These are a few of my favorite things (of 2018)

2018 has been a jumbled mess of a year. I started, stopped, and started this blog so many times and I’m sorry. Here are some random things I liked this year. Cue Julie Andrews. ** These are not things that came out in 2018, just things I consumed in 2018.**

Books:

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman is a lovely story about an old curmudgeon (best word of 2018) who finds a place for himself. I wrote a full review here.

Wicked and the Wallflower by Sarah MacLean is the first romance novel I read all year that didn’t fetishize toxic masculinity, which I loved. I went through a major romance phase during wedding reception planning mostly because I needed something easy to read and emotionally upbeat to keep the stress at bay. Loved this and was so frustrated it was a new release. Now I have to wait for the next ones to be published!

The Humans by Matt Haig is an odd story about an alien who takes control of the body of a human mathematician. It’s weird and funny and heartwarming and I wrote a better review here as well.

Vintage Youtubers:

This is one of my newest favorite categories of thing I’m in love with. I’ve been collecting vintage pieces here and there my whole life and never put together that I could just be a vintage lady until I found this community of people.

The Closet Historian is one of my favorite vintage Youtubers. She has practical and informational videos sprinkled with sewing tutorials and projects. She’s super cool.

Angela Clayton is a fantastic costumer and I love watching her sewing videos where she talks through her process. It’s way more advanced than anything I’ve ever attempted, but still fascinating.

Podcasts:

The Adventure Zone is hands down my favorite podcast of all time. I started listening 2 years ago and am finally up to date as of November of this year. That may be a bit intimidating if you’re looking for a new podcast, but it is seriously the best D&D playthrough podcast I’ve ever listened to. Your mileage may vary, but also… this one is the best.

My Brother My Brother and Me is one I started listening to because I fell in love with the boys from The Adventure Zone. This is the podcast they started originally and it is a hysterical advice series. They also made a TV show that is the most hilarious thing I watched all year.

Last Podcast on the Left was a podcast I became obsessed with after a “ghost tour” I did in Chicago and wanted to learn more about H. H. Holmes. They make miniseries about specific topics surrounding the occult, serial killers, cults, and other semi-related dark topics.

Music:

To close out this probably longer-than-it-needs-to-be post, here is a smattering of music that I would recommend.

Top track: Ghosted – Get Some

Talking Heads – Stop Making Sense

Lucius – Nudes is my favorite album of 2018

Bodhi Presman – The Presman Farm

Marc Rebillet’s Idealogue series

Book Review: A Man Called Ove

Every morning for the almost four decades they had lived in this house, Ove put on the coffee percolator, using exactly the same amount of coffee as on any other morning, and then drank a cup with his wife. One measure for each cup, and one extra for the pot–no more, no less. People didn’t know how to do that anymore, brew some proper coffee. In the same way as nowadays nobody could write with a pen. Because now it was all computers and espresso machines. And where was the world going if people couldn’t even write or brew a pot of coffee?”

★★★★★

It took me such a long time and I finished it right at the end of the year, but I think I may have found my favorite book of 2018. A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman follows the story of Ove, a curmudgeonly old miser who doesn’t get along with anyone. Of course, Ove is forced to interact with a wide variety of colorful characters and one small cat that Ove is not at all pleased about. Backman weaves a beautiful tale and breathes life into even the seemingly simplest of characters. The chapters jump back and forth between Ove’s present day and his past to tell a beautiful love story between a quiet, principled man and his vibrant, caring wife.

The Good:

  1. Who doesn’t love a great redemption arc? Throughout the story, Ove transitions from depressed old miser to depressed old miser with empathy and a dash of self-awareness.
  2. I’m really not into cars, but there is a surprisingly beautiful theme throughout the book that ties Ove’s relationships to his relationship with his Saabs. In fact, just go to chapter 28 and read the whole thing. Backman weaves such a fantastic parallel between Ove and his neighbor Rune’s cars that you don’t even realize what his original point was until the end of the chapter and everything clicks into place.
  3. It is written beautifully and the translator did a fantastic job.
  4. “He never understood why she chose him. She loved only abstract things like music and books and strange words. Ove was a man entirely filled with tangible things. he liked screwdrivers and oil filters. He went through life with his hands firmly shoved into his pockets. She danced.”
  5. It’s just so sweet and sad and I hate it and I love it for making me feel these things.

The Bad:

  1. The ending is pretty cheesy. Don’t get me wrong I still bawled my eyes out and enjoyed it, but it was still kind of corny.
  2. I just can’t handle the death of a spouse trope. So many tears!
  3. End of list.

In conclusion, if you are ready to cry go read this. I obviously couldn’t go into too much detail to keep this spoiler-free, but just trust me. Read this.

Graphic Novel Fiend – A Collection of Mini Reviews

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Solid State by Jonathan Coulton | ★★★☆☆ | I found this book at my local comic shop and had no idea it was a concept graphic novel paired with an album by Jonathan Coulton. I’d never heard of the artist before and to be honest, the music didn’t make much sense for a sci fi graphic novel in my opinion. I was expecting something more electronic and space-y and the album I ended up listening to isn’t really my style. The graphic novel itself was fairly interesting and unique, albeit a little preachy. The pacing and timelines were a little confusing as well, though the art was clean and easy to follow. All in all, this was a fairly decent graphic novel, but I just wasn’t a huge fan.

The Stonekeeper (Amulet, #1) by Kazu Kabuishi | ★★★☆☆ | It’s hard to judge the first volume of a graphic novel series. I did enjoy the artwork and the story line has potential. I’ll definitely pick up the second one to see where it goes.

Lumberjanes #3 by Noelle Stevenson | ★★★☆☆ | Ehhhh. I love the style and idea of this series, but this volume just wasn’t my favorite. I wanted a more cohesive story, but the snippets of different stories threw me off a bit. I may check out future volumes from the library.

Deadly Class #1 – 2 by Rick Remender | ★★★☆☆ | I borrowed four volumes of this series (are there only 4?) from my best friend, and I’m not sure that I want to finish it. It’s an interesting story and the art style is on point. I love how the darkness is conveyed through color and the various monochromatic spreads are pretty dang cool. This series is just darker and grittier and cringier than I like.

Goliath by Tom Gauld | ★★★★★ | The quickest read gets the highest score. I love this take on the classic story. It’s short and simple, but packs a punch. The simple scenery combined with the sparse dialogue painted a melancholy viewpoint of Goliath and I am so there for it. Read this book!

My Friend Dahmer by Derf Backderf | ★★★★★ | What a piece of work. I am unashamedly obsessed with stories about murder and mayhem and this graphic novel fills that void. It deals with Dahmer’s early years and was created by a classmate of Dahmer. The art style matches the tone and the subject matter really well, too. This is a great one to read before listening to Last Podcast on the Left’s three-part series on Dahmer; If you’re interested in serial killers and weird occult stuff, this is your podcast and this is your book.

The Adventure Zone: Here There Be Gerblins by the McElroys | ★★★★★ | Okay, these last two book reviews are just me raving about podcasts, I get that. But seriously, this podcast is the best Dungeons and Dragons podcast. They’re definitely more story-based than rules-based, but it makes for a great podcast and this graphic novel follows Magnus, Merle, and Taako in the first story in the Balance arc (start here).

I’m back!

Just a quick blog post for today. I just got back from a 2 week long camping trip with my husband and I have so many new ideas for this blog. Don’t worry, I’ll still include book content. However, I do feel that my interests tend to be all over the place and sometimes I just don’t have the content for a 100% book blog. At the moment I am keeping my domain name (it would be too annoying to change it everywhere). Look out for more updates!

Summer Excuses

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Yearning for more summer reads

Summer tends to be my most ridiculously busy season. We travel or have planned events almost constantly. Sometimes it feels so inconvenient to be married. We have to visit his family or my family who are 1-2 hours away from us in opposite directions. Then I visit my best friends and he visits his best friends or we both visit our collective best friends or we all go to concerts or we have friends stay over or… And then who has time for keeping up with the house!? Oof. So instead of a book-related blog post (you know, the reason I have a blog), here is a list of excuses for why I am posting erratically for the foreseeable future.

G E N   C O N

Gen Con is my favorite convention I’ve had the liberty of visiting, and it’s huge and it’s close to my house! My BFF and I are creating a secret Bob’s Burgers/Borderlands crossover cosplay and I am unbelievably pumped. I will definitely post my finished products and our resources for future reference.

M Y   R E C E P T I O N

I’m already married, but in August my husband and I are finally hosting our reception to celebrate with our families and friends. There are under 100 people attending and it will be super low key, but it’s still stressful and time-consuming. Wish me luck, I’m going crazy. I just found out our taco truck double booked us and can no longer cater, so I’m scrambling to find someone to feed my guests.

F E S T I V A L S / S H O W S

This portion of my life is always the hugest. We live near our favorite music venues and take full advantage of that fact. We’re seeing Chicano Batman, L.A. Witch, and Sugar Candy Mountain over the next few months. Festival-wise, we’re going to Back Alley Ballyhoo (a local psych music fest), Desert Daze (a non-local psych fest), and Dirtybird Campout (a house fest). And then we’re also going to two different craft beer festivals. Thankfully, these are all planned out over the next few months into October, but I’m booked. Don’t ask me to go to any more festivals, I just paid for most of them last month and the price of fun is not book hauls (lol jk).

I N   C O N C L U S I O N

Contrary to the vibe of my introductory paragraph, I am actually legitimately excited about everything I’m doing, but these are also all things that eat into my precious reading time. I attempted to force myself to read, but I want to be happy with what I’m reading and produce decent reviews. Instead, I am just reading when I can and I hope you’ll bear with me in this hectic time of my life.

July TBR and Currently Reading

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Welcome to my July TBR (To Be Read) pile, almost midway through June. I’ve kind of gone back and forth on whether I want to continue with TBR lists since lately I’ve been a mood reader to the max. I mean, I was supposed to be participating in the #becausedragonsRAT and then I dropped both books I was loving and started something new. Oops.

U N F I N I S H E D   J U N E   R E A D S

The Weird Fiction Review #8 | So far I’m enjoying this collection. It has some ups and downs, which is kind of to be expected with these types of bind ups.

Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm by Philip Pullman | I must finish this book this summer. I started it in 2016 and never finished all the stories. They’re interesting and I enjoy learning about the Grimm fairy tales, but then I put down the book and never pick it up again. I think August I will work on reading books I’ve held onto for years and never finished.

Total Cat Mojo by Jackson Galaxy | One of my cats was peeing on everything I love, so I’ve been trying to figure out why. I ended up going to the vet and she helped us with some suggestions, but this book has been super helpful in general.

R E A D A T H O N   P L A N S

Emperor Mage (#3) by Tamora Pierce | I’ve been slowly making my way through all of Tamora Pierce’s novels. The Immortals was my absolute favorite series as a kid, but as an adult this series is getting a little weird. I’m about a third of the way through this book and Daine and Numair’s relationship is getting a little swampy.

Amulet Vol. 1 by Kazu Kabuishi | I already finished this and it was decent.

Kiki’s Delivery Service by Eiko Kadono | I also finished this and loved it.

Deathless by Catherynne M. Valente | This book is SO GOOD and I just put it down for no reason during the readathon. I’m a failure, but whatever.

E T C . . .

The Martian by Andy Weir | I’ve been wanting to read this damn book since I saw the movie in theaters ages ago. Wow, I literally just looked it up and apparently the movie came out in 2015. Is this what it feels like to get older? Woof.

I also want to read more graphic novels this month. I keep buying them because I love graphic novels and then I just save them for no reason. I’m just too excited to read everything ever!

June Wrap Up – A Collection of Mini Reviews

 

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June was a fruitful month for me. After literal months of a reading slump, I immensely enjoyed most of what I read this month. Yay me.

N O V E L S

Turtles All the Way Down by John Green | ★★★★☆ | I enjoyed this much more than I thought I would, honestly. I’ve learned since I’ve started reading again that I’m not a huge fan of YA that takes place in high school, but I took a chance on this one since it’s John Green. See my full review here.

The Hating Game by Sally Thorne | ★★★★☆ | “It’s a corporate truth universally acknowledged that workers would rather eat rat skeletons than participate in group activities.” This is an adorable hate to love romance story about two office workers and their slow burn romance. I definitely had the flu while reading this and barely remember it, so maybe one day I’ll re-read it and see if I feel differently. However, I do remember the moments of the fetishization of classic masculinity. For example, the protagonist compares her ex who couldn’t lift her, to her current love, who can pick her up and carry her places. It just rubbed me the wrong way as someone who doesn’t like hyper-masculinity, hence the 4 stars instead of 5.

The Diviners by Libba Bray | ★★★★★ | I listened to this as an audiobook and highly recommend it in this form. I had tried reading it ages ago in book form, but couldn’t pay long enough attention. The audiobook, though? Oof. Yas. The narrator does an absolutely fantastic job of representing each character uniquely. I will definitely be listening to the next book in audiobook form.

The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett | ★★★★★ | “They think all writing is magic. Words worry them. See their swords? They glow blue in the presence of lawyers.” I fucking loved this series as a kid. This is Pratchett’s Tiffany Aching sub-series within the Witches series within the Discworld universe. One of my personal goals is to continue reading all the Pratchett I can get my hands on because it’s pure genius. For anyone that is unfamiliar, the Discworld novels are kind of a huge fantasy version of the Hitchhiker’s Guide in terms of comedy and snark. There are many reading guides, since there are just so many books and I recommend reading them thematically, starting with whichever series snags your interest.

Wild Beauty by Anne-Marie McLemore | ★★★★★ | “The woman who insisted Fel call her Abuela Lila told him that, between the flower beds, the blossoming trees, and the sunken garden, there were more petals in La Pradera than souls in the world. Everything here bloomed. The clouds of hydrangeas and lilacs. The arbors and trellises. The beds of lilies and hyacinths.” This book and author 100%. I have read all of her published works and they have all impressed me. Full review incoming. Wild Beauty definitely leaned more towards fantasy than her other magical realism books. I adored the garden imagery and her dreamy writing style. It’s a fantastic story of love and loss and family and fitting in.

P O E T R Y

Falling Up by Shel Silverstein | ★★★☆☆ | Don’t hate me for giving a Shel Silverstein book 3 stars. I got this at a library book sale for like 50 cents, remembering it as pure genius when I read it at 6 years old. It’s definitely a book for 6-year-olds.

Pansy by Andrea Gibson | ★★★★☆ |Andrea Gibson is lovely. I love that she can combine poems about love and sexuality with humor and light-hearted jokes. The video below is her performance of one of my favorite poems in this collection.

Envelope Poems by Emily Dickinson | ★★★★☆ | This poetry collection was visually very cool. It’s not really a book you read though. I kept expecting a summary or some bit of history, but no. It’s literally just a collection of photographs of bits of paper she wrote poems on and then a digital representation of the piece with words that are easier to read. Very cool though, it definitely humanizes Dickinson.

G R A P H I C   N O V E L S

Explorer: The Mystery Boxes | ★★★★☆ | I’m not sure what I expected from this collection, but it was very cool. My favorites were Emily Carroll’s (of course) and Kazu Kibuishi’s.

T R A S H   R E A D S

Cum For Bigfoot by Virginia Wade | ★★☆☆☆ | Uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

Chuck’s Unicorn Tinglers Vol 1 and Lonely Author Pounded By Dinosaur Social Media Followers by Chuck Tingle | ★★☆☆☆ | “‘All of you?’ I shout, throwing my hands up in the air. ‘Each and every one of you is just a gay dinosaur?’ The crowd of reptilian beasts nods. ‘And I’m just a character in a book? Even though I wrote a book about that very idea?’ I continue, exasperated. The dinosaurs nod again. ‘Then who is writing this book?’ I ask. Bunter steps forward. ‘Chuck Tingle.’ He says.” I don’t–I don’t know what this is. I got these ebooks from a Humble Bundle and then watched this video where Cam from Wolfshot Publishing (jokingly) calls him the best author ever and… I was intrigued. It’s weird, though.