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December 28, 2021

Best & Worst Books I Read in 2021

This week's Top Ten Tuesday's prompt is Best Books I Read In 2021 and Tell Me Something Tuesday's prompt is What are your favorite books/audiobooks that you read in 2021? so I combined them plus some others as I don't think you should just highlight the good. I think one of the best things about being a reader is that if you can't enjoy a book, the least you can do is enjoy talking about it, whether in a positive or negative way.  I haven't read a lot this year so my list is very short. [ Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl over hereTell Me Something Tuesday was originally created by Heidi but is now hosted by Berls, Jen, Karen, Linda and Roberta. ]

The Best Books I Read in 2021:

A Problematic Paradox and The Unspeakable Unknown (Nikola Kross series) by Eliot Sappingfield
01 | A Problematic Paradox and The Unspeakable Unknown (Nikola Kross series) by Eliot Sappingfield > link
These two books are the most fun reads I had for 2021. They're weird, wacky, slightly creepy, and probably kind of nerdy but they are amazing.

Honorable Mentions:

Reflection by Elizabeth Lim
02 | Reflection: A Twisted Tale by Elizabeth Lim > link
This is a good take on Mulan but since it continues from a moment in the Disney movie (the animated version), it is sort of a sequel and probably shouldn't read it unless you have seen the movie or at least know what had happened in the first half of the movie. This could still have been shorter in the middle and perhaps a bit longer in the end. The ending is a bit open-ended which I didn't like but at the same time, I would read if there is a second book.

Elizabeth Webster and the Court of Uncommon Pleas (Book 1) by William Lashner
03 | Elizabeth Webster and the Court of Uncommon Pleas (Elizabeth Webster Book 1) by William Lashner
> link
I did enjoyed this book but I guess this would have been one of the best that I read but for this: when a scene stops before it gets to the end, then we are in the afterward, then we go back and continue that scene and then move back to the present - I just don't like this going back and forth. Other than that, this book was quite enjoyable.

The Worst Books I Read in 2021:

The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter (The Extraordinary Adventures of the Athena Club Book 1) by Theodora Goss
04 | The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter (The Extraordinary Adventures of the Athena Club Book 1) by Theodora Goss
> link
I didn't like reading this yet I really like the idea of the book. To sum up the main reason why I didn't like it: If you're reading a book and a bunch of people suddenly appears and have inane commentaries/conversations that have nothing to do with what's going on in the book or if it relates to the current mentioned event, it does not add to the story, would you be able to enjoy your book? I wouldn't. If the commentaries are funny (they aren't), if they are important to the story (maybe two of them add any real info, very long info, to the story but you can still skip them) and if they serve any purpose except to annoy the reader, then maybe I would have enjoyed the book a little. Plus these commentaries ruin the gothic mystery vibe, turns it into a comedy and forces readers into accepting humor when it really didn't need it.
    And the mystery is kind of dull. And what makes it worst is that Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson (two men while all the characters are gendered-swapped to be female) did most of the solving of the murders. The ladies in this so-called Athena club are mostly there to give the necessary info. The entire book is mostly introduction of characters, then their back story, some gory detail about a murder, back to introductions and back stories and then the end. And yes, I have to consider this as a first book in a series but why do I have to read an info dumping book to get to a good book? I'm not going to continue this series because all the books have inane commentaries. Read all about my complaints here on this post, just scroll down.

Beasts and Beauty: Dangerous Tales by Soman Chainani, Julia Iredale (Illustrator)
05 | Beasts and Beauty: Dangerous Tales by Soman Chainani, Julia Iredale (Illustrator)
> link
I didn't like the writing or the tales but I loved the cover which is really the only good thing I can say about this collection of short stories. The tales are deviated versions of fairytales but I find most of them kind of boring, some a little disturbing but most are pointless. More about my complaints about this book over here on this post.

What was the best and worst books you have read in 2021?

December 26, 2021

Books I Read & Movies I Watched in December 2021

girl reading book
Reading among the stacks

In December, I read a few books and saw a few movies but I have no memory how I spent the rest of my time. It just flew by. Here the books, movies I consumed in December.

Books I Read:

The Monster Hypothesis by Romily Bernard
01 | The Monster Hypothesis by Romily Bernard > link
I was duped in thinking this was fantasy but nope, it's a contemporary or something but not a fantasy. But it was still enjoyable and I finished the book pretty quickly which is usually a sign I like it. I especially like the start of the book where Kick Winter (that's the character's name although it's a nickname) blow a hole in the kitchen floor with her experiment and also the chapter titles with Grandma Missouri's predictions. Kick as a character was fun and I actually would befriend her even if she might blow up my bedroom if I allow her to do one of her scientific experience. Plus, I like that her parents are alive and that she's not an orphan or being neglected, well, she's a bit neglected but she has a nice uncle. This was a fun book even if it wasn't a fantasy.

December 24, 2021

Fiction: Waiting For Joy

short fiction

This month's Words for Wednesday is hosted by Elephant's Child. This week's prompts are: Bird, Lifetime, Impossible, Days, Dreams, Meet And/or Spider, Thread, Secret, Thing, Author, Recesses. Visit Elephant's Child for more takes on the prompts over here.

Fiction: Waiting For Joy
On a cloudy day, as light rain falls, a bunny, carrying a straw umbrella, appears in a small forest. From here and there, he picks some dried leaves and lays them on the ground under a willow tree and sits down. Then he turns his eyes up toward the sky.
    A squirrel, on her way home, spots the bunny sitting there. She runs toward him and says,"What are you doing, bunny?"
    The bunny peers down at the squirrel, smiles and replies, "I'm waiting." He turns his stare back up at the sky.
    The squirrel, curious at what the bunny meant, moves closer and asks, "May I wait with you?"
    "Yes. You may share my umbrella," says the bunny. After the squirrel sits down beside him, he shifts his umbrella a little to the right toward the squirrel. Then he returns his gaze toward the sky. The squirrel turns her gaze upward as well.
    As the rain continues with their light dripping, a pair of black birds comes drifting down and lands on a branch of a nearby tree. They look at the bunny and the squirrel and then at each other. One of them asks the squirrel, "What are you two doing?"
    The squirrel replies without taking her eyes away from the sky, "We're waiting."
    The black birds looks at each other again and shrugs. They make themselves comfortable on the tree branch and let the leaves shield them from the rain. And then they too, stare in the same direction as the bunny and the squirrel.
    A family of three spiders appear. The largest spider, Papa Spider, crawls up the tree and asks the birds, "What are you all doing?"
    One of the black birds reply, "We're waiting."
    "For what?" Papa Spider wonders.
    Both birds shrug. "We do not know."
    Paper Spider crawls back down the tree towards his family and says, "It seems they are waiting but they don't know what. Let's vote whether to stay and wait or go on our vacation. I vote stay." He holds up a leg. Mama Spider holds up a leg and Baby Spider, perched on Mama Spider's back, holds up a little leg as well. Papa Spider leads his family up another tree where they will not be stepped on and they too, take up to gazing at the sky.
     Soon the rain subsides and the clouds part. The bunny stands up, closes his umbrella and shakes the raindrops from it. "The wait is almost over," he says. He stretches his arms and legs. The squirrel does the same thing. She is glad though she still have no idea what they are waiting for but at least it is almost over.
    The black birds flies closer and hovers above the bunny and the squirrel. There is a certain silence. Bright afternoon sunlight falls around them. The bunny looks toward the sky with sparkles in his eyes and a small smile on his lips. The squirrel and the black birds are also staring upward with eyes wide. The spider family stay on their tree with eyes toward the sky.
    In a moment, seven colors appears and bends in an arch that hangs in the sky. The bunny jumps up and down. His umbrella slips from his hand and falls to the ground. He laughs and claps his hands. "Do you see that? Look! Look!" the bunny shouts as he points at the rainbow.
    The squirrel is surprised by the bunny's reaction but more by the beauty of the rainbow. She has seen rainbows before but this one is particularly large and particularly beautiful to her. Laughter escapes her lips. Baby Spider jumps and chortles and slips on the edge of Mama Spider's back but Papa Spider catches him and places him back on Mama's back but he is grinning and so is Mama. The black birds tilt their heads at the bunny, squirrel and the spider family. They have seen rainbows many times before and is not impressed. Perhaps the bunny, the squirrel and the spider family are still much too young, they thought, as they fly away.
    "Yippee!" the bunny and the squirrel yell together. They both jumps up and down.
     "Well, we must get going," says Papa Spider as he crawls down the tree follow by Mama with Baby still laughing.
    "I've waited two weeks and now I finally saw a rainbow. My papa is right. He said, 'Patience is rewarding.'" The bunny sucks in a long breath and lets it out. He picks up his umbrella and says, "I must get home now. Thank you for being with me, squirrel."
    "Don't thank me. I have enjoyed my time, bunny." The squirrel laughs lightly.
    "Goodbye," says the bunny with a large grin and he hops away.
    "Goodbye!" The squirrel waves until she could not see the bunny anymore. Then she turns toward home with a smile.

December 18, 2021

Kindly read these at your earliest convenience

mermaid with headphones
'plug in'

I thought I post these random bits that I wrote and never posted. These probably should have stayed as drafts but I thought since I wrote them, why not post them even if nobody will read them? Whether these opinions are valid or not, I'm not sure as I had a different mind set when I wrote these. I might regret posting these tomorrow but for today, not so much. (The artwork above have nothing to do with anything. I had just redo this piece and want to share it.)

01 | [Does this make sense? I don't know when I wrote this] You want to be an optupus rather than an optimist because they have 8 legs and optimist only have 2 so more chances for success.

02 | [I don't know when I wrote this] I was never naked — I was born with clothes on.

03 | [June 28, 2021] I sometimes like to visit some of my favorite bloggers (who doesn't blog anymore) at their social media sites but it seems you have to sign in to see even a tiny corner of the page but I don't have any social media accounts anymore. Maybe this is good. I can stop wasting time on all social media and all websites that needs an account to view. There are a lot of those. I especially thought Instagram shouldn't be like that since the site is for sharing. It's okay if a user make their site private so only the ones they allow can view it but when it only allows user of that platform access, then I have to wonder what's the point.
    I guess it makes sense, business-wise, they want as many users to sign up as possible although forced exclusivity is kind of dumb and it make me feel like an outsider but probably because I am a outsider since I choose not to join the social media madness. I pretend to be okay with this because I have no choice unless I sign up which I won't. And I still think all those social media have such silly names, signing up does not make me feel special, just a little annoyed I'm being bossed around by silly-named platforms.

December 14, 2021

What's the hardest part about blogging for you?

This week's Tell Me Something Tuesday is: What's the hardest part about blogging for you?
I guess my answer would be actually posting something. It's not that I couldn't do it, it's just that I'm indecisive of what to post. I guess my years of blogging had made me a little lazier or more relax about blogging. Even when I have ideas or even when I have written a post, I don't seem to want to hit that publish button. The only time I seem to be blogging is challenges and memes (such as Words for Wednesday, Top Ten Tuesday) and this one you're reading now. I think they are enough to keep me blogging for a while. I do occasionally post something unrelated to these memes but I do what I have always done, make it up as I go along.
So what about you? What's the hardest part about blogging for you?

[ Tell Me Something Tuesday was originally created by Heidi but is now hosted by Berls, Jen, Karen, Linda and Roberta. ]

December 07, 2021

Reading free ebooks & (mostly) not regret it

Top Ten Tuesday
This week's Top Ten Tuesday is a Freebie so I thought I share some thoughts about the free ebooks I had read. I think I'm engined to flock to free stuff so maybe it's why I like reading free ebooks. There are tons of free ebooks but the genre I like to read the most is paranormal cozy murder mysteries although there is no such category on amazon, they only have the cozy option. The books I'm referring to on this list are paranormal cozy murder mysteries and a few fantasies.
    It's pretty easy to look for free ebooks at amazon since amazon allows you to sort books by price from low to high but of course, you still have to go through various menu clicks. (I should mention I mostly read kindle ebooks because I have a kindle but you do not need a kindle to read kindle books, you can use their app on your phone, tablet or computer.) (And yes, I can read all the free ebooks from the public library but this is not about that.)

Some of the things I learned & thoughts I had while reading free ebooks:

01 | They are usually the first book in a series and are under 300 pages or less — These free ebooks are usually part of a series sometimes with 10 or more books. I guess it's nice to read a long series but when you think how short the books are, it's really like reading short stories. Now some of these are novellas but they never actually say they are novellas but some of these are just under 200 pages per book. I actually do like short books in a series because I find it easier to digest and I have the attention span of a five-year-old on occasions.

02 | They are oddly priced — The pricing of ebooks are ridiculous because it keeps going up and down for no reason (but I can say the same thing for paper books). Now for these free ebooks, they are usually priced at 4.99 (US dollars) or under as the regular price. The free price is sometimes for a limited time so other times, it's 99 cents which I supposed is almost free.
    I think it's a great idea to offer the first book in a series free. Since it was free, I was willing to take the chance on them otherwise I honestly would not have purchased any of these books. I did end up purchasing a couple of the sequels for whatever series I had read for free.

03 | Sometimes they come in a collection — Some of these ebooks are packaged with the first 3 or 5 books in a series. Sometimes you even see them at 99 cents for these collections for a limited time. Heck, sometimes you can get the first 3 books as a set for free. There's also instances where the first books of an author's various series are packaged in a collection which sometimes goes on sale for 99 cents or occasionally for free.
     I honestly do not know if any of these promotional packages or these free ebooks does anything to the sales number. If a reader pays nothing for a book, does the book's ranking changes or do they even count as part of a sale?

04 | They have grammar and spelling errors — I have accepted that books can have an error or two but simple errors somehow stands out so much in these ebooks that I'm thinking, perhaps it hasn't gotten enough proof reading. I may have tried to edit while I was reading some of these books. I even read an author's bio that needed editing which is a bit surprising because usually an author's bio rarely have mistakes.

04 | They have really good titles — I really like all the puns and the funny titles that are used. Even if the book does not really live up to the title, at least the title is fun and creative.

05 | They sometimes uses the same art or photo for the cover — Some of them even use the exact art or photo with the same models that are slightly altered. Does nobody notice these things or nobody cares? I guess it's harder to have original cover art if you're on a budget. It's possible to mistake one book for another as I have seen a few books that I thought I had read but it turned out, it was a different book by a different author - I can't say if this is a good thing or a bad thing.

Examples of covers using the same art/photo

06 | They are most likely self-published — I think most of them are self-published because of the amateur covers and also because if you check out the credits, it's most likely put out from some unknown company or the copyright is in the author's name only. But I can never tell for sure. I don't mind self-published books because they are sometimes almost as good as those published by big companies.

07 | They are most likely unavailable at your public library — Mostly I think because they are self-published. I don't know if that's the reason but I've never seen any of these titles available at my public library.

08 | They are mostly written by women — Not to say there aren't any paranormal cozy murder mysteries written by men, it's just that, I don't seem to come across them as much. It's not a big deal but it's something I have noticed. I think I have read only one of these ebooks with a male author.

09 | Verdict: They are fun, quick reads. Some of these are rather amateurish because the writing isn't all that great but most of the time, I find I enjoy the story even when the writing is so-so. I complain about them but I think they are good reads even if I maybe sometimes forgot I had read them.

10 | Here are three places I look for free or discounted ebooks:
Free Booksy
Amazon Kindle Best Sellers Top 100 Free

How about you? Are you into reading ebooks (free or otherwise)?

For more Top Ten Tuesdays, visit That Artsy Reader Girl here.

December 04, 2021

A Slow-Quick November & Movies I had seen

girl at bus stop drawing
sleepless, 2011
Usually I would have book reviews for the books I read last month but I don't. I did read a bit but there weren't any books I want to talk about. Sometimes I read short books and then forgot about them - that's all of my November reads. November was a stressful month, work-wise. It's normal for me to work and stress so nothing new there. Work mainly filled the hours. Basically I'm in some fog of sluggishness that I sometimes weave my way through out of. Can you believe the year is almost over? November seemed slow but at the same time, it went quicker than I thought. I think this whole year went far quicker than usual. I'm trying not to panic every time I read the news but it's easier to say than doing it. Anyway, here are the movies I have seen in November:

01 | Luca > link
It's a cute, fun movie. The visual is wonderful but there's not much of a plot other than a merboy going on land and having some adventure but it was very enjoyable.

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1997)
02 | 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1997)
> link
I read the book a while back and it was boring with lots and lots details about sea life and sea stuff and I don't think I liked it much. I did enjoyed this movie adaptation even though I don't think it's faithful to the book.

Monster Hunt and Monster Hunt 2
03 | Monster Hunt
and Monster Hunt 2 > link 1, link 2
Both movies are fun and the little monster that looked like a radish was darn cute. This movie was slightly creepy but not enough to ruin my enjoyment. There were a few sing-dance numbers which I don't care for but overall, I enjoyed both movies and recommend watching one after the other since it really does continued from movie 1 to movie 2.

How about you? Was your November full of activities or were you lazy like me?