Alphabet Squadron by Alexander Freed || Star Wars Book Review

Alphabet Squadron, by Alexander Freed and narrated by Saskia Maarleveld, was the first book I picked up in my foray into the new Star Wars canon books. I know a lot of fans have their own “best place” to start, whether that be in chronological order or publication order. I decided to go with the time period of the Star Wars universe I was most interested in instead and went with books set post-original trilogy.

So, I think I’ll start with the biggest successes in this book, which would have to be the production. This had the most seamless audio storytelling with both voice acting and sound effects I’ve ever experienced (coming from someone who’s listened to 400+ at this point). It reminded me of the Booktrack option that I tried out last year and did not like. That one aimed to add background noise and music to immerse listeners, but it really fell down when you sped up the narration. This production though, managed to do that exact thing so well. I was able to listen at my normal comfortable speed, and all the music choices still made sense, the blaster sound effects and the like all added to the story without being warped by the change. Extremely well done, Random House Audio! 💫

Besides the production, this story of a ragtag group of pilots on a mission to stop nefarious forces was really captivating and you got a full picture of what was happening right after the “fall” of the Empire.

But on the flip side, I felt that everything was so fast-paced that sometimes it was hard to grasp how momentous some of the events were. Several times during my listen I had to start a section over, like “wait, you’re injured now?” I think the quick-shifting POVs were mostly to blame for this. Which brings me to my main criticism: I think this story would’ve been better served with fewer POVs. At the beginning, we’re dumped in with a lot of exposition mixed with a flyby introduction of everyone involved, that it became a slog to get into. Once the story got going about a third of the way in, I was able to enjoy it more and the characters and action sequences were finally able to shine to their full potential.

All in all I give it ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 nerfherders

So You Want To Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo | Nonfiction book review

“Our humanity is worth a little discomfort, it’s actually worth a lot of discomfort.”

I come to this book as a white woman from the poor South (🙋🏻‍♀️ Hi nice to me you) So it should come as no surprise that I’ve found myself struggle-busing my way through a lot of difficult conversations with various friends/family members —both “well meaning” and those definitely not.

So when Ijeoma Oluo opens this book with an argument that I’ve had at least a dozen times, I ~knew~ this was a book I needed and will shove into even more hands. She tackles everything from the “but what about poor white people/can’t we just solve poverty first?” in those first pages and goes on to intersectionality, privilege, microaggressions, the model minority, being called racist and so much more.

Oluo tackles everything in ways that are so personal to her. You hear her exasperation dealing with her white mother; her care in raising her son; her frustration when she struggles to be heard as a black woman writer. And at the same time explains things in a way so useful to a wider audience, in a memoir-guidebook mashup. She delivers her arguments passionately with a straightforward humor as if she was a friend grabbing your hand and saying “Yea, this if f*cked up but you can do this.”

These are conversations we should all be having, as we examine our privilege and blindspots and work on anti-racism efforts. And whether you start with the basics with this book, or pick up one like it (White Fragility, How To Be An Antiracist, My Time Among the Whites among others (I’ll be picking more of these up myself soon)), it’s worth sitting in our discomfort to try to make the world better one conversation at a time.

January in Japan | Readathon Wrap-Up

Those of you following along in my stories last weekend will have seen I spur of the moment decided to join in on the #januaryinjapan 10-in-4 readathon hosted on Bookstagram. So I figured I’d go over how my reading/listening went!

First up, I listened to Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata (translated by Ginny Talley Takemori), which follows a woman who has worked this part-time job her entire adult life. The book absolutely skewers the societal norms that won’t let Keiko just live her life without trying to “cure her” with marriage or a career. I definitely hope for more of this author’s quirky work gets translated (one coming this year I believe)

Next I picked up my first ever manga with My Brother’s Husband by Gengoroh Tagame (translated by Anne Ishii). This is a slice of life story that follows a single dad who gets a surprise visitor after his estranged twin brother dies: his husband. You see Yaichi confront engrained homophobia but also see his daughter Kana welcome Mike with open arms. My only “complaint” is that the story didn’t seem to have much of an arc from chapter to chapter or even in this first volume. I found out later it was a serialized story, so that probably attributes to the kind of flat storytelling. Not a fault of the book, just not what I’m used to. Still highly recommend, and I have the next volume on hold.

Next up, I listened to If Cats Disappeared from the World by Genki Kawamura (translated by Eric Sellend). It follows a man who makes a deal with the devil to extend his life by one day in exchange for removing one thing from the world. This one had similar quirks as CSW, like the devil being a doppelgänger of our narrator in a Hawaiian shirt and a talking cat, but in the end was a bit too saccharine for my tastes. But its fable-like qualities are bound to be a hit for a non-cynic unlike myself.

And finally, I finished the weekend with short-story collection The Lonesome Bodybuilder by Yukiko Motoya (translated by Asa Yoneda). Like most collections, there were hits and misses here. But a few of these stories were just the right mix of speculative and cultural critique that were phenomenal!

Overall, I really enjoyed my weekend of packed with Japanese fiction in translation. It has just solidified my goal to prioritize more non-western writing through the year (and not isolated to readathons) Last year I only read a handful of works in translation (and those were from Swedish and Spanish), so there’s much more out there just waiting for me to seek it out and enjoy!

Magic 2.0 Series Review (so far) | Sunday in Review

Synopsis: Magic 2.0 is a comic science-fiction/fantasy series of books written by Scott Meyer. The series so far consists of five novels, the first being Off To Be the Wizard. The series follows Martin Banks, a programmer from 2012, who uses a computer file that allows him to alter reality to time travel to medieval England where he joins a community of other computer programmers posing as wizards.

My history with this series goes back to hearing Book Roast talk about reading the first book nearly a year ago. At the time I searched my libraries and none of them had a copy, so it stayed on my Goodreads To-Read shelf, perhaps to be forgotten. But I finally got my chance when I saw Scribd had the first 3 books on audio, which I read in August, and I got the latest two books on Audible, which I finished up this weekend.

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Audiobooks I regret listening to | Discussion

You’d think a new blog that focuses on audiobooks would start off by talking about the audiobooks they just love, right?

~Well that’s not how I do things.~

I love audiobooks. They’ve gotten me from reading about 20 books a year to reading more than 100, they help ease my anxious tendencies and they are just plain fun to listen to. BUT that does not mean all audiobooks are created equal.

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WWW Wednesday | Weekly Wrap Up

I saw this type of post of From Cover to Cover and thought, what a great way to do a weekly wrap up. After doing my massive August wrap up I knew I needed a more frequent wrap up schedule, and this is just perfect. It’s WWW Wednesday, a tag hosted on Taking on a World of Words It’s easy to do, just answer the three questions below!

This first post I’ll be wrapping up the first two weeks of September, and then I’ll be weekly going forward. Into the wrap up!

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An ode to broken spines: Why I gave them up for audiobooks

So let’s pretend I still have any readers back from 2013. This blog began as “Cracking the Binding.” There wasn’t much reason for the name besides liking the sound of it. I was actually in the “books are sacred” club back then, never daring to dog-ear a page or to even carry around a book with its dust jacket on so it wouldn’t get ruined.

But I love what a broken spine represents. It proves the book was well-loved. That the book was set face down so you wouldn’t lose your spot. You can imagine the book opened wide so the reader could squeeze one last chapter in before bed. It’s enthusiasm in one of the purest forms. If you love it for long enough, they even start to fall apart, like my well-worn copy of the Chamber of Secrets.

But life changes; it even changes the way you read sometimes.

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