Thursday, November 17, 2016

This Short Fiction Post Is Longer Than Expected (Spotlighting Short Films)

This is pretty different from what I usually post, but it is on something that I just got into!

I've been really into short stuff this month. I'm talking comic issues, short stories, flash fiction, short films, and possibly more. So much of my mood revolves around these bite-sized pieces of fiction and I'm really liking exploring them. ESPECIALLY SHORT FILMS.😍 I was wondering around on YouTube last Friday, trying to give my mind a break from politics, when I stumbled across a trending animation called "Sleep."

After that, I saw the recommended videos below (I was in the app) and spotted videos starting with "CGI Animated Short Film." I watched one, then another, and then I spent my weekend lost in these super creative animated films that were anywhere between two to eighteen minutes long. (I'm not sure on the level of CGI used, but most of the films I saw had it. Some didn't, I think.) I fit a couple non-animated ones in, but eh. They're not the same.

Below are some of my favorites so far. I tried to keep it a short list, but I just kept remembering films that I HAD to include.

"Johnny Express" - A bad delivery person lands on a planet inhabited by microscopic purple beings. I personally found it kinda scary, but it's really supposed to be cute and funny.

"Mom" - As the caption explains it: "This is a story about a woman, who was a baby, daughter, lady, wife, and mom." It's a very quiet film, but memorable. It might make you cry.

"Coda" - Man dies, meets death, pleads to be shown more of life. The art is minimalistic, but very pretty. 

"ED" - Trigger warning for suicide. This opens up to a scene where a man (animated as a rabbit) is about to commit suicide, then it follows two timelines that meet at a different scene. One timeline moves forward, showing how glamorous and adventurous his life had been. The other timeline goes back in time in chunks from the beginning scene. I love the storytelling of this film so much!

"Zero" - Zero lives as the ultimate outcast in a world where judged based on what number you were born as, and falls in love with another zero. The stop motion animation is amazing! It has some pretty dark and grim moments, but it's a good story.

"Madame Tutli-Putli" - This one is also a stop motion and it's a little tougher to explain it since it can be interpreted in many different ways. The basics are that a woman gets on a train with a TON of baggage and sometime during the night, things start getting very weird and very creepy. It's a macabre film, so be prepared for that. Also, one of the other passengers on the train acts quite lewdly.

"Home Sweet Home" - To me, this is a story of a house that is tired of sitting still and decides to get up and find adventure. On the way, an older house decides to tag along and the two travel together. It has many sweet moments as well as many sad ones.

"The Counting Sheep" - This one is a really short one about an impatient sheep from the end of the line.

"Dustin" - This is is a very cute film about a dog who has to deal with his new housemate: an automatic cleaning robot. They fight over pieces of dog food. :D

I'm embedding some of the shorter ones that I really love.

"Overcomer" seems like the ultimate "you matter" message. It'll most likely make you cry. It touches on the anxiety and depression that the creator went through. It's a beautifully done project and I'm pretty happy that I came across it. (And the entire thing is just under six minutes long.)

Since I've included so many sad recs (hey, I tried to include happier ones), here's something fluffy. "Dust Bunnies" is about, well, dust bunnies fighting against a maid who is vacuuming the floor. It's about four minutes long. :)

Let's Chat!
I used to be so reluctant to get into shorter, more condensed stories (mainly when it came to reading). Reading a book that's only around 200 pages? What? I would pass up all the shorter stuff because many of my previous experiences left me feeling unsatisfied. Short novels can feel underdeveloped and that made me really nervous to pick them up. There's a certain art to short stories, though. Since they the idea/concept doesn't need to span an entire novel or series, I think it allows for a lot of creative freedom with themes, characters, plot, etc. Or maybe I just think that because many of the short fiction that I'm coming across is so new to me and I don't have a lot of other stories to compare them to. I haven't read/seen a ton of short stuff yet, but so far? I'm fascinated.

Anyway, I have lots of questions:

What are your thoughts on shorter stuff like novellas, short stories, poems, flash fiction, short films, comic issues, etc.? Are you reluctant to get into them or are you really into them? Or have you not thought much about it?

Do you have any recommendations of any short fiction variety? I've been trying reading from whatever short story collections I can find at my library, but I really want to read more stories posted online (like from and Fireside Fiction).

And lastly, do you also watch short films?? I don't know anyone who does yet!

Happy reading! ~ Kaitlin ☺

Monday, November 7, 2016

The Graphic Trials Week 1

Hi everyone! I've been doing a lot of comic reading lately and felt like sharing my first impressions on the series I've dipped my toes in!

I currently have a free trial for Comixology Unlimited, which allows you to borrow certain titles for free (much like Kindle Unlimited, but for comics). I'm using it to jump around from series to series to see what ones I really want to continue and possibly get in print. So far, I'm pretty happy that I decided to do that because there are some series that I'm not very interested in continuing and others that I DO want to, but not as soon as others. It's also helped soothe some of my curiosity about series that I REALLY wanted to start, but probably would've put off starting them for a long time.

Faith volume 1
I read the first issue or two of Faith when it was available on Netgalley, so I decided to just go ahead and finish the first volume. It's okay, but er. Superheroes. They aren't my thing. I never used to pay attention to comics because they seemed to be mostly about superheroes. I highly doubt I'll continue Faith.

The Wicked and the Divine volume 1
Nope. I didn't like it. I gave it two stars because I didn't think it was a totally pointless read. Oh, and the art is decent. I found the story really hard to follow because you're dumped right in the middle of things and left to figure everything out as you go. Plus, sometimes the dialogue wouldn't make much sense. The story didn't interest me either.

Plutona #1
The first issue of this was okay. There's not much to it. It's set in a world where superheroes exist and a group of kids come across the body of one of them in the woods. I know issues are short, but considering that this series is only five issues long, the content needs to be fantastic to make up for the length. Maybe I didn't think there was much to this first issue because I didn't care for the characters? I think I will continue the series, but only if I come across a library copy or buy the bind-up on sale.
Revival volume 1
Comics like this are why I decided to try a bunch of series with the Unlimited free trial. The cover looks awesome, right? I didn't find the story to be as great. I want to see what happens with the characters in the next volume, but at the same time, I'm already finding the story to be forgettable. That's so weird to say because the dead people in a rural town come back to life and are--sorta--the same person they were before they died. Ditto on what I said about continuing Plutona.

Princeless volume 1 and Lumberjanes volume 1
I have similar thoughts on these, so I'm grouping them together. I want to continue both the Princeless and Lumberjanes series, but they're pretty low priority. They're both very fun and colorful with a great group of characters that I want to learn more about. With Princeless, the themes were blatant in the way that I don't like very much. Sometimes I like it when themes are in your face and impossible to ignore, but the ones in Princeless were just . . . not delivered in a thought-provoking way? I'm really hoping this makes sense. With Lumberjanes (this is a big positive), I could easily see it becoming a popular cartoon because of its character and art.

Jem and the Holograms volumes 1 & 2
Jem and the Holograms is fun! The second issue was okay, but the first impressed me. I liked the art a lot more than I thought I would; the covers look too busy to me. The panels and the artwork were much cleaner inside, though, and I loovvveeed all the vivid colors. I want to read more so I can learn more about characters.

I Hate Fairyland #1
This was another fun one! I like it more than Jem and the Holograms more, though, because the story interests me much more than a music-centered one. It starts out with this sweet (I guess) little girl that falls into fairyland and immediately wants to go home. She's given a map and then . . . is still trying to get out 27 years later. It's really funny, yet very violent and bloody. I've only read one issue so far, but I'm very excited to read more!

Locke & Key volumes 1 and 2
I liked the second volume more than the first! It took a long time for me to get into the characters and story, but now I'm more excited about the idea of reading the rest of the series. The keys are a nice concept. For example, there's a key to become a ghost: when you cross the threshold of the door, your body is temporarily "dead" and you're a ghost until you come back through the door. I believe they can only be used by kids and teenagers, though there might be ways around that... Anyway, there's also some mystery/thriller/horror elements that I'm getting more into as the story progresses. My library has the rest of the series, so I'll be picking up the rest soon!

Scott Pilgrim volume 1
I'm not really sure what I think of Scott Pilgrim so far. It's enjoyable! It's just . . . not wowing me. I want to read the rest of the series, though. My library has this complete series, too.

Alex + Ada volume 1
YESSSS. Alex + Ada is GREAT. It does have a rather plain style when it comes to art and paneling, but that does contribute to a sense of loneliness from the main character. I love the themes on humanity, artificial intelligence, and freedom. THE TECHNOLOGY. Imagine going into a forum--as in a virtual reality sense--to talk with others about a concern. There's a great conflict revolving around sentience vs. non-sentience as well as the ethics of suppressing sentience. Oh, and the story is engaging. This is a three volume series, which makes me even more excited to get my hands on the other volumes (though admittedly slightly disappointed that it's not a longer series since I really like it). 

Sex Criminals volume 1
I  really liked this! I love how to hold back on the topic of sex and the process of learning about it. The characters and the characters are pretty funny. Suzie's narration is interesting because she speaks directly to her and her older self will be shown talking in the middle of scene featuring her younger self. If you don't know already, this story features characters who stop time when they orgasm. It's a pretty weird story that's pulled off very well! There's not much bank robbing in the first volume, but there's probably going to be more in the second.

Have you read any of these series? What are your favorite comic series?

Other series I might dip my toes into with Comixology Unlimited: Pretty Deadly, Trees, Outcast, Bitch Planet, East of West, Giant Days, Chi's Sweet Home, Descender, Low, Injection, and Lazarus.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

15 Books I Put On Pause This Year

I DNF some books and pause others. The ones I put on pause are the ones that I'm planning to return to in the near future--ha, like that happens--when I am more in the mood for it/better prepared to read it/have access to it again. I've done that with a total of 15 books throughout the year, which both feels like SO MANY yet such a manageable few.

Here goes the list . . .

Cam Girl - This is sorta a DNF, but only for the sake of Netgalley. I had an e-arc and tried it both in September 2015 then again at the beginning of this year, but for some reason, I just . . . stopped reading halfway through both times. It was well on its way to being a five star read! I need to read it without a deadline/that worry that I'm reviewing it late, though.

Because You'll Never Meet Me - I'm not sure why I put this one pause . . . It's pretty good, but I think it was just slow?

Bloodhound - You know when you try to read a sequel and you barely remember the first book? Yeah, that's what happened. I was barely familiar with the characters. Plus, I had borrowed the audiobook and it just wasn't working out for me.

Code Name Verity - I started reading this during a readathon and it was a really bad time since the book requires a lot of attention. What I read was wonderfully written, but I need to be able to fully immerse myself in the story so I can get as much out of it as I can. I've since gotten the audiobook, which I've heard is amazing!

Public Enemies - I wasn't in the mood! I had recently read and enjoyed the first book, but sometimes diving back into a series soon afterward makes me feel bored with the characters/concept.

Ruin and Rising - This was both on purpose and on accident? I was reading the Very Last Big Event (which every ending to fantasy series have) and I decided to stop right in the middle of it and wait until I wasn't nearly as emotionally involved. I meant to only pause it for a day or two, but that was in July and I still haven't gone back to it . . . *hides face*

You Were Here & Girl in the Blue Coat - I'm grouping these two together because BAD TIMING. I tried to read these both at the same time, but I also think I was trying to read a bunch of other things. And it was during/right after a readathon. I made it pretty far into You Were Here, but I may have read 20 pages of Girl in the Blue Coat. They're both good! From what I've read.

The Lies of Locke Lamora - I wasn't ready for this! I'm still very new to epic fantasy and I decided that I needed to put this on pause and read more of the genre (maybe not "epic," per se, but at least adult high fantasy) to prepare for this large book.

You Should Pity Us Instead - This could be a DNF, but I think I decided I wanted to get back to it another time. Maybe I wasn't in the mood for short stories at the time? I don't know. I remember not being very impressed for some reason.

The Steep and Thorny Way - This is unfortunately a library book that I had to take back before I could really give it much of a try. Sometimes I go a tad bit overboard with library books and don't get to everything I want to.

Aristotle & Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe - I have discovered that I'm incredibly intimidated by this book! THERE'S SO MUCH LOVE FOR IT? WHAT IF I DON'T LOVE IT? It's possible. The writing style was a bit different from what I'm used to and I got very nervous about the idea of not loving the book. A reading slump hit me right after I started it, too, so ugghhh. That wasn't a happy reading week.

Shelter - I started this either a day or two before I planned to take it back to the library and after reading a couple chapters, I decided that I  couldn't rush through it. I don't want a deadline hanging over my head as I read this one. It has a really good start.

Nevernight - This is pretty much the same situation as Shelter, though I decided I needed more time with it because I thought it would take me forever to get into the writing and story. I think the narration threw me off? I wasn't into the way the story was being told, but for all I know, I'll be really into it when I pick it up again.

Map of Fates - Once upon a time, I had this sudden desire to read a bunch of sequels. I didn't make it far. So, I had picked up Map of Fates on a whim. It wasn't a type of story that I was in the mood for at all nor was the first book memorable enough for me to grasp what was happening in the sequel.

I plan to get back to all of these, but which ones do you think I should try to get to sooner rather than later?

Happy reading! ~ Kaitlin ☺

Thursday, November 3, 2016

One of My Favorite Reads of October | Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel

I finally have some reviews ready to post! It's been awhile. I don't have many to catch up on, but most of what I will be posting about went well for me.

I listened to Sleeping Giants, and I do a lot of gushing have a lot to say on the audiobook. Thank you to Michelle from MichEllisLife for buddy reading the book with me! Her review is up on her channel.
An inventive debut in the tradition of World War Z and The Martian, told in interviews, journal entries, transcripts, and news articles, Sleeping Giants is a literary thriller fueled by a quest for truth - and a fight for control of earthshaking power.

A girl named Rose is riding her new bike near her home in Deadwood, South Dakota, when she falls through the earth. She wakes up at the bottom of a square hole, its walls glowing with intricate carvings. But the firemen who come to save her peer down upon something even stranger: a little girl in the palm of a giant metal hand.

Seventeen years later, the mystery of the bizarre artifact remains unsolved - its origins, architects, and purpose unknown. Its carbon dating defies belief; military reports are redacted; theories are floated, then rejected.

But some can never stop searching for answers.

Rose Franklin is now a highly trained physicist leading a top-secret team to crack the hand's code. And along with her colleagues, she is being interviewed by a nameless interrogator whose power and purview are as enigmatic as the provenance of relic. What's clear is that Rose and her compatriots are on the edge of unraveling history's most perplexing discovery - and figuring out what it portends for humanity. But once the pieces of the puzzle are in place, will the result prove to be an instrument of lasting peace or a weapon of mass destruction?

*Released April 26th 2016 from Random House Audio*

Looking back at the reading experience, I'm a bit surprised that I was so into this one. Adult science fiction is definitely out of my comfort zone. Also, I'm still very comfortable with my 4.5 star rating, which I can sometimes regret after some time has gone by. (I'm very picky with my highest ratings.) Anyway, onto my thoughts on the book . . . 

The audiobook is fantastic! With a full cast, it's brimming with energy and emotion. It kept me engaged and excited to keep listening. One of my favorite parts was how well the barely contained anger came through in the more intense interviews and conversations. The narrator for the nameless interviewer was my favorite because of that. He had a formidable, mysterious presence that was only enhanced with the proper way of speaking and a calm demeanor. There were tense moments where his feathers were clearly ruffled, and those sure had me sucked into the story.

I feel like I saw a complaint in some reviews about lack of character development or not being able to get to know the characters enough, but that is very different than what I got from the book. I felt like I got a REALLY good read on the characters' personality, motives, and emotions, especially with the audiobook. I could feel Dr. Franklin's fascination and awe of what she was studying. I could sense Kara's frustration and annoyance and could definitely see how hard she was to get close to. I got Ryan's hope and could tell how inexperienced he was with everything compared to the others on the team. I got a good read on Vincent's intelligence and his dry wit (as well as Kara's, which is something they have in common) and his strength of will. I did not NEED to know so much about their pasts, their family relationships, their likes, etc. to really care for them. Those things were still there, but they were revealed in small details or through interview topics.

I wish I had a timeline! Just having months and years listed would be sufficient. It would make it easier to track the progression of the story and the project. Sometimes the characters don't see each other for MONTHS and it's easy to lose track of how much time has lapsed since the very first interview with Dr. Franklin. (Okay, near the end, four years is given as an approximate time that the book had to have taken place within.) 

Being a reader that can get really bored of politics and the military in books (and movies/shows), I'm surprised to say that I was really into all of that in Sleeping Giants. That's probably because the details were presented in a way that was easy to understand. There also wasn't a ton of confusing scientific jargon. Other than Dr. Franklin and possibly Vincent (with his explanations of linguistics and math), most of the characters were more straightforward with their explanations.

The robot was fascinating! It's scary, yet awe-inspiring. What intrigues me the most is the theories on WHY the parts were buried all across the earth. Details on its materials, mechanics, weapons, and aesthetics were cool, but I'm so curious about whatever grand plans were intended for the robot. It has to be something epic considering that the robot itself is an epic THING.

Also, this book is very intense! I listened to most of it at 1.4x speed and some at 1.2x, which made a lot of the more tense scenes more urgent. Voices had a more clipped tone at these speeds, like the characters were trying to get things done more efficiently. Sometimes I switched back to the original speed and it felt sooo unnatural for the characters.

Most of the book is told in interviews between the nameless man and various other characters, though there are some journal entries, mission logs, transcripts, and other audio files. There is a nice dose of humor. There's also many shocking, exciting, and tense moments that made it hard to put the book down. I listened to half of it one day and listened to the other half on the day I resumed it. I'm impressed by that because I was nervous about it taking me a long time to get through. Audiobooks are very new to me! This is only the fourth one I've ever finished. I definitely want to pick up more now, though.

Sometimes I felt like a little kid with her nose pressed up against a glass, staring wide-eyed at a beautiful, awesome animal. I was on the edge of my seat the entire time and was surprised very, very often. I feel like I liked this a lot more than friends and acquaintances who have read it, which makes me feel a bit easily impressed by shiny concepts and an interesting format, but man did I enjoy listening to this book. I had a great experience with this one!

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Discussion Prompts

I'm going to go with two relatively simple questions:

1) What was a book that you really enjoyed, but seemed to have a lot of meh reviews from people you knew?
2) What was a book that had you wide-eyed and awed?

Happy Reading! ~ Kaitlin ☺

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

October Series + Spreadsheet Update

I feel like this update will be shorter than the last two, but we'll see how that turns out, huh? I didn't make any progress in most of the series that I was most interested in continuing because I went a little overboard with library books and was distracted by those. :D

Series Progress
Fullmetal Alchemist by Hiromu Arakawa (translated by Akira Watanabe)
Current Length: 27
Read: 19
Series status: Finished!
Notes: Only. Eight. More. Left. :o 

Desertera by Kate M. Colby
Current Length: 2
Read: 1
Series status: I'm guessing that it's only a two-book series, but it can be hard to tell with indie books.
Notes:  The sequel isn't high up on my TBR since it's a companion focusing on one of the supporting characters from The Cogsmith's Daughter.

The Young Elites by Marie Lu
Current Length: 3
Read: 1
Series status: The last book just released!
Notes:  I have the third book on hold through Overdrive, so I'll be finishing the series when it's my turn to check it out.

Jem and the Holograms by Kelly Thompson (writer)
Current Length: 19 issues/3 volumes
Read: 2 issues
Series status: Ongoing
Notes:  I have a free trial of Comixology Unlimited right now to try a bunch of comics, so I was able to read the first two issues of this series for free. The first one is very strong, but I'm not as sure about the second one. I'll have to compare them to the other comics I read to see what I want to continue sooner than later.
Series I Finished
Razia by S. Usher Evans

Okay, I finished the main part of the series towards the beginning of the year, but Beginnings was the very last part that I had left. It's a prequel novella that shows how Lyssa became a pirate. It's a great addition to an awesome series and I already miss the characters. *weeps softly*

Unfinished Series I Caught Up On
An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
I'm enjoying this series! I can't say it's super memorable to me, but I do have a great time when I'm inside the books.

Saga by Brian K. Vaughan (writer) and Fiona Staples (illustrator)
Ahhhh, I'm glad I got into this series!! I'm still really enjoying it! I'm now reading the single issues as they release and there's something about that makes the experience all the more special. :)

The Miscellaneous Category
2016 Releases That Kick Off Series I Intend to Keep Reading
Themis Files by Sylvain Neuvel - I NEED TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS NEXT.

The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi - I'm glad I gave this a try!! I was on the fence about reading it, but it was on Overdrive and the audiobook sample was really good. (I'm still counting it as a series even though they're companions. I do that with contemporaries, anyway.)

Read First Book, But May or May Not Continue Series

The Shadow by Lila Bowen - Continuing depends on if I come across it at my library, though I don't think I'll be requesting a purchase of it anytime soon. The ending was intriguing, but I did struggle staying interested in the story of Wake of Vultures.

Hey, I Technically Started It

The Nevernight Chronicles by Jay Kristoff - Remember how I went a little overboard with library books? This was one of the ones I had, but I started it with two days left and decided to put it on pause. The beginning was rough for me and I know two days wouldn't be enough time for me to get into the story. The writing style threw me off...

Replica by Lauren Oliver - This was a DNF! I couldn't deal with the format. It felt more like a marketing gimmick than a creative storytelling technique, and I feel even strongly about that after getting some spoilers from a friend. And I wasn't into the characters or the story.

Spreadsheet Update
I just did a ton of work on the spreadsheet dedicated to series that I haven't made any progress in this year (it's much easier to keep the series I've been reading lately separate). I went through my to-read shelf on Goodreads and added all series that I found and did the best I could with the color coding. Then I added a column for books left so I could sort the series by how much I have left to read. I'm close to finishing a decent number of series. Actually, with most of the series that I have started, I only have one or two books left to read! 

Now I just need to finally finish some of these series...

I normally would add what I'm hoping to read this month, but that tends to jinx my reading choices, so I'll skip that part for now. But I do have some series that I want to get to sooner than others!

Have you read any great series lately?

Happy Reading! ~ Kaitlin ☺