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!

Friday Reads ~ in which reading happens but nothing is finished

I’ve been reading this week, but there is one problem with reading three books at once: when you start all three books at the start of a week, chances are low that any of them will be completed by the end of the week. (Well, okay, I technically started all of these books last week. However, it was at the very end of last week, so the same sentiment applies.)


Nothing. Or everything… everything currently in progress, that is. But as I mentioned above, I didn’t actually finish anything.


My current audio book is Going Rogue by Drew Hayes, the third in the Spells, Swords, and Stealth series. I’m not looking forward to finishing this one, because the fourth book isn’t out yet and finishing this one means I’ll have to wait for the next one. Oh well.

I’m reading another Cat Mystery for my paper book, this one being Black Cat Crossing by Kay Finch. It’s highly amusing so far, though at least in part because the main character is a mystery writer and so she keeps finding plot ideas in the actual happenings around her.

And I’m reading the ebook Beware the Wrath of Bunny Hopper by Lazette Gifford. It’s got some good humor in it, but so far the best humor is the title. I haven’t gotten all that far into it yet, though. It is interesting reading about Bunny’s family dynamics, though there’s been no wrath yet.


I’m still planning on reading Connie Willis’ Bellwether when I finish with my current paper book. I’m not sure what my next audio book will be, but I’m still leaning toward The Search For Exoplanets, a Great Courses lecture series by Joshua N. Winn.

And for ebooks… I’ve determined that my best strategy for reading ebooks is to not make any plans. When I’ve finished the one I’m reading now, I’ll start whatever is most appealing at the time. We’ll have to wait and see what that is.

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 finish a few things

Well, I finished a few things, but haven’t written any reviews yet. I’ll hopefully catch up to that again soon.


I finished my ebook read of Xenation: Draw The Line by Lazette Gifford. I really enjoyed that one. It had a great plot and alien lifeforms. There were more typos than there should have been, though, so I’m not impressed with that aspect of it. (Makes me wonder if Gifford had a different editor for this one than for Kat Among the Pigeons, because that book had few typos by comparison.)

I also finished listening to The Medieval World (Great Courses lecture series) by Dorsey Armstrong. There was more background history than I expected, though now that I think about it I’m not sure why this was the case. There should be history in this lecture series. I guess I had expected more about everyday life and the arts and less about the history. (There were lectures on those aspects too. Just not as many as there were on history.) The lecturer also has a lot of places where she stumbles over a word and then says it again – as you would expect in an actual lecture, but not generally considered to be ok for an audio book. (This aspect really annoyed me.) And in addition, she reads a lot of quotes from period manuscripts. (This makes sense.) She tends to read them in the original language and then translate them into modern English. This made sense the first few times, but gradually came to feel like showing off that she speaks and can translate Old English. (It probably isn’t, since I know the original language has nuances that translations don’t, but it got annoying.) Anyway. It’s a good series of lectures with a lot of information in them. But maybe space them out and only listen to one lecture at a time instead of letting the audio play through multiple lectures at once.


I am still reading my same paper book – Doctor Who: The City of Death by James Goss and Douglas Adams. It’s enjoyable, but isn’t adding as much to the show’s plot as I had hoped. There’s a little more depth than the TV show, but not as much as I wanted. Oh well, it’s still a fun romp.

I just started listening to Split The Party (Spells, Swords, & Stealth #2) by Drew Hayes. I really liked the first one of these books, so the second will hopefully be fun, too.

And I am still reading Farstep Station by Lazette Gifford on my eReader. Haven’t gotten far enough in it yet to have too much of an opinion on it, so I’ll save that for next time.


I have a couple of eBooks queued up, but I’m not sure in which order I’ll read them. It could be:

  • Dragon’s Egg by Robert L Forward
  • Wool by Hugh Howey
  • The Video Game Plotline Tester by Michael Atamanov
  • Schooled in Magic by Christopher Nutall
  • Glory by Devin O’Branagan
  • Once Upon a Coffee by Kait Nolan

… or it could be one of the book samples I have (Shadowbound by Bec McMaster or Dark Desires by Eve Silver). I’m really not sure yet, but it will be something I already own. (I hope.)

My next audio book will either be another crack at All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot (I only got about 1/4 the way through on my first attempt) or something else fun. Perhaps The Accidental Alchemist by Gigi Pendian or perhaps I’ll buy the third Drew Hayes book in the Spells, Swords, & Stealth series. (I think that’s Going Rogue, but I don’t own it yet.)

My next paper book – which I should be able to get to soon – will be another cat mystery book. Maybe Rest in Pieces (Mrs. Murphy #2) by Rita Mae Brown.

Have a great weekend!

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.

Friday Reads ~ in which a holiday week leaves little time for reading

Happy Friday! With Tuesday being a holiday here in the States, you’d have thought that would give me much more time for reading than usual. However, since I spent most of the 4th knitting and visiting with friends instead of reading, that means that I got less reading done than usual. (My usual reading time these days is my commute (audio book), my lunch break (paper or ebook), and at work when I have busy work to do (audio book).) So nothing has been finished since last week, but I am still enjoying all the books I was reading last week.

As a quick recap:


The Medieval World, a Great Courses lecture series by Dorsey Armstrong

Doctor Who: City of Death by James Goss and Douglas Adams

Xenation: Draw the Line by Lazette Gifford

All are still fun. I’m making progress on each, but not enough on any to have a clear decision made on what to read after I finish any of them. Still, for this week at least I will focus on enjoying the books I’m currently reading instead of trying to look ahead to what I want to read next.

Have a great weekend!

Friday Reads ~ in which I play catch-up

First off, I have been catching up on reviews. I think I’ve finished all of them now (until I finish another book). I finished my review of NPH’s Choose Your Own Autobiography, which can be found here. I also wrote my review of Drew Hayes’ NPCs, which is here. My review of Down Among the Sticks and Bones is here, and Astrophysics for People in a Hurry is reviewed here.


I finished The Cat Who Saw Red by Lilian Jackson Braun (Cat Who #4) and was amused that the murder in this murder mystery wasn’t officially a murder until the very end of the book. That’s a different turn of events for a murder mystery. My full review of the book is here, and I’ll be taking a brief break from Cat Who books for now.

In addition, I have read some great web-based short fiction this week. My friend Chris posted links to two stories in particular which caught my interest: this one about a sorcerer and a teeny dragon (WANT!!), and this one about the red strings of fate which link two soulmates together. (Wiki article about the strings of fate) If you haven’t read those, you should go check them out.


I’m currently listening to The Medieval World by Dorsey Armstrong, one of the Great Courses lecture series. I haven’t gotten very far yet (this particular one is a longer series of lectures than the one I listened to previously) but I’m enjoying it so far. There’s a lot more depth to the subject than you’re ever taught in regular classes (aka the classes you’ll take unless you take a college course specifically on the Middle Ages) and I’m enjoying getting into the background of what made the Medieval period what it was. (I’m not out of the background stage yet – told you it was a longer lecture series.)

I’m also currently reading Doctor Who: City of Death, novelized by Douglas Adams and James Goss from the screenplay by Davis Fisher. This is a book that Mr. Wyrm gave me (I think last Christmas?) because we keep repeatedly watching the episode with Whovian friends of ours, having forgotten that we watched it together before. In any case, the book starts out being a very definite mix of Adams and Who, and I’m curious to see how it expands upon the plot of the show. It really has to expand upon the plot of the show, because so much of the show was random shots of them running through Paris. (Our friends all joke about how they had to establish the location without a doubt, since they spent the money to film on location.)

And my ebook is still Xenation: Draw the Line by Lazette Gifford, but I have done more reading of it than is usual for me on a non-short-story ebook. Which means so far, so good. I’m certainly enjoying the world-building of this one.


I think I’ll listen to another fiction audio book after this. I tend to stay most interested when I switch up my audio book genres, so that sounds like a good plan to me. I’m not sure which fiction audio book I’ll listen to next, though. Quite likely (thought not definitely) Split the Party, Drew Hayes’ sequel to NPCs.

My next ebook will be Video Game Plotline Tester (The Dark Herbalist book #1) by Michael Atamanov because I got sucked in by an Amazon ad for it. It turns out that what I’ve considered RPG fantasy stories (aka Ready Player One by Ernest Cline or Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson) are part of a new genre called LitRPG. It seems that LitRPG is mostly supposed to be set in MMO games, but frankly I think it could apply equally well to tabletop games (like Drew Hayes’ NPCs). Anyway, the genre caught my attention, as did that book in particular, so that will be my next ebook.

For paper books… I have no idea. I liked what I did last time, which was to go to my TBR pile and grab something at random. I might do that again this time. OR… I might re-read something. The Medieval World has me interested in re-reading The Canterbury Tales, so maybe I’ll read that (again) next.