Books, Musings

Betwixt the Books Discuss! Some People Want to Read Your Sh!t

So this hangout actually occured a week ago but I figured that I should post it sooner rather than later in the hopes that it would still be somewhat topical.

This was Gretchen and my sort of response to a fellow booktuber declaring to the community that he would not read unsolicited material for free.  This led to discussions of policy and reviewing, endorsements, ethics, all sorts of stuff.  If that sounds like your jam then please watch the discussion.  We also really want any sort of input that people can give us on the topic.  Is he right, are we?

There we are!  I hope you guys enjoyed it!  Still going strong on the post something every day front! *laughs because it is only the second of September*


Books, Comics

April Monthly Pull

I was going to do a weekly pull, but I realized I don’t buy that many comics at once so it might be wiser to talk about what I read in a month.

Here is the toddling baby of that idea that hopefully will grow and flourish later… because its a bit of a mess right now.

Hope this wasn’t too cringe worthy.  I will be back on Friday for a review so get excited about that!

Adult, Books, Musings

A Myriad of Mini Cookbook Reiews

Pop Sugar Reading Challenge Update: 14/40
A Satirical Book

206960321I figured I would start with the highlight and work my way down.  This is the book I am referring to in reference to my Pop Sugar Reading Challenge.  This book was hilarious.  On top of being filled with some of the most delicious vegan food I have ever seen and want to make to put in myself.  Jesus Christ.  If you aren’t a fan of profanity then this probably isn’t for you but it felt like one of my friends was sitting me down and telling me what is what when it comes to food.  This had personality as well as good recipes, great photography and a lot of creativity.  Definitely the best of the bunch here and worth checking out whether you are vegan or not, because eating more vegetables will not hurt you.  I promise.

23492253The next book I was torn on.  I didn’t hate it, there were some recipes in here that honestly looked good and that I felt I could make and would enjoy, but I am not one to follow a strict menu.  This was set up in such a way that it seemed like a gimmicky give me your money so you can lose weight diet guide.  I don’t think that any of those really work, but if you believe in it, then more power to you.  So I was a bit put off by the presentation, but again there were recipes in here I flagged to try one day, so there is that.  I guess its up to you to pick this one up or not.

17167085As a graduate of Ithaca College I am well aware of the Moosewood Restaurant.  I only actually ate there once but it was mind blowing and when I saw that the library I work in has a cookbook of their most popular recipes I couldn’t help but check it out.  I’m so glad I did.  While not everything in here was for me, I felt like because the collected their most popular dishes there will be something in here for everyone.  The presentation was pretty straight forward but there was some really great photography and some really delicious sounding recipes.  I would say give this one a try if you are vegetarian/vegan or just need to incorporate more veggies into your life.

8857133I saved the worst for last… is that not how you are supposed to do it?  In any case, I was not a fan of this cookbook at all.  There wasn’t a single recipe that I was interested in cooking.  I don’t think it helps that this was published in the early 2000s.  It feels like the most stereotypical vegan cook book there is.  I didn’t feel like there was any creativity or innovation.  It was a bunch of boring raw and cooked veggie recipes that are either really obvious, or things I could have come up with on my own, I didn’t need the cookbook to tell me how to make it.  I don’t know.  I guess it is a good place to start if you don’t want to be adventurous in your cooking, but honestly there are a lot of better recipes and cookbooks out there.

I bet you noticed that there was a particular theme with my cook books.  I have recently become lactose intolerant, and by recently I mean I probably have been for a while and have just been in the delicious chowder and macaroni and cheese based denial.  I am not vegan, I am probably closer to vegetarian but I eat meat a couple times a week, mostly chicken, in any case.  I needed to find recipes that were built around non-dairy and lactose free recipes.  I knew vegan food could do that for me, and I have nothing against the lack of meat.  If you are open minded or actually strictly vegan, more power to you and see what you think of these recipes.

I will be back tomorrow with a tag video so let’s hope that turns out well (I haven’t edited it yet…)

Books, Musings

Weekly Wrap Up/ What We Read 2/28/16

Um… so every Sunday you get a post that looks exactly like this so I need a new intro for it… do I even need an intro?  What do you need me to introduce?  The title tells you what you need to know.

Sunday: Last Week’s Wrap Up
 Michaela’s Monday Musing on Unhauling
           Gretchen’s From the Notebook on the lack of YA for boys
Tuesday: Betwixt the Books Reviewed The Gracekeepers 
Wednesday: Michaela’s Review of the Deadpool Movie
            Gretchen’s Worth it Wednesday on Insignia
Thursday: Gretchen’s Thesis Thursday hauling sources for cover design
Friday: Michaela’s February Book Haul
            Gretchen’s Review of Choosing My Religion

Books, Musings

Weekly Wrap Up/What We Read 1/17/16

It is Sunday and you guys know what that means! or maybe you don’t since this is only our second one!  Its time for the #betwixtthebooks weely wrap up.

This week we both had oodles of content for you guys so be sure to check it all out if you haven’t already!

Also go tell Gretchen how lovely she is for showing up to make a video after having her wisdom teeth removed!  She cares so much you guys!  Go love her!

Sunday: Last Week’s Wrap Up!
Monday: Michaela’s Monday Musing: Top Tips for Learning a Language on Your Own
             Gretchen’s From the Notebook: Top 5 Disappointing Reads of 2015
Tuesday: 30 Seconds to Disagree: Mr. Penumbras 24 Hour Bookstore
             30 Seconds to Disagree: The First Test
Wednesday: Michaela’s Review of Southern Bastards Vol. 2
             Gretchen’s Worth it Wednesday Post on Incarnate
Thursday: Gretchen’s Thesis Thursday Post
Friday: Michaela’s Review of Night Film
              Gretchen’s Review of Orphan Queen
Saturday: The Betwixt the Books Book Haul #1
              Bibliomancy for Beginners Discussion of The Magician King

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.

Adult, Books, Comics

Southern Bastards, Vol. 1: Here Was a Man Review

Have you heard?  Wednesday is comic book day!

Title: Southern Bastards, Vol. 1: Here Was a Man
Writer: Jason Aaron
Illustrator: Jason Latour
Publisher: Image Comics
Page #: 112
Genre: Mystery/Crime Drama’

1 Sentence Tag: The South is creepy people, why aren’t more horror/mystery type stories set there?

I have to say that this is definitely not going to be a comic for everyone.  This is a slow burn and not a flash in the pan.  When most people think about comics they gravitate toward those flashy high energy super hero titles, and this is probably as far away from that as you can get before you hit Archie Digest.  There isn’t action up the wazoo, there aren’t bright colors flowing across the pages and that might make you a little bit uncomfortable, but don’t write this comic off yet!

The selling point of this comic for me, is the atmosphere.  This should be split equally between the artist and the writer.  The writer perfectly portrays the southern attitude in the pacing and dialogue and the artist is using a style that is just this side of uncomfortable.  The two together create the perfect creepiness.  I love a good horror atmosphere that leaves you just creeped out enough when you set the book done that you think about picking up something else just to ease your mind a little.  I get that feeling more often in novels and short stories than I do in comics, perhaps because I haven’t picked up enough horror comics, perhaps because something in brain doesn’t correlate the pretty pictures as scary, not sure, but this one definitely has that tone and atmosphere and I’m giving it props for that.

The girl who works in my local comic shop told me that this title is not very popular and I have to wonder why.  Like I said it isn’t snappy or flashy, but different isn’t bad.  There has been a lot of talk about variety being a good thing in all forms of media, if you are looking for something different to add to your comic rotation then I would definitely recommend this title.  If you are looking for something that is a little calmer, a little slower, something mysterious and interesting then I would definitely grab this one.

The second arc started recently so pick up the trade and the last couple of issues and you should be all set with this one.  Its in my current pull list and it definitely needs more hype.

Did you guys read it already?  What did you think about it?  How about how the first arc ended?  (If you don’t want to be spoiled best stear clear of the comments!)

I’ll hopefully be back with a book review for you guys on Friday!

Bibliomancy For Beginners, Books, YA (Young Adult)

Bibliomancy For Beginners: Ep. 7. Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

So, I promised that I would post this weeks Bibliomancy episode today and I will succeed! I am writing it right now but the hangout happened Tuesday at 8:30 EST, like every week (or we try really hard for it to be every week).

Also you guys should be proud of me because I am writing this review knowing full well that mere moments ago, my parents gave me a car for my birthday. So … squee to that. Without further ado, let’s get started and as always my bookclub discussion video will be at the bottom if you don’t want to read about a book and just want to hear us talk about it.

Title: Throne of Glass
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Genre: YA High Fantasy
Page #: 420

Alright, this was a book that I listed to Gretchen, from My Life is a Notebook (also my roommate from last semester) whine over having to wait to reread.  She loves it, she gushes over it, she fangirls over it hard core.  I wasn’t as enamored by it but I still enjoyed the experience of reading it.  There were a few faults in it and a handful of things that I wasn’t the biggest fan of, but it was a good book and I would like you all to know that going in.

I had to read this book entirely on the day that we went on air to talk about it due to my vacation last week making it difficult to get my hands on, but I finished the entire thing in a few hours without any problems.  The pacing was good and that helped me get through the novel quickly.  I didn’t feel like I was forcing myself to read it though by this point I was really tired of reading High Fantasy novels.  I needed something new.

The characters were alright.  I seemed to prefer the secondary or tertiary characters better than the protagonist and her main squeeze for this novel.  (Although the angsty third wheel to the love triangle was a personal favorite).  I did just mention a love triangle in those quotes because there definitely is one.  It wasn’t a terrible one though don’t worry.  I didn’t mind it THAT much, but its still my least favorite romantic plot device.

The setting was interesting and though there wasn’t a lot of back story or history throughout the novel there was enough to back up the events of the story and enough to maintain my interest in the world.  It was aparent that Maas knew her world very well and had events and regions mapped out in her head before writing this novel.  Too often do I find a novel where the setting has discrepancies and therefore becomes discredited.

Over all I really enjoyed the book, it wasn’t a five out five read for me but it was definitely a four, better than average.  Everyone in our group enjoyed it as well and if you want to hear us talk about it together then by all means watch the video.  Also see what I did to me hair. (Spoiler Alert: I cut it all off).

I think I might name my new car the Pied Piper because it’s definitely calling to me right now.

Adult, Bibliomancy For Beginners, Books

Bibliomancy For Beginners: Ep. 4. Magic for Beginners by Kelly Link


If you don’t know what Bibliomancy For Beginners is then what are you doing with your life?  Gretchen, from My Life is a Notebook and I along with two of our friends from college have weekly bookclub which meets Tuesdays at 8:30 EST and we talk about a book we all read that week.

This week was Taylor’s choice, Magic for Beginners by Kelly Link and it was a collection of short stories.

Title: Magic for Beginners
Author: Kelly Link
Publisher: Mariner Books
Genre: Short Stories, Fantasy, Adult
Page #: 297

I’m not really sure how to do a review for this book since within itself it holds several different stories, as an anthology of short stories is want to do.  I think I’ll talk about what I liked about this book or didn’t like and give a brief synopsis of my favorite stories.

While Taylor and I liked these stories very much it appeared as though our fellow cohosts were not such big fans.  I felt while reading this book that it was a writer’s playground where Kelly Link was trying to push her literary boundaries and do new things with her stories; like write a story in a story in a story in a story or one written entirely in question answer format.  I really appreciated this fact.  While throughout the book I also felt that the characters or the setting were underplayed to the point where they were no really memorable and used more as a vehicle with which to produce a story or new technique.  This was what our cohosts found disheartening.  They wanted to fall in love with characters and continue on with them for a novel not have a snippet of a day in the life.

If you want some really interesting stories that will have you thinking about the world and the way we view it then this is the book for you.  All of the stories have a unique view on the world that make you question the way you think.  They aren’t outrageous characters, they were all real people and while some were put into very strange situation they were definitely relatable if nothing else.  The way the Link describes their thought processes are extremely honest and unique.  One character is able to match the people she is closest to in her life to a paint color.  Humans naturally make connections and while you may not thing of your Aunt Netty as Burnt Pumpkin it might be the perfect thing to describe her as.  The views that you get by stepping into these characters shoes are brilliant.

Now the story for which this book gets its namesake is the strongest within and it is also one of the last you will read, that is if you read it straight through like I did.  For me the sequence of stories really built in their ingenuity and in their success in what they set out to do.  The namesake had an interesting concept set in a world that is basically our own.  It revolves around a group of friends who idolize a t.v. show with no set time or channel and doesn’t even use the same actor to play the same character show to show.  While two of my favorite characters that she created in all of the book make a very brief cameo at the end of the story (which I was extremely sad about) it is also one that has you wonder about how we become invested in the media we consume.  I know that I become obsessed with things like a TV show or a book for periods of time.

Over all I really enjoyed this book, and while it may just be the way I read and not the way every one reads or the things I value in a novel it was something I loved the whole way through.  If you want something light and amusing give it a go.

If you want to here what all of my friends had to say about the book and some of its stories watch the video here, but be forewarned there will be spoilers … and excessive laughing (at least on my part).

I hope you have a great day, and when this goes up I will be reading in a car, though I’m sure the Pied Piper will be calling me.

Adult, Books

Book Review! Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion


So they said that zombies, ghouls, and ghosts would be the next big thing after vampires, werewolves, and demons if this book has any say I would call them omniscient.  Who are they? you ask.  I have no clue, literary analysts?  You tell me.  I read it somewhere I’m sure.

Some of you may have seen the preview for the soon to theaters movie based on this book:

This is what had originally drawn me to the book in the first place.  While I am not an avid book before movie person I do try to read before I watch when I can.  I am never against reading the book after.  I guess you would say I am the kind of person who promotes reading at all.  You will never hear me say oh you saw the movie, its fine then you don’t really need to read the book they are basically the same thing.  Never.

This is a perfect example of that statement being utterly false.  Even from the trailer I can tell they changed a few things that proved to be key components to several plot points in the novel.

I might update this post after viewing the movie and tell you about the differences and which I thought was a better medium for the story but for now I will leave it at this.

Let me get into the nitty gritty of the book.

As far as plot goes, I thought this book had a good arc but the flow was a little to my disliking.  For instance, I would say 85% of the novel was exposition and rising action.  It really held you until the end before getting to the meat of everything.  You would get snippets here and there, and you definitely had moments of action but the moment you were waiting for the big reveal the epiphany so to speak had to happen within the last fifty pages if not the last twenty.  Now the book was by no means slow.  I read it in one sitting.  Start to finish.

Part of what made it so likeable was our main character and narrator R.  This cute little zombie had quite the eloquent brain but the tongue of a toddler.  It was quaint.  He was valiant and daring for a supposed mindless corpse.  That was the point wasn’t it?

Our heroine Julie was slightly less endearing for me.  While I sympathized with her I couldn’t say that I liked her very much.  Even while looking through R’s rose colored glasses at her I didn’t find her very strong.  She had admirable qualities but there was something about her that bothered me.  Perhaps it was her nonchalance at the knowledge that her current dead boyfriend ate the brain and acquired the memories of her previous dead boyfriend.

I would have to say that my favorite characters in the whole novel by far though were the two best friends.  M, R’s best friend was sarcastic as hell and I loved him for it, even if he was a zombie.  How a zombie retains such a great quality I have no idea but the bruiser who can make me laugh will win my heart any day.  My second favorite being Nora a much more strong female.  When women are living in a zombie infested world I expected most if not all the women to be more like her.  She was brazen and hardened and I liked that about her.  While Julie seemed apathetic to some things she should have been emotional over and completely emotional over other things and was inconsistent in her fear and sadness Nora held a brave front.  I admired her as a character and the stock piles of gumption she administered throughout the final pages.

I would like to add that my copy has these great anatomical drawings at the beginning of each section and while they didn’t add anything to the story they were super cool to look at and I enjoyed them as an aesthetic addition.

I gave this novel a total of four out of five stars.

Overall, I really enjoyed the story and most of the characters while it had some little things that bugged me with the construction and unfolding of the story and definitely left me wanting to know what happened to the world overall I did get enough to satisfy myself as it is.  I would recommend this to anybody who enjoys romance novels because it is completely ridiculous idea.  It has some great social implications and I could consider it commentary on our society today as well as on the society within the novel.  Ever so slightly thought provoking.

I’m going to have another book review up soon.  I’ve been eating them up like candies it would seem.

For now, the pied piper is calling me.