The Thing about Trilogies, & Zombies

The thing about trilogies is, I always get extremely excited about them. Then, inevitably, I find myself disappointed by the time I get to the last page (or audio track)… not because there’s anything wrong with the book but because after all that buildup it’s over.

The letdown is like a physical slap in the face, made even worse by the personal failing of letting the anticipation build until I’m in a glum mood to begin with and decide to treat myself to a story I’ve been looking forward to.

newsflesh3_5819I’ve done this with The Magicians series by Lev Grossman and probably others, but the most recent is the Newsflesh series by Mira Grant.

Because zombies.

I consume a lot of zombie stories, zombie tv shows, and zombie movies on a fairly regular basis, and I am a sucker for a good zombie concept. Continue reading “The Thing about Trilogies, & Zombies”


Review: The Martian


My advice for books that have a really strong voice (either character, like this one, or narrative/author, like anything by Douglas Adams or Terry Pratchett), check out the audiobook at least once. It cranks the personality of the story up to eleven. 

I just finished listening to and subsequently restarting The Martian. Audiobook, of course, and I highly recommend it.



When I first heard about the movie version of The Martian I figured it would be fairly similar to Apollo 13, one of my favorite movies growing up. (I was raised by computer engineer sci fi nerds, what can I say.) Nothing I heard past that point really convinced me that this movie would be a comedy. Then I got my hands on the novel, and oh my god. I have never misjudged a book by its cover so much in my life.

In short, it was hilarious. What I was expecting, and tbh what the movie provided a lot more than the book did, was your basic scramble-rescue mission story. What made the book wonderful was that it was really more the story of one man surviving, using humor to cope with the facts that he’s most likely fucked, Murphy’s Law is a thing, and he’s the only person on the planet.

Some (non-spoiler) examples:

  • “Maybe I’ll post a consumer review. ‘Brought product to surface of Mars. It stopped working. 0/10.’”
  • “Yes, of course duct tape works in a near-vacuum. Duct tape works anywhere. Duct tape is magic and should be worshiped.”
  • “I guess you could call it a ‘failure,’ but I prefer the term ‘learning experience.’”
  • “I started the day with some nothin’ tea. Nothin’ tea is easy to make. First, get some hot water, then add nothin’.”

Continue reading “Review: The Martian”

Monday Musings #10 — What just happened?

So… April is over? Apparently? Even though I was doing the April A to Z challenge and hyper aware of where was (or was supposed to be) in the alphabet at most times, the end of the month still managed to sneak up on me.

What did I even do this month?

I listened to four audiobooks:

  • Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman, which I’d read before but a while ago. I really like the patchwork feel to it, consistent with how London itself is sort of a patchwork of small towns that the city expanded to and assimilated as it grew.
  • 2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke. I’d seen and been confused by the movie from a fairly young age, so I found this book both fascinating and a revelation.
  • Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert, which… I liked the spiritual aspects of, but I sort of still have lingering “sigh, heterosexual women” feelings. And I didn’t particularly appreciate her disapproval of anti-depressants. Sure she took them, and benefited from them, but she kept broadcasting this “I don’t want to be on these forever” feeling and made a point of explaining that she got off them asap. I don’t know, it just rubbed me the wrong way. At the same time, I really appreciated her handling of the fact that not all women want to have children, and not all those that do have them responsibly.
  • And The Magician’s Land by Lev Grossman. I am still digesting how I feel about this book. It didn’t have the amount of Quentin fucking up as I’d grown used to.

I went to Indianapolis on my first business trip.

I got my first sunburn of the year, at a really awesome cider festival.

Counting my Sunday Gratitudes, I wrote a post for ever day of the month. They didn’t get posted one per day, exactly, but who’s counting.

All in all, I have gotten a lot done this month. I feel okay about that. Now on to May, and turning twenty-eight…

A to Z Challenge #4 — Dragons

stick dragonThis was a silly little one panel comic I did on scrap paper (as you can sort of see) in college. I’ve lost the original, thus the poor quality of the image. If I knew where it was now I would scan it with my phone and it would look a lot cleaner. (CamScanner app for the win.)

Anyway, I’m not so great an artist that I could draw a dragon, but I wanted to. As stick figures go, he’s pretty cute.

I love dragons and fantasy. When my younger brother and I were kids, my parents would read The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy to us at bedtime. My favorite Disney princess story was Sleeping Beauty, and in retrospect I think it was because Maleficent’s dragon form was really cool. I grew up with my nose in books like The Enchanted Forest Chronicles by Patricia C. Wrede and the Song of the Lioness books by Tamora Pierce. I didn’t read exclusively fantasy, but it was usually either that or sci fi, or both. 

As an adult, one of my favorite author finds that came out of my random audiobook adventures were the Temeraire series by Naomi Novik and everything I’ve read so far by Robin McKinley. The first was a random find, and after reading through all that was published at the time I put out a call to my online friends for an recommended books that included dragons. One of the resulting book recs was The Hero & The Crown, which I cannot recommend highly enough. (McKinley’s vampires in Sunshine are, similarly, just fascinating.)

I guess what I’m trying to say is that dragons are cool. And also, does anyone have any good dragon books they’d like to recommend?

A to Z Challenge #1 — Audiobooks

I discovered audiobooks about a year after I graduated from college. At the time I had an intense full time job — six days a week, mostly nine to five, on my feet in a kitchen. By the time I battled my way home through rush hour traffic, it was time to eat dinner, shower, and fall asleep. I don’t remember exactly when or why the idea occurred to me, but I found myself at the nearest library one Sunday, browsing the audiobook shelf. After all, I had a radio adaptor in my car that could plug into my iPod, and I was getting tired of both my music collection and all of the local radio stations.

This has been a good friend to me.

The first audiobook I selected was decent, but I liked it for the voice of Simon Jones more than for the actual story. I’m a nervous driver and my stress level goes up when I’m surrounded by other cars in that gray area between traffic jam and actually going the speed limit — but my stress level in rush hour traffic went down if I had a book to listen to. It was soothing. Plus, even when not driving I usually can’t read in the car without getting queasy. Not a problem anymore as long as I bring my headphones along on road trips, or if the people I’m riding with are game. (That’s how I got my mom into the Hunger Games series.) Continue reading “A to Z Challenge #1 — Audiobooks”

Monday Musings #9 – Library Mobile

I am a bookworm. As I’ve gotten older I’ve found I don’t have as much time for it… Less time, more apps. I have apps for reminding me to meditate, for reminding me to drink water, and alarms set for feeding the dog, leaving for work on time in the morning, etc. etc.

Look at this weird thing. I don’t even know.

But you know what I never remember to do? Go to the library website.

You know what I just downloaded to my phone? Library apps. Like an idiot I’ve tried to log in through the Chrome browser app and it’s just been awful, all tiny and with lots of weird scrolling. And it never kept me logged in. Randomly, in the social media marketing class I attended today were some folks from one of the public library systems near where I used to live, and they told me that they do have an app. Lo and behold, the library where I live now has one too! The one where I used to live still doesn’t I checked.

I’m very, very happy that apps like these exist. Maybe it’s because I was raised in the Silicon Valley, the main tech and nerd hub of the United States, but I knew they would.

I mean, they had to.

Side note… Can anyone tell me how to edit my categories? I want to rename a couple of them but can’t figure out how, and the Google machine is failing me.

Monday Musings #7 – Thoughts About Zombies

Some of my followers are already aware that I am a Walking Dead fan. Since my binge-watch introduction to the show two summers ago, it’s become my favorite portrayal of the zombie apocalypse (although World War Z is a close second and Newsflesh is a not so distant third). Once, my partner and I made these awesome brain cupcakes for a mid-season premiere party (of four people, lol, but hey- more cupcakes for us). At some point I will get around to borrowing the comics from a friend, but for now I think I’d rather just enjoy the show. 2014-10-12 20.14.34

From time to time I pick up a new zombie story. My most recent find is an audiobook copy of Rot & Ruin by Jonathan Maberry, which I have not finished yet to be honest. But it’s fascinating to me because I found the attitudes in the book so irritating at first, and now it’s starting to grow on me.

The following review doesn’t exactly contain spoilers, per say, but it does go over the context of this book’s zombies and apocalypse.  Continue reading “Monday Musings #7 – Thoughts About Zombies”

The Ultimate Book Tag

I was tagged by Brigid Gorry-Hines to do the Ultimate Book Tag. 😀

  1. Do you get sick while reading in the car?

I didn’t when I was a kid, or randomly one spring while I was still in college, but I started getting carsick at some point in high school and the fun continues.

  1. Which author’s writing style is completely unique to you?

Douglas Adams. The Hitchhiker’s Guide radio series, books, and tv series all have such a strong voice — not so much the movie, which I don’t like all that much.

  1. Harry Potter series or Twilight saga? Give 3 points to explain your answer.

Harry Potter series.

First point: I haven’t read Twilight, largely because of the problematic relationship dynamic between Bella and Edward but also because, uh, sparkly vampires. I prefer my vampires more like the ones in Buffy The Vampire Slayer (soul-less demons with little to no moral compass, just their own self-interests) and Sunshine by Robin McKinley (unsettlingly inhuman, both in appearance, psychologically, and in the way the perceive different places in terms of uniformity of surroundings rather than physical distance — even the “good guy” vampire is decidedly not human, despite having a moral code).

Second point: I read these as a kid, and that sort of thing sticks with you. I remember my fifth grade teacher reading a UK copy of The Chamber of Secrets because it hadn’t come out in the US yet, but one of my classmates had just moved from England. I’ve reread them since, and while the earlier books are lighter and more geared for a younger audience (like, geared toward someone Harry’s age with each book) there’s a good amount of foreshadowing for the darker elements of later books, so the appeal is still there.

Third point: Although most of the characters in Harry Potter meet their future spouse at Hogwarts and seem basically fated to end up with said future spouse from early on even if they don’t get together for a long time, I think a vampire who’s over a hundred years old but still content to hang out in high school and date a seventeen-year-old is sillier. Continue reading “The Ultimate Book Tag”