I figured this would be a good book choice for him. The Erie Canal has huge historical significance here. Plus, as my husband says, NYC exists as it does today because of the Erie Canal. NYC was still considered a turncoat because of it’s support of the British during the Revolutionary War. That being said, even though my husband liked the book, it was less about the building of the Erie Canal, and more about Mormonism – it’s roots, influence, and growth.

twelve crisis-of-islam city-of-mirrors doomed-city
white-donkey heavens-ditch clash-of-eagles essential-lewis-and-clark

The Twelve by Justin Cronin
The Crisis of Islam: Holy War and Unholy Terror by Bernard Lewis
The City of Mirrors by Justin Cronin
The Doomed City by Arkadii Strugaetiskii
Terminal Lance: The White Donkey by Maximilian Uriarte
Heaven’s Ditch: God, Gold, and Murder on the Erie Canal by Jack Kelly
Clash of Eagles by Alan Smale
The Essential Lewis and Clark by Landon Y. Jones

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2016 Books (First Half)

Each year I end up reading more books compared to the previous year. 2016 is no different. Time management and a clean house have pretty much gone out the window.

2016 First Half Audiobooks
2016 First Half Graphic Novels/Manga

2015 First Half Books
2014 First Half Books

Adult Favorites

rogue not taken fair fight enemy of mine

*The Rogue Not Taken – This was the first Sarah MacLean book I’ve read, and it’s turned her into one of my favorite romance authors. I adore heroines with a strong side of sass and daring-do. And I also like heroes who are a bit assholish, a bit fractured (I think this reflects on my personal issues, but I’ll push the blame onto being married to a slightly off-kilter military guy). This book is in the same vein as A Week to Be Wicked by Tessa Dare – a road trip romance.
*The Fair Fight – It was well-written and well-thought out. The characters felt real within the historical context. They also felt like real people, some likeable, some pitiable, and some detestable. I liked that their endings weren’t necessarily happy ones. Some got what they deserved, some did not.
*Enemy of Mine – I discovered this while perusing a list of “what to read if you have Outlander withdrawal”. It was a surprisingly good time travel romance; I’ve read it twice so far this year. There were some flaws, but I can generally overlook those if the hook, and writing, are strong enough. The romance wasn’t overly cloying, and I liked that Erva was an intelligent, educated woman, who used her knowledge to help her navigate the past.

Adult Fiction (40)
Lord Dashwood Missed Out
Speakeasy
Bloodsucking Fiends
The Rogue Not Taken
A Rogue by Any Other Name
One Good Earl Deserves Another
Gold Fame Citrus
Accidental Abduction
1001 Dark Nights
Never Judge a Lady by her Cover
The Fair Fight
Pygmalion
Wishing for a Highlander
Enemy of Mine (2x)
Highlander of Mine
Barbarian’s Prize
Miss Bramble and the Leviathan
Werewolf’s Christmas Wish
Driving Mr. Dead
The Care and Feeding of Stray Vampires
I’m Dreaming of an Undead Christmas
Skies of Fire
Not Another Vampire Book
My American Duchess
The Martian
Barbarian’s Mate
Ice Planet Barbarians
The Queen of the Night
Reader Abduction
Sorcerer to the Crown
Bryony & Roses
The Seventh Bride
Dark Alpha’s Claim
The Regional Office is Under Attack!
Eligible
Idol
The Beautiful Bureaucrat

Adult Nonfiction (5)
We Should All Be Feminists
A Great and Terrible King
Zealot
All the Single Ladies
I Was Told There’d Be Cake

YA Favorites

written in the stars challenger deep court mist fury

*Written in the Stars – Beautiful and frightening at the same time. The fact that various characters justified their actions and behaviors towards Naila made the reality of her forced marriage even worse. Gaslighting in the extreme. I could not put the book down, and ended up finishing it in one sitting (bedtime at 2am).
*Challenger Deep – This was an amazing book. Stark at times, but amazing. It took a while to figure out exactly what was happening, but I liked how Caden’s two realities intersected and bled into each other; kind of like Alice in Wonderland. Time was topsy-turvy and was not necessarily linear. I also liked how he was ultimately able to cope with his mental illness.
*A Court of Mist and Fury – I admit that I had some issues with this book at first. I could see the set up for a love triangle from ACOTR, and I absolutely hate love triangles (because they are generally unnecessary). That being said, it made sense within the context of the book, and there was an actual reason it happened beyond the waffling of a heroine unable to make a decision. Feyre started to come into her own, was encouraged to embrace herself and not allow herself to be shut into a preconceived box. There is a lot going on in the story; it’s more intricate than ACOTR because now things are kicking into gear. ACTOR was essentially a prologue to what’s really going on.

YA Fiction (40)
The Boundless (MG)
Ettiquette & Espionage
Curtsies & Conspiracies
The Girl from the Well
Anna Dressed in Blood
We Are the Ants
Dumplin’
Ana of California
Zeroboxer
Manners & Mutiny
Cinder
Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda
Charm & Strange
Bone Gap
Six of Crows
The Rest of Us Just Live Here
Girl of Nightmares
Bones & All
Archivist Wasp
Written in the Stars
Rad American Women
Made You Up
The Ghosts of Heaven
The Boy in the Black Suit
Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits
My Life at the MBRC
Farewell to the MBRC
Lost Files of the MBRC
Challenger Deep
The Dark Days Club
Rebel in the Sands
Red Queen
The Star-Touched Queen
Book of a Thousand Days
A Court of Thorns and Roses
A Court of Mist and Fury
The Weight of Feathers

Children’s Fiction/Nonfiction (12)
The Knight at Dawn (MTH #4)
Rose and the Lost Princess
Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Mr. Lemoncello’s Library Olympics
Midnight on the Moon (MTH #5)
Three Tales of My Father’s Dragon
Sylvia & Aki
A Long Walk to Water
The Time Machine (Classic Starts)
Babe: The Gallant Pig
The School for Good and Evil

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