Saturday, July 23, 2016

Saturday in the Garden | Attack of the Out-of-Control Tomato Plants

OUTSIDE

The garden has gotten to the overgrown and messy stage. It's been hot and we've gotten lots of rain in the last week and a half so it feels like everything has doubled in size.  I have hopes for good veggie harvests but it is kind of a mess.  I need to spend tomorrow morning, if it's not rainy and as muggy as this morning is, cleaning things up.







We have a couple of Barn Swallow nests around the front entrance of the building I work in and the young fledged this week.  They weren't very steady on their wings so would just kind of hang around and let you get way closer than they should have.  They were also landing on every possible surface in a panicked and clumsy sort of way.  Super fun to watch!
 


GAK

On the schedule today is sushi followed by kick ass female Ghostbusters.  Yay for Saturday!


WATCHING, READING and BLOGGING

Watching 

I'm in a bit of a KDrama hangover after watching the stupendous Queen In Hyun's Man, so I've been distractedly re-watching the first three seasons of Arrow.  Again.

With some distance from my initial obsession with this show I am finding that I am not so convinced by Oliver and Felicity's pairing.  I think the two have amazing emotional chemistry but there is not a lot of physical chemistry.  That doesn't mean they shouldn't be together of course but I do wish they had a little more obvious attraction to each other.  I think during my initial obsession, I just loved the character of Felicity so much and was super thrilled to see a character like her get the guy that I kind of fan wanked away their lack of physical connection.  Anyway, It's just interesting how things change with time, even just a little time.  Don't get me wrong I still ship the hell out of them but am maybe a little more sympathetic to the anti-shippers:0).


Reading

Finished Last Week:

  • Tiger Eye by Marjorie M. Liu:  This is a paranormal romance with a super promising premise and which started well enough.  I ended up powering through (skimming) the last 100 pages or so.  Not my cup of tea I'm afraid.  And it was damming up my reading!  It's a library book so I felt like I needed to concentrate on it before picking up anything else. 
  • The Passage (The Passage #1) by Justin Cronin:  This literary novel about a vampiric plague has been recommended to me a thousand times in a thousand ways.  I am happy to announce that despite it causing some early eye-rolling, this book ended up being awesome!
Currently Reading:
  • One Magic Square by Lolo Houbein: A gardening book about maximizing food production in a small space.  An ARC from Netgalley (though I think it's an older title).  
  • Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith: I will try almost any take on Jane Austen's novels, even (especially?) ones involving zombies. This was the book that was really on hold while I struggled with Tiger Eye. Now making good progress with it!

Added to the TBR:

This is a list of books that I have added to my Goodreads TBR list this week.  It helps to burn the books I want to read a little more firmly into my mind, maybe get them on some other folks TBRs and gives me a chance to recognize a lot of the awesome bloggers that add stuff to my TBR!
  • The Emperor's Arrow by Lauren D.M. Smith: A new epic fantasy/romance that looks very fun! Discovered on Reading Reality.
  • The Bard's of Bone Plain by Patricia McKillip:  I've shockingly never read anything by McKillip and I think it's about time to fix that.  This one blends fantasy and archaeology and sounds cool.  Recommended on the Get Booked Podcast by Book Riot.
  • The Club Dumas by Arturo Perez-Reverte: I read a book by Perez-Reverte a few years ago which I liked but I'd kind of forgotten about him.  A Myriad of Books was kind enough to remind me of him and recommended this book in her Top Ten Tuesday post.  

Blogging 

On the BLOG LAST WEEK:

Friday, July 22, 2016

REVIEW | The Aeronaut's Windlass by Jim Butcher

The Aeronaut's Windlass by Jim Butcher
Publication Year: 2015
Genre: Fantasy
Series: The Cinder Spires #1
Awards: Hugo Award Nominee, 2016
Format: Hardcover
Narrator: NA

WHY?:  I love me some Jim Butcher.  Plus sailing ships that fly.   

SYNOPSIS:  In what appears to be a far future Earth (?), human kind has built a civilization on Spires of rock in the sky that seem to have been built by some unknown entity in the far past.  Captain Frances Madison Grimm is a free lance airship captain, a job he took up after being dishonorably discharged from Spire Albion's navy.  Gwendolyn and Bridget are from completely different different backgrounds but both are new recruits to Spire Albion's guard.  The lives of these three characters come together when the leader of Spire Albion calls on them to perform a special mission after a rival Spire, Aurora, launches an attack.  Far from being a simple escalation of tensions between the two spires, the forces at work driving these two spires to conflict are mysterious and dark and perhaps originating from the surface of the ruined planet.  All that Captain Grimm, Gwen, Bridget and a few other of their ensemble cast know however, is that they must defend their Spire at all costs.   

THOUGHTS:

This was overall a pretty satisfying book and from my perspective (I haven't read his Codex Alera series), a departure from Butcher's other work. I don't totally understand or see the big picture of the world he creates here but I really like it nonetheless and it feels like it is laying the foundation for some epic reveals and narrative twists in future books. There is just enough detail to get on with, give context and uniqueness but without bogging down the narrative with too much description and world building.  I thought it very well done for my tastes though it may frustrate folks who really enjoy intricate world building.

As far as is revealed, it is a far future of our world, bordering on dystopia.  Humans live in the air on giant spires above a planet where the surface has been somehow corrupted.  The world has a strong steampunk flavor with the society being somewhat feudal in structure but they have access to electricity by harnessing etheric energies using crystals that are grown.  There are different spires that don't always get along with each other and each spire has many separate levels called Habbles that operate somewhat independently though all are under a single spire ruler.

One aspect of the book that got me very excited was that is has an ensemble cast with two main groups operating separately before the story weaves them together. The story is told from six different points of view and Butcher does an acceptable job of making this work though it's not perfect. I definitely had my favorite POVs and got a little impatient from time to time when the story shifted.  The holy grail, and it is truly magnificent when it happens, is to suck the reader in so hard to every single storyline/POV that you're almost equally excited at the start of each new chapter (the earlier installments in The Song of Ice and Fire come to mind).  The Aeronaut's Windlass didn't hit that sweet spot for me but it was still a heck of a lot of fun and I'm pleased that Butcher went with this type of storytelling (which may be my favorite).  

I think where the book struggled the most for me was with the characters.  Oddly Gwendolyn (and Benedict) were my favorites which is a not what I would have expected.  I think Gwendolyn was the only character that came off as individual and unique enough under the book's structure - she had a personality that stood out and she and Benedict had a sense of humor and fun banter. Benedict, while not a POV character (though I kinda wish he was), is interesting because he is a warriorborn, meaning he is part human, part feline. We spend a lot of time with Captain Grimm but to be honest he was kind of boring - very proper and bursting with integrity and valor.  I feel like Butcher spent a lot of time trying to convince me how awesome Grimm was instead of giving him an interesting personality. Bridget also was a little boring though she is the type of character I would normally love.  I also can't forget to mention Rowl and his clan who are definitely the most interesting and fun characters.  Their cats, you see, that talk, and are bad-ass.  Butcher nails what a cat society might look like and it's fun that Rowl, Bridget's constant companion and protector, is one of the POV narrators.  Regardless, all the characters are perfectly likeable enough to carry the real star of the show which is the world-building and story.

The plot is actually fairly straight-forward but hints at complexities to come.  Butcher's strength, in the Dresden Files at least, is creating fast-paced plots that leave you breathless and frequently cheering.  The Aeronaut's Windlass doesn't quite reach Dresden levels of awesome chaos but it trundles along at a respectable pace and kept me interested.  Honestly, Butcher had his hands full in this book - establishing an ensemble cast, a complex society and world AND keeping the plot pumping along.  As a result, perhaps not all the elements are as strong as they could be but they're not bad and I am definitely excited for what's coming next in the series.

FINAL VERDICT:  An enjoyable first installment for a series I have high hopes for!  3.5 out of 5 stars.

Other Opinions Are Available: The Bibliosanctum | Reading Reality

Monday, July 18, 2016

TOP TEN TUESDAY | Books That Are Out of This...Country.

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme for bloggers who like books and lists. It's awesome and is graciously hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

Being a sheltered, self-absorbed American, I was excited for this week's topic to give me a new way to look at my book list. The topic is:
Ten Books Set Outside The US (I don't know about you but sooo much of what I read is set in the US and I love finding new recs of stuff set outside of it!)
How diversely, geographically speaking do I read? The answer?  Not very.  My reading is very U.S. and U.K.-centric, I'm afraid and I have read very little outside of Europe.  Those books that are further afield are not generally books in translation either but written by an American or European.  Nice wake up call that I am likely missing out on some great literature so I am really looking forward to getting some recs from this week's lists.

************* 


1Still Life (Chief Inspector Gamache #1) by Louise Penny

First our neighbors to the north!  I've likely read a few books set in Canada or at least written by Canadians but this is a recent mystery that I very much enjoyed.  It also had an incredibly strong sense of place, set in a charming, small (I think fictional) town called Three Pines.  


2This Rough Magic by Mary Stewart

This Rough Magic is a delightful romantic suspense novel that takes place on the Greek island of Corfu which lies off the Greek and Albanian coasts.  It is also one of the islands suspected to be the inspiration for the island in Shakespeare's The Tempest.  This speculation as well as the island's unique culture and scenic coastlines play a large role in this fun book.

3. Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor

This book is a super fun young adult novel focused on an albino Nigerian girl named Sunny who finds out that she is heir to a magical heritage.  Rooted in African myth and a great story.

4. The Blackhouse and The Lewis Man (The Lewis Trilogy) by Peter May

This a vividly atmospheric mystery trilogy (I haven't yet read book 3) about an Edinburgh cop who returns to his home  - the Island of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides of the coast of Scotland.  The island's character is the biggest contributor to the unique atmosphere of these books.  

5. State of Wonder and Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

This feels like a bit of a cheat because Ann Patchett is solidly American and the country of setting for Bel Canto is never explicitly mentioned but the settings in both novels are so evocative and the characters are eclectic in their origins.  State of Wonder takes place in the Amazon Rainforests of Brazil. I love both these novels and they made me a solid fan of Ann Patchett's writing. 

6. The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

This is another book where the setting is almost a character.  This is also one of the few works in translation on the list and it is so fantastic and very bookish.

Source
7. The City & The City by China Mieville

So with all the speculative fiction I read, there had to be an imaginary location:).  I chose this one because it is so unique and the place is so important.  It feels very real.  A noir detective novel that takes place in two vaguely Eastern European cities that occupy the same space and citizens of each are trained not to see the other city.  It's freaky and pretty awesome.

8. Smilla's Sense of Snow by Peter Hoeg

A great mystery/suspense novel set in the cold north.  Really lovely writing and a great female protagonist. A precursor to all the "cold crime" that is so popular these days?

9. The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery

This is a book I don't think I've talked about before on the blog? And I don't know why cause I really loved it.  About the unlikely friendship between a precocious 12 year old girl, a Japanese businessman and the bookish concierge in their Paris apartment building.  

10. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

I can't remember if it is explicit that this takes place in England but it stills feels very grounded there. One of my favorite books of all time and a unique future look at England.

**********

So that's my very Eurocentric tour of books that I've enjoyed that took place outside of the U.S.  I look forward to getting ideas on expanding my travels from the rest of the Top Ten Tuesday lists! 


Sunday, July 17, 2016

TV REVIEW | K Drama | Queen In-Hyun's Man (2012)

This show people. THIS. SHOW.  I don't think I can talk about it coherently  - all that may come out is gushy nonsense interspersed with squeals of delight.  So, to get the ball rolling a random stream of consciousness list:

1) This is definitely the best K drama I have ever seen - almost perfect.  Of course I have to admit, before you get too impressed, that it is only the fifth one I've watched, ha ha, so it's at the top of a very short list BUT I can't imagine anything surpassing it.  Honestly if there is a better drama of this type (I think I'd categorize as romantic comedy) point me to it now!

2) Kim. Boong. Do.  The best lead male character ever. Or...you know...of the 5 K Dramas I've watched.  But seriously he is pretty darn perfect. 

3) Ji Hyun Woo  - the actor who plays Kim Boong Do is seriously my type looks-wise (no idea about his personality, you'll be shocked to know we haven't met).  Not sure how much a role this plays in #2 but there is definitely some correlation.

4) The lead characters'/actors' chemistry is seriously off the chart.  

5) The Kissing.  OMG The Kissing.






6) The combo of historic and modern is brilliant and is used SO well to tell a lovely complete tale.

7) I was a little irritated after watching episode 12 which seemed to wrap everything up so nicely.  How on earth were they going to drag things out for another 4 episodes?  The answer?  Really damn awesomely.  I ended up really liking every episode of the entire run and felt none of them were wasted.

Despite the fact that I am now distracted by all the kissing GIFs, I will move on and try to write some coherent thoughts on the drama.  This drama is 16 episodes long. 

Synopsis:

First of all, what's the story?  Kim Boong Do is a noblemen in the late 1600s (Joseon era) of Korea.  The King has set aside his wife the Queen (yup, the one in the title) because of the machinations of some (well one in particular) corrupt minsters.  Through this kerfuffle all of Kim Boong Do's family is killed - Mother, Father, Wife, Child - despite the fact that the king refers to Boong Do as his best friend.  Not sure how one remains friends with someone who has caused the death of your family but ...whatever...Boong Do blames the minister and sets about for revenge and to reinstate the Queen back at court.  Alongside him are his humble servants (slaves) or ex-servants, a somewhat feckless guy but more importantly a beautiful gisaeng, Yoon Wol, who holds a serious torch for Boong Do.  Knowing what he is up against and worrying about him, she has the Buddhist monks make a talisman for him that is meant to protect his life.  And it does, by shooting him 300 years into the future whenever his life is threatened.  The first person he meets in the future and who eventually becomes his guide to the modern world is an actress named Choi Hee Jin.

Hee Jin is an up and coming new actress who has gotten her first break playing Queen In Hyun in a historic drama focused on all the events Kim Boong Do is living.  She is trying to navigate her new fame with the help of her friend and manager Jo Soo Kyung and also trying to avoid getting entangled with her ex boyfriend who is a famous actor and is playing the king in the drama.  She is initially confused but intrigued by her encounters with Kim Boong Do and quickly believes that he is a time traveler and also becomes quickly smitten with him.  Boong Do is a little slower to fall, probably because he has a lot going on what with all the time travel and avenging of his family, but he eventually does and drama, oh so deliciously, ensues.  

Thoughts: 

Of course I have to start with Kim Boong Do.  All of the dramas I have watched thus far have for the most part featured the same kind of male lead character.  They're rich and arrogant and self-absorbed though deep down we know they are honorable good men. The whole point of these dramas is that these men learn to care for someone more than they care about themselves and become supportive, respectful and awesome though perhaps still a little arrogant. If they were in a romance novel they'd be the classic Alpha males. The lead female characters are in a position of weakness and steadily gain power and independence.  

Queen In Hyun's Man doesn't follow this formula.  Kim Boong Do is rich and certainly very confident and he knows how to boss people about - he's a nobleman after all - but he's also very respectful and understanding of others from the very beginning.  The show further humbles him by its very nature - Kim Boong Do is thrust into a world he cannot begin to understand and in which he is basically a child and at least initially wholly dependent on Hee Jin.  He is not resentful of being reliant on her but is instead deeply grateful and curious about everything.  And he quickly begins to learn on his own because he is incredibly smart and clever.  His cleverness is the source of many of the dramas best moments as he puzzles things out and figures out fantastical ways to outwit his enemies.  The world of political scheming and treachery have also made him intuitive and able to read people - their motives and the emotions behind their words.  This helps him to survive in the dangerous world he lives in and it has the dreamy side effect of making him a very thoughtful lover and friend.  To top things off, he's good with words and completely genuine  - there is no bluster or artifice about him  and it's these character traits that draw Hee Jin in and lead to her teasing him that he is player.  

One of my favorite things about him also is that he has a cheeky and adorable sense of humor.  Probably my two most favorite scenes in the drama are when he whips out this humor to slyly tease Hee Jin (the car scene in episode 8 and when he admits that maybe he IS a player in episode 11).   And despite all the horrible things that have happened to him in his life, he is completely open to the wonder of the new world he finds himself in. He's got an adventurous and playful spirit which responds strongly to Hee Jin's impulsiveness and "passionate" nature.   He also never dis-respects her or is impatient with her even when she does some immature and annoying things.  He knows why she is acting that way and wouldn't dream of de-meaning or begrudging her feelings. Sigh...... As you can tell I am seriously in love with this character and we haven't even gotten to the fact that he's a martial arts bad ass melon farmer AND a big goofy nerd.  Or how quirkily and boyishly handsome he is or that he's got eyes that smile.  And a super dreamy voice. Yup, I've got it real bad, lol.

And I shouldn't forget Hee Jin.  While much of my love for this drama is concentrated on the character of Kim Boong Do, Hee Jin is also a well developed and interesting character and she is played to perfection by actress Yoo In Na.  Seriously, a really stunning performance.  I fully loved the character and she had all my loyalty even though on the surface she is not the type of character to earn my sympathy.  She's pretty, successful, impulsive and not all that interested in learning and books.  She has a wall-sized portrait of herself hanging in her apartment and she boasts that she is famous because she's so pretty.  Despite all that she's incredibly loveable.  She's kind-hearted and generous, transparent with her feelings, adventurous and has enough self-respect not to let herself get sucked in by her obnoxious, though very handsome and famous, ex-boyfriend.  As mentioned above she does occasionally act a little immature and annoying but it is always with good and understandable intent.  Her chemistry with Kim Boong Do is seriously intense.


That chemistry between the leads is what I think makes this drama truly awesome. The scenes between them sparkle and feel completely natural  - like you are really watching two people fall in love.  Which you may actually be since the two actors did date at some point for an indeterminate length of time after or during the filming (reports are confusing, at least to me).  They feel so right together that I didn't even once 'ship Boong Do with his servant Yoon Wol, who has had a hard life with few advantages and has loved him unrequited for years so much so that she is the reason he can travel in time.  She is the type of character I would usually root for in a romance but nope, it had to be Hee Jin. Never any doubt. Did I mention the kissing?  The chemistry is helped along by a really soaringly romantic original sound track.  The lovers have two theme songs:

1. Their theme song for their happier more romantic moments:  I'm coming to see (Or meet) you by Deok Hwan (non-spoilery link)  And for a video that does a great job showcasing the chemistry between these two ... (But has spoilers)
2. Their theme music for when they are separated and sad and longing: Same Sky, Different Time by Joo Hee (NOTE:  the video with this may be a little spoilery so if you haven't watched the drama I would just open in a different window and just listen and not watch.

So this is a romance, plain and simple, and it succeeds so so well in this department but it ain't no slouch in the overall plot department either.  The writing of the show is really great with plenty of suspense and nuances.  The overall tone of the drama is light though there are of course many emotional twists and turns and I will admit to tears in the last few episodes.  There's some lovely parallels between the historic and modern-day story that are fun to pick apart and serve to strengthen the characterizations.  

In the Joseon era, Boong Do is looking for revenge but is more trying to set things right by championing the Queen who has been bullied by one of the King's consorts and pushed into exile by corrupt political machinations in the court.  In the modern day story line, Hee Jin is trying to navigate her place in Korea's new "royalty" (it's drama stars) and she is being bullied by her co-stars.  The two "Queens" are in very similar positions so it's not surprising that Boong Do feels the need to champion Hee Jin even as he falls in love with her.  There are so many connected themes and plot points that occur early on and than pay off or re-appear in surprising and interesting ways later on.  It's thoughtfully and smartly plotted down to the last minute of episode 16.  Perfection, really.  

And then there's the time travel which can be tricky to pull off.  Boong Do's adaptation to the modern world is done really well and is a blast to watch while he at first must rely on the somewhat unreliable Hee Jin to orient him.  
“When I listen to you, it seems as though the reason for everything in this world is to enable kisses. What kind of lustful world is this?”  HEE!
Because he's so smart and curious, he starts to reason things out himself and this is equally fun to watch.  It's clear how he uses the skills he had to develop in his much more treacherous time of origin to help him adjust relatively quickly to modern times. 


The mechanism of travel is also dramatic and interesting and ends up playing a major part in the story on several different levels.  The talisman is powerful but also unpredictable and fragile.  The show does not shy away from investigating the ramifications of messing around with time but it is also not a slave to it.  It's the perfect mix.  There is some controversy about the resolution at the end but I for one thought it made perfect sense (as long as we're accepting the concept of magic to begin with:) and was a lovely and well-prepared ending.  

FINAL VERDICT:  Grade A, 9.5 out of 10 Stars, All the loves and hearts.

This is a well-written and plotted romantic-comedy-fantasy that is bound to give your heart some flutters with the chemistry of its lead couple and the well chosen actors that play them.  Watch it. Now.  You won't be sorry.  Unless you hate romance.  In which case, K Dramas probably aren't your thing so....

Don't just take my word for it!:




Saturday, July 16, 2016

Saturday in the Garden | Bookcases that are doors, Doors that are bookcases

OUTSIDE

This will be a short post this week!  Lucky you:)!  More blueberries this week and I now have a respectable pile of green beans.  The green bean seeds I put in the ground last weekend are coming up already thanks to warm temps and some good rains this week.  The tomatoes are also finally starting to come on though I've had to cull a few and toss them because of blossom end rot.  Also my chard is looking pretty if a little chewed on.



GAK

I went on another parade of homes tour today with a friend and you will be completely unsurprised that my favorite house had this little library tucked on the second floor.
So that bookshelf that kind of looks tucked behind the other in the middle of the pic? It's a DOOR. 


WATCHING, READING and BLOGGING

Watching 

This week I had the pleasure of watching my favorite K Drama yet - Queen In Hyun's Man.  It's so ridiculously romantic, charming, suspenseful and has the best lead male character that I've run into in a long time.  I plan on gushing about it in a post so won't say too much more but WATCH IT.


Reading

Finished Last Week:

Nothing Finished This Week.

Currently Reading:

  • One Magic Square by Lolo Houbein: A gardening book about maximizing food production in a small space.  An ARC from Netgalley (though I think it's an older title).  
  • The Passage (The Passage #1) by Justin Cronin:  This literary novel about a vampiric plague has been recommended to me a thousand times in a thousand ways.  I am now on chapter 28 or 29.  
  • Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith: I will try almost any take on Jane Austen's novels, even (especially?) ones involving zombies. 
  • Tiger Eye by Marjorie M. Liu:  This is a paranormal romance with a super promising premise and which started well enough.  With 100 pages left, it is really not working for me and I'm on the fence about whether to continue or not....

Added to the TBR:

This is a list of books that I have added to my Goodreads TBR list this week.  It helps to burn the books I want to read a little more firmly into my mind, maybe get them on some other folks TBRs and gives me a chance to recognize a lot of the awesome bloggers that add stuff to my TBR!
  • The Charm School (Calhoun Chronicles #1) by Susan Wiggs: Romance! On a boat!
  • The Rogue Pirate's Bride by Shana Galen: The search for te perfect pirate romance novel continues.
  • The Line (Witching Savannah #1) by J.D. Horn:  Urban Fantasy about witches in Savannah Georgia.
  • Prophecy (The Dragon King Chronicles #1) by Ellen Oh:  Asian inspired fantasy with a bad ass female protagonist. Okay. I'm interested.  

Blogging 

On the BLOG LAST WEEK:

WEDNESDAY:  Top Ten Wednesday | My Random Bookish Trivia



Throw back  - Jasper as a puppy.  He still occasionally gives me this intense stare as if to say "Why do you crimp my ear hair?! This is not the 1980s!"  Have a good week everyone!
A teen-aged Jasper showing off his crimped ear hair a little clearer. No idea why the hair on his ears does this. I do NOT as implied above, crimp his ear hair.  Not that I wouldn't I just don't have time for that sh*%:).

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Top Ten...errr...Wednesday | My random book trivia

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme for bloggers who like books and lists. It's awesome and is graciously hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

These week's topic is all about getting to know people which is cool:
Ten Facts About Me (bookish or just general about you facts or ten facts about you as a blogger...whatever you want) 
My first fact is this. 
1) You may notice that it is not Tuesday.  Unfortunately, my internet service went kaput for the whole of Monday evening.  The scene at my house during this crisis was NOT pretty.  I have realized that to destroy the human race through apocalyptic mayhem, evil doers don't need to do anything so extreme as cutting the supply of electricity, they need only take away the internet.  It's scary how dependent we've (well at least I've) become on a technology that has only been around for half my life. 

Okay now for the bookish facts.
2) I have super love for fiction written by women in the 1950s and 60s: This is a recent revelation and is likely not universal but there is a certain type of writer that I just don't think I can get enough of.  Dorothy Gilman, Mary Stewart, Barbara Pym are so rad. Expand that time frame a little and throw in Georgette Heyer, Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers as well.  This propensity is a little weird because I am much more drawn to pre-1900 history and almost downright despise the 1950s and 60s.  But I apparently really like a certain kind of fiction written in that era.  By women.  *shrugs*

3) I Hate Time Travel Books (Not really but kinda): I can't seem to find a time travel book I like - HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE?? IT'S TIME TRAVEL.  Books I've recently tried and either DNFed or at best was meh about? Doomsday by Connie Willis, In the Garden of Iden by Kage Baker, Just one Damned Thing After Another by Jodi Taylor.  I did like the Doctor Who media tie-in books that I read.  And I'm currently watching and am completely delighted by a K Drama involving a person from 300 years in Korea's past traveling to modern Korea.  So why do so many time travel books disappoint?  Do you have any suggestions?

4) Audiobooks have profoundly changed my life:  Seriously.  My house is cleaner (chores are much more fun while reading a book), I look forward to long drives on my own, I read twice as many books as I used to.  I love them.  They are my best friend

5) I prefer my books and my men the same way: with a sense of humor :0).

6) Books make me want to do/be weird things:  Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey and Maturin series makes me wish I were a sailor on a big ole sailing Man-O-War despite the fact that a) they don't exist anymore, b) I'm a lady, c) they were incredibly dangerous and frequently miserable and d) I suffer terribly from motion sickness.  Ellis Peters' Cadfael series makes me wish I were a monk in a medieval monastery despite the fact that a) again, I'm a lady, b) I'm not Catholic or even religious, and c) the middle-ages kinda sucked.  Every Western I've ever read has made me wish I lived on the American frontier in the late 1800s despite the fact that a) terrible, terrible violent things happened to so many people, b) we were actively engaged in a criminal and heartbreaking genocide at the time, c) most females on the frontier were either prostitutes or engaged in back-breaking work on a small farm while living in a hole dug in the side of a hill and d) I'm terrified of firearms.

7) Some of the weirdest words that will make me pick up a book:  time travel (even though #3!), cross-dressing (girl dressed as boy etc...), murder, pirates, lady detective, Greek Gods, dragons, serial killer, series.

8) I never want to interact with authors: I'm embarrassingly stick-my-head-in-the-sand about this.  And I have no idea what I would say to them anyway. "I like your book." seems a little lame and not really conducive to further conversation.

9) I am way more critical of Female vs. Male characters:  An argument could certainly be made that this is some kind of internalized sexism and I can't deny that there may be some of that but I like to think part of it is just that women are super awesome and I hold them to a higher base standard than a man can ever hope to achieve.

10) I love professional "fan-fiction":  I will particularly read anything inspired by or based on or re-imagined from Sherlock Holmes and Jane Austen.  I actually just finished reading a a book about a modern day female descendant of Holmes paired with a modern-day male descendant of Watson in a U.S. boarding school (A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro - It was Fab) and I am currently reading Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Graham Smith (which is cute but I think this Mr. Smith made a butt-ton of money for roughly 2 hours work tops).

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That's all the facts I can handle for one day.  Hoe about you?  Got any random bookish trivia about yourself you want to share?

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Saturday in the Garden | My TBR Hits New Heights of Ridiculousness

OUTSIDE

My bountiful harvest this week: a handful of Green Beans and a tiny pile of adorably minuscule Blueberries.  Awww....

I've suspected for some time that at least one thing eating my Kale so thoroughly was Cabbage White butterfly caterpillars.  This was pretty much confirmed today.  I feel bad that it makes me feel such rage towards them as one of the focuses of my job is butterfly conservation but Cabbage Whites are originally non-native - introduced from Europe. So Screw 'em.
Speaking of butterflies, my field work lately has been looking for Monarch Butterfly caterpillars on milkweed plants.  I only found two Monarch eggs this week (on about 175 examined plants at 4 sites) but I did find a couple of other cool critters:
Milkweed Tussock Moths (I think) - They feed gregariously at least during early larval stages.

A Grey Tree Frog  - These frogs can change their color based on the color of the background they are sitting on, hence why this fellow looks green instead of grey!


WATCHING, READING and BLOGGING

Watching 

I've been making my way through some K Dramas, so far Oh My Ghostess (very good!) and then a couple of mini-dramas; Splash, Splash, Love (despite the ridiculous name, very good!) and Noble, My Love (hmmm... jury's still out).  Watching these dramas (it also happened with Coffee Prince) has made me very curious about Korea and its culture which as portrayed in the Dramas is still steeped in its own traditions but with heavy influences by Western, particularly American culture.  America's influence is not surprising considering the Korean War and the North and South Korea situation which America heavily butts into because of the Communism and such.  Anyway, it makes for a fascinating dynamic and it is part of the reason why I like the Dramas as more than just silly fluffy romance.

My overall relationship with television still feels very broken.  Besides the K Dramas I can't really get into anything, and even my enthusiasm for the K Dramas is somewhat muted.  It would be a good time to explore other hobbies and break my TV addiction, right?  Nahhhh..... Hopefully this slump ends soon.  Thankfully, I've been reading some good books of late.


Reading

Finished Last Week:

  • Broken Homes (Peter Grant #4) by Ben Aaronovitch:  I LOVE this series so much.  The ending of this one may have broken my heart though.
  • In a House Made of Bones and Teeth (Lovegrove Legacy #3) by Alyxandra Harvey: A short self-published conclusion to Harvey's Lovegrove Legacy trilogy.  It was less than satisfying of course, being only 55 pages in length but at least she provided something after the publishers dropped the series.  
  • A Study in Charlotte (Charlotte Holmes #1)by Brittany Cavallaro: A YA novel that takes place at a modern day boarding school focused on a team up between the female descendant of Sherlock Holmes and the male descendant of John Watson.  LOVED this book.  So much fun and then some.

Currently Reading:

  • One Magic Square by Lolo Houbein: A gardening book about maximizing food production in a small space.  An ARC from Netgalley (though I think it's an older title).  
  • The Passage (The Passage #1) by Justin Cronin:  This literary novel about a vampiric plague has been recommended to me a thousand times in a thousand ways.  My first thoughts: 1) I am 13 chapters in to the whopping 75 total chapters and already feel like I've been reading it for AGES, and 2) I sometimes think literary fiction authors' whole goal in life is to imagine up new levels of misery they can put their characters through.  Despite the fact that those two comments are kind of negative, I am sucked into it.  
  • Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith: I will try almost any take on Jane Austen's novels, even (especially?) ones involving zombies. 

Added to the TBR:

This is a list of books that I have added to my Goodreads TBR list this week.  It helps to burn the books I want to read a little more firmly into my mind, maybe get them on some other folks TBRs and gives me a chance to recognize a lot of the awesome bloggers that add stuff to my TBR!

The Top Ten Tuesday topic this week (see below) was killer on my TBR as were some podcasts....

  • Night Hawk by Beverly Jenkins:  A romance set on the American frontier featuring people of color.  It sounds amazing!
  • Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie:  I'm not really a contemporary romance or "chick-lit" fan but the premise of this book sounds so good.  Guy takes a bet to ask a girl out, girl knows this is why he's asking her out but stays mum about it and there is apparently some great scenes with donuts. 
  • HEX by Thomas Olde Heuvelt:  A modern day town is home to a creepy old witch who placed a curse on it 100 years prior.  
  • The Bourbon Thief by Tiffany Reisz:  A really interesting sounding mystery. About Bourbon and Thievery.
  • The Voyage of the Basset by James C. Christensen: 18th Century folks go sailing into the ancient myths.  Sign. Me. Up.
  • A Cat Called Dog by Jem Vanston: A cat who acts like a dog and the proper cats that take on his re-education.
  • The Secret Notes of Lady Kanoko (Volume 1) by Ririko Tsujita:  I am flummoxed by but drawn to manga so am always on the look out for recs.  
  • Daughter of Xanadu (#1) by Dori Jones Yang:  Historical fiction about the grand-daughter of Kubilai Khan.  
  • The Kingdom of Little Wounds by Susann Cokal: Fairy Tale-esque political intrigue set in a Scandinavian royal court.
  • Above World (#1) by Jenn Reese: People living under the sea.  
  • The Mark of the Horse Lord by Rosemary Sutcliff:  I've not read any thing by Rosemary Sutcliff and need to fix that I think.  This looks like a good one featuring retired Gladiators and mistaken identities.
  • Peaceweaver by Rebecca Barnhouse: Looks like a very fun YA epic fantasy with a female protagonist.  
  • The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes: The Albino's Treasures by Stuart Douglas: I am always on the look out for good "professional" Holmes fan fiction. 
  • The Spirit Chaser by K.M. Montemayor:  Ghost hunters.
  • A Two Reel Murder (Maisy Malone #1) by Larry Names:  Mystery featuring stars from the golden age of silent cinema.  
  • Claymore, Vol. 1: A Silver-eyed Slayer by Norihiro Yagi:  See above note about Manga.
  • Rivers of London: Body Work #1 by Ben Aaronovitch:  A graphic novel version of one of if not my very favorite Urban Fantasy series!
The next few were inspired by my recent K Drama watching and desire to learn more about Korea.
I TOLD you my TBR exploded this week!  My TBR has hit the milestone of outnumbering my "Have read" list on Goodreads.

Blogging 


On the BLOG LAST WEEK:

TUESDAY:  Top Ten Tuesday | Underrated Books
THURSDAY: REVIEW | The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater


Never be Afraid to Look Unintentionally Silly. And have a good week!- Jasper