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What I'm Reading/Watching/Playing March

 Whoohoo! Look at me getting this up at the end of the month instead of several months late! 


Morning Star (Red Rising Book #3) by Pierce Brown

This was everything I could have wanted for the ending of this trilogy. Honestly, this series is one of the best things I have read in years. It continued to surprise me and I absolutely couldn't put it down. I thought about it all the time when I wasn't reading it, and I texted John my reactions repeatedly throughout my reading of the entire series. The world-building, the technology, the plot, the characters both good and bad, the was all incredible. If you like sci-fi even a little bit, you should read this series NEXT.

The Three-Body Problem by Liu Cixin

This was a puzzling book, kind of slow and not what I was expecting. It reminds me of some of the Ender books, and the characters are not very sympathetic--in fact, it kinda seems like they're all bad guys.. It was interesting, but I didn't particularly like it as a story. Maybe if I was more into math and physics? I read it because it's been hyped recently in the world of sci-fi reading, but I'm not sure exactly why. I don't particularly recommend it. (I just realized that this is the first in a four book series...I'm tempted to give the next book a chance but I probably will just read some spoilers. This style of book is just not for me.)

Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain

This non-fiction memoir of the late globe-trotting chef Anthony Bourdain was entertaining and refreshingly non-political. This is his first book, from before he actually became a globe-trotting t.v. host, and is a restaurant business exposé in the best, grittiest, most blatant way possible. There was a lot of lingo about cooking that I only sorta understood, but between having waited tables in college and high school and having watched all the seasons of Top Chef and Chopped with Gunnar, my background knowledge let me muddle through the jargon pretty well. Recently my mom was shocked at my very politically incorrect statement that people who work in restaurants are flipping crazy and often stupid (myself included) but if she reads this book, she would understand EXACTLY what I meant by that. That business attracts a certain type of lifestyle, which attracts a certain type of person, often on the more wild side. Not everyone, of course, but enough to make working in a restaurant a sort of adventure all it's own. There are tons of really fun, awesome people in the restaurant business, but it is indeed a crazy business.

I listened to this via audiobook, which is read by Bourdain himself. He is a great reader, passionate and forceful, with a good voice, but hearing him was also...a bit melancholy. His recent suicide makes the darker parts of his life and personality stand out in stark contrast to the wild and funny bits. One chapter, in which he describes dispassionately, even scathingly, his lack of empathy for a chef whose employee killed himself after being fired was...haunting, honestly. 

I've never really watched much of his t.v. show, but I am interested in reading his other books sometime. The chapter about his trip to Tokyo was one of the best in the book and I can see why he did end up as the host of a show like Parts Unknown. Overall, this was worth a read, and I'm going to encourage Gunnar to read it eventually too since he has an interest in cooking. 

An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green

So firstly, all the characters in this book talk like Hank Green. I know this because I have been a casual viewer of Hank and his brother John's Youtube Channel since the early days of the VlogBrothers back in the early-mid 2000's, and I even met them at a book signing back in college. He talks in quick choppy pop-culture saturated sentences, sprinkling in science and data as needed to make his point. I didn't mind this, but if you don't like Hank's rapid-fire storytelling in his videos, then you might not like this book. 

That said, the narrative was enjoyable and interesting, though it was definitely MORE about social media and fame (obviously pulled from Hank's own experiences in the industry)

I checked out the second audiobook from the library, so I'll probably give it a listen soon.

The Assassins' Apprentice (The Farseer Saga Book #1) by Robin Hobb

I liked this was a pretty generic mid-90's fantasy book. I've heard a lot of people hype this as one of their favorites (like Daniel Green on Youtube) but it wasn't that special. The main character is kind of unremarkable and doesn't seem to have very much agency or do much of his own volition, just going along with things as they come for the most part until the very end. (The end gives me hope that he will be more interesting in future books.) I do already own the second and third ones though, so I will read them soonish. 

Axiom's End by Lindsay Ellis

I LOVED this! I watch and enjoy Lindsay's Youtube Channel (her dive into the horrifying world of Omegaverse Fanfiction was an amazing though NSFW look at a very niche romance/fanfic genre, and her Hobbit Movie critiques are totally worth a watch!) but after Hank Green's book, I didn't have super high hopes for this and I actually had no idea what it was about. In case you want to know, it is about an aimless young woman, daughter of a pseudo "Wikileaks" founder, who encounters a real live alien--not the wacky fun kind, but the seriously different, intelligent and capable kind. The main character Cora was realistic in her actions and reactions, smart and still sympathetic. 

The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow

Okay I'm not going to lie, this was a DNF (did not finish). I HATED it. I'm not going to say it's a bad book or anything, in fact the premise was cool (Witches + Victorian Suffragettes + Salem + Arthurian Legend = all things I like!) and I'm sure a lot of people do really like it, but for me it just hit waaay too many of my pet peeves for a book. I hated the present tense narration.  I hated the characters names. (The alliteration. The botany theme, the plethora of nicknames, the entire "secret mother names" thing.) Also the narrative tone was just...not something I liked at all. I also didn't like the characters, and I'll admit I've never really seen/read any alternative history stories and liked them. So after a week of torturing myself and trying to read this book, I finally set it aside and moved on. Whew! 


Naruto Kai (Abridged Version)

Back in high school, my friends and I (and our entire Anime Club) were obsessed with Naruto. We watched, we read, we cosplayed. John had a subscription to Shounen Jump so we were always up to date with the latest English comics, and after that we bought/borrowed/downloaded the comics. John has read the entire series, I have read about 85% of the series and a newbie! 

Gunnar, however, is of the uninitiated. He knew what Naruto was and had probably seen a little about it here or there, but he never really watched or read the series. 

This version, "Naruto Kai" is a fansubbed and fan-edited version that cuts out ALL FILLER including the opening and closing themes, any recaps or next-time-ons and any episodes or arcs that were not in the comics. It's really cool! The entire thing is around 80 episodes, each one between 1 and 2 hours long, but they aren't divided up in any particular way so we start and stop an episode based on any natural breaks in the story rather. 

We did look up the "top 10 best filler arcs" and plan to watch those on Netflix for fun as we go through the series. 

We are really enjoying it! The whole thing brings back so many funny memories of high school and my old Anime Club and all our friends and conventions, and the story is fun too of course. There's a reason it was (and is) so beloved by people of all ages. Watching it as an adult and a parent (and an adult martial artist as well) adds a different perspective. It's a fun, easy thing to watch in what's been a stressful, busy month!



Terraforming Mars

Again!  I think we played this game three times this month! It was great!  And John got me some cool acrylic overlays for the player boards to keep all of the little counters from sliding around while we play. It's great! 

Also, we are packing! Yesterday we closed on our first house, and the moving truck is coming in 2 weeks! We are SO excited and yet SO SO SO busy! 

Here we are all in front of the new house!