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VioletBramble's 2017 Category Challenge

2017 Category Challenge

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Edited: Jan 1, 5:51pm Top

Hi! I'm Kelly. This will be my 7th year participating in the Category Challenge. This year my challenge categories are based on episode titles from the television show Gilmore Girls. Gilmore Girls is one of my top ten favorite television shows and Rory Gilmore, voracious reader, is one of my favorite characters. For those who may not be familiar with Gilmore Girls; the show is about a single mother, Lorelei, and her teenaged daughter, Rory, who live in the small, quirky town of Stars Hollow, Connecticut.

Rory's love of reading is a big part of the show. Fans of the show have created The Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge. The challenge is to see how many of the 339 books mentioned during the series seven seasons you can read (or have already read). Rory Gilmore Reading List

For this years challenge I have 17 categories - just because I was still able to come up with 17 categories. ( I have 18 categories for 2018s challenge, but after that I will have to come up with a new plan) I'm not planning on any set number of books per category. I'm also hoping to get more time to spend on LT this year and to write reviews on more books than I managed last year.
Happy Reading and Happy New Year!

Edited: May 11, 12:06pm Top

The Hobbit, the Sofa and Digger Stiles - fantasy

1) Ink and Bone (The Great Library)- Rachel Caine
2) Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: The Original Screenplay- J.K. Rowling
3) Summerlong- Peter S Beagle

Reading list:
Ink and Bone (The Great Library)- Rachel Caine ✔
The Iron Dragon's Daughter- Michael Swanwick (mar) - didn't finish
The Half-Made World - Felix Gilman (sept)
Summerlong- Peter S Beagle (mar) ✔

Edited: Apr 19, 3:52pm Top

A Deep-Fried Korean Thanksgiving - books by Korean-American authors or books set in Korea

1) The Orphan Master's Son- Adam Johnson

Reading list:
Native Speaker- Chang-Rae Lee
The Calligrapher's Daughter: A Novel- Eugenia Kim (sept)
The Orphan Master's Son- Adam Johnson (apr) ✔
Brazen (The Gilded Series) - Christina Farley (jun)
Silvern (The Gilded Series) - Christina Farley (jun)

Edited: Mar 3, 3:35pm Top

Blame Booze and Melville - fiction

1) Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage- Haruki Murakami
2) Welcome to Braggsville- T. Geronimo Johnson

Reading list:
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay- Michael Chabon (nov)
State of Wonder- Ann Patchett (jul)
Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage- Haruki Murakami ✔
Angle of Repose- Wallace Stegner (apr)
Welcome to Braggsville - T. Geronimo Johnson ✔
Speak- Louisa Hall (nov)

Edited: May 25, 11:17am Top

Dead Uncles and Vegetables - mysteries

1) Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter - Tom Frankin

Reading list:
How the Light Gets In - Louise Penny
The Long Way Home- Louise Penny
The Nature of the Beast- Louise Penny
Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter- Tom Franklin (may) ✔
The Transcendental Murder - Jane Langton - did not finish

Edited: Apr 4, 1:33pm Top

Love & War & Snow - short stories

1) The Ballad of the Sad Cafe and Other Stories- Carson McCullers

Reading list:
The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven- Alexie Sherman
The Ballad of the Sad Cafe: and Other Stories- Carson McCullers ✔
The House on Mango Street- Sandra Cisneros (jul)

Edited: Mar 3, 3:40pm Top

Tippecanoe and Taylor, Too - politics and history

1) The End of America: Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot- Naomi Wolf
2) March: Book One - John Lewis
3) March: Book Two- Johns Lewis
4) March: Book Three- John Lewis

Reading list:
It Can't Happen Here- Sinclair Lewis
The End of America: Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot- Naomi Wolf ✔
A People's History of the United States- Howard Zinn (jun)
Dancing at the Devil's Party: Essays on Poetry, Politics and the Erotic- Alice Striker (aug)

Edited: May 11, 11:16pm Top

Back in the Saddle Again- picking up series I haven't read in a few years

1) The Magician King- Lev Grossman
2) The Magician's Land- Lev Grossman

Reading list:
Lair of Dreams A Diviner's Novel - Libba Bray (nov)
The Broken Eye (Lightbringer) - Brent Weeks (dec)
The Magician King (The Magicians) - Lev Grossman ✔
The Magicians Land (The Magicians) - Lev Grossman ✔
Goldenhand (Old Kingdom) - Garth Nix (jun)

Edited: Apr 25, 10:46am Top

Tick, Tick, Tick, Boom! - steampunk and dystopian fiction

1) The Windup Girl - Paolo Bacigalupi

Reading list:
The Affinity Bridge- George Mann (sep)
The Windup Girl- Paolo Bacigalupi (apr) ✔
Stand on Zanzibar- John Brunner (jul)
The Water Knife - Paolo Bacigalupi (oct)

Edited: Apr 28, 7:49am Top

We Got Us A Pippi Virgin - children's literature

1) The Story of the Blue Planet- Andri Snaer Magnason
2) The Girl Who Drank the Moon- Kelly Barnhill
3) The Island of Dr. Libris- Chris Grabenstein

Reading list:
The Island of Dr. Libris- Chris Grabenstein ✔
The Fourteenth Goldfish- Jennifer L Holm (sep)
Matilda - Roald Dahl
The Story of the Blue Planet- Andri Snaer Magnuson ✔

Edited: Apr 25, 10:46am Top

Paris is Burning - fiction and nonfiction set in, or about, Paris

1) The Dud Avocado - Elaine Dundy
2) Markets of Paris - Dixon and Ruthann Long
3) The Patisseries of Paris - Jamie Cahill
4) My Life in France- Julia Child

Reading list:
My Life in France- Julia Child (apr) ✔
The Dud Avocado- Elaine Dundy ✔
Markets of Paris Food, Antiques, Artisanal Crafts, Books and More, with Restaurant Recommendations ✔
The Patisseries of Paris: Chocolatiers, Tea Salons, Ice Cream Parlors, and more

Edited: Apr 21, 8:57pm Top

Introducing Lorelei Planetarium - books about the universe


Reading list:
The Elegant Universe- Brian Greene (apr)
The Fabric of the Cosmos- Brian Greene

Edited: Apr 25, 11:14am Top

Always a Godmother, Never a God -- books on spirituality, religion, myth


Reading list:
The Power of Myth- Joseph Campbell
Shambhala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior- Chogyam Trungpa

Edited: May 22, 8:59pm Top

Lazy-Hazy-Crazy Days -- summer reads, books about summer, 'light" reads

1) This One Summer- Jillian Tamaki, Mariko Tamaki
2) We Learn Nothing: Essays- Tim Kreider
3) You're Never Weird on the Internet (Almost)- Felicia Day

Reading list:
This One Summer - Mariko Tamaki ✔
We Learn Nothing: Essays- Tim Greider ✔
Oral Sadism and the Vegetarian Personality- Glenn Ellenbogen (dec)
The Big Bad Book of Bill Murray: A Critical Appreciation of the World's Finest Actor
You're Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) - Felicia Day (may) ✔

Edited: Apr 25, 11:15am Top

Star-Crossed Lovers and Other Strangers --young adult

1) The Weight of Feathers- Anna-Marie McLenore

Reading list:
The Weight of Feathers- Anna-Marie McLemore ✔
The Last Leaves Falling- Sarah Bernwell
The Square Root of Summer- Harrier Reuter Hapgood
The Most Dangerous Place on Earth - Lindsey Lee Johnson

Edited: Apr 30, 5:15pm Top

Love, Daisies & Troubadours -- poetry

1) Brown Girl Dreaming- Jacqueline Woodson
2) Milk and Honey - Rupi Kaur
3) Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude - Ross Gay
4) How to Be Drawn- Terrance Hayes

Reading list:
Brown Girl Dreaming - Jacqueline Woodson ✔
Out of the Dust- Karen Hesse (sep)
Scattered at Sea- Amy Gerstner (jun)
Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude- Ross Gay ✔
How to be Drawn- Terrence Hayes ✔

Edited: Feb 24, 10:31pm Top

Norman Mailer, I'm Pregnant! -- unplanned reading

1) Introvert Doodles - Maureen "Marzi" Wilson

Edited: May 25, 11:20am Top

Planned Reading for the AwardsCAT, CATWoman and SFF/SFFF KIT

Classics by Women:
Dud Avocado
Ballad of the Sad Cafe

SFF/SFFF you should have read in 2016:
The Magician King

Award: The Morning News Tournament of Books:
Welcome to Braggsville

This One Summer (Caldecott) ✔
Brown Girl Dreaming- (Newbery) ✔
The Iron Dragon's Daughter- (World Fantasy Award) - didn't finish

SFF/SFFF Religion

Angle of Repose
The Orphan Master's Son
The Elegant Universe

Women's Bio/Auto/Memoir:
My Life in France

SFF/SFFF Dystopian/Ap
The Windup Girl

Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter

Women in the Arts (hosting):
The Creative Habit
You're Never Weird on the Internet (Almost)

National Book Award:
Scattered at Sea
A People's History of the United States

SFF/SFFF Series:

State of Wonder

Women of Color:
The House on Mango Street

Stand on Zanzibar

Women's NonFiction;
Dancing at the Devil's Party

Women's - Children's lit. YA and graphic novels:
The Fourteenth Goldfish
Out of the Dust

The Half-Made World
The Affinity Bridge

Women- Regional:
The Calligrapher's Daughter

SFF/SFFF - Near Future:
The Water Knife

New York City Book Award:
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay

SFF/SFFF Historical:
Lair of Dreams

Diagram Prize For the Oddest Title of the Year 1986 (prize from another country (England)):
Oral Sadism and the Vegetarian Personality

SFF/SFFF Magic Systems (hosting)
Broken Eye

Edited: May 13, 6:15pm Top

Books bought in 2017:
1) Night Sky With Exit Wounds
2) Ariel
3) A Tiding of Magpies
4) The Book Thief - anniversary hard cover to replace my paperback copy.
5) Introvert Doodles
6) The Invisible Library
7) Madame Pamplemousse and the Time- Traveling Cafe
8) Our Revolution
9) Vivas to Those Who Have Failed
10) Rabbit Cake
11) The Underground Railroad

Edited: Jan 1, 11:26pm Top

Planned Reading for January:

The Ballad of the Sad Cafe
The Dud Avocado

The Magician King

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: The Original Screenplay

Other reading:
Ink and Bone
The End of America: Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot
The Story of the Blue Planet

For the holidays I got two cool book related gifts. My friend Andrean, who last year made me some very pretty Book Cover marshmallow treats, made me a glass. She has a special machine that makes the cut-outs and then she applies them to the glass. My sister gave me a Canvas on Demand of a bookshelf to color. I plan to color in a book on the canvas whenever I finish reading one of my challenge books.

Jan 1, 8:37pm Top

Welcome back! I love the picture for your steampunk category, and the glass is beautiful! Looking forward to following your reading in 2017. :)

Jan 1, 11:18pm Top

Love your theme and the way you've chosen episode titles to fit your categories! I almost used "The Hobbit, the Sofa and the Digger Stiles" as my fantasy category also. :) Looking forward to seeing what you read!

Jan 1, 11:31pm Top

I love your categories. My daughter and I started watching Gilmore Girls a few months ago, and we've made it to about midway through season 4. I just hope Netflix doesn't decide to take them off before we can finish them all.

Jan 1, 11:41pm Top

>22 rabbitprincess: Thanks rp. I don't remember where I found that gold dalek on wheels but I think it's really pretty.

>23 christina_reads: Thanks Christina.

>24 virginiahomeschooler: Thanks. I'm sure you'll have time to watch all the Gilmore Girls episodes before they disappear from Netflix. They have the new series to promote and seven seasons of old episodes is a good draw.

Jan 2, 11:21am Top

I see some books I'm interested in on your planned reading list, particularly in your Paris category.

Jan 2, 2:06pm Top

You've set up a really fun challenge. I'm starring and looking forward to your reviews. Should I admit that I've only seen one episode of The Gilmore Girls? I keep meaning to go back and see more.
>21 VioletBramble: What a great, and creative, friend!

Jan 2, 6:16pm Top

This is a great set-up, I really need to take a closer look at Rory Gilmore!

Jan 2, 9:37pm Top

Bacigalupi is one of my favorite. Authors and Windup Girl one of my favorite books. I hope you enjoy them too!

I really enjoyed the recent episodes of the Gilmore Girls though I was a little disappointed that Rory let Logan mistreat her so.

Have a wonderful year!

Jan 5, 3:49pm Top

Great categories and I am looking forward to following along once again.

Jan 5, 10:02pm Top

>21 VioletBramble: I love the quote, it also applies to me. I feel a little uneasy if I end up somewhere with no book. And if there happens to be a little time to read, and I have no book? Then I'm gutted ;)
Happy new year and happy reading to you.

Jan 7, 6:16pm Top

Great categories! I'll look forward to following along.

Jan 7, 7:28pm Top

Wow-great categories!

Jan 8, 6:07am Top

Love your categories, I'm a huge Gilmore Girls fan. The four part special fell a little flat for me, but there are episodes from the early seasons that I could watch over and over again.

Jan 10, 10:26pm Top

>26 dudes22: Hi Betty. Thanks for visiting my thread.

>27 mstrust: Hi Jennifer. I read your short story noir earlier. Very nice - and congratulations. You should definitely make time to watch more Gilmore Girls.

>28 MissWatson: Thank you.

>29 mamzel: The two Bacigalupi books on my challenge will be the first time I've read him. I've heard great things.
I was disappointed in the whole portrayal of Rory in the new series. It's as if she hasn't grown up at all.

>30 DeltaQueen50: Thanks Judy.

>31 Ireadthereforeiam: Hi Meghan. Nice to see you over here in the category challenge. Happy New Year!

>32 VivienneR: Thanks Vivienne.

>33 tess_schoolmarm: Thank you Tess

>34 jonesli: Hi Lisa. I agree, the new Gilmore Girls was not as good as the original. They should have changed more and matured over the 10 years.

Edited: Jan 24, 11:39am Top

1) Ink and Bone (The Great Library)- Rachel Caine
Fantasy, Alternate history, Libraries, Books about books, Series
Pages: 384

This book is set in 2025 in an alternate history (future?) where the Great Library of Alexandria was not lost to fire. The Great Library is now the main library in a world wide network of libraries. The library controls access to books and knowledge. It also controls the distribution of news and information. Everyone receives messages on iPad-like devices. In this world people are not allowed to own physical books.
Jess Brightwell comes from a family in the black market book business. They steal and sell rare original books to those who can afford to pay. Jess is pressed into service as a book runner by his father. His favorite part of running books is getting to read the rare volumes. His father realizes that Jess is not really cut out for the rougher aspects of the family business. He decides to buy Jess a chance to enter the Library Training Program. If he is admitted, and passes, Jess can become a scholar in the library. Once inside he will be able to smuggle books out for his family to sell. Jess is thrilled- he has secretly dreamed of becoming a scholar in the library. But shortly after Jess becomes a postulant in the training program he realizes that what's happening inside the library is not what he expected and that his life is in danger.
I felt pulled into the story immediately. I liked the world building and the many multi-layered characters. I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the series. Highly recommended.

Just as an aside: The author, Rachel Caine, included a soundtrack list at the end of the book. Since I enjoyed the book-- and the world building-- I checked out all 50 songs on the list. The list was extremely heavy with Celtic music -- particularly for a book set in London, Oxford, and Alexandria. I ended up making a short -- 12 song-- Ink and Bone soundtrack. Mine has less Celtic music, which I enjoy in limited amounts. For those who may be interested, here is my soundtrack playlist:
1) Santiago - Lorena McKennitt
2) Come With Me Now - Kongos
3) The Resistance- 2Cellos
4) The Engine Room - Runrig
5) Dolan's 6AM - Beoga
6) Benedictus- 2Cellos
7) Supermassive Black Hole- 2Cellos feat. Maya Rivera
8) The Story That Never Starts - Abney Park
9) The Oak & Holly Kings - The Dolmen
10) Mombasa - 2Cellos
11) Take Me To Church - Hozier
12) To Be Alone- Hozier

Edited: Jan 24, 11:40am Top

2) Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: The Original Screenplay- JK Rowling
Screenplay, Fantasy, Harry Potter, RandomCAT
Pages: 293

This is the screenplay for the movie Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. It's a story built around the original book with this title, which is part of a set of Harry Potter school textbooks.I had seen the movie before reading the screenplay, which was helpful in making sense of the stage directions in sections that were a little technical.
Newt Scamander, Magizoologist, travels to 1926 New York City. He is on his way to Arizona to release a Thunderbird in it's natural habitat. Before Newt can head west a few of the fantastic beasts he is carrying in his magical case get loose and cause havoc in New York City. This brings Newt to the attention of MACUSA - The Magical Congress of the USA. Specifically, Tina Goldstein, ex-auror. Tina, her sister Queenie and a No-Maj (aka Muggle) named Jacob Kowalski help Newt locate his beasts. This story is tied to the world of the Harry Potter books by the presence of the evil wizard Grindelwald.
I enjoyed the story -- and the movie. I love visiting the magical world of JK Rowling.
My one issue with the book is the random doodles throughout. I liked the doodles of the beasts but the other doodles were just there to take up space. The book could have easily been 40-50 pages shorter without all the doodles.

Jan 10, 11:39pm Top

I got my Gilmore Girls POP! figures today. I love them. I think Sookie looks the best

Jan 11, 10:28am Top

>36 VioletBramble: - I think I might take a BB on this. You've made it sound very interesting although I'm not usually drawn to books set in alternate/future worlds.

Jan 11, 12:36pm Top

>36 VioletBramble: BB for me too! I've seen a few review of Ink and Bone, but yours is the first to convince me that I need to add it to my TBR!

Jan 12, 3:15am Top

Fun categories & set up. I just started watching Gilmore Girls a few months ago. These people drive me a little crazy but it's doing something right because I'm almost done with the 6th season. :)

Edited: Jan 13, 9:37pm Top

3) The Magician King- Lev Grossman
Magic, Series, Fiction, Fantasy, SFF/SFFFKIT
Pages: 400

The second book in the Magicians Trilogy. Picked for the SFF/SFFF KIT for a book I should have read in 2016. I meant to read this book last year when I started watching the SyFy television series based on the books. Season 1 is adapted from parts of the first two books and I had only read the first book -- years ago.
Quentin, Julia, Eliot and Janet are the Kings and Queens of the magical land of Fillory. Fillory is one of many worlds to which the magicians (who are from Earth) have access. Quentin is still the main protagonist. Luckily he has matured a little and is less whiny so his chapters are not as difficult to get through in this second book. Quentin is bored. He sets out on a quest to collect taxes from the Outer Islands. Julia goes with him. His quest turns into a quest to save magic in all of the multiple worlds. The quest chapters alternate with chapters that tell Julia's story. Julia's story occurs during Quentin's time at Brakebills College for Magic (book 1). Her chapters explain why Julia seems changed, possibly no longer human.
While I preferred the school setting of the first book, the second book was a much quicker read, easier to get through, the characters less annoying and occasionally funny. The ending was good.
"This isn't how it ends!" Quentin said. " I am the hero of this god-damned story, Ember! Remember? And the hero gets the reward."
"No, Quentin," the ram said. "The hero pays the price"

I like the books. The television show is much better. I'm looking forward to season 2 starting on the 25th.

Edited: Jan 24, 10:46pm Top

4) Ballad of the Sad Cafe and Other Stories- Carson McCullers
Short stories
Pages: 152

This is a collection of one novella (Ballad of the Sad Cafe) and 6 short stories. McCuller's prose is beautiful. Events unfold slowly. This is southern gothic literature, but of the lonely outcast/misfit variety, not the depressing bleakness of the stories of Flannery O'Connor.

Jan 13, 9:49pm Top

>39 dudes22:, >40 christina_reads: Yay! I hope you enjoy the book

>41 madhatter22: I know what you mean about Gilmore Girls. After watching it for years I realized that I find Lorelai obnoxious and her humor often childish. She's most obnoxious in season 7 after the Palladino's lost control of the show.

Jan 15, 2:22pm Top

Love the setup for your category reading!

>37 VioletBramble: - That cover is fabulous!

Jan 18, 10:39am Top

>44 VioletBramble: I've started season 7 and I'm seeing what you mean!

Jan 20, 9:32pm Top

Just sharing because I'm gonna miss these guys.

Jan 21, 1:19am Top

Love the set-up and enthusiasm - good luck with your 2017 reading

Jan 21, 1:56pm Top

Love your setup. And I'll be on the lookout for Ink and Bone.

Edited: Jan 21, 7:43pm Top

Today women and their male allies marched in over 300 cities across the USA and around the world. I marched in the Women's March in NYC. The streets were packed. My group was actually stuck at 2nd Ave and 49th street for about 30 mins. We finally made it to Trump Tower at 1430. The church across the street started ringing their bells. It took us about a minute to recognize that they were playing This Land is My Land. Best part of a great day.

Jan 21, 7:50pm Top

>45 lkernagh: Hi Lori. Thanks for visiting.

>46 madhatter22: Oh, yeah. I actually just watched the season one episode where she gives the tickets to the Bangles concert --- Sookie's tickets --- to the Chilton girls. Those aren't your concert tickets to give away Lorelei.

>48 ErinPaperbackstash: Thanks Erin. Good luck with your 2017 reading challenge as well.

>49 markon: Thank you. Oh good, I hope you find it and enjoy it.

Edited: Feb 1, 9:42pm Top

5)The Story of the Blue Planet- Andri Snaer Magnason
Translated from the Icelandic by Julian Meldon D'Arcy
Illustrated by Aslaug Jonsdottir
Children's literature
Pages: 135

The Blue Planet is a planet full of children that never grew up. Only children - and plants and animals- live on the planet. The children are wild and do what they want. Once a year a cave full of sleeping butterflies would awaken and circle the entire planet in a day. It was the happiest day in the year.
One day a grown-up, in a spaceship, lands on a small island on the blue planet. He convinces the children on the island that they are bored. He shows them how to have fun all the time if they pay him a bit of their youth. The children discover that their fun is hurting children on the other side of the planet. They refuse to go back to being bored until one of the children volunteers to sacrifice his heart to fix the situation.
This is a story about how all our actions have consequences; for ourselves, for others, and for the planet.

Edited: Jan 25, 10:21pm Top

Today I went to The Hall of Magic, an interactive installation of rooms based on places in The Magicians series of books by Lev Grossman. It's taking place all week to celebrate the second season of the television show, which starts tonight. The top two photos are from the Library. The room with the wall of bottles is the Apothecary. The blue glowing bottles are in the classroom. The bottom pic is me, as a constellation, in the Constellation room.
In the Apothecary Room there was a woman who read your palm and sorted you into your magic house. In The Magicians there is physical magic, psychic magic, healing magic, herbalists, naturalists, etc. Since I'm a nurse who studies herbal medicine I went in wondering if I might get sorted as a healer or an herbalist. I heard a few people ahead of me picked as healers. That woman looked at my hand and said to me " You love to read. You love to learn. You love knowledge. You have knowledge magic". I was floored because I do love all those things. Of course anyone looking at me can tell I'm a huge nerd, so maybe just a lucky guess on her part. I didn't even know there was knowledge magic, but I am stupidly jazzed to have been sorted into that house.

Jan 25, 11:22pm Top

>53 VioletBramble: I haven't seen the show or even read the books yet, but this looks really fun. This and your earlier post about the 2nd book made me want to finally get around to The Magicians.

Edited: Feb 1, 8:39pm Top

>54 madhatter22: While I would normally recommend the books over the movie/show, in this case, I'd recommend you watch the show.

Edited: Apr 30, 5:17pm Top

6) The Dud Avocado- Elaine Dundy
CATWoman, Fiction, Paris
Pages: 260

Set in 1950s Paris, France. Sally Jay Gorce is an American girl on her own in Paris. In her formative years Sally Jay frequently ran away from home. Her rich Uncle Roger made a deal with her just before her 13th birthday. Stop running away, graduate high school and college and he would pay for her to go anywhere she wants for two years. It is Sally's greatest desire to be on her own with no one to answer to, stay out all night, eat and drink what she likes and have sex. Along the way she falls in love with all the wrong people, does some acting, aways dresses inappropriately for the occasion, and unknowingly gets involved with a stolen passport/ prostitution scheme.
The book was funny in places. The last half of the book was a quick read as there was more going on. While the book was good it never really pulled me into it's world. I didn't really like Sally Jay. She's scatter brained, always losing things and making bad decisions, but I got the feeling that the reader is supposed to think that she's intelligent.
About the title: " His avocado arrived and he looked at it lovingly. "The Typical American Girl." he said addressing it. " A hard center with the tender meat all wrapped up in a shiny casing." He began eating it. "How I love them" he murmured greedily. "So green - so eternally green". Sally Jay declares herself a dud.

Edited: Feb 26, 6:30pm Top

7) The End of America: Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot - Naomi Wolf
Politics, NonFiction
Pages: 176

A "letter' written by Wolf during the George W Bush era detailing why she believes that the Republican party is strategizing to become a permanent majority and keep control of the US government. She lists the ten steps a leader will take to " close down a democracy or crush a prodemocratic movement, whether by capitalists, communists or right-wing fascists."

The ten steps:
1) Invoke an External and Internal Treat
2) Establish secret prisons
3) Develop a Paramilitary Force
4) Survey Ordinary Citizens
5) Infiltrate Citizen Groups
6) Arbitrarily Detain and Release Civilians
7) Target Key Individuals
8) Restrict the Press
9) Cast Criticism as "espionage" and Dissent as 'treason"
10) Subvert the rule of law

Wolf gives examples of how GWB put all these steps into action. The book was written before Obama won the 2008 election. According to Wolf if the Republicans had won America would have become a fascist state. Now the USA has a new president who is already putting these steps into action. Some of them he can skip -- the secret prisons and paramilitary forces of the Bush era still exist. It's a very scary time. Wolf's main advice to defeat a fascist take over of the government, is for all Americans to become and remain "awoke".

Edited: Feb 2, 11:12am Top

Recap for January:

Books read in 2017: 7
Books read in Jan: 7
Books off the shelf 2017: 7
Fiction: 6
NonFiction: 1
Male author: 2
Female author: 5
Pages read in 2017: 1800
Books bought in 2017: 2

In November I went to California with my sister, niece and some friends. My niece and I needed to return home before everyone else because of work and school. The day we left someone told us that the really good vegetarian restaurants were on Valencia. I recognized the name of the street from the Talk like a Pirate Day treasure hunt at LT as one of the answers - The Pirate Supply Shop 826 Valencia. I asked my sister to stop by the shop and take a photo if she actually went to Valencia. She went and sent me a photo. I forgot all about it until the other day. My sister hosted "Cousin's Day" at her house this past Saturday. She handed me a box and said "Oh, I got these for you in San Francisco and forgot about them".

She got the patch, which is an 826 in the shape of a sea serpent because she thought it was cool. I have discovered that the coins, which I wanted to call doubloons, are actually called Reales ( the silver) and Escudos ( the gold).

Edited: Feb 1, 10:58pm Top

Planned Reading for February:

AwardCAT: Morning News Tournament of Books:
Welcome to Braggsville- T. Geronimo Johnson

Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage - Haruki Murakami

Other reading:
March: Book One - John Lewis
March : Book Two - John Lewis
March: Book Three- John Lewis
The Melt Method- Sue Hitman
The Weight of Feathers- Anna-Marie McLemore
The Transcendental Murder- Jane Langton

Feb 4, 10:50pm Top

>58 VioletBramble: Ooh. Haven't gone into the pirate supply store in quite a while. My nephews would love some of those coins! Love that patch design too. Thanks for the reminder. Did you get to any of the veggie restaurants?

Feb 6, 1:22am Top

Dropping a comment so that I get to follow your thread - happy reading! (I'm a little behind, so apologies for the generic comment - better to come, I hope.) :)

Feb 6, 5:10pm Top

>60 madhatter22: I didn't get to go to Valencia at all. My sister and friends did eat in some of the vegetarian restaurants there. They tortured me by texting photos of good food while I was at work.

>61 -Eva-: Hi Eva! Thanks for visiting. No worries. I'm frequently very far behind on threads. Sometimes I read all the threads but don't post anything. Depends on my mood.

Edited: Feb 26, 6:22pm Top

Feb 7, 10:12pm Top

>36 VioletBramble: Ink and Bone sounds great - I'll take a BB.
>47 VioletBramble: Me too.
>50 VioletBramble: Great pics, thanks for sharing!

Feb 26, 6:17pm Top

>64 LisaMorr: - Hi Lisa! I hope you enjoy Ink and Bone. I miss Obama more every day.

Feb 26, 6:21pm Top

LT went down or glitched as I was posting my books up in >63 VioletBramble: and I lost my whole review. I tried a few days later but it was officially down. I'm now going to do a really quick catch up to bring me to the end of February. This next week will be really busy so I'm sure I won't complete any more books this month.

Edited: Feb 26, 8:25pm Top

8) March: Book One- John Lewis, Andrew Aydin Illustrated by Nate Powell
Memoir, Graphic novel, Civil rights, Selma, Politics
Pages: 128
9) March: Book Two
Pages: 192
10) March: Book There
Pages: 256
Overall rating:

This is Representative John Lewis' (5th District, Georgia) autobiography in graphic novel form. The story starts with two young boys meeting Representative Lewis in Washington, DC on the January 2009 inauguration day of Barack Obama. He tells them about his involvement in the civil rights movement. Book One covers his young years growing up on a farm and as a child preacher. It includes the lunch counter sit-ins that started the peaceful (on the part of the protestors, anyway) protests for civil rights. Book Two tells about the Freedom Riders, the various non-violent student groups, and the March on Washington. Book Three includes the March in Selma and the passage of the Voting Rights Act. Lewis was right in the middle of the civil rights movement and he was friends or acquaintances with all the leaders - Martin Luther King, Jr., Medgar Evers, and Malcolm X.
An important work of American history. Highly recommended.

Edited: Feb 26, 7:19pm Top

11) Introvert Doodles - Maureen "Marzi" Wilson
Illustrations, Introversion
Pages: 176

I picked this up on a whim at the book store. Doodles about introverts, some of which have popped up on my FB thread now and then.

Edited: Mar 8, 5:43pm Top

12) Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage- Haruki Murakami
Fiction, Japan, Coming of age, RandomCAT
Pages: 400

Tsukuru Tazaki was one of a group of five very close friends all through school. His four friends all had names that contained a color. His name means "to build or make". He has always felt colorless and empty. Tazaki went away to Tokyo for university to study railway station design (his obsession). His friends stayed in their hometown. During the summer of his sophomore year his friends cut off all communication with him without explanation. He never tries to contact them. Many years later he tries to start a relationship with a woman, Sara. She can tell he has some emotional blockage from his past that keeps him from being really involved in the relationship. He tells her about being rejected by his friends and she urges him to confront his past. Tazaki travels back to his hometown and to Finland to speak to his old friends and discover what he did that made them reject him.
I enjoyed this book despite it being somewhat depressing in parts. It was a slow read in a nice way. The book lacks most of the metaphysical elements that Murakami usually utilizes. Also, there were no cats. I kept waiting for the obligatory cat to show up but none did.
I loved the design of the inner book jacket -- a map of the Tokyo train system. I love transit maps.

Edited: Feb 26, 8:08pm Top

13) Welcome to Braggsville- T. Geronimo Johnson
Fiction, American south, AwardCAT -- Morning News Tournament of Books
Pages: 354

D'aron Davenport, from the small town of Braggsville, Georgia, heads to UC Berkeley for his freshman year. A politically incorrect party costume gets him kicked out of the party with two other people - wearing versions of the same costume - and his roommate. The four become friends. D'aron's roommate, Louis Chang, wants to be a kung fu comedian. Charlie is an athlete from Chicago. Candice -from Iowa- is very liberal and likes to put on demonstrations. D'aron mentions, during a classroom discussion, that his hometown has yearly Civil War reenactments. His professor thinks it would be a great place for a demonstration. The four friends plan to travel to Braggsville on spring break - the time of the reenactment. D'aron's family throws a big BBQ for them upon arrival.During the BBQ D'aron's father gets wind of the plan for the demonstration the next morning and tells him to call it off.
The plan for the demonstration during the reenactment was to put on a fake lynching. D'aron tells his friends that he can't do it because his father asked him not too. Charlie, who is African-American, is relieved; he doesn't want to do it either. Louis and Candice decide to do it on their own over D'aron's protests. The fake lynching goes disastrously. The small town of Braggsville is plunged into the spotlight as the place of a modern day lynching.
D'aron has to deal not only with the murder of his friend but with his family and hometown who feel betrayed by the act and it's consequences.
The murder happens fairly early in the story and the rest of the book deals with the emotional aftermath for the remaining friends, the inquest to find out what happened and how the town of Braggsville deals with the situation.
The writing style was a little strange. There was so much slang used the author had to include a glossary at the back of the book. It was occasionally hard to tell which character was speaking and there were some passages where I had no idea what was happening or what those pages had to do with the rest of the story.

Feb 26, 8:11pm Top

The Transcendental Murder--Jane Langton. The first book I didn't finish so far this year. I Pearl ruled it on page 54-- nothing had happened and I wasn't liking any of the characters.

Edited: Apr 1, 5:29pm Top

Recap for February:

Books read in 2017: 13
Books read in Feb: 6
Books off the shelf 2017: 13
Fiction: 8
NonFiction: 4
Graphic novel, etc: 4
Male author: 7
Female author: 6
Pages read in 2017: 3306
Books bought in 2017: 5

Feb 26, 8:48pm Top

Planned reading for March:

Brown Girl Dreaming- Jacqueline Woodson - Newbery Honor Book
This One Summer- Jillian Tamaki - Caldecott Honor Book
The Iron Dragon's Daughter- Michael Swanwick - World Fantasy Awards

Summerlong- Peter S Beagle

Other reading:
We Learn Nothing: Essays- Tim Kreider
Anger - Thich Nhat Hanh

and finish these books started in Feb:
How to Relax- Thich Nhat Hanh
The Weight of Feathers- Anna-Marie McLemore

Feb 27, 3:02pm Top

>70 VioletBramble: I think that's a title I will happily skip. Neither the writing style nor the subject appeal to me.

Feb 27, 5:53pm Top

>68 VioletBramble: I have a library hold on Introvert Doodles. It looks amusing!

Edited: Mar 8, 6:55pm Top

14) Brown Girl Dreaming- Jacqueline Woodson
Poetry, Memoir, Novel in verse, AwardCAT, Civil rights, NYC, Children's literature

In this memoir in verse Woodson tells us her life story and the history of her family. When young she lived near her father's family in Columbus, Ohio. After her parents separation/divorce she moved with her siblings to Greenville, South Carolina to live with her maternal grandparents. This was in the mid 1960s and Greenville was a center for civil rights activities. In the early 1970s the Woodson siblings moved with their mother to Brooklyn, NY.
The verses tell the story of each family member, Woodson's love of reading, writing and story telling, the lushness of the south verses the energy of New York, the civil rights movement, and friendships.
My family, like Woodson's, moved from a small town to New York City in the early 1970s. Woodson and I are roughly the same age and her cultural touchstones are identical to mine - I too listened to the songs she writes about and watched those television shows. ( I had nearly forgotten about The Big Blue Marble!) I could also identify with Woodson's love of empty composition books, reading and storytelling. I loved this book. Highly recommended.

composition notebook

And somehow, one day, it's just there
speckled black-and-white, the paper
inside smelling like something I could fall right into,
live there - inside those clean white pages.

I don't know how my first composition notebook
ended up in my hands, long before I could really write
someone must have known that this
was all I needed.

Hard not to smile as I held it, felt the breeze
as I fanned the pages.
My sister thought my standing there
smiling was crazy
didn't understand how the smell and feel and sight
of bright white paper
could bring me so much joy.

And why does she need a notebook? She can't even write!

For days and days, I could only sniff the pages,
hold the notebook close
listen to the sound the papers made.

Nothing in the world is like this -
a bright white page with
pale blue lines. The smell of a newly sharpened pencil
the soft hush of it
moving finally
one day
into letters.

And even though she's smarter than anything,
this is something
my sister can't even begin
to understand.

Edited: Mar 13, 7:31pm Top

15) This One Summer- Mariko Tamaki, Jillian Tamaki
Graphic novel, Coming of age, Summer, AwardCAT
Pages: 320

Coming of age story about two pre-teen girls, Rose and Windy, who spend the summer, as always, with their families at their summer cottages on Lake Awago. Roses parents are fighting as her mom struggles to overcome her sadness at having miscarried, while swimming in the lake, last year. The girls also manage to involve themselves with the gossip and drama in the lives of the local teenagers -- the girlfriend of the cashier at the small local store is pregnant. Not a lot happens - the girls watch R rated scary movies, eat lots of sugary junk food, go swimming and spy on the cashier - "The Dud"- and his friends.
I have previously read another Mariko Tamaki graphic novel; Skim. The story in Skim was better, more fleshed out, but the illustrations in this one are much better.

Edited: Mar 12, 5:12pm Top

16) The Weight of Feathers- Anna-Marie McLenore
Young adult, Fairy tale, Fiction
Pages: 320

A retelling of Romeo and Juliet. The story centers on two families of traveling performers. The Palomas perform as mermaids in sequined tails. The Paloma women have a scale-like birthmark. The Corbeaus are tightrope walkers that wear large wings made of peacock feathers and perform in trees. The Corbeaus grow feathers in their hair. The two families end up in the same town every year during a Blackberry Festival. Each family blames the other for an incident that happened in this town 20 years prior. The wooded lake area where both families perform suddenly flooded killing members of both families. Both families think the other practices black magic and have superstitious beliefs about any contact.
Cluck Corbeau and Lace Paloma, both teenagers, meet one night, but have no idea of each others identity. A few days later an industrial accident happens in town. Cluck rescues Lace and takes her to the hospital. In the process a black feather like mark was burned into Lace's arm. Her family realizes that Cluck is a Corbeau and see the feather mark as bad luck. They tell Lace she is no longer part of the family and she plans to leave town. On the way she stops at the Corbeau trailer to say thank you to Cluck. He does not know she's a Paloma and she gets hired to do make up for his family. The two start a relationship. Eventually both families find out and the secret of what really happened 20 years before is discovered.
This was a quick read and I felt pulled into the story early on, the two main characters were interesting enough, but overall I felt the story was just okay.

Edited: Mar 12, 5:12pm Top

17) We Learn Nothing: Essays- Tim Kreider
Essays, NonFiction
Pages: 235

A collection of essays by political cartoonist and essayist Tim Kreider. The essays include stories about the time he almost died after being stabbed in the throat, his uncle's mental illness and criminal past, the gender reassignment surgery of a long time friend and discovering his birth mother and half-sisters and finally feeling genetically connected to other people. In turns funny and poignant these essays will make you think about your own life and the strategies you use to make it through.
The book includes some of Krreder's cartoons which I had difficulty reading -- the conversation bubbles were hand lettered and tiny. Recommended.

Mar 12, 6:46pm Top

>70 VioletBramble: - Sorry to read about the issues with the Johnson read. The premise of the story sounds fascinating, but I hate it when a book doesn't deliver or has other problems.

Edited: Mar 13, 7:31pm Top

18) Markets of Paris- Dixon and Ruthann Long
Paris, Food and Drink, Shopping, NonFiction
Pages: 255

A travel guide about the street markets of Paris, concentrating on those that sell food, antiques, books, and postcards. Also mentioned are some restaurants and tea shops. Best information in the book: the secret, nearly line free entrance to the Louvre - with access to bathrooms. Published in 2006 so the information may or may not be currently accurate.

Edited: Mar 17, 8:59pm Top

19) The Patisseries of Paris- Jamie Cahill
Travel, Paris, NonFiction, Food and Drink
Pages: 254

A travel guide about places to eat in Paris, concentrating on patisseries, chocolatiers, tea salons, and ice cream parlors. Many of the patisseries featured also serve savory food options. This book made me so hungry.

Edited: Mar 14, 2:40pm Top

20) How to Relax - Thich Nhat Hanh
NonFiction, Meditation, Relaxation
Pages: 120

A small book that's part of a 5 part series that offers short meditations on relaxing, resting, de-stressing, doing nothing and solitude.

Mar 14, 2:50pm Top

Riding out winter storm Stella here in NYC. We expected 15-20 inches of snow but have actually gotten more icy rain than snow. Looks like less than 6 inches of snow outside my window. I'm happy to be hiding out in my apartment. I've made a pot of tea, have a good book to read, Season 1 of Mr Robot to watch and other things to keep me busy.

Mar 14, 3:32pm Top

Glad to hear that the storm doesn't seem to be as bad as predicted. The most important thing is that you still have power. Enjoy your tea and your book!

Mar 14, 4:04pm Top

>84 VioletBramble: Mr. Robot is perfect for binge watching! Enjoy!

Mar 15, 12:48pm Top

We also lucked out here in RI when the snow changed to rain early. Made for heavy snow when there was some to be shoveled, but luckily our son-in-law showed up to help my husband. (I was inside sick - I do usually help.)

Edited: Mar 20, 9:48pm Top

21) Summerlong- Peter S Beagle
Fantasy, Myth, Fiction, SF/SFFKit

A retelling of the Persephone myth. Joanna and Abe are a long term couple, more than twenty years together, not married. Abe is retired and Joanna is near to retirement. They live on Gardner Island, near Seattle. While dining at their favorite restaurant they meet their waitress, a mesmerizing young woman named Lioness. She is new in town and needs a place to stay. They invite her to stay in an apartment over Abe's garage. Once Lioness is living with them they start to notice strange things: the weather is always spring-like, she can pull arm loads of flowers from the ground, she can speak to whales, and can move from place to place without seeming to actually move. They also realize that she is hiding from someone. By the time her mother (Demeter) and her husband (Hades) come to take her back home she has changed the lives and relationship of Abe and Joanna.
The story was okay. The most interesting parts were where the mythical came to life in the present. As always Beagle's prose is lovely.

Mar 17, 9:13pm Top

>85 DeltaQueen50: Thanks Judy. We got lucky and most of the storm missed us.

>86 mamzel: I was only able to watch the first three episodes of Mr Robot that day. I needed a little break from the corruption and bleakness of the super rich being in control of everything -- on the show and in real life. I just have the last two episodes to finish. Then I can look for season 2.

>87 dudes22: I'm glad you also escaped the worst of the storm Betty. The best thing about living in an apartment is that I never have to shovel snow. My brother in law works for the sanitation department and has a plow on his truck so he goes over to my mother's house and clears her driveway.

Mar 17, 9:16pm Top

Second dropped book of the year: The Iron Dragon's Daughter. I tried to read this one multiple times in the ten plus years that I've owned this book. I didn't even get to page 50 this time.

Edited: Mar 23, 8:56pm Top

22) Milk and Honey- Rupi Kaur
Pages: 196

A friend gave me this book of poetry for solstice/Christmas. This is poetry primarily meant for women, about relationships. The poems are grouped into four sections; the hurting, the loving, the breaking, and the healing. The poems are mostly in the form of short prose poems and use simple language.
Many of the reviews I've read of this book talk about this being amazing poetry and something new, maybe groundbreaking. I found the poetry to be good and often very frank. I read a lot of poetry, esp. by women, and I found nothing new here.

i want to apologize to all the women
i have called pretty
before i've called them intelligent or brave
i am sorry i made it sound as though
something as simple as what you were born with
is the most you have to be proud of when your
spirit has crushed mountains
from now on i will say things like
you are resilient or you are extraordinary
not because i don't think you're pretty
but because you are so much more than that

Edited: Apr 2, 5:44pm Top

23) Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude - Ross Gay
Pages: 102

This is the first poetry I've read by Ross Gay. The back of the book tells me that he is a professor of poetry at Indiana University and is on the board of the Bloomington Community Orchard. Many of these poem are about fruits, vegetables, fruit bearing trees, trees in general, insects, family, life, and death.

ode to sleeping in my clothes

And though I don't mention it
to my mother
or the doctors
with their white coats
it is, in fact,
a great source of happiness,
for me, as I don't
even remove my socks,
and will sometimes
even pull up my hood
and slide my hands deep
in my pockets
and probably moreso
than usual look as if something
bad has happened
my heart blasting a last somersault
or some artery parting
like curtains in a theater
while the calvary of blood
comes charging through
except unlike
so many of the dead
I must be smiling
there in my denim
and cotton sarcophagus
slightly rank from the day
it is said that Shostakovich slept
with a packed suitcase beneath
his bed and it is said
that black people were snatched
from dark streets and made experiments
of and you and I
both have family whose life
savings are tucked 12 feet beneath
the Norway maple whose roots
splay like the bones
in the foot of a man
who has walked to Youngstown, Ohio
from Arkansas without sleeping
or keeping his name
and it's a miracle
maybe I almost never think of
to rise like this
and simply by sliding my feet into my boots
while the water for coffee
gathers it's song
be in the garden
or on the stoop
running, almost,
from nothing.

Edited: May 23, 9:43pm Top

24) The Girl Who Drank the Moon- Kelly Barnhill
Fantasy, Children's literature, AwardCAT
Pages: 388

A coming of age fairy tale about a witch, a very small dragon, a bog monster, a boy, a sorrow eater, a very sad town, a madwoman, and a girl who turned magic when she was just a baby because she was fed moonlight.There are three interconnected stories that merge into one by the end. The prose was lovely, esp the sections about the magic of words and paper.
I enjoyed the story but felt that it took a long time to read, esp for a children's book.
Winner of the 2017 Newbery Award. Recommended.

Apr 2, 5:52pm Top

Recap for March:

Books read in 2017: 24
Books read in March: 11
Books off the Shelf 2017: 23
Fiction: 11
NonFiction: 8
Graphic novels: 5
Poetry: 3
Male author: 12
Female author: 13
Pages read in 2017: 6,082 ( 2776 in March)
Books bought in 2017: 7

Apr 2, 5:58pm Top

Planned reading for April:


The Windup Girl

AwardCAT: (Pulitzer Prize)

Angle of Repose
The Orphan Master's Son
The Elegant Universe


My Life in France- Julia Child

Apr 2, 6:03pm Top

>88 VioletBramble: I'd read Beagle's work for the first time last year, with The Last Unicorn, and liked it very much. I'll have to keep this one in mind.

Apr 4, 4:00pm Top

>96 mathgirl40: I love The Last Unicorn. Last year I read Beagle's short story collection, The Line Between, which contains the sequel to Unicorn. The entire collection was pretty good.

Edited: Apr 28, 8:21am Top

25) My Life in France - Julia Child with Alex Prud'homme
Memoir, CATWoman
Pages: 352

I found this book on the give-away shelf in my buildings laundry room. This was around the time that the movie Julie & Julia was being shown on cable movie channels frequently. I had watched the movie a few times, mainly because the Julie portions of the movie take place just across the bridge from where I live and I'd been trying to place which block they'd filmed on based on the neighborhood landmarks. (my copy has the movie-tie-in cover)
This is Child's memoir of her time in France, Germany and Norway between 1948 and 1961, including her time at Le Cordon Bleu and the writing of Mastering the Art of French Cooking. The last section of the book covers her return to the US and her television show The French Chef. The memoir is co-written by her nephew and it reads as if it's a long story that she's telling him; it has a conversational style. Included are many photos taken by Julia's husband, Paul Child. As I neared the end of the book I started skipping over the descriptions of recipes with their extensive instructions for preparation. Mainly because all the recipes were meat, fish or poultry dishes. There was not one description of a vegetable dish in the entire book.
I'd recommend this book to fans of Julia Child or books about cooking. If you're not in those categories, skip this one.

Apr 12, 6:27pm Top

I liked Meryl Streep in the movie and used to watch the Julia Child show. I found when I was reading the book that I kept hearing Julia speaking in my head. I enjoyed the descriptions of their life in France too.

Apr 17, 2:48pm Top

Julia certainly had a distinctive and memorable voice. She has a wonderful life story! I used her cookbook yesterday to cook my leg of lamb!

Edited: May 23, 9:54pm Top

26) The Orphan Master's Son- Adam Johnson
Fiction, North Korea, AwardCAT- Pulitzer Prize
Pages: 456

Pak Jun Do grew up in an orphanage in North Korea. He is put in charge of the other orphans; naming them, deciding who eats and handing out work assignments. This leads him to believe that he is the son of the Orphan Master. He also believes that the beautiful woman whose photo hangs in the Orphan Master's room is his mother, a singer who was kidnapped and taken to Pyongyang. The reader never knows if these are truths or the dreams of an orphan. When North Korea suffers a prolonged famine- "The Arduous March"- the Orphan Master gives all the orphans to various government agencies. Jun Do is given to the Army where he is trained as a "tunnel rat" who sneaks into South Korea, via a series of dark tunnels under the DMZ, to steal supplies. Once he becomes skilled in combat in the dark he is picked to work as a kidnapper. His skill in picking up the Japanese language while kidnapping Japanese citizens is noticed. He is sent to language school to learn English. He receives a "listening post" on a North Korean fishing vessel in the East Sea. He spends his nights listening to American and Russian radio communications. He also listens to, and becomes obsessed with, the nightly ramblings of an American female rower who is lost at sea. After an incident involving the US Navy he is made a hero. He is sent on a diplomatic mission to Texas to retrieve something the Americans stole from Kim Jung Il. His team returns to North Korea having failed. Jun Do is sent to a prison camp. While working in the mine at the camp he encounters Commander Ga, one of the most powerful people in the government and main rival of Kim Jung Il. Jun Do kills Commander Ga and assumes his identity. EVERYONE openly pretends he really is Commander Ga. Even Kim Jung Il. Jun Do/Commander Ga's plan is to rescue Sun Moon, North Korea's favorite actress, wife of the real Commander Ga, and obsession of Kim Jung Il and Jun Do.
In between all the adventure and espionage the reader is shown how the people of North Korea learn to live and hopefully survive in a country where everything functions just to make one man happy and convince everyone else of his divine greatness.
This is an amazing book. It's also a nearly relentlessly depressing book. I finished reading a few days ago but can't stop thinking about the book.

Jun Do heard the story as if it were being broadcast from some far-off, unknown place. Real stories like this, human ones, could get you sent to prison, and it didn't matter what they were about. It didn't matter if the story was about an old woman or a squid attack - if it diverted emotion from the Dear Leader, it was dangerous.

Apr 22, 8:56pm Top

Hi Kelly! Just dropping in to wish you a happy weekend! :)

Apr 23, 4:44am Top

>92 VioletBramble: sounds like a great book! I like the poem you featured.

>101 VioletBramble: and this one, wow. There are a few North Korean books floating about at the moment. This one sounds pretty powerful!

Apr 23, 7:59pm Top

>102 LauraBrook: Hi Laura! Thanks, I had a good weekend-- I marched for Science in the rain. Hope you had a good weekend. Nice to see you at Litsy. I'm still trying to find my way around there.

>103 Ireadthereforeiam: Hi Megan! Hope you had a good summer and that you and your boys are doing well. Oh, The Orphan Master's Son is a powerful book. I haven't heard of other books set in North Korea. I'll have to research and see if I can find some.

Edited: Apr 28, 8:40am Top

27) The Windup Girl - Paolo Bacigalupi
SF/SFF Kit, Dystopian, Bio-terrorism, Bangkok, GMOs
Pages: 347

I wanted to like this book more than I did. I SHOULD have liked it more than I did. The story has many elements I generally enjoy; dystopian future, genetically modified foods gone wrong, evil corporations, plagues, and it's multicultural. I think it was just bad timing. I'm emotionally exhausted by the current political climate and its push to put corporations before people. My current anxiety level about real life is too high to enjoy this type of story right now. Also, the only character I cared about was the Windup Girl, Emiko, an engineered being.

Edited: Apr 28, 8:40am Top

28) The Island of Dr. Libris - Chris Grabenstein
Children's literature, Books about books
Pages: 242

Billy and his mom are spending the summer at Dr. Libris' lakeside cabin. There is a nearby island. When Billy reads books from Dr Libris' library the stories come to life on the island. Billy and his new friend, Walter, row out to the island and become involved in the story. Their participation requires them to take books from the library to the island and read them aloud to make the stories happen and characters from various books interact with each other.
I couldn't help but compare this book to Grabenstein's other books; Escape From Mr Lemoncello's Library and Mr Lemoncello's Library Olympics. Both of those books are excellent; full of book knowledge, trivia , and love. In comparison this one was disappointing. The bookish parts of the story were not as interesting but will hopefully inspire young readers to look up all the books used to tell the story. Also, Mr Lemoncello was great as a genius book lover who wanted to share that book love with children. Dr Libris wants to use Billy's ability to bring stories to life in order to become rich.

Apr 28, 12:00pm Top

>105 VioletBramble: I'm sorry you didn't like it more. Looking back on when I read TWG it was a much calmer political environment. I loved it so much that I reread it before a year went by. It turned me into a Bacigalupi fangirl. (And I love saying his name!)

Edited: Apr 28, 1:00pm Top

>107 mamzel: Yeah, I think I should have read the book three years ago. I feel like I would have liked it much more.
Bacigalupi is a great name.
I still have The Water Knife to read later this year.Hopefully I'll like that better.

Edited: Apr 30, 5:18pm Top

29) How to Be Drawn - Terrance Hayes
Pages: 97

This is the first I've read poetry by Terrance Hayes. The poem are about family, race and art. A couple of the poems were styled as Q&A, graphs and schedules. I didn't like those particular poems but liked the majority of his other poems. This was my favorite:


It was light and lusterless and somehow luckless,
The hair I cut from the head of my father-in-law,

It was pepper-blanched and wind-scuffed, thin
As a blown bulb's filament, it stuck to the teeth

Of my clippers like a dark language, the static
Covering his mind stuck to my fingers, it mingled

In halfhearted tufts with the dust. Because
Every barber's got a gift for mind reading in his touch,

I could hear what he would not say. He'd sworn
To never let his hair be cut again after his daughter

Passed away. I told him how my own boy,
His grandchild, weeps when my clippers bite

Behind his ear, but I could not say how
The blood there tastes. I almost showed him

How I bow my own head to the razor in my hands,
How a mirror is used to taper the nape.

Science and religion come to the same conclusion:
Someday all the hair on the body will fall away.

I'm certain he will only call on me for a few more years,
The crown of his head is already smoother

Than any part of his face. It shines like the light
In Tiny bulbs of sweat before the sweat evaporates.

Apr 30, 6:16pm Top

Recap for April:

Books read in 2017: 29
Books read in April: 5
Books off the Shelf 2017: 28
Fiction: 14
NonFiction: 9
Graphic novels, etc: 5
Poetry: 4
Male author: 16
Female author: 14
Pages read in 2017: 7,576 (1494 in April)
Books bought in 2017: 10

Apr 30, 6:32pm Top

Planned Reading for May:

Edgar Award:
Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter - Tom Franklin

The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It For Life- Twyla Tharp
You're Never Weird on the Internet (Almost)- Felicia Day

The Magicians Land- Lev Grossman
Dawn - Octavia E Butler

Hopefully I can finish Angle of Repose, one of my Pulitzer reads I couldn't finish in April. It's really lovely but a much slower read than I anticipated.

May 1, 5:16pm Top

Love the Gilmore pics! They remind me how much I loved Young Rory.

Edited: May 23, 10:26pm Top

30) Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter- Tom Franklin
Mystery, AwardsCAT - Edgar Award, Fiction
Pages: 304

An excellent mystery set in Mississippi. Larry Ott is bookish and weird. A loner in his small Mississippi town. He loves reading Stephen King and other horror books. He is bad at sports. He has only one friend - a secret friend - Silas. In his junior year of High School he gets a chance to take the girl of his dreams on a date. She never returns home, is never seen or heard from again. Everyone in town suspects that Larry raped and murdered her. The police are never able to prove anything. As an adult, Larry lives alone on his parents farm, an outcast in town. The towns people refer to him as "Scary Larry". Everyday he opens his father's automotive repair shop, where the only customers he ever gets are strangers passing through with emergencies. Twenty-five years after the first disappearance another girl from town goes missing. Everyone suspects Larry. When Larry is discovered shot in his home and the remains of the girl are found buried on his property the town is sure he is guilty. Everyone except Silas, who is now the only police officer in town. Silas is the only one who is also certain that Larry did not kill that girl 25 years ago. He's the only one that knows Larry could never have murdered anyone. Silas has his own guilt about the incident that happened in the past. Silas finally owns up to what he should have done in the past and sets out to find the truth.
I've never been so happy with the conclusion of a mystery as I was with this book. Poor Larry.

Edited: May 23, 9:54pm Top

31) The Magician's Land- Lev Grossman
Fiction, Fantasy, Series, SF/SFF Kit
Pages: 416

The conclusion to The Magicians trilogy. All the storylines are brought to satisfying endings - Alice is saved, magic is saved, and Fillory is saved.
Highly recommended.

Magic and books: there aren't many things more important than that. But there are one or two. We saved Alice, and now we're going to save Fillory.

You only had to see a unicorn lay open the side of a centaur once, the ribcage flashing white where the ripped skin flopped down, to swear a mighty oath never to fuck with or even look at another unicorn again. I'm putting down the hearts and fluffy clouds and backing away slowly. Don't want any trouble here. You can have all the rainbows.

Edited: May 23, 10:28pm Top

32) You're Never Weird on the Internet (Almost)- Felicia Day
Memoir, NonFiction, Gaming, CATWoman
Pages: 304

On average, a random person on the street won't know my work, but there are certain places where I'm a superstar, like San Diego Comic-Con, and...other places like San Diego Comic-Con.

In this memoir Day, "The Queen of the Geeks", covers her semi-hippie upbringing, her years of home schooling, getting into college at 15 and graduating with two degrees ( music/ violin and math), and deciding to become an actress. While looking for something to fill her time between auditions Day discovered on-line gaming. She became addicted to gaming and spent 12-18 hours a day playing World of Warcraft. Eventually Day would develop, write, produce and act in her own web series about gaming, The Guild. The show was a hit with gamers.
I'm not a gamer and don't know of Day from The Guild. I know her as an actress on shows such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Dollhouse, Supernatural and Dr. Horrible's Sing Along Blog, among others. I've also watched her play board games and talk about geeky topics with her friend Will Wheaton on his television show where he plays board games with famous geeks ( I have forgotten the name of the show).
Her memoir is fun and painfully honest. If you're reading to see if she name drops her celebrity friends I can tell you that those instances are few. Joss Whedon and Will Wheaton are the only ones mentioned by name.
Recommended for those with an interest in pop culture, gaming, acting or Felicia Day.

May 24, 1:45pm Top

>113 VioletBramble: I agree that this was an interesting and satisfying mystery!

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