Misc Monday ~ in which we discuss reading preferences

Let’s talk books today. But not book reviews; let’s go with something more general. Specifically, genre. Do you have a favorite genre? How about a hated genre?

One of the items on my 101 in 1001 Challenge is to read a book in each of six genres (hard sci-fi, western, mystery, biography (non-memior), memoir, and science non-fiction). This is largely because, without any suggestions, reminders, or prompts to do otherwise, I would limit nearly all of my reading to fantasy (including its sub-genres) with the occasional foray into a cozy mystery.

Lately, though, I’ve discovered that I enjoy a well-written memoir. Notable recent memoirs which I have enjoyed include Carrie Fisher’s The Princess Diarist and Wishful Drinking; Neil Patrick Harris’ Choose Your Own Autobiography; Felicia Day’s You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost); and Jenny Lawson’s (aka The Bloggess) Let’s Pretend This Never Happened. It helps that, unlike many biographies, memoirs are written in a more human style. They’re more likely to include humor, and to be something the reader can relate to.

Realizing that I enjoy memoirs has made me wonder what other readings tastes have changed since I was young and developed my default genre preferences. I’ve tried reading “classics” with mixed success, so at least I know that my reading tastes haven’t COMPLETELY changed as I’ve aged. But in the specifics? I tend to think of my sci-fi preferences to be more science-fantasy than hard core science-fiction, but is that still true? And I’ve never read a western. Would I like it? We’ll have to see.

Have you noticed any of your reading preferences which have changed as you grew up? I know that some of my friends and I have discussed how our tolerances (for bad writing, for certain story tropes, etc) have changed, and we now have a hard time reading, much less enjoying, some of our favorite stories from childhood. But is that just that we’ve gotten more discerning as we gained experience, or have our genre preferences changed?

I don’t have any of the answers. But I do know that something is different, in the same way that I now sometimes choose to listen to news radio instead of music (on purpose!!) when I never made that choice as a younger person.

Friday Reads ~ in which I have ebook novel issues

So I’ve been reading a lot (for me) on my ereader lately. (aka Kindle app on my phone) This may speak to the content of what I’ve been reading, but I think it’s more likely related to the length of the ebook. I can read novellas or short stories quite happily on my Kindle app. For some reason full-length books are often harder for me to read digitally. And yet… not always. Sometimes they’re fine. I had been “reading” Paid in Gold and Blood by Lazette Gifford (full-length book) on my app, but never got past the first couple of pages. Various distractions would pop up, and because I knew it was a full-length book, I’d let myself be distracted. However, I know I’ve read a full-length book’s worth of short stories and novellas on my phone in the past month, so I don’t know what the mental hang-up is. I’m officially putting PIGAB in hibernation, and will come back to it when I’ve had more success with long-format ebooks.

WHAT I READ

I finished reading (aka listening to) Carrie Fisher’s Wishful Drinking. (Narrated by the author.) Listening to Carrie narrate this book was hard. There were a few moments (notably where she was talking about times when she had discussed her eventual death with younger friends) when I lost it. On the whole, though, it was a good tribute to a great person. (Full review is here.)

I also read the ebook short story Low Elf Esteem by Elliott James. This is Pax Arcana #0.08, and so falls before Charming and all the rest of the full-length books. It was a fun addition to the series. I’ve read all of the short stories I’m aware of in the series, and have enjoyed them all. Not as much as the novels, but they’re still fun.

WHAT I’M READING

I am, unbelievably, still reading The Cat Who Saw Red by Lilian Jackson Braun. I don’t know why this book is taking me so long to read. I think I need to sit down and make a concerted effort to finish it this weekend.

After finishing my prior audio book, I started listening to The Medieval World by Professor Dorsey Armstrong. It’s one of the Great Courses lecture series. So far so good!

And I started reading Xenation: Draw the Line on my Kindle app. It’s another of Lazette Gifford’s work, but this one is a novella instead of a full-length book. Hopefully I’ll have better luck with it.

WHAT I’LL READ NEXT

I picked up Split the Party on audio book, so that might be what I listen to next. (That’s the sequel to NPCs, which I finished and loved recently.) I have a variety of other audio books in the queue already, though, so I might go with one I’ve wanted to read for longer.

As far as ebooks, I’m going to wait and see how well I do with the short book I’ve got going now. If I can manage to use the Kindle app for reading a lot this week, I might move on to a longer book when I’m done with my current one. If not, though, I might be looking for more short stories.

And for paper books, I’m going to dive through my TBR pile (the physical one on my bookshelf) and choose whatever interests me most at the time. So I don’t know exactly what it will be, but I know where it will come from.

Friday Reads ~ in which lots was read but no reviews were written

I have finished a lot of reading this week, but I haven’t yet written up the reviews for any of those books. I plan to do that this weekend, so I’ll have the links to the review (hopefully) with next Friday’s post.

As far as a quick 2017 Reading Challenge update goes, you may remember that I’d decided to:

  1. read at least 75% new books; and
  2. read 10 cat mysteries

So far, I have read 4 cat mysteries (and am in the middle of my 5th) and have read 77.14% new books. I’d say I’m on track so far.

WHAT I READ:

Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire was released this week, and it put all my other reading on pause. It’s the second of the Wayward Children stories, and it provides back-story for Jack and Jill, two of the characters in the first story. I really enjoyed it, even though it’s more novella-length than novel-length. Definitely worth reading. The storytelling style is really neat, too.

And then because I hadn’t had enough of that world yet, I re-read Every Heart a Doorway, the first of McGuire’s Wayward Children stories. (That one I reviewed back when I read it the first time, and my original review is here.) Still love that story, too.

I also finished reading all of the InCryptid short stories that I can read without spoiling the rest of the series novels. So that’s done for a bit.

And I finished listening to NPCs by Drew Hayes, the first of the Spells, Swords, & Stealth series. That was A LOT OF FUN. If you are a D&D gamer, you should really read this one. If you are a DM, this is practically required reading. Granted, a lot of the story is pure fantasy novel and not game-related, but there are so many little jabs at the game (AND ITS PLAYERS) that make it a lot of fun. I’ll be continuing with this series. And the narration (by Roger Wayne) was a lot of fun, too.

WHAT I’M READING:

I’m currently listening to Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher. It’s enjoyable. It’s eye-opening. It’s still darned hard to listen to her narrate her own life.

I’m also still reading The Cat Who Saw Red by Lilian Jackson Braun. Still fun, but the Cat Who books can be a little formulaic if you read too many of them in too quick a succession. I’ll be taking a short break from this series after this book.

WHAT I’LL READ NEXT:

My next audio book will probably be a Great Courses lecture series. I’m not sure which one yet, though. Audible had a 2-for-1 sale on the Great Courses series, so I have a few of them to choose from.

My next paper book will be… hopefully fun. I’m not sure what it will be, to be honest. I think I’ll be taking a break from cat mysteries for a book or two, but that’s about as far as I can guess right now.

Have a great weekend!

Friday Reads ~ in which I can’t read the inside of my eyelids

Sleep. It’s a wonderful thing. I never seem to get enough of it these days.

I know, it’s my own fault for not going to bed earlier. (I can say this since I tend to pass out very soon after going to bed and attempting to sleep. It is possible that, should I go to bed earlier, I would lay awake thinking instead of sleeping. Then it would no longer be my fault, since I’d be trying to get more sleep. Since I’m not trying, it’s my fault. (Just wanted to be clear, since I have friends who are insomnia-sufferers, and I don’t want it to seem that I’m belittling their difficulties.))

Anyway. In my case, at least, sleep (or a lack thereof) and pleasure reading don’t mix well. I will be attempting to stay up reading. Therefore I am not sleeping. But when I try to read, my eyes drift closed, so I’m not getting any reading done, either. The end result is that neither gets accomplished very successfully.

WHAT I READ:

All that to say that, even though my current paper book is a thin volume, I haven’t finished it.

I have finished an audio book, however: Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson. Very enjoyable listen, even if some of what was said is not going to stick with me. (This is more learning than pleasure reading, and I do my best learning when I see something and write it down. Since I heard all of this, it won’t all stick.) Some of it will stick, however, and this is a short enough audio book that I might listen to it again. I’m also pretty sure that I’ll be buying a copy of it in paper form, too.

WHAT I’M READING:

I am currently reading The Cat Who Saw Red by Lilian Jackson Braun, the 4th Cat Who book. (Yes, I skipped #3.) It’s enjoyable so far, but I haven’t gotten very far into it and I’ve already predicted someone who is likely to die. There are certain themes in cozy mysteries. Also, there are certain regular happenings in this series — like so far, in every installment Qwill gets a new column / section / topic to cover, and a new apartment. Amusing, but predictable.

I have just started listening to NPCs by Drew Hayes. It’s been on my radar for a while, and I want to read it early enough in the year to be able to decide whether or not it will be on my gift-giving list. (Yes, I plan these things way in advance when I can. I’m weird like that.)

As you have probably guessed, on the e-reader I am still making my way through both Paid in Gold and Blood by Lazette Gifford (though that one’s technically on pause) and the InCryptid shorts by Seanan McGuire. I’m into the Verity and Dominic short stories now, so I’m nearly caught up to the point where I can’t read any more shorts for fear of spoilers.

WHAT I’LL READ NEXT:

I really have no idea what my next paper book will be. I have a Doctor Who novelization which was given to me last Christmas. Maybe I’ll read that. I also have Sparrow Hill Road by Seanan McGuire which I thought was a stand-alone novel but which may actually tie into the InCryptid series. Maybe I’ll read that instead. My physical TBR pile is large enough that I have a huge selection of books to choose from and unless I have specific plans I never know what I’m going to end up with when I go to select a new book.

My next audio book is also up in the air, since I just started one. And as far as ebooks go… it will be a long time before I need to worry about my next one of those.

Friday Reads ~ in which I have a lot of reviews

So, about the title. I finally took the time to write up my reviews of Seanan McGuire’s Midnight Blue-Light Special and Half-Off Ragnarok, InCryptid books #2 and 3. (Links are to the reviews.) And there is still more! Details below…

WHAT I READ

I also finished reading The Cat Who Ate Danish Modern, (Cat Who #2) by Lilian Jackson Braun, and wrote up the review here. If you don’t feel like reading the whole review, the short version is that I liked it for the colorful characters and for the cats, but found the plot a little on the predictable side.

And I finished reading (well, listening to) The Seventh Bride by T. Kingfisher. Good story, but I’m not sold on the narration in all cases. (full review here)

AND I finished reading The Diabolical Miss Hyde (Electric Empire, #1) by Viola Carr. It’s a book I’ve wanted to read for a while, and I finally went ahead and asked Barnes & Noble to order it for me. Once I got it, I bumped it to the top of the TBR pile. And then I started reading it, and decided not to put it down. I did skim the middle section a bit (I went back and finished it later, but that’s part of how I kept my interest up to read nearly the whole book in one evening) and read the end before I read the middle. Still, an enjoyable read. (full review here)

WHAT I’M READING

I’m taking a deep breath before I start another paper book. I just devoured two in a very short period of time, and need to catch my breath. Also to, you know, catch up on chores and things.

However, I am listening to a book – Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson. Because Neil deGrasse Tyson. It’s a short book, but informative so far. I think I might need to also buy the hard copy version for reference later.

And I’m still working on Seanan McGuire’s InCryptid short stories in ebook form. (I’m only reading the ones that happen before the next of the novels, so I won’t be finishing the short stories yet. I’m also only reading the ones I can get as individual ebooks instead of the ones I need to get an entire short story compilation for.)

Once I’m done with the InCryptid shorts that I’ve caught up to, I’ll get back to Paid in Gold and Blood by Lazette Gifford. I have no issues with this ebook; I’ve just discovered that I am a LOT more likely to read short-format fiction on an ereader than a full-length novel. Short stories are perfect. Novellas are okay. But full-length novels? Those take me a while.

WHAT I’LL READ NEXT

I think my next audio book will be Drew Hayes’ NPCs. It’s been tempting me for a while, so when Audible had it on their one-day sale I bought it. I’m really curious how it will read (and it might make a GREAT gift for my family members that I used to play D&D with) so I think it will be soon, if not next.

For paper books, I want something a little slower-paced than what I’ve been reading. Not boring, just not something I’m tempted to read in one sitting. Maybe I’ll re-read something? Or maybe I’ll move on to another Cat Who mystery… I like those, but I can put them down when I want to.

Friday Reads ~ in which it is all InCryptid, all the time

Yup. Still on the InCryptid series.

In fact, that’s ALL I have read this week. I have read all of the early short stories I can get my hands on (I haven’t yet gotten a copy of the anthologies holding a couple of the stories) and have moved on toward the “present day”, though I’m not quite there yet. And I’m still working on the third novel at the same time (which makes things occasionally slightly confusing, but not too bad). But. I haven’t listened to my audio book all week, nor have I read anything else.

I still blame the mice.

WHAT I READ

I have read a lot of InCryptid short stories. Pretty much all of the ones featuring Jonathan and Fran, and Alice and Thomas, except the couple which were published in anthologies instead of online. The official list (and download links!) can be found here: InCryptid Short Stories

WHAT I’M READING

I still have The Seventh Bride and Paid In Gold And Blood technically in my “currently reading” list, though they have been set aside in favor of the InCryptid series.

What I’m actively reading at the moment is Half-Off Ragnarok (InCryptid novel #3) and “Blocked,” a short story featuring Antimony Price (the youngest of the siblings). “Blocked” happens before “Bad Dream Girl,” which is in the Glitter and Mayhem anthology and I’ve already read.

WHAT I’LL READ NEXT

Well, while I’m not done with the InCryptid series yet, I do want a little break from it or I’ll devour the whole thing and then be sad because it’s over. So my next paper book will be the next “Cat Who” book. That’s The Cat Who Ate Danish Modern.

As to the rest, I’m still leaning toward Astrophysics for People in a Hurry for my next audio book. However, I might start that one before I finish with The Seventh Bride, depending on how much I need a non-fiction break.

Friday Reads ~ in which the mice derail everything

Mice, you say? Well, I don’t mean mice invading my house (although that would derail things if that happened, too). I mean Seanan McGuire’s Aeslin Mice, which sound like amazingly cute and enjoyable characters. Even if a bit annoying.

Anyway, back when I read Discount Armageddon (InCryptid #1) I really enjoyed it. But after I was done, I was able to put the series down and move on to something else. I did buy Midnight Blue-Light Special (InCryptid #2) so that I could read it when I was ready, but it took me a while to get ready. And when I did, the mice took over. Yes, if they were living in my house I would probably find them a bit annoying as well as cute. But since they’re not, I WANT SOME. I mean, sure, I like Verity and Dominic and Sarah and the other human/oid characters. BUT THOSE MICE, Y’ALL.

Yeah. I blame the mice that my reading this week has not gone at all as I planned last week.

WHAT I READ

I finished Midnight Blue-Light Special. I loved it. Devoured the book in a handful of sittings, and wanted more. (See below on that.) I’m not going into a full review here because of potential spoilers, but suffice to say it’s good.

WHAT I’M READING

I am reading Seanan McGuire’s Half-Off Ragnarok, InCryptid #3. This is a really fun series, and I’m glad there are several books already published and waiting for me so that I don’t have to wait for them. Ms. McGuire writes fast, but still. I read faster.  😉

I am also reading a bunch of InCryptid short stories. (And it’s all the mice’s fault.) Remember how hard it can be for me to remember that I have books and short stories on my e-reader? Well, it seems that all goes out the window when there are cute mice involved. Because I am remembering to read these! I’m going to lump them all in as one, though, since I can consider them a short story anthology that way. The only difficulty with that is I want to read them without spoiling the main series, so since some of the shorts come after the later books I can’t read them all yet.

Which means that while Paid in Gold and Blood (by Lazette Gifford) is still in progress, it’s not getting much love at the moment. Nothing against the story or its author. They just can’t compete with the prospect of Aeslin Mice.

And I’m still listening to The Seventh Bride by T. Kingfisher. I can’t help but feel that the narration isn’t helping on this one. I mean, the narrator is doing a good job of portraying a 15-year-old miller’s daughter. But that makes it difficult to believe her portrayal of the much older lord who the girl is supposed to marry. Bridging that big an age gap is hard for narrators, and very few do it really well. Still, the story is interesting, and there is a (probably magical) hedgehog. So it’s got that going for it.

WHAT I’LL READ NEXT

Probably more of the InCryptid series. I don’t own any other books in the series yet, but that can be easily remedied.

On the other hand, I do own several other books which have been interesting me, so you never know. Something else might derail these plans, and I’ll end up on a completely new tangent next week.

Audio-wise, I’m still pretty sure Neil deGrasse Tyson’s Astrophysics for People in a Hurry will be next. I kinda want something a bit opposite of what I’ve been listening to lately.