Summer Reading Wrap Up

So it has been a while since I have wrapped up the books I have read.  Not only has it been difficult for Gretchen and I to get together all summer for various reasons (time conflicts, mental health, internet being actual butts) so you weren’t getting weekly wrap ups in any way but I have been completely nonexistent on the blog.  Which we all know I am attempting to change here and now… hopefully forever, but no promises.

In any case I am going to try and talk a bit about all of the books I have read in June, July, and August.

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This was the first book for book club this season so there is a full discussion on it here!  I loved this.  I still feel that way.  It did seem to check all of the boxes of things that Michaela would like though.  So if you feel very strongly that we are akin then definitely check this out.

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This was an ARC review I did back in June.  It wasn’t my favorite book I’ve read this year but I definitely did enjoy it.  I had heard of Lisa Jewell as an author and this was my first of hers.  I think that I will look into some of her other work.  She is a bit more commercial than I usually go for but not bad by any means.

The second book club book was Gretchen’s pick and I was super not a fan.  That could have been due to the fact that I was super ill at the time of reading it but I kind of hated it.

Next we kicked off the second season of Nostalgia Junkie.  Unfortunately the unanimous decision on this was that we weren’t super huge fans.  It may be that we just aren’t the target audience but we all had issues with it.

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Taylor’s pick for the first round of book club was a debut and we all really liked it.  It was surprising because it takes a really good book to win all three of us over.  This one did it so you should definitely check that out!

Gretchen and I read Nimona together and we did a video review of it for you guys.  It was super cute and sweet and we completely understood why so many people loved it.  I have followed Noelle Stevenson for a while and new she is a cookie to pay attention to in comics.  Watch her.  She will do great things.


I started the second round of summer book club picks with Middlesex.  Taylor was the one who liked this book the most, Gretchen and I had a bit of an issue with the way it was laid out. You should watch the whole discussion to find out more.

I have to say that I do so love Patton Oswalt.  I haven’t spoken about this anywhere else.  It was a pick for my pop sugar challenge and I listened to it on audio, read by the man himself.  It is always great to listen to autobiographical works when written by the author and especially so when he is as awkward and nerdy as you.

Now we find ourselves in the books I read for booktubeathon.  This was my pick for the book I would only read at night.  I both read the physical edition and listened to parts on audio.  I actually wound up enjoying it more than I thought I would.  It also fulfilled the requirement of a book that is more than 100 years older than me for the Pop Sugar challenge.

This was listened to entirely on audio.  I was conflicted with this.  I was expecting a bit of a funnier story from Steve Martin.  That isn’t to say I wasn’t a fan of his writing style, it just caught me off guard.  It was about a community that I haven’t spent much time learning about so I did enjoy that aspect of it.

This one will be featured in an upcoming post so look out for that.  It was a book with yellow on the cover and a book I learned about from booktube.  I ended up really enjoying this one though it took me a while to decide that.  It was definitely one the the end justified the rest of the book for me.  I like what it was saying politically.

This was both Taylor and my own book to movie adaptation and we both came out of it feeling like … welp that was a mess.  I think it was meant to be a mess.  It was really entertaining but all over the place.  We both enjoyed it but were mildly disoriented by the experience.  Which I think is apt.


I reviewed this one on the blog yesterday actually!  So here we have an interesting new comic coming from Image.  We all know how much I love Image.  If you like robots and stories that ask what it means to be human then definitely give this one a go.

Gretchen and I did a discussion of this one but the audio ended up being a bit borked.  Over all I enjoyed the experience.  It read a bit like fanfiction but it was nice to dip back into a world that I loved as a child.  I am curious to see if watching it as a play would be better than reading it if I ever get a chance to do so.

David Wong is a comic god.  Well, he is.  This one isn’t my favorite of his works but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a good book and he isn’t a good writer.  I loved hearing from a female protagonist it did change the way the story progressed for me.  If you like science fiction and laughing, give this one a go.

There will be a future review of this one on the blog as well.  Gretchen and I have already filmed it, it just needs to make its way out into the world.  We enjoyed listening to the audio book but we didn’t feel like it ended up doing for us what it was trying to. It was a delight to listen to though so there is that.

This book is most likely going to be in my top 10 books of the year.  It honestly blew me away.  It will also be featured in an upcoming review.  I went into this book skeptical and came out just amazed.  She was able to do so much and so well.  I loved it.  A must read in my opinion.

This was a comic that I picked up based on Taylor’s recommendation.  He had really enjoyed it or had heard good things about it, I am not certain which at this point but I picked it up.  It wasn’t my favorite comic but it did go somewhere entirely unexpected and I give it props for that.

And now we reach the last book I read in August which happens to be Gretchen’s pick for the second round of book club.  This showed up on the blog earlier this week so you can find our discussion of it there.  I enjoyed it, even if much of that video is us picking apart the book.  Sometimes you just have to say, it was a fun experience.

Apparently I have read 19 books in the last three months… which honestly amazes me since I have been struggling to read.  A lot of them were audio books and a good chunk were thanks to the booktubeathon but hey they were things that I read.  I have been reading more in the last couple weeks so the hope is that I am feeling safer in myself again and will be able to read a whole bunch more and talk about it with you guys.  That is the hope anyway.

As far as my reading challenges go:

Goodreads: 66/50 surpassed!
Pop Sugar: 27/40 (13 left I think I can do it!)

How are you guys doing after the summer?  Are you excited for fall.  It is my favorite season and I am in the mood for all of the Horror books!  I need a bunch of cider and pumpkin bread and some crisp fall air and I will be a happy girl.

Talk to you guys tomorrow!

Betwixt the Books Reviews: A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki

Gretchen and I finally managed to read a book together~!  Here is us chatting about the pros and cons of a book that we both really like but wanted a little bit more from!

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Title: A Tale for the Time Being
Author: Ruth Ozeki
Publisher: Viking
Page #: 422
Genre: Magical Realism

I read this with some other booktubers and honestly I think the community there is so much stronger than the blogging community in a lot of ways.  Maybe because when you see our faces it becomes more personal, as opposed to the sort of sterile nature of text on the page.  Who knows.  All I’m saying, is you guys have to boost your participation to catch up to these folks!

Monday Musing: How I Listen to Audio Books

So one of the reasons I think my reading has been so much better than it was last year at this time (aside from the fact that I’m not dying from anxiety and stress caused by being in school) is that my library partnered with the app Overdrive which allows me to borrow e-books and audio books for about two weeks.  I definitely have been dipping into the audio books this year guys and it is great.

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Now my history with audio books was not the greatest.  I didn’t really listen to them until I was in college, and then it was just on my four and a half hour drive to and from school.  When I was just sitting I couldn’t do it because my brain would wander and I would realize I had missed minutes of content and had to back track which made me feel that I was extending the books much farther than their already long time frame requires of them.  I could read the book faster than I could listen to it so why was I bothering?

This changed slightly in the spring of last year when I started listening to about an hour of an audio book before bed.  It was a good way to wind down my night.  Kind of like having a parent read you a bed time story, except this parent was actually really good at doing voices and was reading actual full length novels and not little chapter books.  I found that when I am relaxing in bed I could focus a little better because I had already shut off all my technology and the lights and was just laying in bed listening.  It let me shut off my brain in pieces and then fall asleep soundly.

This was still a very slow way of using audio books though.  It would take weeks to finish one and I had to buy them for myself so I signed up for an Audible subscription for the most of last year, getting a free book every month and buying one I really wanted when they showed up.  It wasn’t until I came home from school and saw that my library had partnered with Overdrive that I was able to actually have access to so many more books for free than I had originally.

On top of that it was about the same time that everyone started pushing the adult coloring book craze.  Now I want to admit that I have always had children’s coloring books to doodle in when I’m feeling stressed or am watching TV or a Twitch stream, the adult ones are just more complicated and prettier.  A lot of booktubers in particular were saying that they loved to listen to audio books while they were coloring because it gave the visual part of their mind something to do so they were less likely to become distracted.

I had never really thought about how that would improve my relationship with audio books, but boy has it.  However, I prefer other methods of keeping my mind focused.  In the picture above you see my top three favorite things: knitting, puzzles, and brain teasers (because I am secretly a 90 year old living in a 21 year old’s body).  These are things that I enjoyed doing throughout my life in general, but they are all really great ways to keep your mind focused on one task and able to listen to the books and take in all of the information.

On top of that, having something to do with my eyes has allowed me to start speeding up the audio books.  The books are recorded actually with a speed that is quite slow, slower than natural conversation speed in order to promote enunciation and understanding.  I couldn’t speed up that speech before because I would have missed even more if I zoned out, but now I find myself playing it 2x speed and still able to fully understand everything that is going on.  Even though when a family member comes in to ask me a question they always have a bewildered look on their face at the speed at which I am taking in this information.

If you have a hard time with audio books I would definitely try some method like this, but adapt it to your own needs.  If you like painting mini figures (like I do from time to time) it is also a great visual thing to keep your mind focused.  If you prefer coloring, try that.  Go to the gym and work out while listening to a book.  Whatever it is that you do that requires focus of one part of your brain but excludes the oratory processes so that you can listen to the book.  It will definitely help you.

I can now get through an audio book in a couple days and when I am too tired at night to focus on a page, I can still lay in bed and listen to some of the audio book.  I didn’t lose all of my old practices after all.

I hope you guys enjoyed this rather long winded Monday Musing, I was trying to make up for the fact that I didn’t write one last week in favor of celebrating the Lunar New Year with a review.  I will be back tomorrow with a live stream discussion with Gretchen about another reading habit DNFing books!  Look forward to that!

 

Skin Trade by Laurell K Hamilton: Audiobook Review

On my trips home and back again for spring break I had the pleasure of listening to the audiobook for Skin Trade.  I had already read Skin Trade, and since it is one of the novels that involves Olaf “Otto” Jeffries is subsequently one of my favorites.  It might be weird that he is my favorite character but I find him in credibly interesting.

 

Title: Skin Trade
Author: Laurell K Hamilton
Publisher: Berkley Publishing Group
Page #: 486 or 18.5 hours
Genre: Paranormal Romance/Paranormal Mystery/Paranormal Suspense Thriller

This book is very much rated M for mature.  There are sexy times.  

Now that I have posted a disclaimer for the sex scenes I might as well start off by saying that having sex scenes read aloud to me was extremely uncomfortable.  Partially because I don’t think I could read them aloud with a straight face, but partially because reading the descriptions used for sex is not the same as listening to them spoken aloud.  That isn’t to say that the voice actress did a poor job of reading it, because I think she delivered it perfectly.  It was all in the content.

The voice actress was actually a pretty good match to the voice that I gave Anita in my head.  However, she did all of the voices in the novel and some of the other voices she did were not even close to what I had imagined which was slightly jarring.  There are a lot more male characters in this book than female and while it is narrated by a female, she was only able to create so many male voices and they could blur together.  I also found that all of the french characters had the exact same voice.  Though I am really nitpicking at this point.

The Anita Blake books are the only books from my phase of Paranormal Romance that I actively still keep up with.  I will, on occasion look to see if a new Kresley Cole book has been released, but I follow Laurell K Hamilton on Facebook and Twitter and stay up to date on the Anita Blake series.  I read the newest book in less than three days of its release despite the fact that it was over 800 pages.

Within the series itself I prefer the books that are closer to detective novels.  I like hearing about some preternatural crime and following Anita and her partners around as they try and figure out what is going on.  Skin Trade is one of these and it is one of my favorite.  (Like I said earlier I particularly enjoy any of the books that have Olaf in them but also because he is always linked with a good murder mystery)

Some people prefer the more romance and relationship heavy books, other people like the world building books that focus on vampire politics.  I prefer the more action oriented novels.  However I like them all, and that is saying something since there are over 20 of them at this point.

This series kickstarted the whole Paranormal Romance Genre, because before Anita Blake there was Bram Stoker and Anne Rice, and that was about it.

If you haven’t read them yet, I would give them a try but I would also say that they get better as they go on, and the last handful of books have been a return to the murder mystery plot progression which have made me very happy.  Across the series you can definitely see her grow as an author and she is able to blend all of the elements of her story more efficiently.

I would also advocate for her second series (Merry Gentry Novels) which has a new addition coming out this summer!

Alright, I think that is everything I have to say today.  I have homework to do.  Can we go back to Spring Break please?  I am so ready to be done with school.  No worries, I’m sure it will fly by.