On Tap Tuesday: 9-9-14

On Tap Tuesday is where I tell you what’s on tap for me for this week reading wise.

 

Most Recently Finished: I finished a couple of books last week: Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins is one I did on audiobook. Had a lot of things I love: young adult, supernatural and set in a prep school/dormitory setting. A tad predictable but overall pretty good and quick read. Stitches by David Small was my first graphic novel memoir. I feel like I’m still processing this book. It’s true that you can do things with graphic novels that you can’t in other books. They truly can evoke emotions with images that you can’t do with just words. Really starting to love the form. The Supernatural Enhancements by Edgar Cantero I ended up picking up from the library because of the cover. Yes I admit it, I judge books by the cover. I’m glad this one caught my attention. The story is told through journal entries, descriptions of video footage and audio recordings. I’m  bit of a sucker for stories told in odd styles. This story also has one of those quirky interesting characters ala Lisbeth Salander from the Stieg Larson books. I think it’d be an excellent October read. 

What I’m Currently Reading: The Good Luck of Right Now by Mathew Quick is currently on my nightstand. The Noble Hustle by Colson Whitehead is going to be my work audiobook.

 

So what’s on tap for you guys?

Squeezing in Reading Where I Can

So last week I decided to try something out. I tend to end up doing a lot of driving with my job. I’m essentially a health inspector in a large county, so I spend a good chunk of time driving from one inspection to the next. So I thought, why not try to squeeze in some reading time driving from place to place?

So I picked up Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins in audiobook form. And let me tell you I was actually surprised about how much I was able to listen to during the day. I averaged around 2 hours a day on a normal inspection day. Hello more reading time. On top of that, I think it actually made me go through my day a bit happier. It almost feels like a guilty pleasure or that I’m getting away with something. 

So what about you guys, how do you get in extra reading time? Audiobooks on long commutes or reading on a train or bus? Are you squirreling yourself away during  your lunch hour for a few minutes reprieve? Let me know and if you have any audiobook suggestions send them my way. 

Finding Time for Reading and Branching Out

Obviously, I haven’t blogged in quite a while. I’ve found it hard to balance reading time with working, crafting and trying to live a healthier lifestyle.

Here lately I seem to have been getting into a bit of a better groove. I won’t say I’ve gotten it figure out but I’m working on it. A while back I decided I didn’t read enough to warrant me blogging about it but this evening I decided who cares how much I read or if I post about a book every week? I want to talk about books with other book lovers and if someone wants to criticize me for not blogging enough that’s up to them.

So I have been making a concentrated effort the past month or two to read more graphic novels. Time for me to branch out and try new things. It has been a form I have avoided in the past and I am quickly learning that was a mistake. Not all graphic novels are about superheroes! Although I admit I have been enjoying some Batman graphic novels. I’ve found that great artwork and good stories can be found in the pages.

So far I have tried The Pretenders (The Cemetary Girl Triology) by Charlaine Harris, Sailor Twain: Or Ther Mermaid on The Hudson by Mark Seigel, and Seconds by Bryan Lee O’Malley. Seconds was by far my favorite of the three. I loved the art style and the story drew me in. It had a wonderful old folk tale vibe to it and I stayed up late to finish it in one sitting.

That’s what I’ve been reading lately. I’m currently reading The Supernatural Enhancements by Edgar Cantero. Still early on in the book but loving it so far. What have you all been up to? Feel free to let me know some of your graphic novel favorites to check out.

I Am Employed Again!

Hi everyone! Hope you have had lovely weeks and have enjoyed lots of reading!

As you can probably tell from the title of this post, I have great news. I’m employed again! I started this past week training to be a sanitarian for a county health department. What is a sanitarian you may ask? Basically it’s what you think of when you think of a health inspector. It will take me two years to become  a full sanitarian, but during that time I will be working and training and receiving a salary. As time passes I will be allowed to do more and more on my own. 

So in the past week I haven’t done much reading. I’m still trying to adjust to the job and then next week I have  week long training where I will be away from home. 

I was able to squeeze a few minutes in on reading The Lincoln Conspiracy by Timothy L. O’Brien. Full Disclosure: I received this book from Random House as part of a giveaway and twitter chat with the author in promotion for the book. I really love this book and the twitter chat with the author was great. I was fun to talk with and gave some great insights on the book and some of the characters he enjoyed including. Great part is that we also learned it is part of a planned series. Definitely check this book out if you are into historical fiction and mystery/thrillers. I get excited every time a new historical figure I recognize shows up! Will hopefully be putting up a full review of this when I get finished. 

I plan on taking my Nook with me on my week long training. I’m not sure how much reading or free time I will get since there are tests involved with the training. My hope is to at least start and hopefully make head way on reading Carrie by Stephen King. It’s my book club’s pick for this month. 

So how’s everyone else’s week been? Any exciting news or great reads?

Book Review: The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau

The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau was my local book club’s read for the month of September. It’s the first book in DuPrau’s Ember series.

 

I decided to an audiobook version of The City of Ember narrated by Wendy Dillon. The audiobook was amazingly done. It was one of the first audiobooks that I’ve listened to that has added sounds like dripping water, doors creakily opening, or bustling streets. It wasn’t during every minute of the book but at key moments and I felt like it added something to the experience. Wendy Dillon did an excellent job narrating, even though at first I wasn’t sure if I liked her voice for one of the characters, it really grew on me and I was totally drawn in to the story.

 

The City of Ember is a town built by the Builders. A nuclear war was occuring and in order to save man kind they built an underground city. They put instructions in a metal box for how to get out of the city with a timed lock for 200 years. It was to be entrusted only to the city’s mayor and it’s purpose to only be explained to each predecessor and no one else. They thought it important that the outside world not be known to the children that were to be raised there, that way the people would not know what had been lost. However, as time went on, one of the mayors died suddenly and the box and it’s importance were lost. It’s the only light in the world of darkness. This is the only city. There’s storehouses of food and supplies and a generator that provides power to the city. There’s a problem though. The supplies are starting to dwindle and the generator keeps failing. The blackouts are getting longer and more frequent.

Lina and Doon have come to the age where the citizens of Ember receive their first job, Assignment Day. There’s what’s considered good jobs, like messenger and greenhouse worker, and then there’s bad jobs, like pipework laborer and street cleaner. Each student before they graduate must pick a piece of paper out of a bag which will assign their occupation. Lina gets pipework laborer and Doon gets messenger. Doon chases Lina down after the ceremony and asks to trade. Lina is confused at why he would want to give up such a good job for pipework laborer when Doon explains that he wants to work close to the generator because he thinks he can fix it.

The blackouts become more frequent and the whole town is starting to become a bit unhinged. Lina’s grandmother seems a bit loopy herself and has torn apart their apartment looking for something. That’s when Lina spots a metal box. The very one the Builders and sent down. Inside is a paper that’s been torn to bits by her toddler sister. She tries to piece the puzzle together and brings in Doon to help. Even though it is fragmented and barely legible, they start to realize that this paper may be Ember’s salvation.

 

The book definitely has an interesting premise. It’s hard to imagine something that immense built underground that could last that long. It’s also interesting to see how a society develops in that situation. Was a quick and easy read that successfully got me hooked to the series. There are certain places where I wish more was explained, which may happen in later books. I also felt that at times things were to simple, or the characters understood things too quickly or easily. It was easier for the story to move over it quickly but for the two main characters that have no knowledge that there is an outside world there were times that I was surprised that there wasn’t more difficulty in certain aspects. Maybe it’s because it is a young adult book and the author felt the audience wouldn’t care about such small details.

It’s nothing that ruins the book and I think if you’re looking for a quick and fun read that it’s worth the time.

Book Review: The Girl Who Played With Fire by Stieg Larsson

The Girl Who Played with Fire is Stieg Larsson’s second book in the Millennium Series. This is another book that I’m using for the Nordic Mystery Challenge 2012 . I’m going to write the review assuming that you have read the first book in the series, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. If you haven’t read it yet go do it, great book and their may be spoilers for it below.

Okay are you still with me? The second book starts with Mikael Blomkvist having returned to Millennium magazine which is no longer in financial woes due to the success of his book about the Wennerström affair. Lisbeth Salander left Sweden after the Wennerström affair and has been travelling the world. Lisbeth has refused to talk to Blomkvist and he’s slightly distraught that she’s no where to be found.

Blomkvist and the Millennium crew have decided to take on a new expose and release an issue on human trafficking after being approached by Dag Svennsson who with the help of his girlfriend’s research claims to be able to take down people in high positions within the government for trafficking charges, some of them the very ones who wrote or passed the trafficking laws. This is surely going to stir up some trouble. Meanwhile Salander returns from her globe trotting trip to pay a little visit to her legal guardian Nils Bjurman who seems not to be following the rules she laid out.

Our stories become intertwined and there’s another murder to be solved. Except this time the police have their sights set on LIsbeth Salander and Blomkvist is trying his best to find out the truth.

I really haven’t given much of the story line but I wanted to tread carefully on giving too much away and I was worried I was starting to sound like a book report. Larsson has truly made one of the most interesting characters that I’ve read about with Lisbeth Salander. In this book we get to spend a lot more time with her and getting to know her and her past. I feel like that I know part of me shouldn’t like Salander, lets face it she’s really easy to not like, but I find parts of her endearing and can say that I understand her reasoning behind her actions.

Larsson was skillful at writing two views of a story line and keeping you on the edge of your seat. Giving you enough of a glimpse at each character’s psyche and thoughts on the current situation while also intricately weaving murder and crime plots. I’m woefully sorry that he has passed away and we won’t be receiving any new great works of fiction from him.

So what about you all? Who are the characters that you have found most interesting in fiction?

On Tap Tuesday:8-21-12

On Tap Tuesday is where I tell you what is on tap for me reading wise for the week.

I most recently read: Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut. I’m unsure if I will write a review about this now or wait until after our book group discusses it. It was my first Vonnegut read and I’m definitely going to check out more.

What I’m currently reading: The Girl Who Played With Fire by Stieg Larsson and The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg.

I haven’t gotten very far into The Power of Habit yet but it definitely seemed interesting to me. The Girl Who Played with Fire was a slow start for me but it’s picked up and is now taking most of my attention.

So what’s on tap for you guys this week?

Publishers and Imprints: Opening My Eyes

So I have a confession. Before I started blogging and getting more into the book scene with twitter, podcasts, and blogs, I never really paid attention to publishing houses. I think I had some vague notion about some of the big ones like Random House and Penguin existing, but it was nothing I really paid much attention to or was a way that I searched out books. Back then I usually focused on searching out authors I had previously read and new that I liked or looking by genre.

Now I’ve become much more aware of the many different publishing houses that exist and have even added it as a tool for searching out books. It’s be no means a definitive method, but I’ve come to realize that certain publishing houses tend to have published books that I am interested in or have a tendency to publish a certain theme, genre, or type of book that I’m interested in, so I tend to either look at their upcoming publishing lists or pay more attention to the books they are touting. As I said though this isn’t a definitive method. Every publishing house has certain gems of books and I am not advocating ignoring one publisher because they haven’t published something you’ve liked in the past. I’m just saying that I’ve realized that this is one tool you can use in you arsenal when searching for good reads. I also recommend following publishers on twitter or checking out their websites. Lots of useful information and even some fun to be had with both.

So I also included imprints in the title of the post. That’s because I’m just now starting to realize that imprints exist. As you can imagine having not paid much attention to publishing houses before I had just thought that all of these company titles I saw on spines of books were independent houses. I’m realizing that might not always be true. And speaking of genres or certain themes of books, some publishing houses will have entire imprints devoted to publishing certain genres or types of books. Also a useful tool in the book search arsenal.

So in a way yes, I have discovered a whole new world within the book community. It makes me wonder what other facets of the book world are out there that could be used to find books or enrich the reading experience.

Why Didn’t I read This Sooner: Dracula by Bram Stoker

Okay, I know some of you are probably rolling your eyes and going “really, she hasn’t read Dracula before?” but really, I hadn’t until this past month, when my local book club picked it as our read for July.

I’m not going to rehash the plot, I figure most people know the basics by now but what I do want to talk about is how there is so much more to the story than I realized. I had imagined that it would all be a mystery/suspense that took place in a dreary castle. No. The story takes place in several different areas with many more characters with whom I fell in love.

One thing that I kept thinking about as I was reading was how jealous I was of the people that got to read the book when it came out. Those people that had no preconceived notion of what the plot was about, had no idea that vampires was going to be central to the story, etc. Have you ever thought that about a classic novel that you’ve read? It’s so hard to have not heard the plot of a classic or heard enough about it over the years to have most of the suspense taken out of it. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t spoil classics for others but I’m just saying to sit back and think about how people would have received the novel and experienced it for the first time.

I was also totally enthralled by the psychology and medical aspects in the novel. My pick of favorite character would probably be torn between Van Helsing and Renfield. I think these two characters should have entire novels on their own. Anyone know of any that have been written?

So a bit of a rambling post with mostly just my own feelings and reactions. Take from it this: it’s never to late to pick up a classic novel that you’ve been wanting to read, it may not be exactly what you think it to be.

Book Review: Spells and Stitches by Barbara Bretton

I really needed a light, fun read for a pick me up with all the downs I’ve had in my life the past few weeks. I didn’t feel like doing anything, much less reading. Spells and Stitches by Barbara Bretton definitely did the trick and I’m hoping I’m out of my reading funk.

Spells and Stitches by Barbara Bretton is the fourth installment in her Sugar Maple series. Her sugar maple series follows Chloe Hobbs, half human half sorceress in training who owns a knitting shop in a rural town called Sugar Maple. To most of the world, Sugar Maple is a picturesque mountain town, to the magical world it is the safe haven for vampires, werewolves and other magical creatures. It’s Chloe’s job to maintain that safe haven by being the conduit that keeps the town under protection through spells cast long ago by her ancestors. As I’ve said in the beginning of this post, this is the fourth book in the series, so if you don’t want to be spoiled you may want to read the others first and then come back.

In Spells and Stitches we are following Chloe again through a major life change. Chloe and Luke are expecting their first child. They’ve been through a lot in the past year. Finding each other, almost being torn apart, and lets not forget that ordeal with Luke’s ex and his dead daughter. Everything seems to be going haywire with Chloe, from her hormones to her magical abilities thanks to the child who’s due in less than a month. Add on top of it that an unexpected visit from Luke’s very human family and you can see how this can be nothing but trouble. Oh and there’s a troll who’s living with them that keeps on spouting nothing but doom and gloom to come. Every expectant mother’s dream right?

Barbara Bretton has managed to weave another wonderful magic tale in her latest book. It’s fun and action packed and knitters will be left smirking from the knitting references spread through out the book. This book did exactly what I wanted it to do, it was a quick fun read that picked up my spirits. So if you like cozy mysteries, mixed with fantasy, mixed with a lot of knitting references this series might be the quick light read that you need.

 

Those not familiar with the knitting world may get annoyed with the frequent knitting commentary and role your eyes in its silliness, but know that we knitters are a quirky bunch. There’s also a helpful dictionary at the end of the book to explain terms, along with a few knitting patterns and recipes.

 

Happy reading everyone! 

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