Size Doesn’t Matter (122): All the Birds in the Sky; Paris for One and Other Stories; Talking as Fast as I Can

I received this book for free from ALA in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Size Doesn’t Matter (122): All the Birds in the Sky; Paris for One and Other Stories; Talking as Fast as I CanAll the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders
Published by Tor Books on January 26, 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Science Fiction
Pages: 320
Format: Hardcover
Source: ALA
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four-stars

From the editor-in-chief of io9.com, a stunning novel about the end of the world—and the beginning of our future

Childhood friends Patricia Delfine and Laurence Armstead didn't expect to see each other again, after parting ways under mysterious circumstances during high school. After all, the development of magical powers and the invention of a two-second time machine could hardly fail to alarm one's peers and families.

But now they're both adults, living in the hipster mecca San Francisco, and the planet is falling apart around them. Laurence is an engineering genius who's working with a group that aims to avert catastrophic breakdown through technological intervention into the changing global climate. Patricia is a graduate of Eltisley Maze, the hidden academy for the world's magically gifted, and works with a small band of other magicians to secretly repair the world's ever-growing ailments. Little do they realize that something bigger than either of them, something begun years ago in their youth, is determined to bring them together--to either save the world, or plunge it into a new dark ages.

A deeply magical, darkly funny examination of life, love, and the apocalypse.

All the Birds in the Sky easily takes the award for the weirdest book I’ve read so far in 2017. Sure it’s still only January, but it’s my 34th book of the year, so that’s not a totally meaningless award. I suspect it may hold that honor for a while too. In this case, I mean good weird, but weird all the same.

There are a few things you should probably know about this book. First, the writing is absolutely gorgeous. Something about the style, mood, and some thematic elements reminds me most of Stiefvater’s Raven Cycle. Don’t expect it to actually be anything like that plot or character-wise, but there’s something there.

Second, expect All the Birds in the Sky to take a while. The gorgeous writing’s one that I find best taken in small doses, savored rather than gulped. As with Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone books, most of the time, I couldn’t enjoy the book properly if I tried to read more than a chapter or two at once.

Third, All the Birds in the Sky doesn’t really have a plot until you pass page 200. All of a sudden, at about page 215, I gulped the end of the novel greedily. For about half of the book, Patricia and Laurence aren’t even adults. That’s one of the things I find odd about this title, though the plot, which is a sort of technology versus magic but also technology working with magic combo, is also strange.

It’s really hard to explain the magic of this one, but if you’re patient, I think it’s totally worth the time. One thing’s for sure: Anders is a massive talent.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

 

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Size Doesn’t Matter (122): All the Birds in the Sky; Paris for One and Other Stories; Talking as Fast as I CanParis for One and Other Stories by Jojo Moyes
Narrator: Fiona Hardingham, Jayne Entwistle, Susan Duerden, Olivia McKenzie-Smith, Katherine McEwan
Length: 5 hours, 45 mins
Published by Penguin Audio on November 1, 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Short Stories
Format: Audiobook
Source: Publisher
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two-half-stars

From the sensational #1 New York Times bestselling author Jojo Moyes, the perfect gift hardcover, timed for Christmas—a novella and short story collection never published before in the United States.

Nell is twenty-six and has never been to Paris. She’s never even been on a weekend away—to anywhere, and certainly not with her boyfriend. Everyone knows traveling abroad isn’t really her thing. But when Nell’s boyfriend fails to show up for their romantic mini-vacation, she has the opportunity to prove everyone—including herself—wrong. Alone and in Paris, Nell uncovers a version of herself she never knew existed: independent and intrepid. Adventurous, funny, and charming, Paris for One is vintage Moyes—as are the eight stories that round out the collection.

Jojo Moyes has consistently worked for me up to now. Grabbing the “full cast” audiobook was a no-brainer. Unfortunately, I’m reminded of why I have an aversion to short story collections.

Paris for One and Other Stories started off so well with the titular story. “Paris for One” is a completely adorable travel romance. Anxious, plan-oriented Nell arranges a spontaneous trip to Paris with her boyfriend because she’s never been. Only he stands her up. She ends up staying and meeting a cute French guy, and, while it’s totally instalovey, I was into it. If you’re into the old school rom coms, you would enjoy this story. Thankfully, it’s almost half of the book.

But then, the other stories happened. Everything else in the collection was either deeply strange or sad. Many of them are about housewives who are sick of their lives. It’s like Moyes is either writing sweet romances or the bleak after. That’s presumably something other people enjoy reading since literary fiction is full of affairs and ennui, but jesus am I not the target audience for that.

As an example of the weird, there’s a story about a jewelry store robbery and a romance between the female employee and one of the robbers. It’s pretty well crafted, but holy shit what even was that???

If you like Moyes for the ships, I’d stop after “Paris for One.” This collection was a high followed by a series of lows. It started with romance and then ended with disillusionment. That’s 3.5 stars for “Paris for One” and 2 stars for the rest.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

 

Size Doesn’t Matter (122): All the Birds in the Sky; Paris for One and Other Stories; Talking as Fast as I CanTalking as Fast as I Can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls (and Everything in Between) by Lauren Graham
Narrator: Lauren Graham
Length: 4 hrs, 38 minutes
Published by Random House Audio on November 29, 2017
Genres: Memoir
Format: Audiobook
Source: Publisher
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Goodreads
four-stars

In her first work of nonfiction, the beloved star of Gilmore Girls and Parenthood recounts her experiences on Gilmore Girls - the first and second times - and shares stories about life, love, and working in Hollywood. This collection of essays is written in the intimate, hilarious, and down-to-earth voice that made her novel, Someday, Someday, Maybe, a New York Times best seller.

"This book contains some stories from my life: the awkward growing up years, the confusing dating years, the fulfilling working years, and what it was like to be asked to play one of my favorite characters again. You probably think I'm talking about my incredible achievement as Dolly in Hello, Dolly! as a Langley High School junior, a performance my dad called 'you're so much taller than the other kids.' But no! I'm talking about Lorelai Gilmore, who, back in 2008, I wasn't sure I'd ever see again. Also included: tales of living on a houseboat, meeting guys at awards shows, and that time I was asked to be a butt model. A hint: all three made me seasick."

Often, my curiosity in a particular celebrity’s memoir is tied to how much I like one or more of their characters. That’s very much the case here. I wanted to listen to Talking as Fast as I Can because of how much I love Lorelai Gilmore. This totally could have been disappointing, but Graham has a lot in common with her best known character, and I had so much fun with her memoir.

I downed this 4.5 hour audiobook so quickly. Well, technically, it took me 4.5 hours, but I started it at like 11 pm, and I finished it the next afternoon right after work. That’s the audiobook version of unputdownable. I basically didn’t read any of my print books until I finished.

Lauren Graham is one of those people who I would listen to talk about paint drying or her grocery list. She’s funny and bright and reads with a lot of expression (duh, actress). It all feels very natural and like pure expression of her. And I totally want to be her best friend. She’s every bit as fun and silly and bantery as Lorelai Gilmore, and I love it.

For Gilmore Girls fan, Talking as Fast as I Can is not to be missed. Graham does a high level overview of what it was like to make the first seven seasons, even skim-rewatching all the episodes (something she doesn’t do) for the book. She also does a much more thorough dive into the recent addition. And, yes, Lauren Graham, THAT ENDING DOES SEEM MUCH MORE LIKE A CLIFFHANGER. PLEASE CONVINCE AMY SHERMAN-PALLADINO THAT THIS IS A PROBLEM. View Spoiler »

I highly recommend the audiobook version of this memoir for all Gilmore Girls fans. Other people too, but it might be frustrating how much of the book is about the show if you haven’t experienced/loved the show.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

 

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One response to “Size Doesn’t Matter (122): All the Birds in the Sky; Paris for One and Other Stories; Talking as Fast as I Can”

  1. All the Birds was a recommendation at an author signing I went to and I totally spaced it until now. Lol Sure does sound interesting!

    Aww… I’ve had the Jojo Moyes audiobook on hold at my library because she’s been reliable for me too. But I also have issues with short story collections so I’m thinking this won’t be working for me either.

    I’m reading Talking right now! With my eyes though. My friend got it for me for Christmas but I groaned when I found out Lauren narrates it. I do quite like it still.

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