Month: November 2023

Due to social activities and overall busyness before my holiday, I did not read as much this month. I intend to read a lot more on vacation especially in early December.

How to Be Perfect: The Correct Answer to Every Moral Question by Michael Schur

Narrated mostly by the author with a cast. I listened to this because I really adored “The Good Place”. This was an amusing and sometimes funny overview of the philosophy from the show. It was a decent audiobook. I don’t know if I would have been as engaged if I read it in print. It was a nice way to wake up to for a week.

3.25/5 stars. 1.25x. October 31-November 10, 2023.

The Cartographers by Peng Shepherd

I saw this book recommended a lot last year and I was able to find a trade paperback copy at the spring rummage sale. I wanted to read this after finishing the other book called The Cartographer. I did not know what this book was about and it had a rather slow buildup for a thriller. I did see the villain a mile away but the other stuff including the magical realism was a nice surprise. This is more of a plot book. There is some good character development and there are a good amount of characters for such a tight plot. I liked it. I think I can recommend this to a couple of people who may even enjoy it more.

3.75/5 stars. November 4-11, 2023.

The Night Eaters, Vol. 2: Her Little Reapers by Marjorie M. Liu and Sana Takeda (Illustrator)

A great second volume to this new series by my favourite graphic novel team. This one is even more Chinese and themed around migration and intergenerational relations. It’s fun.

4.5/5 stars. November 13, 2023.

The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate – Discoveries from a Secret World by Peter Wohlleben

Narrated by Mike Grady. I have had the hard cover copy from a little library for a couple of years now. I fully intended to read more of it in print. Instead, I only read a few pages from it because I was too busy to pick up the book. The content of this book is very interesting. I like trees a lot and they do almost seem magical in their size and their beauty. I did find it hard to pay attention to this book. It’s not the narrator’s fault. I do wonder if the information was so dense that you can only consume it slowly. I forgot a lot of the information once it was told as well because there was so much of it.

3.5/5 stats. 1.35x. Nov 11-23, 2023.

Cigars of the Pharaoh (Tintin #4)

This one is where it starts to feel more like the regular Tintin adventures. The pacing is still very fast as it is a comic book but it feels there is more breathing room. I still don’t think Tintin has much personality. Snowy has more but he can be a troll sometimes. I really do like the illustrations.

3.25/5 stars. October 7, 2023.

The Blue Lotus (Tintin #5)

I rewatched the animated cartoon version not too long ago so this story was fresh in my mind. I really enjoyed it because the pacing has gotten much less frenetic and Tintin developed more friendships and personality. I like Chang and the political tension of China, Japan, and other international powers in this time period.

3.5/5 stars. Nov 5, 2023.

The Broken Ear (Tintin #6)

The pacing to the plot is much better now. The art continues to be good too. I liked the mystery and the investigative nature of this one as well and the political commentary continues. It still had some issues. Tintin used blackface in this one.

3.25/5 stars. Nov 9, 2023.

Lab Girl by Hope Jaren

Narrated by the author. This was recommended a couple places and I found a trade paperback copy in a Little Library. As a way to spur me to read my TBR collection, I put a number of audiobook versions on hold on Libby. I thought I may switch but as sometimes the case, the narration by the author was so good I kept listening. This memoir is really well written. Often times, I felt like I was reading a novel. It’s not a surprise given how intelligent and well read Jaren is. I enjoyed her relationship with her lab partner and best friend Bill who himself could be a character in a novel. I liked how she narrated their adventures and struggles. In fact, the book had some heavy topics given the sexism of scientific academia and Jaren’s mental illness whether it was depression or bipolar disorder. It’s very reflective but so well narrated. She actually sounded emotional at certain parts which was effective. It was a slow narration so I went up to 1.75 reading speed but still great. I hope Jaren considers writing more prose or even fiction in the future.

4/5 stars. 1.75x. October 16-22, 2023.

The Woman in Me by Britney Spears

Narrated by Michelle Williams. I listened off and on by audiobook and read half on ebook. I grew up with Britney Spears. I remember watching the “Baby One More Time” music video and the zeitgeist of Britney. Her era for more than ten years. Watching her being vilified in the media for so many things and go through the conservatorship was heart breaking. None of it ever added up in terms of how they demonized her. She always seemed like a nice person who was a talented performer. I do not usually read celeb memoirs because the writing is usually quite packaged and rote. The prose in this book was straightforward but I think it did capture her style. It delivered her story. I liked Williams’s narration but I switched the ebook after 55% or Chapter 26 because that’s when she lost custody of the children and the conservatorship started. The book has a lot of tough subjects including intergenerational trauma and emotional abuse. A lot of it reminded me that society really shapes our view on public figures and celebrities especially women. Famous people can have their narrative spun by themselves or others and how they can be taken advantage of. I don’t know this woman and this is her story, so I can’t say what she didn’t say or what she embellished. However, her family and the media did her wrong for decades. This book was tough and sad. I am glad I read it. I hope Britney can heal with space and find stability and joy in her life.

3.75/5 stars. 1.3x-2x. Read half on Kindle. October 24-25, 2023.

Botanical Folk Tales from Britain and Ireland by Lisa Schneidau

Narrated by Joan Walker. A series of short folk tales with botanical and plant themes. I gave up listening before bedtime. I listened to it in the mornings after I woke up. It was actually very cozy. Great narration. Some of the stories are too short and forgettable but there were classics which I enjoyed.

3.5/5 stars. Listened October 15-29, 2023.

Séance Tea Party by Reimena Yee

This has a very similar premise to Anya’s Ghost as it was also a middle grade graphic novel about middle graders struggling to grow up and becoming friends with a ghost. I enjoyed this one more for being more wholesome and gentler. It was also more relatable with its themes and the protagonist being Chinese. I really liked all the characters including the ghost Alexa. Very sweet.

4.25/5 stars. October 28-30, 2023.

Maid by Stephanie Land

Narrated by the author. I only listened to about one quarter of the book on audiobook. A friend who enjoyed this book lent it to me. I found the content morose for listening for long periods so I switched to the paperback. I could relate to things in this memoir. My mother was a cleaner. She was a janitor and a house cleaner. It was hard work for her but she enjoyed for the most part. I sometimes witnessed the strange relationships that often develop between people and their cleaners. As a result of my mother, I notice cleaning people a lot because they often ignored or worse, belittled. I could understand these stories. There were other things I could relate to including the anxiety of poverty. The author’s panic attacks and depression were difficult to read about as well. I felt sympathy for the author but I didn’t find myself moved or emotionally attached. I found the writing lacking in some ways, but I can’t explain why. I didn’t really care for the audiobook narration either. It was an okay memoir that I could even relate to but it didn’t hit the mark for me enough to say I liked it a lot.

3.25/5 stars. 1.5x. October 26-30, 2023.