Ask the grumpies: Recommendations for audiobooks?

Chelsea asks:

Also, I’d love to hear people’s favorite audiobooks. Right now I’m 1/2 way through the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon, which is fantastic, but in a mere 200-ish more hours, I’ll be done. What should I listen to next?

To Say Nothing of the Dog has a fantastic audible and is a fantastic story.  First top choice.

Redshirts was absolutely fantabulous.  Wil Wheaton is the perfect voice narrator for the book, and it’s funny until the codas and then you cry a lot.  But a good kind of crying.

We recently did Agent to the Stars on a roadtrip and it was a lot of fun.

Most Scalzi books have good audible, including his latest short piece, The Dispatcher.  We did end up not finishing Little Fuzzy though because it was kind of boring.

My DH likes both the Iron Druid and the Harry Dresden series on audible.  I’ve listened to the first two Iron Druids and the voice acting is pretty good, but I couldn’t handle any more of the series after [spoiler redacted].

Grumpy listeners, what do you recommend?

Favorite books made from webcomics

If I really love a webcomic’s art and/or story, I will happily buy a book of it so that I don’t have to keep clicking and scrolling and clicking and scrolling and looking at the computer for hours on end.  These ones are worth it:

Digger: The Complete Omnibus Edition by Ursula Vernon

Gunnerkrigg Court (link goes to volume 1 but there are multiple ones out now!  #2 notes that the books themselves are beautiful, much higher quality than other webcomic books)

Strong Female Protagonist (can’t wait for book 2!)

Princeless

Breaking Cat News: Cats Reporting on the News that Matters to Cats — we will read all of these the author puts out!!!

Was Wayward a webcomic?  Anyway, that.

Girl Genius

Chickweed books (#2 thinks this one is syndicated– she used to read it in an actual newspaper)

We have more posts coming up about other books, including graphic novels and other visual media, but most of them aren’t made from webcomics.  Stay tuned!

Are we missing anything awesome here?

What are we getting people for Christmas?

It’s that time of year again…

For my sister I got a lipstick-sized USB battery and universal USB cable.  I’ve gotten these (but different brands) at two conferences and they are just so incredibly useful.  I don’t know why they don’t come as a combined set on amazon, but after some poking around I was able to pick out a cable that looks decent, although it has a couple more connectors than she probably actually needs.  The smaller sets of connectors got worse quality reviews with the iphone connector stopping working.  Also per her request, I got her the Hamilton cd.  DC1 made a glass sushi plate at camp this summer for her as well, and I assume DC2 will give her some art.  DC2 has been doing a lot of art lately.

We got my mom a kindle last year so this year I sent her the brothers sinister  box set, a steal at $10.  Even though there’s very little murder mystery in it, I think everybody enjoys the series.  Except the first novella (A governess affair) which, sadly, isn’t as good as the rest of the series.  And a $75 gift certificate to the regional bookstore chain in her area.

My father we are getting a fancy black cherry balsamic vinegar.

FIL:  $75 gift certificate to Cabela’s as per usual.  I suspect DH gets his joy of the shopping process from his dad.

MIL:  A picture frame engraved with the names of all six(!) grandchildren.  The last time she had professional group pictures done, there were only 4, though the fifth was on the way.  We will be getting a full family photo done when we visit this year.

BIL1:  DH picked out a video game to play, Titanfall 2, and picked it up at a holiday sale for $35.

SIL1:  SIL1 thankfully populates her amazon wishlist on a regular basis.  She seems to want to become a fiction writer, so I’m torn with getting her books about writing from her list vs. novels from her list.  Usually she’s got a bunch of novels on the list that I’ve already read and enjoyed so it’s easy to get her more, but this time around she seems to have gone heavy on Ilona Andrews and Patricia Briggs, so it’s not as tempting.  I’m tempted by this adorable electric tea kettle.  But I’m going to wait to see what other people buy and if she adds anything I find more interesting as the season progresses (update:  She added the first Incryptid novel!  So I got that and also Rat Queens Volume 1).

Since Tegu blocks were so popular with our kids last year, we’re getting a set for the cousins.  We’ll also be getting some A-Z mysteries for the older child and the princess cookbook for the younger (it has surprisingly good recipes).

SIL2 and BIL2:  They make the least amount of money of DH’s siblings and they just bought a house.  We’re guessing that the lack of amazon wishlist updating is a hint that they’d be happy with money.  (Even if they just spend the amount of the check on obligatory gift giving to us.)  We did send them a house-warming check after they bought the house just as we did when BIL1 and SIL1 bought their first house, because there’s always unanticipated expenses right after purchasing and got a nice thank you card back.

The IL2’s kids are a little more difficult.  I like getting them books, but there isn’t anything right now that my own DC2 is really into which is how we usually decide what to send their oldest (who is just a little younger).  Maybe some easy readers like Hot Dog and Cat Traps and Too many dogs.  These Tug the Pup books are pretty good for early readers too.  For the younger child it’s a bit more difficult because we already gave them a lot of board books with the first child and we can’t quite remember what.  So I think we already gave a bunch of Sandra Boyntons and Dear Zoo and Where is baby’s belly button.  I’ll have to think harder on this.  I wonder if we gave them chicka chicka boom boom

Despite DH’s relative getting a new job right away, we will probably send him a check, but for $50 instead of, say, $500 [update:  DH says $100].

Target gift-cards for all the daycare ladies at daycare, probably $20/each.  And I think a gift card for $50 to half-price books for the school.  Even if we’re retrenching otherwise, it’s still important to be generous to others.

What are you getting for people this year?

How we cope: An accurate picture of my to-read list

I’m bad at emotion regulation and the only way I’m coping is with books.

This blog has been (and is) a supporter of Hillary Clinton.  These books are on my to-be-read list, my amazon wishlist, or my library hold list RIGHT NOW:

Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman, by Lindy West

The Diary of Alice James

Lab Girl by Hope Jahren

The Regional Office is Under Attack! by Manuel Gonzales

Bitch Planet Volume 2: President Bitch (preorder) (see what I did there)

Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg

The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl by Issa Rae

How to Ruin Everything: Essays by Watsky

Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body, by Roxane Gay (preorder)

Writings on the Wall: Searching for a New Equality Beyond Black and White, by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Notes from a Feminist Killjoy by Erin Wunker

The latest volume of Lazarus by Greg Rucka

The Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman (preorder)

***

Please donate to We Need Diverse Books .

What books help you cope?

What are we reading?

Fortune Hunter by Diane Farr– no sex scenes (not quite clean either) but still quite charming.  Not a perfect book, but I had given up hope of finding any more regencies worth reading, and this one has restored my faith a bit.

Three Men on a Bummel by Jerome K. Jerome (free from Gutenberg).  This is an example of the “potentially great work forgotten because of casual racism” problem.  This book would be perfectly lovely were it not for some pointless anecdote early on that uses the n-word and is probably even more racist than the n-word itself, but because it’s written in “dialect” it’s unreadable.  That entire bit could be cut out without any negative effect on the book and the rest of the book is clean.  Oh 19/20th century authors, why you gotta be so racist?  You will probably find some of the scenes familiar because they’ve been repurposed for comedy without attribution in later media.  (Similar to how you’ve probably seen the pineapple tin bit from Three men in a boat in cartoons.)  The first couple of chapters (before the n-word anecdote) were literally laugh out loud funny.

Falling for Chloe by Diane Farr isn’t as good as Fortune Hunter (main characters are silly and don’t talk to each other, though that may be part of the joke), but omg, it is such a love letter to Georgette Heyer.  Keep an eye out for your favorite Heyer characters from her Regency novels being mentioned throughout.  One of the scenes, for example, is set in the come-out ball for Frederica’s sister.

Duel of Hearts by Diane Farr was an interesting one.  Neither the hero nor the heroine is particularly likable.  They are self-centered, obnoxious, and ridiculous.  And yet, the story is very readable and pretty funny.  The book would have been better if the likable secondary characters had been more well-developed.  A quick library check-out read.

None of the rest of Diane Farr’s books have really been worth it.  Not bad, but more skimming than actual reading.  Reasonable library material if you’ve got extra time.

Tried Diary of an Accidental Wallflower by Jennifer McQuiston.  It started out promising but then lost believably and added an ick factor when the son-of-a-gypsy-horse-trader doctor forced an unexpected and unwanted kiss on the society miss who was unable to move because of the twisted ankle her family was employing him to treat… that would be their fourth short meeting, btw.  Huge Squick.  The rest of the book just kind of goes downhill from there.

Loved the second in Leonora Bell’s Disgraceful Dukes series, If Only I Had a Duke, even more than the first.  Again, she’s in the style of Sarah MacLean, not 100% historically accurate, but a lot of fun.  This one has more likable characters, a better plot, and is a bit more believable than the first.

At the library I found a fun little novella by a woman named Marguerite Butler.  It’s called Compromising Prudence.  I liked it enough to want to buy a copy but they cannot be had for love or money.  Nor do the remaining books in the “Mad Hatterly” series appear to be available anywhere.  The publishing company has disappeared and neither used nor electronic copies seem to exist in exchange for money.  If your library has a copy, it’s a fun (albeit too short) read.

What are you reading?

What are we reading

do not recommend sweetest scoundrel by Elizabeth Hoyt.  What could be a fun story is ruined by graphic details of sexual abuse when the heroine was a child.  Very 1980s and destroys the fun.  Also lazy on the part of the author. :(

Also do not recommend Only Beloved, Mary Balogh’s odd end to the otherwise cozy Survivor’s series.  Really she should have just made it a novella or have it run through the rest of the series with the hero and heroine as secondary characters.  Then she could have cut down the boring repetition of the cozy middle aged folks falling in love and removed the stupid sordid back story (which she telegraphed early on) and the stupidity of the heroine’s life being put unnecessarily in danger by the icky villain.  The part that fits with the rest of the series drags.  The “excitement” part doesn’t fit with the rest of the series given its ickiness.  At least Balogh seems to have given up rape in the past decade.

how the duke was won by Lenora bell was fun ($1.99 on kindle!).  Recommended only if you’re good at suspending disbelief and don’t get caught up on historical accuracy.  It is a bit of The Bachelor Regency Edition.  Her voice is similar to Sarah MacLean’s.

one night in London by Caroline linden dragged and was just kind of boring.  A good editor would have cut it down by at least a third.

christmas revels four regency novellas by Kate Parker, Louisa Cornell, Anna Allen, and Hannah Meredith was fun.

Cold Hearted Rake by Lisa Kleypas was great until the last couple/few chapters.  She just did not stick the ending.  The book would have been a lot better if she hadn’t decided to do the Elizabeth Hoyt thing and drag out the secondary story into the second book.  Or maybe she could have handled that better without putting unnecessary drama in.  Ugh.  C’mon, stick the landing.   Still, I guess I’ll be reading the second in the series even if I no longer plan to buy the first.  At least our red state library seems pretty stocked with romances even if it has pretty much nothing else in adult fiction so I’ll still be able to try before I buy even though I won’t get off the wait list in time in Paradise.

The first Ribbon Ridge book by Darcy Burke, also not worth it.  This is a modern romance (free on kindle).  Without spoilering too much, the hero has issues and really needs a therapist before he can be in a relationship and it’s bizarre that the heroine doesn’t get creeped out about him acting like a creep most of the times they meet (really only the first meeting is him not acting creepy).

Read the first three Shelly Adina books.  The first one is free for kindle, but it’s really like the first part of the second book, and has some boring bits to skip through plus you have to suspend a lot of disbelief.  The second book is excellent and well worth having read the first.  The third book is just not very good (thankfully it was a library book).  I’m wondering if the fourth book is as good as the second or if it’s boring with bad stuff happening like the third…

Ugh.  Got any recommendations for books that are light and don’t have super creepy heroes?  Also please no rape, incest, child molestation, etc.  *SIGH*

Ima reread To Say Nothing of the Dog now.

Revenge of What-are-we-reading

… a partial list.

Half-Resurrection Blues by Daniel Jose Older.  I like this kind of book, and I liked this one.  I’ll read more by him.

Kage Baker’s early The Hotel Under the Sand.  A delight!  #2 should read it.  #2 owns it, but it is an oversized paperback or maybe even hardback and is back at home.  Definitely when we get back!

Mortal Heart by Robin LaFevers.  The third in a trilogy something about girl assassins in the Middle Ages.  I liked the love interest in this one.

Taking a (possibly permanent) break from Ngaio Marsh, I reread Tommy and Tuppance (first one available free from Gutenberg).  The second and third were delightful as I remembered, but I did get a pricking of my thumbs when picking up By the Pricking of My Thumbs and had a bad feeling about it– and indeed, my subconscious correctly remembered that it was pretty sordid (also I had flashbacks to Miss Marple playing the Tuppence role in one of the video adaptations).  I’m feeling leery about the last one.  Though looking at wikipedia, that’s where I got the Gates of Damascus poem that I liked so much I memorized it.  “Pass not beneath oh caravan, or pass not singing.  Have you not heard the silence where the birds are dead, yet something pipeth like a bird?”

Romancing the Earl by Darcy Burke.  Fun in the style of The Toll-Gate but with sex.  :). To Seduce a Scoundrel was also good.  After that it kind of started going downhill.

Super You by Emily V. Gordon.  I heard about this nerdy self-esteem book and wanted to see if it’s good.  It’s pretty ok.  Give it a try if you’d like to be nicer to yourself.

The Icarus Girl by Helen Oyeyemi.  A strange and interesting novel about a girl who is kind of haunted.  I think I have Oyeyemi’s Boy, Snow, Bird on my to-read list, and I’ll get to it relatively soon.

What’s on your To-be-read list?

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