Adult, Books, Comics, Musings, YA (Young Adult)

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!

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Adult, Books, Comics, YA (Young Adult)

May Wrap Up

Today would normally be comic book Wednesday, but seeing as I have spent the last week or so moving I have not read anything of note and therefor have nothing really to talk about.  On the other hand, it is June first so maybe I should tell you what I read this month?  Mayhaps?

I have to say it was a bit of a sad month this month, at least in terms of reading.  I moved out and got my own place this month so I won’t be too hard on myself for reading four comics, one book, and DNFing one.  Lucky for you, I have reviews of all of these, with the exception of one I believe, but its an ongoing series and who needs me to prattle on about something so much.

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Going to try something new this month and rather than giving you a paragraph of ramblings on each title, you can click on the image of the title that intrigues you and it will take you directly to my review of it (or the goodreads page for that one that I didn’t review… play Russian Roulette which one is it?)

As far as my reading challenges are concerned, the sorry state of the books I read mean that I did not complete a single Pop Sugar challenge, but they did all count toward my Goodreads challenge with the exception of the DNFed book which I myself am excluding.

This brings my totals to:

Goodreads Challenge: 46/50
Pop Sugar Challenge: 19/40
#RYODB Challenge: 12/50

There it is folks, May in a nut shell.

Adult, Books, Comics, Musings

WTF Did April Go? April Wrap Up

Welp, I guess it’s almost May

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Oh wait no… IT IS MAY….

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That would seem to imply I should do an April Wrap Up, so … no time like the present?

Books that I read in chronological order (and a mini synopsis on my feelings there of):

cookbooks

I started the month with several cookbooks, and I did mini reviews for these so there would be no point in me repeating myself today.  Just head over to that post and hear all about my endeavors to find good vegan recipes since my lactose intolerance diagnosis.  My future in food doesn’t necessarily have to be bleak, nor vegan honestly, its just the dairy free assurance in here that really set the bar above normal cookbooks.  I still love food, I just need to love food without cheese.  Hopefully, I will learn.

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Then for national poetry month at my job, I was reading a bunch of poetry to put it up on the libraries social media and I actually wound up reading this whole collection.  It was on the smaller side, and the poems weren’t particularly difficult.  I didn’t dislike this collection, it was funny at times, but it wasn’t something I could really post on the libraries pages (nsfw).  If you like sassy, dirty poems then this is probably the collections for you.  It was enjoyable but I don’t think particularly memorable.  This is kind of the polar opposite of the other collection I will talk about shortly.

188092351 First graphic novel/comic I read this month.  I actually have a full review of this one up if you would like to know my thoughts on it in detail you should read the post.  TLDR; This comic is really coming together for me.  At first I was wondering why it had so much hype.  It seemed like there were too many characters and I couldn’t understand how it all came together.  Now I understand, and everything is taking shape, its less cluttered and more nuanced.  Really its starting to look like a masterpiece.  The next week I went out and bought the third volume in a mad attempt to get caught up even though I think it took me over a year to read the second.  If you were on the fence about this series I can definitely say it is worthwhile to push through any initial confusion and see what this comic can do.Niffenegger_TTW_mech.indd

We now move into the realm of books I read on vacation and therefor they do not yet have reviews posted!  Some I plan on having reviews for, others not so much, but I will get into that more in each one.  This one was the first that I finished and I will be doing a review of this one, in fact I plan to watch the film and then do a Flicks review where I talk about them both.  I was surprised how much I actually liked the structure of this one.  It was a weird love story for sure and I think the question throughout of fate vs. free will was one that I found quite compelling.  I remember while listening to the audio book that I had to remind myself the characters were characters and not real people which is a testament to this book for sure.  More to come soon!

23282174The next book I read, well technically finished because I had read the majority of this book earlier in the month was The Blue Girl by Laurie Foos.  I have written a full review of this one and had it scheduled to go up the Friday before our hiatus but it didn’t go live and then I was rereading it and I think my feelings on it had changed from when I had written it to when I had actually finished the book (I had only 20 pages left, I didn’t realize how much my thoughts would change).  I don’t know whether I will rewrite that post and post it later or just not review this one at all.  It wasn’t my favorite book, for sure.  It was definitely weird.  I felt that it didn’t quite do everything it could have.  It left me confused and kind of empty by the end, I’m not sure if that was intentional because a theme of despair and emptiness was prevalent with this one, but I did finish it so it is here.

17733621The next book is also a book that I had read a majority of before my vacation but was finally able to finish on our drive down.  I participated in a buddy read with a couple other YouTubers which was freaking awesome in general.  This one is not counted in my Goodreads challenge because it is technically a reread (I listened to the audio book of this one at the very end of last year) but I wanted to read the physical text and reading it while talking with other people really changed the way I read this book.  It was fantastic again, if nothing else I just fell in love with it even more because there was so much intricacy and detail in the writing that I hadn’t noticed the first time when I listened to it as an audio book.  Still great, highly recommended.  Gretchen and I plan to do a review of this one but she is still reading it so you will have to wait a little longer for that one.

25489025The last book I finished on vacation I read throughout the week when we were actually doing things as a family.  I loved this book.  In fact it will be featured here on friday as part of my books in translation series.  As I did my thesis on Korean literature I feel like I have a certain perspective that I can lend to this book that others might not.  It has been making the rounds because of its feature in the Man Booker International prize.  I want to discuss the elements of it that might be confusing to an English speaking audience when it pertains to Korean Culture, or from what I understand Korean Culture to be.  In any case.  This was fantastic, and really short, so if you have the opportunity I would suggest picking it up.  For sure.  It is quite eery and very moving.  I would note that this might be triggering for someone with an eating disorder or severe depression as there are incident of suicide and food obsession in here, so ye be warned.

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I continued my search for good poetry to post on the library social media when I returned to work.  This one I had ordered at the beginning of the month and arrived while I was away, so I hadn’t had a chance to pick it up.  I started flipping through it and ended up reading the majority of the book in its entirety.  This one knocked me over.  I honestly felt like I didn’t fully grasp everything it it because it was so well done, well constructed, and intimate.  It definitely focuses on and pertains to the objectification and experience of African American Women and I believe it won the National Book Award for poetry.  I think this is one I might buy for myself because I need to go back and highlight and write in the margins which I couldn’t do in the library copy.  In any case, fantastic collection and something that you should definitely read even though it is no longer National Poetry Month.

28762820The final book I read this month was something I was super excited for.  I pre-ordered it from my comic store months ago I was so ready for this to come out.  Unfortunately, it didn’t live up to my expectation.  Rat Queens has been one of my favorite comics since I first read it.  This one didn’t come together for me.  I’m not sure if the issues I have will be resolved in future installments because there was a lot left hanging at the end of this volume and I do intend to continue but the first two volumes were above and beyond better than this one.  I did a full review of this one and my thoughts on it last week so definitely go watch that to hear why I am sticking with it and a little about the sordid past of this poor comic.

Alright, we have reached the point where I can tell you about how I am doing in my yearly reading challenges.  I feel better about some rather than others, but that is alright we can’t always overachieve.

Pop Sugar Reading Challenges: 18/40 completed
Goodreads Challenge: 38/50 read
#readyourowndamnbooks: 8/50 read

I think this is making me realize that I take far too many books out of the library and need to be reading the books that I own instead.  This is a challenge seeing as I work in a library… I am constantly seeing books that I want to read and I take them out and read them.  I have to, I only get a few weeks with them right?  Ugh.  Will prioritize my own books in May I think.  I think this is best.  Perhaps I should read only my own books in May… that would be interesting I think… Let’s see.

That was April for me… 12 books read in total and a bunch of genres I don’t normally stray into.  I’m ready for May and wherever it takes me, how about you?

Adult, Books

March Wrap Up

a.k.a The saddest month so far in terms of reading, but the happiest month so far in terms of being employed, so you give and you take.

28430424The first book I read this month was actually one I was super excited for.  I did a full review of this one because I requested it from the publisher in exchange for my review.  I think this is one of my favorite books I’ve read so far this year.  It isn’t a happy book and there are moments when you sit there going, how could this get worse, and then it does.  If you want to know my full thoughts on the way it was written and why I picked it up, definitely check out that post.

20170404The next book I read was actually the #imbibliomancy pick for this month.  My own pick if you didn’t know.  Station Eleven was pretty quick despite the fact that it is clearly literary fiction.  I think the consensus our book club got to was, “We completely understand why it was a nominee for several awards but didn’t win.”  There were so many things done well but it was just not perfect.  If you want to know what our few faults were you should definitely go watch that book club discussion.

28253202I then managed to snag a copy of the trade for one of the comics that I abandoned over the summer just to see how it turned out.  I think this was my first openly negative comic review, and even then I mentioned its strengths.  I think for me it all came down to the fact that I am not in love with superheroes any more.  I talk more about why exactly I didn’t enjoy this comic in the review I did so you should definitely check this one to know that I don’t love all comics.  Even though it seems like all of my comic reviews are gushing.
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The next book I listened to on audio and I honestly regret that decision.  I did a Flicks episode on this one.  I said those dreaded words, “I honestly liked the film better than the book.”  Now before you write me off completely, I have a hard time with books written from a young child’s perspective and on top of that I had to spend hours listening to a woman speak as if she were a little boy, it just ended up grating on me.  On top of that I felt like I was spoiled for this one.

27753938Remember, when I said I don’t love all comics, well I did love this one.  I have been a fan of Remender’s stories as of late and this one was no exception.  I think the strength here is the world he creates.  The characters were a little cliche, but this was the first volume so it was introducing us to them and their dynamics.  I will be interested in seeing where this story goes from here.  I haven’t decided whether I will pick up the comics monthly from this point on or continue pulling the trades.  We shall see.  I did a review of this one as well so you are welcome to see my thoughts on it in detail.

20696032Alright folks, we have come to the very last book I finished this month.  There were others that I had read a fair amount of but hadn’t finished up to this point.  It is a bit of a weird one, not only because its non fiction but because its a cook book.  Now I generally get my recipes online.  I follow lots of food blogs and foodtubers, but I have recently been trying to avoid dairy because I think I have been developing an intolerance to lactose.  I can’t have anything very milk heavy without feeling sick and bloated for the rest of the day.  This cookbook is vegan and all of the recipes looked delicious so I brought it home with me from the library and pulled out some that I think will be great.  For instance, a summer corn chowder (one of my favorite foods of all time) with no milk.

See how sad this list is.  I am ashamed, but then again I have been trying to find my equilibrium this month.  I started a new job, full time, I still have my old job.  I have also not been cooking for my family which is a problem because nobody else cooks and I feel gross every time we get take out, which is always.  In any case, hopefully in April things are looking up.

Reading Challenges Update:

Goodreads Challenge: 31/50
RYODB Challenge: 6/50
Pop Sugar Reading Challenge: 14/40

Oh and by the way, Happy April Fools Day!

Adult, Books, Musings, YA (Young Adult)

February Wrap Up

Big things happened in February!  I got a job, I started said job, I immediately realized how little free time I had.  One of my goals for March is to figure out how to organize my free time so that I can keep up with my reading without dying from stress.  I also started gympocalypse which is basically going to gym Monday through Friday with my ex-cheer-captain best friend back home.  I was not a cheerleader I was in the Art Honor Society.  I drew pretty pictures.  This might kill me.  It also has contributed to how tired I am each night.  Hopefully I will equalize and do better at this pace.

You didn’t come here to hear about my life, you came here to learn what books I read and how I’m doing on my reading challenges.

First things first, books.

187128861The first book I read this month was actually the #imbibliomancy pick!  If you haven’t watched our book club discuss this one while drunk you should definitely go do that asap.  It was hilarious, plus we had the special guest of Taylor’s totally British girlfriend.  Classing the show up just by having her there.  It was also nice to know that she does actually exist and wasn’t photoshopped into his pictures from Scotland.

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The next book I read was for a special I wanted to do for lunar new year.  I had been wanting a copy of The Three-Body Problem for a while but was waiting for it to come out in soft cover.  I talked about this book in a video and discussed translation a bit, since that is one of the things I would like to do with my life.  It is one of my favorite science fiction novels I have read to date and I am excited to pick up the second when I can.

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The third book I read you will be seeing on Friday actually!  It was also translated from Chinese but this one is a collection of stories by a Malaysian author.  I found them all incredibly beautiful and talk about some of the themes that show up in this collection throughout.  I really loved the way that this author was able to build ambiance in such short stories.  They got a bit repetitive for me but I read them all one after the other and they might not be that way if you read them a little slower.

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I followed that up with The Circle by Dave Eggers!  Some dystopian/utopian fiction wherein one company trying to do the right thing actually alienates a large portion of society.  I think that this book got a little preachy sometimes, but was actually really disturbing to read from.  If you like stories about societies not too different from our own that are mildly creepy and discuss a more realistic fall into dystopia then this is definitely one to check out.  I reviewed this one on YouTube so you can hear me talk about it there!
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I followed that up with my YA Bestseller of the year.  I picked this one up from the library and read it and reviewed it on the youtube channel.  In it I discuss a lot about book cover trends and why I feel like ya fantasy is all the same story over and over.  I want a different story guys.  Is that so much to ask?  Not just a new world, a new story.

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The next book I read was actually for a joint review between Gretchen and myself.  I had seen this one making the rounds on booktube and everyone seemed to love it.  For me it wasn’t so amazing, I definitely enjoyed it, but for Gretchen it wasn’t great at all.  If you want to hear us discuss the pros and cons of this novel you should watch that video.  Our next read is Gretchen’s choice and that means it will be YA so look out for that.

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I read some poetry this month guys.  I hardly ever read poetry for myself.  In fact this is only 1 of 2 poetry collections I have bought for myself.  I have some that I used in school, but I picked this one up because I wanted to read it.  I talked about this one before going to the gym because poetry is terrifying and exercising is also terrifying.  So woo, that happened.  I might try and review more poetry as time goes on, but for now this is what I have for you guys and it probably isn’t the best review out there.

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This was followed by an ARC that I was actually reached out by the author to review.  Usually I pick up ARCs that I request from the published but the author of this one found me on tumblr and asked if I would be interested in reading his book.  It was quite short and actually did some new and interesting things with the YA fantasy genre but if you want to know what exactly I really loved about this book you should go read the post here!

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Apparently I was on an ARC kick because after that I read Lions.  This book doesn’t come out until July so there is quite a long wait for the review of this one but it did convince me to pick up her debut novel which I will hopefully be reading and review soon for you guys.  Once this review comes out I also want to do some sort of discussion post where I compare them because her debut is called Lamb and this is Lions and they have to be connected in some way.  I just feel it.

As far as challenges are concerned:

I have now completed 12 of 40 Pop Sugar Challenges.

However, I have only read 5 of my own damn books despite reading

22 of 50 books for the year.

Crazy that I’m almost halfway through my yearly reading challenge with ten more months left in the year.  However, I have started a job and my reading has slowed significantly.  I need to let my body find a new equilibrium before I can catch back up with reading.

There you have it folks, the February wrap up.  I will hopefully have two ARC reviews for you this week, so look forward to those!  Gretchen and I also have new 30 Seconds to Disagree videos coming out tomorrow.

Another month down, on to the next one.

Adult, Books, Musings, YA (Young Adult)

January Reading Wrap Up

Guys, I cannot believe that a month has gone by already.  I have been able to post consistently for that long.  This is unheard of.  I’m going to keep this going.  I’m excited about new things and I want to share them with you.  You didn’t come here to hear me talk about how excited I am over what has yet to happen, you came here to hear about all of the books I read in January.

I read 13 books in January.
3 Fantasy Novels
3 Young Adult Novels
2 Mystery/Thriller/Horror Novels
1 Historical Fiction Novel
2 General Adult Fiction Novels
1 Science Fiction Novel
1 Romance Novel

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The first book I finished in January was The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro.  This started the long list of fantasy books I read because book club was reading them together.  I’m not big into fantasy so the fact that I read 3 is amazing. I read this for the final installment of #imbibliomancy and you can watch the book clubs full discussion of that here!

 

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The second book I finished in January was Brooklyn by Colm Toibin.  The story of a young Irish girl trying to make a life for herself in New York City.  A great depiction of home sickness and what it means to be in between worlds. I did a book and movie review of this that you can read here if you like!

 

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The third book was Night Film by Marisha Pessl.  This is maybe one of my favorite murder mystery books that I’ve read in a while. I did my first video review of a book in a long time for this one so you should definitely check that one out here!

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I then finished a short story collection by Michael Cunningham called A Wild Swan.  Gretchen and I were doing a video on Fairy Tale Retellings so I was starting to read some of those so that I would have books to talk about.  If you want to know my thoughts on this and the other fairy tales in this list you should check out that video here.

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Next was perhaps the book I disliked the most on this list: The Magician King be Lev Grossman.  Now if you want to know why it was so disappointing you will have to watch the special episode of Bibliomancy for Beginners that we did this month!

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I then read the first ARC I received from the publishers this month.  Uncommon Bodies an anthology of short stories that all revolve around the theme of physical differences.  I did a full review of that here where I talk about the strengths and weaknesses of this collection.

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The next book was a reread for me.  I reread Briar Rose by Jane Yolen for that fairy tale video.  I was surprised how much I still liked it.  I had read it before the period in my life that made me swear off war books.  If you are iffy about books about war I think you can handle this one, but you should watch that video to hear why I think that is.

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I also read Neil Gaiman’s The Sleeper and the Spindle for that video.  I found the illustrations beautiful and the new take on a classic story refreshing.  If you want to know what else was interesting about this then you definitely need to watch that fairy tale video.

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Next I read Carol by Patricia Highsmith.  I then turned that into a new segment for my YouTube channel called Flicks wherein I plan to do book and movie reviews, discussing adaptation and the benefits of cross medium storytelling.  If you want to know what I thought of both the book and the movie you should watch that review here!

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Gretchen and I also did our first joint book review!  We read Paper Towns by John Green (and I couldn’t help but throw in my two cents about the movie, what can I say I seek out adaptations).  If you want to know our thoughts on that as well as get recommendations for great films that deconstruct the manic pixie dream girl then you should watch that review!

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The next book on this list was released this month.  I picked up Mr. Splitfoot by Samantha Hunt from the library.  I will have a review of this book out on Friday so look forward to that!  For now I will tell you that I found it an incredibly well constructed ghost story the focuses on themes of motherhood and inheritance.

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The next book I read was another ARC and this review came out on Friday if you missed it!  It was a self published short science fiction novel about time travelling assassins called Alternate by Ernie Luis.  To hear my thoughts on that you should definitely go check that out!

 

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The final book I read this month was The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins.  I will have a review of this one up on Wednesday because I, controversially perhaps, did not really like it.  I mean I enjoyed it, but I definitely don’t feel it lived up to all the hype.  I am a picky bastard when it comes to my thrillers though.  Look forward to that review when its out.
That’s everything I read this month guys!  The lovely thing about blogging regularly is that you get to hear my thoughts on everything I read this month instead of getting a rushed mini review at the end of the month for most of them.

What did you guys read this month?  Did you have a favorite book?

I hope you enjoyed and I will back tomorrow with a new Tag video that Gretchen and I did called The Blizzard Tag.  Something light and fluffy to start the new month with.  Talk to you then!

Adult, Books, YA (Young Adult)

July 2015 Wrap Up

I haven’t been reading much as of late, and I find that its because I feel guilty reading.  I feel guilty taking the time to read, even though it is something I love.

Just to prove that point, all but one of the books I read and finished this month were for book club.  I could only read them because I had a deadline.  Everything else just gets nibbled at.


The first book I read I technically did not read in its entirety but it is a giant collection of short stories so it is something that I will pick up and read a bit from forever and may never be read in its entirety.  That does not however mean that I did not greatly enjoy it.  Borges, stories are so delightful.  They are strange, and thought provoking.  i really enjoyed the experience.  If you like literary fiction and haven’t read these yet, who are you… how dare you… get on that, please.

This was followed with my rereading of the first Pendragon book for our #Nostalgiajunkie project.  I really love these books and it is difficult for me to criticize them.  I first encountered this book when my teacher back in grade school was reading it aloud to us in class.  I was so upset at how she had left it one day I asked my Mom to take me to the book store and get a copy so that I could know what happened next.  I ended up finishing quickly. I recommend this to all children ages 10+.  It is such a good series, even if this isn’t the best book. It is a lot of world setting, but it continues to build.


Of course the next week we read and discussed the second book in the Pendragon series.  We all liked this book more than the first.  It is more exciting, the pacing is better, it introduces new characters, it kills off others.  It is a good book.  Is it perfect, no.  It is however and improvement on the first book.  Hobey ho, I love Spader so much.  He will always be dear in my heart. So dear.  I don’t want to spoil anything else so I will leave it at that.
The next main book club book, I just posted a post for on Wednesday so it should be familiar to you.  It is the graphic novel Through the Woods.  I really liked this collection.  The discussion we had about it was interesting as well, because we seemed to disagree with certian aspects of certain stories a lot.  Gretchen didn’t much care for the way these stories are, but Taylor loved them.  You can read this book really quickly if you want to, but I would advice against that.  Take your time, stare at these pages, soak them in.  It is worth it.

I was finally able to finish my reread of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy this month.  I have to say that while I did find it very funny, it wasn’t particularly blown away by it.  I reread it because I had read it so long ago that I couldn’t remember very much of it aside from the bits that have infiltrated pop culture.  I’m afraid that in a months time this will be true again.  It isn’t particularly outstanding.  It should be a quick read, when you aren’t in a reading slump like I am, but it isn’t going to stick with you.  Either, I am not in the proper mindset to enjoy it, or it just isn’t that great.

Finally, I finished the third Pendragon book.  It actually really saddens me that this book didn’t stand the test of time.  I remember it being one of my favorite books in the series when I read it the first time, but it wasn’t so great reading it as an adult.  I am more than twice the recommended age, but that doesn’t mean it has to be bad.  I think it suffered for the fact that we as adults have been exposed to too much similar media.  I think that it would still be great for children, just less good for the adults who so desperately want to love it.

I have two books that I am currently reading that aren’t book club related that carry over from this month, because I haven’t finished them.  Me and the Devil by Nick Toches and Your Invitation to a Modest Breakfast by Hannah Gamble.  One is adult fiction and the other is a poetry collection (I know. Poetry. *scoffs*)

I am also reading the Fourth Pendragon book and Angelfall by Susan Ee to be discussed for book club on Monday.

I am a bit behind on my reading challenge and since the booktubathon is this coming week I am going to attempt to participate.  It is more likely or not that I will fail miserably, but I am going to try.  That means I should probably make a video announcing my intent to do so.  Let’s see if I can actually do it.

Musings

Sunday Spam: The October Wrap Up Edition

It is time for the one day a week where I spam your feeds with Kpop (honestly give it a try if only for the whimsy inherent in it).

Apparently another month has come and gone and it is time for me to go through all of the music that came out in the past month and give you a taste of my favorites.

This month was a doozy.  We have a weird trend of black, white, and red color schemes, idols as cyborgs, idols as animals, idols as … vampires? maybe werewolves? … perhaps shifters? Well you can see for yourself and tell me what you think.

As always I made a playlist of all the videos I’m going to be discussing which you can watch here!

1. 알맹 – 반시간

Just a note that these are going in reverse chronological order, the newest music is on top and we go backwards through time as we continue.  OOOOH SPOOKY TIME TRAVEL.  I’m trying guys, its not working.  Anyway.  This is a new coed duo that I actually really like.  I appreciate the fact that this video is so simple.  Its like a lyric video.  It makes the song seem tangible in a way.  It surprised me how much I like just the two singers doing what they do as the lyrics pop up around them.  It was super effective.  I do have to say that the guys voice grates on me a little bit because it can seem very nasily when he speaks (Half and Hour line I’m looking at you), but overall I really like the way this sounds.  I am looking forward to a coed group rather than just collaborations, I wish there were more groups like this because it can add a cool dynamic to songs.

2. ToppDogg – Annie

 

ToppDogg are mixing hiphop with other genres again, although this time it is late 80s/early 90s pop.  Which had a lot of hip hop influences to begin with.  While their last comeback with Top Dog was doing something new, mixing hip hop and classical sounding music, this could be just another old school song.  That isn’t to say that I don’t like.  I actually find it quite catchy, but last time they brought something new to the genre they emulated, and now they just seem to be fitting into another category.  The other thing I wanted to say was that this video was so hard to follow.  That is to say that for a group of 13 members I wish it were a little clearer who was singing.  They did have their names on the front of their shirts from time to time which helped but they still allude me except for the few that I really like.  I want ToppDogg to do well because I do like their music but they seem like they are floundering a bit.  I also want to add in a side note that I don’t feel their dancing is as strong as a lot of groups in their debuting class and even some of the newer boy groups that came out this year.  They need to step up their game.

3. Super Junior – This is Love

Speaking of weak dances.  There was a dance break in this song and the two dancers weren’t even in time.  I’m not the biggest Super Junior fan, not because they aren’t good but because I wasn’t around when they were in their prime and feel disconnected from them.  I have to say that I like this song more than I liked Mamacita and I felt Mamacita was pretty good.  I like the way this video was shot because it made SM’s usual box set music videos interesting.  Part of me wants to have a house set up similarly to the way this video was set up though I would probably get very dizzy.  I feel like Super Junior is the only SM group to not have a scandal this year and it might have to do with their seniority in the industry.  They are definitely one of the cannon kpop groups and I wasn’t disappointed with anything other than the dancing here.

4. 퍼펄즈 – 1,2,3

We have a hot debut right here.  I have to say that I really love their voices.  This is such a strong debut.  I feel like the girl groups that have debuted this year are so much stronger than their male counterparts because they are so unique and memorable.  I don’t think I can recall a single boy group from my mind but there are three debut girl groups, the Purfles included that I can say from memory as being fantastic.  I have to say that I was a little disappointed with the fact that the dubstep in the background overshadowed their voices at some points because their vocals are so strong.  I really love the way their dance is sexy but not overtly sexy.  Its confident.  They seem confident which is a huge feat for a newbie group.  I see these girls going far.

5. BTS – War of Hormone

BTS are back with another song from their first full length album and lucky for me it was one of my favorite songs from the album when I first listened to it back in August.  I have to say that this music video more than any other showcases why I love BTS.  They always have strong music and dances but really I love them for their personalities.  Much like VIXX or Block B the members of BTS are giant idiots who aren’t afraid to show the fact that they are human.  They act like silly boys, which they are.  This makes them more real.  V gets to smack Jimin’s butt in this video.  You would never see that happening in a TVXQ video.  This was such a fun song with an even better video and if you haven’t yet gotten into these boys, I highly recommend it.

6. B.I.G. – Are You Ready?

B.I.G. are back with their first comeback.  I have to say that while I was intrigued by them when they first came out I was not a big fan of the song itself.  I definitely like this song better than their first.  I’m still not a major fan of theirs but they are improving and that is what we want from our rookie groups.  The problem is that this year much like last year has created a market over saturated with new groups.  They can’t all survive.  While B.I.G. weren’t the least memorable of the debuts of this year, they definitely weren’t the most memorable and mediocrity is not lucrative.  I hope they continue to improve because they could become great but they need to find their niche and break out of the pack otherwise they will disappear.

7. Beast – 12시 30분 (12:30)

Beast are back.  This might be a controversial review because there is nothing wrong with this song or this video really, but I’m more a fan of Beast when they perform fast tempo upbeat songs.  To be fair it takes a really strong ballad to win me over and while this ballad isn’t bad it isn’t fantastic either.  Beast have been around for a while so they don’t really need to win me over, I will look at their new music no matter what.  I would have if I wasn’t making this post either.  However it is more likely that I will like another song on this mini album better than I liked the promotional track.  Their dancing is also fine.  They perform their routines flawlessly.  They have the look and the voices, they are doing fine.

8. 서인영 – 생각나 (Feat. Zion. T)

I added this song to the list even though I’m not the biggest fan of the music itself because the video for this song was so good.  Despite not liking the music I stayed for the whole video because it was filled with such beautiful scenes and imagery and editing.  That is a successful video at that point.  It got another view despite the person viewing it not enjoying the content in its entirety.  I love the visuals, I’m not a big fan of the song, but it isn’t a bad song for its genre, it just isn’t for me.  If you like this kind of music I’m sure it was pretty good.

9. 조형우 – Someone I Know

Alright I think this is my favorite music video on this list.  Not only is the song on its own really great but there are so many layers to this video.  For starters the tone of the visuals and the tone of the song don’t match at all.  The song sounds kind of sad, the music itself bring up people staring wistfully out at oceans.  That is most definitely not the visual we get in this video at all.  The video is actually very creepy.  We get images that don’t seem to quite line up and its trying to paint a picture that we might not be able to put together.  Did he kill a girl?  Did he kill himself?  Was it the coffin lowering down or the piano?  There are so many questions that come out of an initial viewing of this video.  The fact that the music doesn’t match that creepy tone in a way intensifies the creepiness of it.  In the same way that some horror movies love to put bright happy music over gorey scenes.  It creates a disconnect.  It was successful in this in my opinion.

10. Strawberry Milk – OK

Alright here we have a music video that perhaps plays into what we imagine kpop to be when we first heard of it.  So uber saccharine that it rots your teeth.  Its a very pleasant and happy song.  Taylor and I both said that we would like the song on its own but neither of us were able to make it all the way through this video.  It is so cute and so sweet that it induces in me a feeling of nausea.  This was definitely an image they were going for.  It was successful in what it was trying to do.  If they wanted to make the cutest video ever they definitely did that, however it might be too cute.  I didn’t think there would come a day when something was too cute.  Unless you are talking so cute its creepy, then again too cute.  This isn’t creepy at all though.  Its a little funny, but mostly just so sweet it hurts.

11. Girl’s Day – I Miss You

I actually really like this song.  Which was a little surprising.  I like Girl’s Day songs in general but this song in particular was pretty good.  I felt that the imagery was very beautiful.  I want to live in that studio apartment they shot in, even if I had to have the bedroom with fifty lightbulbs hanging down in it.  Its a very sweet and sad song.  I liked the fact that there were scenes with all of the girls doing something in their heartbreak and then a close up on them singing.  It allows for a fluidity between the acting and singing that some kpop videos lack.  The closeups seemed like a part of the scene rather than a cut away.

12. DGNA – Rilla Go!

 

Alright, new boy group in the house.  They definitely wanted to make a statement with their debut.  Holy cow did you see those outfits.  Crazy right?  Personally I think its a little too far into the side of the theatrical it distracts from their dancing and singing skills.  Their dancing isn’t half bad and I actually really like the song itself.  It was a pretty strong debut.  I can’t take them seriously in those outfits though.  A little too crazy.  That’s all I have to say.  Good debut, not flawless.  Although I think the only flawless debut so far was MAMAMOO in the spring.

13. VIXX – Error

*shouts from the rooftops* VIXX IS BACK!  Guys, VIXX is back.  *claps* I really love every single song on this album but I haven’t had a complaint with anyone of VIXX’s albums so far.  Their dancing is strong just like usual and the music video. The music video guys.  From what I understand of the plot both Hongbin and girl were human, then the girl died and Honbin turned himself into a cyborg to stop the pain, then he built a robot in her image and inserted her memories so they could live forever.  Apparently this is illegal, but not self cyborgination and they both commit robot suicide by being taken apart by the machines.  So sad.  I love this comeback. I’m so proud of them.  *fangirls all over the place*

14. 송지은 – Twenty-Five (예쁜 나이 25살)

This to me felt like something that should have come out two months ago.  It just feels like a summer song.  This is the time of year where most of the songs become darker.  Groups put out either ballads or darker/stronger concepts.  With the exception of Strawberry Milk up there doing the cutiest thing.  This was a good song, it just wasn’t the tone I was looking for in October.  I really like Song JiEun’s singing and her dancing isn’t half bad.  This was a pretty good song and video all and all, just not really a fall listen.  I think I’ll add it to my summer playlist for next year and rediscover it then.

15. Boyfriend – Witch

I have to say while I have never been a fan of the phrase “Boom Badda Boom”.  It will always make me do a cheesy 1920s New York Newsie accent in my head this isn’t a bad song.  Its actually a pretty decent song and I haven’t been Boyfriend’s biggest fan.  However, their music video guys.  I was so confused.  I saw the stage of this performance before watching the video and the stage was so cool.  The dance is A+ in my opinion but what was the story in this video.  Are they causing problems?  Is the lady witch causing problems?  What is happening?  What even are they?  I don’t know.  It was entertaining to watch if nothing else.  I would say that really their performance is much stronger and that’s probably a good thing.  More people will find them through their performances than the video in Korea.  I would have been alright with just a dance version on this though.

16. Raina – You End, And Me

I had been waiting for this solo debut for a while.  It felt like I could hear it coming like a train a couple miles away.  Raina has such a strong and beautiful voice.  I wasn’t surprised at all by the style of music either.  While I think that Orange Caramel is still the strongest image she has.  I think that she will become a great solo artist as she grows and develops.  I want Orange Caramel to stick around forever, but I also want her to get the recognition she deserves.  This was a great song and the video was very pretty. Nothing really blew me away, but it wasn’t bad in any aspect.  A solid solo debut for sure.

17. 로이킴 – Home

This song almost moved me to tears, and I am not strong enough in Korean to understand all of the lyrics.  The imagery and the tone of his voice alone was able to elicit that much emotion from me.  This is such a beautiful song and video.  I feel like there is such truth about what it is like to be a person in this video.  Not just a person in Korea because many of the scenes depicted here could take place world wide.  It shows how families are far reaching and important.  I read that he wrote this after watching his manager interact with his family.  Its such a sweet song and I’m sure it made his manager proud.

18. 윤하 – 내 마음이 뭐가 돼 (Wasted)

We have another beautiful ballad with equally beautiful music video.  I’m not sure if there was a story being presented here or if it was just meant to depict the different forms that heartbreak can take.  The vocals were strong and emotional.  The visuals were striking.  There were some moments where I felt the vidiography could be a little stronger, it didn’t seem professional all the time, it was like something I would see made from a wannabe filmmaker on YouTube.  I do have to say that I liked the way the memories were in letterbox format while the solos filled the screen.  That was an interesting choice in editing.  This video also branched out from the usual black, white, and red color palette that so many of these videos have had to add in purple.  Although to be fair, this was the first.  The rest came after.

19. Madtown – YOLO

Can I just say that I can already tell how cool this album was in person based on the holographic nature of the still itunes image.  I would want it just for that.  However, I’m not that big a fan of the song itself.  I have to say that everyone in America hissed as if they just watched somebody get hurt when they saw the title of this song.  YOLO isn’t a good thing over here any more.  I’m not sure it was ever a good thing.  Korea doesn’t quite have the stigma against it, but it distances the American audience a little bit.  I kind of like the song though.  Its cool.  I wanted to dance to it.  New Khip-hop group to look out for

20. IU – 소격동

Last but definitely not least, IU’s new single which came out at the very beginning of this month and is actually available to you in three formats.  The first with IU singing, the second with a male artist and the third focusing on the guy who did the music for this song.  The video itself is heartbreaking.  It was really painful to watch.  IU always has strong vocals and every new song she comes out with has a completely different sound.  I really loved everything about this song and video.  It was one of the strongest of the month, a great way to start out, or in the case of this post to finish.

It is a little late, but I finally got everything rounded up.  I hope you either found something new to listen to or just liked seeing the trends that appeared in the industry this month.

Adult, Books, YA (Young Adult)

January Wrap Up and February TBR

This is weird, but it is a thing and it is happening.  Deal with it.

To start off let’s look at the books I read this month in abbreviated form:

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The first book I read was the Invention of Hugo Cabret and I wrote a review that you can read here.  I gave this book four out of five stars.

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The next book that I read was John Dies at the End which I thoroughly enjoyed.  I gave it four out of five stars mostly because it had approximately three more fart jokes than I can stand in one novel.

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I read the entire Series of Unfortunate events this month with the Bibliomancers.  If you want to know what I thought about the book check out my wrap up which has links to each individual post where you can watch our discussion of the books in depth.

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I then read Everybody sees the Ants by A.S. King, another book that I enjoyed more than I perhaps thought I would.  I quite liked the magical realism it contained.  I gave this book five out of five stars and reviewed it for you here.

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I rounded off the month with a bit of a disappointment with Phoenix, I only gave it two stars on goodreads.  If you want to know why I wasn’t thrilled with it you can see my review here.

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I have been back at school for two weeks and haven’t had a lot of time for reading, however I did pick up some new books to read to appease myself since I fear that this semester will be my busiest so far and books make everything better.

While I’ve been here I have managed to read 155 pages of American Gods by Neil Gaiman and that will be the first book I read next month.

If I finish it relatively early on my next endeavor will either be:

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Looking for Me by Beth Hoffman …

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The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling …

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or The Silver Linings Playbook by Mathew Quick.

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If you have read any of these books and want to tell me what you thought of them feel free to leave a comment below, and if you have a suggestion for which book I should read after I finish American Gods I would love to hear your opinion.

The return to school also means the return to reading for my English classes and I have one class on the Classic Hard Boiled American Detective novel so you might be hearing my thoughts on some of those in the coming weeks as well as the books I read on my own.

I will talk to you guys again in February, I hope you had a spectacular January and that the Pied Piper is still calling to you.