Monday, January 16, 2017

Book Review Thoughts: Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Book: Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Genre: YA SF
Rating:★ ★ ★ ★ ★


This is the second book in the Iluminae Files. This one is a different part of the story, showing what's happening in another part of the universe during the same events as the first book, Illuminae. Which means we have a whole new set of characters. Even though the first set pops in and out just a bit.

So this book takes place on a space station (the other one on space ship). In fact it's the space station that the space ship from the first book is trying to get to. And just shortly after the book opens, the station is taken over by hostiles. These people are connected to the events in the first book and for some reason, DANG, they want to kill everyone! (Reasons for this may have been subtly revealed, but if so, I didn't catch it in the midst of all the other trauma I was focused on.)

Anyway.

This one follows the tradition of the first book in that the story is told using documents. Such as, emails, texts, surveillance camera footage, journal entries, and etc. It takes maybe a page or two to get the flow of this method, but I think readers fall into the rhythm of it really fast. And once again, I find it a really fun way to tell a story. It's so unique and fascinating really.

Our heroine is the daughter of the leader of this space station and she is one spunky girl. She loves this one dude, but he turns out to be... not so good, and the dude she thinks is not so good, turns out to be the one she really likes. Of course. And she learns all this throughout the course of the events that happen after the take over, which is stressful because she, of course, is the only one who can save the day. So she sort of has her hands full.

It's so very complicated and much much more intense than I can articulate. But let me just say, whew, these are violent books. Let that be a warning to those with queasy and/or weak stomachs. Violent I'm telling you!

So once again, I was sucked in and loved this story. I'm anxious to read more and see how it all ends, because of course, there is so much  more of this story to tell! So now I wait another year I'm guessing!


Friday, January 13, 2017

Book Review Thoughts: The Game of Love and Death by Martha Brockenbrough

Book: The Game of Love and Death by Martha Brockenbrough
Genre: YA magical realism
Rating:★★★★☆

A fascinating story about Love and Death who have a competition to see who can win the souls of these two characters. Death's player is the girl, and Love's player is the boy. The idea is if they fall in love, then Love wins. And if they don't then Death wins. Or something like that. I was a bit confused sometimes. But that's the gist of it.

Anyway. they can personify themselves as all sorts of things... animals...people that the boy and girl actually know.... new people in their lives. Etc. Which seems a little unfair. And they can manipulate situations to however they see fit to make stuff happen that helps their cause.

So frustrating. And maddening. I didn't really like them as characters but they became more and more endearing as the story went on.

I really enjoyed the writing and thought it beautiful and powerful. All the trigger issues were thrown in here though... race and LGBT stuff. Which, is okay, but I hate it when it feels... you know... thrown in.

It takes place in the 30s and has a fun musical element with black jazz bars being the central setting. Which I enjoyed too. And lots of nods to Amelia Earhart who our heroine aspires to be. Good stuff.

Anyway. A fun book to start off the year. A very unique look at life and love.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Top Ten Books of 2016



Even though I didn't read as much as I normally do this past year, I still had some favorites. So here's another list:

Top Ten Favorites from 2016

Their Fractured Light by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner:  Yeah, these books are dripping with both awesome plot and awesome characters.

The Winner's Kiss by Marie Rutkoski: But it's so good. And awesome. And fulfilled all my hopes and dreams. Which statement is probably in and of itself a spoiler, but there you go. I was happy with this book and this ending. 

Summerlost by Ally Condie:  It's cute simple story that deals with the not so simple subject of grief. and it's so so awesome. I loved it.

Winter by Marissa Meyer: Would you love an extremely fun mash up of fairy tale retellings and genres? Then you MUST read this series!

Emmy and Oliver by Robin Benway:  I read it in a day and could not put it down. I have a feeling you'll do the same.

Mosquitoland by David Arnold: The best thing about this is the voice of Mim. You know, when you are learning to write, they talk a lot about voice. Let this book be an example of one really awesome voice! Wow! Mim is feisty and fierce and smart and witty and very very intense. Also a little messed up. And that is what makes this book so so good.

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr:  The storytelling was awesome. The writing was beautiful. The characters were fascinating. And it held my wandering and unfocused attention unlike any book has done for a long time.

P.S. I Like You by Kasie West: This sort of book is exactly the sort of book that I'm in the mood for these days. Just a fun simple romance, with a bit of drama thrown in.

The Immortal Throne by Bree Despain:  How the HECK are they all going to get out of this mess? Well, of course they figure it out... not without help from unlikely places, which is awesome. And things get pretty much worse before they get better, as they always do. 
But that all keeps one turning the pages and it was awesome. It only took me a couple of days to read this book! Guys! That's like... me from back in the old days!

Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella:  I loved what this book has to say about recovering from mental health issues... that it's like a jagged graph... up and and down, then up some more than down some more. That that really, for all us, mental health issues or not (and don't we all have mental health issues?) this is what life it like, and all we can do is keep trying and keep plugging along.

Yes, some pretty great books here! Here's a new year of reading!



Monday, January 2, 2017

2016 Year End Number Crunch

Year End Stats

Even with the "epic reading slump" that was this whole year, I guess it's worth recording the numbers, yes? So here's how it all shook down:

TOTAL BOOKS: 30
Total pages: 9,432
Total Re-reads: 2

Authors
Men: 5
Women: 25

For:
ARCs for Review: 2
Supporting Utah Authors: 7
Book Club: 10
Read Alongs: 1

From:
Library: 10
On my Kindle: 4
Bought/Owned: 16
Borrowed: 0

Genres
YA: 16
Adult: 9
Middle Grade: 5

From the YA category:
Fantasy: 6
Science Fiction:2
Contemporary: 8

From the Adult category:
Classics: 3
Literary Fiction: 3
Non Fiction/Memoir: 3

From the MG category:
Contemporary: 2
Fantasy: 1
Graphic: 2

Star Ratings:
5 stars: 6
4 stars: 11
3 stars: 8
2 stars: 5


Observations:

  • I'm about 50 books behind my normal. When I say slump, I mean slump.
  • But the trend for reading still pretty much followed the same pattern.
  • Even with the slump, I read more nonfiction and classics than normal.
  • What I really missed because of the slump: some adult fantasy/science fiction books.
  • I only did one read along this year. I missed doing more of those too.
  • I have a huge pile of books to get to this year. Here's hoping that my focus for reading gets better and my desire to read comes back, and my time for reading can be rediscovered!
  • I really love YA contemporaries! 

Other Numbers Not Book Related
(that I'd like to record even it it's only for my future knowledge):

Total Kdramas consumed: 18 
(9 five hearted ones, 5 four hearted ones)

Total Videos Made for the Kpop Konverters channel: 162
(6 of them with over 10,000 views, 9 with over 5,000 views)

Subscribers for the youtube channel at year end: 4,728
Total views: 395,398 (that's not counting the views that were stolen from us due to the copyright strike)



Observations:

  • the YouTube endeavor has proved to be much more viable than anticipated
  • the YouTube kpop community is every bit as passionate and active as the book blogging community
  • editing videos takes up a lot of my book reading time
  • subjects/ideas/plans for future videos for this year is a long long list. I feel like all my ideas for what to talk about regarding books just switched to kpop music. It's a bit of a whiplash feeling. 
Even with the slump, I've definitely had a fun year. Here's to the next one! I'd love to find a balance between the two passions! Wish me luck!!





Saturday, December 31, 2016

Ten Favorite Songs of the Year 2016

So, as you may (or may not) know, my music life took a drastic turn this year. It was such a life changing event that I remember the exact day... Saturday January 9th. That was the day I listened to kpop for the very first time... a song by an older (they celebrated their 11th anniversary this year) group called Super Junior... a song called Spy.. followed closely by one called Superman.

I loved it. It was weird. It was unique. It was upbeat and catchy. It was awesome.

You may, like me, have thought this was just a phase, a passing fancy, a glitch in my normal music loving life, but we have almost reached the year anniversary and all I can see is that the obsession will just get stronger and stronger.

I don't know why I was grabbed by this music in such a strong powerful way, when other people are just like... blah...that stuff is weird....and you are so weird for liking it... and just don't get it at all. It's a strange thing that makes me confused and perplexed and I don't know what makes us all different like that but it's a good thing.

Anyway, I truly didn't listen to anything else this year. I mean. I really really didn't. So all my top ten songs of the year will be songs that I especially loved from my first year immersed in kpop... both old and new songs. I hope that you, even if you fall into the "this is weird" category, enjoy my list and even maybe listen to a couple of songs, just out of curiosity!

I'm tempted to show you performances and music videos and dances, etc, but instead this time I will just embed only the audio of the songs. So if you do happen to click on one, you won't be distracted by the other things and can just listen.

SUPERMAN BY SUPER JUNIOR




FIRE BY BTS




LUCIFER BY SHINEE




FANTASTIC BABY BY BIG BANG




HERO BY MONSTA X





LET ME KNOW BY BTS 




ERROR BY VIXX





VERY GOOD BY BLOCK B





LOVE ME DO BY VIXX




BLOOD SWEAT AND TEARS BY BTS





Yes... even though the year started with a fascination with a group called Super Junior... it ended with an obsession with a group called Bangtan Sonyeondan or BTS for short. And they have three songs on my top ten favorites. VIXX also ended up with two. Wow VIXX! Way to edge yourselves into my favorites list!

Anyway. Yes. I love these songs. I hope you click on a couple and see what I'm talking about it.

In the meantime, if you want a fast and easy glimpse of some of these favorites, here's a compilation of what our Kpop Konverters channel voted on as favorite songs that came out during the year 2016 (which include many of mine listed above.)






What songs did you love this year?


Friday, December 23, 2016

The Airing of Grievances 2016 Version

So, very many years now I've done an "airing of grievances" blog post as part of the Festivus celebration. I have no idea now where I learned about this tradition, but I look forward to it just as a chance to be especially snarky and overly negative on my blog.

Something that is oddly fun and cathartic.

The other day I thought of all the things I could grieve about. Let's see if I remember any of them now!

I HATE IT..:

  • ...when I'm wide awake when I should be sleeping... and dead asleep when it's time to wake up. WHY DOES THIS HAPPEN???
  • ...that people deem some activities worthy and others... not. (For instance, if your hobby is running or hiking, people think that's commendable. If you your hobby is crafting something, people think that's cool. But if it's reading, people think that's boring. If it's youtubing, people think that's downright weird and a waste of time. Did I say I hate this? I hate this.)
  • ...when some people think they are so so nonjudgmental and open minded, and yet, they turn around and judge everyone (meaning, people who think differently than them) just as much as they are accusing the judgey people of judging. 
  • ...getting old. And I hate that getting old means fitting into some sort of stupid mold that old people are supposed to fit into. I really really hate that.
  • ...that I hardly read any books this year.
  • ...that most people seem to have had a terrible bad year and, despite the fact that I suffered (am suffering) a bad reading/blogging slump, I actually had a really fun and unique year. I mean, I like that I had an interesting year but I hate that everyone else (it seems) did not so much.
  • ...that I've gotten way way too fat! Gah. Something has to be done.
  • ...that all my kids have pretty much grown up. I mean, way have kids if they're just going to go and grow up on you? 
  • ...that in a cleaning frenzy the other day I'm pretty sure I threw away something that was definitely not garbage. Why does so much garbage sit around not touched be anyone but then the NOT garbage gets thrown away?
  • ...that I have to go grocery shopping for Christmas food today.  Ugh. 
  • ...that Twitter and Pinterest and Instagram and even Facebook all work in a weird way these days that messes with my brain and makes it so I don't see stuff that I want to see. Why people, why? 
  • ... that bad for you things taste good and good for you things taste bad. I think I may have mentioned this hate before. I mention it again because I still hate it.
  • ... that my ipod doesn't work well in the car anymore.
  • ... that I had to give my rental car back after driving it across the country and back.
  • ... speaking of, I hate that my kids took my grandkid and moved across the country. 
  • ... that my laptop is on its last legs.
Hmmm... I'm thinking I could go on and on, but I'll stop there.

What do you hate these days???? Air your grievances with me!!!

And P.S.  Happy Christmas Eve Eve!!

Monday, December 19, 2016

Rambly Thoughts



Remember when I used to do random rambly thoughts all the time? Or at least from time to time? Well... I thought I'd give it a try again, and maybe actually get a blog post written.

It's not that I don't want to blog anymore, it's just that when I sit down to actually write a blog, my mind goes blank. Or sort of shuts down. Like it says... you know, you really have nothing to say on this blog anymore. So why try? And then I get instantly tired and overwhelmed.

And then I get up and never write the post.

It makes me sad.

So that's thought number one I suppose.

More thoughts:

* Is it truly almost Christmas? Christmas seems to have changed around here. There's still a frenzy of things to do but it's just different. Only one kid still at home. The others are trying to figure out how to split their time between two families. And it's hard. But I plan to still have fun... even if it's different, you know?

* Reading continues to be a a struggle. I thought I was about 30 books behind in my Goodreads reading goal. We were discussing this at book club and so my ever enabling friends looked it up for me (since I truly have been paying it no attention) and informed me that I was actually about 50 books behind. I'll think I'll be lower my goal for next year!



* We saw the latest Star Wars. I liked it. I will try to review it here with my "deeper" thoughts. But yeah, quite the story, eh?



* On the YouTube front, we got our first true copyright strike! That means we either hit the big time, or are really stupid. Probably the second. Yeah. Those YouTube people don't mess around when it comes to that stuff. Here's hoping we can learn our lesson and follow the rules better! But before we were caught, the video in question doubled our subscribers and was on it's way to 1 million views. No joke. It was exciting but then BAM! They shut it down and took it all away from us! (well, we could keep the subscribers obviously, but they took away our views. It was a very sad day.)


* WE GOT TICKETS TO BTS!!!!!! I know most of you (that is if I still have readers besides Jenni and Jenny!) don't know who they are but just know this... they are BIG TIME popular with a certain set and tickets sold out in minutes and there was much agony and angst involved... but WE GOT THEM! April Fool's Day will see us in California to experience the ride that is Korean hip hop boy band dancer singer rapper dudes. Ah. They are so good. Just believe me when I say this!!!






* All is going well with our Korean exchange student. She has been with us for four months as of yesterday, which also means we are nearly half way done with this experience. That is crazy. Time flies way too fast. And that's really all I want to say about that before I get too sad.

* Anyone have any good ideas on what to get husbands for Christmas?

* Oh, I made it just over a week with Nanowrimo... 18,000 words worth of a really cheesy, but fun story. Here's hoping I will come back to it and finish it. just like I hope to come back to and finish my other two unfinished Nano stories.... sigh.

* Blogger has changed since I was on and blogging. Do you know how weird that is? There's a smiley faced thing up there and everything. Wait what? It does Hangul????   대박 That says awesome by the way. But is way way too hard to use. Nevermind. Not so awesome. Unless I get way better at my Hangul....

Okay. There you go for some of my thoughts. Was it worth a blog post? I'm not too sure!!!




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