Category Archives: Other

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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2016 Audiobooks (First Half)

Audiobooks is a new category for me this year, as I only started listening to them in earnest towards the end of 2015. They wouldn’t have even blipped on my radar if it hadn’t been for Book Riot’s 2015 Read Harder Challenge. One of the categories was to listen to an audiobook (Yes Please! made the ungodly long drive from Buffalo, NY to Minneapolis, MN bearable, especially since we drove straight through).

Favorites

echo nice girls fangs illuminae scary mommy

*Echo – This is hands down one of my favorite books of the year. I have recommended it to anyone half willing to listen to my shill. The story is beautiful and haunting, with a bittersweet ending. I cried multiple times. It absolutely must be listened to as an audiobook. Each sub-story has a different narrator, all very good at creating their characters. And given that a harmonica is what ties everything together, music is incorporated, which enhances the magical/fairy tale-like aspects.

*Nice Girls Don’t Have Fangs – I came across this book in a Book Riot post about good audiobooks to run to, and I have to agree. It had me with the concept of a fired children’s librarian who is mistaken for a deer on the side of the road at night, and is shot and left for dead. She is  turned into a vampire, and the hijinks begin. The fact that the story is on the funny side of crazy, and that the narrator, Amanda Ronconi, is fabulous kept me listening. I ended up binging on Molly Harper/Amanda Ronconi audio pairings.

*Illuminae – I freaking LOVE Illuminae. Flaws are easily overlooked once the story gets rolling. And hoo boy, does it roll. Aden (the ship’s AI) is amazingly creepy as a riff on Hal9000, if Hal9000 started to develop emotional sentience. And had access to Reavers. This is definitely a book that needs to be listened to. There is a full cast along with sound effects, and both are used exceedingly well to enhance the tension. The “little birdy” scenes later in the book gave me the heebie-jeebies.

*Confessions of a Scary Mommy(copyed straight from the initial post this blurb appeared in) If All the Single Ladies and Spinster should be on all women’s TBR lists, Confessions of a Scary Mommy needs to be right there with them. Women face pressure to get married and have children. And once those children have arrived, to be a perfect, self-sacrificing mother. Motherhood is full of barf and judgment, and while we love our children, it is very hard to reconcile society’s expectations that we completely subsume our needs to those of our family’s. Scary Mommy shows the warts, embraces the warts, and tells you that it is normal to be an imperfect mother.

*Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind – I’ve already made it well-known that I love this book, so instead of waxing poetical about it again, it’s getting an honorable mention.

Fiction
A Dirty Job
Secondhand Souls
Waistcoats & Weaponry
A Christmas Carol
Trollhunters
Nice Girls Don’t Date Dead Men
How to Flirt with a Naked Werewolf
The Vampire’s Mail Order Bride
The Art of Seducing a Naked Werewolf
Nice Girls Don’t Live Forever
Ready Player One
Daughter of Smoke and Bone
Nice Girls Don’t Bite Their Neighbors

Dramatizations/Multi-Cast
Neverwhere: BBC Dramatization
Carmilla
Dracula
The Graveyard Book
Turn of the Screw

Nonfiction
Not My Father’s Son
Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl
As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride
What If? Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions
You’re Never Weird on the Internet
Life
Modern Romance
The Road to Little Dribbling: Adventures of an American in Britain
The Republic of Pirates

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2016 Manga/Graphic Novels (First Half)

After a manic run a few years ago, my reading pace for the graphic format has died down a bit. I’m assuming (especially with the manga) that it is because I’m having a harder time finding titles in print. I also don’t have the time or inclination to deal with scanlation sites. That being said, I’ve still managed to find several series that pulled me in.

Graphic Novel Favorites

lumberjanes 1 lumberjanes 2 velvet 1 velvet 2

Lumberjanes, Vol 1: Beware the Kitten Holy & Lumberjanes, Vol 2: Friendship to the Max – The first two volumes were freaking amazing. I loved the strength and ingenuity of the girls. I loved the idea of a more awesome version of Girl Scout camp mixed in with multiple supernatural elements. Each chapter begins with a badge description, and almost all of them had me wishing those badges actually existed. Volume 3 did not make the favorites because I felt it was a weaker entry in the series.
Velvet, Vol 1: Before the Living End & Velvet, Vol 2: The Secret Lives of Dead Men – Velvet is what happens when it turns out Miss Moneypenny was actually a secret agent. Who then gets set up and framed for the murders of other agents, and how she goes about trying to figure out why this is happening. Mixed in with her on the lam in the present, are scenes from her past that help flesh out why Velvet was so much more than just a secretary.

Graphic Novels
Roller Girl
Relish: My Life in the Kitchen
The Phoenix Requiem, Vol 1-5
Drowned City: Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans
Ms. Marvel, Vol 2 & 3
Awkward
Andre the Giant: Life and Legend
SuperMutant Magic Academy
An Age of License: A Travelogue
March: Book One
Delilah Dirk and the King’s Shilling
Trashed
March: Book Two
Space Dumplins
Nimona
Lumberjanes, Vol 3: A Terrible Plan
Something New
Rat Queens, Vol 3: Demons

Manga Favorites

tokyo ghoul

Tokyo Ghoul, Vol 1-5 – I  love this series. It is horror (not one of my usual genres) and it can be grotesque. However, the characters and the realities of their lives are fascinating. Humans see ghouls as monsters, ghouls see humans as both monsters and prey. Tensions are high with threats and killings on both sides. Throw into this Ken Kaneki, a human who has been turned into a human-ghoul hybrid who is trying to adjust to his new life.

Manga
He’s My Only Vampire, Vol 1-4
Fairy Tail, Vol 1-5
Blackbird, Vol 1-3, Vol 18
One Piece, Vol 1-30
Psyren, Vol 1-6
A Silent Voice, Vol 1-3
The Demon Prince of Momochi House, Vol 1-4

 

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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

 

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.

 

YA Quarterly Box #4

ya q 4

I’ve had this post partially written, waiting in the wings for the past three months. Given that my next YA Quarterly box arrived on Saturday, I need to get this post finished. It’s taken me this long because I got it into my head that it would take too much time to think through (even though the bulk of it was written ages ago). Horrible logic, I know.

I’ve been participating in Book Riot’s YA Quarterly box since it began last year. The 4th round was the first that made me squee upon opening it.  White Rabbit socks? Check. Postcard-size Enchanted Forest coloring pages? Check. We Are the Ants? Check…I was a very happy girl. More so when I realized that Ana of California used Anne of Green Gables as a starting platform. This was shaping up to be an awesome box.

Three months on, and I’ve read both books (one = love, one = meh), the socks are well-loved, and the postcards are uncolored because I haven’t made the time to sit down and do coloring of any kind.

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we are antsTitle: We Are the Ants
Author: Shaun David Hutchinson
Publishing Info: Simon Pulse, 2016
Date Completed: January 24, 2016
Rating: 4/5

Synopsis: Henry has been abducted by aliens multiple times. This time, the aliens tell him the world is going to end and give him the choice to save it or destroy it. He has 144 days to decide whether to push the “save” button or not. Because of all the turbulence and changes happening in his life, Henry doesn’t know if he wants to save the world.

Thoughts:  The story is wonderful. The characters are perfectly imperfect. Beautiful, fractured, and broken people, each coping with their own demons and (perceived) faults and flaws. I also liked the ant analogy in the opening.

It was a fast read, but aspects of the story felt shallow or glossed over. In keeping a level of detachment and ambiguity with Henry’s mental illness, we never really get to go deeper. Readers are held at a distance, though this might be done on purpose since Henry holds everyone at a distance and doesn’t seem to be aware of having a mental illness.

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ana californiaTitle: Ana of California
Author: Andi Teran
Publishing Info: Penguin Books, 2015
Date Completed: February 7, 2016
Rating: 2/5

Synopsis: Ana has been bouncing around foster families and group homes for 10 years. As a last chance, she is sent from East L.A. to a farm in Northern California for the summer. Will Ana be able to make a place for herself on the farm, or will she be sent to a group home when the summer is over?

Thoughts: Initially, Ana of California feels like Ann of Green Gables plonked down in Northern CA. The opening felt like it was picked up from Edwardian Canada and put down in CA – a copycat more than an adaptation or homage.

The book was bumpy, and I ultimately did not like it. There was too much hidden special – too many people with problems/secrets/double lives/hidden talents/hidden angst. One or two special characters are fine, but when almost all of the first and second players are special, it becomes overwhelming. Everyone starts feeling like a stereotype or cliche – or trying to prove they are not. Rye was one of the worst offenders. I did not like how she treated Ana and used her as a scapegoat. She was annoying, petty, and self-absorbed. Rye was NOT best friend material. Frenemy, at best.

Birthday Books

My birthday was in April, and one of the highlights of any birthday is spending the gift cards you are given. Going back to my childhood, gift cards meant one thing:  buying more books.  And as an adult – nothing has changed.

bday books
Orlando (Annotated): A Biography by Virginia Woolf(annotated edition) – I have never read the book, but I fell in love with the movie as a child/tween. It’s been on the back burner for years to sit down and actually read the book, and 35 was the magic birthday.

The Mode in Costume: A Historical Survey in 202 Plates by R. Turner Wilcox – This book features heavily in my childhood memories surrounding visits to our local public library. I checked it out more times than I can count, simply to stare at (and sketch) the pictures. I never actually read the words. It is one of those books I’ve been meaning to buy for years, but never have. It now lives on one a shelf in my living room, waiting for one of my kids to discover it.

Motherfucking Sharks by Brian Allen Carr – My sister recommended this book to me during a chat about Book Riot’s Read Harder Challenge. It looked awesome (and was awesome), and as my library system does not have it and probably won’t ever purchase it, I bought it instead.

Three coloring books: Creative Coloring Mandalas, Detailed Designs and Beautiful Patterns, and Entangled. Four years ago, my best friend introduced me to the awesomeness that is coloring as an adult. Bean and I visited her in Germany, and she promptly gave Bean several Zauberhafte Mandala coloring books to keep her occupied during down time. After our daughters were asleep at night, we would sneak the coloring books out of their room and spend hours coloring and chatting. I highly recommend it.