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Today’s post is an experiment. It’s not a format I’ve used before, but it seems doable. (Here’s why I’m trying it.) I would love your honest feedback. Yes? No? Yes, but…? Yes, and…? Please do let me know!

Also, I know this post is super boring to look at. I meant to take photos but didn’t get to it. If they would help, I’ll try to do better in future. Input welcome!

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

4pm – I decide to take S (my son) for a walk. I’ve been trying to get him used to the stroller; he’s been hit or miss lately, sometimes fine and sometimes freaking out partway through the walk. When he’s amenable, I get exercise and some listening time and he gets a nap. Wins all around.

I check my podcast queue and realize there’s nothing I want to listen to. Crap. I need to leave soon or we’ll be past the nap window and on to S’s second (third? fourth?) wind. Then I remember I got The Martian pre-S with an Audible gift credit. Hooray! I quickly download it and figure out how to get it onto my phone.

4:08pm – On our way. I realize I don’t know where audiobooks end up in this version of iOS, which makes me realize how long it’s been since I listened to one! I figure it out and start listening, trying not to get too absorbed in case I need to deal with S.

4:18pm – He’s out. I should have at least 30 minutes. Hooray! I’m enjoying the book so far, though my exhausted brain is pretty much just zoning out whenever the narration gets too technical. The rest of the walk is uneventful; I listen, S naps.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

2:20pm – Time for another walk. S falls asleep fairly quickly, and I’m back to The Martian. I realize a few minutes in that I’m listening at regular speed; I can’t remember the last time I did that. But after a moment’s contemplation in which I consider bumping the playback speed, I admit to myself that I’m probably too tired to follow anything much faster.

I’m definitely getting more into the book. The potato “storyline” in particular has me hooked, probably because it’s not so technical and I can keep up. Unrelated to potatoes: I can see why they picked Matt Damon for the movie (which I hope to see at some point. Unusual for me; usually I’m a book OR movie girl.)

Friday, March 25, 2016

Evening – I actually consider downloading a novel onto my phone to read. The last one I started — To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis — I abandoned about a third of the  way in. To slow and too silly. Before that, I’d tried and abandoned John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars. In fact, the last novel I finished was Carry On by Rainbow Rowell shortly after S was born. Since then I’ve just been perusing parenting books. I keep eyeing the Outlander series for some reason, but at my current reading pace I’d have to be a cat with nine lives to get through all the books…not an encouraging thought.

But Eva says Mira Grant’s books are excellent, and Eva has excellent book taste (for instance, she recommended The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater, which I’d never have picked up on my own but really enjoyed), and my library has the ebooks. Hm.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

1:30pm – Today my wonderful husband is watching S so I can get a much-needed massage! I briefly consider listening to The Martian on the hour round-trip drive before remembering there are new episodes of two of my favorite knitting podcasts. (Does anyone care which ones? I have no idea how many of you are knitters, so I’m trying to keep knitting and books kind of separated at the moment.)

9:05pm – S decided not to fall asleep nursing tonight and is now wide awake and cooing, so now we are waiting for him to approach anything resembling sleepy. I pull up my library’s website on my phone and read the descriptions for Feed and Parasite, the first books in Mira Grant’s trilogies. They sound…possibly more than I want at the moment. I bookmark them for later, then hunt around for something less intense. My wishlist is no help; it’s full of books by Margaret Atwood and David Mitchell and Jose Saramago and other authors I adore but who probably are not the best choices until I start getting a little more sleep.

I suddenly remember my hold on Attachments by Rainbow Rowell came up a while back. It has long since expired, but I place it again. I randomly remember how I keep wanting to read something by Diana Wynn Jones and — jackpot — my library has lots of her ebooks. I put a hold on Howl’s Moving Castle because it’s the one I hear about most often. The title always reminds me of We Have Always Lived in the Castle, so I look that one up too. My library has it as a digital audiobook, but whoa…it sounds creepy and not at all like what I’d expected (or what I want to be reading). Ok then, never mind. I’m out of ideas so I give up and go do something else. Hopefully one of the two I reserved will become available soon.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

7:05am – S had a decent night, so I’m feeling somewhat alive. Hopefully it lasts more than an hour or two…ha. I’m poking through my library wishlist again while S has breakfast when I come across Patricia C. Wrede’s Dealing with Dragons. I’ve bookmarked it on audio, but I wonder if they have the ebook. They do! And the rest of the series, too! I put that one on hold as well, hoping I enjoy the books as much as an adult as I did as a teen. All I remember is that there’s a princess named Cimorene.

8:33am – It’s the weekend, which means we have time to make a proper hot breakfast. Today it’s cornbread waffles with fresh strawberries. While I cook, I listen to The Martian. I get to the first part not narrated by Mark and must admit it’s a bit weird to have the same reader doing the third-person bits. Which I guess is a good thing, in a way, since it means he’s doing such a good job being the main character that I’m thinking of them as one and the same. Or something.

1:37pm – I’m alternating between dusting, vacuuming, and cooking some things for the week. I’ve run out of knitting podcasts, so I’m back to The Martian. Really good. I can see now why everyone loves it. Alas, the time comes to feed S and I reluctantly put my headphones away.

8:10pm – I’m moments away from borrowing the ebook version of Anne of Green Gables from my library when I get the notification that Howl’s Moving Castle is available. The ebook gods have spoken. Diana Wynn Jones it is!

9pm – S is taking forever to fall all the way asleep, so while I hold him and wait, I crack open Howl’s Moving Castle and read a little. It isn’t at all what I’d expected. Actually, I didn’t really know what to expect, so that’s not a bad thing! I’m intrigued, and I think once I get used to her style I’ll be hooked. Stay tuned.

Monday, March 28, 2016

4pm – My podcast is over before our walk is, so I switch to The Martian. (I’m into it now, but if I don’t stay on top of the podcasts, I get super behind, so they take priority. Anyway.) The audiobook is really getting good. My brain is still glossing over the more technical stuff, but that doesn’t seem to be a problem. I’m hoping even harder than usual that S will sleep past the 30-minute mark so I can keep walking and listening…but no such luck. Oh well.

8:50pm – A little more of Howl’s Moving Castle while S falls asleep. I’m definitely getting used to the style.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Almost an hour in the car today, but no Martian. Anyone else feel weird subjecting their preverbal offspring to gratuitous swearing?

5:49pm – S has fallen asleep in my arms in the rocking chair. We met up with friends today, so he hasn’t gotten much in the way of proper naps (even when “proper” is defined as his usual 30 minutes). I am about to lay him in his crib and enjoy a little me time with my knitting. Then I look at his snuggly sleeping little self and I think, “Nah…I’ll just hold him.” I mean, how much longer will I be able to do this? Of course, my headphones are in the other room, so I pull up Howl’s Moving Castle and start reading.

End of chapter 1: a twist! I’m getting into this book for sure. 

So…what do you think??


 So, I’m thinking of trying something new. “Shaking” might be a bit overdramatic in terms of verb choice, I’ll admit, but hear me out.

I miss creating things (even collections of words) and sending them out into the world. I miss having some kind of record to mark my days. I miss sharing what I’m up to with you and hearing what you’re up to in return (even if I mostly don’t have time to comment on all the blogs I’d like to these days).

With a baby in the house, though, I’m not getting enough reading done to write proper reviews with any degree of frequency (unless you want to hear about parenting books, ha ha ha). That won’t be changing any time soon. And despite the fact that I kind of want to start including my knitting efforts (key to making me feel like I’m actually accomplishing something amidst the haze of early parenting), I don’t really want to transition Erin Reads to a personal blog — I mean, the name makes it pretty obvious what kind of posts should live here! Besides, I’ve never really felt comfortable sharing without some kind of theme or format. So I’ve been trying and failing to come up with a way of blogging that’s sustainable for me and (hopefully) interesting for you.

Trish’s recent A Day in the Life event gave me an idea: a kind of glimpse at life through my interactions with books. An intersection, if you will. I’m thinking of a journal-style setup that will, I think, become clear as I play with it. Or maybe not. But I think I’ll try it and see what happens.

So watch for an experiment. I’ll have something together to share soon. And once I do, please let me know what you think!


I totally missed Trish’s A Day in the Life event. Oops. Then she told me I could just play along a little late…so here you go! I’m a stay-at-home mom of a four-month-old, and this is a pretty typical day for us. Except for the sleeping — usually it isn’t THIS bad!

Going from midnight to midnight for my day in the life finds me awake. S (my son) hasn’t been sleeping well the past few nights. He woke up to nurse around 11:30, and now I’m holding him, waiting for him to fall asleep deeply enough that I can set him down without him popping awake. I find I’d rather hold him a little longer than transfer him too early and then have to get him back to sleep.

12:25am – S is down. I’m down soon after.

3:15am – S is up to eat. Finally asleep enough to put down an hour later.

5:45am – It seems S is up for the day. (This is early even by his standards; usually he’s up between 6 and 7:30. The only thing that makes it bearable is that he is extra cute when he wakes up for the day, cooing and screeching and smiling. It must be a survival thing, so we don’t just leave him somewhere to fend for himself while we go back to bed.) U (my husband) knows it was a rough night and, as he often does, offers to take S so I can sleep a bit more. I set my alarm for an hour and go back to sleep.

6:20am – So much for an hour. S is hungry again. U brings him into the bedroom. I feed him while U showers.

6:40am – U takes S again and tells me to reset my alarm for an hour again. I do not argue.

7:40am – I wake up to my alarm and the sound of S crying as U tries to put him down for a nap. S really does not like naps, but he also does not function well without them. As I suspect is the case with most babies his age. I shower. There is sudden silence from S’s room, and I hope it’s because he’s out and not because U had given up. It is. Hooray!

8:05am – Breakfast. It’s the last of the chocolate peanut butter chia pudding I made over the weekend plus fresh strawberries…so good. U leaves for work, and I sit down to knit for a few minutes until S wakes up. I’m working on a cowl for my sister, the last of several Christmas presents I’d committed to making. (Yes, that blue plaid is a robe. I don’t bother with real clothes unless we’re leaving the house. It’s just not worth it!)


8:32am – I realize there is no way I’ll be sitting down at my computer to type up this recap, so I download the WordPress app. I’m pleasantly surprised by how much better it is than whenever I last tried to use it (several years ago).

8:36am –  I think I hear something from S’s room. I check the monitor because I realize it’s been over 30 minutes, which is his usual nap length. Sure enough, he’s awake, but I wait a few minutes (until he fusses) to go get him. Diaper change, etc., then we go into the living room. I lay him down among his toys and start to knit, but that doesn’t last long because he starts fussing for attention. I play with him a bit, then go back to knitting while I watch him with his mobile. It’s amazing how differently he interacts with it now. Two months ago all he did was stare in wonder; now he’s hardly still long enough to take a picture!

9:06am – I check the silly cat game I “play” (Neko Atsume…anyone else??) and realize there’s been an update. I get way too excited and make a mental note to see what’s new next time I have a few minutes. S and I do some rolling and tummy time.

9:38am – Feed S. He’s getting silly when he nurses, which can be rather annoying. Apparently this is a thing babies go through.

9:50am – S seems to be done and bored, so we read some books. We keep a small stack on the couch for such occasions, and we’ve read them so many times in the past week that I probably have them memorized. Another mental note: switch them out for some new ones.

10:08am – S is super wiggly, so over to the activity mat we go. He chews on things and works on kicking his socks off (a favorite pastime of late) while I type up some notes for this post.

10:19am – Get a snack. Still amazed by how hungry breastfeeding makes me. And I thought pregnancy was bad! S really enjoys watching people eat at the moment, so I show him chips and pieces of cheese as I eat.

10:30am – I realize I need to wind up more yarn for the cowl I’m working on. S and I go dig out the yarn, swift, and ball winder. I set him up in his high chair so he can watch the proceedings, and he seems content.

10:46am – I look over to see S scratching at his eyes and staring off into space and realize he’s been up for two hours, which is about his max. I leave the second skein of yarn for later and begin naptime preparations.

10:58am – After a fair bit of protesting, S is asleep in my arms. I settle in with my phone for a few minutes to make sure he is well and truly asleep before I try to lay him in his crib.

11:14am – Successful transfer to crib. We’ve been swaddling S with his arms out for naps for the past week or so, so I wait and watch while he flails a bit but eventually settles and seems to be asleep.

11:19am – Sneak out. Go put actual clothes on, as we’re planning to visit U’s coworkers when S wakes up. Set up the second skein of yarn on the swift.

11:31am – S coos. That is an epically short nap even for him; usually he goes for 20-30 minutes after I lay him down. Confer with U via text, who says there’s no point in visiting now as everyone will be at lunch by the time we get there. Quickly wind the second skein of yarn before S starts fussing.

11:41am – S starts fussing. I go in and get him. Into the bouncy seat he goes while I add notes to this post. I think again how much better the WordPress app is; I could actually run a blog from my phone now. Hmm…if only I were getting any reading done! (It’s interesting…I don’t have much desire to read fiction these days, which is a complete 180 from my usual preferences. It’s nonfiction or knitting for me. I think I prefer to be learning or making because those are all the signs I have some days that I’ve made progress on anything.)

12:06pm – S is starting to fuss in the bouncer, so we go into the kitchen to fix my lunch. I made bean and kale soup over the weekend, so I just reheat a mugful and make a piece of gluten-free toast. S sits on my lap, watching me eat and chewing on my finger.


12:27pm – Feed S. Read Chicka Chicka Boom Boom. S chews on his Indestructibles book for a bit.

12:55pm – I hear the beep of our mail carrier’s package scanner. Yay packages! It’s nothing exciting — just some baby stuff I ordered — but it’s fun to open anyway.

1:20pm – With S in the stroller and The Martian on my phone, I head out for a walk. I’m hoping my little guy will nap; he obliges.

2:20pm – Home. A change of clothes for me and a snack for each of us and we’re ready to visit U at work.

3:25pm – Hand S off to U. I like U’s coworkers — quite a bit, actually — but today I don’t have the energy for socializing. So I sit in the car with the windows down, enjoying the weather and knitting my cowl while keeping an eye on the traffic. (Rush hour is something like 4-6pm here and it is brutal! Not a good place to be with a baby, as I have learned the hard way.)

4:10pm – U returns a very sleepy S to me, and we head home. We only hit one slow spot and it’s long after S has fallen asleep.

4:40pm – Pull into our driveway. Despite all past experiences to the contrary, part of me hopes that maybe if we just sit there with the engine running, S will sleep past the 30-minute mark. No such luck. A minute after we pull in, I hear him blowing raspberries (his new thing) in the back seat. Into the house we go. On our way past the couch, I remember to swap out the books.

5:15pm – Nurse S. Read a few of the new books.

5:50pm – S is getting unbearably cranky and acting tired. He hasn’t had a good nap today. It’s too late in the day for a long nap, but something is better than nothing. I take him into his room to see if I can get him to sleep. He proceeds to melt down for 20 minutes while I rock him.

6:08pm – I lay a not-at-all-asleep S down in his crib, where he stops crying immediately and begins cooing to himself. I sit down in the rocking chair to wait for him to get fussy again.

6:28pm – He is fussy again but refuses to sleep. We move to the living room, where he continues to fuss.

7pm – U is home. S is super grumpy. I hand the latter off to the former and start collecting the trash.

7:25pm – We realize S is just getting more and more wound up and decide to go ahead and start bedtime proceedings. I do S’s little massage routine, then grab dinner while U tries to calm S down.

7:53pm – Nurse S, hopefully to sleep. Fingers crossed!

8:46pm – S is finally asleep and in his bassinet. I sneak out to get ready for bed myself.

9:15pm – Bed for this mama. Hoping S sleeps a decent chunk instead of waking up at 10 and 11 the way he has the past two nights…

9:37pm – Hahahaha nope. He’s up.

10:45pm – He’s up again.

11:55pm – Aaaaaand again, this time to eat…which brings us back around to where the day started. Lather, rinse, repeat…


Wondering what this Summer Summary thing is all about? Here’s the context!

Summer Summary Badge (erinreads.com)

In this final Summer Summary, I’ll cover what I read and listened to in September of 2015. As with the previous four installments, rather than go in reading order, I’ll list the books in order from favorite to least favorite. Title links will take you to Goodreads, if you’d like more of a summary than I’ve given.

#1: Rising Strong by Brené Brown (narrated by the author)

I love Brené Brown’s work. That’s all there is to it. So of course I was thrilled to receive her newest book through LibraryThing’s Early Reviewers program! Every time I encounter her work, I’m inspired to engage with what she teaches. She has a way of imparting what she’s learned through her research in a way that’s inviting and honest, and she’s always right there with you — never on a high horse looking down or preaching from the safety of a pulpit.

In Rising Strong, she looks at how to recover from our falls in a way that leads to a more fruitful, healthier resolution than most of us know how to achieve. Highly recommended, whether you’ve already encountered her books/TED talk or not.

The Verdict: Amazing

#2: It’s What I Do by Lynsey Addario (narrated by Tavia Gilbert)

It’s What I Do is a photojournalist’s memoir — and not just any photojournalist, but one who is drawn to documenting conflict, war, and their impact on the people they touch. Addario has worked in places like Afghanistan and the Congo, risking her life to do the work she can’t help but do, and in this book she traces her career from its beginning.

I think what I appreciated most about this memoir is the insight it gave me into why someone would risk her life to take pictures. The calling Addario clearly feels to tell a particular kind of story through still images is something I’ve never felt — yet with her words, she’s able to help me understand. I’d say it’s well worth the read.

The Verdict: Enjoyable

#3: Icebreaker by Lian Tanner (narrated by Anne Marie Gideon)

Petral is a young girl living on a ship that’s been tracing the same course for three centuries. Everyone but her has a place among the ship’s three classes, making the “Nothing Girl” invisible to all but a few of its crew; Petral’s only real friends are two talking rats. No one can remember what the ship’s purpose is, so it just keeps on circling — until one day a strange boy is rescued from the ice and taken aboard.

I liked how creative Icebreaker is. It’s not really like anything I’ve read before, so I couldn’t work out what to expect. A surprising number of characters are vividly drawn, and Tanner even manages to get in some character development alongside the rather fast-paced plot and without the story dragging on forever. Supposedly this is the first book in a trilogy, but it doesn’t end with a cliffhanger — thank goodness! I received Icebreaker through the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program and was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked it.

The Verdict: Enjoyable

#4: Sapphique by Catherine Fisher (narrated by Kim Mai Guest)

Sapphique is the second book in what I believe is meant to be a trilogy; Incarceron, which I reread (okay, listened to) in August, is the first. Sadly, I didn’t think Sapphique measured up to Incarceron. It was interesting enough, I suppose, but kind of meandering and muddled, too. I feel like I’ve already forgotten a lot of what happened, and it’s hardly been a month! I’ll probably listen to the third book, if there ends up being one, out of curiosity, but I won’t be rushing to read it.

The Verdict: Mediocre

#5: Hausfrau by Jill Alexander Essbaum (narrated by Mozhan Marno)

After all the buzz surrounding Hausfrau, I had to read it. I had almost zero idea what to expect, as I tend to avoid reviews of books I’m planning to read.

It’s about Anna, an American living in the suburbs of Zürich with her Swiss husband and their three children. Her life looks picturesque, but in truth Anna is a mess. The three things that occupy her time, aside from her family, are German class, psychotherapy…and a string of affairs she can’t seem to help getting herself into and struggles unsuccessfully to extract herself from. By the time she snaps out of her own skewed world, there are parts of her life that have broken irrevocably.

I found the novel to be intellectually intriguing, but it did not make my list of favorites by a long shot. I think the biggest problem is twofold. First, I didn’t actually like any of the characters. That’s not always a problem, of course, but on top of that, I didn’t really care what happened to any of them. What I did like was the book’s structure, with memories and “sound bites” from the main character’s therapist filling in holes and adding commentary throughout. And the reader somehow fit the book, which is always nice!

The Verdict: Mediocre

#6: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo (narrated by Emily Woo Zeller)

Yes, I finally succumbed to the peer pressure and read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. It kind of…left me scratching my head. There are things I agree with, sure, and ideas that sound worthwhile, but suffice it to say I’m not a convert. Would my clothes really be happier if I thanked them for keeping me warm each day? Is the answer really to get rid of every single thing that does not give me a thrill of pleasure when I touch it? Is there actually room in my (very small) closet for most of my possessions as well as a shrine to any secret interests I want to hide from my friends AND my bookcase(s)? (I can answer that one definitively: NO.) There were a few parts where I actually giggled out loud, like when she said some people have as many as 40 unread books as though it were some ludicrous, unimaginable number. Also, that my socks would rest so much more easily if I would fold them instead of balling them.

I know Kondo’s approach has worked for a lot of people. Perhaps I shouldn’t knock it until I’ve tried it, but I don’t think I’ll be implementing the KonMari method any time soon.

The Verdict: Mediocre

Average for the month: another high mediocre. Honestly, I wasn’t blown away by much of what I finished this month. Eh…it happens!

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Wondering what this Summer Summary thing is all about? Here’s the context!

Summer Summary Badge (erinreads.com)

In this Summer Summary, I’ll cover what I read and listened to in August of 2015. As with first three installments, rather than go in reading order, I’ll list the books in order from favorite to least favorite. Title links will take you to Goodreads, if you’d like more of a summary than I’ve given.

#1: The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater (narrated by Steve West and Fiona Hardingham)

The way Puck Connolly sees it, her only choice is to enter the Scorpio Races, an annual (and deadly) tradition on her island where riders race the dangerous, unpredictable water horses they catch and train each year. Her parents are dead, her older brother is planning to leave the island, and there’s no money left for her and her younger brother to live on unless she can win some in the race. Meanwhile, returning champion and local water horse expert Sean Kendrick is preparing for his own run. As something of a loner, he holds himself back from the drama surrounding the Races — until he finds out about Puck’s crazy plans.

I would not have picked this one up based on the description alone. It doesn’t sound like something I’d like at all. But on Eva’s recommendation, I gave it a shot, and I’m so glad I did! Everything from the story to the characters to the narration drew me in and kept me finding excuses to listen. It’s the only book by Stiefvater I’ve read, and now I’m thinking maybe I need to read more.

The Verdict: Excellent

#2: Armada by Ernest Cline (narrated by Wil Wheaton)

Zack Lightman is a gamer. He works part time in a video game shop and spends all his spare time mastering Armada, following in the footsteps of his gamer father who died young, before Zack had the chance to know him. Then one day, Zack sees a flying saucer — no joke. And not just any flying saucer — one that looks exactly like the alien ships he’s spent hours of his life battling in Armada. It’s an understatement to say from that moment on, his life will never be the same.

I adored Ready Player One, so of course I was excited for Armada. For me, sadly, it didn’t measure up. Had it been written (and read, for that matter) by someone else, most likely I’d have put it down before the end. It felt like a lot of build-up and waiting, and none of the “revelations” or twists seemed as unexpected as they were in Ready Player One. It’s always possible Ready Player One is casting too long a shadow over Armada for me — making it too hard to measure up — but that’s how it goes sometimes! I’m still glad I listened to this one, and I’m sure I’ll be listening to whatever Cline puts out next, too. Especially if Wil Wheaton reads it!

The Verdict: Enjoyable

#3: Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee (narrated by Reese Witherspoon)

Oh, the controversy! I was almost afraid to read Go Set a Watchman, just in case it somehow ruined To Kill a Mockingbird for me. Good news: it didn’t, at all. I didn’t love it nearly as much as To Kill a Mockingbird, but it didn’t do any lasting damage.

Go Set a Watchman covers such a short span of time that it almost felt like reading a short story, though the passages where Scout dips back into childhood memories brought to mind the feel of the first book. I think my favorite part was hearing a bit about what happened to the characters I loved after To Kill a Mockingbird ended. Reese Witherspoon wasn’t as phenomenal as Sissy Spacek, in my opinion, but that’s a tough act to follow!

The Verdict: Enjoyable

#4: In the Country of Last Things by Paul Auster

This dystopian novel is framed as a journal, of sorts, written by a woman trying to stay alive in a crumbling city to a relative back home. It was a little reminiscent of Jose Saramago’s Blindness, where people must adapt to ever worsening conditions, curtailing expectations until their lives are unrecognizable. I found the world creative and the story engaging. It’s not a long book, and I’m glad I finally got around to reading it.

The Verdict: Enjoyable

#5: Incarceron by Catherine Fisher (narrated by Kim Mai Guest)

This one was a reread for me, because I wanted to read the sequel (Sapphique) but couldn’t really remember what had happened in Incarceron. The two main characters are Finn, a prisoner in the self-aware prison Incarceron, and Claudia, the warden of Incarceron’s daughter and prisoner of a different kind in a world that’s not allowed to change. It’s one of the more original YA novels I’ve read, and the narration is good. I found it to be an enjoyable reread.

The Verdict: Enjoyable

#6: Mr. Kiss and Tell by Rob Thomas and Jennifer Graham (narrated by Rebecca Lowman)

In this second installment of the Veronica Mars series, Veronica is hired by the Neptune Grand, a local hotel where a woman claims she was assaulted and left for dead by one of the hotel’s employees. The hotel simply wants to know whether or not they are liable — but of course, Veronica can’t let it go at that.

I did not expect to enjoy this new Veronica Mars series, but (as I mentioned in my March to May Summer Summary installment) I’ve been pleasantly surprised. The books are fun, not too graphic, and easy to pick up even if you know next to nothing about all the Veronica Mars stuff that’s come before. Rebecca Lowman, not Kristin Bell, narrated this one, and while it’s not the kind of book I usually imagine her reading, she did a nice job.

The Verdict: Enjoyable

#7: Last Night at the Blue Angel by Rebecca Rotert (narrated by Andrus Nichols and Caitlin Davies)

In early 1960s Chicago, Naomi and her daughter Sophia have carved out a life for themselves around Naomi’s stagnant career as a jazz singer. When it seems a cover story in Look magazine will finally catapult Naomi into stardom, though, their world is shaken by an unexpected tragedy. The narration moves back and forth between mother and daughter, Naomi’s segments revealing parts of her past about which Sophia is ignorant.

I had mixed feelings about Last Night at the Blue Angel. I liked the story, the characters, and the writing. I especially liked learning more about Naomi as her story got told, seeing how things in her past explained what her daughter in the book’s present didn’t know or understand.

My issue was with the ending. I won’t say much so as not to spoil what happens, but it felt like the story was just getting going when suddenly it was cut short, like the second half was lopped off and discarded. And something about the big event toward the end seemed forced to me, like the author couldn’t let things end on the note they were tending toward and so had to throw something unexpected (and maybe a little unrealistic) in.

Still, overall, I enjoyed the book. I received it as part of LibraryThing’s Early Reviewers program.

The Verdict: Mediocre

#8: Dinner with Buddha by Roland Merullo

I’ve read all three of Roland Merullo’s _[meal]_ with Buddha books at this point, Dinner with Buddha being the last and most recent. There are things about all three books I like and other things that aren’t really my style. Overall, it’s an interesting set of books.

Dinner was my second favorite of the three, after Breakfast. It alternates between descriptions of and meditations on America, action and dialogue that move the story forward, and spiritual musings. The thing that bothered me most was how by the end of the novel, Otto — protagonist, narrator, and average sort of guy to whom I could always sort of relate in the past — slips beyond the reader, leaving no character the reader still feels like s/he can identify with. Without giving away too much, the book’s ending is barely graspable for Otto but not really graspable at all for me. What always felt like a simple, interesting, satisfying story morphs into something rather far-fetched. But other than that, I enjoyed making my way through Dinner with Buddha.

The Verdict: Mediocre

#9: The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón (narrrated by Jonathan Davis)

I spent a looooong time not reading this book, passing it over every time I went to my shelf for my next read. Finally, I was able to get a copy of the audiobook from my library and could check The Shadow of the Wind off my list!

The novel centers on Daniel, the son of an antiquarian book dealer in Barcelona who stumbles on a captivating novel by one Julián Carax. Intrigued to learn more about this unknown author, Daniel dives into the tangle of lies and mysteries surrounding the man and his works, moving further into danger with every knot he manages to untie.

The bottom line: It was too weird and convoluted and dramatic for me. I don’t have a lot to say beyond that, except that I was happy to part with my hard copy once I’d made it through the audio version. Hooray for freeing up shelf space!

The Verdict: Mediocre

Average for the month: on the high end of mediocre. Not as great as last month, but the awesomeness of #1 and the anticipation of finally getting my hands on #2 and #3 (even if neither blew me away) made this a pretty darn good reading month.