Category Archives: Favorites

2016 Audiobooks (Second Half)

Well, this post is a bit belated. It’s only taken me almost six months to get around to putting it together – just in time to start working on my reads and listens for the first half of 2017!

2016 Audiobooks (First Half)



*Menagerie – Menagerie was beautiful and horrifying. Cryptids were cryptids, and humans were humans, until sometimes…they weren’t. Humans had rights, but cryptids were less than animals, and one day Delilah Marlow learned that she as a cryptid. I couldn’t imagine how unbelievably hard it would be to have your identity and humanity stripped from you, and then be so callously and inhumanely treated. It was hard to listen to at times, but that was more because of the implications of what could happen, than actual violence. Vincent did a good job making the fantastical feel believable. I couldn’t stop listening.

*Sleeping Giants – Because I’ve waited so long to write this, my memory of what exactly drew me into this book is somewhat lacking. I am left with impressions of being late to work because I didn’t want to stop listening and get out of my car, of how well the multi-cast worked with the style of writing, and how Neuvel did an excellent job at building expectation and tension. It was a good mix of sci-fi and political machinations.

*You Are a Badass – This book was the uncouth kick in the pants I needed, and provided the impetus for me to start running again (and so far I’ve run two 5Ks after not running in earnest for over 15 years). I’m not one for self-help books because they are generally too nicey-touchy-feely. Thankfully, Badass is most definitely not your stereotypical self-help book. It’s not for everyone, but if you respond to tough love, then this is a good choice. Yes, a lot of what she says could be considered self-evident, but knowing and reacting to it are two separate things. Some of the concepts can be considered on the “woo-woo” side, such as the god-like Universe and the connected energy that exists in everything, but both of those concepts fit into my general spiritual view of existence and make sense in how she presents them within the self-help context.

Honorable Mentions: Her Royal Spyness, The Accidental Alchemist, The Magicians, Isabella: The Warrior Queen, Rise of the Rocket Girls: The Women Who Propelled Us, from Missiles to the Moon to Mars, Lesser Beasts: A Snout-to-Tail History of the Humble Pig

Fiction (47)
Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal
Driving Mr. Dead
Days of Blood & Starlight
Murder on the Orient Express
Agent to the Stars
And Then There Were None
Her Royal Spyness
Masked Ball at Broxley Manor
A Royal Pain
Royal Flush
Royal Blood
Naughty in Nice
The Twelve Clues of Christmas
Heirs and Graces
Malice at the Palace
Queen of Hearts
Crowned and Dangerous
The Curse of the Tenth Grave
Murphy’s Law
Tipping the Velvet
Nice Girls Don’t Have Fangs
The Ocean at the End of the Lane
How to Flirt with a Naked Werewolf
Gateway to Fourline
Dark Waters
Death of Riley
Dreams of Gods & Monsters
The Care and Feeding of Stray Vampires
The Accidental Alchemist
Schooled in Magic
Oliver Twist
The Bollywood Affair
The Bronze Key
The Palace Job
The Anubis Gates
Breakfast at Tiffany’s
Nice Dragons Finish Last
Critical Failures
Hungry Earth
The Magicians
The Adventures of Tom Stranger, Interdimensional Insurance Agent
The Shadow Queen
The Masquerading Magician

Dramatizations/Multi-Cast (4)
Sleeping Giants
Royally Screwed
American Gods

Nonfiction (17)
The Sea Wolves: A History of the Vikings
The Hunt for Vulcan
Isabella: The Warrior Queen
Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces that Shape Our Decisions
Victorian Britain (The Great Courses)
Rise of the Rocket Girls: The Women Who Propelled Us, from Missiles to the Moon to Mars
Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World
The Invention of Nature: Alexander von Humboldt’s New World
A Little History of Philosophy
You Are a Badass
The Hemingses of Monticello
Food: A Love Story
The Astronaut’s Wives Club
Lesser Beasts: A Snout-to-Tail History of the Humble Pig
A Man on the Moon
Understanding Japan: A Cultural History (The Great Courses)




2016 Manga/Graphic Novels (Second Half)

My graphic reading has continued to drop, in part because I’ve stepped out of the library world and am not as exposed to it as I once was, and in part because my library system does not carry many of the (manga) titles I would like to read. I also have over a 1000 books/graphic novels/manga in my TBR list, so it’s going to take some time.

2016 Manga/Graphic Novels (First Half)

Favorite Graphic Novels

starlight white-donkey

Starlight was bittersweet, and I absolutely loved it. A man well past his prime, living on the memories of his interstellar adventures, who is shunted aside by society and children who don’t believe him. One evening, he gets whisked away by a boy in spaceship to help save the world he saved decades before.

Terminal Lance: The White Donkey
This one was harshly beautiful and depressing. A young man went to war, saw incredibly traumatic things, and then was unable to reconcile that trauma with normal American life.

Graphic Novels
Saga, Vol 6
Lumberjanes, Vol 4: Out of Time
Paper Girls, Vol 1
Sex Criminals, Vol 1: One Weird Trick
East of West, Vol 1: The Promise
Terminal Lance: The White Donkey
Snow White: A Graphic Novel

Manga Favorites

tg-8 say-i-love-you-8

Tokyo Ghoul, Vol 6-8
Tokyo Ghoul was on of my favorite manga from the first half of the year, and it continues to remain so. Horror is outside of my normal reading range, but the characters and their motivations are fascinating. As is the dynamic between humans and ghouls – both see the other as monsters, and a serious rumble is brewing.

Say I Love You, Vol 8-10
I haven’t read this story in a while, and it was nice to see the love story still progressing between Mei and Yamato with all it’s happiness and bumps. I also liked learning more about some of the secondary characters. In all, it’s a good love story where the lead is a good guy and not an asshole with a hidden heart of gold.

Tokyo Ghoul, Vol 6-8
One Piece, Vol 31-33
A Silent Voice, Vol 4-6
The Ancient Magus’ Bride, Vol 1-4
Say I Love You, 8-10





PopSugar Halfway – Sophia

It’s that time of year again – I’m over halfway through the 2016 PopSugar Reading Challenge! Like last year, I’ve made a point not to use any book for more than one category, which brings me up to 23 books at this point.  There’s a nice blend of tasks, and a few of them will be truly challenging for me, such as reading a political memoir (politics make my brain explode) and the first book you see in a bookstore (I rely on the library and also I don’t want to get stuck with a terrible one).  But I’ll get through those too.  For now, here’s what I have so far.

This year’s unofficial theme is science fiction – here are my top three favorites:

23634011   23836855   25779654

  • Rolling in the Deep, by Mira Grant – This book was just plain fun.  In only 128 pages, Grant delivers an intriguing premise, varied characters, and well-calibrated suspense.  It brought to mind the movie ‘Incident at Loch Ness’ (watch it!) and of course the countless “documentaries” about any number of legendary creatures that regularly make the rounds on SyFy, Animal Planet, Discovery Channel, et al. It’s nothing groundbreaking and it puts forward no particular message, but as pure entertainment, it’s fantastic.
  • Illuminae, by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff – At my sister’s recommendation, I listened to the audiobook version, which features a full cast and sound effects.  For my own reference and to experience the unique formatting, I also followed along in a physical copy.  I LOVED IT.  Listening to it in my car, it was easy to pretend I was hurtling across the universe in my Civic-turned-spaceship.  I got completely sucked into the story – it was funny and spooky and so full of WTF moments, I made up errands and took detours just to keep listening.  The physical book was fascinating to explore, but I’m glad I opted for the audiobook.  It brought the story to life so perfectly.  DON’T LOOK AT ME.
  • The Core of the Sun, by Johanna Sinisalo – I love weird books and I love dystopian stories.  This one is the best of both.  The thematic elements are terrifyingly relevant, especially given the current social and political climate, and the more bizarre aspects stand out but still make sense in context.  The storytelling format was a sort of mixed media deal, offering straight narrative interspersed with excerpts from scientific articles, government edicts, and other similar snippets.  It was a good way to offer up background information without weighing down the tension of the plot with too much exposition.

Other notable favorites include A Court of Thorns and Roses, Gold Fame Citrus, As You Wish, and The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu.

Completed tasks:

1) Based on a fairy tale – Speak Easy, Catherynne M. Valente
3) YA bestseller – A Court of Thorns and Roses, Sarah J. Maas
4) Book you haven’t read since high school – Go Ask Alice, Anonymous
5) Set in your home state – The Road Through the Wall, Shirley Jackson
6) Translated into English – The Vegetarian, Han Kang
7) Romance set in the future – Cowboy from the Future, Cassandra Gannon
8) Set in Europe – The Core of the Sun, Johanna Sinisalo
9) Under 150 pages – The Visitor, Maeve Brennan
14) Book you can finish in a day – Rolling in the Deep, Mira Grant
15) Written by a celebrity – The Bassoon King, Rainn Wilson
18) More than 600 pages – Winter, Marissa Meyer
20) Science fiction novel – Illuminae, Amie Kaufman
21) Recommended by family member – Anna Dressed in Blood, Kendare Blake
22) Graphic novel – Nimona, Noelle Stevenson
23) Published in 2016 – Travelers Rest, Keith Lee Morris
26A) A book… – Glass Sword, Victoria Aveyard
26B) …and its prequel – Cruel Crown, Victoria Aveyard
27) Murder mystery – In a Dark, Dark Wood, Ruth Ware
29) Dystopian novel – Gold Fame Citrus, Claire Vaye Watkins
30) Book with a blue cover – The Clasp, Sloane Crosley
34) Book from the library – The Turner House, Angela Flournoy
37) Unfamiliar culture – The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu, Joshua Hammer
40) Guaranteed to bring you joy – As You Wish, Cary Elwes

Sophia’s 2015 Book Riot Read Harder Roundup

I was so excited when my sister turned me onto Book Riot’s reading challenge – FINALLY something to force me to look beyond the fantasy fiction and classic literature that overwhelmingly populated the bookshelves of my teenage years.  Also, an excuse to make functional spreadsheets…hooray for sortable data!

It was a lot of fun to explore the categories and find books that were both interesting to me and relevant to the challenge.  There were three categories that gave me some grief: romance novel, audiobook, and self-improvement book – romance has never interested me, listening to a book doesn’t feel the same as reading one, and ‘self-improvement’ always struck me as a little shill-y.  My choices weren’t entirely successful (looking at you, time-traveling, flip-flopping, kilt-wearing bodice ripper), but I did come away very willing to try other books that could reasonably fall into any of those categories.

Overall, Read Harder 2015 led me to so many great books!  My top three for this challenge:

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Here’s the complete*** list:

***I haven’t actually finished the challenge…I have one book left!  I swear I’ll finish it! I blame impulse control issues triggered by working at the circulation desk in a public library.  This is why I could never work at an animal shelter.

  1. Author under 25 – White is for Witching, Helen Oyeyemi
  2. Author over 65 – Emma: A Modern Retelling, Alexander McCall Smith
  3. Short stories – The Haunted Looking Glass,  ed. Edward Gorey
  4. Indie press – Glaciers, Alexis M. Smith
  5. LGBTQ – The Paying Guests, Sarah Waters
  6. Different gender – Election, Tom Perrotta
  7. Takes place in Asia – A Tale for the Time Being,  Ruth Ozeki
  8. Author from Africa – Waiting for the Barbarians, J.M. Coetzee
  9. Indigenous culture – The Orenda, Joseph Boyden  (I WILL read it)
  10. Microhistory – Severed: A History of Heads Lost and Heads Found, Frances Larson
  11. YA novel – Hellhole, Gina Damico
  12. Sci-fi novel – The Martian, Andy Weir
  13. Romance novel – Beyond the Highland Mist, Karen Marie Moning
  14. Award winner – All the Light We Cannot See, Anthony Doerr
  15. Retelling of a classic – Cinder, Marissa Meyer
  16. Audiobook – Paddle Your Own Canoe, Nick Offerman
  17. Collection of poetry – Poisoned Apples, Christine Heppermann
  18. Recommendation – Flights and Chimes and Mysterious Times, Emma Trevayne
  19. Published in another language – The Room, Jonas Karlsson
  20. Graphic novel – The Walking Dead Vol. 22: A New Beginning, Robert Kirkman
  21. Guilty pleasure – Catering to Nobody, Diane Mott Davidson
  22. Published before 1850 – Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte
  23. Published in 2015 – Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania, Erik Larson
  24. Self-improvement – This is How, Augusten Burroughs

Favorite Books 0f 2015

Favorite Books of 2014

2015 was another hard year for narrowing down favorite books. I ended up with the very arbitrary criteria of choosing the books that I most connected with – through laughter (Hellhole), heartstrings (My Real Children), similar shared experiences (Anna and the French Kiss), or plain old awesome execution (Red Moon). I added an “honorable mention” section for favorite books I re-read.

Bean’s favorite books are included as well (for reference, she is 9). The thumbnails are books I read to her, the listed titles are ones she read herself. This past year was the first year she started independently reading chapter books. Before this, the only thing she would touch were graphic novels and manga. That is not a complaint by any means, as I see reading is reading is reading, and the graphic format is a gateway drug into other types of books.


koch 1 my real chlidren hellhole red moon anna french kiss sweet cowboy gannon spinsterbeauty hubert

Honorable Mentions:
Cruel Beauty
Cinderella and the Colonel
A Court of Thorns and Roses


tuesdays flights chimes misty bad beginning
chocolate touch dr libris cs swiss family

Bean’s Reads:
The Storybook of Legends (Ever After High #1)
Cleopatra in Space #2: The Thief and the Sword
Mameshiba manga series

2015 Graphic Novels / Manga (First Half)

While my book reading more than doubled, my graphic reading was almost non-existent. This was due in part to the fact that I was not glued to the computer reading manga scanilations. To only marginally compensate for that, I’ve included the three webcomics I read.

2014 Graphic Novels/Manga (First Half)
2015 Books (First Half)

Graphic Novel Favorites

rat queens rat queens 2 beauty hubert

*Rat Queens vol 1-2 – Rat Queens will forever be a favorite of mine. It is unapologetically snarky and crass and awesome. Volume 1 introduces the ladies in all their glory, and volume 2 starts poking at backstories. Both volumes are individual adventures, but each one ends with the set up.
*BeautyA nice adult fairy tale that shows how debased man can be. It is bitter and bloody and shows that wishes are a nasty double-edged sword that punish as least as much as they reward.

Graphic Novels
Oddly Normal vol 1-2
Ms. Marvel vol 1
Over the Wall
Miss Don’t Touch Me
Girl Genius
(an ongoing webcomic)
Love Not Found
(an ongoing webcomic)

Manga Favorites

say i love you skip beat 1

*Say I Love You vol 1-7 – A nice love story where the male MC isn’t a complete jerk. Both characters are sweet and endearing. It’s a nice change from a lot of other romance manga.
*Skip Beat! vol 1-24 – I would have never picked up this series if it wasn’t for the comments on my April Books post. I love Kyoko’s mix of grudge, revenge, pessimism, optimism, and naiveté.

A Bride’s Story vol 1-7
Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle vol 1-3
xxxHolic vol 1-3
Girls of the Wild’s (an ongoing webcomic)

2015 Books (First Half)

I can’t really say my reading slumped at all during the first half of 2015, even with graduate school and Girl Scout cookie sales. I was still reading at least six books/graphic novels per month. Compared to the first half of last year, there was marked increase – 38 books last year, 80 this year. You’d never know I had a life with obligations. Though in my defense, most of the reading was done in January, before the semester started, and May/June, after the semester ended. Escapist, much?

Given the number of books I read, I’m actually somewhat surprised that I only read seven straight romance novels (I could bump that number up if I included Outlander and all of the Alien books by Gini Koch, but I don’t really consider those romances).

2015 Manga/Graphic Novels (First Half) coming soon…

Adult Favorites

outlander my real chlidren koch 1 hausfrau

*Outlander – New to my perennial favorites, I can’t get enough of the characters and their interactions. I have yet to read any other book in this series, in part because I do not want to see the hell Claire and Jamie are forced to go through, and in part because I do not want the initial magic to end.
*My Real Children – An absolutely beautiful book. I love how the narrative splits into two different lives of Patricia, and how they come back together again (do a degree). The details of each world, neither the same and neither quite like ours, are wonderful.
*Touched by an Alien – I came across this book/series courtesy of Book Riot. It’s a bit campy, doesn’t take itself too seriously, and Kitty has a great accompanying playlist.
*Hausfrau – Favorite isn’t the right word for Hausfrau, but I cannot get it out of my head. Most likely because aspects of Anna and her marriage reflect my life – passivity and complacency, feeling trapped, being overwhelmed by where your decisions have led you. It’s a book I will probably never read again in its entirety, but will take off the shelf to read random passages when I need to poke the bruise.

Adult Fiction
Say Yes to the Marquess
The Strange Library
Shades of Milk and Honey
Glamour in Glass
Without a Summer
Mermaids in Paradise
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
The Just City
The Bone Season

Rabbit Back Literature Society
Motherfucking Sharks
The Shambling Guide to New York City
Four Nights with the Duke
Emma: A Modern Retelling
Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake
The Accidental Duchess
Alien Tango
Alien in the Family
Ten Ways to Be Adored When Landing a Lord
Eleven Scandals to Start to Win a Duke’s Heart
Alien Proliferation
Alien Diplomacy
Universal Alien
Alien vs Alien
Alien in the House
Alien Research
When Beauty Tamed the Beast
Dead Until Dark
Living Dead in Dallas

Adult Non-Fiction
England’s Mistress: The Infamous Life of Emma Hamilton
If Walls Could Talk: An Intimate History of the Home
Empress Dowager Cixi: The Concubine Who Launched Modern China

YA Favorites

hellhole poisoned apples court thorns cruel beauty

*Hellhole – Sarcasm, snarkiness, and black humor are three of my favorite things in books. I loved how the characters played off of each other. The bickering reminded me of my sister and I when we’re on a roll (seriously, hang out with us sometime and you’ll either fall in with us or stare in abject horror).
*Poisoned Apples – Poetry focusing on women, girls, and body image that uses fairy tales as starting points. None of the poems are terribly long, but they all pack hard punch. Girls in high school need this book. I needed this book in high school. I read it in March and I’m still thinking about how powerful the poems are.
*The Court of Thorns and Roses – I’m a sucker for dark story lines, flawed heroines, and (anti)heroes who are probably a Bad Choice (see also Cruel Beauty and Sunshine). I love how the story flows.
*Cruel Beauty – One of my favorite books of 2014, see above for my dark story line love. Nyx is petty and bitter and she wields both well.

YA Fiction
When We Wake
Stitching Snow
Hush, Hush
172 Hours
Tin Star

The Adoration of Jenna Fox
Red Queen
The Glass Arrow
Throne of Glass
Crimson Bound
Gilded Ashes*
Little Peach
A Wicked Thing
The Tricksters


Children’s Favorites

flights chimes misty westing game

*Flights and Chimes and Mysterious Times – A lyrical story reminiscent of Neil Gaiman. I love that it assumes children can handle dark things, and that the writing/vocabulary isn’t shallow.
*Misty of Chinoteague – I included Misty because Bean freaking adored this book. I enjoyed it, but I wasn’t the one grabbing blankets in suspense during parts of the book.
*The Westing Game – A favorite of mine since I read it in 6th grade. Every time I read it, I catch new clues. I love puzzle books.

Children’s Fiction
Classic Starts: 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
Emma and the Blue Genie
Tuesdays at the Castle
The Celery Stalks at Midnight
Sea Star
Stormy, Misty’s Foal
SeeSaw Girl
From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler
The Bad Beginning
The Rainbow Fairies (all seven books)
Dinosaurs Before Dark