The Book that No One Wanted to Read by Richard Ayoade
Cute and amusing but didn’t knock my socks off.
3.25/5 stars. Read on Libby app. Sept 1-4, 2023.
Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosch
This was suppose to be a funny webcomic collection. This was a bit hard for me to read since it deals heavily with depression and suicidal ideation. The author is severely depressed and I could relate to some of the things she wrote about. Some of the comics amused me but the humor didn’t always work for me. I admire the author’s ability to create art. It is good but it doesn’t lift me up so I won’t read her next works.
3.5/5 stars. Sept 5, 2023.
From Here to Eternity: Traveling the World to Find the Good Death by Caitlin Doughty
Narrated by the author. Another Reading Glasses recommendation. Doughty has a nice voice. As someone with an interest in death, this was right up my alley. I didn’t love all the locations but I enjoyed Dougthy’s observations and reflections in many of them.
4.25/5 stars. Sept 1-6, 2023. Mostly 1.4x.
We are never meeting in real life by Samantha Irby
Narrated by the author. I have mixed feelings. The author and I are very different people. There was too much sexual content for me. There was aggressive humor which I didn’t find funny most of the time. On the other hand, I’ve heard Irby on a podcast and reading between the lines in this book, I find myself respecting and even liking her. She is raw and upfront about who she is and her life. I also liked how she discussed depression, anxiety, and death. I got the feeling she is a great friend. Considering her life circumstances, she’s faced things with her head held high. I do admire that. I have her next two books on hold as well and they are actually easy to listen to in some ways so I’ll likely try the next one.
3.25/5 stars. Sept 5-8, 2023. Mostly 1.5x.
Monstress Vol 5-7 by Marjorie M. Liu, Illustrated by Sana Takeda
I hadn’t caught up to this epic fantasy graphic novel series since pre-pandemic. I forgot almost everything but started remembering some as I went through. The world building is so deep and complex. As a character and setting reader, this series is very intense.
I love this series. It is dark and emotional and even spiritual and humanistic. It has female relationships and found families. It’s also amazingly illustrated. I actually think this is my favourite graphic novel series now over both Sandman and Promethea. Since the story was created by two Asian female writers and has influences in East Asian history and symbolism, I can relate to it much more. I would really like to reread this series when it is done. I love how so much has unfolded. There is a lot of emotionality. I look forward to the next edition.
4.25-4.5/5 stars. September 9-10, 2023.
Garlic & the Vampire and Garlic & the Witch by Bree Paulsen
Very cute and extremely low stakes (pun intended) middle grade graphic novels. I liked the second book slightly more but I liked how easy both were to read. I think I prefer the Tea dragons more for poignancy, but really liked this series and its very lovely artwork.
4.25/5 stars. Read August 27, 2023.
Better Living Through Birding: Notes from a Black Man in the Natural World by Christian Cooper
Narrated by the author. My favourite book podcast and a someone in my book club recommended this in the same week. Over the years, I have consumed less memoirs because they started to feel more packaged due to the influence of publishers and ghost writers. They weren’t bad exactly, but they felt a bit more self-indulgent as an industry. Cooper is not a celebrity in the same way though and he does have a background as an editor and writer. He is intelligent, reflective, and considerate telling his story. His audio narration is great. He is expressive and warm. I am so glad I listened to it. I was really engaged and really wanted to finish the book after I read my print ones. I found the writing about his love of birds, nature, and family quite moving. His stories about traveling were good too. The book had the right amount of reflection for me. There are bird songs in the audiobook! I loved that. Probably one of the better memoirs I’ve read in the last couple of years.
4.5/5 stars. Listened August 17-29, 2023. 1.3x most of the time.
Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds
Narrated by the author. This is a short YA novella in verse. I borrowed it because I had read a great interview about Jason Reynolds in the New Yorker and then watched more interviews with him. His championing of children’s literature is wonderful. This novella is about gun violence and the endless cycle of revenge especially in youth gangs. The poetry aspect of it is well done and I am glad I listened to the audiobook.
4/5 stars. Listened August 29, 2023. 1.3x.
Legends and Lattes by Travis Baldree
Narrated by the author. The book that named a genre. While cozy fantasy has always been a thing especially in my world, this book led the charge of the genre being prominent in book culture recently. I lined up the audiobook for it and the library hold finally came in. I decided to start with the audiobook or go between them. Baldree has been a prolific audiobook narrator for years. I was not sure about his narration at first but when the voices started, I was impressed. In the end, I listened to the whole thing on audiobook. It wasn’t long and it did have a cozy vibe. The plot is rather slow and there is a lack of depth in some ways. I found the romance was not built up well enough. I wanted more character and relationship development. It’s not an essential read nor is it my favourite cozy fantasy of this year. I do think it has its charming moments especially as an audiobook. I enjoyed how easy it was to listen to it while I did my chores or physio exercises. This book is a vibe as the kids say. I had a chocolate chip cookie because it featured one prominently. I look forward to listening to the prequel.
3.75/4 stars. Listened August 29-31, 2023. 1.3x.
Some Writer!: The Story of E. B. White by Melissa Sweet
This is a favourite of some friends in my book club. It’s a well done middle grade biography with great illustrations and art. I learned a lot of things about E. B. White and the book is a lovely homage to his writing. I read this during a silent book club meeting with a couple bookish friends.
3.5/5 stars. Read August 31, 2023.
July 24, 2023: I found this newer edition beginning of August. Since I had been reading all these 2021, I was glad to find a newer one. Maybe it was the not great weekend that I read it but I found this edition on the grim side. It had stories about M.S., Haiti and its gangs, changing Nashville, bears, and neoliberalism. Maybe I shouldn’t read these on my off days.
August 9, 2021: This had a David Seders essay which I read in his most recent book and did not have many articles I was interested in.
August 16, 2021: The James Webb Space Telescope. Learned about Jason Reynolds and watched some interviews with him as a result too. I skipped the Fiction and was reminded about Ted Lasson S2. I read the review about “Annette”. I like the actors in the cast but probably won’t watch it since I watch very few movies and TV these days because of books.
I will need three parts this month because of all the children, middle grade, and audiobooks I have been consuming. Wow!Continue reading →
It’s been a good reading month so far that I’ve realized I can split this into two parts at least. I’ve been consuming more books than usual for a variety of reasons including audiobooks.
Medallion Status by John Hodgman (audiobook)
I forgot to include this relisten in last month’s post. I listened to the audiobook again during insomnia nights after I finished Vacationland. I like Vacationland more but I still love Hodgman. I a bought a trade paperback copy at a local book store since I really should own one of these books at least.
Read original review here. 3.5/5 stars. Audiobook. Relistened early to mid May 2023.
The Art of Making Memories: How to Create and Remember Happy Moments by Meik Wiking
This took me awhile since I’ve been using this as an evening and pre-bed time book. I’ve been trying to read before bed and this was the right size and mood. I did not learn a lot of new information and most of the book are short capters filled with photos and recollections of Wiking’s life experiences. Like the Marie Kondo book last month, I am finding these lighter and slow self-help books relaxing. They are very gentle. These authors have privilege and these books don’t really add a lot of value in terms of information. They do relax me with their gentler tone about improving one’s life in small ways. There’s no drama or too much information to absorb. I have always found fiction too engaging to read before bed. I also like learning from nonfiction but it can also capture too much. I think I’ve discovered something new to my reading habits and reading routine.
3.5/5 stars. Read May 17-June 3, 2023.
The Reading List by Sara Nisha Adams
This was a charming debut novel recommended by someone in my book club. It’s a lovely book with gentle characters who are going through life the best they can. They have to contend with families, grief, illness, growing up, and many other things. There are two central characters from two different backgrounds and a couple of side characters as well. The focus around this reading list made the writing tight. I had read all the books on this list and actually read A Suitable Boy last year when I read about this one. I don’t regret that as it was one of my favourite books from last year. The climax of this novel was very sad and almost made me give it a lower rating, but it reminded the characters and the reader how books are there for us. Good stuff.
4/5 stars. Started on Kindle May 23 and finished on book by June 5, 2023.
The Tea Dragon Society by Kay O’Neill
Cozy fantasy at its best. Very gentle and loving children’s book. I look forward to the other two books in the series.
4/5 stars. Read Jun 8, 2023.
A Prayer for Crown Shy by Becky Chambers
This was the right book at the right time for me. I liked it much more than the first one as the characters and story found its rhythm. It’s lovely, reflective, emotional, philosophical, and spiritual. I needed this gentle and hopeful novel with nice characters.
4.5/5 stars. Read June 13, 2023.
A Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky Chambers
Maybe it was all the hype around this and the emerging “cozy fantasy” genre term but I expected to like this more than I did. I think it was has some lovely moments. I really like Mosscap the robot. It’s wonderfully short as well. It didn’t wow me the way others have though. A solid novella. I will consider reading the sequel.
3.5/5 stars. Read April 5, 2023.
The Dragon’s Promise by Elizabeyth Lim
The sequel to Six Crimson Cranes which was one of my favourite reads from last year. I was a bit disappointed. I partly blame myself as I have been in a reading rut related to some health issues recently. This sequel was too long at 500 pages though. In the first book, I was not bored with the action and there seemed to be a more cohesive journey and mission for Shiori. In this book, there are several side quests. It was too much and I basically got bored. I think if this book were half the length, it would have deserved it’s rather nice ending. This makes me rethink reading more from Lim as I think there was too many characters and quests in this book.
3/5 stars. Read April 5-8, 2023.
Vacationland by John Hodgman
I adore John Hodgman. Ten years ago, I started listening to his podcast Judge John Hodgman and it remains my absolute favourite podcast and one of my favourite things in general. I became a MaxFun supporter for the show. He is so considerate and humanist on that podcast. I like his sometimes streams of Get Your Pets and Zoning Out where he plays Sim City. He is so chill and compassionate when interacting with guests. In the past few months, I have been suffering from insomnia and to help me sleep or keep me company in the bad nights, I’ve relistened to a lot of the JJHO again. I was running out of episodes so I decided to get the audiobooks. This one was good. I missed some of it when I fell asleep in the middle but I liked the start and the end especially the reflections on his mother’s passing.
4.5/5 stars. Audiobook.
This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki and illustrated by Jillian Tamaki
This was part of a banned books list. I didn’t realize until I started it that I had already read another graphic novel from Mariko Tamaki. This was well illustrated. It’s a coming of age story and realistic with some of the dialogues by the younger leads. There is a teen pregnancy storyline which was okay. I preferred more the dynamics between the lead and her mother. In any case, a nice book.
3/5 stars. Read April 22-23, 2023.
The Cat Who Saved Books by S?suke Natsukawa
A cute, cozy novel. Low stakes. For bibliophiles. I gave this a generous 3.5 when most of the book is a firm 3. I liked the ending.
3.5/5 stars. Read April 27-30, 2023.
I have been waiting to read this for awhile and did make time for it this holiday season.
I know this subject well. I was familiar with some of the studies and academics cited in this book. I read a lot of sociology apparently. On a more personal note, I have tried more than one online dating site, Tindr, and speed dating. I quit online dating a year ago. Due to some personal experiences, I have taken a break from the whole dating scene altogether. One of the reasons was exhaustion and a general jadedness with the sites and dating in general. I hate the games being played. I could relate to a lot of the book talked about. I also felt and did things differently, but I’m still single so I guess that did not work either.
I digress. I liked this book. It was funny and informative. It also walked the line between being depressingly realistic, but also optimistic. I felt that Ansari delivered some harsh facts about dating in the modern age and around the world, but he noted the positives. He ended it on a high note as well. I generally read a lot of sociology and relationship books any way. This was definitely one of the easiest ones to read in terms of comprehension and tone. It was fun.
I recommend it since it does give a lot of insight on people today, not just about dating. I would even reread this book. Instead, I decided to get the audiobook.
Read January 1-2nd, 2016 on Kindle.
I read this got rave reviews and I had heard excerpts from podcasts. I enjoyed it and in fact, for some people, I’d recommend it over the book. I think it is more entertaining and captures all the informational aspects just as well. It is more personal too.
Listened January 7-17 2016.
I am going through my Sedaris kick especially his audiobooks. It’s rather difficult to review his books and essays as you either get his sense of humour or you don’t. This one is even more family oriented than the others of his I have read. I’m actually less partial to his family stories, but they are still amusing and elicit some gems.
I do laugh while listening to his essays. He is a great reader. One of my favourites was “Six to Eight Black Men” which Sedaris performed live. I always like listening to live things and it feels you’re laughing along to others. I just think I like listening to other people’s laughs.
Sedaris is a strange man who has an interesting mind. He writes things which most people would not ever put to words or speaking, but I often suspect we all have strange tendencies. It’s a quirky way of looking at people and the innate humour of life.
Listened to on audiobook June 5-9, 2013.
Another humorous book of essays by Mr Sedaris. I first read Sedaris’s books in 2008 with his When You are Engulfed with Flames. He appears in the Best American Travel Writing series a lot, but reading one of his books is different altogether as you get immersed with his worldview and humor. This was my fourth or fifth of his books that I read, and I bought Me Talk Pretty One Day, but had to leave it in England with all the rest of the books I bought there (save my Completed Works of Shakespeare). I wish I had kept it because I think the aforementioned are two of my favourites of his.
There are always at least a couple of gems in his collected essays. I am wondering if Sedaris is getting more and more grumpy as he ages. He was in town two years ago, but I didn’t manage to go at the time and I was turned off by the idea that he was going to be crowded. It was from photos I saw of the event, but I regret not going because as written in this book and in interviews, Sedaris is very engaging to his fans.
This was the first of his books that I heard in audiobook form, and I’m surprised again why I hadn’t done this sooner. He has been Grammy nominated for a reason. I’ve already put in a library request for another of his books on CD.
Continue reading →
In 2008, I listened to Outlander by Diana Gabaldon on audiobook and liked it. The audiobooks are excellent; they are narrated by Davina Porter. She does such a great job that sometimes when I am reading the books, I hear her voice for the character’s. Back in November 2011, I decided to finish what I started with this series. I read Dragonfly in Amber, Voyager, and Drums of Autumn, books 2-4 of the Outlander series, and listened to some of it on audiobook too in a very short amount of time. I also read The Exile – an Outlander graphic novel in December.
I was up to chapter 22 of The Fiery Cross (Book 5) but didn’t pick it up again until this month. It was in my Kindle which never helps since I get distracted by books from the library, by movies/tv, or life.
Since I have The Scottish Prisoner from the library, I decided I should at least finish TFC before starting another Outlander universe book.
I try not to be too spoilery in my book reviews, but with a book series, it’s even harder. I have put my thoughts on the three books under the cut, but the spoilers are very mild.
As a general review of the series, the books usually start off slowly and build up momentum so they can be hard to put down. This series’ time travel aspects appeals to me greatly, and I tend to like books about characters transplanted from one era to another in fiction. It makes for fascinating drama.
I also think there was a lot of good character and historical developments at this period of the books. The characters were in Scotland, France, the Caribbean and colonial America. I find this series to be one of the better ones I have read in the last few years. They are detail-oriented, well researched, and long. Also, I really enjoy the characters; I’ve grown quite attached to almost all of them.
There are a lot of characters in this series, but they are all mostly well written. Gabaldon also has a way of balancing her five or so main characters. Giving them each perspective. I also like how flawed each of them are, but weirdly relatable even though all of them are from a different time than I have experienced.
Unlike some books in other series, Gabaldon’s endings aren’t edge of the seat cliffhangers, but they do make you intrigued about what will happen next. The endings usually prove satisfying and also set up for future things.
Onto my mini reviews of books 5 to 7.
I reviewed all four novels and six short story collections as I heard them on unabridged audiobooks narrated by John Telfer. I started the first book in early July and finished mid September; that is a lot if listening. I enjoyed it for the most part. I really think Sir Arthur Conan Doyle has an ability to entice. Even though I found myself predicting the results of some of the mysteries, I still liked how he delivered Holmes’s deduction and explanation at the end. I grew to really appreciate the Holmes character as the series went on. Though, I must admit the earlier short story collections are the best.
As for the audiobooks, I was pleased with Tefler’s ability to transition between the characters. I’ve only really listened to a handful of audiobook narrators by this point, and I like the medium immensely. Those that are chosen or choose this line of voice acting really are adept to it. Tefler had a variety of accents and voice tones. Though, his American accent and voice is exactly the same every time which is more amusing than anything.
My favourite novel was The Hound of the Baskervilles. My favourite of the short story collections was probably The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes if only because I started to really like Holmes in this collection. I do think that each of the short story collections has at least one notable or interesting case that emphasises the characters or plots.
The reviews in canon and chronological order. Most of the books are reviewed together with another one.
The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes is the second of the Sherlock Holmes short stories has his first case (as recounted to Watson), another early case, and introductions to Sherlock’s brother Mycroft and his archnemeis Professor Moriarty. It’s not as varied as The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, but it does have a couple of interesting cases. It reveals a lot about the Holmes so I think it’s worth the read in the canon. By this book, I find more reasons to adore Holmes and the Watson/Holmes relationship.
The Hound of the Baskervilles is the most famous of the Sherlock Holmes novels and has his most famous case. Of the three novels and one short story collection I have read so far, I am inclined to agree at least with the former. It is a rather good stand alone novel as you may not get the background on Holmes or Watson, but their characters are easily sketched. This novel has more than one mystery, and more red herrings as a result. The earlier two novels were not as layered. It is very gothic. Why is Devonshire so gothic? I guess it is the moors. Watson shines in this novel particularly. I think my appreciation of these stories and characters were cemented in this novel. The pacing, mystery, and likeability of this novel were all there.
The first short story collection with most of the famous cases being detailed here. I can understand why many find the short stories better than the novels as a whole. Holmes is better is in short, small doses. He seems more humanized and emotional in these stories. Though he is still obviously cold and conceited, but more tolerably so. I really adored this collection. More than ever I think Holmes and Watson are the perfect duo. Holmes is sangfroid while Watson is affable and more socially reasoned. Though, Conan Doyle definitely has themes, and my excessive reading and tv and movie watching have enabled me to predict the real culprits of his mysteries more than once. Also, he is a bit of a formula because in this collection, there is not one, but three short stories of crazy fathers or stepfathers. The repetition does not bother me, I rather like reading the Holmes’s methodology of reaching it. I have already started the next in the canon and will finish the series before the end of next month I expect.