Monthly Archives: November 2017

Amazon TBR – October (Part 1)

I listened/read/DNF’d 24 books in October from my Amazon TBR. Because of that, I’ve split them into two different posts

The Glass Universe: How the Ladies of the Harvard Observatory Took the Measure of the Stars by Dava Sobel
I have a thing for books about the unsung women of the early years of modern science. The basis of so much of our current knowledge comes directly from these women bucking the social norms of their time to provide invaluable grunt work of scientific discoveries. The Glass Universe was fascinating in that it looked at the contributions women had on our knowledge, understanding, and classification of the cosmos. The only negative was that the women discussed in the book were not really fleshed out as people. The focus was mostly on their work with very little context of who they were and the hardships they might have faced for their choices.

1453: The Holy War for Constantinople and the Clash of Islam and the West by Roger Crowley
Unfortunately, I don’t have much to say other than it was interesting learning about the political machinations and power dynamics behind the fall of Constantinople.

Moonshadow by Thea Harrison
This was a decent urban fantasy. I liked that Sophie was strong female lead who could think creatively and hold her own against both Nikolas and the baddies. There were times that her need to always have a comeback got on my nerves, and I didn’t really feel the chemistry between them. That being said, I will most likely read the sequel at some point because I am curious about Morgan. He was more interesting than Sophie and Nicholas, and he barely had any page time.

How to Hang a Witch by Adriana Mather
I ended up liking this book more than I thought I would – which is saying something given how disappointing many of my recent reads have been. It wasn’t stellar by any means, but I liked the concept of the descendants of those involved in the Salem Witch Trials being under a centuries-long curse. I’m sure some of my positivity about this book stems from the fact that I listened to it at 2x speed instead of reading it. The cliches and stilted writing would have bothered me more if I had read the book instead of listening to it.

Heartless by Marissa Meyer
I had high hopes for this because I love reimaginings and retellings based upon Alice in Wonderland. Unfortunately, Heartless fell short for me. I get that Cath was constrained by the mores of her society, but it got really old really quickly listening to her whine about not wanting to marry the King of Hearts, and then not doing anything about it. It was also frustrating because when Cath had the actual opportunity to save herself, she didn’t and consequently caused the madness and death of two characters. I know how her story ends, but I would have liked her back story to be more exciting and less whingy. There was also a severe lack of Wonderland included. “The Raven” by Edgar Allan Poe and “Peter, Peter Pumpkin Eater” had more page time that the book that was supposed to be the inspiration.

Beauty and the Clockwork Beast by Nancy Campbell Allen
To lay it all out – there was nothing exceptional about this book, and I have no interest in reading any other books in this series. There was a lack of depth all around in regard to world building and characters that existed beyond somewhat cliched cardboard cutouts. The technology wasn’t explained very well and seemed like an odd blend of steampunk and electricity. Technology based upon Tesla’s ideas doesn’t fit in well with steam and cogs and gears.

Seven Minutes in Heaven by Eloisa James
I mostly liked Seven Minutes, but it definitely won’t become a favorite. Ward was okay until he pretty much tore Eugenia down because he thought she had no status other than what she derived as a widow and “governess”.  And when he learned she was a peeress went “Whoops! made a mistake! You are worthy of me for marriage!”. Personally, I would have been happier if the HEA had been Eugenia kicking him to the curb and opening her tea room.

The Last One by Alexandra Oliva
This book had the potential to be really amazing – a look at how “reality” skews our perception  using the aftermath of a deadly plague as the backdrop. The execution, however, left a lot to be desired. For all that was going on, it was a really boring book. The character, Zoo, was bland and uninteresting. I had no connection with her and didn’t really care what happened to her. The audiobook narrator was also surprisingly monotone. I did like how the story switched between Zoo’s present and how the reality show began, but could have done without the online message board interjections. She also treated Brennan like complete crap. and spent too much time wallowing. I had no sympathy for her.


The Lady’s Command by Stephanie Laurens
Very, very boring. I couldn’t decide if it’s because of the narrator or the writing style of telling me what is happening instead of showing me.

Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
The plot was boring, and the narrator was awful. The book was written in first person from Ethan’s perspective, but the narrator only used a southern accent when Ethan spoke, which was incredibly jarring. There shouldn’t be such a difference between Ethan’s internal and external voices.

The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan
Eh. It wasn’t horrible, but then I read multiple two star reviews about how bland and underdeveloped the characters were, and how one dimensional Nicolas’ and Bex’s relationship was. And even though i wasn’t terribly far into the book, I could see the seeds for all of the nonsense that usually makes me want to throw a book across a room. Plus, I found the dynamic between Bex and Lacey annoying. Lacey was incredibly selfish and felt desperate a lot of the time. The book had the potential to really look at how a commoner marrying a royal has to adjust to the craziness, but it didn’t take advantage of it.

Once and for All by Sarah Dessen
I hate that I DNF’d a Sarah Dessen book because I really do like how she writes teen romance. However, I’ve realized that her books are hit or miss when it comes to the male love interest. This one is a definite miss. Ambrose needs a swift kick in the pants. His behavior is not attractive, and he’s a douche. That is the kind of guy who will end up gaslighting his significant other. He does not see the harm his actions cause, and blames everyone else when things do go wrong – man they just don’t understand my groove. That kind of tunnel vision is selfish and not healthy. He steals a dog, justifies why he stole it, and doesn’t seem to get the impact of his actions and assumes everyone will be onboard with him toting a random dog around.


Van Gogh Storytime 2

This is my first storytime post in over two years! I’m back in school, and this semester’s class is children’s literature – a fun class for sure, and one where I have had to plan multiple storytimes/programs centered around various books. One of the main requirements was to do a thematic program at a library. I chose to do a storytime, and liked the idea of revisiting my Van Gogh storytime.

I ended with five children (and a baby) attending. Coincidentally, all of them were boys. It was a good turn out given my local library doesn’t have evening programs for children – they don’t have enough staff. The boys all had fun, and the parents expressed interest in attending more evening storytimes.

Opening Songs
“Hello, Hello, How Are You?”
“Mary Wore a Red Dress” (I sing the first verse, then make up additional ones using the children’s names and an article of clothing they are wearing)


Katie and the Starry Night by James Mayhew
Vincent’s Colors by The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Egg Shaker Songs

“Shake Your Shaker” (from Libraryland)
Tune: “London Bridge”

Shake your shaker in the air,
Shake it here, shake it there.
Shake your shaker in the air,
Shake your shaker.

Shake it high and shake it low,
Shake it yes, shake it no.
Shake it high and shake it low,
Shake your shaker.

Shake it up and shake it down,
Rub your shaker on the ground.
Shake it up and shake it down,
Shake your shaker.

Shake it near and shake it far,
Drive your shaker like a car.
Shake it near and shake it far,
Shake your shaker.

Shake it fast and shake it slow,
Shake it stop, shake it go.
Shake it fast and shake it slow,
Shake your shaker.

“Shake it to the East” (from Jbrary)
I usually chant this as opposed to singing it

Shake it to the east
Shake it to the west
Shake it all around
and then you take a rest
Shake your shakers up
Shake your shakers down
Shake it, shake it, shake it,
and then you settle down.

My initial inspiration came from a Van Gogh-inspired art project from The Imagination Tree. I used this activity with my previous Van Gogh storytime, and the kids had fun with it. It felt something was missing, so I ended up getting a bit more fancy, adding paper cutouts of the cypress trees and moon. This version was also a hit. The boys loved swirling the paint around and smashing the paper on top of it to make an impression.

2017 Books (First Half)

I’m trying to get everything out before I have to do the next batch of round up posts – in two months, so there’s not going to be much insight other than I managed exactly 100 books.

2016 Books (Second Half)

2017 Graphic Novels/Manga (First Half)
2017 Audiobooks (First Half)



*Rolling in the Deep – My sister has been after me for a long while to read this, and I finally broke down because I realized it fit a needed category. I’ve read books by Seanan McGuire, but found them to not really be my thing (even though I’m a fan of urban fantasy). However, I absolutely loved Rolling in the Deep. Yes, you already know how the book is going to end before it even starts – that’s kind of the point. What makes the story fun and exciting is how it gets there. She did a fantastic job with her mermaids. No buxom beauties here, but instead, highly evolved deep sea predators.
*Trainwreck: The Women We Love to Hate, Mock, and Fear…and Why – My sister has been after to me to read this book since it came out last fall. I was surprised at how much I connected with this book. In part because of the realization that I am guilty of the negative perceptions Doyle points out. She does a good job conveying the hypercritical expectations set for women, not only by men, but by women themselves. We’re all guilty of the schadenfreude surrounding “trainwrecks”. It is so easy to look down upon women who don’t follow the stringent rules they’re expected to obey. When they step out of line, their worth and legitimacy vanishes. It is an exacting double standard. A man and woman can follow the same path, but the man will recover being seen as a survivor. The woman, however, will be forever tarnished and less than. People will glory over where she went wrong.
*Every Heart a Doorway – I love fairy tales, and I love Alice in Wonderland, and both are mashed up in Every Heart, looking at what happens when the children who stepped through the portal or went down the rabbit hole return to the normal world. It’s weird and painful because of the crushed dreams and unlikely hopes of such children, and the lengths some of them will go to in order to regain their alternate lives.

Honorable Mention: Hotel Ruby, Dragonsong, Hellhole, All the Bright Places, The Female of the Species, A Court of Thorns and Roses

Fiction (29)
Scandal in Spring
Cinnamon and Gunpowder
The Revenant
The Invisible Library
Margaret the First
Rolling in the Deep
Casino Royale
The Eyre Affair
Always Happy Hour: Stories
City of Light
The Lawrence Browne Affair
The Diabolical Miss Hyde
A Midnight Dance
The Last Novel in the History of the World
Beauty and the Beast
The Bees
Lost in a Good Book
View With a Grain of Sand
The Screwtape Letters
All By Myself, Alone
Because of Miss Bridgerton
The Spymaster’s Lady
Grave Mercy
Dark Triumph
Certain Dark Things
What Angels Fear
When You Give a Duke a Diamond
Earls Just Want to Have Fun
Ever After

Nonfiction (10)
My Holiday in North Korea
In the Country We Love
A Long Way Home
Desert Queen
Reality is Broken
Between the World and Me
The 4-Hour Work Week
Infectious Madness

YA (29)
Hotel Ruby
Labyrinth Lost
Ghostly Echoes
The Paper Magician
A Thousand Pieces of You
When the Moon Was Ours
The Lie Tree
Every Heart a Doorway
You Know Me Well
Daughter of the Pirate King
The Truth About Forever
Along for the Ride
This Lullaby
All the Bright Places
The Female of the Species
Royal Bastards
Asking For It
When Dimple Met Rishi
Down Among the Sticks and Bones
Crown of Midnight
A Court of Thorns and Roses
The Queen of Blood

YA Nonfiction (3)
The Wasp that Brainwashed the Caterpillar 
In the Shadow of Liberty 
Samurai Rising 

Children’s (29)
The Space Between (Never Girls #1)
Tales from Hawaii
The Marvels
Dealing With Dragons
Half a World Away
James and the Giant Peach
The War that Saved My Life
Bed-Knob and Broomstick
The Witches
The Notebook of Doom, books 1-10
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
The Witch of Blackbird Pond
Miss Ellicott’s School for the Magically Minded
The Nest
The Princess Curse
Eerie Elementary, books 1-3
George’s Marvelous Medicine



October Books

You would never know I was back in graduate school given the number of audiobooks I listened to in October. Most of them related to my Amazon TBR list, but not all of them. It’s possible the number is still so high because children’s literature isn’t as taxing as say, a course on library management. We’ll see how I fare next semester.

Audiobooks Fiction (20) / Nonfiction (4)

The books not included in my Amazon list ere the Suzanne Enoch romances (both enjoyable brain candy), and books 2-4 of the Night Huntress series (also enjoyable brain candy). Royally Matched was marginal at best. I must have forgotten that I was ambivalent about the first book as well. I didn’t like the first person “I’m God’s gift to all women” douchy attitude that both Henry and Nicholas display.

Novels (4) / Novellas (3)


Other than The Westing Game (a read for my class, but one of my childhood favorites), the rest of the books I read were all off my Kindle app. Firelight was an alright take on Beauty and the Beast, but not so interesting that I’ll read the rest of the series. Flash Gold was short, but I liked that it was steampunk set in the Yukon (which is not necessarily the normal setting for this genre). I bought the second book to read, but haven’t started it yet. Your Favorite Band Cannot Save You was entertaining, but weird. A spell broken down into ten tracks with the intention of opening an interdimensional portal. Cowboy from the Future and Love in the Time of Zombies are funky little romances. Both books are rereads, and I’m sure I will read them again in the future.

Graphic (1)

I read All’s Faire in Middle School for my class, and while I liked it, I enjoyed Roller Girl more. Don’t get me wrong, All’s Faire is a great book. Jamieson does a wonderful job capturing the realities and conflicted feelings and relationships that are middle school. I just didn’t connect with it as much as I did Roller Girl.

Read Aloud (3)


Amazon TBR – September (Part 2)

With my first 50 books read and removed from the list, it’s time to start the next 50 books (and once I’m done with those, I’ll spend the rest of the year digging into my reread list and all of the books queuing up on my Audible account). Then it will be 2018, and the lovely reading challenges will once again commence.

Planetfall by Emma Newman
I almost DNF’d this book multiple times because of the  subplot about Renata and her hoarding. I get that ultimately, the hoarding had relevance to her mental issues, but for most of the story, it felt like it was just tacked on. That and how her disorder was revealed to the rest of the colony was incredibly stressful and uncomfortable. I also spent most of the book thinking something was off about Suh-Mi’s grandson, Song-Soo. He was a “nice guy” and “nice guys” have a tendency to be slimy – and he definitely was. More time should have been spent on the actual plot (meaning, what’s up with God’s City) and less on Renata, her hoarding, and Song-Soo’s assholishness. This would have been a better book if the focus had been on the God’s City and the flower that caused Suh-Mi to fall into a coma.

I’m Judging You: The Do-Better Manual by Luvvie Ajayi
There seems to be an uptick in books of essays that (attempt) to humorously dissect modern life. I’m Judging You was one of the more entertaining ones, balancing whip smart insights with Ajayi’s awareness of her own shortcomings, hypocrisies, and pop culture/behavior guilty pleasures. Overall it was enjoyable, though not a book I would read again.

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
This is a book that I should have made the time to write my thoughts down immediately after finishing it. Enough time has passed that nothing beyond a warm little fuzzy of liking the book is left. I liked the awkwardness of both Eleanor and Park; it made them feel more real. However, it didn’t really feel like either character was attracted to each other beyond “we’re both misfits, and I sort of like you, and you’re receptive to reading comics.”

Stars Above by Marissa Meyer
For the sake for completion, I wanted to read the short stories connected to the Lunar Chronicles. I liked learning some of the backstories, specifically about Wolf and Scarlet, and I loved hearing about their wedding. Unfortunately, the stories as a whole did not really add anything to the characters or their universe.

Version Control by Dexter Palmer
It listened to the majority of this book before I actually started to like it. The beginning had way too much monologuing and Rebecca was incredibly whiny. Possibly, I was missing the existential meaning behind dealing with the potential versions of your self and life based upon your decisions and actions. The story was pretty much all character driven, the time machine acting background noise and a locus around with the characters lives revolve.

The Girl With All the Gifts by M.R. Carey
This was definitely a different kind of zombie novel, both in that it is written  from the perspective of a zombie, and how their existence and evolution were handled.  The Girl With All the Gifts was a character-driven, somewhat philosophical book. If gore-driven zombies are your preference, this might not be the book for you.


Lab Girl by Hope Jahren
This book suffers from the fact the author is a horrible narrator. She was very monotone, lacking inflection on what I assume were supposed to be jokes or funny asides. It would have been much better had someone else narrated. Personal histories and anecdotes were interspersed with scientific botanical descriptions, but it felt like I was reading an academic text. I’m sure this would have been somewhat mitigated with a better narrator.

Blood of Elves by Andrzej Sapkowski
I didn’t realize this was the third book in a series, so I decided to skip it and try the first book, The Last Wish. I did not get very far into it when I realized the writing style was not for me. Maybe if I was a gamer, or played the video game, I would have been more interested.

2017 Audiobooks (First Half)

The books I listened to during the first half of 2017; definitely heavy on the fantasy and sci-fi.

2016 Audiobooks (Second Half)



*Salt to the Sea – This book was absolutely beautiful; horrible, but beautiful. Definitely not for the younger set given some of the content and brutality. I always think of the Titanic or the Lusitania as being the worst maritime disasters, and that is what I’ve always been taught. I didn’t know about the Wilhelm Gustloff, or about how absolutely horrific its sinking was. The characters were well-developed, and all of them existed on a scale of moral ambiguity. Though Emilia was towards the good end of the spectrum as she lied for the purpose of keeping her sanity.

*The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck – Along with You Are a Badass, SANGF is one of my favorite self-help books. It is crass at times, lacks sugarcoating, and some of what Manson says is counter-intuitive to what we’ve been told. Positive thinking being a case in point – if you have to repeatedly tell yourself you’re happy, then you’re not, and you won’t be because you keep reinforcing the idea that you’re not happy by trying to convince yourself that you are. The gist of the book is that you have to figure out your priorities and what is truly important to you, or you will spread yourself too thin and end up spending too much energy on worthless things and ideas.

*Awaken Online: Catharsis – This is the best book I’ve read in the RPG sub-genre. It takes the concept and twists it, placing the MC, Jason, as the villain of the newly launched MMORPG, Awaken Online. He has to grapple with both the junk thrown at him in real life, and with his growing realization that he has been cast as the villain online. Aspects of both his real life and online life collide, and both he and his adversaries exist in a gray zone. Is the hero really good? Is Jason really bad? I can’t wait to listen to the sequel when it comes out.

*Kill the Boy Band – I loved this book! So much so that I listened to it twice in less than six months. A black satire for sure, and its humor is definitely not for everyone. KBB poked fun at the obsessive side of fandom (not fandom in general). It was awesome and horrible in an “I can’t believe they just did that” kind of way. The plot was ridiculous, and all four main characters were on the wrong side of sane to varying degrees. I liked that the narrator wasn’t entirely reliable – how much of what she presented was the truth or was inside her own head? She would never give her actual name to people, only characters from ‘80’s teen movies, which I thought was a fun detail. The audiobook narrator did a fantastic job nailing the vocal nuances of this character.

Honorable Mentions: Pines, Written in Red, We Are Legion, Geekerella, Norse Mythology, The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August, Just One Damned Thing After Another, The Ultra Mindset

Fiction (55)
Moon Called
The Bollywood Bride
The Great Gatsby
Awaken Online: Catharsis
The Queen’s Poisoner
One Good Dragon Deserves Another
The Casquette Girls
Written in Red
Invisible Man
Eleventh Grave in Moonlight
Ruby Red
Slaughterhouse Five
Kill the Boy Band (2x)
Murder of Crows
Vision in Silver
Marked in Flesh
Etched in Bone
Wild Seed
The Sword of Summer
We Are Legion (We Are Bob)
The Last Town
The Monstrumologist
Hallowe’en Party
One of Our Thursdays is Missing
The Sisters Brothers
The Lies of Locke Lamora
The Book of the Unnamed Midwife
The Strangler Vine
Hell Divers
Norse Mythology
The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August
Dream a Little Dream
Awaken Online: Precipice
The Magician King
Keeping the Moon
For We Are Many
Red Rising
Just One Damned Thing After Another
The Very First Damned Thing
When a Child is Born
A Symphony of Echoes
The Fold
Kiss of Steel
First Grave on the Right

Dramatization/Multi-Cast (4)
Salt to the Sea
This Is Where It Ends
My Lady Jane

Nonfiction (9)
Medium Raw: A Bloody Valentine to the World of Food and the People Who Cook
The Ultra Mindset
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck
The More of Less
The Medieval World (The Great Courses)
The View from the Cheap Seats: Selected Nonfiction
I Hate Everyone, Except You
Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow
Great World Religions Hinduism