Top Ten Tuesday: Freebie Week

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created and ran by The Broke and the Bookish. This week is a freebie week, which I am always hesitant about! But I recently bought a book of an essays, and realized that I am trying to read more collections, rather than novels. I have a goal to read 12 anthologies this year, and I might loop essay collections into that group. Plus, essay collections can have a bad connotation, and I think everyone should give them a shot.

I also tried to avoid anything too memoir-ish, such as Felicia Day’s book (which I totally plan on reading.) I own a few of these too, so it’ll be more cleaning out my “Own yet haven’t read” shelf.

I also put together my 2016 Book Challenge page, as well as starting to decide what books I want to read for it. If you have any recommendations, please leave me a comment on the page! I like feeling like I’m organizing my year, plus reading some books that aren’t just novels, with a particular love for YA Lit.


 

  1. Encounter by Milan Kundera

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    The Unbearable Lightness Of Being is one of my favorite novels. I own at least four other Kundera novels, and stumbled across this book the other day at B&N. I really need to stop going into that store.

  2. The Opposite of Loneliness: Essays and Stories by Marina Keegan

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    I bought this book on a whim back in 2014. This is a posthumous collections of a young woman who died far too early. I know I’ll cry when I read this book, which might be why I have put it off so long. This will not be a subway book for sure.

  3. Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay

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    This book was recommended by Bustle for their reading challenge, and the synopsis was intriguing. Feminism is a hot button right now, and while I classify myself as a feminist, I don’t actually feel I know enough to have a well educated conversation on the topic. Thus, I shall educate myself this year.

  4. Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit

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    I legitimately cannot remember why I fell in love with the idea of this book, but it’s another one I own. I started reading it in 2015 actually, but at the time my reading was more focused on getting me through an hour on a treadmill. This isn’t the book for that. It starts with an introduction where a man is trying to describe a book topic that he clearly hadn’t read or knew anything about to the author….who was the author of the book.

  5. Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari

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    Another book I own and purchased on a whim. And I absolutely love books on dating and romance. I read a book a few years ago called Data, which was all about a woman using math to do online dating. Any book that can help me decide (a) if I want to be single, and (b) if I decide I don’t want to be, how to help me find a man, I am on board with.

  6. Knitting Pearls: Writers Writing About Knitting edited by Ann Hood

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    I do not own this book (haha!) but I love the idea. I don’t knit, but I love crocheting. I did learn when I broke my arm as part of OT, but I could not get the hang of it. This book seems wonderfully girlie, plus a way for so many people of different backgrounds to come together on something that is so personal. Wonderful.

  7. 100 Essays I Don’t Have Time To Write: On Umbrellas and Sword Fights, Parades and Dogs, Fire Alarms, Children and Theatre by Sarah Ruhl 

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    When I bought the Kundera collection, this was the other book I debated for a few minutes. Sara Ruhl is a modern day playwright and a mother of three. The collection wavers between trivial/minimal family things to larger, cultural concepts.

  8. A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again by David Foster Wallace

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    One of my best friends read this book last year and recommended it to me because there is an essay on tennis. I’m not sure if she finished the book and enjoyed it, but it instantly went on my TBR list at the recommendation. I don’t know much about the author, other than he committed suicide in 2008 and wrote Brief Interviews with Hideous Men. It’ll be good to explore a new author.

  9. I Was Told There’d be Cake by Sloane Crosley

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    …I just realized that this author makes a brief appearance on Gossip Girl in season 5. The title of this collection is just wonderful. This is probably too memoir-ish, but whoops.

  10. Changing My Mind: Occasional Essays by Zadie Smith

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    I’m not sure who recommend this book to me, but I am so glad they did. Zadie’s influences are wonderful, and her novel White Teeth has been recommended to me a few times.

I hope that if you thought essays were boring before, you looked at this list and realized they can actually be fascinating concepts. If you have a favorite collection of essays, please let me know!

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Book Review: Broken

This is my third book by Susanne Valenti — the third in the Cage of Lies series. I read the first book for an ARC review, the second book I bought off Amazon, and the third book was provided by the author as an ARC for an honest review. If you haven’t read the first two books, there are major spoils for them in my review. And to be fair, why would you be looking at this review if you hadn’t read the first two books?!

Overall my review is quite favorable. I haven’t read Valenti’s short story Cut Glass, but I will at some point. Crystal has potential to be one of my favorite characters.

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Broken

by Susanne Valenti
January 31, 2016

Format: ebook, ARC
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopia
Rating: moose-mdmoose-mdmoose-md 3/5 Moose


 

Synopsis

Following the death of her boyfriend, Coal, Maya has one goal in mind: revenge. In her warped reality, only one person understands her, Coal’s sister Alicia. Together they plot to head to the City and get their revenge on the Wardens and Gregory. These plans are derailed when Jayden stumbles across a radio broadcast and overhear plans of the Wardens attacking the town. The chance for revenge might be closer than Maya thinks.

Characters

 

Most of the characters are recurrent from the previous books. There are a few new red shirts in the form of townies, plus some new wardens.

Rants, Raves, and General Thoughts

Kudos on giving Blaine a love interest. I enjoyed his story line all the way through. If the book had more of his point of view, or Alicia’s I would have enjoyed it a good bit more I think.

I am rather bummed with how Laurie is portrayed in this book. She was my favorite character in the first two books, but in this book, she is a bratty teenager who is pissed that her boyfriend (the guy in charge, trying to keep everyone alive) can’t say he loves her. And every time he tries to talk to her about it, she blows him off. I hope this goes away soon, because again — Laurie was my favorite character.

There are potentially too many protagonists in this series. Who is the big bad? There are the mutant animals and plants, there are the Creepers and their creepy (haha) leader, the City and Wardens, and the other potentially murderous scavenger groups. I honestly forgot all about the Creepers and their potentially regular human leader — and they were the protagonist I enjoyed about the series.

Maya rubs me the wrong way. I get being one tracked minded. I get wanting revenge. I don’t get why she blatantly is ignoring orders, especially from people who have a better grasp on reality and planning. And she’s a little too…much in this book. She saves the day a little bit too often for my taste, while Alicia — someone who grew up learning to fight and training — ends up injured and out for most of the book. Also, she’s almost completely forgotten to care that her parents are in jail and have been for YEARS. Want revenge? Then want revenge for that too.

I am on the fence about the whole love triangle (square?) in this book. I get needing to feel human and intimacy, but I haven’t cared for Taylor in any book. I think Maya is taking advantage of his feelings, but I think Taylor is taking advantage of her vulnerability. Part of me feels it’s too soon for a rebound anything, but then again, is it?

There is a twist at the end of the book (which I kind of figured and guessed what would happen). Part of me is glad it happened, or Maya was going to get really insufferable. I think my biggest issue with Maya is that she is so okay with dying, and I mean, I get it. Your (perceived at 16 years old) soulmate has died. But there is more to live for, and your whole life shouldn’t center on a guy. It’s a very teenage ideal, but yeah.

On the whole, the book is pretty well written. It could have used one more pass by an editor or with someone slightly removed from the story — there are a few missed periods, a few weird page breaks, and repetitive phrasing (i.e. “I woke up without screaming for the first time in a long time” or “the food tasted better than it had in a long time / I hadn’t been this hungry that food tasted this good in a long time.”) Paraphrasing, of course — my tablet is currently dead. But seriously, the book is well written, especially compared to some other YA books I’ve read and instantly stopped.

I do also like that at one point, Hunter essentially tells Maya this is all her fault. In reality, this is 85% true. I think Gregory would have eventually sold out the town even if Taylor, Maya, and Laurie hadn’t run away. But there are many deaths that Maya should feel guilty for, and she doesn’t seem to feel it.

Final Verdict

GIVE LAURIE MORE DEPTH PLEASE!

Now that I have that out of my system.

I am in the minority on how I feel on this book, based on the reviews that are rolling in on Goodreads. I am so glad that Susanne has such a great following! While I do think this book could have been revised a bit more, the series on the whole is good. I’m curious to see what’s going to happen next.

Book Review: The Infinite Sea

As I get ready to see The 5th Wave in theater, I might as well prepare by writing up a review for the second book – The Infinite Sea. Rick Yancey did not disappoint in his second book – and thank god I am only a few months away from the third book. (And the last?) This review is going to have spoilers for The 5th Wave, so if you haven’t read that book yet….geez I thought I was late. I’m going to try not to spoil this book too much….oh boy.

Also, as I have mentioned previously, I have a habit of writing and highlighting my books. I am trying to get used to it with ebooks, as I’ve transitioned to almost solely reading ebooks. So, I’ll have more notes and quotes in the future. But for this book, here’s the quote that meant the most to me:

“It isn’t about the dead,” [Vosch] snaps impatiently. “It never was.”

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The Infinite Sea

by Rick Yancey
September 2014

Format: ebook
Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopia, Young Adult
Rating:moose-mdmoose-mdmoose-mdmoose-mdmoose-md 4.5/5 Moose


 

Synopsis

 

This book picks up near the ending of the first book. The group has survived the first four waves, the fifth wave is in place, and winter is in full force. While hiding in a disgusting, freezing hotel, Cassie, Ben and Ringer are doing what they can to keep their group together and safe while trying to grasp why the Others are attacking in waves rather than one swift motion. Told again from multiple points of view, this book is an intelligent, darker sequel to The 5th Wave.

Characters

Cassie Sullivan – Cassie is mourning the loss of Evan while trying to find her place in a militaristic group. She is constantly at odds with Ben and Ringer on trying to grasp what the Others are, if Evan was lying, and how they are to proceed going forward.

Sammy Sullivan – (I don’t remember any of the book being from Sammy’s point of view.) Sammy is going through a difficult time, especially for a post-apocalyptic world.He is torn between loving his sister and hating her, especially for the death of their father, and is clinging to Zombie.

Ben Parish/Zombie – Ben’s struggling with his recent injuries, most of which came from Ringer in order to sneak back into the camp. He’s weak and feverish, but doing what he can to keep charge. Both Ringer and Cassie ponder why exactly he’s called Zombie a few times.

Ringer/Marika – We finally learn Ringer’s name, and get the story from her point of view. She compartmentalizes and strategizes constantly. She always seems just shy of understanding the Others and grasping what they are doing and why. At the beginning of the book, she is out in the woods trying to find a new, warmer shelter for their group.

Evan Walker – Is Evan alive? The group accepts that he has died in the blast. But did he?

Teacup/Allison – There isn’t much on Teacup, but I love that she’s around. She’s another realistic possibility in a post apocalyptic world, where a child is going to try everything to be tough and brave, but really she’s clinging to Ringer for sanity and safety.

Dumbo and Poundcake – I know, I should separate them. But if I do, I am going to spoil the book more than any review should, and without spoilers, there isn’t much to say. But they both make it out of Book 1, and both are important to the story. This book explores why Poundcake no longer speaks, which is so heartbreaking. I hate that prior to that, I probably couldn’t tell you which character didn’t speak.

Razor – A camp refugee that becomes an integral part of Ringer’s plans. He thinks Ringer has gone Dorthy, believing he is still fighting for the good guys.

Vosch – The leader of the Others, runs the camp pretending to be human.

Rants, Raves and General Thoughts

The reviews of this book are a bit polar. Readers either loved it or hated it, and the major complaint of the book is how there is not a lot of action, it’s a filler book, and it dragged.

I will admit that I didn’t read this book as quickly as The 5th Wave, but I still really enjoyed it. I keep comparing this book to The Road in my head, a fantastic post-apocalyptic book by Cormac McCarthy – and anyone who thinks this book is slow should never read The Road. (My correlation is strictly on a type of post-apocalyptic story, not writing quality.) There has to be a point where the story arch slows down; there has to be a point where everyone can catch their breath! And yet, there is still a good bit of action in this book while learning so much more about the Others.

Have they really not said what they call themselves? In two books? That’s….odd.

The other major complaint about this book is that it’s disorganized and jumps around too much. I get the jumping around comments, but I don’t see it as disorganized. I feel that the author uses the jumps to his advantage, to the point where I completely thought I had the ending figured out, only to be surprised that I was wrong.

This book is darker and had notably more language. It’s a bit jarring to realize characters that are 5 and 7 years old are dropping f-bombs as much as they are shooting guns. And yet, there is a part of them that is desperately clinging to their innocence.

The question of this book is simple: Why torment a species that you can wipe out immediately, especially they claim to have been around for millions of years? Why wait for the species to become 7 billion?

Really, the way the Others are going after humanity is horrific. You thought you understood the 5th wave from the last book, but it gets so much worse in this book. How children are used… it’s dark.

I shifted my love to Ringer in this book. I think I relate more to Cassie – constantly panicky and pissed any time someone would challenge what I say, but I love Ringer’s cool exterior. Cassie has a hard time remembering that everyone has lost someone, everyone has horrific backstories, and that she isn’t really the last human on Earth. But really, can you blame her for her train of thought when she was alone or just with Evan for so long?

Ringer’s calculating nature makes her just as pivotal to humanity’s final moments, just as much as Cassie. And I can’t wait to see what happens next between the two of them. I was a little disappointed that they didn’t get along, as Cassie’s first impressions of Ringer are how attractive she is and seems to dislike her on that principle alone.

Final Verdict

First of all, I convinced my brother to read this book, and that is consider quite a success. He texted me this morning that he loves it. So, score one me!

I get why people might not like this book, but I loved it. I feel that the characters are well balanced and different enough to make the bonding moments (as rare as they are) and the conflicts quite realistic. If books and story lines like this didn’t exist, people would complain that there is no depth to the story. So, I recommend it, but if you don’t like a little bit of down time, you might not enjoy it so much.

Top Ten Tuesday: Recent TBR Additions

Ah yes, it is Tuesday, which means it is time for another Top Ten Tuesday, led by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is a dangerous one for me, as it is the last 10 books added to my TBR list. It’s dangerous because looking at everyone’s list is going to cause mine to grow! I decided to leave out continuations, and focus on one-offs or the starts of series.

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Book 1: After the Apocalypse, by Maureen F McHugh

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I (stupidly) ran into The Mysterious Bookshop yesterday, wanting to check out the store with the largest Sherlock Holmes collection. It’s a beautiful, eclectic store, with floor to ceiling bookshelves. I ended up grabbing two books— this one being the surprise grab. Maureen explores the catastrophes of 21st century life and what follows after. The first short story is about zombies — I was sold on buying it. I think this will satisfy the Bustle Reading Challenge Book 14 — Read a work of post-apocalyptic fiction written by a woman.

Book 2: William Shakespeare’s Star Wars: Verily, A New Hope by Ian Doescher

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Oh, I don’t know if I’ll actually ever read this. A podcast I enjoy reviewed it, and I decided to listen to it while going through their back catalogue. It is literally Star Wars, told in iambic pentameter, with a Shakespearian tone. And the author has done all the first 6! It’s not a long read – 174 pages – so I might pick it up one rainy day.

Book 3: Let It Snow by Maureen Johnson, John Green, and Lauren Myracle

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I adore Maureen Johnson, which is why this book ended up on my list. It’s a Christmas novella collection, which makes me feel like it is a little more than just simple fluff. Anyways, this is one I’ll probably pick up in November or December.

Book 4: This is Not a Test by Courtney Summers

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An interesting take on a zombie apocalypse — the main character is looking to get bitten. This is just another YA book that’s ended up on my list, but I’m surprised I missed this series back in 2012. I think this satisfies my Bustle Reading Challenge book 16 – Read the first book in a series you’ve never read.

Book 5: The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey

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So, I’ve been on a Rick Yancey kick. I was impressed with the 5th Wave and the Infinite Seas (ugh I know, I need to review it) so it shouldn’t be a surprise that this book ended up on my list. I really am not sure what it’s even about — actually just reading the summary for the first time. But it’s about monsters and seems a bit like Frankenstein, so I’m game.

Book 6: A Thousand Nights by E.K. Johnston 

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Everyone was raving about this book in 2015. It’s not on my immediate TBR list, but it’s one I’ll definitely check out.

Book 7: Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave

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I have this ARC from NetGalley. It’s a WWII based period book based in London, that seems to be getting good reviews. I frequently feel I need to read more adult books, rather than YA books. I haven’t read Chris Cleave’s other book, but it also seems to have great reviews.

Book 8: Slasher Girls and Monster Boys, an anthology

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An anthology of YA writers doing horror stories. I love the idea. Marie Lu, Carrie Ryan, Jay Kristoff — this might be my February or March anthology collection. I am looking forward to it for sure.

Book 9: Made for You by Melissa Marr

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Melissa Marr is an author that’s been on my TBR list, but I don’t think I’ve ever actually read a book. I’m not 100% sure why or how this book ended up my list (I never know why half the time. But this is labeled as a “twisted southern gothic tale” so it’s of my usual genre.

Book 10: Jewel of the Thames by Angela Misri

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I actually have a signed copy of this book, that I picked up at the Mysterious Bookstore yesterday. It was on my TBR list prior to then too of course. It’s yet another sequel or rewriting of Sherlock Holmes, where Portia Adams has inherited 221 Baker Street. I love the cover — it’s simply beautiful!

Podcast Re-Listen: The Black Tapes

My original post about The Black Tapes podcast still gets a hit or two a day. I always find it amusing when the search term that led to my review is “Black Tapes Podcast Real?” (Spoiler alert — despite a friend of mine claiming he listened to Hastur Rising when living in Seattle, the podcast is a mockumentary or docudrama.)

Since Season 2 starts up tomorrow, I have been listening to the first season again…..for the third time all the way through. I’ve listened to the first 7 episodes more times than that. (The Black Tapes (TBTP) filled a hole left in my life when We’re Alive finished.) I’ve loved anything horror or paranormal since I was little, and it is nice to get away from zombies or vampires and get back to good old demons and ghosts. Add in the fact that TBTP is intelligent and in depth, not simply looking at exorcisms and objects that move on their own. (I’m looking at you, modern day horror movies.)

If you are in need of a quick catch up on TBTP and don’t have time for another listen, I’ve put together a quick season 1 recap below, before my discussion of the podcast.

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Why You Should Be Listening

Character on Show: “Your recording for a what?”
Alex: “A podcast.”
Character on Show: “What’s a podcast?”
Alex: “It’s like… radio on demand.”

I don’t have a ton of friends that listen to podcasts, and I can’t figure out why. There is literally something for everyone, if you just look. Currently while writing this, I’m listening to an early episode of Gilmore Guys. It’s literally two guys and an occasional guest reviewing episodes of Gimore Girls.

I mean, I get that it’s not as easy to listen to on Android phones as it is an iPhone, but it’s certainly not impossible. I’ve been listening to podcasts pretty steadily since 2008? and picking up steam since I got an office job.

Some of the major complaints I hear about podcast (from people who have never listened to a podcast in my opinion) is that it’s like audiobooks and blogging and thus too slow to listen to. My response: you aren’t listening to the right podcasts!

So why choose The Black Tapes?

Okay, I just paused for about two minutes, edited a few things, and really can’t figure out a definite reason why. It was introduced to me as a paranormal Serial podcast, and since I love both paranormal things and Serial podcast, I didn’t need more. This isn’t a radio story / audiobook-esque, which We’re Alive is like. It’s a woman journalist exploring the paranormal world, mainly by accident. There aren’t forced, fake jumps, there isn’t overbearing music. It is old scary – demonic haunting, rather than sparkly vampires and zombies. It’s believable. You can relate to Dr. Strand and be skeptical, shaking your head at Alex as she innocently hangs on to her beliefs, or you can relate to Alex, thinking Strand is a bit of an asshole and that something much deeper is going on here.

I have listened to TBTP to pass the commute, while working out and running on a treadmill, and while cleaning my apartment. If you haven’t given podcasts a try, these are a great way to get into them.

So why should you listen to this podcast? Because it’s a wonderful way to escape from reality while not-so-secretly fearing that this might be real.

Main Characters

Alex Reagan – Alex started the podcast as an exploration of life, belief, faith, and occasionally the paranormal. No but really, the podcast was started to explore the odd/interesting jobs and career paths people can have. (Wink wink, nudge nudge.) She has worked with Pacific Northwest Stories (PNWS) for three years. She decided to change the subject of the podcast when she met Dr. Strand, as she realized the subject matter could sustain more than an episode or two.

Dr. Richard Strand – Founder of the Strand Institute, which will pay $1 million to anyone with undeniable proof of the paranormal. He agreed to be apart of the podcast in order to renew skepticism and be a voice of reason for the paranormal world, and the podcast is a national platform. His wife, Coralee, went missing in the 1990s. He is the owner of the black tapes, cases that have yet to be disproved because the technology to do so doesn’t exist yet. He’s old school, occasionally rude, and always skeptical.

Nic Silver – Nick is Alex’s producer, who ends up with his own show later (TANIS, which I’m still making my way through). He tends to be the voice of reason for Alex, reminding her not to do anything illegal and not to meet up with strangers on her own. Silver is not his real last name. He dated Amalia…or at least owes her 20 euros. I can’t decide if he was working TANIS at the same time as TBTP, but if so, he’s a busy busy man.

Side note: The fans at Reddit are amazing (I am usually just a lurker and nothing more – I think I’ve posted once or twice). They have put together this list of characters for each episode here, and have even transcribed the episodes. Seriously, this is the place to go to bond with fans.

The Black Tapes

Main Arcs

The Actual Black Tapes
These cases are named due to being actually on black VHS tapes for the most part. These tapes are considered unsolved, but not unsolvable. We just lack the technology to solve the cases so far. The tapes range from an exorcism (got to have one with the discussion of demonology), to a town myth involving a murder, to a mysterious shadow following a man throughout his whole life. Are they all interrelated?

The Disappearance of Coralee Strand 
Coralee Strand, Richard Strand’s wife went missing in Northern California. She is presumed to be dead, killed by a serial killer in the area. While there doesn’t seem to be anything supernatural related to her disappearance at first, it’s all suspicious. Dr. Strand was the prime suspect prior to that. He went missing for 5 days, looking for his wife.

The Torres Family 
Robert Torres was followed by a shadowy figure that eventually moved on to his son. His son, Sebastian, named his imaginary friend “Tall Paul.” He appears in all of Sebastian’s pictures. Sebastian goes missing halfway through the first season, and is later found in an abandoned building in the middle of the woods with sacred geometry drawings on the south wall.

Keith Dabic and the Unsound
Keith Dabic is  a member of Hastur Rising, a band who lost their lead singer in a brutal suicide just before the podcast started. They had some loose ties to the occult which began as more of a gimmick. The band came across the unsound, a mythological sound that kills all those who listen to the sound in under a year. Keith Dabic was last “seen” in Russia, looking for Percival Black in order to reverse the unsound. Amalia went searching for him, and has disappeared too.

Minor Arcs

Sacred Geometry 
This is discussed a few times, primarily involving Simon Reese. It may be related to the Pythagorean comma. It seems to be used or needed to open a door.

The Upside Down Face 
What seems to be an urban legend in a sleepy small town – a brutal murder gone wrong at a prom back in the 1950s –  appears in a cave drawings from the 16th century. The river where Sarah Benning was found is related to the Brother of the Mount….who moved towards the river in 1985, when the festival was started.

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I couldn’t resist, I’m sorry.

Codex Gigas 
The Devil’s bible. A monk named Herman was locked in a room for a year, and the church demanded he put together a bible during the time. Since it was back in the 13th century, it took about 20 years typically to make a bible. It was created with the help of the devil, when Herman succumbed to praying for help in exchange for his soul.

The Order of the Cenophus, the Brothers of the Mount 
I’m not sure that the orders are related, but I’ll group them together. They are religious groups that worship darkness. The cabin where Sebastian is found is assumed to be their “church.” (Or at least it is in my opinion.) Brother Edward Luis is a member, though the group is debunked.

Unanswered Questions

  • Is there something going on between Alex and Dr. Strand? (Okay, I find them flirtatious, but whatever)
  • Are the black tapes all interrelated? Why is Strand collecting these tapes?
  • Who’s been watching Dr. Strand, and why? Or rather, who is the Advocate?
  • Is Coralee alive? Why is she hiding?
    • If she did just go to her mailbox for the first time in years, why?
  • Where were Strand and Charlie those 5 missing days?
  • Who (or what) is Sexy James Bond / Thomas Warren?
    • What’s his relationship to Coralee Strand?
  • Is Keith Dabic okay and alive? Did he ever meet up with Percival Black?
  • What is Tall Paul?
  • Who was the “fan” that gave Keith Dabic the Unsound?
  • Is Amalia just deep undercover? (I hope so – I really like Amalia.)

Realizations from Season 1

  • Maybe it’s because of how many times I’ve listened to the podcast episodes, especially the first 7, but the Unsound sounded different to me this time. Granted, there is an entire monologue about it changing and sounding different to each person after you hear it, and that might have colored my listening.
    • Side note: every time I listen to episode 3, I am taken back to the first time I listened to it. A friend of mine couldn’t hear anything when he listened to it the first time, and everything about that scared me.
  • Oh, I hear the Canadian-isms constantly. I’m not sure if I just ignored it the first time, or if my recent re-watching of Degrassi caused my ear to be more tuned to the accent.
  • I was uncomfortable with how skeptical I had become listening to the podcast this time around. Dr. Strand would be pleased. This was primarily during the 3rd and 6th episode.
  •  Bio-location is a thing. I am really curious to learn/research more about bio-location.
  • The whole “what’s a podcast” bit doesn’t seem to pick up speed until much later in the season. I thought it was a bit through out the entire thing, but apparently not.
  • The dialogue became so much more natural sounding after a few episodes. The first one is a little hard to get through.
  • Episode 9 is my favorite episode. I’m not sure if it’s the math heaviness or music heaviness of it, but it brings out such a nerdy side of me. I even asked a friend of mine who is a music director if he could tell me more about Pythagorean comma.
  • Episode 5 – the exorcism – is my least favorite episode. I can’t explain why, but on my re-listening, I just wanted to skip it.
  • The noise, sound effects, and music are much subtler than TANIS.
  • Dr. Strand’s voice is quite soothing when he isn’t yelling, though often patronizing.
  • Shout out to NoSleep’s podcast (and forum). David Cummings guest starring was exciting for me – apparently it bothered a few people?
  • I hated the last two episodes on my first listen. I think it’s primarily because it wrapped up nothing, and I was afraid it’d be a year before another season would come out. My friend Tim ended up getting a long rant about my annoyance (I’m sorry!)
    • That being said, at least 8 minutes of the last episode is adverts, “previously on…” and a side note from Nic.
  • I kind of love that they bleep out “foul” language.

Hopes for Season 2

  • A new theme song. I actually enjoy the first season’s theme song, but after listening to it again for 12 straight episodes, it could do with some upgrading. There are some serious haters out there, I know.
  • The sponsorships. Don’t get me wrong — I know they’re necessary. They just…became a bit incessant by the end of the season. No wait. It’s stamps.com that bothers me. The Audible promos never bothered me. Maybe some new sponsors will be good.
  • Cool it on the “we’ll get to this later.” Okay, so, part of me loves how scatteredly organized the podcast is – it jumps on occasion, which adds to the authenticity. But sometimes it jumps around too much, and it doesn’t make sense. I think this is why I don’t care for episode 5 – it jumps around a bit too much.
  • A Black Tape gets solved. Every show with unanswered questions that I’ve encountered will end with a few questions unanswered. I was never a Lost fan, so I can’t discus that, but I do remember having to accept that something weren’t answered when We’re Alive finished. And sure, I’d rather something be left to imagination/unanswered as opposed to a crappy wrap up.
  • Strand actually answers Alex’s questions in the first episode. I know this won’t happen – we know Strand! He’s going to dodge and tell Alex she’s being ridiculous again.
  • Be darker and scarier. I mean, this show is spooky enough. So let’s push it more!

Planning January – Updates

It’s the middle of January, so it’s time for a small update to make sure I am staying on track!

Books TBR

  • 5th Wave by Rick Yancey (went on the list because I finished it Jan 2)
  • The Infinite Sea by Rick Yancey (Read, just haven’t reviewed yet)
  • Carry On by Rainbow Rowell
  • Broken by Susanne Valenti (ARC) (Currently Reading)
  • Teen Frankenstein by Chandler Baker (ARC)
  • Cranky Ladies of History – Short story compilation (Currently Reading)

Projects to Work On

Okay, I haven’t really finished any of these yet. But I have been working on the presents for Grey! 

  • 85 lines of my 4th Doctor scarf (I’ve done the math, and it’s 1004 lines total. I should have it done and ready for next year)
  • Presents for Grey
  • Hats for a friend’s daughter

Monthly Goals

  • Fix/Redo my Bucket List – it’s a bit old and outdated
  • Get out and do a 2nd hike (weather permitting — won’t be fun to do all the 52 hikes from May-August now!) It’s been too cold and I’ve been fighting a crappy cold. But hopefully I’ll find a day this month.
  • Write 9,000 words
  • Get back into yoga Currently working on – I am doing DailyBurn’s yoga program. 

Other Things

I decided on my yearly reading challenges! I am doing Bustle’s Reading Challenge, which encourages reading books by women and writes of color. I need to sit down and assign a book to a spot, but I’m excited. I am also doing Modern Mrs. Darcy’s reading challenge, which is 12 books in 12 different categories. As I finish books in either challenge, I’ll be sure to denote it on my reviews.

I also cleaned up my 30 Days Challenges and made a list of hiking places to check out near the city. I still need to make a list of things to check out in NYC.

Book Review: Teen Frankenstein

I am so excited that I am getting this review in just under the wire. This book is officially released tomorrow. The ARC was provided kindly by NetGalley (back in October…for Halloween…)

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Teen Frankenstein

by Chandler Baker
January 2016

Format: ebook, arc
Genre: horror, gothic, young adult, classic retellings
Rating: moose-mdmoose-mdmoose-mdmoose-md 3.75/5 Moose

Synopsis

Victoria “Tor” Frankenstein became obsessed with curing death after her father is killed by lightning during one of his experiments. Unfortunately, she and her best friend Owen keep failing at bringing back rats. One dark and rainy night, Tor accidentally hits a boy with her car, killing him pretty quickly. Rushing him back to the lab and increasing the voltage, she is able to bring the boy back to life, now named “Adam” as he suffers memory loss.

Adam is a nearly perfect human specimen, minus the memory loss and the occasional angry temper. Shortly after he starts at her high school, kids go missing and turn up violently murdered. And in a small town, a new kid and serial killer arriving at the time doesn’t seem like much of a coincidence.

Characters

Victoria “Tor” Frankenstein – A junior, who excels in the science field. She’s a bit of a nerd and genius, causing her to think she’s better than everyone around her. After her father died and her mom spiraled out of control, she began researching bringing back people from the dead.

Owen Bloch – Owen is Victoria’s best friend, who is a bit of a tinkerer. He’ll take apart and put back together anything. Victoria frequently thinks he just doesn’t get her, and he unwillingly helps her out after she kills a boy.

Adam Smith – Not much is known about Adam’s past in the beginning. But after he is bright back from the dead, he is a naïve, overgrown toddler. He joins the high school while Victoria tests his ability to blend into normal culture, eventually joining the football team and dating one of the prettiest girls in the school. He has a terrible temper and occasionally disappears. He needs to be recharged every so often as well.

Rants, Raves, and General Thoughts

I’ll admit, I put this book off as long as possible. I read the first 2-3 chapters and set it down. I don’t know what it is about Frankenstein, but I’m a bit of a purist I guess. In fact, I regretted accepting this ARC shortly after doing so.

I was pleasantly surprised to find out that after 10%-15% of the book, I was actually enjoying it. I’m not sure if I just was so against reading it at first that I didn’t realize the MC was female, but it took her killing a guy before I finally realized it. At first, I thought that was a really bad sign, but actually, kudos to the author. Victoria comes off as a sociopathic teenager, just how you would expect Sherlock Holmes to be as a teenager. She “doesn’t react like a normal teenage girl,” as a she frequently realizes, but what’s even more so is she doesn’t like a normal person, period. She’s out to protect the main goal: her science experiment Adam.

The book was dark without being overly gruesome, a decent horror mix. I blame the bumpy beginning on my own issues, and rereading it would probably show it to be much better than I remember it.

The issues I had with the book aren’t anything major. The amount of times “My Adam” is started driving me nuts, or consider making a drinking game. I get it, I do, but cut it in half and it’d probably still have the same affect. The twists — Adam’s past, who the Hunter is — could have been done a bit better. They’re both a bit rushed for my taste.

Also, I really loved her dog’s name — Einstein.

Final Verdict

I’m super apprehensive about this being a series rather than a standalone, but I’ll definitely check out book 2 when it comes out. I’m assuming it’s about someone else? I can’t imagine Tor finding another body so soon, or having a different story.

As for this book, give it a shot. If you like Frankenstein retellings, totally worth a quick read.

Powerball Ticket? I can’t decide.

Living in (or near?) America, you know that the Powerball is currently at $1.4 billion. That’s over $860 million, lump sum. Remember that book from when you were a kid: How Much is a Million? That’s all I could really think about on my walk home today. It’s a pretty uphill battle, so pondering things makes it go much quicker.

It would take me 17,500 years to make $1.4 billion.
A billion seconds is roughly 31 years…which means I haven’t lived a billion seconds yet, and I won’t for 3 more years.

And yet, I am still on the fence about rather or not I would want to play in the lottery. I’ve got until Wednesday to decide, and I doubt that it’ll go unwon again. And to be fair — odds are, it won’t just be one person who wins. And there is the whole “lottery curse” thing. Most of the good lottery stories involve people giving away most of their money. It’s understandable — pay it forward. And to be honest, while my life isn’t perfect or to a point where I don’t worry about money, I really am content in my life. I have a job that pays well and doesn’t require me to work 24/7. My health, while not great, is sustainable.

But still, with a very cold, half mile walk that’s 60% uphill, I couldn’t help but think about what I would do with my (imaginary) winnings. After I disappear for a few months, because I so couldn’t handle the media or anything.

Of course on the personal side, I would:

  • pay off all my medical, student, car and regular debt. Duh.
  • set my 4 youngest siblings with trust funds for college (or whatever they decide to do), even though two of them don’t really talk to me or anything. And of course, a second trust fund, in case they super screw up (but not for repeat screw ups, come on now.)
  • The other 3 siblings would get their past debts paid off, as well as trust funds.
  • My dad and step mom would get his ranch in Montana, with all the horses they want, as well as their past debts paid off. And a trust fund, of course.
  • I’d take my mom traveling, hiking, shopping — there would a year of “what does my mom want to do or go?” Seriously, my mom, being the woman who gave me life at the least, also changed my bandages after my car accident, gave me blood thinner shots when I couldn’t and wouldn’t, forced me to get up and get better, has been my voice of reason and realism, and has been there for everything. What I’m saying is, I know I owe my mom everything. And a trust fund.
  • Mike would get …I dunno, do you want a new house? Maybe just some new cars? Both? Plus his debts paid off and a trust fund.
  • My grandparents — all 5 of them, even the estranged ones, wouldn’t have to worry about money, no matter their health issues.
  • I’d move to the more yuppy part of Brooklyn or Union Square, set up a travel fund, and make sure I gave myself an annual income still — and set aside a few million that I couldn’t touch unless it’s an emergency.
  • I have 5 friends that have stuck with me through so much, seen me through so many problems. I know wouldn’t ask me for money, nor would they expect much from me. They know who they are, and they’d definitely get something.
  • The doctors that saved my life? Except a wonderful Christmas gift. (I’m looking at you, Dr. Kamran!)
  • Plus a few other random things that I’m sure I’m forgetting.

And then of course, I’d quit my job, travel, write, read and live. But that is at most, what $400 million (hahahahahaha)? That’s a lot of money left over.

So here’s what I’d do with the rest:

  • Invest some of the money so that the giving can continue.
  • Start a college scholarship (or trades-person scholarship) program for those trying to make something of themselves while battling illness. One of my own prides is that I got through college, despite getting sick and nearly dying in a car accident. Whatever happens to me, that was something I succeeded at.
  • Or maybe medical funds. Because what’s paid for treatments can be so much more than what’s paid for college.
  • And a WAI scholarship. I am so excited to attend their conference again this year. The atmosphere, the support, all of it is just contagious while you’re there.
  • A good portion would go to autoimmune disease awareness and cures. Cause seriously, that shit needs it.
  • School systems. Lunches for kids. Seriously. I hate seeing those stories anywhere. There are just under 100K public schools according to the 2009-2010 census (probably closer to 120K now), so $1M per school? And keeping the arts in school.
  • HeforShe. Equality, seriously.
  • Random acts of kindness. I’d seriously just travel and give it away in random ways at random places.

There are so many other charities and organizations I would consider and think about, but it would take research. But seriously, I would give so much of it away. And have to settle that I’d probably never marry, which I think I’m okay with.

So much is wishful thinking, of course, given that I haven’t even bought a ticket. Maybe I will tomorrow.

 

Book Review: The 5th Wave

I started off the year with a BANG! I’m curious to see what tops this book this year.

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The 5th Wave

by Rick Yancey

Published 2013

Format: eBook
Genre: YA, Sci-fi, Fantasy, Apocalyptic
Rating: moose-mdmoose-mdmoose-mdmoose-mdmoose-md 5/5 Moose

Synopsis

Cassie might be the only human alive, but she’s not going to stop searching for her brother. In fact, she’ll continue to go through the world thinking she is the only human left, trusting no one. Life has gotten quite difficult since the Others appeared in the sky. Since they appeared, there have been four waves that is killing off humanity. 1st Wave: darkness, 2nd Wave: tidal wave causing earthquake, 3rd Wave: plague, 4th Wave: trust no one.

The Others have infiltrated earth, looking just like all other humans. Their only exception: they kill anything they see. She meets up with Evan Walker, another lonely human survivor who agrees to help Cassie find her brother.

Told from multiple points of view, this book is an exciting post-apocalyptic adventure.

Characters

Cassie Sullivan – Cassie is a 16 year old girl, convinced she is the last human alive. Except that she has to keep hope that her baby brother, Sammy, is still alive, or she would lose all reason to keep fighting. She was an average high school student, in love with a guy named Ben Parish. She totes around Bear, her sole companion, occasionally chatting with his judgmental self.

Sammy Sullivan -Sammy is a five year boy and Cassie’s younger brother. At the survivor camp, he is taken away with other kids on a bus to an unknown location. He gave his stuffed bear to Cassie to keep her safe at night while they are separated. He’s a huge Star Wars fan and hopes that he can fly an X-fighter into the Others and save the day.

Evan Walker– Evan is a mysterious teenager that saves Cassie’s life. He, like most other humans still alive, has lost his entire family. He does a lot of hunting and agrees to help Cassie find her brother.

Zombie – Zombie is found nearly dead and diseased, harboring extreme guilt about his sister. He is saved in time and joins the cause against the Others. He is roughly 17, former football star, and former all around American Mid-Western boy.

Ringer – Ringer is another soldier kid that joins Zombie’s platoon. She’s a good shot and is gunning for a Sergeant position. She and Zombie become comrades, if not friends. She doesn’t have a huge part in this book, but I get the feeling she will in the sequel(s).

Rants, Raves, and General Thoughts

I’m not the biggest sci-fi nut, but I do love the occasional alien story. I’ve seen all the Star Wars, sure, but I haven’t read all the books and such that go with the fandom. I’ve read a few of the Ender’s Game series, but I am not itching to finish it. This is probably why I hadn’t really heard of The 5th Wave, prior to seeing the preview with Chloë Moretz in it. (I don’t know why, but I super enjoy her. I think it’s something about supporting Georgia peoples.)
I read a description that said this book was like The Road meets Twilight. I can’t refine it now, which is probably a good thing, because….don’t compare books to Twilight guys — at least not in a good way.
And don’t ever put Cormac McCarthy’s The Road in the same sentence as Twilight.
I’m glad I gave this book a try despite that.

This book did remind me of The Road a little bit — a less depressing and less hopeless (like I picture The Road constantly in grey tones, while this one has more green and a little brighter?) Cassie is probably how most of us would be after an apocalypse — surviving because of some random, obscure reason that may only make sense to her.

I actually liked the multiple points of view in this novel, even when it was from Sammy’s POV. Maybe even especially? There is no overwhelming sense of thought or hope that humans will survive on the whole, no sudden deus ex machina so far.

The romance story in the book is…interesting. To discuss it would spoil quite a bit, but it’s kind of where I understand the Twilight reference. Evan Walker is a bit of a creepy stalker, but Cassie, instead of finding him super protective and wonderful, tells him that he’s being super creepy. I’m not invested to any major extent, but I’m curious to see what’ll happen.

I’ve seen some people complaining about the aliens. I loved Animorphs growing up, and the Others vaguely reminded me of yeerks. Maybe this is why I didn’t dislike them at all. It’s creepier to me when an alien hides  among humans rather than just blow them up.

Final Verdict

Loved it. I recommend it to everyone!
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I sent it to my brother as a recommendation — I should interview him one day on his thoughts on the books I recommend to him.

I’m curious to see how the movie will turn out. January releases are quite a death note, and it doesn’t look the best, but hell, I’ll go see it.

Top Ten Tuesday – Bookish Resolutions

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created and ran by The Broke and the Bookish. Here’s to the first one of  2016! This week’s topic is Resolutions, understandably, as it is the first of the year. I am a huge fan of resolutions — I make them in January, and I tend to re-evaluate and make new ones in June/July.

1. Read 60 books this year.

My highest count since I started logging on Goodreads is 54 books. It was 2010, so I was finishing my last year of college and competing against my mother and Momo for who could read the most books (and most pages.) Last year I read 50. I feel like 60 is doable. I didn’t read any re-reads last year, so I’m debating whether or not the inevitable re-reads (a series I love is putting out a new book and I haven’t read the series since 2009) will be in 60.

2. Read more graphic novels and comics.

I’m not sure I will count any of these towards my book goal. I’ve collected comics, sure — I own all of Deadpool’s comics (prior to 2015) in e-format. I have the Spider Gwen series, plus the new Deadpool series, (THE NEW SPIDER GWEN VARIANT FOR NEXT WEEK’S COMIC IS BOTH SPIDER GWEN AND DEADPOOL!) plus Web Warriors and Sega (finally). Plus I have all the Walking Dead comics in e-format up to some point (can’t remember). It’s time for me to actually read them….

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I have never needed something so much.

3. Get quicker on my reviews.

Starting this blog had several reasons behind it. The main reason is that I picked up a book, read the description, thought I might try it, looked on Goodreads to add it, and turns out I had read it and hated it. I don’t remember it at all. A blog gets me writing more, reading more, and keeping track of what the heck I’ve read (and a way to hopefully remember it.)

4. Join a few book challenges this year.

Why not? My reading used to be much more diverse, thanks to school reading mostly, and I need to get back to that. I’ll decide on 2-3 by the end of the week.

5. Read more anthologies – aim for one a month.

I have a decent collection of them — I need to read them! January I have Cranky Ladies of History on my list. I have at least 3 more

6. Write more in general.

I’m setting a word count each month and going to try to meet or beat it. Building a habit and all! January’s goal is 9K. I am going to build up to 50K.

7. Don’t fear the DNF.

Seriously, if I don’t like a book, I am going to try not to finish it. There are too many books out there for me to be dragging through any book.

8. Organize my Goodreads account bookshelves. 

They’re not cleaned up well, nor are all the books as organized as I would want them to be. Plus I have two different kinds of “to be read” lists and neither make sense anymore.

9. “Compete” in both Camp NaNoWriMo and actual NaNoWriMo. 

I only won July’s Camp NaNo last year, and that was by the skin of my teeth. I plan on doing 25K in April and July, and then the 50K in November.

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10. Consider purging books.

Don’t look smug, Ma. (She recommended I consider giving away some of my books in order to make more room in my new Brooklyn-sized apartment.) But really, she is right. I have a ton of books I’ve read and don’t plan on rereading, plus a ton of books I never actually plan on reading. I may even advertise them on my blog.

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