Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Month in Review for January 2017: There and Back Again

Leia being cute in her Barney colored homemade sweater
January was a busy month for me with a new dog and my first appointment in SLC, but I feel like I managed to remain positive for most of it. Having Leia be an obnoxiously playful pup has a lot to do with that, as I didn't have much down time to dwell on all that is wrong in the world. Add in massive amounts of snow leading to frequent internet-free days, and I've probably had a better month than most.

 Total Posts: 9
  Total Critiques: 2
    Sci-fi: 1
    Contemporary: 1
    Part of a Series: 0 (First time that's happened!)

Most Popular Posts of January:
My Best Reads of 2016
SFF: The 5 Vintage Sci-fi Books You Recommend (For Vintage Sci-fi Month!)
Month in Review For December 2016: Thank God It's Over

Flashback Post (From January of a Previous Year):
"Dawn (Xenogenesis #1)" by Octavia E. Butler

Pageviews for the Month: 1071
Comments: 12

Reading Challenges Updates:

To Be Set

Reading Stats:

Books read this Month: 6

Book Stats:
Has a Diverse Main Character: 2
Doesn't Have a Diverse MC: 4
Female Main Character: 6
Male Main Character: 0
Pair and/or Group of Female/Male Main Characters: 0
 Contemporary Fiction: 1
 Vintage Sci-fi: 1
 Urban Fantasy: 4
Published in 2017: 1
Published in 2000-2016: 4
Published in 1970s: 1
Self-Published, Small Press, or Other: 0
Traditionally Published: 1
Series Books: 4
Standalones: 2
Ebook Version: 6
Paper Version: 0
Favorite of the Month: Kindred by Octavia E. Butler
Least Favorite of the Month: Third Grave Ahead by Darynda Jones (not a bad book- I just found it the least interesting of all the three star books I read).
Most Interesting of the Month (or Book I Learned the Most From): Kindred by Octavia E. Butler
From the-pile: 0
From the-invisible-pile: 2
Recently acquired: 4
Added to the-invisible-pile: 3
Books bought:0
Pages Read in 2016 Thus Far (according to Goodreads): 1966 pages

5 Stars: 0
4-4.5 Stars: 1
3-3.5 Stars: 5
2-2.5 Stars: 0

Author Stats (1 = 1 book read by x author):
Male: 0
Female: 6
Male/Female Team: 0
Diverse: 2
Not-so-Diverse: 4
Living: 5
Deceased: 1

Planning to Read in February:

Now that I've procrastinated about finishing off this post halfway into February, I have to admit I'm scrambling to read whatever catches my fancy. A lot of my usual faves are too heavy for me to read right now, so I'm on a light and fun book spree (as in, pick it up, read a couple chapters, give up on it, rinse and repeat). I'm hoping to keep on track for my Goodreads challenge which is 60 books for this year.

Happy Reading!

Monday, February 6, 2017

Fortnightly Update #28:

Recent Acquisitions (or the Piling of the-Piles):

the-pile Additions:

Torrie = ultra enthused
Saving Delaney by Andréa Ott-Dahl and Keston Ott-Dahl
I won this from Heather @ Based on a True Story - I tend to like memoirs where there's something medical going on. I think it has something to do with my life being relatively reliant on said medical arts. Saving Delaney is about a surrogate trying to win custody of the baby she's pregnant with.

the-invisible-pile Additions:

The Lives of Tao (Tao #1) by Wesley Chu
I'm actually also currently reading this one, because I need something on the light and fun side right now to keep my mind off of internal dilemma-ing. I have read many mixed reviews for this one, but so far I'm enjoying it.

Currently Reading:

Also The Lives of Tao (Tao #1) by Wesley Chu.

Finished These Books:

The first four books in the Charley Davidson series (which starts with First Grave on the Right (Charley Davidson #1) by Darynda Jones)
I like these, but they do have a lot of problematic elements. I really, really loathe the main "hero" character, and yes, the heroine mostly gets on my nerves, but somehow these were still entertaining. If you like Sookie Stackhouse-type paranormal books, these might be your style.

When I finished this, I thought I would rate it three stars, but then I realized that there was nothing to this novella that I haven't seen before, and I wasn't particularly enamored with the hero or the heroine. It was just kind of meh, and my meh book rating is two stars.

Dust Tracks on a Road by Zora Neale Hurston
This is one of those books I tried to finish quickly, only to realize it was much better when I read a chapter at a time. It covers a lot of ground in Zora's life- from birth to the height of her fame, and I must say she lived an incredibly interesting life.

In My Life (University of Utah Appointment):

I went to my appointment at University of Utah and the nice motor specialist NPC told me the syrinx (my dastardly foe encased snugly in my own spinal cord) is causing the odd walking. She also said she'd never seen anyone walk like I do, which is oddly reassuring. I can't tell you how many YouTube videos I watched of people with some sort of malady walking thinking why on Earth doesn't anyone walk the way I do. Anyway, she said I should've been sent to a neurosurgeon in the first place, and said she'd have one from University of Utah set up an appointment with me. I expected a nice long six month break from spinal related personnel, but instead my appointment is February 13th. Cue internal dilemma.

On one hand, seeing a neurosurgeon this soon who actually might be able to do something is nice. On the other, I had to mentally prep myself for months to take on SLC, mostly because I'm a rural girl used to "big cities" of less than 100,000 souls. Also, since I have a long and illustrious medical history with doctors who didn't necessarily help me (nor even at times believe my symptoms to be valid), leading to some anxiety issues with those small white exam rooms which for a time felt like torture chambers to me. There is also the issue with me having been in syrinx support groups to see if anyone else had odd walking- you hear a lot of "I wish I didn't have that surgery" type posts. With me, I realize I could have even more progression with my syrinx, since it used to be small and only in my cervical spine, but now it's all the way down to the end of my thoracic spine. Progression would likely mean more symptoms. The issue is, the surgery to correct the syrinx doesn't necessarily correct it- often, the syrinx is caused by another issue, which once surgically corrected will resolve or stop progression of the syrinx. This whole internal debate will be resolved if I go to the neurosurgeon and he doesn't feel like I'm a candidate for surgery, so I guess subconsciously I'm rooting for that resolution, which is only short term, since then I'd likely have this for the rest of my life. And even if it's surgically stopped in its tracks or drained, that possibility remains.

TL;DR: I'm internal dilemma-ing about something out of my control, and my next appointment is on February 13th (in one week). Also, syrinxes aren't fun.

Have a nice week!

Saturday, January 28, 2017

"Kindred" by Octavia E. Butler

Many of you may have noticed 2016 was the year of Octavia E. Butler books for me. I think I read more of her books last year than Robin Hobb's, which is saying something because I'm obsessed with them both now. For that reason, I was eager to read another of her books in 2017, and since Kindred is one of her better known titles (and it qualifies for Vintage Sci-fi Month) I chose to pick it up first.

Kindred is not an easy read. I read it in a day, but not because I was thrilled with the story- I was gripped by it in a relatively unpleasant fashion. Imagine being an African American woman who somehow time travels back to the era of slavery in the American South. It doesn't sound like a pleasant adventure, does it? I was possessed by the need to find out if Dana made it out okay, and what exactly was going on with her in the first place.

The Plot (As Seen on Goodreads):
'The first science fiction written by a black woman, Kindred has become a cornerstone of black American literature. This combination of slave memoir, fantasy, and historical fiction is a novel of rich literary complexity. Having just celebrated her 26th birthday in 1976 California, Dana, an African-American woman, is suddenly and inexplicably wrenched through time into antebellum Maryland. After saving a drowning white boy there, she finds herself staring into the barrel of a shotgun and is transported back to the present just in time to save her life. During numerous such time-defying episodes with the same young man, she realizes the challenge she’s been given: to protect this young slaveholder until he can father her own great-grandmother.'

Kindred has all the content you'd expect from the time that it's set in- so if you can't handle blood and inhumane abuses, you may not want to read this one. At times, I was reading with my hand over my face because I wanted Dana to pull through, but also somehow manifest superpowers. Dana has the strength most women would envy, but the events that befall her in this book aren't enviable. This book provides a haunting glimpse of the past that is difficult to swallow.

Dana's husband, Kevin is white, and he plays a part in this book as well. Once they figure out some of what is happening, they attempt to learn more of the history of the time in order to help protect Dana. All the while, it seems almost futile to- as a black woman, Dana has virtually no rights in the South at that time. Beyond that, Rufus, the person Dana rescues, seems almost as bound to her as she as to him.

Kindred is the sort of book that if it were a nightmare, you'd wake up from it with cold sweat dripping from your every pore. It isn't a happy book, but it is an important one. I recommend this to those who like to read about the past from a less sterile perspective.

Rating: 4 of 5 Stars for a difficult read that was even more difficult to put down.

Age Advisory: Ages 18+ for violence, sexual assault, and slavery.

Page Count: 287 pages
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