Books read in August

This was a very graphic novel heavy month. I blame whoever told me about ‘Revival’ – a fellow blogger, I believe. But how could I resist the undead in Wisconsin??? Exactly, you’re going to get a copy right now, I can tell. Well, at least skim this post before you go! There were a few other good picks this month!

Barrier #1Barrier #1 by Brian K. Vaughan

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Free Comic Book Day first issue of a new series. I didn’t realize half of the dialogue would be in Spanish, but I was feeling pretty good about my Duolingo obsession as I managed to translate it for myself and get the gist of each conversation. I might pick this up when it is a trade to see how it plays out. This really only gives you the most basic setup for the story and then it ends with an epic WTF cliffhanger.

Revival, Vol. 1: You're Among FriendsRevival, Vol. 1: You’re Among Friends by Tim Seeley

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I tweeted the other day that I was reading a story about zombies terrorizing a rural town in Wisconsin but that is SUCH an oversimplification of what this series is. Yes, the recently dead have returned to life but they are not mindless zombies and, in fact, if undiscovered, can pass as normal humans.

This is only the first trade, the first 4 comics, and you can see all the threads of different plots being laid out for you, even though it is unclear where they will all lead and when they will all meet up.

Revival, Vol. 2: Live Like You Mean ItRevival, Vol. 2: Live Like You Mean It by Tim Seeley

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Second book left me with even more “WHAT IS HAPPENINGS” feelings.

Revival, Vol. 3: A Faraway PlaceRevival, Vol. 3: A Faraway Place by Tim Seeley

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

WHOA! This was the big one, the book where things are starting to fall into place. I don’t know where that place is, but I feel like things are kind of sort of becoming clearer? Can’t wait for book 4!

What Does Consent Really Mean?What Does Consent Really Mean? by Pete Wallis

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I can’t decide if this was too preachy or not. I would like someone from the target demographic to read it and tell me if it was too eye-roll in the way the teens talked. It kinda felt like an after school special. Still, this would be a great addition to a high school library for students to “find” on the shelf on their own if they are trying to understand the discussion around defining consent.

Star Wars: Doctor Aphra, Vol. 1: Aphra (Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #1)Star Wars: Doctor Aphra, Vol. 1: Aphra by Kieron Gillen

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I didn’t realize this was a character from a previous Star Wars comic, but I thought the first trade did a great job of introducing her but leaving enough mystery that I kind of want to go back and read the stories she appeared in before. Anti-hero, snarky, badass – yeah, she is pretty hard to resist!

Star Wars: Are You Scared, Darth Vader?Star Wars: Are You Scared, Darth Vader? by Adam Rex

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It’s the Star Wars Halloween book I never knew I wanted until now!

>As the Crow FliesAs the Crow Flies by Melanie Gillman

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This title record needs a little more details – like the fact that this is just part 1 of a series. Melanie Gillman’s comics can be read online and the book ends suddenly because the story is not yet over, so it feel hard for me to really rate this because we have just met these characters.

But I would say this is off to a good start, a series to watch and I hope she gets enough funding to print the rest of it so more people have access to it.

Currently Reading: Authority by Jeff VanDermeer, the second book in the Southern Reach trilogy, “sequel” to Annihilation. This book makes Annihilation look straight forward! I’m almost finished too, no idea where it is all going and I know I’m going to need book 3 immediately.

Look at me, reading books written for adults! Don’t worry, it won’t last too long. As soon in this photo posted earlier this week, after I get through the rest of ‘Revival’ there are a lot of new YA novels begging me to pick them up.

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Castle Rock – I give up!

Castle Rock – I give up!

I’ve watched the first 4 episodes of ‘Castle Rock’ on Hulu and I’m done. It’s not bad, it’s not good – it’s just there. I’m not compelled to keep watching at all.

One thing that really hurt it was that I had a better idea for the show. Rather than another convoluted plot of faux mysteries created just for the sake of having everyone be cryptic, I was hoping for an anthology show, ala Black Mirror or Electric Dreams, but with Stephen King stories.

I’m a fan of King’s works. Not hardcore, I haven’t read everything and some things I have read and didn’t really enjoy. But I have a soft spot for him because my grandmother was a fan and they lived in Maine so there were a lot of things about this show that drew me to it. They kept the plot under wraps so I had no idea what kind of storytelling it would be but I assumed when they said it was “based on the works of Stephen King” that we would be getting his stories.

But, alas, no. It is just another series that hopes to create a winding road of “clues” and “puzzles” (sarcastic quotes as I don’t know if any of them actually have answers…I may still be hurting from all those hours wasted watching ‘Lost’).

The fourth episode did have a crazy ending, but I’ve been down that road before with TV show that get into the habit of only making the last 10 minutes of each episode actually move the stories forward just to hook you for next week…only to have the start of the next episode gloss over what happened because, really, they only did it to bring you back.

I don’t really care about anyone in the show. Heck, I barely know their names except for Henry Deaver because EVERYONE has said his name several times in each episode. Everyone else is just someone who was attached to another Stephen King film at some point…or nobody important, clearly fodder for the demons of the town.

Feeling frustrated, I Googled to see if I could find any reviews of the show and this write up from the New York Times really hit the nail on the head for me. The show is so preoccupied with hiding in-jokes for hardcore Stephen King fans, they lost the plot.

I’d need to hear some amazing things to come back to this show. I’m just so disappointed. There was SO much potential. It reminds me of the times I handed in papers to my college professor thinking they were pretty good and getting them back with a B and a note that said “I know you can do better”.

Abrams and King Et al.? I know you can do better.

It’sa me, Mario!

When your friend finds out that this month’s Happy Meal toys are all Mario related, you have to go to McDonald’s for lunch.

Mario Happy Meal Toy 2018

I can feel the grease in my skin and I don’t care because just look at this adorable Italian stereotype!

Bonus, I still had my badge on when we ordered and the cashier had lots of questions about the library so I got to tell them about how to get a card, how to download books, and when our hours were. Hopefully she stops by later!

See, it’s not just you guys that I constantly drop in and talk about library services.

What was the last Happy Meal (or kids toy at restaurant) that you got?

I heart the Forza Horizon series

It’s funny, I would never actually race a car. I’d be too afraid of the consequences – like scratching up the bumper or, ya know, dying in in a fire.

But I LOVE car racing games. Specifically, I love the Forza Horizon series.

Right now, for Gold Members, Xbox is giving away Forza Horizon 2 10th Anniversary Edition. and it is definitely worth downloading. I just went and started up my old game to see if it still held up after all these years and was immediately sucked into racing for 90 minutes, completing championships, racing a crop duster, and taking pictures of cars for easy credits.

I purchased Forza Horizon 3 when it came out, and it takes everything from the first two games and makes it better and then puts you in Australia. The open world in all three games means you can just cruise around and enjoy the scenery, “collecting” roads, going through speed traps, and finding XP billboards.

It’s not all just fast, shiny cars. Driving around, you discover “barn finds”, rare and classic vehicles that are hidden throughout the world. Once discovered, they are repaired so you can drive them and most of them are about style more than speed. I just did a retro hatchback championship and drove a car that was only slightly younger than I am, could maybe hit 100 if I was on a long, open stretch of road. The next championship I signed up for was for Hypercars and I used my credits to buy a Bugatti and now my brain can’t process driving at 200 mph down the tiny Italian roads! The variety of races and car types means you can pretty much play these games forever.

But each time they put out a new one, it is hard to resist the latest features. Forza Horizon 4 will have seasons that change weekly, meaning that the races and challenges available will change each week too.

I mean, just LOOK at this video (from my favorite YouTube gamers on Outside Xbox)

Oh, and the in-game radio stations are not too bad either! I mean, after you’ve played for 6 hours, they can get a little repetitive, but if you change them up enough, there is always something good for driving (or you can always turn them off and have Spotify running in the background since Xbox has an app for that).

So, if you have Games with Gold, do yourself a favor and download this one! And if you have an Xbox One and like racing, I’d definitely recommend any titles from this fantastic series!

Poor bedtime reading choices

I finished reading Leviathan Wakes so I needed another bedtime book. I foolishly brought home this book:

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I mean, I should have known it was going to bother me. When I read Mindhunter earlier this year, it gave me the willies. But this book has such a long wait list because of all the press around it – the fact that the author was right about the identity of the killer, that she tragically died before seeing him convicted – so I knew I only had three weeks to get through it so I was like “You gotta read it all the time to finish it!”

But I think I’m going to just have to make it a lunch break book. Two nights in a row I have woken myself up, convinced I heard something, too scared to move. I know it is just my mind, but in that half awake/half asleep daze of 3am, I’m just terrified. I really had to pee last night too but I just could not bring myself to get up and out of bed.

I think it is because it is a true crime book. I could read scary stories with monsters and sleep fine. This is why I only read them if they are really good.

So for my safety and my sanity, this one can only be read in the daylight!

Have you ever read anything that made it hard for you to sleep at night or haunted you during the day?

Books read in June and July

Books read in June and July

Whoops, I guess I forgot to post my June reads since we were away on vacation. Guess I’ll just make this list a teensy bit longer. Not by much though, reading Leviathan Wakes, the first book in The Expanse series has taken up a LOT of my time this month. I haven’t read a 564 page book in a long time!

And if you can’t tell, there was a new cart of children’s books to go through this past month. 🙂

HostageHostage by Guy Delisle
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow, this worked so well as a graphic. I could feel an inkling that lost, lonely feeling that Christophe must have been feeling for all that time. The strange mix of fear and boredom as each day went on, the rush of adrenaline each time the door creaked open. And those last 50 pages, my heart was pounding right along with Christophe.

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The Time MuseumThe Time Museum by Matthew Loux
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

It started with an interesting premise and I got about halfway through and realized that the whole thing was going to be mediocre at best. Skimmed to the end and everything unfolded exactly like I anticipated. Not great, not awful. Just…meh.

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The Witch BoyThe Witch Boy by Molly Ostertag
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Really quick read but a great way to get kids thinking about gender roles without beating them over the head with it. Aster is a boy and boys cannot be witches, at least according to his communities rules. Boys are shapeshifters, they turn into different animals and fight to protect the village. Girls are witches that use magic to help things grow and for protection spells. But Aster has not shapeshifted yet and finds magic to be far more interesting. He begins to listen in on the girl’s classes, taking notes and practicing when no one is watching. But then he learns from his grandmother about another boy who wanted to be a witch and how things went badly for him. When boys around the village start to disappear, Aster wonders if it is his fault for dabbling in magic instead of following the rules.

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SLAM! Vol. 1SLAM! Vol. 1 by Pamela Ribon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My only complaint about this graphic is sometimes it was hard to tell the characters apart when they were all playing together. I mean, obviously they are in their team uniforms, but since they are drawings rather than real people, it was hard to know who was who sometimes.

But otherwise this was a really fun read and I love the idea of telling the story of these two BFFs while using Roller Derby to frame it all. It’s like Roller Girl but all grown up!

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Unicorn of Many Hats (Heavenly Nostrils, #7)Unicorn of Many Hats by Dana Simpson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Usual level of whimsy and fun. Perfect reading for a rainy day.

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A Day in the Life of Marlon BundoA Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo by Jill Twiss
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

That final page. I want to frame it and put it on my wall. “Stink bugs are temporary. Love is forever.”

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Pink Is for BoysPink Is for Boys by Robb Pearlman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Perfect in its simplicity. Colors are colors and everyone can enjoy them. The end.

And also unicorns. Because unicorns.

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Rock Candy Mountain, Vol. 2Rock Candy Mountain, Vol. 2 by Kyle Starks
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Wraps up the story well, part of me wished there was more but I know that dragging it out wouldn’t have made it better. Quick read.

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Lennon: The New York YearsLennon: The New York Years by David Foenkinos
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Beautifully illustrated and I love how the images are framed, then cropped to evoke different emotions. I don’t think I learned anything I didn’t already know about Lennon but I’m a pretty hardcore fans, but I still found this very readable and could have read more in this style.

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SquareSquare by Mac Barnett
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

3.5 stars

Another really odd little book by Barnett. I just love his quirky sense of humor. I didn’t know this was a trilogy! I guess circle must get the final book?

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Snotgirl, Vol. 1: Green Hair Don't CareSnotgirl, Vol. 1: Green Hair Don’t Care by Bryan Lee O’Malley
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was such a strange story, I’m not sure what the heck it is all about, but I am compelled to keep reading! We will see what happens in the further adventures of Lonnie Person in Snotgirl Vol. 2!

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This Jazz ManThis Jazz Man by Karen Ehrhardt
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The only thing that would make this better is if it came with an audio bonus that had all the instrument sounds. Or even a mp3 of the melody using jazz instruments. I’m already plotting finding a way to get the high school jazz band to visit and maybe use them in a storytime…

but even without that, this is a really fun book. Sing it to the melody of “This Old Man” and have fun with it. I did it with the toddlers today and we counted every time we turned the page and then acted out the instrument. Another librarian did it with preschool age and it was also a big hit. So this one is staying on the storytime shelf.

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The Big Bad FoxThe Big Bad Fox by Benjamin Renner
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

While you know where this book is going right off the bat, the journey is worth it. Renner’s art is great and the fox’s antics, it made me think of Looney Tunes cartoons, with Bugs and Daffy running around and getting whacked by things (or each other). Really fun read. Can’t wait to see the animated version!

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Most PeopleMost People by Michael Leannah
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A book with the best intentions, too bad the editors didn’t pick up on a few lines of text that feel a little problematic (see other reviews). But I did love the idea of assuming that most people want to do good things, want to be good and helpful. It is true!

(Also, I’m really tempted to do a nerdy parody of this with all of the apparent strife going on in the fandom world right now…)

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Teddy's Favorite ToyTeddy’s Favorite Toy by Christian Trimmer
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

So adorable! Though not sure we should tell kids that once something has been picked up by the trash collectors that we can ever see it again because…yeah nope. 😦

But otherwise SO CUTE!

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Gaming Thoughts: Witcher 3 (PC)

Wow, I haven’t updated this blog since January! I may have too many blogs. 😛

I grabbed Witcher 3 during the Steam Summer Sale, it was $20 for the game + DLC so I jumped on it. I could have just played Tim’s copy, but that would require me to chase him away because Steam’s family share only works if the other person is not on their computer. So that was my excuse…I mean, to be honest, I am a nerd and I wanted to collect the Steam Trading Cards.

Well worth the money though, I’m loving it. I really liked Witcher 2 and I could feel myself becoming obsessed with the world (I even started to read the books) and Witcher 3 is everything and more and OMG SO PRETTY!

But I really love the characters. This is a STORY HEAVY game, even though there is plenty of action, adventure and exploration. I think Witcher has the edge on other games in this genre because of the novels and the very rich world that the game writers had to pull from. Compared to a series like Tomb Raider, let’s say, where Lara Croft is pretty much THE character and you know about her and everyone else is just set decoration. Witcher has characters all over the place, people with backstories that they are happy to share with you if that is your play style. (I can’t help but play Geralt as the badass with a heart of gold, sorry if it is cliche. Maybe the second time through I’ll be a dick to people and tell them to suck it up when they are crying to me about their dead wife).

I’ve logged 16 hours so far in the game, Tim completed the game and has 222 hours. So I have SO much game left to go through, so many stories. When the game starts, it seems like you can just go from point A to point B and complete the story. But riding around pays off. Yesterday, I was meandering around an area and I found an abandoned village full of ghouls. Geralt wiped them out and when he killed the last one, the townspeople returned and set up shop!

And not every quest ends in a battle. The quest I did last night, I had the option of fighting the monster or using the monster for a ritual to make it into a protective spirit. Of course, getting the monster to the right location took a little bit of fighting, but nothing too difficult for Geralt. After he did the ritual, I followed the creature to gather clues about the story. It is so satisfying to make a choice in the game and have it actually be a choice and not just a dialogue option that leads to the same outcome no matter what.

Most hilarious quest so far was going to find a villager’s goat that had wandered off. It liked a little bell, so Badass Geralt is walking around the woods, ringing a little bell. LOL. It was fantastic.

Anyway, I’m only 16 hours in so obviously I have barely scratched the surface, but if you are into games with great story (and you can put the difficulty all the way down to pretty much just play the story) watch for this to drop back down to $20 and grab it. So worth it.

Also, did I mention how pretty? (also, Geralt’s voice? Rawr. It’s probably the thing that worries me the most about the Netflix series. The voice actor for the game was so unique, how could I accept another voice?)

Witcher 3 - Geralt in the Rain//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

Bonus: I carried over my save from Witcher 2 and I never got around to getting Geralt’s tattoo removed after the “Hangover” style quest in that game so when I started up Witcher 3, there is was. **facepalm** sorry Geralt! Don’t drink so much next game!