Author Archives: books&biblio

About books&biblio

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

PopSugar – February

My dedication to timely completing all book challenges this year is paying off. I hit and passed the halfway mark for PopSugar in February. I’ve been trying to stay focused on challenge books instead of being lured by the siren’s song of every other book. If I can finish the main list of 40 books by the end of April, I will be thrilled.

Kindred by Octavia Butler
#5 – Author is person of color
I loved Octavia Butler’s Xenogenesis/Lillith’s Brood trilogy, so I thought I would give another one of her books a try. Time travel is one of my preferred genres, and the concept of Kindred seemed interesting – a modern African American woman traveling back to antebellum Maryland multiple times for the purpose of keeping her white, slaveholding ancestor alive. Dana’s journeys were fascinating and horrifying. She had to learn to navigate the reality of being a slave while attempting to keep herself psychologically separate from it.

The Marvels by Brian Selznick
#7 – A story within a story
I was absolutely in love with the book for the first 400 pages (the illustrated story), and then the prose section happened. The prose story was well-written, but it ruined the magic created by the illustrations. I felt like the rug had been pulled out from under me when the connection between the two stories was revealed. Ultimately, though, it was a beautiful story. A sad story, but a beautiful one.

My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows
#8 – Multiple authors
I remember hearing about this book before it came out, and thought it sounded interesting, but not one I would ever read. While it was a fun, tongue-in-cheek fantastical reimagining of how Lady Jane Grey became queen, it was also trite, mired in tropes and clichés, suffered from a lack of solid rules of magic, and had many moments of characters behaving stupidly.

Casino Royale by Ian Fleming
#9 – Espionage
I grew up loving James Bond (especially Sean Connery), and both of my parents were fans of the books/movies. Espionage isn’t really my genre of choice, but I figured giving Bond a go wouldn’t be too awful. It’s definitely a book of its time, especially in how women are treated. I prefer the movies, even though I know they are equally sexist.

Feed by Mira Grant (Seanan McGuire)
#11 – Author uses pseudonym
A blood and guts zombie book, this is not. It is political espionage set against the backdrop of a post-zombie apocalypse world. Blogger journalists are part of the staff, covering a presidential candidate on the campaign trail, and end up uncovering a conspiracy. Aspects of it are eerily similar to some of the behind-the-scenes machinations going on in current politics.

El Deafo by Cece Bell
#13 – Author/MC has disability
This felt like a down-to-earth telling about Cece Bell’s experience as a child, warts and all. I can’t imagine the social intricacies of navigating elementary and middle school while wearing a phonic ear, the frustrations of dying batteries, or dealing with people treating you like a small child who equate lack of hearing with a lack of competency.

Eleventh Grave in Midnight by Darynda Jones
#16 – Book published in 2017
I really enjoy this series (though I don’t recommend binge reading/listening as the character flaws tend to be overwhelming). Charlie is still willingly obtuse and complains about not understanding how to use her powers, even though she doesn’t make an effort to figure them out. Uncle Bob and Reyes are still keeping secrets from her in the name of “protection”, and then keep getting mad at her when she doesn’t do what they want her to. That being said, Charlie finally, finally started to experiment with her powers, and Reyes finally, finally started showing her how to use them. We also got to learn more about Reyes’ past, which was good. But the overall series plot didn’t advance much.

Rolling in the Deep by Mira Grant
#17 – Involving a mythical creature
My sister has been after me for a long while to read this, and I finally broke down because I realized it fit a needed category. I’ve read books by Seanan McGuire, but found them to not really be my thing (even though I’m a fan of urban fantasy). However, I absolutely loved Rolling in the Deep. Yes, you already know how the book is going to end before it even starts – that’s kind of the point. What makes the story fun and exciting is how it gets there. She did a fantastic job with her mermaids. No buxom beauties here, but instead, highly evolved deep sea predators.

The Bees by Laline Paull
#21 – Book from a nonhuman perspective
The Bees was a quick read, and held my attention, though I was still able to put the book down. The hive was a religious dystopian society, and completely non-human (and completely non Nature Channel). How the bees interacted, how they were controlled by the Queen and Sages, was fascinating. The worldbuilding was a little uneven at times, specifically with regard to the anthropomorphization of the bees. However, it was an enjoyable read.

The Diabolical Miss Hyde by Viola Carr
#22 – Steampunk
Steampunk has been one of my favorite genres since I stumbled upon Soulless by Gail Carriger almost five years ago, so finding a book for this challenge consisted of pulling from an already long TBR list of steampunk titles. I liked the riff on Jekyll and Hyde, but the the pacing was off and there was a lack of plot focus – too much going on. Neither plot nor characters were captivating.

Margaret the First by Danielle Dutton
#27 – Title is character’s name
This book was much shorter than I expected it to be. Given how the book was written, it wouldn’t have worked in a longer format. It had a dreamlike quality to it, and was disjointed, offering fairly superficial snippets of Margaret’s life instead of in-depth narration. That being said, the style fit with her personality of never quite behaving the way an adult should.

Desert Queen: The Extraordinary Life of Gertrude Bell: Adventurer, Adviser to Kings, Ally of Lawrence of Arabia by Janet Wallach
#32 – Book about an interesting woman
Getrude Bell was a very singular woman, and had an incredibly solid understanding of the geopolitical climate of the Middle East. She also had strong personal connections with many of the region’s powerful men. There are definite parallels between how Great Britain et al. wanted to reshape the Middle East after WWI, and how current international relations with the Middle East stand.

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2016 Manga/Graphic Novels (Second Half)

My graphic reading has continued to drop, in part because I’ve stepped out of the library world and am not as exposed to it as I once was, and in part because my library system does not carry many of the (manga) titles I would like to read. I also have over a 1000 books/graphic novels/manga in my TBR list, so it’s going to take some time.

2016 Manga/Graphic Novels (First Half)

Favorite Graphic Novels

starlight white-donkey

Starlight
Starlight was bittersweet, and I absolutely loved it. A man well past his prime, living on the memories of his interstellar adventures, who is shunted aside by society and children who don’t believe him. One evening, he gets whisked away by a boy in spaceship to help save the world he saved decades before.

Terminal Lance: The White Donkey
This one was harshly beautiful and depressing. A young man went to war, saw incredibly traumatic things, and then was unable to reconcile that trauma with normal American life.

Graphic Novels
Saga, Vol 6
Lumberjanes, Vol 4: Out of Time
Paper Girls, Vol 1
Sex Criminals, Vol 1: One Weird Trick
East of West, Vol 1: The Promise
Starlight
Terminal Lance: The White Donkey
Snow White: A Graphic Novel

Manga Favorites

tg-8 say-i-love-you-8

Tokyo Ghoul, Vol 6-8
Tokyo Ghoul was on of my favorite manga from the first half of the year, and it continues to remain so. Horror is outside of my normal reading range, but the characters and their motivations are fascinating. As is the dynamic between humans and ghouls – both see the other as monsters, and a serious rumble is brewing.

Say I Love You, Vol 8-10
I haven’t read this story in a while, and it was nice to see the love story still progressing between Mei and Yamato with all it’s happiness and bumps. I also liked learning more about some of the secondary characters. In all, it’s a good love story where the lead is a good guy and not an asshole with a hidden heart of gold.

Manga
Tokyo Ghoul, Vol 6-8
One Piece, Vol 31-33
A Silent Voice, Vol 4-6
The Ancient Magus’ Bride, Vol 1-4
Say I Love You, 8-10

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The Hub – February

YALSA’s the 2017 Hub Reading Challenge has started! There are definitely some good books on the list this year, though not as many of them catch my attention as last year. This isn’t an issue as there are still many interesting books that will take me out of my reading comfort zone. My reading challenge focus is still on PopSugar and Read Harder, so I haven’t done lot of Hub reading yet. That being said, I did manage to read/listen to seven titles in January, but  six of those titles are graphic novels, which tend to be fast reads.

Some of the books on the list I’ve already read, and don’t plan on rereading for this challenge:

*In the Country We Love: My Family Divided by Diane Guerrero (just read it in January)
*The Regional Office is Under Attack by Manuel Gonzalez
*The Geek’s Guide to Unrequited Love by Sarvenaz Tash

Of the books listed below, I had Paper Girls (both volumes) and Giant Days (first three volumes) at home already, not knowing that they were going to be a part of this challenge. It was only because I was trying to plow through other books first that I hadn’t already read them. Gemina I’ve had downloaded on my phone for months, but put off reading it on the chance it would be included. Good guess on my part.

And last, but not least: what I read for the 2016 Hub Reading challenge. I read 36 books last year and will probably read a similar number this year.

paper girlsPaper Girls, Vol 1 by Brian K. Vaughan and Cliff Chiang
I read this last year, and decided to read it again because the second volume came out recently. PG is very much a WTF is going on graphic novel. There are two groups of “others”, and the intentions of both are ambiguous enough that it’s hard to tell who’s good, who’s bad, and who’s in it only for themselves. The tree of knowledge imagery (apples, specifically) is worked in throughout the story, and I’m curious as to what those references are setting up.

giant-days-1 giant-days-2Giant Days, Vol 1 & 2 by John Allison & Lissa Treiman
Both volumes were fun and enjoyable. There were moments of snorting, but nothing really jumped out at me as being amazing. Possibly because it was completely different from my college experience? I didn’t go until I was in my 20’s, lived off-campus by myself in a crappy apartment, and balanced a full course load with working full-time.

geminaGemina by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
The sequel to Illuminae was very good, but not quiet as good, because how do you follow up the awesomeness that was HAL900 and reavers? You don’t, really, but you give it a good shot. The suspense wasn’t up to par, but the plot twists were satisfying. Hanna was also a surprisingly strong lead once she got past her spoiled, entitled existence.

 

mighty-jackMighty Jack by Ben Hatke
Mighty Jack is the opening volume of what looks to be an interesting reimagining of Jack and the Beanstalk. It is a bit slow in and of itself, but it is a strong set up for the adventure to follow. Jack and his sister, Maddie, buy seeds at a flea market and plant a garden once they get home. The garden seems to be the one thing that gets Maddie out of her non-verbal shell, so they spend most of their time caring for it. However, the garden starts to get out of control, and for the sake of protecting Maddie, Jack destroys the garden. Jack and Lilly (an awesome, intelligent, sword-wielding homeschooled neighbor) must rescue Maddie from the results of the final packet of seeds she planted after she realized what Jack did.

plutonaPlutona by Jeff Lemire & Emi Lenox
The positives: the kids weren’t cookie cutter. Each had their own definitive personality, and acted like real teenagers, warts and all. The concept was interesting, a nice twist on superheroes, looking at their fallibility and what happens if that fallibility is discovered. The ending also fit the mood of the story. It is somewhat abrupt and “this is it?”, but at the same time, it’s similar to what the characters are feeling. It works. The negative: because Plutona is one contained volume, there wasn’t enough character development or story depth. I would have been a much better story if spread out over several volumes. So much potential, not enough pages.

prez-1Prez, Vol 1: Corndog-in-Chief by Mark Russell & Ben Caldwell
A very good satire of current politics, and the way politics could potentially go (blatant corporate ownership versus the more behind the scenes wheeling and dealing of today). Beth is a fabulous dark horse who isn’t owned by any of the corporations or lobbyists. Once she’s elected, she starts cleaning house and trying to do what’s right regardless of how politicking is supposed to be done. I’m looking forward to seeing what she does in future volumes.

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February Books

Audiobooks (9)

casquette-girls written-in-red kindred gemina
my-lady-jane invisible-man feed cd-11 lolita

The Casquette Girls was a good spin on the vampires in New Orleans sub-genre. Adele was a strong character who thought on her feet and didn’t do obviously stupid things (other than dealing with vampires). I will listen to the sequel when it comes out later this year. Written in Red has been on my TBR for a few years, and I finally got around to reading/listening to it. I ended up liking it more than I thought I would. Meg was well-written, and while she she was guileless, she wasn’t an idiot, and her lack of awareness of how things are supposed to be served in her favor. Sam and the ponies were my favorite characters.

Novels (13) / Novellas (4) / Nonfiction (1)

ghostly-echos margaret-the-first paper-magician rolling-in-the-deep marvels casino-royale  eyre-affair hellhole always-happy-hour desert-queen city-of-light lawrence-browne-affair diabolical-miss-hyde midnight-dance thousand-pieces-of-you last-horror-novel bb the-bees

Ghostly Echos was a decent book, but Jackaby is still the best. The writing this time around wasn’t nearly as strong – the wit and banter between Jackaby and Abigail was missing and the plot was weak. I will read the final book (with the strong hope of resolution between Abigail and Charlie). The Eyre Affair was supposed to be for a challenge (PopSugar, #7 – Story within a story), but only around 30 pages of the book fit that requirement. It was still a fun book and a quick read. I loved the details that showed the story takes place in a parallel universe. A Midnight Dance was only meh. It was a bit light on plot, and leaned a bit much on characters exclaiming in French to show that they were in France. The positive was that Sabine was a strong lead, stood up for herself and her family, and didn’t let herself get pushed around. A Thousand Pieces of You was my February Bookish choice (love story). I liked the concept, and I liked the characters. However, I don’t have an interest in reading the rest of the trilogy. Beauty and the Beast by Vivienne Savage was awful. I finished it only because I love B&B retellings, and hoped that at some point it would redeem itself. The whole thing lacked depth and substance, and for an adult romance, the writing was very juvenile. Anastasia was a total Mary Sue, and everything just sort of fell into place without any real conflict or tribulations. Add in the pseudo-Scottish aspects of the Beast, and I’m surprised my eyeballs didn’t get stuck in the back of my head.

Graphic Novels (11)

paper girls paper-girls-2 giant-days-1 giant-days-2 giant-days-3 el-deafo nextwave-1 nextwave-2 mighty-jack plutona prez-1

Paper Girls Volume 2 was interesting, and the complexity of the plot increased immensely. I can’t wait to see where it goes. Nextwave, volumes 1 and 2, was entertaining, though it was incredibly crass and sarcastic. The whole thing being a superhero satire focused on the rejects and delinquents of the superhero world.

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Read Harder – January

ultra-mindsetThe Ultra Mindset by Travis Macy
#1 – Book about sports
This is as about as sporty as I get. I don’t have a strong interest in sports, and while I know I will never be an ultramarathoner, I am starting to run again. Macy uses anecdotes to illustrate his tenets for how to become a better runner, person, etc… Because it’s a little bit of everything, it isn’t going to be useful for someone looking for hardcore lessons on building endurance, but it’s accessible, telling people they are capable of more than they think they are. It’s a mentality shift, not a physical shift. It’s good motivation for me as a beginner.

invisible-libraryThe Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman
#3 – Book about books
I liked the premise of the book – interdimensional librarian spies saving books – but the execution of the story didn’t really hold my attention. It was alright, but not not as good as I was hoping it would be. There was too much information, too much going on, and even with that…it was still kind of boring. I also didn’t make much of a connection to the characters. There was no growth. I have no interest in reading any of the sequels.

in-the-country-we-loveIn the Country We Love: My Family Divided by Diane Guerrero
#5 – Written by an immigrant / immigration as central narrative
I’m not sure how tightly this book fits into the prompt given that it’s more about the long lasting impact the deportation of Diane Guerrero’s parents had on her. Immigration is central in that it is what brought her parents to the United States, and also what tore their family apart. I couldn’t begin to imagine what life was like for Diane, living with the threat of losing her parents hanging over her head, and then how crushing the reality of it was when it actually happened. Immigration is such a complex and controversial topic, and having a personal story that humanizes it is important, especially now.

boneBone, Vol 1: Out from Boneville by Jeff Smith
#6 – All-ages comic
This book has been recommended to me in the past, and the library director I used to work for loves this series. However, I wasn’t able to get into it. The first volume is mostly set up (which isn’t necessarily bad), and while I liked Fone Bone, I didn’t like his cousins. They seem to be the ones who will cause all of the forthcoming trouble. My dislike is mostly my reaction to Phoney Bone and Smiley Bone, but the plot didn’t hold my attention either.

gatsbyThe Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
#7 – Published between 1900-1950
I’ve tried to read this book before, but have never been able to get very far into it before becoming distracted by another book. I decided to give it a go on audiobook (Jake Gyllenhaal as narrator), and found it was much easier to listen to it than to read it. The whole book seemed somewhat futile and the characters selfish. Gatsby’s whole motive for his ostentatious life was to impress a girl with whom he had a summer fling with prior to being shipped off to the trenches, a girl who was as petty and selfish as he was obsessive and insecure. That being said, Fitzgerald did an excellent job skewering various levels of society – the need to climb to the higher strata, and the disdain the higher levels of society had for the lower levels.

long-way-homeA Long Way Home: A Memoir by Saroo Brierley
#11 – Set at least 5000 miles away from your home
So to start, Saroo was five years old when he rode a train across India and ended up alone in Koltkata. My son is five years old. I kept imagining my son in Saroo’s place and couldn’t fathom how he was able to survive. I also found it incredible that he retained enough of a detailed memory to be able to find his hometown on Google Maps 25 years later. In regard to the writing, it was fairly informal and not the content was not overly in-depth. It’s more “this is how it happened” versus introspection.

georgeGeorge by Alex Gino
#15 – MG/YA author is LGBTQ+
While not the most polished book (debuts tend not to be), it’s a much needed book, and age appropriate for the middle grade crowd, either for a child in a similar situation as George, or for children trying to understand a classmate. George is a girl, and her dilemma is the difference between her reality and how others perceive her. I like that she had support from unlikely source (her brother). There is no “lesson”. The story is simply about George knowing who she is and what she wants (to play Charlotte), and having the courage to be both.

hunterHunter by Mercedes Lackey
#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.

ms-marvel-4Ms. Marvel, Vol 4: Last Days by Willow G. Wilson
#18 – Superhero comic with a female lead
I’ve been somewhat ambivalent towards Ms. Marvel, even though it is excellently written and drawn. It’s more that I have never really liked superhero comics. That being said, I keep reading Ms. Marvel though because of various reading challenges. However, volume 4 is the one that has tipped my ambivalence over into love. It felt like the storytelling has hit finally its stride. Complex and dark, Kamala has to confront a crisis that has the very real possibility of not ending well, and in realizing that she has to learn that superheros can’t save everyone. There were still plenty of clever details in the background, like the random pigs or the rat with a bowler hat or some of the storefront signs, which added some levity. Kamala also has some good scenes with both her mother and Bruno.

labyrinth-lostLabyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova
#19 – Character of color goes on a 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.

PopSugar – January

pinesPines by Blake Crouch
#4 – Audiobook
I don’t exactly know how I came across this book – probably Audible – but it was amazing. I couldn’t stop listening to it. There is definitely something creepy and off about Wayward Pines, and various citizens are champion gaslighters. The weird ratchets up even more once Ethan starts his attempts to escape, and what he discovers upon his partial success. I plan on watching the TV show once I’ve finished the trilogy, especially since I’ve seen multiple reviews saying the show is better than the book.

scandal-in-springScandal in Spring by Lisa Kleypas
#6 – One of the four seasons in the title
This book was only alright. The basic romance was enjoyable, but there was a lot of POV-time spent on characters secondary to Daisy’s and Matthew’s romance. Lillian also had some serious blinders on, and was a downright shrew. I liked her hardheadedness in It Happened One Autumn, but I did not like her in Scandal in Spring. Lillian dragged the book down, with her inability to accept that Daisy had a valid opinion regarding Matthew.

awaken-onlineCatharsis: Awaken Online by Travis Bagwell
#10 – Cat on the cover
This is the best book I’ve read in the RPG sub-genre. It takes the concept and twists it a bit, placing the MC, Jason, as the villain of the newly launched MMORPG, Awaken Online. He has to grapple with what real life has thrown at him, and with his growing realization that he has been cast as the villain online. Aspects of both his real life and online life collide, and both he and his adversaries exist in a gray zone. Is the hero really good? Is Jason really bad? I can’t wait to listen to the sequel when it comes out.

holiday-in-nokoMy Holiday in North Korea by Wendy E. Simmons
#14 – Involving travel
A look at the surreal alternate reality that is NoKo. It’s funny, but not ha ha funny, more like the I can’t believe this is real/really happening/don’t know exactly how to react funny. Alice in Wonderland quotes start each chapter, and they are apt metaphors to what the author experiences. She doesn’t disparage the people, but she questions the government and country that forces people to live like in those conditions. After a while, she likens her visit to living in a psych ward – you can tell things aren’t right, but you can’t necessarily discern the truth from the lies. Her questions were not always answered, her guide deflecting them or throwing out random answers. I liked her concept of “proptalking”, the constant stream of propaganda talking she listened to. It reminded me of 1984 with the doublespeak. NoKo seemed like a parody of modern life that doesn’t quite get it right. It has to be incredibly hard for the people who work with tourists; to reconcile their reality and their indoctrination with what tourists say the outside world is like.

cinnamon-gunpowderCinnamon and Gunpowder by Eli Brown
#19 – About food
The basic premise of this book: private chef is kidnapped by pirate and forced to serve her an elegant dinner every Sunday. Food played a central roll, of course, and Owen, the chef, must get creative in coming up with a worthy meal while at sea on a minimally equipped pirate ship. However, my favorite aspect was watching Owen grow as a character. He started out with a very rigid and narrow worldview, but even with the brutality he saw and dealt with, he ended up accepting and embracing the fact that nothing is strictly black and white. People who might seem good on the surface are really cruel, and vice versa. It turned out to be a really lovely book.

fatherlandFatherland by Nina Bunjevac
#23 – Red spine
Part family history, part Croatian/Serbian history, Fatherland looks at Bunjevac’s father’s actions as a Serbian terrorist in Toronto. It traces his personal history and discusses potential reasons for his actions through the lens of actual history. She tries to sort information out and make sense of it in order to have a better understanding of the father she never knew. I liked how bigger picture history was woven through personal history. My only complaint is that the book ended too abruptly. I am really curious as to how all of this effected her older brother, Petey. The history is fascinating because it’s not something that really gets covered in school beyond Tito = Yugoslavia.

revenantThe Revenant by Michael Punke
#24 – Set in the wilderness
My sister has been after me to read this book for the past two years. My husband read, and enjoyed it. I figured it would be a good read. It was, don’t get me wrong, but after all of the brutality and hardship that Glass has to endure, the ending was incredibly anti-climactic. I know that endings aren’t necessarily clear cut, but after what happens when he crosses paths with Fitzgerald at the end, coupled with the fact that it just kind of peters out after that…I wish there had been a bit more to close it up.

dragonsongDragonsong by Anne McCaffrey
#25 – Book you loved as a child
While Bunnicula was the first chapter book I ever read, it was Dragonsong that got me hooked on reading. When I was nine, my librarian mother, who despaired about my middling interest in reading, thrust this book into my hands one day. It was all downhill from there. I connected with Menolly, with her feelings of being unwanted and out of place. This segued into a love of dragons, and my obsession with their existence and the possibility that I might get lucky and end up being adopted by one. I don’t deny that I had some issues.

singing-bonesThe Singing Bones by Shaun Tan
#30 – A book with pictures
A collection of very short fairy tales, supplemented by photographs of sculptures that added a dreamlike and sometimes unnerving weight. It felt like movement was happening just beyond the edge of perception. Some of the stories are snippets of the fairy tale, or the entire thing boiled down to its most salient point. I loved that Neil Gaiman wrote the foreword, and I agree with him that Tan gave the fairy tales a tactile dimension that adds to heft of the stories. He captured the feeling fairy tales evoke – magical, but also uncomfortable and gruesome. Tan made these fairy tales his own, and gave them new dimension.

bollywood-bride

The Bollywood Bride by Sonali Dev
#31 – MC different ethnicity than you
This is the second book by Sonali Dev that I’ve listened to. Both were light and fluffy romances, but even with that in the background, it was fun reading a romance novel through the lens of a different culture – same, same, but different.

 

hotel-rubyHotel Ruby by Suzanne Young
#35 – Set in a hotel
If “Hotel California” and “The Sixth Sense” had a YA novel baby, this would be it. It was creepy – things were slightly off. Not a lot, but enough that a little thread of WTF started running through my head. I couldn’t put it down, staying up way too late on a work night in order to finish it. I did figure out what what going on part way through the book, but it didn’t detract from the story. The ending was satisfying. (It looks like the paperback version of this book is known as Hotel for the Lost).

medium-rawRedium Raw by Anthony Bourdain
#36 – Written by someone you admire
I’ve enjoyed Anthony Bourdain since I first saw him sarcastic and ranty on No Reservations. I enjoy is perspective and the way he uses words. I admire him because he not only knows and understands his flaws and failings, but he embraces them, never trying to push the blame on to someone else. He knows exactly who he is, warts and all. The essays of Medium Raw did not disappoint. I will never look at food the same way as him, but it is still fun to live vicariously through his descriptions. “Go Ask Alice” was my favorite, and showcases Bourdain’s snark, but also his understanding of his own pessimism and why others might love what he hates.

tenTen by Gretchen McNeil
#37 – Becoming a movie in 2016
This book piqued my interest because of its comparison to And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie, but if it was turned into more gruesome teen slasher book (not gruesome for some, but I have a low tolerance for anything horror-related). It was an interesting read, and I will probably watch the movie when it makes its way to DVD.

moon-calledMoon Called by Patricia Briggs
#39 – First book in a new to you series
Tentatively on my TBR list, I decided to give it a listen when I learned that Lorelei King (Charlie Davidson series) was the narrator. It was alright. I know that’s not high praise, but I’ll give the second book a listen to see if the pace picks up a bit.

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January Books

After feeling burned out at the end of last year, reading fever kicked in on January 1st. I want to get these challenges done! Las year, I allowed myself to get distracted by non-challenge books, and ended up finishing PopSugar at 10pm on December 31st. Not gonna happen this year. Once I get all major challenges taken care of (or at least mostly taken care of), then I can focus on other books without guilt (and possibly other non-book projects as well).

Audiobooks (11)

moon-called medium-raw bollywood-bride pines hunter gatsby ultra-mindset subtle-art awaken-online queens-poisoner one-good-dragon

Nine of the books are for various challenges, so they’ll be written about in future posts. The Queen’s Poisoner was a disappointment. There wasn’t a cohesive plot, Owen was wishy-washy and kind of weak, and Elysabeth Victoria Mortimer was incredibly annoying. So very annoying. The author also couldn’t make up his mind of King Severn was evil or just misunderstood. I have no interest in reading any other books in this series. One Good Dragon Deserves Another was a decent listen. It dragged on a bit in the beginning, but the wheels started turning, and now I’m looking forward to listening to book three.

Novels (9) / Nonfiction (3)

george holiday-in-noko hotel-ruby scandal-in-spring cinnamon-gunpowder revenant invisible-library labyrinth-lost in-the-country-we-love long-way-home dragonsong ten

Every single book in this section is for a reading challenge, so they will be written about in future posts.

Graphic (5)

singing-bones fatherland ms-marvel-4 bone monstress

The first four books are for various challenges, so more will be written about them in future posts. Monstress, Volume 1: Awakening was the lone “read for the fun of it” graphic novel. The illustrations were lush and complex, as was the story. I’m looking forward to reading the next volume.

Read Alouds (2)

ng-2 stories-from-hi

Bug (my 6-year old) liked the first Never Girls book, so we gave the second one a try. They are only minimally annoying, which is good for me. I read Stories from Hawaii to all three kids because of their curiosity about Maui after watched “Moana” in the theater (very catchy songs). This was the only book on Hawaii my library system has. The writing was a bit simplistic and redundant, but the kids enjoyed the stories.

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