Friday Reads ~ 13 October 2017

Happy Friday the 13th! I’ve always been partial to Friday the 13th and black cats, so today makes me happy instead of scared. Friday the 13th in the same month as Halloween is awesome. (And please tell me you haven’t fallen into the “this year Halloween is ON Friday the 13th!” MEMEs that are going around social media…)

Anyway. On with the books!

WHAT I READ

I finished reading Eddie Izzard’s Believe Me: A Memoir of Love, Death, and Jazz Chickens. (Sadly, the Jazz Chickens weren’t very prominent in the book.) It was a really neat look at how Izzard got to where he is now, and it’s not necessarily what you might think. I thought, as many others might have, that he got known as a comedian because he’s transgender. And maybe he grew some of his audience that way — but he got to be a stand-up comedian in the first place through sheer determination. He didn’t come up publicly about being trans until after he’d already gotten going in comedy. He goes into a lot of deeper topics than you might expect, though there are still threads of humor throughout most of the book. This was a really good read, and it’s a book I’m considering purchasing for both future reference and for family members to read.

I also finished reading the 4th Nancy Drew book, The Mystery at Lilac Inn. This was a fast read — though I’m sure it took me longer to read it when I was in the target age range. I can’t say about the series in general, but this particular one wasn’t too dated as far as gender stereotypes. Granted, the characters are all white, but at least the protagonist is a kick-ass girl. Given the age of the book that’s gotta count for something. (It was first published in 1930. WOW! I never realized it was quite that old. However, upon further reading, it was revised in the ’60s, so maybe they made it more PC at that time. I’ve only ever read the second version.)

And I finished listening to All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot. (Finally.) This one was a hard one to read. Parts of it I liked a lot, other parts I couldn’t stand. I guess that balances out to a 3-star read (out of 5). Still, I’m glad to have read it. And quite possibly gladder that I’m done with it. There will be plenty of people who like this book better than I do, but I had no love for the detailed descriptions of how to deliver a calf, over and over again. It seemed the beginning of the book told the same story repeatedly with only minor differences. Also, I can’t stand Siegfried. I know people who are like him and never listen to what you’re saying (or remember anything inconvenient to them). There were times I thought I’d give up for good due solely to that character.

WHAT I’M READING

Still working on Robert Forward’s Dragon’s Egg. Because I’m back to my slow ereader pace, it seems.

I’ve also started the 5th Nancy Drew book, The Secret of Shadow Ranch. I’m guessing it won’t take me very long to finish this one. And I am also guessing that this will be my last foray back into Nancy Drew books for a while. I could read them one after another when I was a kid, but now… not so much.

And my new audio book is Please Don’t Tell My Parents I’m a Supervillain by Richard Roberts. I needed something completely different from All Creatures Great & Small, and I think this is that. I love the premise, but am not far into the book yet. Fingers crossed!

WHAT I’LL READ NEXT

Okay, I’ve kinda stalled out on The Woman Warrior by Maxine Hong Kingston. That will be what I focus on finishing next, library books or no library books. (I’ll work on my library books again after I finish TWW.)

My next audio book will probably be either The Inexplicable Universe by Neil deGrasse Tyson or Across the Nightingale Floor by Lian Hearn, depending on whether I want fiction or non. I want to listen to books I’ve already purchased, so that I can take advantage of Audible’s return program if I find something I really don’t like.

Have a great weekend!

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Friday Reads ~ 6 October 2017

I guess I didn’t do a Friday Reads last week. Huh. Oh well, that means there will be more to report today.

WHAT I READ

I finished listening to The Spaceship Next Door by Gene Doucette. It was a really enjoyable book! My initial thought about this book was that the pacing was slow in the beginning. However, by about 1/3 of the way in, I appreciated the pacing, and by half-way the pacing had gradually picked up while still maintaining the “deliberate” feel it had at the beginning. Something about the pace completely matched the story for me. If I had an issue with this book, it’s that I had trouble adjusting to the (male) narrator’s choice of voice for 16-year-old Annie. I got over it, but I think I would have enjoyed the beginning of the book more had I been reading it instead of listening to it. (Full review is here.)

I read a paper copy of It Itches: A Stash of Knitting Cartoons by Franklin Habit. This is an amusing cartoon and essay collection, though it’s best suited to a knitter (or someone who loves a knitter).

I also listened to My Favorite Universe, a Great Courses lecture series by Neil deGrasse Tyson. This is a fun science non-fiction book, but it’s a bit more simplistic than the ones I’ve been listening to lately. (Example: it touches on some of the same things that Dr. Tyson talks about in Astrophysics for People in a Hurry, but in less detail and depth.) This is still worth listening to, just be aware that it’s the equivalent of an entry-level lecture series as compared with some of the other Great Courses lecture series. (Full review is here.)

WHAT I’M READING

I’m still working on The Woman Warrior by Maxine Hong Kingston. That one is still on pause, though, because I haven’t yet finished Believe Me: A Memoir of Love, Death, and Jazz Chickens by Eddie Izzard, which is a library book and so has a due date. It’s a fun book, and if you’re a fan of his stand-up you will recognize some of the stories. However, don’t expect this to be a written version of his stand-up show. It’s more real than the shows, and has more depth to it. Still funny, but it’s serious also. It’s a good read so far.

I started listening to All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot again. I picked up where I left off, and I decided that this time I’ll either finish it or DNF it. (It’s been hibernating for quite some time.) I can see where it’s considered a classic, but I’m still not sure I’ll be able to finish this book.

And I’m still reading Dragon’s Egg by Robert Forward on my ereader. It’s a neat story, but I’ve been slacking on all non-audio books (paper and ebook) while I finish my library books. I’ll work on this more seriously soon.

WHAT I’LL READ NEXT

I kinda put in some more library book requests. So among my next reads will be The Girl Who Drunk the Moon by Kelly Barnhill, A Novel Way to Die by Ali Brandon (which apparently is Book 2 in the series but the title caught my eye so I’m starting here), and the Nancy Drew books I picked up. Because library books are shiny.

For audio… I have no idea. I have several audio books in queue, but I’ve been bad lately at predicting which one I’ll feel like when I finish the current one.

Friday Reads ~ September 22, 2017

Remember last week how I told you that I’d been focusing on The Woman Warrior to the exclusion of my other books? Well, this week I looked at how much was left to read of the Magical Cats book, and the fact that both it and the memoir that I checked out of the library had due dates, and so I have been reading other things this week. It helps that TWW is set up kinda as connected short stories or essays within the larger book, so that there are self-contained sections and I can easily pause between them.

WHAT I READ

This week I finished Curiosity Thrilled the Cat, the aforementioned Magical Cats #1 by Sophie Kelly. It was really cute, and a nice change to have actual magical cats in a cozy mystery. (Usually the cats are “abnormally smart” but otherwise normal cats. It gets unbelievable after a while.) The full review is here.

WHAT I’M READING

I am technically still reading The Woman Warrior by Maxine Hong Kingston. It’s not on a time-out or anything, just being paused while I read library books in an attempt to finish before the due date.

The same is true for my current ebook, Dragon’s Egg by Robert Forward. I can read this places when I don’t have my paper book with me, but I’m trying to focus on the last of the library books I have checked out right now.

Speaking of… said library book is Believe Me: A Memoir of Love, Death, and Jazz Chickens by Eddie Izzard. I love his comedy, and have seen many of his taped specials and one live show, so I’m hoping I’ll enjoy his memoir as well. (So far I do, at least.)

And my audio book is still The Spaceship Next Door by Gene Doucette. I haven’t been listening to it a lot this week, but the concept still fascinates me and I want to see where the book goes with it.

WHAT I’LL READ NEXT

Since I’m reading two paper books already, I think the “next” book is already in progress.

For ebooks and audio books, though, I’m not reading/listening fast enough to have any plans for the next one. We’ll see when I get there.

Friday Reads ~ September 15, 2017

This is two weeks worth of reading, since last week was solely a Challenge Update Post. At least that means there will be something for each category — I wasn’t sure for a while there that I would have a “finished” book to report on. I’m still in a bit of a reading slump, but maybe the change in weather will help with that.

I didn’t end up wanting to read the “Cat in the Stacks” book by Miranda James before it was due back to the library, so I returned it instead of renewing it. Maybe I’ll check it out again when I actually feel like reading it. (Well, to be fair, I felt like reading it when I checked it out this time, but the feeling faded before I finished the book I was in the middle of.)

WHAT I READ:

I finished Soul Ink by J.C. Nelson. I was… not thrilled with it. The main character (Marissa) was not someone I could relate to. The supporting characters were not much better. The plot was amusing, but it was buried under the questionable feeling I got from the characters, so it was hard to enjoy. Reading this makes me wonder why I liked the first book, and has prompted me to remove the second book from my TBR list.

WHAT I’M READING:

I’m still reading Curiosity Thrilled the Cat (Magical Cats mystery #1) by Sofie Kelly. Still finding it amusing.

However, after watching “Mulan” the other day, I really wanted to re-read The Woman Warrior by Maxine Hong Kingston. (I read that in sophomore year of high school, and the general impression of it stuck with me.) So since I haven’t been able to stop thinking about that book, I paused the Magical Cats book and started reading the Kingston book. It’s fascinating to compare the actual book with my memories of it.

And on my e-reader I’m still working on Dragon’s Egg by Robert L. Forward. It seems like it’s going to be a neat book, but I haven’t gotten too far into it yet. (Been working on the Kingston book more than any of the others.)

My current audio book is The Spaceship Next Door by Gene Doucette. So far it’s amusing as well, but I have a slight concern that the narrator won’t work for me as far as the girl’s voice. Some men can do female voices well, and some can’t. The jury’s still out in this case. (This of course is also true of women with male voices, and narrators of different ages than their characters, etc.) Still, the book’s plot is interesting, and I’m enjoying the story.

WHAT I’LL READ NEXT:

I think my next paper book will be another re-read. Something about the slow change to fall weather gets me nostalgic, and I think I will encourage that this year with comfort books. Maybe I’ll pick up The Prydain Chronicles and re-read those.

As for audio and e-books, I have no idea at this point of what I’ll decide to pick up next.

Friday Reads ~ 2017 Reading Challenge Update

We’re into the end of the third quarter of the year now, so instead of another weekly post about what I’m currently reading (you’ll get another one of those next week, probably) I thought it was a good time to do a look at where I am with my 2017 Reading Challenge Goals.

You may recall that I had two goals for this year:

  1. Read 75% new books
  2. Read 10 Cat Mystery books

I also have a book quantity goal listed on Goodreads, but that’s not something I am tracking here. In any case, how am I doing on my challenge goals?

Read 75% new books

I have read a total of 49 books so far this year. (This total is not counting short stories. I know that Goodreads counts them, but I am not tracking them here.)

Only 8 of these 49 books have been ones I’ve read before, so that means 83.67% of my books this year (so far) have been new books. I’d say I’m doing very well on that part of the challenge!

Read 10 Cat Mystery books

I have read 6 cat mystery books so far this year. 2 more have been checked out of the library and 1 more is on my TBR pile. If I finish all of those, that’s a total of 9. I’ll still need to pick up one more, but that seems doable. I just need to stay interested in cat mysteries…

I think I’m in a good place to succeed at my challenge this year. It’s nice to know that I can set reasonable goals for myself when I try. (Last year’s reading challenge forced me to think about what exactly defined “reasonable”…)

Have a great weekend!

Friday Reads ~ September 1, 2017

Happy September! I hope you’ve all managed to stay safe in this past week’s crazy weather.

WHAT I READ

I finished listening to The Search for Exoplanets: What Astronomers Know by Joshua Winn. It’s one of the Great Courses lecture series, and is one of the better sets of lectures, IMO. It was very easy to listen to (even with all the formulae) and provided some great depth to knowledge I thought I already had.

WHAT I’M READING

When I finished the lecture series, I started listening to The Accidental Alchemist by Gigi Pandian. I haven’t gotten very far into it yet, so don’t have an opinion to give yet.

I’m still reading J.C. Nelson’s Soul Ink on my ereader. It’s amusing, but not a quick page-turner for me. And it’s making me seriously reconsider reading book 2 in the series. I can’t remember, reading this short, why I enjoyed the first book enough to give it 4 stars on Goodreads. Maybe the novelty of having a Fairy Godfather instead of godmother? Maybe the world-building? I’m certainly not enjoying the characters 4-stars-worth. Hmm.

And I’m still reading my library’s copy of Curiosity Thrilled the Cat by Sophie Kelly. Also amusing, but not what I’d call deep. I’m hoping this is a fast fluff read. (The alternate is that it becomes a slog, where I’m amused every time I pick it up, but dread picking it up.)

WHAT I’LL READ NEXT

I think my next audio book will switch back to non-fiction. This F/NF alternating has been working well so far. It will probably be a Great Courses lecture series by Neil deGrasse Tyson for my next audio book.

My next paper book will likely be the Miranda James “Cat in the Stacks” book I picked up from the library. I forget which one it is. On the other hand, I still might pick up a comfort re-read book, and read that instead. We’ll have to see.

And I’ve given up predicting what ebook I’ll read next. I seem to do a very bad job at that.

Actually, given how I feel about my current paper and ebook choices, maybe I should shelve them all and dive into re-reads from my Keeper Shelf for a while.

Friday Reads ~ August 25, 2017

Last week I had a lot of books in the “finished” pile. Many of them had reviews up by the time the Friday Reads post went live; two did not. I’ll remedy that here:

My review for Going Rogue by Drew Hayes is here. (Quick recap: I loved it.)

My review for Beware the Wrath of Bunny Hopper by Lazette Gifford is here. (Quick recap: fun fluff book.)

WHAT I READ:

I didn’t finish it, but I am not feeling Charles Stross’ The Atrocity Archives right now. I’m moving this book back to the TBR list and returning it to the library. I had wanted a solid, meaty read when I started it, and then the news and work worlds went nuts and now I just want fluff. So… it’s going back to the library for now, and I’ll pick it up again later. I might try the audio book, because sometimes the narration can help with deeper books. We’ll see.

WHAT I’M READING:

I picked up Curiosity Thrilled the Cat by Sofie Kelly last time I went to the library, and it seems like the kind of fun fluff read I’m looking for right now. Plus, it will count for my Cat Mystery Challenge.

I am still listening to (and greatly enjoying) The Search for Exoplanets: What Astronomers Know by Joshua Winn. Weirdly, this isn’t impacted by my “I want fluff reads!” thing going on right now. I guess non-fiction is okay? Or learning science is a great way to combat the yucky news stuff? That, or the lecturer (Joshua) is just quite good at making deep stuff relatable. In any case, I’m enjoying it, and while I already knew a lot of it (which partly comes from having friend who’s an astronomer) there is more that I either didn’t know or which I now have a deeper understanding of than I did before. And I’ve still got over half of the lecture series to go.

And my ereader still has Soul Ink by J.C. Nelson on it. This is a fluff read too, though of the paranormal variety instead of the mystery one, so it should go pretty quickly. I hope.

WHAT I’LL READ NEXT:

I’m still not sure what my next audio book will be. I might want more non-fiction (in which case I’ll listen to one of Neil deGrasse Tyson’s lecture series) or I might be in the mood for fiction, in which case Gigi Pandian’s The Accidental Alchemist is the most likely candidate.

For paper books, I suspect I’ll still want a fluff read. Or maybe a comfort read. I haven’t done any book re-reads lately, so maybe I’ll pick up a comfort read off my keeper shelf and read that. Or I might read the Miranda James “Cat in the Stacks” book I picked up from the library.

Have a great weekend!