Posted in Chatty

Upcoming & Recent holds I’m excited about!

Hey y’all! Just sharing some excitement and good luck I’ve had with getting in holds for newer books lately at my library. Have you heard of any of these?

From Borrower to wizard, Tom Felton’s adolescence was anything but ordinary. His early rise to fame saw him catapulted into the limelight aged just twelve when he landed the iconic role of Draco Malfoy in the Harry Potter films.

Speaking with candour and his own trademark humour, Tom shares his experience of growing up on screen and as part of the wizarding world for the very first time. He tells all about his big break, what filming was really like and the lasting friendships he made during ten years as part of the franchise, as well as the highs and lows of fame and the reality of navigating adult life after filming finished.

Prepare to meet a real-life wizard.

Good people can be bad at relationships.

One night during his divorce, after one too many vodkas and a call with a phone-in-therapist who told him to “journal his feelings,” Matthew Fray started a blog. He needed to figure out how his ex-wife went from the eighteen-year-old college freshman who adored him to the angry woman who thought he was an asshole and left him. As he pieced together the story of his marriage and its end, Matthew began to realize a hard truth: even though he was a decent guy, he was a bad husband.

As he shared raw, uncomfortable, and darkly humorous first-person stories about the lessons he’d learned from his failed marriage, a peculiar thing happened. Matthew started to gain a following. In January 2016 a post he wrote–“She Divorced Me Because I left the Dishes by the Sink”–went viral and was read over four million times.

Filtered through the lens of his own surprising, life-changing experience and his years counseling couples, This Is How Your Marriage Ends exposes the root problem of so many relationships that go wrong. We simply haven’t been taught any of the necessary skills, Matthew explains. In fact, it is sometimes the assumption that we are acting on good intentions that causes us to alienate our partners and foment mistrust.

Maggie is fine. She’s doing really good, actually. Sure, she’s broke, her graduate thesis on something obscure is going nowhere, and her marriage only lasted 608 days, but at the ripe old age of twenty-nine, Maggie is determined to embrace her new life as a Surprisingly Young Divorcée™.

Now she has time to take up nine hobbies, eat hamburgers at 4 am, and “get back out there” sex-wise. With the support of her tough-loving academic advisor, Merris; her newly divorced friend, Amy; and her group chat (naturally), Maggie barrels through her first year of single life, intermittently dating, occasionally waking up on the floor and asking herself tough questions along the way.

Posted in Reviews

Spotify Wrapped Challenge 2022

Hey y’all! I saw a super fun sounding tag on Dinipanda’s site recently and immediately was hyped to join in and give it a go. The goal is to take your most listened to songs from 2022 and put them on shuffle, then try to match the first five songs that are played to a book you read in 2022 that fits it somehow! Even if it’s not a perfect fit, it’s more about seeing what you think of for each one. 🙂

I tracked this back through several layers of tags and I think I’ve got the original post here from Lace and Dagger books, then to The Corner of Laura, then to Ace Reader, then to Dinipanda Reads, and now, here! 😀 What a journey it’s been.

I’m also taking this two steps more by also choosing a book from my list to be read that fits and adding it to my upcoming, and also by adding all the songs I’ve seen in other folks’ posts to my playlist below. 🙂 If you do this post as well, tag me in it so I can add your songs to the playlist!

Dancing King – Exo x Yu Jae Seok

2022: Review: Kiss & Tell by Adib Khorram

This is a book about a boy in a boy band who’s maybe falling for a new guy while getting over his ex. There’s inherent dancing in a boy band, so of course I thought of this one!

2023: A Time to Dance by Padma Vankatraman

I think the title makes this one obvious. xD It’s also on my shelf, plus a friend recommended it, so I think it’s a safe bet!

Cookie Thumper! – Die Antwoord

2022: Review: Our Chemical Hearts by Krystal Sutherland

I really struggled with this song because I don’t think I read anything badass enough to suit this song vibe. I’d need like, a heist book or something. This book is more about a maybe toxic love and grief and death, so not exactly right, but it still has a bit of that wild-love style to it that I get from this song.

2023: Hum if you Don’t Know the Words by Bianca Marais

This is a much more straightforward and obvious choice: this book is set in South Africa. Die Antwoord is from South Africa. Simple right? I’ve also wanted to read some books about Apartheid because I know woefully little about it and want to start filling that gap.

LUCIFER – SHINee

2022: Review: A Touch of Darkness by Scarlett St. Clair

This is literally a book about a relationship with the devil (Hades in this case rather than “Lucifer” but same idea). I can’t think of something more perfectly spot on. xD

2023: It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover

From the miscellaneous bits I’ve heard about this book, I think there’s some abuse / toxic relationship elements to it and that sort of aligns with the song’s lyrics about a love that’s cutting but alluring.

In The End – Linkin Park

2022: ARC Review: The End of Getting Lost by Robin Kirman

This book has a lot of confusion and pain and fear vibes, which I think are echoed in the song quite a lot. Plus of course it shares the word “end” but that’s a bit flimsy on it’s own.

2023: Kingdom of Ash by Sarah J Maas

I’ve been saying I would read this book and finish this series for about five years now. IT IS TIME!! So this book for me is a very literal “in the end” by ending the series and ending this absurd ongoing wait!

Ice Cream Cake – Red Velvet

2022: ARC Review: Booked on a Feeling by Jayci Lee

One of the sweetest books I read this year! I loved this romance read and it’s a book about books. How could it miss? Plus it was surprisingly spicy and that perfectly suits this song with it’s slyly innocent sounding lyrics. 🥰

2023: How to Win a Breakup by Farah Heron

This is a super sweet YA romance with baking and nerdy gaming and a love of math. In all honesty, I started it this morning and I’m already over halfway through because it is just so good! This one has the literal food element to mirror the song, but it’s also really damn sweet!!

What have I learned? …I only listen to older songs. xD The newest song on this list is from 2016, and the oldest? 2000. I guess I find what I like and stick with it! 😂

Posted in Chatty

What kinds of things push you to read outside your comfort zone?

Hey y’all! I just started a book for my book club this month and it was making me think about reasons that I’ll read a book I might not usually try. In this case, it’s a book that I had my eye on when it originally came out, but I was on the fence with.

On the one hand, Before The Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi intrigued me with its basic premise of a time-traveling cafe with very precise rules. On the other hand, I’ve read other literary works by Japanese authors that weren’t really my favorite (looking at you, 1Q84!) and worry this might end up in the same vein (though I don’t want that to come across as generalizing all Japanese authors of course — it just seemed like this might have the same kind of vibe).

But here I am reading it, because my book club chose it for a pick! I actually voted for it as well, because I wanted to have a reason to give it a chance. When we were debating if we should do just book one, or the first two since they’re fairly short, I was super blunt and said I’d just read the first and if I liked it would try the second, but no guarantee. Everyone laughed and agreed and we settled on reading the first for sure and maybe the second.

So here I’m thinking about other reasons that I might try a book outside my usual and wanted to see if y’all had anything that’s pushed you as well (and if it was worth it or not!!).

Book club(s)

Of course! The in person one that started all of this is an example of course, but I also have Aardvark Book Club as a subscription that has had me try some I would not otherwise have tried or maybe even heard about. Most recently, I finished How to Turn Into a Bird by María José Ferrada and while my first impression upon finishing was just ?????? I did enjoy it and am glad I read it. And there’s some interesting discussion about it in the Aardvark app! Anyway, that’s just an example.

Continue reading “What kinds of things push you to read outside your comfort zone?”
Posted in Reviews

Review: Smoke Gets in Your Eyes by Caitlin Doughty

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory by Caitlin Doughty
Recommended: YESSS!!!
for what happens to your body when you die, for the secrets of the mortuary business, for options about what to do after you die

Summary

Most people want to avoid thinking about death, but Caitlin Doughty—a twenty-something with a degree in medieval history and a flair for the macabre—took a job at a crematory, turning morbid curiosity into her life’s work. With an original voice that combines fearless curiosity and mordant wit, Caitlin tells an unusual coming-of-age story full of bizarre encounters, gallows humor, and vivid characters (both living and very dead). Describing how she swept ashes from the machines (and sometimes onto her clothes), and cared for bodies of all shapes and sizes, Caitlin becomes an intrepid explorer in the world of the deceased. Her eye-opening memoir shows how our fear of dying warps our culture and society, and she calls for better ways of dealing with death (and our dead). In the spirit of her popular Web series, “Ask a Mortician,” Caitlin’s engaging narrative style makes this otherwise scary topic both approachable and profound.

Thoughts

I fucking loved this book. It answered a lot of the questions I never knew where to find answers to.

Example #1: is cremation a more natural or environmentally friendly option over casket burial? Answer: no not really.

I don’t know, there were a lot more, but I loved learning more about what’s done to a body after death, at least in California, USA. There’s a little warning at the start of the book about how it deal with dead bodies (duh) and has some stuff that’s not for squeamish folks. I don’t think of myself as squeamish, but I also don’t like gore and violence. This book was fine for me though, and at no point did it feel like too much.

Continue reading “Review: Smoke Gets in Your Eyes by Caitlin Doughty”
Posted in Reviews

Month of Reviews: How’s it going?

Hey y’all!

If you’ve been following along this month, you’ll have noticed that every day in December, I’ve posted a book review. That’s because in late November, I decided on a whim that it would be fun to do so every day in December. xD

Well I’m officially at the halfway-ish point at December 15, and though I have used up my handy little backlog of pre-written reviews and will need to write one fresh for today, it’s going pretty well! I’ve been really enjoying it, actually, which is great since that is what I had thought would happen. I haven’t had as many backlogged as I had planned, and I have been writing a lot of reviews to be posted for that day. Still, it’s been going fairly smoothly. Except…

There was one night I went to a holiday party and as I was drifting off to sleep just before midnight after a long, fun night, I sat bolt upright in a panic as I realized I hadn’t posted a review! Thankfully, this was when I did still have backlog ready, so I just needed to do a little formatting. Got that sucker posted at about 11:50pm. 🤣

I’ve also discovered that I really enjoy doing my reviews by narrating them aloud for voice-to-text functions. This came about after I did one for an audiobook and ended up really liking the style. It feels very natural to just speak about the book as though I were talking with a friend about it. Then I go back and correct any words it got wrong (which is impressively rare!) and tweak the phrasing of any sentences that I want to make flow better. It also feels like doing them this way has made it faster than usual too, which has definitely helped on some of the days when I needed to get one done with not much free time. Anyway, just thought I’d do a little update! And now to prep today’s review. 🙂

Posted in Reviews

Review: Kiss & Tell by Adib Khorram

Kiss & Tell by Adib Khorram

Recommended: sure
if you want a queer pop-celeb story with some really nicely written lines

Summary

Hunter never expected to be a boy band star, but, well, here he is. He and his band Kiss & Tell are on their first major tour of North America, playing arenas all over the United States and Canada (and getting covered by the gossipy press all over North America as well). Hunter is the only gay member of the band, and he just had a very painful breakup with his first boyfriend–leaked sexts, public heartbreak, and all–and now everyone expects him to play the perfect queer role model for teens.

But Hunter isn’t really sure what being the perfect queer kid even means. Does it mean dressing up in whatever The Label tells him to wear for photo shoots and pretending never to have sex? (Unfortunately, yes.) Does it mean finding community among the queer kids at the meet-and-greets after K&T’s shows? (Fortunately, yes.) Does it include a new relationship with Kaivan, the star of the band opening for K&T on tour? (He hopes so.) But when The Label finds out about Hunter and Kaivan, it spells trouble—for their relationship, for the perfect gay boy Hunter plays for the cameras, and, most importantly, for Hunter himself.

Thoughts

I can’t really place why — maybe by the end of this review — but something about this didn’t totally hook me. I feel like I ended up reading it all with a slightly disinterested or maybe disbelieving air. There was some kind of lack in it for me, and let’s see if I can pinpoint why.

Note: I did figure it out, so keep reading. 🙂

What worked for me about this was the humor of each of the main boys in the band. Things that were shockingly accurate and somehow so incisive that they caught me off guard for never thinking of it before, like “One of the hardest things about being on the road is eating healthy, because no city ever has “vegetables” as their can’t-miss local specialty.” Or the lines that were just sweet and funny like “We tried to figure out a show in Antarctica, but it didn’t work out.”

Continue reading “Review: Kiss & Tell by Adib Khorram”
Posted in Chatty

Adding one last challenge to the year…

Hey y’all!

As it’s almost December, I’ve been taking stock of where I’m at with my various reading challenges, and the news since I checked in around halfway through the year is that they are basically all done! This is great since I don’t feel pressure to cram things in December to try to hit my arbitrary goals, but also… now I can set more goals… 😁

So the short status is that I need to read my X book for the alphabet challenge, which I’ve started and don’t think will take long. I also have 5 more books to go on my newer nonfiction goal of reading 25 books this year. I have several ready for hold and/or on my bookshelves ready to go, as well as a few in progress, so I think I’ll be good on this one, too!

the new goal…

So with no real reading pressure coming to me in December, I’ve decided, apparently, to give myself a different goal for the writing/blogging side of things. In November, I posted barely at all compared to my usual, and it was mostly just laziness I guess. I even had some reviews written that I just needed to format and post, as well as quotes ready to go, but nope! Just didn’t bother. That makes me sad.

To change that and finish the year strong and proud of myself, my new goal for December is quite a stretch, honestly:

post a book review every single day oh my god.

But look! I have a plan…

Continue reading “Adding one last challenge to the year…”
Posted in Chatty

October 2022 Wrap Up: hello goodbye!

~reading

How many books that I planned did I read?

I planned 6 and of those, I read 4. In total, I read 16 books. So…. clearly I went off track a bit. xD

The Plan:

The Result:

LOOK AT THAT, A BINGO! Meaning, I used one of each of my categories and symbols: still to be read, in progress, abandoned, and completed! Let’s dig in…

So of course, since I’ve already put together my November TBR with several of these titles on it, I had some hold overs. Primarily Morning Sun in Wuhan (which is now reviewed and published!), and The Night Ship which I’m still working through (slowly…).

For books I finished, I went on two different binges: graphic novels, and nonfiction (and in at least one case, a combination of the two with Commute!). I have so much nonfiction in my TBR that sounds so fascinating and interesting, and I just made it a priority in October and I’m so glad I did because they were great!! I also have made it a habit to browse the “New Nonfiction” shelves at the library and that has yielded some great finds. In fact, Strange Planet, Commute, and The Office BFFs all came from there!

My topics were similarly split. Some were kind of dark or grim: Commute dealt with societal harassment and one woman’s taint from men and abuse early in her life; Jokes To Offend Men also touched on inequality and the daily sufferings of women; Something Happened To Ali Greenleaf is a story about a girl who was raped and the girl who knew about it; Sign Here was a bit silly at times, but overall told a pretty painful story no matter the ending.

Maybe it’s no surprise then that the other side of my reading was jokes by Jerry Seinfeld (Is This Anything?) and self-discovery in new places (Pride, Prejudice, and Turkish Delight) and teen romance with the boy she always knew who also happens to now be a mega k pop star (Seoulmates).

Anyway, a lot of these were great and it was a surprisingly excellent reading month. Especially considering the “Life” portion of this post.

Reviews posted in October

Continue reading “October 2022 Wrap Up: hello goodbye!”
Posted in Release Day!

Just Published: Morning Sun in Wuhan by Ying Chang Compestine!


Hey y’all! Just a reminder that Morning Sun in Wuhan by Ying Chang Compestine released today! Check out the full review here or grab a copy of your own!

Recommended: yup!
For a feel-good story set during the very beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, for a look at what it was like for folks in Wuhan where it originated, for absolutely delicious food (complete with recipes!!)

Summary

Weaving in the tastes and sounds of the historic city, Wuhan’s comforting and distinctive cuisine comes to life as the reader follows 13-year-old Mei who, through her love for cooking, makes a difference in her community. Written by an award-winning author originally from Wuhan.

Grieving the death of her mother and an outcast at school, thirteen-year-old Mei finds solace in cooking and computer games. When her friend’s grandmother falls ill, Mei seeks out her father, a doctor, for help, and discovers the hospital is overcrowded. As the virus spreads, Mei finds herself alone in a locked-down city trying to find a way to help.

Author Ying Chang Compestine draws on her own experiences growing up in Wuhan to illustrate that the darkest times can bring out the best in people, friendship can give one courage in frightening times, and most importantly, young people can make an impact on ton the world. Readers can follow Mei’s tantalizing recipes and cook them at home. 

Posted in Chatty

November 2022 TBR: the end is near…

Hey y’all! It’s November, and that means 2022 is almost over. Luckily I think I’m in a pretty good spot with my various reading challenges I’m working on this year. The main one I’m focusing on is nonfiction, which is great because I still have a pile of them that I’m ready to read an excited about! There are a few other miscellaneous titles on my list too, as always. And also as always, I’m sure I will add a bunch, and end up not reading a bunch of the planned ones. xD

Since this is also already a week into the month, you can bet that I’ve finished several books already so I’ll just, uh, tactfully ignore those I guess? 😅

MORE BOOK CLUBS!!

Yes, two of these were planned for last month. But hey, I went away for a while and didn’t get around to reading much. I bet they’ll still be good a month later. 🙂

Continue reading “November 2022 TBR: the end is near…”