Category Archives: Sophia’s Posts

Book Riot June 2018 Riotgrams

June brought with it another round of the Riotgrams photo challenge!  It’s always fun to come up with ideas to fulfill the prompts, and this month was no exception.  I did miss out on three of them towards the end of the month due to an awesome family vacation to Disney World 🙂

Book Riot Instagram Challenge #Riotgrams June 2018

1. Reading selfie – Not thrilled that it’s 80 degrees in my apartment, but Jon Krakauer’s chilling and chilly experiences on Everest are a good distraction. 

2. Library love – When the director lets you borrow his T. Rex suit but you still have to work the circ desk.

3. Favorite title – I saw these titles and knew I had to read them.

4. Travels & adventures – Nothing too exciting comes out of my kitchen compared to what Anthony Bourdain eats when he travels the world. Bonus author signature!

5. Rainbow book stack

6. Duologies, trilogies, & more – I stumbled across this trilogy of mysteries set in Bath, England, right after actually visiting Bath, which made reading them especially fun.

7. Ice cream/sweet treats – For me salty > sweet, but I do like it when they’re combined – like peanut butter and chocolate.

8. Best book friendship – The Lumberjanes are awesome – smart, funny, inclusive, and supportive of each other.

9. Spine poetry

10. Book deserving more readers – Everyone should read Octavia Butler. I hadn’t read any of her books until this year, and I can’t believe I let myself miss out for so long. She is amazing.

11. Naked hardcovers – Naked hardcovers in technicolor.

12. Queer reads 

13. Freebie – a shelfie!

14. Audiobooks or podcasts – My sister was able to get me a copy of the British version of the first Harry Potter audiobook – Jim Dale is great but Stephen Fry has my heart.

15. Maps, legends, or other bonus art – Finally diving into the books of Westeros.

16. Spell “June” in book titles – J U N E

17. Take your book on a date – Reading a few pages while I eat my not very photogenic lunch at work is as close as I’m getting to a book date this weekend.

18. Book you never finished – I made it about a third of the way through Vanity Fair before I set it down and just never picked it back up. I plan on conquering it eventually.

19. Favorite comic animal(s) – Let’s be honest, Lying Cat is the best.

20. Book you’ve reread – The Southern Vampire Mysteries are easy and comforting. I don’t even know how many times I’ve reread them.

21. Sunny reads – Robin McKinley’s vampire book is a fun one, led by a sun-loving heroine named Rae (nickname: Sunshine).

22. Paperback stack – Fat (paperback) stacks.

23. Pink – Julián is a Mermaid by Jessica Love is the sweetest, and it’s wonderfully illustrated.

24. Read in one sitting – I inhaled the first awesome Binti book during a single train ride, and I couldn’t wait to read the rest of the trilogy (which I finished in one sitting a few weeks ago) .

25. Disability reads – Challenger Deep is an impressive book – it addresses mental illness without judgment or glorification, and it fully immerses you in Caden’s struggle. It’s tense, disorienting, and gorgeous.

26. Set in your city, state, or country

27. Sequel, please!

28. Floral covers

29. Chills and thrills – This novel is packed with chills and thrills.

30. Current read – Last day of June riotgrams!  My current read is an easy recovery read after some heavy nonfiction.

Sophia’s Book Riot Read Harder 2018 – COMPLETE!

Another year of Read Harder down!  I really love doing these challenges, and it has had a noticeable impact on my reading habits.  I’m more willing to pick up books that 4 years ago I would have passed over after making a snap judgement.  I’m less intimidated by tough topics, particularly political non-fiction.  My understanding of the world only expands and grows more complex with every book I read that’s written by an author who isn’t white and/or male and/or cishet and/or American.  And these challenges have shown me that I can always do better.

Book Riot 2018 First Half

Now for a few of the amazing books I read for the second half of this challenge:

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Dawn by Octavia E. Butler – I never read anything by Octavia Butler until this year, and I have been absolutely, totally, and tragically missing out.  If you’ve never read anything by her, GO.  GO NOW.  To the library, a bookstore, amazon.com JUST GO.  That’s all I have to say about that.

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain – I consider myself a hardcore introvert, and as I get older I get more comfortable with that reality.  But for a long time I just thought I was some kind of weirdo and therefore deficient in the eyes of people who fit society’s expectations for ‘normal’.  Quiet helped me to better understand introversion, and it was fascinating to learn how American culture has continuously pushed extroversion as the ideal personality type for every situation.  Even if that’s not changing anytime soon, it’s nice to feel validated.

The Incarnations by Susan Barker – I finished this book back in January, and it’s really stuck with me.  It’s not gentle or soft or even particularly happy, but it’s compelling and immersive.  Barker seamlessly weaves every thread together, taking the reader through Chinese history and mythology while examining the complexities of human relationships.  This isn’t a beach read – be prepared to be challenged, appalled, heartbroken, and riveted.

Completed Tasks

1) A book published posthumously – Ariel, Sylvia Plath
2) A book of true crime – The Map Thief, Michael Blanding
3) A classic of genre fiction – Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson
4) A comic written and illustrated by the same person – Through the Woods, Emily Carroll
5) A book set in/about a BRICS country – The Incarnations, Susan Barker
6) A book about nature – The Botany of Desire: A Plant’s Eye View of the World, Michael Pollan
7) A western – True Grit, Charles Portis
8) A comic written or illustrated by a person of color – Black Panther: World of Wakanda, Roxane Gay et. al
9) A book of colonial/postcolonial literature – Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad
10) A romance novel by or about a person of color – Destiny’s Captive, Beverly Jenkins
11) A children’s classic published before 1980 – The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, L. Frank Baum
12) A celebrity memoir – Believe Me: A Memoir of Love, Death, and Jazz Chickens, Eddie Izzard
13) An Oprah Book Club selection – The Road, Cormac McCarthy
14) A book of social science – Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking, Susan Cain
15) A one-sitting book – Binti, Nnedi Okorafor
16) The first book in a new-to-you YA/middle grade series – How to Hang a Witch, Adriana Mather
17) A scifi novel with a female protagonist by a female author – Dawn, Octavia E. Butler
18) A comic that isn’t published by Marvel, DC, or Image – Lumberjanes, Vol. 7: A Bird’s Eye View, Shannon Watters
19) A book of genre fiction in translation – Penance, Kanae Minato
20) A book with a cover you hate – Bridget Jones’s Diary, Helen Fielding
21) A mystery by a person of color or LGBTQ author – The Cutting Season, Attica Locke
22) An essay anthology – We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy, Ta-Nehisi Coates
23) A book with a female protagonist over the age of 60 – At Bertram’s Hotel, Agatha Christie
24) An assigned book you hated – A Separate Peace, John Knowles

Sophia’s PopSugar 2018 – Halfway!

January was a power-reading month for sure.  I don’t think I’ve read that many books (38) in that short of a time span since I was young enough to have summers off.  That drive did wane quite a bit in February though – I only made it through 11 books, but at least I didn’t end up in a reading rut!  The first half of this year’s PopSugar got me reading some excellent books.  Here are three that stood out:

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You by Caroline Kepnes – This book was, for lack of a better term, an absolute mindfuck.  The pacing was excellent, and the first person present tense propelled you through the story at breakneck speed.  I was never bored or distracted.  And it was so well-written – even though you know going in that the narrator is an actual stalker, you can’t help but find yourself connecting with him in some ways, even empathizing with him.  The manipulation is so subtle at points, and at others, just when you’re thinking of him as smart or funny or charming, he says something truly disturbing and you have to wonder at yourself in horror.  Talk about an emotional roller coaster.

The Power by Naomi Alderman – When I first read an online review of this book, I thought it sounded interesting, but what really pushed me to read it was the comment section.  A surprising (not) number of people (men) were complaining about why it was suddenly okay for powerful women to abuse men (or, namely, for women to treat men the same way women have been treated by men since the advent of civilization).  This book certainly didn’t advocate for such a reversal, but Alderman did a fantastic job of imagining what it could look like.  On some levels, it was admittedly satisfying to see men in situations in which women are typically the victim, because it demonstrated how demoralizing it can be and that no human should have to experience that.  This is a book to read more than once, one to be pondered and discussed.  If only we could get everyone to read it, especially the people who need help recognizing the humanity in those who are different from them.

Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant – After loving Rolling in the Deep, I was totally psyched to find out Grant was writing a full-length sequel – and it did not disappoint.  Seven years after the original doomed voyage, a larger, better-equipped ship is sent out containing scientists and professionals from various fields to find out exactly what happened.  The point of view moves seamlessly through a varied cast of characters and its brimming with tension, even during moments of lengthy exposition.  It was just as much fun as the first book, which packed quite the punch in less than 200 pages.  I loved being able to spend so much more time in the story, and I would absolutely read any subsequent books.  Hopefully she writes more.

Completed Tasks

1) A book made into a movie you’ve already seen – Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Philip K. Dick
3) The next book in a series you started – Eternally Yours, Cate Tiernan
4) A book involving a heist – Invictus, Ryan Graudin
6) A novel based on a real person – Margaret the First, Danielle Dutton
9) A book about a villain or antihero – Genuine Fraud, E. Lockhart
11) A book with female author using a make pseudonym – The Cuckoo’s Calling, Robert Galbraith
13) A book that is also a play or musical – The Phantom of the Opera, Gaston Leroux
14) A book by an author of a different ethnicity than you – Such Small Hands, Andres Barba
15) A book about feminism – We Should All be Feminists, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
25) A book set at sea – Into the Drowning Deep, Mira Grant
27) A book set on a different planet – Saga, Vol. 8, Brian K. Vaughan
28) A book with song lyrics in the title – Comfort & Joy, Kristin Hannah
29) A book about or set on Halloween – Hallowe’en Party, Agatha Christie
30) A book with twins – Twelfth Night, William Shakespeare
31) A book mentioned in another book – The Virgin Suicides, Jeffrey Eugenides
32) A book from a celebrity book club – The Power, Naomi Alderman
33) A childhood classic you never read – The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, C.S. Lewis
34) A book that’s published in 2018 – The Cruel Prince, Holly Black
36) A book set the decade you were born – 1984, George Orwell
38) A book with an ugly cover – Fire and Fury, Michael Wolff
39) A book that involves a bookstore/library – You, Caroline Kepnes
42) A cyberpunk book – Catharsis, Travis Bagwell
45) A book with a fruit or vegetable in the title – Bitter Greens, Kate Forsyth
46) An allegory – The Crucible, Arthur Miller
50) A book recommended by someone else taking the PopSugar challenge – Dear Fahrenheit 451, Annie Spence

Book Riot February 2018 Riotgrams Challenge

A couple times a year, Book Riot hosts an Instagram challenge, and this February I decided to participate again.  It’s a fun way to interact with books, and it gets you thinking differently about what you have on your shelves.  It’s also great to see the creativity of other readers.

1)  Shelfie – My apartment is too small for more than a couple messy, dusty bookcases, but every available corner is stacked high with more books. Someday I hope to be in a place where I can line every wall with shelves:

2) Current read – Using Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? for the PopSugar Reading Challenge task ‘a book made into a movie you’ve already seen’:

3) Naked hardcovers – “N is for Neville who died of ennui”:

4) Purple – Childhood favorites and (guilt-free) guilty pleasures:

5) Royalty – King Agamemnon sacrificed his daughter and sailed for Troy, leaving an angry queen behind to plot her revenge. Looking forward reading to this retelling of Clytemnestra’s story:

6) Short stories – Ron Rash writes with such quiet intensity. His stories are both subtle and powerful, and this collection had me captivated:

7) Black writers – Participating in challenges has helped push my reading beyond the narrow boundaries of the white Western perspective to include more of the work produced by people of color both here in the US and around the world:

8) Spine poetry – This was more difficult than I thought it would be, but I like this little couplet. I guess this is a good excuse to buy more books:

9) Beloved series – The only other series I reread anywhere near as many times is Harry Potter:

10)  A book & a beverage – A little hard cider to ease any anxiety induced by reading about potential catastrophe:

11) Punctuation – A friend gifted me this fun little book compiling pictures of “creative” quotation mark usage:

12) Favorite leading ladies – Some recent favorites are the Rat Queens – smart, boozy, foul-mouthed, badass lady mercenaries:

13) Pink, red, and white – A random selection from my shelves:

14) Hearts – I know I’m not unique in loving The Bell Jar, but it’s stuck with me since I first picked it up in 8th grade. I read it again last year and it’s still moving:

15) Hot books – When I requested this from the library there were only 20 people in the queue. After it was revealed that the publisher received a cease and desist letter, that number exploded to nearly 300 in less than 48 hours:

16) Black History – “With so much attention on the flames, everyone had ignored the kindling”:

17)  An unreturned book – Missing: one copy of The Plot Against America by Philip Roth. Lent to a former roommate who absconded with the book across state lines:

18) Music – The John Williams station on Pandora makes for some good background music while reading:

19) Favorite school read – These four books were amazing enough to keep me from trading them in at the end of the semester and I still revisit them regularly:

20) Writing – I don’t have much in the way of writing reference at the moment but I do have this little gem of a book that tells how the Brothers Grimm really acquired the stories for their classic collections:

21) Bad covers – You gotta love cheesy 80s sci-fi art:

22)  Book that should be adaptedRolling in the Deep by Mira Grant. This novella is ridiculously fun and would make an awesome horror flick in the right hands. The full-length sequel is also great!:

23) Self-improvement – Along with a pile of cookbooks that theoretically help me cook better, I have a few beverage reference guides. How to Drink talks about food and drink pairings; The Naked Pint goes in depth on beer; and Under the Table combines Jazz Age cocktail recipes with Dorothy Parker’s acerbic observations:

24) Oversized book – These three volumes hang off the edge of my shelf but they’re gorgeous to look at:

25) Panels, pictures, illustrations – Graphic documentation was one of the best classes I took in college, and I’ve kept the textbook for reference. Reproducing a physical artifact as an illustration is so satisfying:

26) Fairy tales – I love fairy tales in every variation, especially those that play on the darker aspects of the stories. Here are three different flavors: noir, feminist horror, and wicked humor:

27) Take a book on a date – Sometimes you go out, sometimes you stay in for some Netflix and chill(ers):

28) Floral cover – Don’t let the roses fool you, Hausfrau is all thorns:

Sophia’s Book Riot Read Harder 2018 – Halfway!

My reading momentum this year has been intense (for me at least) – I’m up 30 books already, and 12 of those make up the first half of my Read Harder challenge.  There doesn’t seem to be any threat of it waning anytime soon either, which has me tentatively aiming to finish Read Harder completely before spring.

It took me awhile to warm up to this batch of challenge tasks, but once I started researching titles to fulfill them, my level of anticipation rose exponentially.  Come New Years Eve, I was chomping at the bit and woke up early on January 1st to read my first two books of the year.  And so far, most of the books have been good or great, with a couple of pleasant surprises as well.  Here are my top three:

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Through the Woods by Emily Carroll – this graphic novel collects five original stories seemingly inspired by classic folktales, with shades of Little Red Riding Hood, Bluebeard, and even a little Lovecraft.  I’ve thought about this book many times since I first read it and will probably purchase it at some point.  It’s eerie, creepy, and fun, and the illustrations suit and set the mood perfectly.

Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson – I chose this for the classic genre fiction task, and my hopes weren’t high.  Not that I expected it to be terrible, but sometimes older fiction gets bogged down in the style of the time.  I was more excited about the fact that the audiobook  was narrated by Alfred Molina than I was about the book itself, even knowing it established most of the tropes that define pirates in the pop culture consciousness.  Well shiver me timbers, I freaking LOVED it.  It was exciting and gripping and totally entertaining.  Alfred Molina was excellent as well, clearly having fun with accents and dialects.  This is one I will read again.

True Grit by Charles Portis – This book was another welcome surprise.  I haven’t read many westerns, mainly due to a lack of interest (so I guess that makes this a great challenge task for me…).  I picked True Grit after enjoying the recent movie remake with Hailee Steinfeld, and I was sucked in completely from the first page.  Mattie Ross is one of the strongest voices I’ve ever read in fiction – she’s confident and sure and brooks no nonsense from anyone.  The story was engaging and suspenseful, but she’s the most impressive part of the book.

Completed Tasks:

1) A book published posthumously – Ariel, Sylvia Plath
3) A classic of genre fiction – Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson
4) A comic written and illustrated by the same person – Through the Woods, Emily Carroll
7) A western – True Grit, Charles Portis
8) A comic written or illustrated by a person of color – Black Panther: World of Wakanda, Roxane Gay et. al
9) A book of colonial/postcolonial literature – Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad
10) A romance novel by or about a person of color – Destiny’s Captive, Beverly Jenkins
11) A children’s classic published before 1980 – The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, L. Frank Baum
15) A one-sitting book – Binti, Nnedi Okorafor
18) A comic that isn’t published by Marvel, DC, or Image – Lumberjanes, Vol. 7: A Bird’s Eye View, Shannon Watters
19) A book of genre fiction in translation – Penance, Kanae Minato
24) An assigned book you hated – A Separate Peace, John Knowles

Sophia’s 2015 Reading Challenge Redux

January 2018 marks the beginning of my fourth year doing reading challenges!  When my sister first brought these nifty lists to my attention I was immediately hooked, and they really have helped me expand my reading interests.  I’ve discovered some fantastic books along the way.  That being said….I never actually finished all of my challenges in 2015.  By the end of that first year, I had one book left in Book Riot’s Read Harder and ten books left in PopSugar.

First, I said I wouldn’t start my 2016 challenges until I finished the ones from 2015.  NOPE.  The siren call of new books and new spreadsheets was too strong.

Then, I said I would finish the 2015 challenges before the end of 2016 – which was almost successful: I managed to read 9 of the 10 books leftover from PopSugar, leaving that final book and the one from Read Harder.

Finally, in 2017, I wrapped up that year’s Read Harder in July and Popsugar in October.  With that done, it was time to defeat these last two hangers-on, these ink and paper albatrosses that had been weighing me down for almost three years.

Reader, I finished them.

Actual footage of me when I closed that last book for the last time:

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Without further ado, here they are:

Read Harder 2015 Task 9: A book that is by or about someone from an indigenous culture.

18339647The Orenda, by Joseph Boyden – This book was beautiful and brutal.  And I mean brutal.  I wasn’t able to read through this novel without stopping frequently and walking away.  It’s full of strong but conflicting emotion, as the story is told through the point of view of a captured young Iroquois girl, resentful of the loss of her family; her captor, Bird, a powerful Huron warrior concerned about the white European newcomers; and Christophe, a French missionary traveling with Bird and struggling to bring his god to an alien people.  Boyden’s elegant prose brings 17th century North America to life with a stark, violent intensity.

PopSugar 2015 Task 21: A book your mom loves.

121534Storm, by George R. Stewart – This book was a straight up challenge.  It was quaint but somehow ruthless at the same time.  Dated and a bit boring, but occasionally fascinating and horrifying.  I didn’t particularly care for it by the time it was done, and it took me weeks of slogging and whingeing to actually finish it.  But, I can appreciate why it’s beloved by many – the various vignettes depicting the effects of the massive storm system, the description of how meteorology was actually done before fancy electronic instruments, and the fact that it originated the idea of naming significant storms.  I respect it, but I don’t like it.

And finally, here is the second half of my 2015 PopSugar task list (books read in 2016 in blue):

2) A classic romance: Romeo & Juliet, William Shakespeare
8) A funny book: Harrison Squared, Daryl Gregory
16) A book from an author you love that you haven’t read yet: Beauty, Robin McKinley
18) A Pulitzer Prize winner: All the Light We Cannot See, Anthony Doerr
21) A book your mom loves: Storm, George R. Stewart
22) A book that scares you: Locke & Key Vol. 1-6, Joe Hill
24) A book based on its cover: Uprooted, Naomi Novik
25) A book you didn’t read in school: Night, Elie Wiesel
26) A memoir: You’re Never Weird on the Internet, Felicia Day
29) A book set somewhere you want to visit: The Carnival at Bray, Jessie Ann Foley
30) A book from the year you were born: Fried Green Tomatoes, Fannie Flagg
31) A book with bad reviews: Armada, Ernest Cline
34) A book with a love triangle: Re Jane, Patricia Park
37) A book with a color in the title: Black River, Josh Simmons
39) A book with magic: The Library at Mount Char, Scott Hawkins
42) A book you own but have never read: The Last Horror Novel in the History of the World, Brian Allen Carr
43) A book that takes place in your hometown: First Grave on the Right, Darynda Jones
44) A book written in a different language: Blood on Snow, Jo Nesbo
45) A book set during Christmas: Eileen, Ottessa Moshfegh
46) A book by an author with your initials: At the Water’s Edge, Sara Gruen
47) A play: Macbeth, William Shakespeare
48) A banned book: Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury
49) A book based on or turned into a TV show: The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line (Veronica Mars #1), Jennifer Graham
50) A book you started but never finished: Maisie Dobbs, Jacqueline Winspear

Sophia’s Bookish Monthly TBR – COMPLETE!

The Bookish Monthly TBR is the last of the three main challenges I took on this year – my second year in a row with no stragglers and the earliest finish yet: December 18th!  Last year I was reading challenge books up to December 28th, and in 2015 I didn’t even complete either challenge (more on that white whale in another post).  I have one book left to meet my Goodreads goal of 150, but a few hours of reading over the holiday weekend will take care of that no problem.  And with any luck, Bookish will release the 2018 TBR list in the next couple of days so I can get that spreadsheet up and running!  Here’s what I read for the second half of this year’s challenge:

Bookish First Half

July – Read a book about an overlooked figure in history.26030711

Rise of the Rocket Girls: The Women Who Propelled Us, from Missiles to the Moon to Mars

Nathalia Holt

I enjoyed reading The Girls of Atomic City by Denise Kiernan – a very different perspective on World War II, but a bit disjointed and not totally satisfying – so I was cautiously looking forward to Rocket Girls.  Fortunately, it did not disappoint.  It’s engaging and informative, with a sociable tone and accessible information on the technical aspects of rocket building.  It was fascinating to learn about the beginnings of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and impressive to see how many barriers the women who worked there faced and ultimately broke through.  These are stories that should be told and contributions that deserve to be recognized.  In this same vein, I plan on reading Margot Lee Shetterly’s Hidden Figures soon.

August – Read a collection of essays and short stories. 24611587

Slasher Girls & Monster Boys

April Genevieve Tucholke

This was a fun bunch of spooky stories.  As a whole the collection was fine – easy to read, some nice tension, and a few surprises, but nothing hugely impressive overall.  However, there were three very strong stories that were good enough for me to justify adding a full star to my Goodreads rating: In the Forest Dark and Deep by Carrie Ryan, which offered an extra gruesome version of a Wonderland tea party; Sleepless by Jay Kristoff, wherein Norman Bates uses the internet; and The Girl Without a Face by Marie Lu – you must have done *something* to provoke that ghost into haunting you.  I would consider purchasing a copy of this book just to be able to re-read these stories in particular.

September – Read an entire series.9317452

Rivers of London/Peter Grant, Books 1-6

Ben Aaronovitch

This was a whirlwind of an audiobook marathon: I blasted through all six books in about as many days right down to the wire, finishing the last one on September 29th.  I enjoyed each of them pretty much equally – this series is excellent fun and the audio narrator is fantastic.  The concept of ancient deities claiming guardianship of the various rivers in England combined with London’s blend of cultures and history provides a great foundation for something beyond your typical detective story.  A perfect blend of suspense, dry humor, and pop culture references, this series is definitely worth revisiting multiple times.

October – Read a book that scares you.18498558

Bird Box

Josh Malerman

Yeah, this book scared me.  It had me crawling right out of my skin.  And I try not to read scary things too soon before bed, but I NEEDED to know what happened next.  And then, I wasn’t able to fall asleep because I NEEDED to know how it ended.  So I stayed up way too late on a weeknight for the sake of avoiding disturbing dreams and finished it.  This book was too much of a good time to really analyze it critically – for avid horror readers it may be nothing new, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a nice, solid contribution to the genre.  It’s creepy and tense and stressful and compulsively readable.  Check it out.

November – Read a graphic novel or comic book.35631919

Rat Queens, Volume 4: High Fantasies

Kurtis J. Wiebe

I adore Rat Queens.  The first volume was awesome – what’s not to love about a scrappy, snarky, boozy band of lady mercenaries?  The subsequent volumes were still fun, but the Queens deserved better.  I’d heard that the comic was going on an indefinite hiatus, so I was surprised to see Volume 4 pop up in the library catalog.  It was nice catching up the ladies, but overall it felt like a limp attempt at a not totally necessary reboot.  Hopefully the series can find its stride again and return to the glory of volume 1.

December – Read a book about belief.17568801

Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth

Reza Aslan

I don’t practice any religion, and I haven’t spent much time studying the Bible, so I can’t react to this book from a spiritual or theological perspective.  But most of what I’ve learned about the Judeo-Christian tradition has been within the context of history as a whole, and from that perspective, this book is compelling.  Aslan takes the mythic figure of Jesus as presented by the Gospels and builds a more complete portrait of the man by describing him relative to the social and political realities of his time.  It’s fascinating to see him re-framed as a seditious revolutionary, whose words and actions were (and arguably still are, apparently) considered radical and dangerous to the general order of things.