June Reading Wrap-Up: All Audio, All The Time

Reading Wrap-up

Whew! It’s been a while since I’ve wrapped up a month of reading! Since I started working full-time again, I’ve been hitting the audiobooks hard (I love you, Overdrive) and I’ve been incredibly pleased with June’s line up.

Between the World and Me – Ta-Nehisi Coates

I started this book a while back, but ended up having to return my copy to the library before I could finish it. Towards the end of May/beginning of June, I finally made it to the top of the wait list for an audio copy. This book was… just… wow. I think about this book a lot, especially when the author spoke about how fear is often the emotion that drives violence. I look at the incarcerated men with which I work daily and see how that fear could have been a factor in their behavior.

A Fighting Chance – Elizabeth Warren

Of my June reads, and possibly all of 2016 as well, this is one of my favorites. Warren has been fighting for everything she’s ever accomplished: going to college, being a working mom, becoming a law professor, all her political work from the outside, and her arduous run for Senate. She’s a remarkable woman, despite all the shit she’s been getting from some Bernie supporters as well as the presumptive Republican nominee. However, I will say that her book convinced me that I will never, ever, not in a million years, ever run for public office. Nope, nope, nope.

The Restaurant at the End of the Universe (Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Universe, #2) – Douglas Adams

I know I just read this last year, but after listening to my boy, Stephen Fry, narrate Hitchhiker’s Guide, I decided to give the whole trilogy (in five parts) an audio go. This installment was narrated by another British fave of mine, Martin Freeman. Yet again, I love the absurd brilliance of this story, and I think it was even better the second time around. I’m currently on the wait list for Book 3.

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore – Robin Sloane

I heard about this through some social media buzz, and, I’ll admit, I’m a sucker for a book about books. I didn’t really know what to expect from this, but I loved it! Personally, I believe you cannot go wrong with bookish secret societies and super computing powers. Additionally, the narrator, Ari  Fliakos, gave a stellar performance. I highly recommend that if you, my dear readers, decide to pick this one up, go with audio. I was so enthralled, I listened to almost all of the ~8 hours in a single Saturday.

Fahrenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury

I told y’all I liked books about books, didn’t I? Sadly, I must confess that this is my first reading of his classic. *hides face in shame* Well, let me tell ya, I picked the wrong election cycle to start picking up such discomfiting dystopian dramas as The Handmaid’s Tale and Fahrenheit 451. Holy T.A.R.D.I.S. of Gallifrey, these stories are chilling and eerily relevant for 2016. Nevermind the whole burning books thing, which is enough to make me squirm. What really got me was the sheer lack of thought demonstrated by characters like Mildred Montag; it reminded me of too much of how accepting some people are of what they are told without ever thinking about the situation themselves.

Coming up in July…

The Namesake – Jhumpa Lahiri

This one’s for book club. I’m just getting started so it’s too soon to tell.

The Color of Magic – Terry Prachett

I’m giving Discworld a try because it seems right up my alley. This one is actually an eBook, so it’s slow going. I read the first chapter and it got my head swimming, but I think I’m going to love it!

How was your month, readers?!

Here’s my Tournament of Books Picks (so far)!

The tournament begins today! Here are my picks!

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Play-in Round – Avenue of Mysteries v. A Spool of Blue Thread: Currently working on Avenue of Mysteries and kinda diggin’ it. Didn’t finish A Spool of Blue Thread.

Fates & Furies v. Bats of the Republic: Admittedly, I haven’t (yet) read Bats, and heard it was very good. But, damn, Fates & Furies. That book was a beast, and I believe, a TOB finalist.

The Sympathizer v. Oreo: This one is mostly a guess. I started both of these books, but finished neither. However, the way in which Oreo was written just didn’t work for me, and it didn’t seem to work for several other bloggers I know. Also, I kinda felt cheated by this because it was originally published in the 1970s.

Turner House v. Ban en Banlieue: I didn’t get to Ban en Banlieue and I didn’t finish Turner House. Basically, this was a toss up. #noshame

Our Souls At Night v. The Whites: Loved Our Souls at Night, didn’t finish The Whites. It was like watching an episode of Law & Order. Our Souls was a lovely story, and one of my TOB faves.

A Little Life v. The New World: I haven’t read The New World, but A Little Life got into my head and hasn’t left.

The Book of Aron v. The Tsar of Love and Techno: Book of Aron was good, but not great. Tsar was bloody fantastic, and I project, a TOB semifinalist.

Avenue of Mysteries (play-in) v. The Story of My Teeth. I had to stop the audiobook of The Story of My Teeth after about 10 minutes–that’s a new record. ‘Nuff said.

The Sellout v. The Invaders: The Sellout is my favorite TOB read and my favorite to win. I couldn’t finish The Invaders.

Check back for updates, and to see how well I’m doing! What are your picks?!

#BBAW Day 3: Great Books Recommended by Great Bloggers

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Today’s questions is: What have you read and loved because of a fellow blogger? And the truth is, between my blog feed, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Goodreads, my TBR pile has increased exponentially since I started blogging myself in June. Here are just a few of my favorite reads and the bloggers who recommended them:

Of Things Gone Astray by Janina Matthewson (my review here)

This book was recommended to (and given to) me by Monika at The Lovely Bookshelf. Shortly after she helped me setup on my blog, she invited me to a book swap, and told me how much she liked this one. And did I, too. This is one of those books where the beautiful writing outshined the storyline; the authors use of words was simply delicious, that’s the best way I can describe it.

Dietland by Sarai Walker

I saw several people reading and reviewing this right around the time I started blogging. I knew that April at The Steadfast Reader thought very highly of it, and that it was being discussed by the lovely ladies at The Socratic Salon, all of whose opinions I greatly value. At the time I didn’t know how to navigate NetGally or Edelweiss, so I placed it on my TBR and kind of forgot about it. In December I found it at my local library, and decided to check it out, and it really hit the spot. I loved the main character, strongly related to her struggles, and I think about her often when I want to disparage my own appearance.

The Library At Mount Char by Scott Hawkins

This is another one that several fellow bloggers read, but I associate this book with Andi at Estella’s Revenge. I loved it; is a perfect mix of horror and supernatural and interpersonal struggles and it just hit all the right buttons for me. It also contains one of my favorite books quotes:

“‘Oh,’ she considered this. ‘Are you a Buddhist?’

‘No, I’m an asshole. But I keep trying.'”

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

No one really recommended this book to me. My IRL spirit nerd, Allysia, told me about the television show and that it was based on a book. I found out this series was available on my local library’s audiobook app, and decided to look it up on Goodreads. Once again, it was Andi who sold me with her short review. It only contained two sentences, the first of which was: “I’m sad that I can never read this book for the first time again.” I think that’s one of the best things that you can say about a book. And, not surprisingly, it was great.

I could really go on and on. For the most part, the books I’ve been reading since launching this blog have been good, if not great, and I have yet to be led astray by a fellow blogger. For that, I say


#BBAW: Introduce yourself with Books

So, today is a day for new things: this is the first time I’m going to try to blog from my phone (it’s storming like crazy here, and I’ve turned off all the electronics, including the wireless router) and this is my first Book Blogger Appreciation Week. Thank you Estella Society for hosting this event!!!!

Day One is about introducing myself by sharing five books that represent my life and who I am. Hmmmm… I’m going to have to think about this for a few minutes.


Ok. Here goes!

I love reading, but I also really love words. Some words I like because of their mouth feel, like “muffin” or “foot”, and others for their meaning like ” sesquipedalian” or “Panglossian“. With that, I think The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary by Simon Winchester definitely fits in this list.


As long as I can remember, I’ve been a passionate animal lover, especially the pets that have come into my life. Today I live with three animals: two little senior dogs and one fluffy street cat.  They are my children, and they rule my life. And I’m totally OK with that. I thought If Dogs Could Talk was appropriate, considering one of my pack ironically chewed it up a few years ago.


It took me a long time to figure out what I wanted to be when I grow up, and I was in my late 20s by a time I discovered the field of counseling psychology. I know this is a new level of nerdy, but I’m putting a textbook in my list: Contemporary Behavior Therapy by Michael Spiegler. I could’ve gone with something by Freud or one of the “famous” psychologists, but I’m a behaviorist, so I figured a behavior therapy book was the best fit.


When I was an adolescent I hit my reading stride, and discovered that I really enjoyed horror and science fiction, and I became a huge Dean Koontz fan. I must’ve read dozens of his works during junior and senior high school (I eventually branched out beyond one author). I can’t remember exactly the first Dean Koontz novel ever read, but I vividly remember binge reading The Funhouse in about a day when I was a teen.


And finally, although I was an adult before I was introduced to the Wizarding World, I am an unapologetic Potterhead and proud Gryffindor. I close my list with the first book in that series since that’s where I first met Harry, Ron, and Hermione ( my spirit witch): Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by JK Rowling.


That’s my five! Thanks for stopping by and reading about me and my books. Please visit me on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. I love connecting with other readers and bloggers!

Can She Do it? Tournament of Books 2016


This is my first foray into the rabble and ruckus that is Tournament of Books. I’ve heard it’s loads of fun, so I’m going to do my best to read all of the books on the short list. I’m going into each book with an open mind, and I’m not going to be afraid of setting books aside if I’m just not feeling it. I’m also trying to (finally) finish up my thesis paper this month, too, so I am going to have a busy February. Here’s where I am so far

      • The New World by Chris Adrian and Eli Horowitz – awaiting hold from library
      • The Sellout by Paul Beatty – currently reading
      • Bats of the Republic by Zachary Thomas Dodson
      • The Turner House by Angela Flournoy- saved in my TOB16 library list
      • Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff – read, review pending (because I’m slow…)
      • Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf- checked out from library
      • Ban en Banlieue by Bhanu Kapil
      • The Story of My Teeth by Valeria Luiselli
      • The Tsar of Love and Techno by Anthony Marra – listened
      • The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen- checked out from library
      • The Whites by Richard Price- checked out from library
      • Oreo by Fran Ross
      • The Book of Aron by Jim Shepard– read
      • The Invaders by Karolina Waclawiak- currently reading
      • A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara- awaiting hold from library

Play-In Round

      • Avenue of Mysteries by John Irving- saved in my TOB16 library list
      • A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler- checked out from library

I’m trying to do as much of this as I can by utilizing the library. I’m also using this time to demo some different audio and e-book subscription services (basically, do it for free 🙂 ). I plan to at least provide mini-reviews of each book, so make sure to check back as we get closer to the tournament start date!

Alright, readers, who’s with me? Are you ready for TOB 16?!

Magical Mondays: Books from Hogwarts

by JK Rowling, Kenniworthy Whisp, Newt Scamander
Genres: Fantasy, Fiction
Source: West Florida Public Library

I’m still coming down from my recent #Potterbinge. In the last few months of 2015, I listened to the entire Harry Potter series narrated by Stephen Fry. I know I’m repeating myself, but it was glorious, and everyone should listen to his version! Between falling down the Wizarding World rabbit hole whilst Potter-binging and the news surrounding the upcoming Fantastics Beast and Where to Find Them film, I decided it was finally time to delve into the three books published for Muggles after the the series concluded. These books were absolutely adorable and a lot of fun to read.

41899Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by Newt Scamander

This is a reprint of the textbook used by Harry Potter for his Care of Magical Creatures class. Not only does it provide a A-Z overview of the various magical creatures, the introduction explains some of the history behind what constitutes a “beast,” and magizoology. Also, because this is Harry’s book, the Muggle reader sees his (and Ron’s) annotations as well.

I really liked the content of this book. I read this while listening to one of the Harry Potter books (can’t recall which), and I found I was already familiar with some of the creatures the students were studying, such as bowtruckles. Unfortunately, though, it left me wanting. For a children’s book, there’s too much text and not enough illustration. It reads like a list, and I can see how some kiddos might lose interest in a creature book without loads of creatures to look at. I have no idea whether a fully illustrated version exists (or will exist soon as the film release approaches), but that would be bloody brilliant.

111450Quidditch Through the Ages by Kenniworthy Whisp

Quidditch Through the Ages comes to us Muggles via the Hogwarts Library, and Prof. Dumbledore shares in the forward a quote from Madam Pince, the Hogwarts library, that this book is “pawed about, dribbled on, and generally maltreated” nearly every day. This book provides the developmental history of the game, the various teams around the world, and a little instruction on many in-flight manuevers.

I admit that I initially selected this book out of obligation. Hermione is my spirit witch, so it may not be surprising that I preferred reading about charms, potions, and transmutation over quidditch (don’t get me wrong – it’s still a rather nifty sport, and I would *love* to be able to play).

The only book in the Hogwarts Library that Hermione didn’t check out.

I was very pleased to find myself enjoying this book as much as I did Fantastic Beasts. I love the detail in which the history of the sport was crafted, and I enjoyed learning that there are other wizarding sports around the world. One of my favorite moments is the description of the Crudely Cannons, that their “glory day many be considered by many to be over, but their devoted fans live in hope of a renaissance” and that the league changed their motto from “We shall conquer” to “Let’s all keep our fingers crossed and hope for the best.” I immediately thought of the Chicago Cubs and their legion of devoted fans.

4020390The Tales of Beedle the Bard by JK Rowling

This is a book of wizard children stories first introduced to Muggles when Prof. Dumbledore bequethed his copy to Hermione in his will. I suppose wizarding children have their own fairy tales just like Muggle children do. The Tales of Beedle the Bard includes a selection of these stories, including “The Wizard and the Hopping Pot,” “The Fountain of Fair Fortune,” “The Warlock’s Hairy Heart,” “Babbity Rabbitty and Her Crackling Stump,” and “The Tale of the Three Brothers.” Of these three books, this was definitely my favorite.

First, one of my favorite scenes from all of the movies is the animated telling of “The Tale of the Three Brothers.” I love that type of animation, and I feel like it’s beautifully done.

Because I am a lifelong reader, I loved (and still do love) many stories from my childhood. Being able to experience children’s stories from the Wizarding World made me a little nostalgic, yet I also got to feel the excitement of experiencing a new story. What’s more is there was commentary provided by Prof. Dumbledore, to explain the background and morals behind each story. If I ever have children, I will definitely add these stories to the myriad others of which I am so fond. (I intend to contribute to the next generation of Potterheads. 🙂 )
In short, these are three, fun, little books that any Muggle can easily enjoy! We may have never gotten our own Hogwarts letters, but at least get a little glimpse with these books.

Books That Made Me Buzz in 2015: A Year End Review

I can’t say I’m disappointed to be viewing 2015 in the rearview (SN: this post is late because our washing machine flooded the garage on NYE – one last “screw you” from the year….), but I will say that I had the best reading year I’ve had in a long time. I managed to read/listen to 41 books this year, which isn’t too bad considering I didn’t really start reading until May.

This year I was introduced to NetGalley and Edelweiss, and numerous book bloggers who have made me fall in love with my Twitter feed all over again and who inspire me to read books that I would once have thought were too long to try or that I wasn’t smart enough to understand. My fellow bloggers also led me back to my local library, and I’ve been darkening the local branch’s door on a weekly basis for the last few months. I’ve marked some books off my TBR, and added many more, and I am excited to be in the thick of things during Tournament of Books, embark on reading challenges, and make time everyday to read in 2016.

I’d also like to give shout-outs to my dear friends, April (The Steadfast Reader) and Monika (Lovely Bookshelf). They were the force behind starting this blog, and have been my fairy blog-mothers behind the scenes when I had issues with Blue Host or plugin difficulties. These are two fantastic women who impress be both with their copious reading as well as their remarkable daily lives. Thanks again, y’all, for tag teaming me that night in June. Much love to you both! <3

In celebration of a good year in books, I’d like to share some of my favorite reads from 2015.

Dietland – Sarai Walker

I just read this book a few weeks ago, and I’ve thought about it just about every day since I finished it. I found Plum’s journey to self love and empowerment intoxicating, and, as someone who shares her lifelong struggle with weight, I found a lot of myself in those pages.

The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood

This book has been on my bookshelf for years. Like since I was a blushing bachlorette. Shameful. The Handmaid’s Tale is another book that has really stuck with me. I found it was terrifying, and so close to reality that it made me nervous. It’s amazing how this book is 30 years old yet extremely relevant, having heard words uttered in debates that would be better suited for the Republic of Gilead than America in 2015. That’s some scary shit, bro… Nevertheless, if you haven’t read it yet, do it. Now.

The Martian – Andy Weir (my thoughts here)

I knew I’d love this book from the first sentence: “I’m pretty much fucked.” Mark Whatney was witty and brilliant, the story was incredibly entertaining, and never failed to capture my attention.

Of Things Gone Stray – Janina Matthewson (my review)

I got this book from a book swap (thanks Monika). The characters were interestingly interwoven into a strange and fascinating story about losing things, but what I loved about this book was the writing. It was beautiful and delicious and drank in the words like honey.

Harry Potter series (audio) – JK Rowling (author); Stephen Frey (narrator)

I was first introduced to Harry Potter in 2001. At the time, the first four books were already published. I ate them like food and was an instant fan. I even got to cosplay for the Order of the Phoenix release in 2003.

Me as Molly Weasley (left) with Moaning Myrtle.

The rest of the series I read when it first came out, but never managed to reread (despite it being a favorite). I started the audiobooks in September. It was intended to be exlusively driving entertainment, but then I started listening at the gym, during chores, and eventually each night as a fell asleep. Stephen Frey narrated these books with perfection. Not only did his glorious accent add an extra-special layer of Britishness to the story, his vocal characterizations were spot on.

So there it is. Bring it one, 2016! And Happy New Years, readers!!!