The Hub – April

Signs of fatigue showed up during month number three of Hub reading. Not so much from this challenge as all reading challenges in general. Because of course, I’m being forced into participating and aren’t allowed to read other books. That being said, I read a good mix of books this month, with Every Heart a Doorway being my favorite (can’t wait to read the sequels as they come out). I did not have any DNF books in April, so that was also a plus.

March: Book Three by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell
I had this book sitting on my shelf for more than a month before I sat down to read it. I knew it would be amazing (and it was), but I also knew it would be painful. It is unfathomable to me how people can be so cruel, and how we really haven’t progressed much. The graphic format makes it so much more powerful than words would alone.

 

The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey
This was a well-written and intriguing book, but it was not for me. I am not a fan of horror or the grotesque, and have a low threshold for both – the monsters were proper monsters. It was creepy, and at times, gory, but never gratuitously. The narrative was solid – as seen through the traumatized eyes of a young boy, who was the apprentice of the titular monstrumologist. Aspects of the plot brought up interesting philosophical questions regarding humanity and science.

When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore
McLemore is a fantastic storyteller, with aspects of her style reminding me of Neil Gaiman. Moon was lyrical with a dreamy cadence, and a dash magical realism. The focus was more on the characters and their individual struggles as opposed to a cohesive plot, so at times it could be hard to follow exactly what was going on. However, it was a beautiful story about both self-acceptance and loving others unconditionally.

The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge
I think I would have liked this book more if I hadn’t skipped to the ending to see what happened. What I thought would be the plot trajectory turned out to be only a subplot. And I know I would have enjoyed the book more if Faith Sunderly’s father hadn’t been such a raving, abusive asshole. His behavior put such a pall on the rest of the book, that it was hard to appreciate the clash between changing scientific views and societal struggles, and the small dip into the magical.

Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire
I love fairy tales, and I love Alice in Wonderland, and both are mashed up in Every Heart, looking at what happens when the children who stepped through the portal or went down the rabbit hole return to the normal world. It’s weird and painful because of the crushed dreams and unlikely hopes of such children, and the lengths some of them will go to in order to regain their alternate lives.

Lowriders to the Center of the Earth by Cathy Camper and Raul the Third
I will start with the fact that I am not the demographic this graphic novel is geared towards. If I review it based purely on my connection to it, then my response would be negative. If I review it based upon the fact that if the right child/teen read this and found a connection to lowriders and tricking out cars, then it would be a great choice. From that standpoint, it’s accessible with a subculture that isn’t often represented in books.

Scythe by Neal Shusterman
I made the mistake of not writing my thoughts down when I finished Scythe,  so about all I remember is that I liked it enough that I will read the sequel when it comes out. I enjoy books that take the prevalent system in the story and then have the main character learn about and try to expose the rot and corruption of that system. Of Citra and Rowan, I prefer Rowan. He is more firmly placed in the moral gray zone than Citra, which makes him more interesting.

Emmas’ Read Harder 2017

This year, I managed to complete Read Harder in record time – early April instead of high summer. As with previous years, the prompts were diverse and interesting. Some were easy, such as task 12: Fantasy novel, and some were the bane of my book hunting, such as task 23: Poetry in translation, not about love. All in all though, the tasks promoted a good mix of books, many of which I would never have read otherwise.

Emma’s Read Harder 2016
Emma’s Read Harder 2015

Favorites

*The Long Walk: A Story of War and the Life That Follows by Brian Castner
(task 14: About war)
My husband has been after me to read this book since it was first published, and I’m ashamed to say that it took me this long to get around to reading it. The whole book felt surreal. In part because it’s not written on a straight timeline – the narrative moves fluidly though past and present, fractured because Castner was fractured. And in part because I know some of the people mentioned in the book. My husband has worked with people mentioned in the book; he has been to some of their funerals. Castner brings a different perspective, but also reinforces, what I know of my husband’s experiences.

*Hunter by Mercedes Lackey
(task 12: Fantasy novel)
After 27 years of reading fantasy novels, this was the first Mercedes Lackey novel I have ever read. A bit shocking really, given how prolific a writer she is. I loved the intersection of post-apocalypse and magic; how old world technology and terminology have been repurposed and used in conjunction with magic. For all that it’s fantasy, it’s political as well with a huge government conspiracy. Joy is a strong character, and not hot-headed. I had to force myself to not listen to the sequel right away since I want to finish my book challenges first.

*Tetris: The Games People Play by Box Brown
(task 13: Nonfiction about technology)
I chose this book because it looked to be a fast read and because my sister recommended it. I’ve read another graphic nonfiction by Box Brown, and was unimpressed to say the least with both the writing and illustration style. However, my sister was right, and Tetris was an engrossing book. I ended up reading it in one session because it was fascinating – how Tetris was invented, how it made its way out of the USSR, the legal fight between competing game producers, and how Tetris finally became so ungodly popular. Be aware that the book starts with a history of Nintendo before moving on to focus on Tetris. I’m assuming this was to both set the stage for Tetris domination, and because Nintendo was the company that ended up victorious.

Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova
(task 19: Character of color goes on spiritual journey)
This is a book I heard about, read the description, and then told myself it looked interesting, but it wouldn’t be something I read. Thank you Book Riot for making this category, because without it, I would have never read it. Labyrinth Lost was rich and detailed, and the bruja religion was fully developed. The storytelling was beautiful. The only quibble I had had to do with the romance/love interest. It didn’t feel right, sort of like it was there because there should be a romance. It didn’t develop organically, and would have been better left in the friend zone, with the potential for it to grow in future books.

Tasks

  1. About sports: The Ultra Mindset: An Endurance Champion’s 8 Core Principles for Success in Business, Sports, and Life by Travis Macy
  2. Debut novel: Paper Magician by Charlie N. Holmbert
  3. Book about books: The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman
  4. Set in/author from Central/South America: Death Going Down by Maria Angelica Bosco
  5. Written by immigrant/immigration as central narrative: In the Country We Love: My Family Divided by Diane Guerrero
  6. All-ages comic: Out from Boneville (Bone #1) by Jeff Smith
  7. Published between 1900-1950: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  8. Travel memoir: Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea by Guy Delisle
  9. Book you’ve read before: Hellhole by Gina Damico
  10. Set within 100 miles from your location: City of Light by Laruen Belfer
  11. Set more than 5000 miles from your location: A Long Way Home by Saroo Brierley
  12. Fantasy novel: Hunter by Mercedes Lackey
  13. Nonfiction about technology: Tetris: The Games People Play by Box Brown
  14. About war: The Long Walk: A Story of War and the Life That Follows by Brian Castner
  15. LGBTQ+ MG/YA author: George by Alex Gino
  16. Banned/frequently challenged in your country: Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
  17. Classic by author of color: Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
  18. Superhero comic with female lead: Ms. Marvel, Vol 4: Last Days by Willow G. Wilson
  19. Character of color goes on spiritual journey: Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova
  20. LGBTQ+ romance novel: The Lawrence Browne Affair by Cat Sebastian
  21. Micropress publication: The Last Horror Novel in the History of the World by Brian Allen Carr
  22. Story collection by female author: Always Happy Hour: Stories by Mary Miller
  23. Poetry in translation (not about love): View with a Grain of Sand: Selected Poems by Wistawa Szymborska
  24. All POV characters are people of color: The Sellout by Paul Beatty

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April Reads

I had a slight dip in reading this month – 27 books. Only five books were unrelated to any of my reading challenges (The Medieval World, The View from the Cheap Seats, The Book of the Unnamed Midwife, The Witches, and The Notebook of Doom: Rise of the Balloon Goons). I managed to complete Book Riot’s Read Harder Challenge – Tetris: The Games People Play, being the last needed book. One challenge down, multiple challenges left!

Audiobooks (11)

     

Novels (8) / Nonfiction (2)

   
  

Graphic (4)

  

Read Alouds (2)

 

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Husband’s Books: 2017 1st Quarter

It’s been a while since I’ve done an update for my husband. There was no 4th quarter last year because he didn’t really read any books. He started some audiobooks, but never finished them. Instead, he spent most of his time watching way too many YouTube videos (think Movie Sins and other channels of that ilk). With the new year, it seems he has left his funk behind. Eleven books for the first quarter is not shabby at all.

1st Quarter 2016
2nd Quarter 2016
3rd Quarter 2016

    

The Science of Discworld by Terry Pratchett
The Mediterranean Basin by Ralph Raico
A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking
The 9/11 Commission Report
Fatherland by Nina Bunjevac
Prez, Vol 1: Corndog-in-Chief by Mark Russell and Ben Caldwell
The Vision, Volume 1: Little Worse Than A Man by Tom King and Gabriel Hernandez Walta
Homo Deus: A History of Tomorrow by Yuval Noah Harrari
The Big Picture: On the Origins of Life, Meaning, and the Universe Itself by Sean Carroll
Breach of Trust: How Americans Fail Their Soldiers and Their Country by Andrew J. Bacevich
The Social Animal: The Hidden Sources of Love, Character, and Achievement by David Brooks

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Bean’s First Quarter Books 2017

Now that my daughter is reading somewhat consistently, I’m going to start doing quarterly book updates for her as well as my husband (his is coming soon). As of this morning, she said her favorite books were Where the Mountain Meets the Moon and The Sword of Summer (Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard, #1). I agree with Magnus Chase, but the one book I remember her being unable to put down (and when she did put it down, wouldn’t stop talking about) was Lost in Outer Space: The Incredible Journey of Apollo 13. I really hope Tod Olson writes more books in his Lost series because Bean loves both of the ones that are currently published.

Audiobooks (4)

Novels (2) / Nonfiction (2)

School Reads (1)

Read Aloud (1)

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2016 Books (Second Half)

Surprisingly, I read less actual books during the second half of the year. This doesn’t include audiobooks or graphic formats, so “less” is relative.

2016 Books (First Half)

2016 Manga / Graphic Novels (Second Half)
2016 Audiobooks (Second Half ) coming soonish

Adult Favorites 

 

*Homegoing – This was an absolutely beautiful book. It was well written, the style light enough to be quickly readable, but without the sacrificing quality or depth. Each chapter focused on a different family member/generation, alternating between the two branches. The story did not get bogged down in detail, but looked at a highlight or defining moment of a given family member’s life. Even though each character only had one chapter, they were fully formed and fit within their time, location, and experience.
*It Happened One Autumn – I had never read any of Lisa Kleypas’ books before this, but I am now a fan. I’m a sucker for smart, sassy MCs in romance novels, and Lillian fit the bill. She was opinionated, but not to the point that I wanted to throw the book across the room. Marcus was also a well done “asshole with a heart of gold”. He was cold and gruff and superior, but even in the early stages, he still looked out for Lillian’s welfare and safety. I loved how they played off of each other.

Honorable Mention: Touched by an Alien (I’ve read this several times, and love the snarky humor of the series)

Adult Fiction (43)
Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore
Ender’s Game
Touched by an Alien
Alien Tango
Alien in the Family
Alien Proliferation
Alien Diplomacy
Orlando
The Book of Speculation
Just the Sexiest Man Alive
The Golden Dynasty
Fantastical
Entreat Me
Homegoing
A Wild Swan
The Library of Mount Char
The Girl from Summer Hill
Pirate
Act of God
A Scot in the Dark
The Thinking Woman’s Guide to Practical Magic
The Rook
The Gentleman
What’s a Ghoul to Do?
It Happened One Autumn
Devil in Winter
Do You Want to Start a Scandal
Restoree
The Gunslinger
Clash of Eagles
The Hopefuls
The Underground Railroad
Stiletto
Bird Box
Eaters of the Dead
The Hobbit
1001 Dark Nights: Dragon Fever
Smoke and Fire
Natural Born Charmer
The Core of the Sun
Pope Joan
Date Night on Union Station
the princess saves herself in this one

Adult Nonfiction (5)
Daughters of the Samurai
I’ll Never Write my Memoirs
A Royal Experiment
The Big Tiny
Why Women Should Rule the World

YA Favorites

 

*Beauty Queens – One of my favorite satires, and not for the easily offended. A Survivor-style pageant adventure on a not-quite deserted island, it is full of black humor and tongue-in-cheek jabs. The situation was completely ridiculous. The few surviving girls have to overcome their situation using their wit and pageant ready talents. Miss Texas, Taylor, was by far my favorite character.
*Ink and Bone – This was one of the better dystopian stories I’ve read recently. I love how the controlling agency is the Great Library.  What should be a repository of knowledge accessible by all people is in fact a corrupt organization that strictly controls the flow of information. Paper books are contraband because they cannot be controlled. New ideas that could impact the supremacy of the  Great Library are found and then locked away forever. Queue the scrappy, book-thief hero, Jess, who has entered the library’s service as a trainee. During the course of his training, he realizes the what the Great Library is hiding, and the lengths they’ll go to maintain their power.

Honorable Mention: Sunshine (this is one of my comfort books that I reread periodically)

YA Fiction (20)
Beauty Queens
A Great and Terrible Beauty
The Girl at Midnight
The Rose and the Dagger
Hex Hall
Hot Pterodactyl Boyfriend
Sunshine
Ink and Bone
Across the Universe
Nerve
The Gilded Cage
Sabriel
The Prom Goer’s Interstellar Excursion
A Shade of Vampire
The Geek’s Guide to Unrequited Love
Paper and Fire
Throne of Glass
Doon
Eat Brains Love
The Great Trouble (MG)

Children’s Fiction (8)
Lions and Lunchtime (MTH #11)
Polar Bears Past Bedtime (MTH #12)
All Hail the Queen (Anna & Elsa #1)
The Candymakers
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
In a Blink (Never Girls #1)
Bunnicula
Clementine

Bean’s Christmas Books

My oldest daughter, Bean, has taken a very long time to develop an interest in reading. This mainly stems from the fact that she was slow to gain reading confidence. Up until partway through 4th grade, graphic novels were the only books she would read without a fuss. She also hadn’t stumbled into the genre(s) that were sure to suck her in to staying up way too late reading on a school night. At her age, pretty much all I read was fantasy with a healthy dose of science fiction. Neither are genres Bean really enjoys, which I find mildly horrifying because how am I supposed to find books for her?!?!

It’s been an interesting road, but I’ve finally found out Bean’s favored genres: puzzle mysteries/adventures, historical/realistic fiction, and books involving children from other cultures. There is a little bit of fantasy mixed in, but it’s fairly selective – a Harry Potter fan, she is not.

Below are the books she received this past Christmas. She’s only read three so far. 1) Because I’ve had them in my computer room with the intention of taking a photo of them for this post, and 2) because she keeps getting distracted by other books.

 

Nine, Ten: A September 11 Story by Nora Raleigh Baskin
Very tragic. I understood it, but it was hard to grasp the details because it was just so devistating. I liked that the characters were from different cultures. They all had different experiences when 9/11 happened.
Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier
It was okay. She’s a good author, but I didn’t really understand what was going on.
The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau
Book Scavenger by Jennifer Chambliss Bertram
Iris and the Tiger by Leanne Hall
Rose and the Magician’s Mask by Holly Webb
This was the third book in the series. It started out strong, but then started to feel loose towards the end. I didn’t like what the author did to Mr. Fountain. The whole situation felt off.
Rose and the Silver Ghost by Holly Webb

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