Monthly Archives: February 2016

Read Harder – January Progress

The first month of Read Harder is over! Both Sophia and myself are a quarter of the way through, and even my husband didn’t do to shabbily with two books. We even managed to knock out one of the tasks across the board! ~ #17 – Non-superhero graphic novel < 3 years old.

All three of us also are “in progress” for #18 – Movie adaptation. Sophia is the only one who’s actually finished it, but my husband and I have both watched movies (Life of Pi and The Martian, respectively), and now need to read the books. I know it’s a bit backward, but it just happened to work out that way.

Emma: Of the six books I read in January, two stood out to me:
Gold Fame Citrus wasn’t what I was expecting, but it was an interesting read. It was rough and brittle and spare; less about the overall devastation caused by the drought, and more about how it affected the people who live in it (you know me and my love of psychological character studies). Aspects of Luz’s character reminded me of Ana from Hausfrau – the selfishness and wallowing in a situation neither woman wanted to take control of. It’s not a book for everyone, but beautiful nonetheless.
Velvet: Before the Living End was awesome! What if Miss Moneypenny was more than just a secretary? You’d get Velvet. Framed for a murder, embroiled in a conspiracy, she goes up against the spy agency she’s worked at for over 20 years in an attempt to unravel what happened.

Sophia: The two most notable reads for me this month were The Haunting of Hill House and Furiously Happy.  I’ve recently started reading more horror, which honestly as a genre always intimidated me (I’m a wimp), but this Shirley Jackson classic was perfect.  It hit all the right spooky and psychological notes without gratuitous gore.  And Furiously Happy was just an experience from start to finish.  Jenny Lawson had me crying laughing and sometimes just crying.

Without further ado:

Me 6/24
My Husband 2/24
Sophia 7/24

#1 – Horror book

anna dressed in blood slade house

Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake
Slade House by David Mitchell

#2 – Nonfiction science book

arsenic

A is for Arsenic: The Poisons of Agatha Christie by Kathryn Harkup

#4 – Read aloud to someone else

tiny hamster

Tiny Hamster is a Giant Monster by Joel Jensen and Joseph Matsushima (picture book)

#5 – Middle grade novel

boundless

The Boundless by Kenneth Oppel

#7 – Dystopian / post-apocalyptic

gold fame citrus exheroes

Gold Fame Citrus by Claire Vaye Watkins
Ex-Heroes by Peter Clines

#9 – Audie award winner

not father's son

Not My Father’s Son: A Memoir by Alan Cumming

#11 – A book < 100 pages

feminists

We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

#17 – Non-superhero graphic novel < 3 years old

velvet 1 letter 44 3 get jiro 2

Velvet: Before the Living End by Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting
Letter 44 Volume 3: Dark Matter by Charles Soule and Dan Jackson
Get Jiro: Blood and Sushi by Anthony Bourdain and Joel Rose

#18 – Movie adaptation

haunting hill house

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

#19 – Nonfiction feminism or feminist-themed

hunger modern girl

Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl by Carrie Brownstein

#24 – Author or main character has mental illness

furiously happy

Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things by Jenny Lawson

The Hub – January Progress

Even though this challenge didn’t start until January 25th, I was able to get four books read (both Lumberjanes volumes count as one). Of course, it helps that they were split between audiobooks and graphic novels.

I decided to expand my list by writing about my thoughts on the books I read. Usually, I blow through my books without much more thought that “me like” or “me no like”, but wanted to add some actual substance. Well, substance-ish as I don’t like reading or writing long, in-depth reviews.

Top Ten Amazing Audiobooks

waistcoats weaponry what if

Waistcoats & Weaponry by Gail Carriger, read by Moira Quick
Gail Carriger’s Alexia Tarabotti books are among my favorites, and I have read them (and their manga versions) many times. I like her dry humor, snarkiness (very much toned down in the Finishing School books), and how she uses comedy of manners.

Waistcoats & Weaponry was a reread. The final book in the quartet, Manners & Mutiny, was recently published, and I wanted to brush up on the plot before reading it. I had just started reading this book when I learned of this challenge, so I switched to the audiobook. I enjoyed it overall, though the book as a whole feels like more like filler than actual plot progression. Sophronia and her denseness regarding Soap and boys in general was a wee bit annoying, but those complaints aside, Sophronia was strong, creative, and intelligent. I love the idea of “finishing” school, especially one in a dirigible.

What If? by Randall Munroe, read by Wil Wheaton
This book was the talk of the Christmas tree in my house. Both my brother-in-laws are avid nerds (nerds, not geeks as they are all computers and no fantasy), who couldn’t stop talking about XKCD and Thing Explainer and all things Randall Moore. Even though the book cover is amusing, I would never have picked the book on my own. That being said, I loved the dry humor and how geekdom references were tied into scientific principles. This is a book my father would have loved. Wil Wheaton was also an awesome narrator. He has great inflection and sounded more like he was chatting than reading.

Top Ten Great Graphic Novels

lumberjanes 1 lumberjanes 2 roller girl

Lumberjanes Vol 1 & 2 by Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, and Shannon Watters
Lumberjanes is now one of my new favorite graphic novel series. It’s geeky and weird and has a skewed sense of humor. I want to be a Lumberjane. I want to go to camp and have Indiana Jones-like adventures.  I like Girl Scouts, but we don’t have awesome badges like Pungeon Master (“The best kind of punishment”) and Jail Break (“Run as fast as you can”), and we never had crazy camp adventures. Well…I never did at least. My daughter swears there is a 6 foot tall turkey wandering around her Girl Scout camp.

Riley is by far my favorite character. Her sanity is on the far side of left, which makes her great as comic relief. She reminds me of Betty from Rat Queens (another graphic novel series), but with a lot less drugs and candy.

Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson
I bought this book at Powell’s last summer as a birthday present for my daughter. My step-mother lives walking distance from Oaks Amusement Park, and when we visit we always stroll by on the path behind it. Back to the book…Astrid reminds me of my daughter, and to some extent, me as a child, specifically in how she pouty-reacts to embarrassments and stumbling blocks. The story of growing up and growing apart felt real, and I liked how Astrid ultimately handled her disappointment at not being chosen as a jammer by giving her new friend, Zoey, a confidence boost.

January Books

Looking at my Goodreads list, I read a whopping 62 books in January. That seems like an ungodly high number of books, but over half of them were manga and graphic novels. Another six were audiobooks (a big thank you to my commute and household chores), and yet another six were Magic Tree House books, which leaves 13 actual books (not including the three novellas).

I like the idea of doing little blurbs for the books, but given the sheer number of them, it really isn’t practical.

Audiobooks (7)

dirty job not father's son hunger modern girl secondhand souls
as you wish waistcoats weaponry what if

Novels (11) / Novellas (3)

dare dashwood speak easy boundless etiquette carriger curtsies carriger bloodsucking fiends rogue not taken rogue by any other name one good earl girl from well anna dressed in blood gold fame citrus we are ants feminists

Manga (30) / Graphic (5)

my only vampire fairy tail black bird one piece tokyo ghoul
lumberjanes 1 lumberjanes 2 velvet 1 velvet 2 roller girl

Child Read Alouds (8)

mth 2 rose 2 escape lemoncello