Wednesday, January 29, 2020

'Storm Front' review

Let me just start that this will be a divisive review. People seem to love Dresden. There has to be good about the series seeing as it's up to as of now 15 main books and I personally own the first 13. Because I thought I'd love it. I mean, I dig private investigators and while urban fantasy isn't my favorite, I can read them as fun palate cleansers.

This was not a fun palate cleanser. I finished this strictly as a hate read (I desperately wanted to finish so that I could bitch at the book club).

Dresden is a sexist, arrogant shit and as of 2000, so is Jim Butcher. Because if this isn't a self-insertion story than I don't know what is. I read this and got this impression of Dresden as just the fedora-wearing, m'lady, neckbeard type. Looking up Butcher, I got a similar impression.

Don't get me wrong, I've enjoyed narratives where the character is a chauvinist, but it's different when even the tone in general is just sexist. When all the characters don't fight it, when all the characters play into it. I'm OK with arrogant characters, but rinse and repeat.

All the female characters in this use their sexuality to get ahead. The one that doesn't still ends up helpless and in need of Dresden's help, after spending a night mothering him. There's nothing wrong with this. There's something wrong with this when it's just expected. He pays extra attention to the women's makeup and clothes, while the men get very brief descriptions. In fact, all the men were just pathetic and clearly, Dresden was better (with one exception because he was 'scary' - I guess a male can be a threatening nemesis, but not a woman).

Also, my mom read this for the book club too and she didn't enjoy it either, though didn't in particular notice the sexist crap. She's from the generation where this was just commonplace, internalized misogyny and all that. This isn't necessarily her genre either. I've also spoken to some other folks who didn't like this series either, so I'm not alone.

Am I going to read further into the series? I don't know. I have the next 12 and should that just go to waste? I don't know. Maybe the rage will subside. Maybe someone will tell me Dresden has a redemption arc where he suddenly isn't a shit, but I don't see that.

And can we forget that entire fight scene where Dresden is full on naked and traps a lady with him in a protective circle after she accidentally drinks a love potion and is basically grinding on him and trying to fuck him? Don't get me started on the fucking love potion. He fought making it, but not that hard.

Note: I never went to bookclub for this one. Had nothing to do with the book, but I don't particularly want to go into why.

Saturday, January 11, 2020

'Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs?' review

This was my 100th book read in 2019!

It's funny. I wanted to read this because I follow Caitlin on YouTube. She's a funny lady, talks about all this scary death stuff in a super upbeat and informative way. I knew a book geared toward kids would be a knock out. I finally bought it because of a book club at my local bookstore and I absolutely breezed through it.

'Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs?' by Caitlin Doughty

It's so easily digestible and answers some pretty silly questions from kids, but I've found myself discussing it (to the point of it probably being annoying) to my family and co-workers. I work in the death industry and it was really interesting to get some answers I wasn't sure of. Also, had an interesting conversation with my daughter about cannibalism (lol) which was helped answered correctly from the information in this book.

“In 1945 and 1956, two researchers analyzed the donated bodies of four adult males, and estimated that the average male offers about 125,822 calories from protein and fat. That number is far below what other red meats like beef or boar can offer. (Yes, you heard me, humans are red meat.)” 

(If you're interested, no we're not good eats unless you're starving. Would I eat someone if I were starving? I mean, maybe.)

Caitlin is a huge proponent of a more natural death and it's really opened my eyes to a lot of things I just wasn't aware of. I knew of donation - as that's what I do - but did you know you can just be wrapped in a shroud and buried like that? I think that would be cool. And you can get cremated, but with water. Interesting stuff going on in the death industry right now. Great resource for these types on things on a website Caitlin runs with some other folks.

The bookclub tonight went well! We discussed a lot of death stuff and it was fun! It's nice being able to talk with book people even though I'm so awkward. Hopefully, that gets better! Kinda disappointed that Caitlin wasn't there, but oh well 😅

Caitlin Doughty has written two other books that I'm looking forward to reading. I already own From Here to Eternity, which is a sort of death travelogue, and will eventually get Smoke Gets in Your Eyes, which is just is about her entry into the death industry by working in a crematorium.

Friday, January 10, 2020

Just an Update

I downloaded a spreadsheet from Bookriot to track my reading this year. I wavered a lot about how I was going to fill it out, which reads. I know I listed in my 2020 goals that I was going to try and keep track of the books read with my family. I wasn't sure if I wanted to put those on the list, but decided I should when one of them completed a Read Harder Challenge. I've already read 3 (on top of the repeats that the kiddo likes)!

I also wasn't sure if I wanted to put my DNFs on there, but I did bail on a book here recently, so it's looking like it might be one of those years. If you're curious, I bailed on Ghost Story by Peter Straub. It was just... so boring. And from reading reviews, I found either a lot of folks felt the same or claimed that you have to slog through more than half to get to the good bits and honestly, I don't want to have to read more than half a book to get to the good bits. Life's too short, you know?

Recently, I've been watching a lot of booktubers and their worst books of the 2019 videos. It's really funny seeing what people like and don't. A lot of books I've put off because I wasn't sure if I'd like them (confirmed by the very bad reviews) and others I wasn't interested in the first place to read. Ah, but I disagree that The Institute was one of the worst, but to each their own I guess. It was OK, but I also have limited King knowledge having only read two others of his (I think).

Been binge watching Grimm on Prime. It's so hokey that I love it!

Well, next up reads are a book my oldest read and enjoyed, Guts by Raina Telgemeier and two library borrows, The Wives by Tarryn Fisher and the fourth volume of Monstress, The Chosen. Not sure yet what the book clubs books are for next month and unsure if I want to start one of my 2020 chunkster choices yet.

I'm going to a book club tonight for 'Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs?' and I'll post the review for that after or tomorrow!

Thursday, January 2, 2020

2019 Wrap-Up (long)

For 2019, my GR's goal was 80, then I bumped it up to 90 when I hit that in November, but I figured I would maybe get one or two more books before the end of the year since December is typically my slowest reading month, but I read 100 books! The review for my 100th book of 2019 'Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs?' will probably drop January 11th, after I go to the bookclub for it.

I just wanted to go over some stats before going into my top books of the year.

So, according to Goodreads, my total pages from the year equaled over 23,000 pages, which is kinda wild when think about it like that (how many words would that be?!) My longest book, with 720 pages, was Imaginary Friends by Stephen Chbosky (I gave it a 4 out of 5 stars) and my shortest book, with 22 pages, was Blue Morphos in the Garden (which I actually read on and gave 4 out of 5 stars). 32 of the authors were male and 41 were female, a couple of other such and for the most part I'd say like 90% of the authors were new to me. I tried to consciously read more non-cis white male authors and I'd say I branched out a lot more.

I don't have any specifics stats for genre, as I didn't keep track so well... but I know I've read more nonfiction this year then ever before with I think... seven? I read more sci-fi and horror than what's usual too, but it looks like I read way less YA books than usual. I think I'm just finding it harder and harder to relate to the teenagers? There hasn't been many I've enjoyed this last year. I've downloaded BookRiot's spreadsheet for 2020, so we'll see if there's better stats for next year!

Top Reads of 2019

  • Best audios are definitely The Tales of Pell by Delilah S. Dawson and Kevin Hearne. I listened to the first 2 and they were so entertaining! I've got the 3rd one on hold and hopefully will get it here soon! I listened to A LOT of audios in 2019.
  • Best graphic novel by far was the Saga series (I read most of it this year) by Brian K. Vaughan (who also did Paper Girls, which was another good one this year) and illustrated by Fiona Staples. I'm caught up and volume 9 hurt my heart D: I read some really great graphic novels though and a close runner up was Harrow County by Cullen Bunn and illustrated by Tyler Crook.
  • Best nonfiction, that made me incredibly sad and rage-y was Dopesick by Beth Macy. I'll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara was SO scary and the ending was bittersweet.
  • Overall, I think I enjoyed the sci-fi books the most. The Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells were thoroughly entertaining and I'm kind of in love with how lovely Becky Chambers makes the future sound!
In 2019:
I had 5 5-star ratings: Saga Vol. 9 (Brian K. Vaughn), The Shadowglass (Rin Chupeco), The Kingdom of Copper (S.A. Chakraborty), Exit Strategy (Martha Wells), and Passing Strange (Ellen Klages).
58 4-star ratings, 29 3-star ratings, 5 2-star ratings, and 1 1-star ratings (if you wanted to know, it was a romance that made me rant in my Litsy and GR review).
I did not finish 8 books. I won't go into these, but this is such a relief to me that I've finally learned to let books I just DON'T want to read go. There's too many books to waste time on shit books.

Other Bookish Things:
This was the year of following Booktubers. Want some good ones? Some of my faves: Thoughts on Tomes, Merphy Napier, Daniel Greene. If you know of any booktubers that do more horror, scifi, or fantasy videos let me know!

2019 was 3 years for me on Litsy! It's had it's drama, but it primarily has been about books and I've met some cool people on there. If you wanna talk books and not have to deal with all the stupid review drama on GR, definitely check on Litsy!

I've been trying to branch out locally with other readers and towards the end of the year went to a few bookclubs at a local bookstore. It's fun and I hope eventually I won't be awkward as shit. I'm planning on going to at least 3 this month. And hopefully many more throughout 2020.

So to end this info dump, here are the battered copies of my one-year-old's favorite books:

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