Author Archives: books&biblio

About books&biblio

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

Bean’s 4th Quarter Books 2018

Bean read (listened to) 70 books in 2018!

And after grumbling and rolling her eyes at me, deigned to tell me which of the books listed below were her favorites. I even got comments! Oh the joys of tweens.

Bean’s favorites:

Jackaby – Sherlock Holmes-y with comedy and some Dr. Who thrown in
Delicious in Dungeon – liked the plot, liked that the characters weren’t perfect, liked the humor though she says she didn’t get most of it
Grenade and Sachiko – both WWII historical fiction, liked that they were from the Japanese perspective

Audiobooks (13)

Graphic (9)

2019 Reading Challenges

It’s a new year, which means new reading challenges! Well…really they’re the same reading challenges I do every year, but with new tasks and book lists. After last year’s crazy strong start by completing Read Harder in less than one month (which I do not plan to do again as it detracted from the fun of it – thank you grad school!), I managed to end the year without completing PopSugar. I have two books remaining (#27 – A book you borrowed/was gifted to you, and Adv #2 – Cyberpunk). The lack of completion is all on me and my obsession with reading down my Amazon TBR lists.

Like last year, I want to use audiobooks for no more than half the categories, and I am going to try to comb through my Amazon TBR lists for as many books as possible. I am also going to force myself to read no more than 8 books per month each for Read Harder and PopSugar – but it has to be an even number. My hope is that this will prevent (or at least delay) burnout, and give me time to work down both my Amazon and Audible TBRs. The Hub Challenge is exempt from an arbitrary monthly reading limit because it only lasts from approximately March until late June.

Book Riot’s 2019 Read Harder Challenge
When I saw the tasks for this, my first thought was, holy cow, this is a really diverse and specific set of tasks! My second thought was, I wonder how many of these tasks I can complete using Amazon TBR books? I’m going to have to dig for some of these! Digging has worked as I’m at 18 out of 24 books and counting that have been pulled from my Amazon TBR lists.

The two categories that are going to give me grief are #7 – #ownvoices set in Mexico/Central America, and #17 – Business book. I’m someone surprised by the #ownvoices task because I assumed I would have trouble with #8 – #ownvoices set in Oceania, but that one turned out to be relatively easy (Terra Nullius).

Tentative books for January: An Easy Death (#2), Jack Jetstark’s Intergalactic Freakshow (#9), An Unkindness of Ghosts (#6), Morte (#12), The Kiss Quotient (#13), Tempest (#16), Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (#21), and the witch doesn’t burn in this one (#24).

Every book listed above is from one of my Amazon TBR lists. Three are audiobooks (Morte, The Kiss Quotient, and Tempest).

2019 PopSugar Reading Challenge
I was two tasks short of completion for 2018, so my plan is to force myself to limit my monthly reading to prevent that from happening for a third year in a row. I’ve already found books for most of the categories, though as always, there are some tasks that will be a pain (#14 – See someone reading on a movie/tv show, and #28 – recommended by a celebrity you admire). At least there are no Oprah/celebrity book club tasks this year.

Tentative books for January: An Elderly Lady is Up to No Good (#23), And Only to Deceive (#30),  Sour Heart (Adv #3), Every Dog Has Its Day (Adv #4), and Fly Girls (Adv #7 and #8).

Five of the books listed above are from one of my Amazon TBR lists (one of the Fly Girls is the exception). Three are audiobooks (And Only to Deceive, Sour Heart, and one of the Fly Girls).

YALSA’s The Hub Reading Challenge
I’m assuming that this won’t be out until sometime after the ALA Midwinter conference at the end of January. The challenged started on March 1st last year, so I’m going to bank on it starting around then this year as well. I’m looking forward to seeing what books will be included.

Emma’s Amazon TBR
On January 1, 2018, I had 1067 books on my lists. I added an additional 1031 books throughout the year (I’m sure a handful are duplicates), and I read or DNF’d 269 books. This puts me at a whopping 1829 books waiting to be read as of January 1, 2019. I need to make a concerted effort to make a dent in this. I really need a nice several week vacation sequestered in a hotel room (three kids at home makes it hard to binge read if I want to get any sleep).

December Books

I read most of my December books before my round of cold-strep-throat-not-flu began several days before Christmas. I kind of gave up on Amazon TBR#3 (14 books left) and PopSugar (2 books left unread as of 12/31/18), and went mostly for comfort/brain candy books.

Favorites: Three Mages and a Margarita, Cake, Cinderella and the Colonel, MBRC, The Hating Game, Delicious in Dungeon

Audiobooks (16)

on stranger tides first mate accidental wife wedding date living danishly  

Three Mages and a Margarita sounded like a fun urban fantasy, and it was. There is a bit of romance, but not a lot. The MC has a short temper for nonsense, and has no problem standing up for herself and placing herself in danger for others. I also liked that she’s not “special”. She’s a plain old human (though who knows, this could change at some point in the series). The sequel was fun as well, with a completely different setting/feel to it. Can’t wait for book #3. Cake was surprisingly entertaining. I didn’t have high hopes for it because of Forever My Girl (had to DNF that one – so, so horrible!), and was glad that there wasn’t a shady love triangle involved. I don’t think I’ll read the sequels, but I would read Cake again. The Hating Game was another entertaining romance sans love triangle. I loved the dynamic between Lucy and Joshua, and I enjoyed them as individuals. It was a book I wanted to read again as soon as I finished. I ended up buying the audiobook because I know I will listen to it again.

Novels (10)

milk alien abduction 1

Cinderella and the Colonel is a wonderful retelling of Cinderella. She’s a duchess in a conquered country, trying to do right by her people, her step-family (though they don’t like each other), and her lands. A colonel from the conquering army won’t leave her alone, much to her annoyance.  The M.B.R.C. books are so funny. I reread them when I need a bit of light humor in my life. A human teen girl gets swept into the realm of magic hiding beneath the surface of Chicago. I like her because she’s driven, innovative, and doesn’t take crap from any of the mythological creatures she deals with.

Graphic (9)

delicious in dungeon 2 delicious in dungeon 3 delicious in dungeon 4 delicious in dungeon 5

I read the rest of the available volumes of Delicious in Dungeon, and it really is a fun series. Doubly so because Bean likes them as well. It’s humorous and doesn’t take itself too seriously even though the characters have tragic motivations and face some serious obstacles. Monstress is just amazing. I am really excited to see where the story goes, especially as the ending of volume 3 was heart wrenching. Snotgirl – I could never read another volume and be fine with it. Totally not my cup of tea. Didn’t like the character, didn’t like the story.

The Hub – June

I know a lot of time has passed since this challenge ended, but I’ve been sitting on this and have finally written my thoughts out for the last few titles.

I did not get all of the books read that I wanted to in June for Hub. In part because the latter half of the month was spent with packing for and going on a trip to Florida. And because I was down to the wire, I didn’t attempt to finish two of the books I found only marginally interesting (Noteworthy) or were too selfishly-whiney-emo (Vincent and Theo: The Van Gogh Brothers).

long way downLong Way Down by Jason Reynolds (audiobook)
I read this book in May, and listened to it in June. Both formats work for the story, but the author does a wonderful narration, capturing the tension and ambiguity of Will’s situation.



Miles Morales by Jason Reynolds
I had a hard time following the thread of the story, and after finishing the book, I still don’t exactly know what was going on. I get the big picture – that Miles’ spidey sense was messed up, his history teacher was harassing him, and he had a crush on Alicia – but there was no explanation as to who the villain was, or what his motivation was, or how he found and controlled his henchmen. There were too many unanswered questions. There was also no closure on the people who disappeared from Miles’ neighborhood. There was too much filler and not enough action. I did like that the story dealt with Miles trying to learn that he was worthy of being Spider-man.

La Belle Sauvage (The Book of Dust #1) by Philip Pullman
This book was boring. I was ambivalent the entire time, and didn’t really care about the characters or the plot. Pullman was too heavy handed, and was bogged down by metaphysics and anti-Christianity sentiment to the point that it detracted from the story. The story also felt like two stories in one. The post-flood warp into a version of The Odyssey was out of step with the previous portion of the book. It didn’t make sense, and didn’t really have a connection to the theocracy.


dear martinDear Martin by Nic Stone
Not an easy read, but a necessary one, especially since so many people believe the US to be color-blind when in fact there is still too much racially charged aggression.



dreadnoughtDreadnought by April Daniels
I like the balance between Danny’s personal and professional struggles, and how both are handled. I couldn’t begin to imagine living in the wrong body, and then when finally having the right body, dealing with your family’s reactions, and those of the superhero community who felt that you were going to ruin Dreadnought’s name and reputation. Danny was an incredibly strong character. The only real negative I have is Calamity. Not necessarily in this book, but I can sort of see where her arc will go in the next book, and I don’t know how I feel about it.

epic failThe Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora by Pablo Cartaya
This book was alright. The concept was interesting and I loved Arturo’s family’s dynamic, but the ending didn’t make much sense when thinking about it logically, and the villain was flat as a paper doll.



language of thornsThe Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales and Dangerous Magic by Leigh Bardugo
Before I get into the actual fairy tales, I loved the illustrations and how they grew and flowed with each story. Seeing how they changed page by page was almost as fun as reading the stories themselves. As for the stories, they were clever, dark, and lush with sharp edges (they way a fairy tale should be). It’s hard to pick favorites, but “Amaya and the Thorn Wood” and “The Witch of Duva” were the two that stood out the most.

The Books of Christmas 2018

Many books were given and received this Christmas; most of them being pictured below.

I had meant to get this out either on Christmas or the day after, but a rather fun case of the not-flu and strep throat kept me in bed for the past several days. Today is the first day I feel marginally human, and being vertical isn’t horrible.

I used a gift card from my mother to buy Collecting the World: Hans Sloane and the Origins of the British Museum by James Delbourgo. Once I’m finished with it, I’ll donate it to my library since our system does not have a copy. I also bought Outlander by Diana Gabaldon (already have the ebook, but wanted a physical copy as well), Mission Defrostable by Josh Funk (the third book in an absolutely hilarious and punny picture book series), and an illustrated version of Mary Poppins by P.L. Travers (read an original to Bean when she was little and had to modify the language a bit – oh the 1950s and cannibals/natives – and since Bug likes illustrated books, thought this would be fun to read with her). The books aren’t here yet, so no picture.

Bean received no books for Christmas. She’s partial to audiobooks, and those don’t make very good presents. I did pre-order Lost in the Antarctic: The Doomed Voyage of the Endurance by Tod Olson. It’s the fourth book in a series that helped get her hooked on book books and not just graphic novels.

Max by far received the most books, which is my fault. He has finally, finally taken an interest in reading chapter books, and being the bookish mom I am went into book overkill mode. His teacher and I have been trying to come up with books to peak his interest, and hopefully some of these will work.

Husband’s Books:
Sea of Rust by C. Robert Cargill
The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs: A New History of a Lost World by Steve Brusatte

Bug’s Books:
The Tea Dragon Society by Katie O’Neill
The Wind in the Willows (Illustrated) by Kenneth Grahame
Ruby Lu, Brave and True by Lenore Look
The Secret Zoo by Bryan Chick
Astrid the Unstoppable by Maria Parr
The Magical Unicorn Society Official Handbook by Selwyn E. Phipps
The Magic of the Unicorn (Choose Your Own Adventures) by Deborah Lerme Goodman

Max’s Books (not all are pictured):
The Haunted House (Choose Your Own Adventure) by R.A. Montgomery
DK findout! Universe (also DK findout! Vikings, not pictured)
National Geographic Kids Everything Space by Helaine Becker
Bear’s All-Night Party by Bill Harley
The Haunted House Next Door (Desmond Cole Ghost Patrol) by Andres Miedoso (and book #2)
The Notebook of Doom, Books 1-5 Boxset by Troy Cummings
The Notebook of Doom: Monster Notebook by Troy Cummings
Knights of the Kitchen Table (Time Warp Trio) by Jon Scieszka (and book #2)
The Ember Stone (The Last Firehawk) by Katrina Charman (and book #2)
National Geographic Kids That’s Gross! by Crispin Boyer
Roman Myths (Classic Starts)
The Story of King Arthur and His Knights (Classic Starts)
Arabian Nights (Classic Starts)
Greek Myths (Classic Starts)

Bean’s 3rd Quarter Books 2018

One of the things I like about Bean is her reading choices. They are different than mine in that when I was 12, I was heavily into dragons and sword fantasy, with a smattering of sci-fi, whereas she is into history (both fiction and nonfiction) and books about children from other cultures. There is some fantasy in there, but hers leans towards adventure.

Her favorite books from this quarter were: Project, 1065, Refugee, and The Boys in the Boat.

Audiobooks (11)


Graphic (1)

2018 Books (First Half)

I read some excellent books in the first half of 2018. Admittedly, I did go on an alien/dragon romance kick (the alien abduction series is just plain fun), but that is my normal end of semester stress reaction.


All Systems Red by Martha Wells
The story moved quickly, and Murderbot, for all that he was a ‘droid, was incredibly relateable. He was fairly apathetic about his existence, his job, and humans in general; his main desire being to have uninterrupted tv-watching time. While Murderbot didn’t completely lack emotions, he did try to quash them. Towards the end of the novella, he did start developing some level of attachment to the crew. I am looking forward to reading the remaining three novellas in this series as they are published.

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 just-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.

Honorable Mentions: Beauty in Autumn, An Unkindness of Magicians, The Language of Thorns

Fiction (42)
The Duchess Deal
River of Teeth
Taste of Marrow
Destiny’s Captive
Such Small Hands
Seven Seasons of Buffy
Death of a Salesman
Super Extra Grande
Daughter of Fortune
Lotus Blue
The Bookseller
Time Salvager
Mad Hatters and March Hares
A Dragonling’s Haunted Halloween
All Systems Red
Clockwork Dynasty
The Bird Tribunal
Enemy of Mine
Mercenary Abduction
Heroic Abduction
Holiday Abduction
Reader Abduction
Alien Mate
Jarek: Dragon of Preor
Abducting Abby
Capturing Cara
Tracking Trisha
Ambushing Ariel
Cornering Carmen
Not So Little Green Man
The Alien’s Mail Order Bride
Beauty in Autumn
Fire in his Blood
Going Green
Snowed in With the Alien Warlord
Fire in his Kiss
The Black Tides of Heaven
She Rides Shotgun
An Unkindness of Magicians
Electric Arches

Nonfiction (3)
The Wicked Boy
The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher
A Hope More Powerful than the Sea

YA (15)
Beneath a Sugar Sky
The Lifeboat Clique
Done Dirt Cheap
Down Among the Sticks and Bones
#NotYourPrincess (nonfiction)
Landscape with Invisible Hand
The Whydah: A Pirate Ship Feared, Wrecked, and Found (nonfiction)
Long Way Down
A Court of Thorns and Roses
The Starlit Wood
Miles Morales: Spider-Man
Dear Martin
The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora
The Language of Thorns

Children’s (12)
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
The Notebook of Doom: March of the Vanderpants
Eerie Elementary: The Locker Ate Lucy
Eerie Elementary:  Sam Battles the Machines
Eerie Elementary: Classes are Canceled
Searching for Dragons
Travels of Thelonious (Fog Mound)
The Notebook of Doom: Battle of the Boss-Monster
Faradawn (Fog Mound)
Simon’s Dream (Fog Mound)
The Phantom of the Opera (Classic Starts)