“Holidays on Ice” by David Sedaris

Whenever I write a review of a book I listened to, the review becomes a reflection of my experience listening to the story told to me rather than my thoughts on the story. I always have to start with such a reflection because listening to audiobooks is still a new experience for me, one that I’m surprised I’ve stuck with for so long and have taken a liking to.

I would never have thought of myself as an avid listener of audiobooks, but the format is growing on me, especially since I mostly listen to it at work and most of my duties there are dull and repetitive so I look for other things to engage my mind. I surprised myself that I’m able to pay attention to and remember what’s said. I’m a visual learner and I struggle sometimes to focus when only listening, but it seems that my increasingly frequent use of audiobooks is training me to learn and remember things in a different way.

Unfortunately, this new turn in my learning development is slow and happened after I read Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris.

Genre:

Nonfiction – Humor, essays

Pubbed:

December 1997

Goodreads synopsis:

It’s hard to describe David Sedaris to those who’ve never read him. Mixing autobiographical details with sharp sarcasm and social commentary, Sedaris can probably best be described as a ’90s version of brilliant humorist Jean Shepherd (who did his own scathing take on the holiday season with the film A Christmas Story).

Sedaris’ essays and stories are at once hilarious, heartbreaking, and thought-provoking. His new anthology, Holidays on Ice, collects three previously released stories and essays and offers three brand-new ones; all revolve around Christmas. “SantaLand Diaries,” which originally appeared in “Barrel Fever,” leads off the collection and may be Sedaris’s best-known work. A laugh-out-loud-hysterical look at Sedaris’s experiences working as an elf in SantaLand in Macy’s, the story is a wickedly funny slicing-and-dicing of the holiday season and the good cheer that supposedly accompanies it. His dark humor is exactly what you need when you’re getting sick of all the fuss about Christmas. (Goodreads)

My thoughts:

I began listening to Holidays on Ice last year April and didn’t complete it until this past February. I’d often heard of David Sedaris and how funny his books are, but humor isn’t my thing. I don’t gravitate toward books that make me laugh and hardly watch comedies, which is weird because I love to laugh and laugh a lot.

It wasn’t until I heard part of “Santaland Diaries,” one of the stories from the collection in which Sedaris talks about working as an elf at Macy’s, on This American Life (I think, I was listening to NPR that day) that I decided to purchase the book. When I started reading, I realized what I loved most about the story was listening to Sedaris tell it. His performance, tone, and singing made the story much more humorous; so I borrowed the audiobook from the library and kept doing so for the rest of 2018 into 2019.

It’s not that the audiobook or the collection of stories is horrible. They’re not. The stories and Sedaris’s narration of them is amazing, funny, and entertaining. But I took months to complete it because I wasn’t in the mood for it. It wasn’t until Christmastime that the right mood for it hit and I was able continue with the audiobook. This should have been obvious to me, but I was convinced that it shouldn’t matter when I read a particular book.

Of course, Christmas is the theme for all the stories but minus the good cheer. Often the stories focus on disgruntled people who do not have a care for Christmas, but through them, the stories provide biting criticism of the holiday and the antics of people at that time of year. The stories will make you pause, amid laughs, to wonder at the intention of the holiday and what it has become (maybe), but probably not for long as you’re compelled to continue listening to hear what other zany thing Sedaris will talk about to make you burst out laughing.

Because of my long pauses between listening sessions, the details I remember aren’t clear. What I do remember is that I enjoyed listening to the stories, laughed out loud most of the time, and loved Sedaris’s performance. I thought the story by his sister was great too. Here are my favorites:

“SantaLand Diaries” – about Sedaris working as an elf at Macy’s

“Christmas Means Giving” – about the underlying selfishness of selfless gestures around Christmastime

Overall: ★★★★☆

Yea, it took me a long time to read it and I don’t remember much other than that I enjoyed it and consider 2 of the 12 stories favorites, but I think it’s a good read and one best to listen to around Christmastime. It’s darkly comedic and cynical and sure to make you laugh. I enjoyed listening to Sedaris narrate it, and I think listening to the audiobook is the best way to experience the stories.

Buy | Borrow | Bypass

I intend to listen to it again at Christmastime this year.

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“The Little Red Wolf by Amélie Fléchais” (illus.), transl. by Jeremy Melloul

The first picture book I read this year gives me a story about a little wolf in a red cloak travelling through the wood to visit his grandmother.

What does that remind you of?

Genre:

Children’s fantasy

Pubbed:

June 2014

Quick overview:

The Little Red Wolf is a children’s picture book that’s inspired by Charles Perrault’s fairytale Little Red Riding Hood.

It was originally published in French but was translated to English by Jeremy Melloul. The English version was published in October 2017. (Goodreads)

My thoughts:

I didn’t know what I was getting into when I borrowed this book from the library, but I was delighted by what I read. I became aware of the book through booktube so when I saw it at the library, I grabbed it.

The Little Red Wolf gives us a Little Red Riding Hood story with a twist — it’s from the perspective of a wolf. I don’t believe that’s a spoiler since you can deduce that much from the cover. It’s a sweet, charming tale about a little wolf travelling through the forest to his grandmother’s home to bring her some food since she has lost all her teeth and can no longer hunt.

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Comics Roundup #28: Baba Yaga & a Dam Keeper

It’s been a while since I’ve posted a review of a comic book. Actually, it’s been a while since I’ve read a comic book. I haven’t done so since October last year. Well, I’ll rectify that with this post.

Here I have two graphic novels. The first is a YA fantasy story about a girl seeking the witch from folklore, Baba Yaga, because she no longer feels welcome at home, and the second continues a middle-grade fantasy story about a pig who manages his town’s dam to keep back a deadly black fog.


Baba Yaga’s Assistant by Marika McCoola, illus. by Emily Carroll

Genre:

YA fantasy

Pubbed:

August 2015

Quick overview:

When Masha sees an advertisement for an assistant position with the fearful witch from folklore, Baba Yaga, she decides to apply. Masha had recently lost her beloved grandmother, her source of love and support, leaving her with just her dad, who has found a new family.

Masha grew up listening to her grandmother’s stories about Baba Yaga, so she doesn’t balk at answering the advertisement and seeking out the witch. Afterall, Masha reasons, Baba Yaga may be a witch, “but she’s a grandma too.”

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Top Ten Tuesday #38: 2019 Spring TBR

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme that was created and hosted by The Broke and the Bookish but is now managed by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s topic:

Books on My Spring 2019 TBR

For me, a TBR list often becomes a list of books I really want to read and tell myself to read but never actually read. So here are the books I probably won’t read this spring.

Umm…so I’m gonna cheat a little and list the books I’m currently reading. This way, I’m guaranteed to complete at least half the books on this TBR within the given time.

Currently Reading:

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“Behind the Canvas” by Alexander Vance

I forgot where I first heard of this book. It must have been on a booktube channel or while perusing Book Outlet for books to buy. It’s weird, but a few of the books on my Goodreads TBR were added because I saw them on Book Outlet but didn’t want to purchase them at the time. Basically, I was drawn to them because of the cover or, in this case, the title.

I love art and enjoy visiting art museums. I’ve often thought it would be cool to read a fantasy novel where the protagonist has to enter paintings and pictures; so when I saw the title of this book and read the synopsis, I got excited. It’s the type of story I’ve daydreamed about.

Genre:

Middle-grade fantasy

Pubbed:

2016

Quick overview:

Behind the Canvas is a stand-alone middle-grade fantasy novel about a girl named Claudia Miravista who loves art but has no close friends. While on a fieldtrip to a local art museum in her hometown in Illinois, she notices a boy with bright blue eyes in a painting. But when she points him out to two of her classmates, she realizes he has disappeared.

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“Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow” by Jessica Townsend

Thinking Nevermoor was probably overhyped, I avoided reading it for as long as I could. But the book is mentioned so often by bloggers and booktubers I follow that I got curious. It wasn’t until I read the Captain’s review of it that I decided to give the book a try.

I placed the book on hold at my library, which had it on order, and was glad that I was first in line to receive it. I began reading as soon as I got it and was immediately sucked in. I enjoyed visiting Nevermoor.

Genre:

Middle-grade fantasy

Series:

Nevermoor, book 1

Pubbed:

2017

Quick overview:

Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow is a middle-grade fantasy novel about a girl, Morrigan, who everyone believes is cursed because she was born on Eventide, an unlucky day to be born. Children born on this day are blamed for everything that goes wrong within their vicinity…or town. (Morrigan is blamed for every misfortune.) It’s also said that cursed children don’t live past age 11 because they die at midnight on their 11th birthday when the Hunt of Smoke and Shadow comes after them. (Morrigan dreads this.)

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“Blood of Dragons” by Robin Hobb

And here we are at last: The final installment of the Rain Wilds Chronicles in which we see dragons return to Robin Hobb’s fantastic world. It’s been an exciting experience reading this book and learning about how dragons function in this world and who exactly the Elderlings are.

Blood of Dragons wraps up the Rain Wild Chronicles while leaving some plot threads untouched, hinting at more to come in other books. My buddy-reader for Hobb’s books, Emily at Embuhlee liest, and I plan to jump into the next stack of books – Fitz and the Fool trilogy – soon. But for now, here are my thoughts on the last installment of the Rain Wilds Chronicles.

Genre:

Fantasy

Series:

Rain Wild Chronicles, book 4
Realm of the Elderlings, book 13

Pubbed:

2013

Goodreads synopsis:

The dragons’ survival hangs in the balance in the thrilling final volume in the acclaimed River Wilds Chronicles fantasy series.

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