Monthly Archives: March 2020

How is social distancing going?

My family and I have been social distancing for about a week now. Honestly, this has required very little from us. A few canceled social events, no music lessons, or dinner dates. We’re introverts by nature, my husband works from home, and the girls have been on Spring Break. So, nothing much changed, except the understanding that staying home is more necessity than choice and the girls won’t be going back to school next week (it’s closed).

All the same, I’ve had to fill my time. I have to consider filling more time in the future. My children and husband have found and are currently playing Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime, a video game that apparently requires all three of them to fly and defend a space shuttle. I know nothing about it except they sound like they are having a blast.

Meanwhile, I’ve spent the entire day obsessively collating my Goodreads library. And I do mean all day. I began while drinking my first cup of tea this morning and have just finished. (It’s about 7:30 pm now.) Well, finished is maybe a stretch. I’ve come to a stopping point…a pausing point. It’s worth remembering that this is what my Goodreads shelves look like. And nothing goes on a shelf unless I actually have access to it. So, I own all those “want to read” books.

It might not be too much of a stretch to imagine I’m transferring some of my generalized Coronavirus stress into compulsive, all-absorbing, ultimately meaningless tasks. But let’s not go there. As I said, it’s not affected us personally in any huge way yet. But I think that yet is important.

I started by making sure all the books on my shelves have listed page numbers. It drives me absolutely nuts to not know what is a short story, novella, or novel when picking out something to read. So, I periodically do this; sort my library by page length and individually search out page numbers for any book coming up as unknown. It’s a slow process. (Why doesn’t everyone include page length when they upload to Amazon?)

On a side note, I cannot tell you how much it irritates me that audiobooks don’t get listed page numbers. I mean I get it, their audio files and don’t actually have pages. But I need Goodreads to incorporate some way to show their length. Need I tell you! All those unknown in a row that I can’t fix get under my skin.

Then, I moved from there to checking all the anthologies, compilations and boxsets I have. I found too many instances in which I had books 1 and 2 in a series and then a compilation of books 1-5, for example. There was a lot of deleting going on. And when I say delete, I mean I even went to Amazon and deleted it from my cloud. I no longer own a lot of single books.

You have to understand that deleting books is really hard for me. It’s not normal, the resistance I have to trashing a book (even a digital one that barely even exists). But there just isn’t any reason to own these books more than once, except that it was time-consuming to find them and consolidate my shelves. And I’m not going to pretend I found them all. But I found a lot.

I also deleted several anthologies outright that I’d picked up a few years back when anthologies were all the rage. If I haven’t read them by now, I’m not going to. There are actually a couple more to go. But at some point, I was organized enough to mark each individual book included in them. So, to delete them I need to track those books down and delete their listing too because I won’t own them anymore. But I put that off until tomorrow.

I found three books I suspected of book stuffing. This isn’t something you hear much about anymore and I don’t know how these three managed to survive on my shelves. Actually, that’s not true. It’s too easy for things to hide on my shelves. That’s part of the reason for today’s exercise in thinning. Needless to say, these were deleted.

All in all, I deleted hundreds of books. Soon…I have to work myself up to this…I’m going to go through and delete anything I’m no longer interested in. My tastes have changed quite a bit and there is a lot of detritus on my shelves that could go. But I need to read each synopsis before I’m willing to take the leap. And that will take a lot more time. Luckily, as I said before, I have time to fill in the near future. I’m going to make the most of being homebound.

Of course, I haven’t spent the entire week collating my Goodreads shelves (just all of today). I’ve spent quite a lot of time playing Overwatch.

I brought my support SR up to 2466, in case you’re wondering. (I only queue support/healer in competitive mode. No one wants to depend on my crappy aim, trust me. I main Moria, Lucio, and Mercy.) I’m never gonna make top 500 or anything. But considering this is the first shooter game I’ve ever committed to playing (and I’m a 43-year-old woman), I’m pretty thrilled to almost touch platinum.

I’m WondrousBeet6 on Xbox if anyone ever wants to play. I’m awkward as hell at first, but I promise it’ll fade.

Other than gaming, I’ve also listened to a ton of audiobooks while working on diamond paintings. This is the one I finished last night. I’m actually pretty thrilled with how it came out.

I have a whole stack of unstarted ones. So, I figure I’ll be putting a dent in both my audio library and my diamond painting stash.

So, so far so good. I won’t say anyone is accomplishing anything overly meaningful (though tending my bookshelves is immensely satisfying). But nor have we gone too stir crazy, which is good since we’re committed to this whole social distancing thing. I don’t really understand why some people aren’t. Of course, some people can’t and that’s another matter altogether. I recognize how lucky we are to be able to with so little disruption that I’m thinking about how to fill time, not how to fill bellies. But if you can stay home for a while, giving our health system a little room to breathe and maybe saving lives, please to. I’d be more than happy to spend some digital time with you if that helps.

Review of Timberwolf, by Tom Julian

I received an Audible code for a free copy of Tom Julian‘s Timberwolf.

Description from Goodreads:

Some want peace, some want war… he just wants the damned spider out of his head!

Humanity destroyed every alien species we encountered, until we met the Arnock – arachnids that drove us insane on contact. Timberwolf was captured by the Arnock and can now “hear” the Arnock in his head. Near madness, he’s gone on multiple suicide missions and come back unscathed – the alien forcing him to survive.

Emanuel Gray was Timberwolf’s commander and mentor. A former General, now religious fanatic – Gray sees our peace with the Arnock as a sin. He’s a wanted man and hell-bent on wiping the Arnock out.

Timberwolf chases Gray to the weapons factory world of Highland. When the Arnock arrive it becomes a battle for the deadliest weapons in the galaxy. Timberwolf will have to choose between getting the alien spider out his head or taking out Gray – all while millions of lives hang in the balance.

Review:

Not bad, but not a real winner for me either. Part of the reason is that it’s plot-driven instead of character-driven. So, I never connected with any of the characters. But part of it is also simply that I felt like the plot was just leading from one fight scene to the next. I swear a good 80% of the book is descriptions of battles. I got bored with them. I liked Timberwolf well enough, as well as the side characters. But I felt the duo Villians diluted the focus of the story. The narrator did a fabulous job, however.

Review of Vamp City, by C.D. Brown

I received an Audible code for a copy of Vamp City by C. D. Brown.

Description from Goodreads:

All Sophia Fontanelle wanted was to be left alone. On the run from New Orleans and its vampire council, she heads to Los Angeles to start a new life. But when The Caballero, the ancient peacekeeper rumored to be the great Zorro himself, is murdered, Sophia finds herself caught up in a fight to clear her name. Threatened by a 1950s-era gangster turned vamp by the Caballero himself, can she survive in Vamp City?

Review:

I have really conflicting feelings about this book. In one sense it was pretty good. Certainly, it’s mechanically well written and perfectly readable. Similarly, I’m thrilled to have an ex-prostitute as the main character, an adorkable cinnamon roll love interest, and plenty of varied representation. Ther are white characters, black characters, Latinas, Omni-sexuals, rich, poor, etc. And both black and brown characters get to be good guys.

However, I have two pretty big complaints, both of which hinge on this same varied cast. First, in a very real sense, a lot of the book balances on the author creating opportunities to present the reader with one more quirky vampire subset. We have the vegan, the lispy Catalonian, the punks, the classic Hollywood era vamps, the 1950s gangster vamps, the sassy Latina vamps, the 1990s style gangland vamps, the sharp-tongued lawyer vamp, the “Omni-sexual” glam vamps, the start-up millennial vamps, etc, etc. etc. I very quickly got tired of meeting the newest type of vamp. I understand that being a noir style some of this was expected, but it was a schtick Brown leaned far too heavily on.

Secondly, while I appreciated all the representation in the novel, it was seriously compromised by being INCREDIBLY (and problematically) stereotypical. The Latina was a sassy sexpot. The black characters were gang bangers that didn’t respect women and were questionably trustable. The gay (or omni-sexual) characters were campy. None of them were developed beyond the cliche. And the downside of many of them being on the heroine’s side and therefor having more page-time was that they were given more opportunity to show off their stereotypicalness. Plus, they tended to be louder and more unruly than the white vampire groups. (There was an unmissable in-crowd and out-crowd.) I don’t necessarily think the (white male) author meant it to be this way. But it was. The way the characters spoke, alone, was majorly problematic. So, taken all together it’s cringy to the extreme.

I do think the narrator did as good a job with it as she could. But with so many characters using dated terms like, “babe” and “doll,” it got hard to tell them apart.