Thursday, March 26, 2020

April Mini-Reviews

Lookit this! Another post in March. I mean, it's close to the end of March, but still! Another post! Which means I'm making my (very low stakes) goal. Phew. It was touch and go for a while. Honestly, even while I'm writing this, it's still touch and go cos who knows if I'll actually finish it.

As I was writing the last couple mini-review posts, I realized last year my reading was Which is very likely why my first read in April was The Graveyard Book, which I won't go into here because I've already written about it. I will just say the more often I read it, the more I love it and I think I need to relisten to it again, even if it gives me ALL THE EMOTIONS. But hey, let's instead talk about books that I haven't already written about here.

Act Natural: A Cultural History of Misadventures in Parenting by Jennifer Traig
I only remember bits and pieces of this book. There's a LOT in the beginning about kids...not making it. Which is rough to get through, although it to be fair to it, it doesn't linger. I remember enjoying it; there's lots of interesting bits about the history of child rearing. BUT it didn't totally stick with me. To the point where I saw this book included on a list of parenting books and thought "That looks interesting, I should check it out!" only to see that I had already marked it as Read in Goodreads. Make of that what you will. But I think I may give it another read and see if it sticks with me more.
Gif rating:

Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz
A bookclub selection! An English murder mystery. Actually, it's two murder mysteries in one, since there's a story within the story that's also a murder mystery. It's hard to talk too much about it because, you know, mystery. Don't want to wander into spoilers territory. I liked the idea of it and I liked the story within the story best but the flow of the book was not my favorite. But it did make me want to read more murder mysteries.
Gif rating:

Strange Weather by Joe Hill
Short story collections can be very hit or miss. I tend to stay away from them, because I often find they contain more misses. Stephen King tends to be an exception and I figured why not give his son a chance. Good news, he did not disappoint. I mean, it helps that I already like Hill's stuff, so I felt confident giving this a try. The stories were really good. There's a story about a guy who can erase memories with a polaroid. A story about a guy who finds himself carried away on a cloud. Or cloud like thing. A story about a sudden deluge, not of rain but of nails and the horror that it brings. And finally a story about a good-guy with a gun...maybe. They were all very good, had moments that were truly tense and scary and had moments that were heartbreaking.
Gif rating:

The Dispatcher by John Scalzi
A sci-fi short story about a world where you can't murder anyone anymore. Most of the time if you try, that person comes back to life. Oh sure, people can still die, but not from murder. So there arises a group called Dispatchers, whose job it is to "kill" someone, someone who is on death's door, so they maybe have another chance at life. But there's a shady underground world to this (of course) and what happens when a fellow dispatcher is murdered? It was an Audible Original, so a quick story. I don't totally remember the resolution but the premise seemed interesting. I gave it a decent rating so I suppose I enjoyed it.
Gif rating:

Can I get another post in before the month ends??? Probably not but you never know!

Monday, March 16, 2020

March (2019) Mini-Reviews

Here's an attempt to catch up on posting and actually, you know, write on this blog. What a concept.

I'm taking advantage of some time to write as COVID-19 has got us social distancing. Which seems counterintuitive (not the social distancing, that makes sense) since you'd think if we're all trapped in the house I'd have less time to write cos the lil monster requires attention. Except now we're BOTH home so entertainment detail can be split.

So why not catch up on some more mini-reviews? See if I can't stay ahead of the game (I cannot). Heads up, as I look at the list of books I read in March of 2019 I gotta tell you...not a lot is coming to me. This may be brief.

How to Be Good by Nick Hornby
Nick Hornby. I like the guy. I mean I think. I like High Fidelity anyway (both book and movie, thankyouverymuch). And he wrote an album with Ben Folds that includes a song about Levi Johnston (Sarah Palin's almost son-in-law?) that's catchy. I was at the Strand and saw a copy of How to Be Good and figured I'd give it a try. Basically this guy who is sort of a jackass has a spiritual awakening where he decides he has to turn his life around and be a good person. And while it's hard to fault someone for doing this, it is driving his wife and kids nuts. It's a strange book and I don't really remember much in the way of a resolution but that could just be my bad memory. I remember it being mostly Not terrible but not great.
Gif rating:

Early Riser by Jasper Fforde
I listened to this as an audiobook and I think that was a mistake. Because I generally lurve Fforde's stuff. But I have noted, to myself and even out loud to others, that I can't imagine how stuff like the Thursday Next series would work in any format other than a book. There's so much that plays with language and footnotes and typography that you need to see it. And yet I thought "Oh, here's a new book from him, I should definitely listen to this as an audiobook. Even though in general I find I have more trouble paying attention to fiction audiobooks than nonfiction ones, I'm sure it will be fine this time." Like most of Fforde's stuff, the plot is hard to describe. Basically it's a dystopian where in the winter everyone has to hibernate and there are these strange dreams killing people and there are weird creatures roaming about. And there is Charlie a winter consul, who is dealing with the bureaucracy that comes with this (because there is hilarity and satire within dystopias). I remember it being weird, as his stuff often is, but I had trouble getting my bearings in the story and I don't know if that was intentional (i.e., he's trying to make you doubt your own sanity) or if I just missed out on stuff cos I was listening instead of reading. I should probably give this a try but as a book-book and then come back with new thoughts.
Gif Rating:

Sakina's Restaurant by Aasif Mandvi
This was a short story, one of the Audible Originals that's free each month with a subscription. It's sort of a one man show about a man coming to America from India and working at a restaurant and the strangeness of the new life and what he loves about his new home and what he misses and what the family he works for is like. It was funny at times but overall I can't remember much of it. Apparently it was originally an actual one-man play so perhaps it works a bit better that way.
Gif rating:

A Mind of Her Own by Paula McLain
Another free Audible Original. This one a fictional account of the life of a young Marie Curie (nee Sklodowska). She's far from home, studying in Paris and meets a certain Pierre Curie. I thought it'd be interesting to hear a bit about this woman of whom I know only a bit here and there. Mostly the radioactive stuff. And there's a bit about her but I can't say I retained much. Even at the time of listening, judging by the rating I gave it, I wasn't too into it then. It focuses more on the love story with Pierre and less about her work. Which could be fine but wasn't my thing.
Gif rating:

So when I look at my mini-reviews for Feb 2019 and now these things were...not great, reading wise. Which explains why, following these reads, I listened to The Graveyard Book which is def one of my fav books (to listen to, to read-read) because I needed something that was going to be great. Spoilers, it WAS great, even if it gives me ALL OF THE EMOTIONS. But now is not a time to review that book. Now is the time to see what nonsense is going on while I keep myself hidden away.

Monday, March 2, 2020

February Reading Wrap Up

Damn, only one post in February. To wrap up what I read in January. That is...not a great start to a new blogging year. I could have sworn I wrote more. Or you know, something. But apparently I was just thinking of the posts in January (which were mostly wrap up posts and therefore only somewhat count) and had duped myself. Sigh. Anyway, let's talk about what February held.

I took advantage of the leap day to sneak in one additional book this month, so thank you Julius Caesar* for that. Otherwise, as always, the month went by heckin' fast. Lots of work, which is busy. Lots of stuff for the goblin, which is also busy. There was even a book club meeting this month AND a (mini-) road trip to visit friends (and gift them with many baby hand-me-downs, of which we no longer need and they will soon have a use for), which was busy but also much fun.

Now, how 'bout them stats?

Number of books read
Lethal White by Robert Galbraith
My Sister, The Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite
Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead by Olga Tokarczuk
Cribsheet: A Data-Driven Guide to Better, More Relaxed Parenting from Birth to Preschool by Emily Oster
In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson

Total pages read

POC authors

Female authors
US authors

Book formats
audiobook: 80%
hardback: 20%

Where'd I get the book
Indie bookstore: 20%
Kindle/Audible: 40%
Library: 40%



Bookclub pick

Decade published
2000s: 40%
2010s: 60%

Resolution books
Lethal White is by a UK author (Robert Galbraith/JK Rowling)
My Sister, The Serial Killer is by a POC, Nigerian author (Oyinkan Braithwaite)
Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead is by a Polish author (Olga Tokarczuk) and is a translation

OK so I'm gonna try to set a goal for myself. I gotta write 2 more posts in March. Can I do it? We shall see.

*And I only know that fact cos of the recent John Mulaney monologue on SNL. So thanks to Mulaney for that bit of trivia and also for creating The Sack Lunch Bunch. I realize that is unrelated to what this aside was originally about, but man, what a great special.