Friday Reads ~ 20 October 2017

I didn’t finish any books this week. I made some good progress on my paper book, but that’s about it. I’m finishing up something career-related, but that should be finished (I hope) by the end of this weekend, so I’m hoping to have more time for reading next week. Of course, then we head in to NaNo-November, so reading time might drop again…


I’ve been making most of my reading progress this week on The Woman Warrior by Maxine Hong Kingston. I’m really enjoying this re-read, and I find I remember more of the book than I thought I would. It’s been over 20 years since I read it (I think?), and I think I only read it the once, so I guess it really stuck with me for me to remember it this well.

I’m still reading Dragon’s Egg by Robert Forward and listening to Please Don’t Tell My Parents I’m a Supervillain by Richard Roberts. Both are still enjoyable. I’ve just been too busy to spend much time on them.


After I finish TWW, I’m going to start A Novel Way To Die by Ali Brandon. I still have a few books left to read on my cat mystery challenge, so I’m going to get going on that one.

Next ebook… who knows. I need to make more progress on my current one before I can decide that. Same goes for my next audio book. Please Don’t Tell My Parents is a longer book than I expected it to be when I started it (yes, I glossed over the part of the book info saying how many hours it was).

Have a great weekend!


Misc Monday ~ in which we talk about apps

It’s been a while since I had a post about smartphone apps, so let’s have another, shall we? First off, I have to start off by saying that we are an Apple family here, so I don’t have any apps on my list which aren’t on Apple’s list. Hopefully there is some Android cross-over for my non-Apple friends.

AutoSleep ~ I use this pretty much every night to track my sleep. It’s great: I can tell it when I go to bed, but I don’t have to. It figures it out based on things like whether I’m moving and whether my iPhone is in use. Then it tracks things like how restless I am and what my heart-rate is while I’m sleeping. (company website; Apple only?; paid app)

Paprika ~ LOVE this app! It’s what I use to organize my recipes. (I enjoy it enough that I have it on ALL of my devices.) I’m still working on typing in all of the recipes I have on hand-written cards, but it does make finding what I’m looking for — and trying new recipes — so much easier. (company website; Apple (iPhone, iPad, Mac), Android, Kindle Fire, Windows; paid app)

Crunch Time ~ This is a relatively standard match game, but it has Simon’s Cat illustrations. When you match chains of the same type of cat food/treat, they get fed to Simon’s Cat (and friends). Basic game, cute graphics. (website; Apple, Android; I think it’s free with add-on purchases?)

Pinterest ~ I’ve been loving pinning things. (I knew I would get addicted, which is why I took so long to sign up.) I’ve been trying to make myself try things from Pinterest, too, and have (off & on) done a decent job of that. But I like the app better than the website version of the site. (website; Apple, Android, online; free app)

Hamilton App ~ This is probably going to be a short-lived thing for me (since I’m not using it for the lottery entries) but it’s amusing for the moment. I think one of the things I like best is when the app is loading something it has a screen with the show logo and “WAIT FOR IT.” I love that song, so enjoy references to it. (website; Apple, Android; free app, though you can use it to buy things)

Tsuro ~ Neat game that really captures a board game feel on an app. This is one you can play socially, but I haven’t done that yet, instead only playing with the game’s AI. It’s got fun game mechanics, but above all it’s a pretty game. And easy to learn the basics of, as well! I think getting really good at it might take a bit more time than I’ve spent playing so far. (website; Apple, Android; I think this is a paid app that I got as a “game of the week” freebie… but I’m not sure)

That’s my current list. Do you have any favorite apps that I should check out?

Misc Monday ~ in which we have eclipse linkity

Let’s do some brief linkity about the Solar Eclipse today! Yes, I know, the eclipse was a week ago, but I had other plans for last week’s post.

First of all, the USPS has Solar Eclipse stamps! And when you heat them up (say, by holding your thumb over the image) you can see the moon! (Yes, I bought a sheet. They’re cool!)

The Oatmeal had a great comic about the eclipse. (safe for work for a change)

xkcd also had a fun comic. (be sure to hover over the image to see the alt text)

NASA had some great stuff about the eclipse. I particularly like the image with the ISS transit.

For myself, I didn’t see much through the clouds. It was still really neat, though!

Friday Reads ~ in which the accidental blog vacation is over (I think)

One good thing about a blog vacation is it means I can tell you about having finished a LOT of books without having to change my reading habits. So, we’ll start right off with the list!


I finished Kay Finch’s Black Cat Crossing. I enjoyed this, but I enjoyed it more for the cat shenanigans than the cozy mystery. I certainly didn’t care about the main character’s aunt getting accused of murder. (full review is here)

I also finished Beware the Wrath of Bunny Hopper by Lazette Gifford. This was a silly book. But it also had some more serious points, and it touched on real issues in its lighthearted way.

I also finished the first book I picked up specifically because it was a LitRPG book and I was curious about the official genre: Videogame Plotline Tester by Michael Atamanaov. It was… NOT a fun book. It was, in many ways, tedious. I finished it partly in the hopes that it would get better (it wasn’t that long) and partly because I enjoyed the game inside the book. Reading the book was kinda like watching someone play the game, though the descriptions weren’t particularly vivid. I will not be going back to this series or author. If this is “great LitRPG” as some reviewers claimed, I may find myself avoiding the genre entirely. (For the record, a huge reason why I tried the official genre is because I enjoyed Niven’s Dream Park many years ago and Hayes’ NPCs more recently. Both of those books have been called LitRPG too, though both of those are first and foremost GOOD BOOKS. Makes a difference.) (full review is here)

I also finished Bellwether by Connie Willis. (Thank you to Chris for the recommendation.) It was a fascinating book in several ways — for one, it’s always nice for a knitter to read a book that has sheep in it, and I learned stuff about sheep I never knew. For another, this is billed as a science fiction book, but it would be better described as a fiction book about science. I don’t think I’ve run into one of those before. And for another, I enjoyed the way it was written and the way each chapter had a paragraph about a prior fad as introduction. Fun stuff. (full review is here)

And I also finished Going Rogue by Drew Hayes. (#3 in the series started by NPCs and continued in Split the Party.) I am really loving this series. I really want to see where the story goes from here. There’s so much going on in Book 3 that the next one could go in so many directions. This is definitely my favorite series that I’ve read in 2017 to date.


Soul Ink (Grimm Agency #1.5) by J.C. Nelson is on my ereader at the moment. I enjoyed the first book (Free Agent) so I thought I’d try the short which followed it and see if I liked that enough to continue with the series. (I read the first book long enough ago that I no longer remember if I planned to read book 2 or not.) So far, I’m enjoying it, but still haven’t decided about book 2. That tells me that book 2 will be on my TBR list, but not terribly high up in priority.

My current audio book is The Search for Exoplanets (a Great Courses lecture series) by Joshua Winn. I haven’t gotten too far into it yet, but this aspect of astronomy is something that has fascinated me for a while, so I’m really curious to see where it goes.

And I just started The Atrocity Archives (Laundry Files #1) by Charles Stross (also recommended by Chris). It’s got a great premise and good reviews, so I have hopes that I’ll enjoy this one. (Also, it’s a library book, so I can’t take too long reading it.)


Depending on whether or not I’ve temporarily had enough science after this audio book, I’ll either listen one of the two Great Courses lecture series by Neil deGrasse Tyson I picked up earlier this week (one of them was the Audible Daily Deal) or… something else. I’m thinking that Gigi Pandian’s The Accidental Alchemist will be my next fiction audio book. (Just not sure if I’ll be going back to fiction after this non-fiction, or not.)

My next paper book will be one of the other library books I picked up: No Cats Allowed (Cat in the Stacks #4) by Miranda James or Curiosity Thrilled the Cat (Magical Cats Mystery #1) by Sofie Kelly. I’m not sure which yet, and I might even change my mind on these and return them to the library unread. However, this is the current plan.

For ebooks, I’m not sure what will be next. I have a few more of Lazette Gifford’s works, and I’ve been enjoying those so I might go with another of her ebooks. Or I might start Dragon’s Egg by Robert L. Forward. We’ll see.

In the meantime, it’s good to be back on the blog. Have a great weekend!

in which there is an accidental blog vacation

Well, I hadn’t meant to take a blog vacation, but I’m in the middle of one. I haven’t been blogging. I haven’t been feeling like blogging. But I also didn’t want anyone to worry where I was.

So – welcome to my blog vacation! I’ll probably be back from my blog vacation next week sometime. Maybe not until the week after that. We’ll have to see.

Have a great week (or two)!

Friday Reads ~ in which we have another review catch-up

I had previously finished reading Xenation: Draw the Line and Farstep Station, both by Lazette Gifford. At the time, I didn’t have the time or energy to write book reviews for them. I’ve since found both time and energy, though. The reviews for each book can be found in the links in their titles above.

And a quick update on the 2017 Reading Challenge: I have finished reading 5 of 10 Cat Mystery books, and have started my 6th. I’ve also read 81.4% new books this year, which is over my 75% goal for the year. I guess I haven’t been as tempted to re-read books as in years past! We’ll see if I can keep that up, though. All it will take is getting into one long series of books I’ve already read to throw that off… and I’ve been considering re-reading The Chronicles of Prydain this year. That would mess up my percentage right there.


This week I finished reading Doctor Who: City of Death by James Goss (full review is here). It was enjoyable, though not a new favorite book. (Mostly because it’s not a favorite episode of Doctor Who.) The writing was good and the humor was great, though, even if it isn’t my favorite story plot.

I also finished the audio book Split the Party, the second of Drew Hayes’ Spells, Swords, and Stealth series. (The review is here.) Love it! This one is a new favorite book, and it (as well as the first in the series, NPCs) is in the running for Favorite Book Read in 2017.


As soon as I finished Split the Party, I started listening to Going Rogue, the third Spells, Swords, & Stealth book. There’s a fourth one coming out either later this year or next year, though the release date hasn’t been announced yet. I suspect this 4th book will be an instant purchase for me, too.

I also started to read Black Cat Crossing (A Bad Luck Cat Mystery #1) by Kay Finch. This will be another book for my Cat Mystery Reading Challenge. It’s amusing so far.

For ebooks, I just started Lazette Gifford’s Beware the Wrath of Bunny Hopper, mostly because the title made me laugh. I haven’t gotten far enough into it yet to tell you what I think of it other than that.


My next audio book might be another non-fiction book. I’m thinking it will be the Great Courses book The Search for Exoplanets by Joshua Winn. I’m not positive yet, though.

And my next paper book will almost certainly be Bellwether by Connie Willis. It’s been all I can do to not start reading it (even without having finished my current paper book) ever since Amazon delivered it to me.

Friday Reads ~ in which I discover a thing

Remember how a few weeks back I was trying to figure out why I had trouble getting into ebooks, and trying to find ways to trick myself into remembering that I had a ebook in progress so that I actually finished them? And then I decided to read a short story on my ereader because I seem to have better luck with short format ebooks than the longer ones?

Well. I discovered this week that what I was reading was NOT a short story. It was a book sample. However, by the time I discovered that, I was hoooked and have since been remembering to read my ebook. So maybe that’s the trick? Start with samples and see if I’m interested enough to keep going? This requires more research to confirm.


I didn’t technically finish any books. But I did finish the sample (first 8 chapters or so) of Xenation: Draw the Line by Lazette Gifford. Does that count?


I’m still reading Xenation, and still loving it. This has been a good choice for ebook (for me). It turns out you can buy the book in paperback form, too, but I’m sticking with the ebook. (Which is available on iBooks. I couldn’t remember my Smashwords account from when I got the sample, so I got the iBooks version instead.)

I’m still listening to The Medieval World lecture series by Prof. Dorsey Armstrong, as well. Still enjoying it, though I have been getting a bit annoyed that she will usually read quotes in their original Old English and then translate them into modern English. We don’t really need to hear the full quote in a language we don’t understand. (Though I did take a college course in Old English, so I do get some of it.) Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales has been fully translated into Modern English. Just read us that quote.

I’m also still reading Doctor Who: City of Death by James Goss and Douglas Adams. So far it has a lot of what was in the TV episodes with a little additional explanation and background. It’s enjoyable, but there are no surprises for me with this one, since I’ve seen the TV episodes several times.


My next ebook (yes, I have a plan for it this time!) will be Lazette’s Farstep Station, which (as far as I can tell) is set in the same world as Xenation though with different characters. It’s a fun world, so I’m interested in reading more.

I’ll almost certainly listen to Split the Party by Drew Hayes next, when I’m done with my current audio book. (That’s the sequel to NPCs.) I really enjoyed the first book, so I’m really excited to keep going in the series.

And for paper books… My Cat Mystery Reading Challenge needs me to read more books in that genre. So I think I’ll see which other books I own fit the bill for that category. (“Currently own” because I’m trying to whittle down my physical TBR pile, even though I do have a weakness for buying new books when I get too close to a book store…)

Have a great weekend! I’m hoping I get to spend mine with books and wine.