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


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.


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


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.


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.”

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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!


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!!)


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? 😅


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…”
Posted in Reviews

Review: Dune, The Graphic Novel Book 1 by Brian Herbert

Dune: The Graphic Novel, Book 1 by Brian Herbert

Recommended: yes!
for a lot of help understanding the story through visuals, for condensing some of the weird longwinded parts in the prose novel, for a simple color palette that conveys so much of the world and characters


Dune, Frank Herbert’s epic science-fiction masterpiece set in the far future amidst a sprawling feudal interstellar society, tells the story of Paul Atreides as he and his family accept control of the desert planet Arrakis. A stunning blend of adventure and mysticism, environmentalism, and politics, Dune is a powerful, fanstastical tale that takes an unprecedented look into our universe, and is transformed by the graphic novel format. Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson’s adaptation retains the integrity of the original novel, and Raúl Allén and Patricia Martín’s magnificent illustrations, along with cover art by Bill Sienkiewicz, bring the book to life for a new generation of readers.

Set on the desert planet Arrakis, Dune is the story of the boy Paul Atreides, heir to a noble family tasked with ruling an inhospitable world where the only thing of value is the “spice” melange, a drug capable of extending life and enhancing consciousness. Coveted across the known universe, melange is a prize worth killing for….

When House Atreides is betrayed, the destruction of Paul’s family will set the boy on a journey toward a destiny greater than he could ever have imagined. And as he evolves into the mysterious man known as Muad’Dib, he will bring to fruition humankind’s most ancient and unattainable dream.

A stunning blend of adventure and mysticism, environmentalism and politics, Dune won the first Nebula Award, shared the Hugo Award, and formed the basis of what is undoubtedly the grandest epic in science fiction.


Boy am I impressed with this one! I have a weird relationship with Dune at this point, because I started reading the novel, stalled on it about halfway through before finally allowing myself to give up and admit it wasn’t for me, then I saw the movie, and now I’ve read the graphic novel. So through it all I’ve had a lot of confusion, understanding, disappointment, appreciation, intrigue, and more. I’ve loved it and hated it at various points.

This graphic novel has me firmly on the “loving it” side! Yay!!

Continue reading “Review: Dune, The Graphic Novel Book 1 by Brian Herbert”
Posted in Release Day!

Just Published: Jokes to Offend Men by Allison Kelley, Danielle Kraese, Kate Herzlin, & Ysabel Yates!

Hey y’all! Just a reminder that Jokes to Offend Men by Allison Kelley, Danielle Kraese, Kate Herzlin, & Ysabel Yates published today! Check out the full review here, or grab a copy of your own!


A man walks into a bar. It’s a low one, so he gets a promotion within his first six months on the job.
Four comedy writers transform classic joke setups into sharp commentary about the everyday and structural sexism that pervades all facets of life. Jokes to Offend Men arms readers with humorous quips to shut down workplace underminers, condescending uncles, and dismissive doctors, or to share with their exhausted friends at the end of a long day. A cutting, cathartic spin on the old-fashioned joke book, Jokes to Offend Men is a refreshing reclamation of a tired form for anyone who’s ever been told to “lighten up, it’s just a joke!”