Author Archives: books&biblio

About books&biblio

Librarian-in-training, Girl Scout Leader, (former) homeschooling mom.

September Books

I am actually on top of a post for once! September was a busy month as well, though the busy was different than in August – planning Girl Scout meetings and library storytimes/programming, and prepping for a Disney cruise (I take this stuff seriously).

Headway is being made on my Amazon TBR list (list #3, to be exact). I knocked the list down to 53 books! Note, however, that of those 41 books, almost half were DNFs. And somewhere my numbers aren’t adding up between my spreadsheet and bullet journal, so my count is more suggestion than reality.

Fav books from September: Radium Girls, Strange the Dreamer, The Epic Crush of Genie Lo, and The Wicked Deep.

Audiobooks (19)

Novels (10)


husband 2Q books 2018

I’ve been severely behind in getting posts out, so just in time to start putting together my husband’s reads for the third quarter of 2018, here are his books from the second quarter.  At this point, the only book that stands out to me as the one he repeatedly told me I need to read is Fantasyland.


Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire: A 500-Year History by Kurt Andersen
The Fifth Discipline: The Art & Practice of The Learning Organization by Peter M. Senge
Insane Clown President: Dispatches from the 2016 Circus by Matt Taibbi
Managing Transitions: Making the Most of Change by William Bridges
The Mormon People: The Making of an American Faith by Matthew Bowman
On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century by Timothy Snyder
Pacific Edge by Kim Stanley Robinson
Aurora by Kim Stanley Robinson (reread)
The Currents of Space by Isaac Asimov
The End of Eternity by Isaac Asimov

August Books

Here is my laughably late reads for August – which was a busy month full of remodeling a bathroom and getting the kids ready for back to school. Almost all of the books are from my smallest Amazon TBR list (there are now five). There were 128 books on it as of August 1st, and I decided that instead of focusing on finishing PopSugar, I would make it my goal to knock out this entire list before the end of the year. I managed to drop the list down to 94 books (16 of the 34 were DNFs).

At some point I would plan on writing blurbs for at least some of the books, but the ones I liked the best were Carry On (surprising, given my feelings about Fan Girl), Dread Nation, The Lost Book of the Grail, In Other Lands, and Wendy Darling.

Audiobooks

Novels

Graphic

Read Aloud

July Books

July was an all-over kind of month. I was in FL for the first week, so only minimal reading was accomplished. Harry Potter was our driving home audiobook – Bug adored it, Bean still doesn’t seem to care about HP one way or the other. I also spent time watching movies. We introduced the kids to the Back to the Future movies, and found that they are still watchable with pretty much zero cringe-worthy moments. All three of the kids loved them, especially Max.

Audiobooks (16)

 

Novels (10)


The Hub – May

I have been trying to get my May Hub post written for a month and half. The post has been sitting as is for over two weeks, and I still have not written my thoughts on one of the books  (I Am Alfonso Jones by Tony Medina and Stacey Robinson). I am going to call it good at this point just to get it out.

Pashmina by Nidhi Chanani
I read Pashmina in January, and was somewhat underwhelmed by it. The concept of the magical shawl and its use to help Pri deal with serious life changes was good, but the narrative was not cohesive. If the shawl is there to help Pri, then each time she used it, then she should have walked away with another piece of information to help her deal with her problems. This wasn’t the case, and ultimately, we never learned how Pri overcame her issues to be satisfied with her life. So much more could have been done with a magical shawl that gave women a new perspective, allowing them to better their lives.

#NotYourPrincess: Voices of Native American Women edited by Lisa Charleyboy and Mary Beth Leatherdale
The pros of this book were the diversity of voices, topics covered, and the creative layout. The con was the lack of density – meaning it have been better if there had been more. It felt like an appetizer instead of a full meal.

 

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee
I listened to Gentleman last year, and didn’t like it. The second time around and I still don’t like it. The book is essentially Monty whining his way across Europe, completely oblivious to how his words and actions hurt those around him. It’s not funny. If it’s satire, then the humor is beyond me. Monty is an entitled jackass, I get that his personal life is awful, but it’s hard to have sympathy for him when he treats everyone around him so selfishly. Everything is about Monty. Even when he learns of Percy’s epilepsy, Monty views it in relation to how it will affect him (meaning Monty) and his access to Percy. There is pretty much zero character growth for any of the characters, and only in the last 10 minutes of the book is there a whiff of growth potential for Monty. The book tried to be too much. It would have been better if it had focused on Monty, Percy, and Felicity, and their growth as human beings, and not on some conveniently lucky adventure that would have been better as a separate story.

She Rides Shotgun by Jordan Harper
I didn’t know exactly what to expect from a book about an 11-year girl who goes on the lam with her released convict father while he tries to find a way to protect her from a kill order. It was surprisingly gripping – I had a hard time putting the book down. The narrative flowed and was well-paced. I loved how Harper used words and cadence, and how he allowed Polly and Nate to grow. Definitely a book I will read again.

As the Crow Flies by Melanie Gilman
I have mixed feelings about this comic. It was a very uncomfortable read both in the careless racism exhibited my most of the characters, and the weird anti-male, Christian overtones. Bee, the camp leader, was squicky in her fanaticism. I did like the friendship Charlie and Sydney, but that’s about it. The comic also ended in the middle of the story. It was not a natural stopping point. I had to reread it several times to figure out why the story ended there, and I’m still not entirely clear on it.

The One Hundred Nights of Hero by Isabel Greenberg
I almost put this book down after the boring introduction. While it was a set up, and explained aspects of the following story, removing it wouldn’t have taken anything away from the narrative. Once past that, however, and The One Hundred Nights of Hero was a dark, beautiful, and painful feminist fairy tale. The framing is similar to Arabian Nights and Scheherazade, though in this case a young woman must protect her friend/mistress from unwanted sexual advances by telling stories to her would-be assaulter. The running theme throughout was how educated and/or powerful women can be scary to men.

Sandwiches!: More Than You Ever Wanted to Know About Making and Eating America’s Favorite Food by Alison Deering
Sandwiches! is essentially a cookbook with interesting tidbits of information thrown in. It was interesting and mostly well-researched – some of the dates relating to baseball off by a century. I believe they meant the 1700s/18th century as opposed to the 17th century (which would be the 1600s). While there are references to the origin game, early incarnations of the game as we know it came about in the 1700s, with the first actual baseball taking place in the mid-1800s. I put less stock in the facts presented because of this, though all three of my children were enthralled by the recipes and illustrations.

An Unkindness of Magicians by Kat Howard
The magical world operates invisibly along side daily life in NYC, and it’s time for a magical competition to determine which House will be in power until the next competition. The magical world is dark and corrupt, and given that magic has been waning, they will do what needs to be done in order to retain their magic/power. Told from multiple POVs, the story focuses mostly on Sydney, the mystery of her origin, and how she uses her underdog status to upend the status quo. The pacing was a bit slow at times, but the story was very, very well-conceived.

Spill Zone by Scott Westerfield
I read Spill Zone last year and thought it was intriguing, but somewhat vague. I found I liked it more the second time around. I was able to catch details and nuances I didn’t see before. While it ends with many questions raised, and almost none answered, I am curious as to how some of the threads will play out in future volumes, especially with Vespertine, and Addison’s “change”.

Electric Arches by Eve L. Ewing
The poetry felt a bit disjointed. Individual poems were good and/or wrenching, but it was hard to see how they all flowed together thematically. It is still a solid work of poetry, and I can the potential for it to resonate with the right reader. My favorite poem was “What I Talk About When I Talk About Black Jesus.”

 

The Whydah: A Pirate Ship Feared, Wrecked, and Found by Martin W. Sandler
This was a fast and fairly interesting read. The writing was a bit juvenile, so I’d range this more for middle school than high school readers. I liked the sidebars, but they were mini-chapters unto themselves (snippets of information, they were not), and their placement was awkwardly in the middle of chapters, which ruined the reading flow. The lack of illustrations, diagrams, and eye-catching photographs was a big mark against it. Give the readers an illustration of what The Whydah looked like, or at least of ships similar to her. Give the readers photos of the cool treasure, like the African gold. A syringe is not captivating. All my gripes aside, for what it is, The Whydah is a solid little read.

Kindred: A Graphic Novel adapted by Damian Duffy
I listened to this book in 2017 and absolutely loved it. I was a bit trepidatious about the graphic version because I didn’t know if it would stand up to the audio version. Duffy ended up doing a good job with translating the material into a visual format. His angular drawing style (while not my favorite) worked well with the rawness of Dana’s experiences.

 

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds
I love how Reynolds uses words, and I love how he formatted Long Way Down. Verse worked beautifully for Will’s story, and each word had meaning, packing a punch, moving Will forward. It’s Will’s journey of learning about his family history, how the cycle of violence has both directly and indirectly affected him – the “whys” behind the cycle of violence. There is no judgement or moral lesson given, just a look at how toxic “rules” can be. The ending was the only sticking point for me because of its ambiguity. But having a straight ending would have put the story into good vs. bad territory, which would have caused it to lose credibility.

A Hope More Powerful Than the Sea: One Refugee’s Incredible Story of Love, Loss, and Survival by Melissa Fleming
My first thoughts on this book was that the writing felt juvenile, especially in the beginning. I read a similar book recently, The New Odyssey by Patrick Kingsley, and it quality of the writing was much better. I had to push through the writing style of Hope because I wanted to read Doaa’s story. I am glad I did because her experiences and the obstacles she overcame were incredible.  I cannot imagine living through and surviving such traumatic experiences.

1st Amazon TBR 2018

My first round of Amazon TBR reads (not read for a challenge)! I will pick up the pace once I complete PopSugar, but I know any dent I make will be negligible given I have already added over 500 new books to the list so far this year.

The standout book from this batch is Red Sister.

Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase
This was one of the better romances I’ve listened to recently. Jessica was one of my favorite heroines. She was intelligent, didn’t take crap from anyone, and stood up for herself and others. I could give or take Sebastian. He fell into the stereotype of a whoring asshole who was really a broken little boy abandoned by his parents. In his favor, he wasn’t completely emo, and he actually listened to Jessica as opposed to putting her down.

A Good Debutante’s Guide to Ruin by Sophie Jordan
At the surface level, this book was a fun romp until close to the end when the heroine decided to make a horrible decision for the sake of the plot. There was also no real chemistry between Rosalie and Declan. They worked together as far as lust was concerned, but I didn’t buy into their romantic love. There was no real basis or growth for their relationship.

Mooncop by Tom Gauld
This book took me only about 15 minutes to read. The main character is the lone police officer on the moon, and the moon is a rapidly dying colony. There was very little dialog, with the illustrations carrying most of the story. It was well-done, but very depressing. The illustrations and situations are stark. The ending was also bittersweet.

 

Red Sister by Mark Lawrence
I wasn’t too sure of this book at first, specifically regarding the audio format, which didn’t initially feel like the right choice. I had a hard time keeping track of the various threads. However, once the story got going (and after I found some helpful information on the Kindle preview), it became less of an issue. The story itself is amazing! Ninja nuns is a succinct surface description, but religion, politics, and the end of the world all come into play. The world building and rules of magic were on point. It was a brutal world, and neither the children in the book nor the readers are cossetted.

Henchgirl by Kristen Gudsnuk
For a single volume story, Henchgirl had a lot going on, including something of a plot twist. Mary was a double dose black sheep, both of her family and her villain gang. She manages to muddle through it mostly unscathed. I liked that most of the characters were gray, neither completely good or bad. Some aspects of the plot towards the end of the book got a bit wonky and confusing, but it was a fun read overall.

His Majesty’s Dragon by Naomi Novik
While I liked the concept and execution of this story, and appreciate the mash up of dragons and the Napoleonic Wars, His Majesty’s Dragon is not a book (or series) for me. I am all about Regency romance, but have never been interested in Regency war fiction. My meh-ness about this book stems solely from that. It is still a book I would recommend. That being said, my mental image of Laurence was Norrington from Pirates of the Caribbean. They have similar personalities and senses of honor.

City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty
Enough time has passed that I have only a vague idea of why I enjoyed this book. I liked it enough that I want to read the sequel, but thinking back on it, the plot didn’t really ratchet up until the end when it should have ratcheted up earlier on.

 

The Black Tides of Heaven by Y.J. Yang
I had a hard time following the story because there were significant jumps in time between chapters/parts. I wasn’t able to connect with either main character or the plot. I was also confused because the system of time, magic, and gender were not clearly explained and felt inconsistent. In regard to gender, I loved the idea of a child choosing (or not choosing at all) a gender they felt best suited them when they reached adulthood. However, there were young children who had labeled genders – was gender fluidity only for the upper class? The story also ended abruptly with no conclusion.

DNF

Lady Bridget’s Diary by Maya Rodale
I didn’t get very far into this one before I couldn’t handle the poorly contrived mash-up of Bridget Jones’s Diary and Pride & Prejudice. I am all for reimaginings and retellings (especially P&P), but I had a hard time getting into the story. It was weirdly modern-fluffy, which doesn’t work with the Regency Era.

The Gun Seller by Hugh Laurie
I made it about halfway through this book before giving up. It wasn’t horrible, but it didn’t hold my attention either. This was disappointing because Hugh Laurie was the author. Based upon the description, I assumed it would be a laugh-out-loud, tongue-in-cheek spy spoof. It wasn’t. It was a well-written story; there are definitely some great deadpan one-liners, and the story does poke fun, but without an obvious comedic angle. Spies/espionage is not a genre I enjoy reading. My criticism stems from my reading preferences and not from the quality of writing.

Smut by Karina Halle
So for a book that is supposed to be about the chemistry brewing between Amanda and Blake while writing erotica, the entire first half of the book was all set up. The. Entire. First. Half. It should have taken only several chapters to get there. In addition, I did not like Amanda at all. She was judgy and condescending towards many other characters. Blake was equally obnoxious, but in the way of many of the male leads in contemporary romances. He was a cocky asshole who thought he was god’s gift to women in bed, and he spent way too much time reminding us of that.

That Inevitable Victorian Thing by E.K. Johnston
The narrative felt jumbled, the characters were boring, and there were too many little plots without an overarching one. It was fluffy and superficial, with no real conflict. I also had a hard time buying into a utopian British empire (an oxymoron, really) where all social/political/racial evils are a thing of the past. Perfection is never interesting, unless the story is about subverting it or the dangers of achieving it, and this story wasn’t. In addition, the empire’s obsession with genetics was heavily into eugenics.