Category: Audio Books

May 06

Weekly Wrap-Up 2020: The Eighteenth

Audio Books, Brain Dump, Romance, Weekly Wrap-Up 1

Holy Heck, Bookworms,

This Quarantine business is a roller coaster ride. We’ll have several nice and uneventful days in parenting and working-from-home land, and then BAM. No sleep for half the night, and the kid skips his nap, oof. This post is definitely not going to be going live “on schedule” (as though I’m rigorous about keeping a schedule, LOL.) Anyway. Yeah. This is really hard. And I miss daycare and my quiet office. I have no idea when anything even approaching “normal” will be occurring, and that’s probably the worst part. Or maybe not. I can think of many instances in which I’d simply rather not know that something awful was about to befall me. Wow. Tired Katie is getting philosophical.

Another blow from last week? My BFF’s wedding had to be postponed. I mean, we all knew it was coming, but it still really sucks. This virus is horrible on so many levels. There are the obvious super bad ones like, you know, the painful and tragic deaths of thousands upon thousands of people, then there’s whatever is left of the economy (which I don’t want to think about), then the endless cancellations of events and things that make life good. My youngest cousin is a senior in high school. She got no prom, no graduation, no closure. I was a bitter mess in high school and I’d even have been upset by everything being unceremoniously cancelled. This is all so awful. I AM FILLED TO THE BRIM WITH TOO MUCH AWFUL. Which is why I’m going to carry on reading romance novels. It’s the healthiest coping mechanism I have at my disposal. So now, let me tell you about what I read last week. *Please note that I wrote this intro when I was super sleep deprived. All of these things are still true, but I had an excellent night of sleep and things don’t seem QUITE as gloomy now. No need to worry about me. Onto the books!*

Girl Gone Viral by Alisha Rai: This book was an absolute delight! I wasn’t surprised, given that it was the followup to The Right Swipe, of course. I was, however, surprised that I managed to get through an audio book so quickly. Sam had several days of good naps last week (like I said, it goes in waves) and I was super into the story. Katrina King is a former model living an intensely private life out of the spotlight. She suffers from a panic disorder and has a history of trauma. She’s also very wealthy so she has the means AND good reasons to keep a security detail. Just as she’s gotten comfortable enough to occasionally venture out in public, some random bystander takes it upon themselves to detail what they perceive to be a “meet cute” between Katrina and a stranger who chats her up in a cafe. Once the eavesdropper’s tweets go viral, Katrina is flabbergasted that her uneventful turning down of a dude who asked her out has put her safe haven in jeopardy. Oh, and she’s secretly in love with her bodyguard, Jas Singh, who is OBVIOUSLY also secretly in love with her, and let me tell you- the real love story doesn’t play out on the internet. This book was wonderful, but it also made me feel low-key creepy about ever having found amusement in one of those bystander Twitter stories. People’s breakups or hookups or whatever shouldn’t be broadcast all over the internet. It’s a a weird invasion of privacy even if you don’t have a panic disorder/are a former celebrity/are extremely wealthy.

The Suffragette Scandal by Courtney Milan: When it comes to historical romance, I cannot express enough just how much I love story lines that are completely bonkers. Faked deaths, secret titles, imaginary correspondence about puppy cannons? Yes, please! Edward Clark has been living in France for years and has absolutely no intention of returning to England to reclaim his title. In fact, he’s relieved that the time limit for him to be declared legally dead has nearly elapsed so that his brother can take over and he can wash his hands of the whole debacle. That is, of course, until he discovers that his awful brother is plotting nefarious deeds. Frederica “Free” Marshall is an outspoken Suffragette who operates a feminist newspaper, and just happens to be the intended target of Awful Aristocrat’s aforementioned nefarious deeds. Edward offers her his assistance under the guise of being a scoundrel, only to accidentally fall in love. As one does. Fans of brooding strangers and fiery protagonists take note!

So, what am I reading right now? Well, my MIL recommended The Stationery Shop by Marjan Kamali, so I’ve got that going as an audio book. I also decided to finish off the Brothers Sinister series once and for all, so I’m eyeball reading the final novella, Talk Sweetly to Me by Courtney Milan. What have you been reading, Bookworms? And how are you all holding up?

If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission. Links in the post above direct to Amazon, but if you’re interested and in a position to do so, please consider making a purchase from a local independent book store. IndieBound and Bookshop make it easy to do just that without having to leave your home! 

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Apr 28

2020 Weekly Wrap-Up: The Seventeeth

Audio Books, Contemporary Fiction, Romance, Time Travel 3

How Now, Bookworms?

Here in Illinois, our stay-at-home order has been extended through the end of May… At least. The upside is that greenhouses and nurseries are going to be allowed to open, which means FLOWERS! One of my book club friends runs a seasonal flower/garden center with her Mom and I’m super stoked to support them with ALL MY FLOWER DOLLARS. I look forward to planting annuals every year and I’m so thrilled that it’s one thing I’ll still be able to do. I’m hoping Sam will be interested enough to join me this year. I mean, we’ll probably have to hose him off, but I think gardening is an excellent toddler activity. (Says the woman who has not yet attempted to garden with said toddler.) I never plant until after Mother’s Day, so we’ve got some time. But I can’t wait!

This week I finished reading yet another Talia Hibbert gem, Untouchable. How are all her books so charming? Hibbert clearly has “a type.” Her heroes are all big, muscled, and tattooed. Often bearded. Perhaps not my “type” IRL, but it makes for a swoony romance novel hero. Especially when they’ve got a big, soft heart underneath all those muscles. Nate Davis is one of those big, muscled, tattooed gents. He’s a widower who has returned to his hometown to help care for cancer stricken mother. Given his unpredictable schedule and the two kiddos, he finds himself in need of a nanny, pronto. Hannah Kabbah (you’ll remember her as Ruth’s sister from A Girl Like Her which I told you all about already) is a phenomenal early childhood caregiver, but has been unable to work in the field since that unfortunate incident with a horrible man, a cricket bat, and a car. Nate hires her on without hesitation and sparks fly. The best part of this whole romance is that he’s super aware of just how icky it can be when employers take advantage of their employees when it comes to dating. He does everything in his power to make that a non-issue and to be as un-creepy as possible. Of course it helps that Hannah is totally into him because, um, hot-muscled-tattooed guy with a soft heart? How could she possibly resist?

What’s this? Did I finish binge reading the Ravenswood Series already? Why, yes, yes I did. That Kind of Guy by Talia Hibbert was yet another delicious morsel of a book. This time it follows Zach, a swoony blacksmith with all the muscles. (Yes, a second swoony blacksmith in the series. What? He’s the buddy Evan kept cooking for in the first book. Keep up, people!) He’s got a reputation as a ladies man, but that was mostly for show. When mysterious newcomer Rae appears in town, she and Zach strike up a friendship. She’s a fantasy writer, he’s a secret nerd. She has a truly excellent dog and just happens to walk him near where Zach takes his work breaks to cool off from that hot, sweaty forge. When Rae is in need of a fake boyfriend (gosh I love this trope) to accompany her to a conference her awful ex husband will be attending, she turns to Zach for help. Spoiler Alert: There’s only one bed! Romance tropes FOREVER!

I finally finished Oona Out of Order by Margarita Montimore while scrubbing down a bathroom that sorely needed it. It took me much longer to finish this book than I’d have liked, but it’s because I chose to listen to it as an audio book instead of reading with my eyeballs. Sigh, Quarantine troubles have limited my audio book capacity to nap times and my kid has gotten extremely proficient at avoiding his naps. Oof. Anyway, this book was great. Oona Lockhart is celebrating her birthday/New Year, but just as the clock strikes midnight to turn 1982 into 1983, something weird happens in the space-time continuum and she’s jumped forward in time. It turns out that every year at the stroke of midnight, Oona emerges into a different year in her life and lives, as the title suggests, out of order. This book was an incredibly clever take on time travel, and it just earned a place as one of my favorites. Watching Oona navigate her own life without much context is a fascinating and emotional journey. I love, love, loved it.

Whew! What a whirlwind reading week! I’ve also been reading books to Sam by the truckload, so I’m hoping to put together a list of some of HIS current favorites this week too. We have such a phenomenal children’s library at our disposal (since our family members are overly generous and really, really good at choosing books) it seems a shame to keep it to ourselves. As for what I’m diving into, I decided to wrap up the Brothers Sinister series by Courtney Milan, so I’m reading The Suffragette Scandal with my eyeballs. And, even though it will probably take forever to get through, I decided to start Girl Gone Viral by Alisha Rai on audio. It’s a continuation of the series that started with The Right Swipe which I absolutely adored. Just give me all the romance. Maybe I’ll read something else one day. Maybe I won’t. But as for right now? GIVE ME ALL THE HAPPILY EVER AFTERS.

If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission. The links above direct to Amazon, but if you’re able and interested in making a purchase through a local independent bookstore, please consider using the links below:

Untouchable
That Kind of Guy
A Girl Like Her
Oona Out of Order
The Suffragette Scandal
Girl Gone Viral
The Right Swipe

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Mar 04

2020 Weekly Wrap-Up: The Ninth

Audio Books, Bookish (And Not So Bookish) Thoughts, Weekly Wrap-Up 1

Hiya Bookworms,

Alas, it remains cold and flu season and I have succumbed to illness. Bleh. I spent a whole day sleeping and am currently trying to do all the things that will shorten the duration of an illness. Drinking all the tea! Eating vitamin C drops! Ibuprofen! WASHING AND WASHING AND WASHING MY HANDS! It’s been a slower reading week as a result of my having been felled, but I still have some books to chat about. Let’s chat.

In case you missed it, I wrote a whole solo post dedicated to The Worst Best Man by Mia Sosa. I had entirely too much to say about it for it to be smooshed into a weekly post. Check it out here.

I am fond of a number of romance tropes, but sham weddings rank pretty high on the list. XENI: A Marriage of Inconvenience by Rebekah Weatherspoon combines the sham wedding concept with “completely bonkers last will and testament demands” and I am so here for it. Xeni Everly-Wilkins is in charge of settling her dearly-departed aunt’s estate, and leaves her life in LA to handle the affairs in upstate New York. She gets more than she bargained for when the will is read, and soon finds herself married, at her late aunt’s insistence. In order for her and her spouse Mason to collect their inheritances, they need to get married and remain so for at least 30 days. But, as we all know, sham marriages in romance novels have a tendency to become more real than the characters expect… Now that I’ve read two Rebekah Weatherspoon novels I think it’s safe to say that her love scenes can sometimes be a bit more… IDK how to put it… Graphic? Creative? Spicy? Than what I’m used to. I noticed it a little bit in Rafe but Xeni was another level entirely. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy both books, because I absolutely did, but it may be worth noting for those who are more conservative in their love scene tastes. Not much fazes me personally, but there were a few points where I found myself thinking “Oh wow. They really went there. OK.” Consider yourself warned if that is the type of warning you’d appreciate. If you’re the type of person who wants a more specific content warning than that, send me an email or a DM on social media and we can discuss it further.

This Is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone probably wasn’t the wisest choice for my illness-addled brain. I think it would have been more enjoyable to read about a science fiction spy operative clandestine love story if I’d been feeling a bit sharper. As it was, the letters between Red and Blue were gorgeous, and often poetic, but keeping tabs on the story wasn’t the easiest. Granted, it does take place between two warring time travelers so expecting something clear and linear in their correspondence was my own mistake. But when one has taken cold medication and tried to figure out how one goes about coding letters into berries and explosions and other obscure means, things get confusing in a hurry. I might try to read this again when I’m fully healthy as it’s gotten rave reviews from others. Check it out if a time traveling Mrs. and Mrs. Smith is something you might be into.

That’s the best I can do for you this week, I’m afraid. I’ve just started The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty via audio, which is always the correct choice for Liane Moriarty books because Australian accents are better listened to than imagined. I’m eyeball reading Courtney Milan’s The Duchess War. I read her prequel novella The Governess Affair a few weeks back and decided to tackle the rest of the Brothers Sinister Series. What have you been reading, Bookworms?

If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission. Links in the text above direct to Amazon, but if you prefer to shop through a local, independent book store, please see the links below:

Indiebound Links:
The Worst Best Man
Xeni: A Marriage of Inconvenience
Rafe: A Buff Male Nanny
This is How You Lose the Time War
The Husband’s Secret
The Duchess War

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Feb 27

The Worst Best Man by Mia Sosa

Audio Books, Contemporary Fiction, Romance 1

Greetings Bookworms,

I just finished the most delightful Rom-Com. As I started writing little notes to myself for my weekly wrap-up, it quickly became clear that I had a lot to say about The Worst Best Man by Mia Sosa. Hence, it shall have its own post. You deserve it, you sweet little book, you.

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.orgOur protagonist, Carolina Santos, is a wedding planner who manages to keep doing her job despite having been left at the alter herself (early aughts J-Lo vibes are inevitable, really, but, this is a better story.) Carolina Santos is excellent at her job, and she’s worked very hard to cultivate her no-nonsense persona. After she masterfully saves the eyebrows (you read that right) of the groom one at one memorable event, she’s offered the opportunity to interview for a position to be a swanky hotel’s wedding coordinator. The opportunity sounds almost too good to be true, considering she’s going to be losing her affordable retail space and is OVER the exhausting work of running her own business. The other shoe inevitably drops when she discovers that the marketing team she’s supposed to build her pitch with consists of her ex-fiance Drew and his brother Max, AKA, the WORST BEST MAN EVER (since he apparently encouraged Drew to ditch Lina.) As you might imagine, hijinks ensue.

Let’s get to the good stuff. First, Lina is the daughter of Brazilian immigrants living in the Washington, DC area. I think this is the first book I’ve ever read focusing on Brazilian immigrants, and it was a lot of fun to hear about the family’s dynamic and traditions. And, as an added perk of listening to the audio version, I really enjoyed hearing the little snippets of spoken Portuguese peppered into the dialogue. (That would have been less fun if I’d read it myself, because I don’t speak Portuguese and would certainly have mentally mispronounced all of it.)

This book also hit upon one of my favorite romance tropes, the classic “THERE’S ONLY ONE BED!” But it didn’t stop there! I’d like to see “OOPS WE ACCIDENTALLY LANDED IN A COUPLE’S COUNSELLING RETREAT” become a romance trope in its own rite, because it was hilarious and wonderful. That’s another thing- this book was funny. You know how when you type “LOL” but you really only exhale sharply through your nose and smirk? This was not that type of funny. This was “bystanders are going to wonder what the heck is going on because I’m wearing ear buds and I can’t stop giggling” funny.

The only issue I had with this audio book is that the male narrator’s voice had a quality that kept making me think of Norm Macdonald. And while mid-90s teenage Katie did kind of have a thing for him on SNL, much like my crush on Jonathan Taylor Thomas, this one didn’t age well. GET OUT OF MY HEAD, NORM, YOU’RE RUINING THIS FOR ME! (I’ll own that this criticism is 100% on me; I doubt anyone else has a subconscious Norm Macdonald fixation.)

All the humor and fun aside, this book had a lot of heart. Max and Lina made so much progress in dealing with their emotional baggage. I mean, Max and Drew have this awful toxic competitive relationship that needs a lot of unpacking. And Lina keeps such a tight reign on her emotions because the world has penalized her for having feelings. I’m a walking bundle of messy, leaky feelings, and while it can be inconvenient and embarrassing, White ladies are afforded liberties with emotions that Black Latinx women are not. I WANT TO HUG YOUR FICTIONAL FACE OFF, LINA, YOU DESERVE BETTER!

All that is to say, if you’re in the market for a romantic comedy, I cannot recommend The Worst Best Man highly enough. Humor, heart, and a dash of heat make it an all-around fabulous read!

If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission. Text links in the post above direct to amazon, but if you prefer to shop through local, independent bookstores, click on the image or the link below:

The Worst Best Man

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Feb 04

2020 Weekly Wrap-Up: The Fifth

Audio Books, My Reading Life 0

Greetings My Dearest Bookworms,

It’s time to tell you all about the books I poured into my brain this week. I’m a little astonished that I’ve been reading so much lately, especially given the toddler running around my house. I *may* be reading to de-stress more than usual since toddlerhood is stressful for both children and parents. But, honestly? Reading as a coping mechanism is an extremely healthy and productive choice. Would exercising while listening to an audio book be an even healthier choice? Yes, probably, but I am a work in progress. On to the books!

I finished up listening to Tessa Dare’s Any Duchess Will Do. It was sort of a Pygmalion/Cinderella mashup with that signature Tessa Dare humor and Regency romance flair. It also had some of the *ahem* steamiest scenes I’ve yet to read from Tessa Dare (and she is no stranger to steam, let me tell you.) So there’s that for you. On the whole? It was delightful. Also I highly recommend the audio version because a lot of the diction scenes wherein Pauline works to overcome her “country” accent wouldn’t have been quite as enjoyable if I’d read rather than listened to them.

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.orgWhen I started Today Will Be Different by Maria Semple on audio and immediately recognized the narrator’s voice but couldn’t place it. I had to google to discover it’s the actress who played Luke’s sister Liz in Gilmore Girls. Kind of funny, because as I was hunting for a new audio book, I was sifting through some literary fiction titles and it occurred to me that whatever book Jess wrote (we’re still talking about Gilmore Girls, stay with me) was probably unimaginably pretentious and I would have hated it. I remember really enjoying Maria Semple’s earlier book Where’d You Go, Bernadette (review), but it’s been so long since I read it, I’m not sure current Katie would have liked it as much. I was lukewarm at best on Today Will Be Different. It was a little zany, a la Bernadette, but the whole wealthy, snarky, middle age woman with a formerly brilliant career thing just exhausted me. It had funny parts, but I found myself cringing a lot more than laughing. I do think the narrator was fabulous, though, and she has a stellar singing voice to boot- Kathleen Wilhoite was easily the best part of this whole experience.

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For a Muse of Fire by Heidi Heilig was the last eyeball read I crammed into my brain this week. I loved her books The Girl from Everywhere (review) and The Ship Beyond Time (review) which meant this book had a lot to live up to. And you know what? It totally did. It was also fresh and different and a fascinating new mythology. She didn’t just recycle what had worked before- this was some next-level excellence. While the book’s world is purely fantasy, it’s clearly inspired by European colonialism in Asian cultures. Set against a backdrop of unsettled political machinations and rebellions, a small family of shadow players (think elaborate puppetry in silhouette) is gaining renown. It’s mostly due to the main puppeteer using a potentially dangerous magical power to direct her super cool puppets. A little bit of necromancy never hurt anyone, right? (Hang on, I’m reflecting on how amazing it is that two authors can take the same relatively narrow concept, like, say, necromancy, and produce such wildly different work. Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir and For a Muse of Fire are based around the same magical idea and are SO DIFFERENT. Also, both super good. Add Gideon the Ninth to the list of books I read and didn’t tell you about.) For a Muse of Fire is the beginning of a planned trilogy- the second book was released in October, but the third isn’t out yet. I look forward to revisiting this world in future installments!

Now that we’ve covered all that ground, what am I reading this week? I was able to snag a copy of Love Lettering on audio from one of my library’s many e-book services (Hoopla this time) so I’m listening to it now. Thus far I’m a little underwhelmed, but it’s early days. One of my book friends Sarah (she used to blog, but is now talking books via social media… I think her accounts are locked/private, but I promise she’s real and extremely awesome) inspired me to finally read some Beverly Jenkins, who is a romance household name. Therefore, I’m currently reading Destiny’s Embrace on my kindle. It’s the start of a trilogy and I bought them all together (I love a sale!) but the first word in each title is “Destiny’s” and FOR THE LIFE OF ME I cannot remember what order they go in. I’ve pulled up Goodreads for reference at least three times just this morning. So, Bookworms- what are you reading this week?

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission. Text links within the copy direct to Amazon, but if you’re interested in purchasing any of the above mentioned books from an independent book store, please see the links below*

For a Muse of Fire
Gideon the Ninth
Today Will Be Different
Any Duchess Will Do
The Girl from Everywhere
The Ship Beyond Time
Destiny’s Embrace
Love Lettering

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Jan 27

Nightmarish Mermaid Novellas

Audio Books, Fantasy, Science Fiction 5

Howdy Howdy Bookworms!

How’s about that title? Those are words I wouldn’t have expected to put together, but here we are. I spent a chunk of last week listening to some nightmarish mermaid novellas. It was wild and I’m going to tell you all about it. Prepare yourselves, Ariel stans: this is going to get ugly.
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The Deep by Rivers Solomon had been on my radar for a while. I thought their book An Unkindness of Ghosts was PHENOMENAL so I was looking forward to diving into their take on mermaid lore. These aren’t like, Lisa Frank style mermaids though. This is a dark, devastating, intense mermaid situation:

Yetu is the historian for a community of water-dwelling descendants of the pregnant African women tossed from slave ships (yes, this is a real thing that happened because the slave trade is endlessly horrifying.) Yetu doesn’t simply keep the records, though: they’re the only one who actively remembers the group’s history. And they remember constantly. Every single painful, traumatic incident in the community’s past is stored within Yetu’s overburdened mind to be doled out annually to community. In this way, the community is not overcome with sorrow, but Yetu, as the keeper of the memories, being destroyed by the knowledge.

Daveed Diggs (of Hamilton fame- he’s Lafayette/Jefferson from the original cast and generally awesome) narrates the book because the novella was inspired by a song his rap group (why do I sound like a Grandma?) produced. His group’s song was inspired by another musical work: it’s kind of a game of extremely intelligent and artistic Telephone, which is a metaphor I’m borrowing from the end notes of the audio book. It was really amazing, but also, I feel like I’m not really smart enough to appreciate all its nuance. Rivers Solomon is a genius. Daveed Diggs was the perfect narrator. My brain is going to be digesting this one for a long time.

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Since I was already on a mermaid kick, I thought, “What the heck? Let’s go listen to that Mira Grant novella about mermaids. I’ve seen it a few times, it makes me get Adele songs stuck in my head. Sounds like fun.” And with that in mind, I decided to put Rolling in the Deep into my earholes.

This was a straight up horror story about mermaids. A crew of scientists, TV producers, and mermaid impersonators set off on a voyage to the Mariana Trench to create a documentary about mermaids. The TV network commissioning the voyage is not above sensationalism (hence the troupe of human women who make their living as “professional mermaids” they hired in case their search came to naught.) The scientists are real, though, and have taken this rare opportunity to gather data on their varying fields of study. As you might guess, the crew finds more than they bargained for. (Dun dun dun!)

I love Mira Grant (AKA Seanan McGuire) and Rolling in the Deep had a tone similar to that of the Newsflesh novels (Feed, Deadline, Blackout). But, you know. Instead of zombies, it was mermaids. Bioluminescent mermaids who devour humans. Nobody on the crew was actually expecting to find anything, but some harbored hopes of discovering something along the lines of Ariel. Instead, they got Jaws. It’s definitely worth a read/listen, but if you want a meatier, more literary mermaid novella, stick with Rivers Solomon.

Now that I’m in a mer-mood (hi, I’m a walking Dad-Joke) do any of you bookworms have recommendations? I’m open to happier mermaid tales, too!

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission. Text links go to Amazon, but clicking the images will take you to IndieBound which will allow you to purchase through a local, independent book store.*

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Jan 08

Come for the Man-Eating Hippos, Stay for the Diverse Character Representation

Audio Books 9

Hiya Bookworms!

I mentioned in last week’s Brain Dump that I’d picked up River of Teeth by Sarah Gailey because the premise was so bonkers to me. A quick recap for you:

In the 1800s there was a very REAL proposal within the US government to import hippos into the Louisiana bayou and farm them as a source of meat. As all current Louisianans know, there are plenty of animals you need to watch out for in the bayou, but hippos are not among them. Sarah Gailey’s novella series is a revisionist “BUT WHAT IF HIPPOS” take on the situation. And you know what you get in this scenario? Hippos escaping their livestock farms and forming colonies of brutal feral hippopotami, plus rugged hippo cowboy types slinging knives and being shady.

At first I wasn’t sure that the tone of the book was really working for me because I wanted more hippo silliness than Wild West, but it grew on me. It grew on me to the point that when I finished the first novella, I clicked on the second installment of the story, Taste of Marrow, without hesitation. I’ve got a lot of thoughts here, fam.

While listening (audiobooks are my jam) to this, I found myself tweeting things like “dang these hippos just keep eating people.” To which my scientifically minded friend Michelle was like “that’d be a deal breaker for me, hippos are herbivores.” During River of Teeth, the actual eating was kind of implied, but I wagered that it could have been more murdering with jaws and leaving carcass to rot. Perhaps I’d misinterpreted. The further into Taste of Marrow I got, though, it became pretty clear that these feral hippos were in it for dinner. Sure, the killing part was cool, but then they’d fight over carcasses and stuff, which makes it obvious to me they were noshing on human flesh. So. If you can’t get past literal man-eating hippos, this might not be for you.

If you CAN get past mental leap of feral hippos eating humans (and heaven knows what else, honestly) the series has a lot to offer. The ragtag crew of hippo cowboys are each fascinating characters in their own rites, but the one that really wiggled into my brain matter was Hero Shackleby. The crew responsible for these hippo capers (sorry, Houndstooth, OPERATIONS) is entirely comprised of thieves, con artists, assassins, and general malcontents. Hero, master of poisons and explosives, is portrayed as gender non-binary. All the characters use “they” for Hero’s pronoun like it’s NBD, and since we’re not given much (if any) backstory for most of the characters (at least so far), the reader has no indication of whether Hero was assumed male or female at birth.

I LOVE THIS. I’ve read a lot of books, some of which have contained non-binary or transgender characters. But those books have almost always been ABOUT being trans or non-binary. I’ve never read a book where it’s just a thing that’s there and not particularly critical to who the character is as a human. It’s refreshing AF. Come for the man-eating hippos, stay for the diverse character representation.

Only the first two novellas were available on Scribd (my main audiobook source these days), so I’m not sure if there are more out there just yet. I’ll be on the lookout, though. In the meantime, please know that any purchases made through links on this site might net me a small commission. Last quarter I brought home a whole 66 cents, so.

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Oct 11

Educated by Tara Westover

Audio Books, Memoirs, Non Fiction 6

Hi Ho, Bookworms!

I keep thinking, “dang I should write about some books!” But then I get overwhelmed by the VAST backlog of excellent books I’ve read and not written about and I don’t know where to start. I just end up going on Twitter and talking about how much I love Sesame Street, which isn’t a thing anyone is interested in, really. Except Sammers, obviously. He’s a big fan of Elmo and Abby Cadabby. Yeah, yeah, I know screen time and babies, but it’s EDUCATIONAL. Which brings me to the actual book I want to talk to y’all about today: Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover. (Look at that segue. I’m a walking Dad Joke.)

I don’t remember where I first heard about this book but I think what finally pushed it high enough on my TBR to actually read it was Alice and Kim’s excellent podcast. Admittedly I gravitate toward fiction as a general rule, but the premise of this sounded too good to pass up. Tara Westover wrote a memoir about her experiences growing up among survivalists in rural Idaho. She never attended traditional school, and spent her days prepping for the end of days or assisting her parents in their work. Her father ran a metal salvage junkyard among other odd jobs, her mother was a midwife and herbalist. Her father was exceptionally fearful of the medical establishment, so her mother’s herbs served the family’s medical needs for everything from colds to concussions. Hard to believe a child from this background would end up earning a PhD from Cambridge, but that’s exactly what happened.

The abstract sounds fascinating, doesn’t it? And yet it doesn’t describe how completely BANANAPANTS this book was. I realize that the whole point of the book was how Westover managed to go from absolutely no formal (or informal, really) educational instruction to a friggin PhD, but I have to admit to being sidetracked by the family’s response to medical emergencies. In fact, I tweeted some of my reactions whilst listening to the audiobook:

For some reason I feel the need to clean up my language knowing my son’s grandparents may read this.

Uh, spoiler alert?

As you can see, I was rather in my feelings about this medical situation. Here’s the thing. I know the medical establishment is not without fault, and I think that there are homeopathic treatments that are very effective that get overlooked in favor of pharmaceuticals. Essential oils may very well help with a myriad of things from headaches to teething to allergy relief. Just, you know, don’t rely on them to cure a traumatic brain injury, third degree burns, or replace vaccinations. And for the love. If you see exposed brain tissue, CALL 911.

I highly recommend this book. The closest read-alike I can come up with is The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls (which is also excellent, review here), so if you enjoyed that? Educated is for you.

 

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I may receive a small commission.*

 

 

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Jan 24

Unmentionable: The Victorian Lady’s Guide to Sex, Marriage, and Manners by Therese Oneill

Audio Books, Non Fiction 10

Greetings Bookworms!

If you’re anything like me (and I imagine that you are) you’ve fantasized yourself into the plot of a novel every now and again. It’s difficult NOT to get swept up sometimes. Of course, whenever I’m in the throes of a particularly dreamy bout of “I wish I were Elizabeth Bennet” or, you know, any historical heroine, I like to remind myself about the lack of indoor plumbing. That usually helps. Which is why I was so flipping excited to get my paws on a copy of Unmentionable: The Victorian Lady’s Guide to Sex, Marriage, and Manners by Therese Oneill. Actually, I decided to use an Audible credit to get the audio book version and OMG. It was an EXCELLENT use of a credit!

It’s so easy to get caught up in false nostalgia, isn’t it? I mean, the past gets all obscured in mist and fog. It seems so idyllic, what with the nattily dressed gents and the waltzing and folks being so polite all the time. Therese Oneill is here to burst your bubble, but her fabulous and irreverent sense of humor takes some of the sting out of it. (The narration of the audio book is A+ hilarious. If you’re on the fence, go audio!) Did you know, my little erstwhile Austen-ite, just how horrendous everyone smelled in the Victorian era? Or just how much you really love your indoor plumbing and modern sewer systems?

Oneill walks the reader, a modern 21st Century woman, through the ins and outs of life in the Victorian era. From the fashions of the day to the complex social mores, this book is seriously eye opening. Then there’s the whole issue of things we take completely for granted- say, for example, that the medical community understands that mental illness is not caused by one’s uterus? There are a zillion reasons I’m grateful I live in there here and now, in spite of any daydreams about Mr. Darcy. That dude probably smelled really, really bad anyway.

I cannot recommend this book highly enough. It was so funny and so informative. I wish all non fiction were this delicious. If you have even a passing interest in the subject, do yourself a favor and give Unmentionable: The Victorian Lady’s Guide to Sex, Marriage, and Manners a read (or a listen.) You won’t regret it!

Talk to me, Bookworms! What’s the one bit of modern living that you are most grateful for?

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*

 

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Dec 13

Anne of Green Gables, Audible, and Holiday Cheer

Audio Books, Classics 9

Greetings Bookworms,

It’s the holiday season again. Whew, how DID that happen? Every year it seems like the holidays show up faster and faster and that they get busier and busier. Trips to the post office, writing out cards, shopping, travelling, wrapping gifts. I’m as jolly as the next gal, but it does seem a bit unfair that so much has to go on during prime snuggle and read weather. Especially when there are so many delightful cozy favorites to revisit!

You can start calling me Santa right now, y’all because I have a brilliant solution to the “too busy to read during the holidays” conundrum. It is… (drum roll please) AUDIOBOOKS! I know, I know, I crow about them all the time, but I simply cannot get enough of them. (I think 40% of my reading this year was done through my ears.) Wrapping, baking, card assembling, and tooling around town are all made infinitely more enjoyable when I’ve got some earbuds and good storyteller.

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And really, is there a timeless favorite any cozier than Anne of Green Gables? I recently purchased the new Rachel McAdams narration of Anne of Green Gables through Audible (using my own monthly Audible credit, mind you) and oh, my heart. It was so stinking charming. McAdams’s breathless renditions of Anne’s dreamy soliloquies are perfection. Revisiting Avonlea and its wholesome yet colorful cast of characters was just what I needed to get the Grinch out. I mean, how can anyone be sour or stressed when listening to Anne break her chalkboard over Gilbert’s head or dye her hair green?! Even Marilla Cuthbert’s stern demeanor is no match for Anne (with an E!) And Matthew? Don’t pretend your heart doesn’t grow three sizes when he asks that Anne’s dress be made with puffed sleeves. (NO, YOU’RE CRYING!)

If you’re about to intentionally pull a Diana Barry with your own “raspberry cordial” this holiday season, take my advice and chill out with some sweet sweet Audible stories. If you haven’t already, try Audible out for 30 days with a FREE download. (Might I humbly recommend Anne of Green Gables?) 

*This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Audible. The opinions and text are all mine.*

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