All posts by Bianca

Mid-May Evaluation

While I’m not keeping up with my blog as much as I like and planned to, my reading is going well. So far, this month, there was only one day I didn’t read for at least 30 minutes. It was Saturday the 2nd and on Saturday I usually read less than on other days for some reason. Most days I’ve been reading a lot more than 30 minutes. This also means that I spend less time diamond painting or being otherwise creative and thus listening less to audio books. So far I’ve listened to audio books only three day this month. Tomorrow I got the day off so I’ve planned to do some sketching and listen to It some more.

I’ve only finished two books so far in May. V.E. Schwab’s A Conjuring of Light, which I really enjoy. I wanted to finish four series I had only one book left to read of. This is the third series I finished. Only the last/latest book in the Shadow Police series left.

I also read The Lantern Men by Elly Griffiths, the latest book in the Ruth Galloway series. Which I really liked, even though the team has dispersed since the last book.

Currently I’m reading Ghostland by Duncan Ralston. I’m about 40% in and I’m really enjoying it. During my reading session yesterday afternoon I forgot to keep an eye on the time, something that hasn’t happened in quite a while. Hopefully I can finish it tomorrow.

The books I’ve read so far in May aren’t shorter books. A Conjuring of Light was well over 600 pages long, The Lantern Men was just under 400 pages and Ghostland is just over 400 pages. All well over this year’s average of 340 pages. I’m not wanting to commit to any longer reads too often just yet, but it’s nice to see I’m getting into regular length books, for me, again.

I’m not sure what I’m going to read next yet. I’m not yet in the mood for the Shadow Police. I was either going to read the next book in the Lady Darby series or John Grisham’s Camino Island. I want to be able to finish the book before next Wednesday; I’m going to stay with my sister for a couple of days and I like to have a new book to read then. Neither book is particularly long, so I might go either way. It depends what I’m in the mood for when I want to start a new book.

I’ve got a big pile of books waiting for me, all of which I would like to read soon. It’s hard to decide what to read next at the moment. But I’m letting my mood guide me. I am going to try and give the recently released books precedence. A lot of books were recently released by my favourite authors or were part of series I like and I like to get up to date again with the new releases. Until September only a couple of books are released by authors I like or part of series I’m now up to date with. So I have a bit of time to get that organized.

I’m so happy that I’m getting back into reading. Although after reading over a 100 books a year since 2011 it isn’t strange to have a reading slump it did annoy me. I’m still struggling to find a good balance between all my hobbies, though. I might give timed activities a try.

Sudden Reading Urges

Everybody has a sudden urge in something every once in a while. Mostly it’s food, but this time I have the munchies for reading Nancy Drew. It’s probably because of the TV series and watching the film on Prime last weekend. I’ve got the first in the series, written in 1930, which I read several years ago.

Yesterday I looked into the Nancy Drew book series and it turns out there are multiple series. The original one has well over 100 books, but the total of Nancy Drew books is over 400. So that’ll keep me occupied for a while.

I went through a Nancy Drew phase in my early teens. I can remember the paperback books had orange spines. It’s probably why I became a Murderino.

It’s been a while since I got the reading munchies. I take it as a sign my reading slump is slowly passing. It also helps that I’ve thrown out all my reading goals and I’m just reading what I feel like. Also, during the last two months new books in some of my favourite series were released. Which is great, but it now makes choosing what I want to read harder.

April was a good reading month, comparing it to the last nine months or so. I’m not reading as much as before that, but I’m not avoiding reading anymore. During the last couple of weeks I’ve been diamond painting less and reading more. I just need to find a good balance between all my hobbies, and that is proving a bit hard.

It looks like we’re going to have to deal with social distancing and going outside as little as possible for a good while yet. Which means more time to do what I like. Whether that’s reading, something creative or watching TV I don’t care. Like with my reading I now just do what I feel like doing.

On Note Taking

Last summer I started taking notes on the books I was reading. I kept this up for almost half a year, the longest I ever managed to keep note taking. Coincidentally, or not, at the same time I started note taking I started reading less. It might be a coincidence or not.

I had developed a good system, so that I didn’t have to take notes, and carry my notebook, constantly. My Kobo has the option to highlight text and even to add your own notes to it. I would highlight passages and once or twice a day, depending on how much I read. I would use those highlights to write down my notes. But even this did not keep it from starting to feel like a chore.

I stopped taking notes on all the books I read, planning to only do it for selected books. But I never did. I want to start again, but with a few additional changes. Instead of continuing with the notebook I used I got a new one. Instead of a thicker book I got a 96 page one. A bit easier to carry around. I also want to take notes on some books, not all I read. I noticed that during the half year I took notes that I found it hard to take lots of notes about books that are part of a series, except maybe the first in a series, when all the information you get is new.

I also want to add more of my own thoughts about the books in the notes. I mostly wrote down what happened, about the characters, but not really about what I thought about it, except when I felt really strongly about something.

At the start of the year I decided to start writing reviews again. It’s been a long time since I’ve done that. I have yet to write a proper review, besides what I write in these rambling posts. Which is a couple of sentences at most. So after taking notes on the story, and my own opinions I want to try and sketch out an outline for the review. I hope/plan to write a review about each book I take notes on. I just hope this doesn’t deter me from taking notes.

The first book I’m going to take notes on and review, I hope, is Grady Hendrix’s The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires. Several years ago I read Hendrix’s Horrorstor. Having worked at an Ikea for two summer it was very recognisable, though I’ve never encountered a haunting at my Ikea. It was also a fun read. I read it as an ebook, but I ended up getting the paperback. Because it came with a map of the store and was designed to look like the Ikea catalogue. I thought I read more books by Hendrix, but after checking I found out I haven’t read any of his other books. Something that I will need to rectify soon, and something I’m looking forward to!

I’ll start the book tomorrow, and plan to highlight whilst reading and taking notes after a reading session or at the end of the day. Doing it that way seemed to work best for me. Hopefully this way I can keep up making notes (which I, in general, enjoy doing and I think it helps me think about the book more) and start writing reviews.

The Voice Makes The Book

I’m nearing the end of my first finished audio book. Usher’s Passing written by Robert R. McCammon, read by Scott Aiello. There’s just under three hours to listen to, so I’ll probably finish it on Sunday, whilst washing and drying my laundry.

I’m enjoying the book so far. It does show it’s age a bit, it was written in the 1980s, but not annoyingly so. I did learn that the voice makes or breaks the story. In general I do like Scott Aiello’s reading. But his whining voice is annoying me. Many of the characters have been given a whining voice to one extend or another. And although mostly appropriate, in my opinion, it can get on my nerves a bit. At least each character has a fairly distinct “voice”.

It’ll be interesting to see how other voice actors handle this. For my next big book I’ve decided on Stephen King’s It. I did reread it for the I don’t know how manieth time last summer, but I’m in the mood for a comfort read (yes, It is a comfort read for me). It’s also over 40 hours long, so it should last me nearly if not a full month. It’s read by actor Stephen Weber, who, if I recall correctly, playet Jack Torrence in the TV adaptation of The Shining in the 1990. I did like this mini series, it follows the book better than Kubrick’s film.

After that I want to get the Sherlock Holmes stories of over 70 hours. That one’s read by Stephen Fry, I did start the first Harry Potter book several years ago, also read by Fry and I did enjoy his reading.

In about half a year I should have a good idea about what I like in a voice actor. I thought it would be very similar to listen to a fictional, serialized podcast. Like The Black Tapes, Tanis or BBC’s The Whisperer in Darkness. All of which I really enjoyed. But with those there is a cast of voice actors, whilst most audio books just have the one who reads the story and does voices. Also, with audio books there are no sound effects. With the fictional podcast series there are. Very much like the dramas on the radio. Some are more like the ones on the radio, where the sound effects are very obvious. Other podcasts, like the ones mentioned above are a bit more subtle. I like the latter, to may sound effects are distracting to me I have found.

Since I’m going to finish the audiobook on Sunday, most likely, I have to decide what to listen to until the 29th, when I get new credits at Audible. I still have several shorter Audible Exclusives, but those aren’t long enough to fill a week and a half of listening with.

I guess it will give me a chance to catch up on some of the podcasts I’ve been neglecting the last couple of weeks. I usually listen to podcasts in the morning, before work. But I’m working less, so there’s less time for me to listen to them. Also, I’m not really in the mood for true crime. I enjoy it once I start listening, but getting started is the problem. I don’t want to fall too far behind. I know there’s a chance of burning out on a podcast whilst trying to catch up. The you stop listening for a while and have to catch up again, repeating the cycle.

I’m also figuring out what I can do whilst listening to an audiobook or podcast. I find I can diamond paint, make jewelry or watercolour without missing things. I’ll try sketching next week. That might be more of a problem, since I’ll also need to concetrate on the tutorial or reference I’m using. I’ve discovered I’m not able to concentrate on the audio enough when I’m playing a game. Even if it’s something as easy as Animal Crossing. The exception being games as Mahjong, solitair, rumicub or scrabble.

What I do like about audiobook is that, like with a good podcast, it distracts me from real life. Which at this time is worth a lot to me, since it isn’t a good time to have an anxious personallity.

Getting Back On Track

Well, not really. Maybe a bit. But after weeks of social distancing and feeling anxious I find that in the past week I start to find my feet again in this strange world. I’m less anxious, though I’m still worried. I start to get into some sort of daily rhythm. It helps that “the numbers” (of people testing positive, going to hospital, ending up in ICU or dying) have been going down. There’s talk of slowly starting to think of getting the economy going again, in the near future. Though our prime minister already warned that we’ll have a “1.5 meter economy” for a while. I expect until there’s either a vaccine and most people have been vaccinated or when they find a very good drug (combination) that helps against the virus. But the acknowledgement that things won’t be getting back to normal any time soon has, strangely, helped me calm down a bit.

Because my mind has been calmer I seem to be able to read more. Or it was just to books that I chose. In the past week I read the second book in the Lady Darby series, Mortal Arts, by Anna Lee Huber. I’m really enjoying the series and the character development. Then I read Amy Cross’ latest book Mary, which was a quick read, but also good. I’m now reading the last in The Graveyard: Classified Files trilogy, The Belly of the Beast, by Desmond Doane. I’m halfway through and it’s a good read, also. Picking books you really enjoy makes reading go so much faster.

I noticed that of the eight active series I have going on there are four which only have one book left to read until I either finish the series or when I’m up to date with it. I’ve decided to focus on those first. That way I can get to some new series. It isn’t a hard decision. Lately I’ve been enjoy books in the horror, paranormal and fantasy genres, and all four books fall in these categories. But, I probably won’t be reading them back to back. I’ve been thinking about reading another The Cat Who book. I’m sad I’m getting to the end of the series, just nine books left.

Not Much News

My reading has slowed down considerably, again. I did manage to finish the latest Peter Grant/Rivers of London book, False Value, by Ben Aaronovitch. It took me a week and a half, but it was a really good book. Whilst doing other things I’ve been listening to Usher’s Passing, by Robert R. McCammon, which I’m also enjoying.

Animal Crossing New Horizons is taking up a good chunk of my daily recreational time, still. I’m also working on my biggest diamond painting yet (I have an even bigger one to do after that), but at least I can listen to an audio book when diamond painting.

I’ve been doing some wishlisting on the Audible website. I’ve decided that when I get my next credit I’m going to get either Stephen King’s The Stand (if I’m in the mood for it), which is almost 48 hours long. Or, if I’m not in the mood for The Stand, I’m going to get Sherlock Holmes: The Definitive Collection, read by Stephen Fry, which is almost 72 hours long. I’ve also added several books to my wishlist which are between 20 and 30 hours long. I’ll probably won’t be able to finish the Sherlock Holmes in one month, which isn’t a bad thing. That way I get a chance to accumulate some points to spend on book that are shorter. I will be seeking out longer books to listen to, at least for now. If I manage to build up a library with longer ones I can also get some shorter audiobooks that interest me.

On my eReader I started Mortal Arts by Anna Lee Huber, second book in her Lady Darby series, yesterday. I did a lot of reading, so hopefully I can finish the quicker than my last couple of books.

Audiobooks

With everything going on I find that I have a hard time concentrating on reading a book, even books I am really enjoying. I have found more distraction with doing diamond painting, sketching and watercolouring. Usually I listen to podcasts when doing those things. And even though I have a long list of podcasts I haven’t started yet, but I’m interested in I had a hard time finding something that fits my mood.

So, I’ve decided to try out Audible. You get the first month for free, after that it’s $15 a month. With the basic subscription you can pick one book and two of the six selected Audible Exclusives. If you want to listen to more books you can get a 30% discount.

I’ve picked Robert R. McCammon’s Usher’s Passing as first listen. It’s over 16 hours long, yesterday I listened to about two hours whilst diamond painting. I’m really enjoying the book so far. I was thinking of listening to The Stand by Stephen King first, it’s well over 40 hours long. I’ve been thinking of rereading the book for a while, but I decided against it; the topic hits a bit too close to home at the moment. Maybe next month, when I hope I’ve settled into a routine a bit more.

I’ve tried listening to audiobooks before. The first time I tried to just listen, whilst doing nothing. That didn’t work out; the story went too slow for me. A couple of years ago I started listening to the first Harry Potter book, and I did really enjoy it. But then I got really into podcasts and I never went back to the Harry Potter. It’s a monthly subscription, so if it turns out I still can’t get into audiobooks I can always cancel.

I will have to look into longer listens; I have more free time since I’m working less hours and I’ve planned to get more creative. I’ve just found Sherlock Holmes, read by Stephen Fry, it’s over 70 hours long! I’ve also decided to count the books towards my reading goal. I’ll take the page count of a/the paperback edition as listed on GoodReads.

To Read Or Not To Read

When I had just gotten my first eReader in 2009 I got into the Dresden Files series by Jim Butcher. For me it started out okay-ish, but it grew on me the more books I read. However, the last couple of books were, okay. The last book to be released up until now was Skin Games (book 15) in 2014. Since then Jim Butcher hasn’t released anything in this series, until this year.

In July Peace Talks is set to be released and, according to Butcher’s own website, Battle Ground will be released in late September*.

However, it’s been six years since I’ve read Skin Games. I can only vaguely remember what was going on. And while I do want to continue with the series I’m not willing to reread 15 books plus several short stories. The only option is to see if I can find synopses of each book, including spoilers.

On the other hand; can be be bothered to do that? Do I like the series enough? To be honest the Peter Grant/Rivers of London series has taken The Dresden Files place as my favourite combined urban fantasy and crime series with a snarky main character.

Also, in the past when I’ve been stressed I’ve turned to reading. Something has changed and, at the moment, it’s hard for me to concentrate on reading for longer periods of time. In the past I usually spend most of my Sunday afternoon reading. Right now I get distracted too easily and I find that other things are better at taking my mind of the things happening. This in turn means that I read less books and that I’m careful which books I read, picking those that I’m fairly certain I’m going to enjoy.

I’ve still got a couple of months to decide and, if I want to, find a good write up of the series up until now.

* Keep in mind that due to the pandemic some book releases have been postponed. It might happen to these books as well.

Strange Times

It’s impossible to live a normal live at the moment. Life has come to a standstill. Although our family’s store is still open it’s really quiet. I’m not complaining about this, it’s a good sign that people take the virus serious and are staying at home as much as possible. Since it’s quiet I’m working less and have more time on my hands. Much of that is filled with playing the new Animal Crossing New Horizons game, which is very addicting. But I’m also reading and have been diamond painting.

This week I finished Lincoln Child’s Utopia, which was written in 2002. It’s set in a state of the art amusement park. I expected it to feel dated, since technology has changed so much. But it didn’t, since the technology of theme parks hasn’t gone in the direction of what was described in the book.

After that I read the shortest book of the month so far, just under 200 pages, Clarissa Johal’s The Island. Which is about a haunted island. I liked the characters and the type of haunting was original. Very enjoyable.

I’ve started with the latest Peter Grant book, False Value, by Ben Aaronovitch. But I haven’t gotten far. But with its humour and fantasy elements it’s, for me, a great read in these times.

As I’ve said before, no more goals for this year. Whatever I read I’m happy with. I’m also just going to pick books I’m in the mood for, I’m not going to stress about by active series list or my first in series list. Reading is now something to do to keep my mind off the situation and not something that has to have annual or monthly goals.

A Difficult Week

Last week wasn’t the best reading week, again. I was feeling under the weather and just in case I self isolated. It was a very anxious week, not helped by all the news reports, which I switched off by Thursday and tried to manage my news intake. I’m feeling fine now, luckily.

I did get some reading done. I read V.E. Schwab’s A Gathering of Shadows, the second book in the Shades of Magic trilogy. I enjoyed it very much, a bit more than the first in the series. I also started Lincoln Child’s Utopia, a thriller set in a state of the art theme park. Despite it being written in 2002 it doesn’t feel as dated as I expected. It also reads quickly, which Child’s book usually do for me.

I think I’ll be reading easy reads for a while. My reading challenge is on hold for now. Anything I read is great. It’s an anxious time for me, which means I can read a lot more than normal or stop reading at all, or anything in between. Animal Crossing New Horizons also came out last Friday, which is a great game but takes up some time to keep up you island.

My only reading goal for now is to have fun.