WWW Wednesday

WWW Wednesday August 15, 2018

WWW

It is time for WWW Wednesday! This week I’ve done a lot of reading, no reviewing and very little interacting. Thank goodness for Sam and Taking on a World of Words to help me hit the reset button mid-week. Make sure and check out her site for loads of other blog’s wonderful WWW posts. Also, feel free to leave your WWW below in my comments section!


What Did I Just Finish Reading?

This week I carved out a huge chunk of time for reading and finished several books. Daughter of a Pirate King and The Last Unicorn were utter delights. I also finished the audiobook of Hans Christian Andersen’s Fairytales. This was a very good narration of the classic tales done by a cast. Some of the voices were grating but they matched the characters perfectly. There were a few new ones for me and one I just cannot stop thinking about called The Rags. I also finished Preludes and Nocturnes and loved it. I cannot wait to read the next book. Finally, one night of insomnia I read To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han. There were things I liked, things I was confused about but in the end the story hooked me enough to warrant reading the next two.

All in all it was a great week of reading with everything landing in the good pile! Unfortunately, that puts me seriously behind with reviews.


What am I Currently Reading?

I am still chipping away at The Two Towers and, honestly, at this point I want to scream, “Just give me the damn ring and I’ll take it to Mordor!!!” I am also in the middle of two audiobooks, Homey Don’t Play That! and How to Train Your Dragon, How to be a Pirate. The story of In Living Color is fascinating and a great look at the history and rise of black comedy in America. However, I have ten chapters left in the book and it is starting to drag just a little as the cast and crew begin in-fighting. So, I started weaving in How to Train Your Dragon on audiobook. Finally, I am really enjoying Front Cover which goes through the history of cover designs. History, books and art combined makes for delightful reading!


What Will I Read Next?

I am trying to work through my physical TBR and so I have selected the next two to reflect the coming fall. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is the story of Junior who lives on a reservation but attends an all-white school. The Darkling Bride by Laura Andersen is a mix of historical fiction and mystery and I cannot wait to read it. This type of book all but screams fall to me.


Tell me, please!

How was your week?


 

Audio Book · nonfiction

Non-Fiction Friday! Stuff Matters by Mark Miodownik

I have a great love of unusual facts. Like most people who enjoy trivia I also live to bring it up randomly in conversation. So, Mark Miodownik’s book Stuff Matters, about the origin, history, and possible future use of everyday things is an ideal book for me to gather tidbits to later regurgitate.

stuffmattersAs a materials profession Miodownik is well versed in the subject and understands how to communicate the information in a consumable manner. His writing style is beautiful but easy to comprehend. And, I appreciated that the explanations of the chemical makeup was understandable even when it veered into the anatomical explanation of materials. More importantly, Miodownik clearly loves materials and enthusiastically shares their uniqueness.

In each of the eleven chapters, Miodownik covers eleven different materials that make up ordinary items. Some chapters have an anectode or a personal pondering that introduces the material. All the chapters give the history, original uses, modern application and possible future form of the material. Whether he was talking about china, concrete, titanium, or paper I was riveted.

The only chapter I struggled with was the one on plastic. Here, Miodownik tells the story of a plastic candy wrapper at the movie showing of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. He found himself in an argument regarding the appropriateness of plastic at the movie theatre. The information and delivery of the information would have been superb but he used Butch Cassidy’s storyline to deliver it. This meant that the delicious clipped British accent of narrator Michael Page took on the drawl of a movie cowboy. Also, I have never seen Butch Cassidy so many parrellels made to the story were meaningless for me. Still, I learned much about plastics and this chapter was not bad, at all, just the only less than perfect one of the eleven.

Mark Miodownik has been fascinated by materials his whole life. He ponders them in a way I would never have before listening to his book. But now, when I hold my china teacup, you can be sure I will be telling anyone around me about its origins in China and the humble lifecycle of its cousin, the mug. Oh thank you Stuff Matters for the wealth of ridiculous information I now have at my fingertips.


Tell me, please!

Do you wonder about the materials in everyday objects?


WWW Wednesday

WWW Wednesday August 8, 2018

WWW

Sam from Taking on a World of Words is back from her vacation! If you are curious about what she read for the past few weeks make sure and check out her site! If you want to participate, simply answer three questions: What are you currently reading, what did you just finish and what do you plan to read next. Or, if you are into chronology (like myself) you will go in order.


What Did I Just Finish Reading?

Ummm….not much. The upside of reading lots of books at the same time is that some weeks you finish 10 and other weeks you finish a measly little two. This week was a small finish for me with only Black Panther, The Young Prince by Ronald L. Smith and Dr. Strange Beard by Penny Reid landing in my finish pile.


What am I currently Reading?

Oh Lord. Look what I have done. I am still working through The Two Towers and I started Daughter of the Pirate King and The Last Unicorn. I have had an erratic schedule this week and that means books all over everywhere and audiobooks in between. So, I have Homey Don’t Play That running while I commute and exercise and Hans Christen Andersen’s Fairytales playing while I clean, fold laundry, etc. I lost track of The Sandman for a few days and relocated it yesterday morning so that should be finished soon. As for the rest, we shall see what the schedule allows!


What Will I Read Next?

front cover

The only book I know for certain I will be reading next is Front Cover, Great Book Jackets and Cover Design by Alan Powers. We all know we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover but we all do it anyway. This book goes through the history of the art that catches our eye.


Tell me, please!

What’s on your WWW list?


fiction · humor

Surprise Me by Sophie Kinsella

I always enjoy Sophie Kinsella’s books. I have even featured her in an Author Obsession spotlight. Most people know her for her Shopoholic series but I vastly prefer the books she has written outside of Becky Bloomwood’s insatiable thirst for things. I didn’t even know Kinsella had a new book coming out until I ran across it in the Indigo bookstore in Montreal. It is the lone fiction book I purchased in my Canadian travels.

surprise_meSurprise Me is the story of Sylvie and Dan. They have been blissfully coupled for ten years, they have twin girls and they are so in sync that they can predict each others meal choices and finish one anothers sentences. All is idyllic. Except, of course, it can never stay that way. After a visit to their doctor they are told they could live another sixty-eight years. The realization that they will be eating together and sleeping together for that much longer fills them with panic. They decide (well, mostly Sylvie decides) to embark on Project Surprise Me to shake up their predictable routine. But not all surprises are fun.

The magic of Sophie Kinsella lies in her ability to redeem her character from the tailspin of poor choices they make in the first half of each story and present you with a reformed character that you adore by the end of the book. This may be a predictable formula but it never stales since Kinsella always manages to make me cheer and applaud as the characters eventually climb out of the mess. This particular story went a step farther and I found myself gasping aloud in surprise at one of the plot points. I went so far as to make a friend read the book so we could have the following conversation.

Me, “(Character redacted to avoid spoilers) was the absolute worst right?!?”

Friend, “The worst.”

Me, “But could you believe…???!!!??”

Friends, “NO.I.COULD.NOT.”

I admit that there were moments I wanted to strangle or slap Sylvie. It is difficult to explain why without spoiling some of the finer moments, but she just struck me as too fragile to be a true fictional friend. Dan had his moments with me as well. And just when I wondered how this was going to end, Sophie Kinsella worked her magic and gave me another fantastic read.


Tell me, please!

Have you read Sophie Kinsella’s books?


Audio Book · funny · nonfiction

Canada by Mike Myers

trudeau_cabinent

It was this picture from Justin Trudeau’s first cabinet that caught my eye. Much like spotting an extremely attractive person, I scrolled past it at first and then did I double take. Look at this magnificence! There are fifty percent women, minorities and a person with a visible disability all right there representing a whole country. Wait. Maybe that isn’t how legislation works in Canada. I had to look it up. My Canadian crush had begun.

Recently I returned from my Canadian adventure.  I spent ten wonderful days traveling by car through the province Quebec starting in Quebec City then up to Tadoussac and around again to Montreal before heading home. By the time I arrived back at my own house I was making promises to myself to never go outside again. But, after one good night of sleep in my own bed my crush roared to life again. Luckily, Mike Myers has a 2016 book entitled Canada and my library even lent me to audiobook. Good on ya library!

Mike Myers only lived in Canada until he was 20. Now, at age 53 his comprehension and eloquence on the subject of his native land is akin to hero worshipping. Or, as he says, “There is no one more Canadian than a Canadian who no longer lives in Canada.” With a straight delivery that I didn’t really expect from Mike Myers he tells the tale of growing up in Canada with two British immigrants for parents and how his family and his country made him who he is today. He added loads of delicious Canadian inside information that I ate up like it was covered in maple syrup.

I delighted in hearing about the morbid sense of humor most Canadians enjoy. Myers fascinated me with the different accents across Canada and the words and phrases unique to Canadians. When he started immitating the rising linguistics employed by most Canadians I was rolling with laughter. You see, I lived in Minnesota for three years before my Canadian crush. Minnesotans are similar to Canadians in only a few ways (to my untrained eye) but they absolute use rising linguistics. On top of all of this, Myers gave me plenty of little Canadian tidbits that I can use to be extra annoying when talking about Canada.

If you don’t have a crush on Canada but you are interested in Mike Myers he spends quite some time talking about how he found fame. His story is intertwined with Canada but he shares a number of personal anecdotes. The most interesting was how he created and popularized Wayne Campbell.

I was initially drawn to the notion of Canada and the ideals put forth by Trudeau before our tumultuous election and subsequent further division in America. It is difficult to explain how upset you become watching your country lose its morality and ideology. Listening to Myers talk about Canada, especially in the final chapter, gives me hope.


Tell me, please!

Have you ever been fascinated by another country?


WWW Wednesday

WWW Wednesday August 1, 2018

WWW

It is time for WWW Wednesday, my favorite meme! The gracious Sam from Taking On a World of Words continues to host even when she is on vacation! So, without further adieu, I give you…


What Did I Just Finished Reading?

 

I had a doozie of a week! Thanks to the Dewey’s 24 Hour (Reverse) Readathon I had a fire lit under me and I made reading a priority all week long. If you want to see how very poorly and erroneously my participation was you can read about it here. The above are the physical fiction books I read this week. The standouts are, hands down, Circe by Madeline Miller which I gushed about here and The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin which I reviewed here. I also enjoyed Surprise Me by Sophie Kinsella and that review will be up on Saturday.

As for audiobooks, I finished Stuff Matters by Mike Miodownik and loved it. If you are looking for a non-fiction book narrated in a crisp British accent that uses everyday objects to explain quantum mechanics this one is for you. I will give this gem a more thorough review in my Non-Fiction Friday segment soon.

I am also on the hunt for more Graphic Novels for my Sunday Comics section. I read The Cardboard Kingdom by Chad Sell. It was a sweet short story graphic novel about accepting yourself and others through cosplay. I checked out Robot Dreams by Sara Aaron. And, finally, I got my hands on the second in a children’s series I love called Mighty Jack and the Goblin King by Ben Hatke.


What am I Currently Reading?

 

This week I continue to journey through The Two Towers. I am approximately one-third of the way through the book and still enjoying it. Those Ents, even though they are a favorite of mine from the movies, take forever to make a decision and that passage slowed me down. But, I plan to get back to around 20 pages a day.

I am also in the middle of both the graphic novel The Sandman Vol 1, Preludes and Nocturns by Neil Gaiman and the middle-grade book, Black Panther the Young Prince by Ronald L. Smith. Finally, just this morning I started listening to the audiobook of Homey Don’t Play That: The Story of In Living Color and the Black Comedy Revolution by David Peisner.


What Will I Read Next

 

I need to read a western for my Read Harder Challenge and instead of a cowboy perspective I thought I would go with the Native American viewpoint. Yesterday I saw a post by Amanda from Literary Weaponry raving about Daughter of the Pirate King and since I have it waiting on my shelf I decided it was up next.


Tell me, please!

How is your reading this week? You can list your books below or, as always, feel free to link to your WWW post.

fiction

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikery by Gabrille Zevin

Two nights ago I heard a noise around one thirty in the morning. It was probably my cat, Merlin, but that was all it took to upset my sleep. Insomnia had me in its grip and I was up for hours. Thankfully, as always, there was a book to keep me company. I selected the next book off the top of my pile and started reading The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin.

storied lifeThe blurb on the back jacket told me three basic things: A.J. owns a bookstore, he lives alone and a rare possession of Poe poems as been stolen. Then, the twist: a mysterious package appears at the bookstore.

I assumed at the beginning that the mysterious package would include Amelia Loman, the new representative for a publishing house, that is introduced on the first few pages. After all, she is traveling to see A.J. and attempt to sell him books. I cozied into my bed, one part of my brain open to the idea of sleep and the other ready for a romantic story. But, this book wasn’t at all what I was expecting. It opened up, chapter after chapter, like a flower and half way through I didn’t care about sleep or fatigue.

Eventually, sleep did come back to me. I finished the book over coffee yesterday morning. Through the story we meet more characters than just A.J. and Amelia. There is a police officer, Lambaise, A.J.’s sister-in-law, Ismay and her husband Daniel, and another character that everyone should have the privilege of meeting themselves. By the end of my breakfast I loved them all, save one.

I bought The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry because I thought it was set in a bookstore. I always purchase books with that setting. It found its way back to me, unexpectedly, in the middle of a Sunday night when I should have been asleep. Just like this story, sometimes the things we find when we are not looking are those that we require the most. I probably shouldn’t love this book, but it’s undeniable, I do.


Tell me, please!

Have you ever read a book that surprised you into loving it?


fiction

Circe by Madeline Miller

I remember exactly where I was and what I was doing when I finished Madeline Miller’s first book, The Song of Achilles. That book tore something in my heart and for days afterwards I carried it around the house as one would a beloved stuffed animal. When I learned that she had a new book I was ecstatic but unsure if I could withstand the heartache. I needed to read it but I didn’t want it to be over. So, I purchased Circe and did what I always do. I held onto it delaying the moment for as long as possible.

circeWhen I started Circe I was thrilled to see that Madeline Miller’s beautiful prose is as full and lush as the gorgeous cover. I expected nothing less from this author. In a book comprised almost entirely of description I fell into a lull that was almost hypnotic, especially once Circe was banned to Aiaia. When Circe interacted with people I felt the invasion of our private time together, Circe and myself, acutely. In short, I loved it.

Madeline Miller has an innate ability to take a well known subject and shift our perspective. She doesn’t change the story. Circe is still a witch. She is still banned to Aiaia. And, she interacts with all the heroes our education informed us should cross her path. But, this time, we are not subjected to this woman’s story as told through the lens of a man. Instead, we hear it from the witch herself.

When I finished Circe I put it down, smiled at it and squinted my eyes like you would at a clever child or a quick witted quip. Madeline Miller got me again. I expected a strong preconceived notion to be melted away and with it, my heart. I was surprised instead to watch a white hot spark flutter slowly into existence until it grew into golden fire. I squinted at the book and felt the desire to wink at Circe but couldn’t manage to avoid whispering, “You go girl.”


Tell me, please!

Have you read Madeline Miller’s books? What are your thoughts?


YA

Foolish Hearts by Emma Mills

Reading Foolish Hearts by Emma Mills made me immensely happy. So many YA books, especially those set in high school, are stuck in the doldrums. Foolish Hearts lends vulnerability and nuances to the characters that could have been manipulated in a negative and depressing manner. Instead, each characters concerns and tribulations became platforms for growth. All teenagers are being pushed through the eye of the self-discovery storm. For most of us, we reflect back later on high school and (using the empathy and sympathy we didn’t possess at the time) see people through another lens. Foolish Hearts allows the characters to do this in the moment and I loved them for it.

foolish_heartsFoolish Hearts is told from the perspective of Claudia. She is a senior in a private all-girls school and her only friend is her childhood bestie Zoe who attends the local public school. Since she has a best friend locked in, Claudia has spent the last three years of high school unengaged from her peers. But, when she accidentally eavesdrops on the epic breakup of Paige and Iris, the penultimate couple at her school, she finds herself in hot water with the difficult Iris. After Claudia and Iris are thrown together for a class production Claudia is forced to engage with people and issues and expands her horizons.

While there is a boy in the story and a romantic sub-plot, I wouldn’t consider this book a romance story. Instead, it is a reflection on life. I love this book because the author does an excellent job of reminding the readers that everyone’s life is different under the surface they project or the image you percieve. Everyone has something that you don’t but that means you have something others are lacking. I find this is a poignant reminder for everyone but most pressingly important for children and teens. I appreciated that this book made this point in a positive way and through the shy but insightful Claudia.


Tell me, please!

Have you read this book? What are your thoughts?


Over 18 · Romantic

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Huang

I hate math. So, a book with math on the cover is to be avoided. But, then the delightful Penny Reid’s fan club argued that The Kiss Quotient by Helen Huang was perfect for any of Reid’s romance ninja’s. I have been anxiously waiting for Reid’s new book (it’s out today!) so I figured, challenge accepted. I purchased a copy of The Kiss Quotient and added it to my Canadian book pile.

thekissquotientThe ninja’s were not wrong. The Kiss Quotient is a unique contemporary romance that was a quick enjoyable read. Helen Hoang’s has said that a gender swap of Pretty Woman had been on her mind for some time when she was told that her daughter might have “high functioning autism.” While family and professionals disagreed, Hoang was intrigued, what if the heroine of her romantic tale was a person with autism? More specifically a woman with autism? The result is Stella Lane.

Stella Lane loves her work. She creates algorithms to predict customer purchases and she is extraordinarily talented. However, her parents and peers point out that she is lacking in the romance department, specifically sex. Stella knows she needs practice and prefers a professional so she hires Michael Phan. Michael is an gorgeous escort and cannot refuse when Stella puts together a lesson-plan compete with a payment that will free him from long term familial burdens.

Like Penny Reid, Helen Hoang has created a female protagonist that brings a unique perspective to the bedroom. And throughout the book the shifting narrative between Stella’s perspective and Michael’s kept me engaged. I am hopeful that Ms. Hoang will write another book and we will have the opportunity to see Stella and Michael’s relationship continue to develop and grow.


Tell me, please!

Do you enjoy contemporary romances? Have you read The Kiss Quotient?