Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Ten on Tuesday: 10 Last Books You Have Read

Long ago I signed up for the Ten on Tuesday emails. Sometimes the topics are interesting, sometimes they don't appeal to me, but either way I never get around to writing a Ten on Tuesday post. Remember yesterday, I said blogging sounds great in the abstract? I often think of great topics to write about, but then never get around to it? Yeah, the 10 on Tuesday topics tend to fall into that category. The post gets written, but only in my head. Not this week. For one day anyway, I'm going to keep my resolution to participate more in online communities.

Today's Ten on Tuesday topic is the last 10 books you've read. I read a lot and track what I read (and want to read) on Goodreads. Two of my favorite Ravelry groups are book related, Audiobook Knitters and 52 Books in 52 Weeks (a lot of us read way more than 52 books a year, some way less, it's just a personal challenge). Both groups are fantastic for recommendations, although be warned, your to-read list will grow exponentially, to match that SABLE yarn stash (Stash Acquired Beyond Life Expectancy). The good thing is that with audiobooks, you can knit and read at the same time.

The last 10 books I've read:

1) California by Edan Lepucki - audiobook (Audible), 2 stars

I got this free from the Goodreads Ford Audiobook Club. Sponsored by the auto manufacturer, this group offered a few free audiobooks last year but seems to have gone dormant. I really didn't enjoy this book. It's set in a near-future semi-dystopia. No zombies or pandemic, just a continuation of current negative trends (crazy weather, extreme income inequality, political dysfunction). I normally like dystopian novels, but the characters have to be well-written and these weren't. A lot of the drama was manufactured because characters didn't talk to each other. I didn't much care for the narrator, Emma Galvin. Her voice sounds whiny to me, making me dislike the main character. She also narrated the Divergent series, and I thought Tris was whiny too. Maybe I would have liked California better on paper.

2) 14 by Peter Clines -audiobook (on CD from my library), 4 stars

A classic-style mystery/horror story. Nate moves into a new apartment in a strange building. As he and his fellow tenants investigate, things get continually weirder and scarier. A really enjoyable listen.

3) Kiss of Steel by Bec Mcmaster - audiobook (Audible), 3 stars

A good paranormal/adventure/romance/steampunk novel. Set in an alternate London, sort of Victorian Era, with vampire-like creatures. I enjoyed the story and cared what happened to the characters, although it is pretty much fluff. The narrator was good, but I think I would have liked it better on paper. Be forewarned: there's explicit sex. A lot of it. That goes on. And on. And on. I don't think I'm a prude and I don't object to sex scenes that fit well into the plot. But here I just wanted to get back to the story. In paper I would have skimmed ahead through some of it, not so easy to skim in audio form.

4) Half-Off Ragnarok by Seanan McGuire - paperback (library), 4 stars

Third in the Incryptid series. Set in the modern world, except all sorts of cryptid creatures are real. The series follows the adventures of the Prices, a family of cryptozoologists. Lots of fun. Escapist, light-hearted fluff, but really well-done escapist, light-hearted fluff. I want my own Aeslin mice.

5) Roseanna by 

First in the classic Martin Beck series about a police inspector in Stockholm, Sweden. I didn't really enjoy this book, but I think that was largely due to the poor narration of the audiobook. The story itself is okay, although the writing, attitudes and style are a bit dated. It was written in the early 1960s. I think it's in that in-between territory, too recent to read as a period classic, but too long ago to read as modern.

6) Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein - audiobook (SYNC), 4 stars

I got this book from SYNCa great YA program that gives away two complete audiobook downloads each week during the summer - a current Young Adult title paired thematically with a Classic or Required Summer Reading title. This year starts May 7. The books are each only available for a week, so grab them while they're there. Code Name Verity is a fantastic WWII spy story, very well narrated. I'm very much looking forward to the second in this series, which is one of this summer's SYNC books.

7) Queen of Hearts by Rhys Bowen - hardcover (library), 4 stars

Eighth in the Her Royal Spyness series. Fun spy/mysteries set in the 1930s. Silly, light-hearted, often laugh-out-loud funny.

8) Hush by Laura Lippman - audiobook (Overdrive), 3 stars

Twelfth in the Tess Monaghan series about a Baltimore PI. I used to really love this series, but the last couple entries haven't been as good as the early ones. In this one, Tess is juggling being a detective with raising her toddler. I think the author may have recently had a child in real life, because the story often gets side-tracked by motherhood. If you have a toddler, you may enjoy this. If you're looking for a good mystery, not so much.

9) The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan - audiobook (on CD from my library), 3 stars

The story of an Australian survivor of a WWII Japanese POW camp in the jungles of Thailand. The book jumps around in time and it took me quite a while to get involved or care about the characters. Parts of the book are really good, parts aren't. Parts come across as a bit sexist or misogynistic - not badly so, but definitely a male viewpoint book. And be forewarned, there's graphic violence and torture. The conditions in the POW camp are atrocious and described in great detail. I might have liked this better on paper where I could more easily have skimmed past the goriest parts.

10) Cocaine Blues by Kerry Greenwood - audiobook (on CD from my library), 4 stars

First in the Phryne Fisher mystery series about a woman PI in 1920s Melbourne, Australia. There's a tv show based on this series with fantastic fashions. I've watched the first season and a bit of the second and would recommend it. This was my first venture into the novels. I enjoyed it, nothing fantastic, but a pleasant listen while doing household chores. Didn't leave me desperate for the next installment, but I expect I'll read it sooner or later.

That's the 10 last books I've read. What are you reading? And don't forget to check out what everyone else is reading in the links from Carole's blog,

Monday, April 6, 2015

Love Your Blog Challenge: Interactions and Community

A Playful Day

Kate of A Playful Day (AKA GreenTriangleGirl on Ravelry) has issued a "love your blog" challenge for the month of April. Every week she's going to post a prompt for us all to blog about, with the goal of making us fall back in love with our blogs. Or, for me, maybe the goal should be falling in love with my blog in the first place, since I'm afraid I've never really shown this blog much love.

Blogging in the abstract always sounds like a fantastic idea. Throughout the day I think of great topics to blog about, lots of things I want to say, pictures I want to post. But I rarely get around to actually blogging. I've committed to the Love Your Blog Challenge to try to change that.

The prompt for this week is Interactions and Community. I've been thinking about this for the last few days, trying to decide how I interact both on and off line. In real life I'm a bit of an introvert. That seems to translate to being a bit of a lurker online. I follow quite a few blogs and read quite a few Ravelry forums, but I don't comment a lot. I think part of that is my natural introvert tendencies, and part is my inner critic/perfectionist thinking no one would be interested in what I have to say. Outside of Ravelry, I've never really gotten into any social media, although I do have twitter and pinterest accounts.

In thinking about my real life interactions and community, I realized I enjoy socializing with a few people or attending small group events like knit night. I'm also comfortable speaking to large groups. But I loathe the in-between size, especially casual mixing with people I don't know well, like during meeting breaks or at parties. I feel awkward trying to join a conversation and have no idea what to say. I fail at small talk. And it seems a lot of social media are the online equivalent of small talk. I know on twitter I always feel like I've walked into the middle of a conversation and I have no idea how to join in without feeling like I've barged in.

So, any other introverts/lurkers out there? Silly question really, because if you're like me, you'll be reading but you won't comment. I'm going to challenge myself to comment more - mainly because I do enjoy getting comments. Presumably other people like getting comments too, so I'll start by picking one blog post each day to comment on. And I'm challenging myself to participate a little more in online communities, starting with this "Love Your Blog" Challenge. Wish me luck.