Friday, January 31, 2020

Reading without a mind's eye (aphantasia)

A couple days ago I learned something that has got me totally shook - most people can see images in their mind. Not like actual photographs, but they can imagine things visually. More importantly, I found out that I'm one of 2% of people who can't do this.

It would seem I have aphantasia, which means that I'm unable to create visual images in my mind's eye. I don't have daydreams, I can't visualize a picture Pennywise even though I've seen the movie multiple times. I've been doing guided meditation for years and always thought "picture yourself on a beach" was metaphorical so imagine how absolutely blown my mind has been!

Since I found out about this and have started bringing it up to people, I've been asked multiple times, "what do you see when you read?" This is a truly bizarre question for me and it made me realize how fundamentally different my reading experience is from what yours probably is. I've thought about it as much as I can in a couple days and here's my answer:

When I'm reading a book I do not visualize what I'm reading. I don't see the snowy landscape or the swoony love interest walking towards the MC. I don't see it like a movie playing in my mind like several people have told me they do. I can't literally picture the setting, although I've said that I could in some reviews, which really got me thinking.

For me, "picturing" a setting is more of a feeling rather than actually seeing it. When an author does a particularly good job of creating atmosphere I can feel it, I just can't see it. That's probably why I prefer fantasy books so much more than contemporary - the worlds are so much more incredible and easier to "feel!"

I also think this lack of being able to visualize explains a lot about why I don't like flowery descriptions. Although I like when a world is atmospheric, I can't visualize the details. So, when an author spends a full page detailing what a room or a dress looks like in flowery language, it adds nothing to the story. I do wonder if that is also the reason I prefer YA to fantasy - less flowery descriptions.

I don't necessarily feel like I'm missing out on anything because I don't have anything else to compare it to, but it's certainly got me questioning my entire life! (Okay, not really though.) It's so fascinating to me that we can all read the same book and have such different experiences.

Can you visualize images?
Do books play like movies in your head?
Let me know in the comments!

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Audiobook Review: Sadie by Courtney Summers

Title: Sadie
Author: Courtney Summers
Publication Date: September 4, 2018
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Pages: 308
Add to Goodreads

A missing girl on a journey of revenge. A Serial―like podcast following the clues she's left behind. And an ending you won't be able to stop talking about.

Sadie hasn't had an easy life. Growing up on her own, she's been raising her sister Mattie in an isolated small town, trying her best to provide a normal life and keep their heads above water.

But when Mattie is found dead, Sadie's entire world crumbles. After a somewhat botched police investigation, Sadie is determined to bring her sister's killer to justice and hits the road following a few meager clues to find him.

When West McCray―a radio personality working on a segment about small, forgotten towns in America―overhears Sadie's story at a local gas station, he becomes obsessed with finding the missing girl. He starts his own podcast as he tracks Sadie's journey, trying to figure out what happened, hoping to find her before it's too late.

Courtney Summers has written the breakout book of her career. Sadie is propulsive and harrowing and will keep you riveted until the last page.

If you know me then you know I love podcasts. In fact, sometimes it's hard to break away from my favorite podcasts long enough to listen to whatever audiobook I have checked out of the library! So when I heard that Sadie was partially in the form of a true crime podcast investigating a missing person, I knew I had to pick it up!

Sadie does indeed follow a podcast host, West McCray, but that was a smaller part of the book than I'd hoped. The majority of this book follows Sadie on her journey to find the man who she thinks is responsible for her sister's death. I did find Sadie to be a great character and admired her dedication to bringing her sister's murderer to justice. Her story was heartbreaking and hard to read at times, and I was constantly rooting for her to get what she wanted, although her methods were questionable.

Unfortunately, this part of the book really wasn't for me simply because I don't enjoy contemporary fiction. So much of the story was about Sadie going from place to place, meeting different people, and getting to her goal that very little time was about the mystery. It took awhile to get going and there was definitely a lot of repetition in her travels. I definitely hoped for more of the true crime feel and the podcast and investigative journalism portions of the book were the standout.

Sadie should definitely come with trigger warnings for pretty much everything you can imagine - this is a book some readers will need to approach with caution. Overall, I did enjoy Sadie and most of my issues with it were simply because I'm not much of a contemporary reader and expected more mystery. Still, it's worth picking up if you enjoy podcasts and can handle the gritty nature of this story.

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Pondathon sign-up post and TBR

Pondathon is here! I had no idea what this was until I saw AJ mention it over at Read All the Things! and I immediately needed to know more. It turns out that this read-a-thon is unlike any I've ever seen before and it's AWESOME! The Pondathon is a co-operative and narrative-driven readathon that sounds so freaking cool! It runs from January 24th - March 7th. You can find the first post with all the details and the beginning of the story here!

In the Pondathon there are teams and each team has a unique ability and can do different things to earn points to save the pond. I joined Team Xiaolong because I am the worst mood reader I know and this team allows me to read as I normally would (but hopefully more)!

Each Pondathon participant can also create their own unique character to assist in the battle! Over the years an orange fox has become a bit of an unofficial mascot around and so my character only made sense!

I love my lil fox so much and I can't wait for her to help fight the battle to save the pond! Of course, it's kind of hard to create a TBR list when the only goal is to read, but I thought I'd share a few of the books I definitely want to read before the battle is over!


Are you participating in the Pondathon?
What character would you be?
Let me know in the comments!

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Top Ten Tuesday #270: Misleading covers

Today's Topic: 
Five Misleading Covers

Happy Tuesday! This week is all about deceptive covers. It always irks me when I pick up a book expecting something that seems obvious from the cover but find something totally different inside. It's definitely preferable when a book's image matches what's inside, but you know what they say about judging by covers!

I almost didn't even pick up Grace Year at all because of the pretty, pink cover. I assumed this was a contemporary romance and totally not my kind of read. Looking at the cover I never would have guessed that it's an absolutely brutal feminist dystopia novel that would be one of my favorites!

On the opposite end of the spectrum, I picked up Mirage because the cover just SCREAMS fantasy! I definitely was not expecting to end up reading a sci-fi romance. Not surprisingly, I did not love this one.

This cover isn't so much misleading as totally random. I absolutely adored A Curse So Dark and Lonely, but the thorns on the cover have seemingly nothing to do with the book itself. I probably wouldn't have made that choice for this particular series, but at least it's pretty.

Another pink book! Luckily, I knew exactly what to expect when I went to buy The Mercies, but if I wasn't sure what it was about I probably would have been really shocked by the horror story inside!

Finally, a book that hasn't been released yet. I've recently seen the author talking on Twitter about the fact that this book is contemporary fantasy and I wouldn't have known that based on the cover. I'm glad she said something because I would've been disappointed if I'd picked this up expecting high fantasy to match the cover!

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Weekly Recap: 1/19 - 1/25


Hi everyone! This week has thankfully been pretty calm compared to the last several. I spent the entire week dreading my upcoming wisdom teeth removal. Honestly, can someone just come make me soup every day and listen to me whine? I cannot express how much I do not want to go through with this awful procedure. Who even invented wisdom teeth, anyway? On Friday I went outside to run because the weather was nice and the weather app said zero percent chance of rain. Guess what happened when I was a mile away from home? :) Aside from those things, the last several days have been relatively nice. I caught up almost all the way with Supernatural finally! I can't believe that's coming to an end after all these years, but I'm so excited to see how the story ends!





The topic was recent additions for Top Ten Tuesday
Thursday audiobook review of The Toll
I shared a spooky story for Spine-tingling Saturday



I'm linking up to Stacking the Shelves & The Sunday Post!
Saturday, January 25, 2020

Spine-tingling Saturday #11: Something Walks Whistling

Happy Saturday, bookworms! Today I'm bringing back a (revamped) feature for my fellow horror lovers. If you've spent some time around the blog you may know that, despite the fact that I mostly review fantasy, I also have a deep love of horror.

In the past, Spine-tingling Saturdays were all about Reddit's NoSleep stories that I found to be particularly amazing and that's what you'll find in today's post. In the future, though, I plan to use this feature to discuss other stories from around the internet, as well as novellas, short stories, movies, and more. All things horror will live here! I haven't quite decided yet how often this feature will be posted, but stay tuned for more information. Without further ado, let's get into it.

The truth is, I fell out of love with NoSleep. I found that I was bored or underwhelmed with many of the stories and that's one of the reasons I stopped this feature over four years ago. But today I have a story to share that certainly did send shivers up my spine!

This story is about a child who lives in a neighborhood where everyone has the best luck, with one caveat: they also have a nighttime whistler they must never look at. Would curiosity get the best of you?


I enjoyed this story SO much because it feels almost like a Twilight Zone episode. I love that things are kept so purposefully vague and the fear comes from the sense of the unknown. The best kinds of scary stories are the kinds that reveal just enough, but not too much. I did find out that this writer has a list of stories and I definitely plan to check them all out!

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Audiobook Review: The Toll by Neal Shusterman

Title: The Toll (Arc of a Scythe #3) 
Author: Neal Shusterman
Publication Date: November 5, 2019
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Pages: 625
Add to Goodreads

Reviews for book 1 & book 2

It’s been three years since Rowan and Citra disappeared; since Scythe Goddard came into power; since the Thunderhead closed itself off to everyone but Grayson Tolliver.

In this pulse-pounding conclusion to New York Times bestselling author Neal Shusterman’s Arc of a Scythe trilogy, constitutions are tested and old friends are brought back from the dead.

When I jumped back into the Arc of a Scythe series a few weeks ago I didn't anticipate blowing through the last two books so quickly! Thunderhead was only a 3.5 star read for me, seeming a bit too long and drawn out, but the ending left me needing to know what happened next. I snagged the audiobook of the final installment and finished it in just a couple days.

The Toll follows separate timelines - the one that continues after Rowan and Citra's disappearance as well as the current timeline three years later. Immediately I was happy to see Faraday back in the spotlight after wondering for most of Thunderhead where he'd gone. His journey in particular was fascinating and heartbreaking and cemented him as probably my favorite character in this series. I also loved Grayson's story! Seeing him as the head of a religion he never really believed was definitely interesting.

Of course, Citra and Rowan needed an ending I did enjoy seeing the rest of their story unfold. I was absolutely on the edge of my seat to see how they would end up from the moment they were found at the start of the book! It would have been nice to see them together a bit more, though. Honestly, they aren't my favorite characters, but I was happy to see Citra continue to fight for what was best for the Scythedom, humanity, and herself. Her character growth has certainly been amazing.

Despite enjoying the characters' arcs all come to their conclusions, I still felt that this book, like the one before it, was just too long. I know most people adored it, but I wish the story had been a tiny bit tighter. I'm not sure why there are even more main characters being introduced in the final book of the series but that was one of the issues I had. Grayson is a great character, but the I didn't need the Tonist plot line to be quite so involved. I loved the way everything ended, but the journey meandered a little too much.

I can't say much more without spoilers, but I definitely enjoyed this series! I did have some issues with The Toll, but overall I was happy with how it wrapped up the series. If you've been searching for a good dystopian series and haven't picked this up yet, you definitely should!

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Top Ten Tuesday #269: Recent additions

Today's Topic: 
The Ten Most Recent
Additions to My Bookshelf

Happy Tuesday! This topic was a super easy one since all I had to do was take a glance back through my weekly recap posts! Recently I've added a lot more adult fantasy to my shelves. Although I haven't actually read many of these yet, I can't WAIT to get to Prince of Fools and Master of Sorrows! Have you read any of them? 

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Weekly Recap: 1/12 - 1/18


Hi everyone! This week has surprisingly been less busy for me. This year I've decided to make a work schedule and actually stick to it, which can be really difficult when you work from home. So far I've totally stuck to it and it has left me with weekends WIDE OPEN! What even do people do with so much free time?? I've been filling my time reading weird horror novellas and short stories. Is anyone, ANYONE into weird fiction? Do you have any weird horror recs? Because I NEED them! The Events at Poroth Farm was recommended to me but I didn't find it spooky enough to fit the brief. 

The strangest thing happened to me this week. Beginning last Friday afternoon I found myself randomly getting a spike in temperature of around 99 degrees F, while I usually run closer to 97.5. This was leaving me feeling fatigued and drained and then I would wake up sweating at night! THREE separate (older) women said maybe it's early menopause??? Like, I'm barely past my 20s! Alas, it seems to have been my body fighting something off because as of this Friday I'm back to normal. No more high temp, no more sweating. I have no idea what my body was fighting against, but hurray for that, I guess! Needless to say I broke out the vitamin C. Through all of that I didn't realize I was somehow sick and continued 10k training. Whoops!

In terrible news, I found out I absolutely have to get my wisdom teeth removed. I can't push it off anymore and I'm honestly dreading it so much. I have three tiny dogs to keep alive and I really don't want to deal with that while miserable. I am, however, getting the deepest sedation offered. Any tips for things I should buy or prepare before the day?






The topic was bookish discoveries for Top Ten Tuesday
Thursday audiobook review of Thunderhead
On Saturday I talked about the audiobook debate


I'm linking up to Stacking the Shelves & The Sunday Post!
Saturday, January 18, 2020

The great audiobook debate - Do they count?

I see this discussion come up on Twitter and Facebook every so often and it seems to be making a comeback. Certain people believe that audiobooks don't "count," especially towards reading goals like the Goodreads Challenge. The argument I see most often is that listening is fundamentally different from reading words on a page - but is it really?

To answer this question I took to the interwebs, searching for opinions and studies on this topic. By and large it seems like actual research points to physical copies and audiobooks being the same to our brains. Meanwhile, readers on social media constantly bicker over whether listening to audiobooks is "real" reading.

One study in 2016 found that there was no significant difference between audiobooks, e-books, or using both at once. The study concluded that "comparable comprehension and retention of text occur regardless of the modality of presentation."

Another study in 2019 showed similar results. According to these researchers, the same cognitive and emotional areas of the brain were stimulated regardless of whether the subject was reading a physical copy or listening to an audiobook. You can even check out the brain maps for yourself!

Personally, I listen to A LOT of audiobooks. I listen while I clean, while I work, drive, and shower. If there's no one else around and I'm not reading or watching TV, you can safely bet I'm listening to a book. And yes, you better believe they count towards my Goodreads goal! Trust me, if I'd had access to Hoopla in high school I would've been listening to my required reading!

I'm not sure why some people get so bent out of shape over audiobooks in place of reading physical copies of books. Both get the information into our brains and both let us fangirl over stories together, so why the superiority complex?

Do you think audiobooks count as reading?
Do count audiobooks towards your GR goal?
Let me know in the comments!

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Audiobook Review: Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman

Title: Thunderhead (Arc of a Scythe #2)
Author: Neal Shusterman
Publication Date: January 9, 2018
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Pages: 504
Add to Goodreads

Review for book 1

Rowan has gone rogue, and has taken it upon himself to put the Scythedom through a trial by fire. Literally. In the year since Winter Conclave, he has gone off-grid, and has been striking out against corrupt scythes—not only in MidMerica, but across the entire continent. He is a dark folk hero now—“Scythe Lucifer”—a vigilante taking down corrupt scythes in flames.

Citra, now a junior scythe under Scythe Curie, sees the corruption and wants to help change it from the inside out, but is thwarted at every turn, and threatened by the “new order” scythes. Realizing she cannot do this alone—or even with the help of Scythe Curie and Faraday, she does the unthinkable, and risks being “deadish” so she can communicate with the Thunderhead—the only being on earth wise enough to solve the dire problems of a perfect world. But will it help solve those problems, or simply watch as perfection goes into decline?

I read Scythe back in 2018 and really enjoyed it, even if I did find it a bit slow at times. I loved the characters and found the world of Scythes and the Thunderhead fascinating. Still, I wasn't super eager to dive back into this world because it really is just a lot. Finally, I got my hands on the audiobook and decided to give it a go... and somehow finished it in three days.

This book picks back up with Rowan, now Scythe Lucifer, ending corrupt scythes. Citra, along with Scythe Curie are worried about the New Order and try everything they can to figure out how to defeat them and their corruption. Also enter a new character, Grayson, who is set on a path unlike any he'd ever expected working in his own way to maintain order with the Thunderhead.

I loved the addition of Grayson. I enjoyed seeing him embrace every role he was thrown into. The Thunderhead also really grew on me, reminding me a bit of AIDEN from The Illuminae Files. The character growth in Citra and Rowan was fantastic - I love their relationship, doomed as it is. The New Order scythes were terrifying antagonists. The corruption of their power was scary to see and I can't imagine how that will look in the next book, but I can't wait to find out!

One thing I do really enjoy about this series is the politics of it. I'm sure it's no mistake that certain themes and situations seem to resonate so much. There are times that this book is downright scary in how easily I could see things reflected in our current environment. That's one of my favorite things about dystopia, even if it is a little terrifying.

All that being said, this book was A LOT. There is so much going on in this story that it's hard to keep up with at times. The Scythes, the Tonists, the New Order, the different Scythe factions, multiple islands and secrets and new characters - I can see why this book was over 500 pages. I do enjoy this series so much, but I did find it a bit overwhelming at times. And again, like the first book, I somehow found myself bored in places. If I had tried to read this instead of listening it probably would have taken me weeks to finish.

If you enjoyed Scythe, you'll definitely like this one too! I'm really hoping that now that all the pieces are in play, The Toll will be a bit more fast paced and less dense, even though it's quite a bit longer. I definitely can't wait to see how Citra and Rowan's story ends!

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Top Ten Tuesday #268: Bookish Discoveries

Today's Topic: 
Bookish Discoveries I Made In 2019

Happy Tuesday! This is definitely one of those open ended topics I dread every year, but hurray for me! I actually came up with things I discovered last year! Well, not so much discovered as discovered that I liked them because none of these are secrets. XD 

BOOKSLEEVES - Seriously, I had NEVER used a booksleeve before 2019. Like, I knew they existed, I just never thought I needed one. It turns out they are super useful!

ADULT FANTASY - Okay yes, I knew this existed too, but I discovered that I LIKE it! I haven't really reviewed many because I haven't gotten to them, but my TBR is filling up. Any recs?

TBR CARTS - Let's just go ahead and acknowledge that I've probably already known most of these existed, I guess. I just didn't realize their usefulness! And honestly the carts are just cute.

BOOK PAINTING - I LOVE IT! I have no artistic ability whatsoever but surprise! Painting pages takes zero ability as long as you put enough weight on the pages. It's so relaxing. I just have to try not to paint everything...

READING PARTIES - It only really happened the once, but I found out that reading with another person who is also reading is FUN! I shared a room with a friend for ALA this year and honestly sharing with another introvert is the only way to go.

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Weekly Recap: 1/6 - 1/11


Hi everyone! This has been a weird week but I did accomplish to read a few books! Getting back into the swing of things after the holiday season is always a bit wonky. I finally hit the treadmill after another week off and now I'm starting to get nervous about that upcoming 10k next month... Whoops! Hopefully I'll be able to prepare fully for it. Unfortunately I'm now finding myself in a bit of a reading slump with no ideas about how to get out of it. Yay, me!





The topic was anticipated 2020 reads for Top Ten Tuesday
ARC Review of A Heart So Fierce and Broken
On Saturday I asked what I should read for the Popsugar Challenge


I'm linking up to Stacking the Shelves & The Sunday Post!