Degrees of Affection

That Are Properly Due to Books. Compulsive bookworm and bibliophile.

Flunked (Fairy Tale Reform School # 1)

Flunked (Fairy Tale Reform School) - Jen Calonita

I'd had high hopes for this book and by the end...most were met. But for the first half or more, I found this to be cliche and a bit disappointing. Though that might be partially the fault of the audiobook. I had to give up on it slightly before half way and switch to the book; the narrator's voice made half of them sound like whiny teenagers. Now they may be just that but I will not listen to that if there's anyway to avoid it, so the audiobook had to go.


The country of Enchantasia (ha, ha - eye roll) is ruled by the famous princesses: Ella, Snow, Rose (Sleeping Beauty), and Rapunzel. Though Gottie (Rapunzel's villian...I think) and Alva (Sleeping Beauty's villian) are still loose, everyone is fairly safe and doing well - though the cobblers are in a downturn as Ella gave Glass Slipper creation rights to Fairy Godmothers. The rest of the villains are reformed. The Stepmonster (Flora), Wolfington (best not to mention Grandmother), Madam Cleo (the Sea Witch), and Harlow (Snow White's Evil Queen) live in an enchanted castle where they have turned their lives around and now help young people who are on the path to villainy.


Yep, they run Fairy Tale Reform School!

Their Mission: "To turn wicked delinquents and former villains into future heroes."

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Reading progress update: I've read 63%.

Flunked (Fairy Tale Reform School) - Jen Calonita

Well, called that. It was such an obvious plot twist...I mean really. 


If you stick a bunch of people formally known as villains in a castle together along with children that could become villains, what do you think will happen? Did nobody see this coming?!


"Once a villain, always a villain. Evil is coming and it can't be stopped. Enchantasia, beware...Fairy Tale Reform School will burn."


That was like, the least necessary foretelling ever.

(show spoiler)


The Game Believes In You: How Digital Play Can Make Our Kids Smarter

The Game Believes in You: How Digital Play Can Make Our Kids Smarter - Greg Toppo


This, this was amazing. People are doing amazing things out there and why haven't I heard about most of this before?! I've never been a fan of do your work and we'll let you play a game (though no I know why psychologically that's a bad idea), but I've long maintained that you can learn a lot from good media.

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An Unmarked Grave (Bess Crawford # 4) [Audiobook]

An Unmarked Grave: A Bess Crawford Mystery, Book 4 - Charles Todd, Rosalyn Landor, HarperAudio

I must admit that this is one of my favorite books of this series. The mystery isn't...there isn't one really. Oh, they look everywhere for the person who killed two people at the first and who keeps cleaning up anyone who's seen them, including Bess. But there aren't really clues to follow for the reader; Bess and others merely chase after likely candidates.


So why do I like this book so much?

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Reading progress update: I've read 31%.

The Game Believes in You: How Digital Play Can Make Our Kids Smarter - Greg Toppo

Yeah, I'm going to have to buy this book. When you are highlighting paragraph after paragraph until half the book is bookmarked, it's time to accept the inevitable. Besides, I can't take everything in with only one read.


Each chapter discusses a particular game teachers or educations are experimenting with. In all cases I've read so far, the results are really promising. My favorite so far as been Classcraft.

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A Bitter Truth [Bess Crawford # 3] (Audiobook)

A Bitter Truth: A Bess Crawford Mystery - Charles Todd, Rosalyn Landor, HarperAudio


I'd forgotten my love/hate relationship with this one. I still love Bess (mostly, more below) as well as most of the book. The mystery is actually really interesting and the clues are there but very hard to find.


Sadly, we see little of her family though. Simon makes a few great appearances as if to soften the blow, but IMO only serves to show what could have been.


I blame it all on Lydia. What is it with women named this in literature being selfish idiots! (Literature only, I knew two real life Lydias and they are lovely women.)

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An Impartial Witness [Bess Crawford Mystery # 2] (Audiobook)

An Impartial Witness (Audio) - Charles Todd, Rosalyn Landor

I do love this series!


After being introduced to Bess Crawford  and the world around her during WWI in A Duty to the Dead, we find her transporting long term wounded to England. One of her charges is a horribly burned pilot who clings to a picture of his wife as he also clings to life. So Bess easily recognizes her on a crowded train platform in London, crying and begging a stony-faced soldier returning to the front. It's not until she's back in France that Bess learns she may have been the last person to recognize her before she was murdered. In attempting to do her duty as an impartial witness, Bess gets drawn into a situation between two families and friends who are full of deception, anger, hatred, and secrets.

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The Mental Floss History of the World: An Irreverant Romp Through Civilization's Best Bits

The Mental Floss History of the World: An Irreverent Romp Through Civilization's Best Bits - Steve Wiegand, Erik Sass, Johny Heller, Tantor Audio

A big thanks goes to Murder by Death for introducing me to this book. When I saw one of my library's digital services offering the audiobook of this, I had to give it a try.


I am sadly remiss in my knowledge of World History with some minor exceptions, so I found this book's overview (tinged with humor) perfect. It's packed full of information, but written with the average reader in mind. This made it perfect for listening to while doing other things. I actually had to stop the audio as my focus was ensnared too much at times. There is often a tongue in cheek aspect to the writing and the narrator delivered every line perfectly.


One of my favorite elements of the book were the side boxes (or asides as they manifested on the audiobook) that focused on specific elements, going more in depth into key facts. One I always looked forward to was a list of numbers comparing things like world population, city sizes, etc.


This is a must reread and I'll probably end up getting it from Audible. Hopefully, their American History is just as good.

An Edible History of Humanity (Audiobook) [DNF] -

An Edible History of Humanity - Tom Standage, George K. Wilson


This was...horrible. I don't know that I can put into words how I feel about this book, though I've tried during rants to three different people about (eye twitch)


So sorry, but you're the fourth (fifth, sixth, etc). Hopefully by now I have things lined out in a somewhat understandable way.

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Behind the Palace Doors: Five Centuries of Sex, Adventure, Vice, Treachery, and Folly from Royal Britain

Behind the Palace Doors: Five Centuries of Sex, Adventure, Vice, Treachery, and Folly from Royal Britain - Michael Farquhar, James Langton

I've long had my eye on Farquhar's books but his recent Secret Lives of the Tsars was the first I actually read. It really impressed me, more than I'd thought it would, so when I saw this on Hoopla, I had to give it a try because...well Tudors and Hapsburgs = extremely interesting.


Perhaps it's the fact that I knew many of the facts or maybe his writing style has gotten better but while it was good, it didn't wow me.


Many of the monarchs and their families are well known to most of us. Certainly the Henry the VIII section held nothing new as well as most of the Georges (mostly because I read The Royal Experiment last year). Yet there was still many fun facts and I did like the focus on the of the queens and kings' lives.


The writing is nothing elaborate, making it easy to read/listen to and accessible to most readers. I enjoy his books at least partially because they are good ways to find sections of history that speak to you and/or people you want to learn more about.


One major issue I had though was his focus on Wallis Simpson and her supposedly "interesting" aspects of her relationship with Prince Edward. While I've never read much into their history, more what went on around them, the ones I have almost always stated those rumors were false. Personally, I feel paying attention to them is giving them what they wanted, so I purposefully leave them alone.


Still, a good read and served to remind me how much I still need to read concerning British history.

Not really a review, more a note

A Scandal in Bohemia - A Sherlock Holmes Graphic Novel - Petr Kopl

The graphic novel wouldn't load. o.0


I really want to read this, so I'm going to have to track down a physical copy (sorry Kindle but I can't trust you with this). The artwork, one single portrait of Holmes, looks really good and quite distinctive. I'm interesting to see Kopl's retelling.


While the comic didn't appear, several notes and appendixes did. I found the author's thoughts on Sherlock Holmes himself, as well as the "real" relationship between him and Irene Adler well worth reading.


They almost made up for the missing comic.


Reading progress update: I've read 13%.

The Game Believes in You: How Digital Play Can Make Our Kids Smarter - Greg Toppo

I know it's only one percent but I this just astounded me. I had to save it here and share.


This is a quote comparing Moore's Law and what's changed in microchips to the same level of change (hypothetically) in cars:


"What they found is nothing short of breathtaking: if cars had matched microchips' improvements in speed, the typical car would now go 6 million miles per hour, getting you from New York to San Francisco in 1.7 seconds, or to the moon and back in 5 minutes. As for efficiency, it would now travel 100,000 miles on a gallon of fuel, or from New York to San Francisco on a half cup of gasoline. The price for such a magic car? Nine dollars, Lazowska (Ed Lazowska of University of Washington) and his colleagues calculated, which is probably just as well - given its miniaturization curve since 1970, you couldn't find the car in your driveway. It would be about as big as the head of a match." p. 29

Kamisama Kiss Vol 18 - Cliffhangers are evil

Kamisama Kiss, Vol. 18 - Julietta Suzuki

So, we should be in the home stretch. I've read that this is to be the final arc of the series and while I really enjoy this manga, I think it's best to leave them still wanting more than begging you to end. (I'm looking at YOU Inuyasha!) But then I reached the end of this and died a little inside. It's not going to be easy, is it Julietta Suzuki? Just when things were looking so well.


NOTE: As this is Vol 18 and takes place just after an arc ended, there are MAJOR SPOILERS ahead. Consider yourself warned.



So Nanami has returned from time traveling (the right way, not crazy jumping down wells for this chick. And a closed time loop to boot, I love this series) and everything is great. Tomoe's curse is lifted, he's confessed his feelings for her, and our dear shrine god even has the chance to finally go on a school trip. So perhaps no one should blame her for wandering through life looking like this.


Except that she's failing school and also seems completely oblivious to the fact that Tomoe and she are COMPLETELY NOT COMMUNICATING! Dear lord, it's pathetic. I want him to sit her down and explain to her (in small words as apparently she can't get the memo) that the snake is not okay and she needs to ignore basically everything he says. Argh. Mikage isn't much better, at times he really comes through and others he just watches with this knowing smile on his face. Grr.


However, there are several touching moments. Tomoe works to learn English and other problematic areas as he's now committed to living with her in the human world. His tenacity urges Nanami to reciprocate and when these two click, it's beautiful.


However, there is no rest for the wicked, therefore there's no rest for them either. Kirihito (Akura-oh) is stepping up his efforts to gain his true body from the land of the dead as the borrowed human body is failing. Because of this (and Nanami's admittedly recurring idiocy) the group, and especially Ami, are pulled into a dangerous situation. Nanami's secret and the truth of what Tomoe, Kurama, and others comes out and by the time the volume ends, things are looking very dicey.

(show spoiler)

Hopefully the wait for 19 won't be as long as this one.


Reading progress update: I've read 12%.

The Game Believes in You: How Digital Play Can Make Our Kids Smarter - Greg Toppo

Early video games (Pong and Spacewar!) were hacks programs shared with each other (freeware anyone?). Spacewar! was later included in PDP-1 computer models to test whether the display and computer had synced properly. "Long before most of us knew about carpal tunnel syndrome, all-night players complained of 'Spacewar! elbow'."


The idea of using video games for education purposes makes a lot of sense to me and the author has pointed out something I hadn't thought of. Video games give the statistical data standardize testing proponents love.


Food for thought...

Reading progress update: I've read 80 out of 257 pages.

Flunked (Fairy Tale Reform School) - Jen Calonita

I hadn't planned to start another book as I've stalled a bit on the game one. As the audiobook of this was languishing on my checked out list while I flew through the Bess Crawford books, I decided to focus on this first before checking out the next one.


Except that the narrator made me want to throw my device across the room!


I get what she was trying to do and she did get the main character's attitude down well. However, it put such a whiny teenager slant to her voice, almost dipping into something recalling Valley Girl to me oddly enough at times that I couldn't take it. Poor LL finally couldn't take it and had to comment. That was all the push I needed to turn it off.


But I'd held on because I liked the story and the idea. I even liked Gilly and I don't tend to like "good" thief main characters (Robin Hood being the only exception). So we're on take 2 and I'll see how I do with the ebook.


Is it me or am I getting bad vibes from the Stepmonster?

2016 Audiobook Challenge - Let's try this again

You can sign up here.


Though I threw in the towel last year on all my challenges, I'm going to try at least this one again. I do love listening to audiobooks and I like keeping track of how many I read in a year. I think I'll go with Binge Listener this year and see where I go from there.


The rules etc. are below:


reading challenge details:

  • Runs January 1, 2016 – December 31, 2016. You can join at any time.
  • The goal is to find a new love for audios or to outdo yourself by listening to more audios in 2016 than you did in 2015.
  • Books must be in audio format (CD, MP3, etc.)
  • ANY genres count.
  • Re-reads and crossovers from other reading challenges are allowed.
  • You do not have to be a book blogger to participate; you can track your progress on Goodreads, Shelfari, Booklikes, Facebook, LibraryThing, etc.
  • If you’re a blogger grab the button (on the sidebar) and do a quick post about the challenge to help spread the word. If you’re not a blogger you can help by posting on Facebook or Tweeting about the challenge.


  • Newbie (I’ll give it a try) 1-5
  • Weekend Warrior (I’m getting the hang of this) 5-10
  • Stenographer (can listen while multi-tasking) 10-15
  • Socially Awkward (Don’t talk to me) 15-20
  • Binge Listener (Why read when someone can do it for you) 20-30
  • My Precious (I had my earbuds surgically implanted) 30-50
  • Marathoner (Look Ma no hands) 50+


Books I've Read This Year:


  1. Star Wars Dark Empire
  2. Star Wars Dark Empire II
  3. A Duty to the Dead
  4. An Impartial Witness
  5. A Bitter Truth
  6. An Unmarked Grave
  7. A Brief History of Holiday Music
  8. Sherlock Holmes - The First Great Detective
  9. Uncle John's Bathroom Reader (the audio)
  10. Modern Scholar - World War I

Currently reading

If Walls Could Talk: An Intimate History of the Home
Lucy Worsley, Anne Flosnik
Progress: 210/564 minutes
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, Book 1
J.K. Rowling, J.K. Rowling, Jim Dale
Progress: 29/513 minutes
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
J.K. Rowling
Progress: 18/223 pages
The Great Detective: The Amazing Rise and Immortal Life of Sherlock Holmes
Zach Dundas

S.'s quotes

Goodreads Quotes