Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Top Ten Books I've Read This Year

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

Beauty Queens

Ok I know I still have it marked as currently reading on Goodreads, but I keep meaning to write a short review on it before I mark it as read.  I'm pretty certain this will make my top ten of the year.  If you are a feminist and like satire, this is the book for you!

Unwind by Neal Shusterman

Unwind (Unwind, #1)

I am 100% ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN this will be in my end of the year top ten.  These lists are almost always in no certain order, but I will tell you that this book is an exception.  It is hands down the best book I've read all year, and with the exception of Going Bovine (which it is on par with) the most thought provoking book I've read in years.  I NEED to write a review because more people need to read it.  It is one of the important books that everyone should read.

The Girl of Fire and Thorns (Fire and Thorns, #1)

It's everything I've been saying I want in a fantasy!  Body type-diversity? Check. Racial diversity? Check. Setting and cultural diversity (aka non-Western based)? Check.  I really, REALLY need to read the next two books because I loved this one so much!  That being said I also really love that this book can be read as a standalone.

Soulless by Gail Carriger

Soulless (Parasol Protectorate, #1)

I'm a big fan of Gail Carriger's Finishing School series, and I didn't think it was possible something could be even more fun! I was wrong. I love Soulless even more!  It's funny and witty and fluffy and ugh I just love it.  Gail Carriger has become a solid go to author for me.

Dark Currents by Jacqueline Carey

Dark Currents (Agent of Hel, #1)

Speaking of paranormal fun stuff - there's this series too!  I've mentioned Jacqueline Carey's Kushiel series like a gazillion times (because it's amazing), but it's definitely not for everyone. This series has all the diversity I loved about the Kushiel series, but it's just chock full of fun! 

Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke

Zita the Spacegirl (Zita the Spacegirl, #1)

I won this from The Book Wars and I'm so glad that happened! It is my very first graphic novel (excepting the Asterix and Obelix series as a kid) and I LOVED it!!  It's got everything I love - friendship as a focal point, diversity, adventure, a lovable rogue, robots, aliens, and even a giant mouse!  What more could a girl ask for?  (The next book maybe...)

The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett

The Wee Free Men (Discworld, #30)

This one has been making all my top ten lists since I read it. Once again I reiterate: if I had to recommend myself a series as the most me thing ever, this series would be it. There is nothing more Elizabeth than a series that is Douglas Adams +Diana  Wynne Jones.  I have never regretted being so stubborn about reading a book recommended (heck even GIVEN) to me before!  I could have been reading Terry Pratchett for years by now!  Ah well, at least he has a long catalogue of books for me to go through.

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

The Scorpio Races

Shannon recommended this to me, and that I should listen to it on audio (this apparently has been the year of great recommendations since almost all of these books have been given/recommended to me).  I am so, so glad she did because the writing is beautiful and the narrators were perfect!  It's Stiefvater at her very best.  In my humble and completely correct opinion.

Good Enough by Paula Yoo

Good Enough

This is one of those books that just really spoke to me because of my background. It's clear the author was a musician and it just brought back all of my college application/being a musician in today's world feelings. And it's funny and just well...it just feels <i>true</i>.

Terrier and Bloodhound by Tamora Pierce

Terrier (Beka Cooper, #1)

Beka was well on her way to becoming my new favourite Tamora Pierce heroine...until I met the third book of this series in one of my greatest disappointments (right up there with Mansfield Park). But let's not talk about that because these two books are perfection! As expected from my favourite author :)

And that's it for me this week!  Any of our books overlap? Any you think I should check out? Leave your link in the comments and I'll stop by!

Sunday, June 28, 2015

June Wrap Up + A Day in the Life #37

Soo....I maaaay have been a bit overconfident about blogging/reading more regularly?  Although, in my defense, it's not so much a slump as a holy-crap-are-you-really-working-like-80-hour-weeks?  I'm exhausted guys.  I'M TOO TIRED TO READ.  I'm not sure I believed that could happen. I've been that busy music/school-wise when you actually count the hours up, but even the week before my recital I was staying up til 2 am to cram in some reading!  You know when I consider getting through one of the 8 year old's Disney Fairy books a victory (they are admittedly absolutely delightful and much better quality than I was actually expecting) that things are getting rough haha.  I'm a little over halfway through the audiobook of A Storm of Swords and it's making my head hurt.  I am the QUEEN of giant involved story lines with giant casts!  The Queen I say!  ...but even I can't stand up to the might that is ten narrators spread all over a planet.  I'm actually going to have to study a map of Westeros etc. because I just cannot figure out where anyone is!  It's so confusing!  I feel like I'm the only book blogger who doesn't have a map obsession, but I just don't.  I never look at the maps.  It comes from my complete inability to comprehend how things work in 3-D.  Don't ask, I can't possibly explain.  Needless to say it involves a lot of getting lost.  Anyway, the point is that it's not conducive for an overloaded brain.  But it is good for long road trips and I'll be going on another one soon, so I guess I'll keep plodding through.  At 39 discs, I'm clearly not in any danger of finishing this bloody book anytime soon.  (I considered returning it and coming back to it later, but if I'm having a hard time remembering a storyline after returning to it after 9 OTHER NARRATORS' STORIES, then there's no way in hell I'm going to remember anything that's happened given time and space.)

Holy cow so many things have happened since my last post! (Also holy cow like my last three posts have been wrap-up posts...I MUST FIX THIS.) 

1. I got the barrista/bakery job I'd been wanting!  YAY COFFEE AND PASTRIES FOREVER!!  One of the days I work is a twelve hour shift though and I think it is slowly killing me. Starting at my feet and working up.  But it's great - this place is serious about its coffee and the clientele has been really nice and I like the people I work with.  And of course I get to take home like $60 cakes at the end of the day and have an unlimited supply of coffee while I work.  I seriously haven't gone grocery shopping in like the whole month of June.  It's great!

2. I bought A LOT of books.  A lot. Like seriously, it's like I took the past year's worth of not buying books and went crazy.  This is what happens when you let yourself start with just one itty-bitty thing!  It led to a meltdown about my already out of control book selection.  When you can't fit books into your nine shelves and two suitcases, you know it's time.  So I've been clearing them out to sell/donate/give to the kids.  And of course I decided that meant it was the perfect time to catalog my books as well. It's been utter chaos.

3. I took Sejoon on his first camping trip!  It was his birthday present to me!  (Well not just his presence, he paid for the trip pretty much)  Aaaaand mission accomplished!  He's hooked.  We went to Assateague Island and he wants to make it a yearly thing and is down for camping whenever we both have time (which admittedly probably won't be often. Although I'm probably going to do a night of camping when I leave for my road trip).

 (That's Sejoon's impression of a walrus btw, not how far he can put sticks up his nose)

I have pretty much exclusively gone camping on the west coast for the past 6 years, and therefore haven't used my tent I have here. Fun fact: It is not enough to check that you've got all the parts to your tent and that the poles are broken, apparently when it's been that long (on a tent that's....I honestly don't know how old it is) you have to check for HOLES IN THE TENT.  Yup. I had two giant holes where the "skylights" used to be and OF COURSE it rained the second night haha.  Luckily I had a spare garbage bag, a bag made out of tarp, and am handy with some duct tape so we were (mostly) dry.   Sejoon also got his first taste of s'mores and I don't think I've ever seen someone so excited about s'mores in my life.  And I went camping with my cousins when they were tiny kids haha!  He seriously would start pestering me at like 4 in the afternoon if it was too early to make them hahahaha!  It was adorable, and it's good to be excited about things :) (Personally, I just like toasting marshmallows. S'mores get too messy and too sweet for me)

There's a bay and ocean area so we went swimming (or rather Sejoon did...I guess I forgot how far north we are - it felt like winter time Pacific Ocean!!) and kayaking and you can find these little hidden pockets of beaches which was a lot of fun.  Sejoon and I are rereading the Harry Potter series (or in his case reading the second half of it for the first time) so we did a lot of that while we were there too.  There's also wild horses on Assateague Island which is both awesome...and not awesome.  There maaaay have been a moment when they came up to the table where I was cooking oatmeal looking to mooch some food.  And you know, you really forget how big horses are til your trapped against your table by one.  There was a herd of about five of them in our campsite so I squeezed out of the table area and had the brilliant idea to clap at them to make them leave.  Well, I successfully startled them...but forgot a very, very important detail.  When you startle animals into running....they run straight.  So you should probably...not be standing directly in front of them.  I definitely thought I was going to die by horse stampede there for a hot second haha!  In any case, Operation: Convince Sejoon He Loves Camping was a great success.  And it was my very first time going camping without my family! (Aka having other people do all the cooking)  So all in all it was a very exciting and satisfying birthday :D

Best Novel
I am completely unsurprised at this turn of events haha.  I knew pretty much immediately that this book was going on my favourite books of all time list (now you know at least one book on my next TTT!).  If you are a feminist even slightly, you should read this.  (And by the actual definition of feminist - you believe in equal rights for all genders)  If you enjoy satire, you should read this.  If you liked Going Bovine, you should read this. (Although I'm pretty sure more people have read Beauty Queens than Going Bovine, but still). If you like funny/wacky survivalist/government conspiracy stories, you should read this.  Just go read this!

Best Picture Book

Red: A Crayon's Story

Red: A Crayon's Story is about a crayon who is trying to be what he isn't (he's a blue crayon in a red crayon's cover).  It's the perfect framework for any subject, from LGBTQA discussions to simply not being good at something that's out of your control.  It was cute and clear and the five year old just loved reading another book about crayons haha

So...I may have gone on more than just a book buying spree....I've been wanting this Taylor Swift album FOREVER and it was my birthday month..so I bought it...and her Red album.... NO REGRETS.  And this music video may just be my new favourite music video EVER (And with my Korean music videos there is some pretty stiff competition)

I'm not going to lie, my bloglovin feed is terrifying right now.  You know that too tired to read I mentioned? Yeah that applies to  reading blogposts. I did my best to weed posts out while at work but..I currently have 568 unread posts.  Yup.  And that's after bloglovin cleared out like two weeks of unread posts because they were over three weeks ago haha.  So I'm going to have a pretty short round up list this week because my reaction anytime I've gone to read things on bloglovin has been this:

Bookish Discussions

We Need Diverse Books Talks True, Political, Global Diversity in Sci-Fi and Fantasy - Featuring Daniel Jose Older, Joe Monti, Kameron Hurley, Ken Liu, and Nnedi Okafor
Mitchii on me, my emotions, & these fictional characters.
Nafiza muses on why we read.
Janet shares a heartwarming story about reluctant readers and Harry Potter.
Jamie talks about the sentimental value of books.

Specific Books and Authors

Hogwarts Hops The Pond: Rowling Reveals U.S. Version Of Wizards' School - Appropriate level of flailing ensued after reading this.
I leave you with these:

disney princess raptors 5disney princess raptors 4

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Tell Me Tuesday #5: In which Elizabeth is not-reading lots of books

What's that you say?  It's not a Tuesday? It is in fact...*gasp* a WEDNESDAY?? The shock!  I don't even care I'm just a big, bloody rebel, I am!

...I may have had three cups of coffee, all before noon.  But that's what happens when nasty people come into work.  Your attempt to ruin my day failed you haters MWAHAHAHA!  

In any case, look at this! Two posts in 24 hours - I'M BACK FROM THE DEAD!  But sadly, as May is the month of blog hiatuses, apparently June is retaining it's hold as the month of reading slumps.  I'm in the middle of quite a few books...that I have done no reading in for probably a week. Even the audiobook was on hold since I drove other people/rode in other people's cars for my gigs this week.  *sigh*.  So here's what I'm NOT reading:


I have a friend who is OBSESSED with Douglas Preston and Michael Crichton, and he was really excited about this one and shoved it into my face.  I think this maaaay be a big part of my slump.  It's not that the book is bad exactly, but character development is pretty much essential for my enjoyment in a book.  I don't even have to like them! They just need to be more than stock photos, and I have to say this doesn't even capture characters as well as a stock photo was. I called it before I started when I saw there was a list of characters - "this one's going to be the slutty one, this one the leader good guy, the weird annoying one, etc."  And I may have been wrong about which character was what, but I WAS right about all the stereotypes.  In fact, the book pretty much just says what I just did in the first couple pages when the characters each get two sentences devoted to their description.  They're all pretty interchangeable, I can never remember which one is who.  That being said, the science behind the story and the description of the world they're in is FANTASTIC.  And it's very action-oriented.  So if you want a fun thriller, I'd pick this up.  It's just not the book for me.  Half the characters have died and I don't even care because I can't remember who they are.  If it was just about the bugs I would love the crap out of this book!  

Beauty Queens

The humor and snarky, sarcastic tone of this book is REALLY similar to Going Bovine (so LaLa if you like the tone of Going Bovine and want something a bit less trippy try this book!)  ...that being said I'm only 16% of the way through so it might get weirdly trippy, I don't know.  And I don't know why I have no urge to read this because I've LOVED everything about it so far! I have a feeling it will be making it to my top ten of the year list whenever I do finally finish it.

A Storm of Swords (A Song of Ice and Fire, #3)
Listening to this on audiobook was an EXCELLENT idea. I picked it up for our road trip, but ended up putting it down mostly so we could listen to Harry Potter.  Which was a shame because this narrator is really, really good and my mom definitely was enjoying this one more despite the fact she knows nothing about GoT.  (But she NEEDED to read Harry Potter!!)  So it was more than a little confusing for her haha.  In the meantime I've been listening to it on my commutes.  I'm probably a third of the way in now and I have a feeling STUFF is about to go down.  All the characters are settling into happier places, and we know what THAT means.

I'm also reading Half Magic with the kids  - we're only through the first chapter and it's already a big hit!   I've been carrying Akata Witch in my purse all week too since I keep thinking I'm ACTUALLY going to finish Micro and want something else to read. Shows what I know.  I'm planning on going to the library to pick up A Darker Shade of Magic on Shannon's recommendation, but I still have library books checked out from April, another book a member of the gym loaned me, and a review copy...plus I'm in a slump.  So I'm not sure I'll get to it any time soon, which I hate because that and A Court of Thorns and Roses were BIG priorities for me to get to in May (I preordered ACoTaR for pete's sake!) and here we are in June...so we'll see. I've been super excited for both, so hopefully I kick this slump in the shins and make it limp away soon!

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

May Wrap-Up + A Day in the Life #36

 It must be some sort of rule that the month of May = hiatus.  Seriously, since the history of starting this blog, even back when I was just mucking around and randomly posting things, I don't think I've ever written more than two posts in May haha.  (Scratch that, apparently when I first made this blog I posted like every Goodreads review I'd ever written hahahaha).  In other blog news, it turns out that:

A. In April I had my two-year blogoversary and didn't even realize it!
B. I am worse at math than I thought I was.

For some reason I thought I'd already been blogging for two years (Note: I count April 2013 as when I actually started blogging instead of the random floundering I'd done before haha).  Because...I don't know? I counted the year I started instead of realizing that you start at zero not one?  I honestly don't know. It feels a bit like I'm repeating a year and my brain is confused about it all.  Unless I'm still doing math wrong and I was right the first time... How did I even graduate high school?  

This month was as per usual, pretty busy for me.  I drove my mom across the country, which was fairly eventful, (Fun fact: the narrator of Harry Potter was so boring that he put her to sleep. At the wheel.  That's right, Jim Dale almost killed me) and my brother graduated (at USC the release A FLOCK OF DOVES.  Clearly my graduations needed to take a lesson here) so both of those things were exciting! 

My Month in Pictures:

1. One of the prettiest rest stops I've been to. I believe this one was in Texas?
2. Graduation was FREEZING. And raining. That's not supposed to happen in Southern California in May!!
3. That's Posy (the dog) and Murphy (the cat). Murphy actually spent most of the trip at my feet. He's such a trooper - he's 19!! and was fairly chill about the whole thing.  A five day cross country trip is no small feat for a cat, let alone a respectable elder like him.  Toby, our Yorkie, rode in the truck with our family friend since Murphy usurped the other dog carrier/our laps.
4. I've moved on from purple, and am now a pretty dark teal color!
5. A highly entertaining restaurant.  We pulled over here solely because of the name haha
6. It finally warmed up after graduation was over. My brother is pretty ecstatic at the thought of never being in school ever again and we were all glad the like 8 hour long graduation was over and the sun came out haha!  Just kidding (sort of). We're all really, really proud of him!

Other than that, I've been busy doing lots of gigging so that was exciting for me! I'm about to hit a dry spell, but hopefully that won't last long. It's definitely good that I'm getting asked to play more frequently, so that was definitely great news.  I'm actually going to be on a recording of Amit Peled playing Schumann's Cello Concerto!  I'm playing second oboe, so no one will be able to hear me, but it's really exciting anyway!  It's also an absolutely stunning piece - the "second movement" (the piece is played in one go, but it definitely has three distinct sections) is one of my favourite things to listen to, but I definitely recommend the whole piece. 

And on to the bookish part of my month! (You know, the part that's actually applicable to this blog haha). Reading wise, it was a pretty standard month. Feel free to see my rating breakdown of what I read this month here.

Good Enough

If you want a realistic portrayal of what it's like to be a classical musician, you need to read this book.  If you know someone who will be applying for colleges (or even applying for...anything), hand them this book.  If you know someone who is growing up as a second generation American (particularly an non-white one), hand them this book.  (As a white girl, I cannot confirm that this is how it goes, but considering the author IS a Korean American and that it rings true with what I've seen with my friends, it gets my vote).  This book is just so...god I LOVED it.  It's so real!  It's funny and bittersweet and there's romantic relationship in here that is...trust me it's not what you think. And it surprised me. Also there are Korean recipes in here so there's that too.  Just...I think this will be one of the best books I've read all year. I cannot possibly endorse it more. So if you like funny and sweet mixed in with a good dose of bittersweet, if you like music of any kind, just...I don't care what you like read this!!!

Herman and Rosie

THERE'S AN ALLIGATOR PLAYING AN OBOE!!!!!  He's a jazz oboist, which trust me doesn't really exist, but still.  And the artwork has a lot of layering with newspaper cut outs and it was whimsical and trust me, it hit REAL feelings (depression after life isn't working out so well) and I toooootally loved it basically.  But I might be a little biased because...did I mention it featured an oboe playing alligator?

Best Manga

電撃デイジー 11

Ahhh, Dengeki Daisy is finally over :(  Kyosouke Motome writes some really fun manga, and Dengeki Daisy is my favourite of the lot.  It's part thriller part shoujo love story and it's basically just a fun time all around.  Even at it's darkest, it frequently interrupts itself with a funny moment.  I definitely recommend this one to anyone interested in reading a manga!

Bookish Discussions

Jamie talks about Books That Change Your Life.
Fahima asks some very thought provoking questions about AUTHORIAL INTENT & RESPONSIBILITY.
Asti is Starting to Dread Series. (I totally understand - I do much better when I can binge read, but the pressure to read it because everyone is freaking out about it NOW is real)
Gaby had an epiphany about The Little Moments.
Cait asks Are You Ever Blindly Protective Over Certain Books? (Answer: Umm YES. Horridly so. I just try not to say anything when someone disagrees with me. My brain just goes LALALALA I'M NOT LISTENING TO YOU, YOU BLASPHEMER)
Jess wonders if she has forgotten how to free her speech?
Mel feels like she's leaving characters behind as she grows older.
Faye writes a letter to fantasy novels: DEAR GENERIC FANTASY BOOKS, ORCS/DWARVES/ELVES HAVE STORIES, TOO! (I couldn't agree more. I want all the stories!!)

Specific Books and Authors

Janet had the opportunity to hear Jacqueline Woodson speak about her stories.
Cait wrote a gif filled review of A Game of Thrones that is just spot on.
Ellie literally 100% gets my undying love for Sabriel.
Jamie interviewed Sarah Dessen and is also doing a giveaway! (...that may be over by the time this posts, sorry!)
GlaizaAnne, and Carolyn all wrote a beautiful tributes celebrating Tanith Lee.
N.K. Jemisin on her dislike of putting books in the African American section of libraries and bookstores.

Bookish Fun Stuff

Cait cautions us with 10 Occupational Hazards Of Being a Bookworm.
Epic Reads created The Hardest Game of ‘Would You Rather’ for Book Nerds
William (hilariously) lists the Top 10 ways to be evil in children’s books.
Cait, I too have these 10 Problems of Being An Adult Reading YA.  (I maaaay also just age everyone up and forget they're actually whatever age.  At some point I'm going to get too old for this to work at all with any sense though.)
Natalie plays a game of Would You Rather with debut Tor authors.

Nonbookish Stuff

A Contributor on The Mary Sue wrote an article about Coping With Anxiety and Depression Through Fiction or, “How Rocket Raccoon Fixed My Mental Illness”
Shae has categorized and sorted EVERY character on The 100 into social constructs.  It's awesome. You should check it out.