lycomayflower acknowledges the paradox of choice in 2019
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Welcome to the my 2019 reading thread! Click here to go to my introduction post. The picture above is of my beloved golden retriever, Thursday, showing me what she thinks of reading instead of playing with the dogbit.
This first post contains an on-going list of the books I've read this year, with the most recent reads at the top. Click on the book title to go to the book's post within the thread, where you will find a review. Numbers in parentheses are page counts for each book. Click here to visit my 2018 thread.
Total Pages: 15,028
68.) A Girl Like Her (288)
67.) The Lost City of Z (319)
66.) Gilmore Girls: A Cultural History (192)
65.) TV Goes to Hell (252)
64.) Giant Days vol 9 (~100)
63.) Unicorn Bowling (~100)
62.) Pumpkinheads (211)
61.) With the Fire on High (392)
60.) Tinsel Fish (134)
59.) Every Heart a Doorway (169)
58.) Murmuration (300)
57.) Sailing Alone Around the Room (172)
56.) Small Spaces (216)
55.) Sharp Objects (393)
54.) The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman (259)
53.) The Keeper of Lost Things (278)
52.) Ziggy, Stardust & Me (347)
51.) Children of Blood and Bone (525)
50.) His Saint (284)
49.) Once Upon a Haunted Moor (112)
48.) In the Hunt:Unauthorized Essays on Supernatural (275)
47.) Gaudy Night (501)
46.) Arrows of the Queen (206)
45.) Driftwood (200)
44.) Counting by 7s (378)
43.) Phoebe and Her Unicorn in Unicorn Theater (~100)
42.) Unicorn of Many Hats (~100)
41.) Phoebe and Her Unicorn in the Magic Storm (~100)
40.) Unicorn Crossing (~100)
39.) Razzle Dazzle Unicorn (~100)
38.) Ghosts (~150)
37.) Unicorn vs. Goblins (~100)
36.) Giant Days vol 8 (~100)
35.) Unicorn on a Roll (~100)
34.) Band Sinister (240)
33.) Grandma Gatewood Hikes the Appalachian Trail
32.) Supernatural: Nevermore (315)
31.) Phoebe and Her Unicorn (~100)
30.) Kidnapped (221)
29.) The Passages of H.M. (454)
28.) Facing West (275)
27.) Ordeal by Innocence (269)
26.) Ship It (375)
25.) Eloise The Ultimate Edition (~100)
24.) Becoming (426)
23.) Meet the Austins (223)
22.) Well-Read Black Girl (239)
21.) To Night Owl From Dogfish (314)
20.) Bunny Day
19.) The Bookshop of the Broken Hearted (293)
18.) The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie (373)
17.) A Visitor's Guide to Mystic Falls (190)
16.) The Vampire Diaries: The Struggle (235)
15.) The Vampire Diaries: The Awakening (253)
14.) Once Upon a Winter's Eve (153)
13.) The Gardener
12.) Grandma Lena's Big Ol' Turnip
11.) Border (375)
10.) Giant Days volume 7 (~100)
9.) I Think You're Wrong (But I'm Listening) (194)
8.) Can I Come, Too?
7.) Rough Canvas (352)
6.) The Queen's Progress
5.) A Cathedral of Myth and Bone (352)
4.) A Study in Scarlet Women (323)
3.) Aquicorn Cove (94)
2.) Book Love (137)
1.) The Book of Strange New Things (500)
Read 170 books (including 60 picture books)
Read 24,073 pages
My Top Five-ish First-Time Reads of 2018 were:
Check, Please: Hockey
We Were Eight Years in Power
The Duke I Tempted
Giant Days volume 1
The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet
The Tea Dragon Society
In 2018, I completed the reading challenges I set myself, and in 2019, I will try to:
*read ten books by authors of color
*read ten books by LGBTQIA authors
*complete a sixteen-point challenge that reflects where I want to see my reading go in the coming year (see my 2019 thread post for the specific points)
*stay within my new book budget
*read new books as they come into the house whenever possible
*make a habit of reading one book at a time
*stay more engaged on LT threads rather than lurking quite so much
*avoid reading books just because I think I ought to and/or just to increase my total number of reads for the year
*keep better track of my numbers for the categories I like to track
Ten Books by Authors of Color
1.) Book Love, Debbie Tung
2.) A Study in Scarlet Women, Sherry Thomas
3.) Grandma Lena's Big Ol' Turnip, Denia Lewis Hester
4.) Well-Read Black Girl, various, edited by Gloria Edim
5.) Becoming, Michelle Obama
6.) Children of Blood and Bone, Tomi Adeyemi
7.) The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman, Ernest J. Gaines
8.) With the Fire on High, Elizabeth Acevedo
9.) A Girl Like Her, Talia Hibbert
Ten Books by LGBTQIA Authors
1.) Ship It, Britta Lundin
2.) Driftwood, Harper Fox
3.) Once Upon a Haunted Moor, Harper Fox
4.) Ziggy, Stardust & Me, James Brandon
5.) Murmuration, TJ Klune
6.) Every Heart a Doorway, Seanan McGuire
7.) Tinsel Fish, Harper Fox
Sailing Alone Around the Room
2.) A short story collection from my shelves
3.) Any nonfiction work about religion from my shelves
4.) A nonfiction work about religion from my shelves not by C.S. Lewis
5.) A nonfiction work about science
The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie
Arrows of the Queen
8.) A novel in translation of a language I did not read in 2018
9.) A graphic novel from my shelves
10.) A middle grade novel from my shelves
11.) A Book of the Month book from my shelves
I Think You're Wrong (But I'm Listening)
13.) A book from my shelves purchased before 2010
14.) The second book in a series I started before 2019
A Study in Scarlet Women
The Passages of H.M.
"From my shelves" essentially means "came into my possession before 2019."
Describe yourself: Quiet Girl in a Noisy World
Describe how you feel: You Learn by Living
Describe where you currently live: In the Middle of Somewhere
If you could go anywhere, where would you go: Hello, Lighthouse
Your favorite form of transportation: I Saw Three Ships
Your best friend is: An Absolutely Remarkable Thing
You and your friends are: I'll Be There for You
What’s the weather like: The Rough Patch
You fear: A Sharp Solitude
What is the best advice you have to give: In Conclusion, Don't Worry about It
Thought for the day: Nobody Likes a Goblin
How you would like to die: Sated
Your soul’s present condition: The Quotidian Mysteries
A year full of books
A year full of friends
A year full of all your wishes realised
I look forward to keeping up with you, Laura, this year.
*stands, lifts glass* The professor!
And yes please, that sounds great!
And here is the list from last year: I read the ones marked and some of them were my best reads of the year:
Electric Literature 46 Books by Women of Color to Read in 2018
🌸When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir by Patrisse Khan-Cullors and asha bandele
🌸 This Will Be My Undoing by Morgan Jerkins
🌸🌸Halsey Street by Naima Coster
So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo
Everything Here is Beautiful by Mira T. Lee
🌸The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory
🌸An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
🌸The Lost Girls of Camp Forevermore by Kim Fu
🌸🌸 The Friend by Sigrid Nunez
🌸Call Me Zebra by Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi
Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi
Song of a Captive Bird by Jasmin Darznik
Secrets We Kept: Three Women of Trinidad by Krystal Sital
🌸 Feel Free: Essays by Zadie Smith
Heart Berries by Terese Mailhot
The House of Erzulie by Kirsten Imani Kasai
Bury What We Cannot Take by Kirstin Chen
The Parking Lot Attendant by Nafkote Tamirat (I was supposed to get this as an ER)
Everyone Knows You Go Home by Natalia Sylvester
Go Home!, edited by Rowan Hisayo Buchanan
My Old Faithful by Yang Huang
🌸 The Beekeeper by Dunya Mikhail
🌸🌸Happiness by Aminatta Forna
Whiskey & Ribbons by Leesa Cross-Smith
Poignant Song:The Life and Music of Lakshmi Shankar
Heads of the Colored People
Not That Bad: Dispatches from Rape Culture
Sick: A Memoir
Number One Chinese Restaurant
🌸 Convenience Store Woman
Old in Art School
🌸 Fruit of the Drunken Tree
How to Love a Jamaican
Love War Stories
What We Were Promised
A River of Stars
If You Leave Me
Everyday People: The Color of Life
This Mournable Body
October and Later
All You Can Ever Know
And It Begins Like This
Useful Phrases for Immigrants
The Body Papers
Sorry to take up so much space.
The novel follows Peter, a minister chosen by a somewhat shadowy organization to be sent to a foreign planet to minister to the native population of that planet. A good deal of the story is devoted to his concerns about leaving his wife behind and to her letters to him detailing the deteriorating situation on Earth and her increasing crises of mental health and religious faith.
I hoped to enjoy this novel, as it involves three things I usually find deeply compelling in fiction--explorations of other cultures, intimate relationships between people, and explorations of faith--and at first I thought I would. For the first two hundred or so pages, I was drawn to the story, even if upon thinking about it I couldn't really say why. But ultimately it was a huge disappointment. Virtually none of the characters come alive on the page (and for a while their dullness seems like it is going to be a plot point--as if something about the planet or something the organization is doing is sapping them of their vitality or individualism, but no); Peter is a drip; his wife comes off as a whiny, selfish, manipulative shrew (and yet, we are supposed to care deeply about the health of the relationship between her and Peter?); the novel is deeply uninterested in explaining even basic premise-y things (when is this taking place? what planet has Peter traveled to? why is the organization that sent him so close-lipped?); and almost none of the plotty questions I had while reading were ever answered. While I found the read a little unsettling, I would call this book depressed rather than depressing. If it were a person, I suspect I might comment that its affect was off.
The comparison to Mary Doria Russell's The Sparrow is probably inevitable given the shared subject matter of the two novels, and the comparison is entirely in Russell's favor as far as I'm concerned. I recommend you read that instead.
A middle grade graphic novel about a girl and her aunt who both love the sea and discover a mystical world beneath the waves. A delightful story with beautiful, colorful illustrations and a great message about conservation. I didn't love this one quite as much as O'Neill's The Tea Dragon Society, but that is more a commentary on just *how much* I loved that one rather than on this one being less good. Recommended.
The show was not picked up.
>43 lycomayflower: Note to self: don't read that one. Sorry your first read was not good.
This first book in the Lady Sherlock series establishes the premise of the series, showing how a young woman named Charlotte Holmes comes to set herself up as a kind of consulting detective under the guise of one "Sherlock" Holmes. As we see how all that is coming about, Charlotte also solves a fairly twisty little mystery.
I enjoyed the story a good deal, especially the ways it follows various "ruined" or otherwise ostracized women in the late 19th century and explores their options and the strictures under which they lived. The characterization was also good, and I especially enjoyed the relationship between Charlotte and her sister and between Charlotte and
***For Book Club
**Fulfills challenge #15 on my personal challenge for 2019, a book I have abandoned in the past
This collection of fantasy-adjacent short stories was full of really fascinating ideas and premises, all retelling and reshaping myths, legends, and the ideas and tropes contained within them. While the collection was hit and miss for me, with some stories working much better than others, unfortunately on the whole most of them simply didn't land. For most of the stories I was thrilled and enchanted by the premise, by the idea of whatever reworking Howard was doing in that tale, but at the end of the story I didn't feel like I got much out of it beyond that premise. It was as if the interesting bit was solely the "what if," and the execution of the full story around the what-if was never as strong as the hook. Disappointing, but also: YMMV. I have a long track record of not loving short stories, so if you *do* love them, this collection may work much better for you.
>61 lycomayflower: I'm a short-story lover indeed, so I'll try that out because that sounds like my jam to the life.
>63 richardderus: Sherlock sure has had himself adapted left, right, and center lately, hasn't he?
>64 lycomayflower: Cool! Hope you enjoy!
An alphabet picture book that gives a rhyme for each letter to do with Queen Elizabeth I's summer holiday royal progress ("An A for adventure. Our spirits are high! Fare thee well London. All's ready. Let's fly!") and then provides a short paragraph explaining a historical aspect of the royal progress. The pictures illustrate the rhyme and the information, often with a little "extra" narrative thrown in. Fascinating and lavishly illustrated, though I am a little "hmm?" about who this book is for. The information and illustrations seem 8+, while the overall format (alphabet book) seems a good deal younger. Perhaps I underestimate older children's willingness to return to "younger" formats if executed well.
This BDSM-themed erotic romance follows Marcus and Thomas as they try to navigate the things about their lives and responsibilities they think will keep them apart and find a way to be together. A solid story underpins this romance, and I was invested in seeing how these two were going to work themselves out. At first I was afraid the novel was going to be mostly sex and little plot, but eventually all the emotion that is simmering under everything right from the start came to a head (sorry, sorry, sorry) and the real meat of the plot got going. As is so often true of romance novels, some of the best scenes are not between the two leads but between one of them and someone else who means something to them. A couple of such scenes in this one were killer (not that there weren't *also* excellent, affecting scenes between the heroes as well). If I had any complaint, it is that (again, like so many erotic romances I've read), the book feels top heavy when it comes to sex. In the first third or so, I was absolutely exhausted by how much sex was on the page, ("Dang, they're going to do it again?") and in the last third or so, the sex largely fades to black. It just feels uneven. That said, if this is the kind of book you enjoy, recommended.
A gorgeously illustrated picture book about a mouse who decides to try to find the biggest creature in the world. As she meets more and more animals bigger than herself, they all ask if they can come along on the adventure. I had three suspicions about how the story might come out (
The hosts of the podcast Pantsuit Politics ("Sarah from the left. Beth from the right. No shouting. No insults. Plenty of nuance.") have written a book about what they call "a better way to talk politics." They explore where they think political discussions have gone wrong in our country lately, ask why, and provide some guidance for thinking about your political engagement and the way you approach talking about politics with others. Their goal is always thinking about "the other side" not as opponents but as fellow Americans and always how to move conversations forward, not how to "win." This is good stuff, nicely presented, with each chapter offering up ways to think about one aspect of political conversations, examples from Sarah and Beth that use real issues to explore the guidance they suggest, and exercises for putting their guidance into practice. Highly recommended.
**Fulfills challenge #12 on my personal challenge for 2019, a book I've purchased within 48 hours of starting it
Part travel memoir, part mediation on borders, Kassabova's book is an exploration of the people, geography, and history of the borders between Turkey, Greece, and Bulgaria. This is well written and the material is well presented, but I never quite settled into it. While Kassabova does explore history further back than the Cold War and does discuss the geography of the place, I was hoping for something that was more evenly balanced. This felt Cold War, Cold War, Cold War, to me, and that is not a criticism as such but rather just the reason *I* got impatient with it. It was also far more unsettling than I was in a place to sit with right now. I probably would have enjoyed the book more at a different time.
I read this with my book club, and the other members all liked it much more than I did, some very much. So YMMV considerably.
This picture book recasts a traditional Russian tale into a suburban environment. Grandma Lena plants a turnip that grows to unbelievable proportions and needs the help of all the family to pull it up. Then she makes all manner of good southern food out of it and invites the whole neighborhood to a picnic. Pleasant with nice illustrations.
13.) The Gardener, Sarah Stewart ****
This picture book tells the story of a young girl sent from the country to the city to live with an uncle during the depression. The story is told through her short letters home and revolves around her months-long projects to create a garden on her building's roof and to get her uncle to smile. A sweet story, and the illustrations and wonderful. They are so detailed that I'm sure you'd find more and more to look at with each read.
Both of these are off to the nieces as part of their Easter package from me.
A holiday novella in Dare's Spindle Cove series. A strange man stumbles into the Christmas ball and collapses at Violet's feet. Thus begins a short adventure involving his identity and a romance.
Welp, we've moved. (About ten minutes up the road.) We got tired of wondering if *this time* was going to be the time our creek flooded our first floor, so right around Christmas we started the process of finding a new place. Fifteen weeks on, we are moved out of the old house and fully set up in the new one (as of yesterday, when I unpacked the last of the book boxes). Now it's just hanging a few pictures and getting the books properly organized... and selling the old place. The realtor says he can shift it. We'll see. I'm fairly confident in him, and it's a very good house, except for that flooding threat. This is me actively trying to avoid an anxiety spiral. =/
The new place is very nice but is taking a little getting used to, as its layout is completely different from the old place, as is its location. We're on a cul-de-sac here deep in a (very pleasant) neighborhood, where before we were across the street from a hay field and while our neighbors were actually pretty close by, we had to work to *see* them from our house. I'm dealing with all the usual "new place" stuff, like hearing every blessed sound the house makes (including a radon reduction fan which runs constantly and which I somehow managed not to hear when we looked at the place repeatedly before buying or during the inspection. Here's hoping that means I can unhear it because right now it's driving me a bit nuts), and flipping fourteen light switches before hitting the one I need. On the plus side, built-in bookshelves! Gorgeous flowering trees throughout the neighborhood! No flood threat!
Reading has been thin on the ground, though there has been some. I am several (four?) reviews behind. Look for those to show up over the next few days. Hope to be more of a presence on the threads now that things have calmed down a bit too.
I'm sure it will start to feel like home in no time!
Congrats on the new house, though! We loved living on a cul-de-sac in Wisconsin. It made living in the middle of town seem like living not in the middle of town.
>89 MickyFine: Thanks, Micky!
>90 scaifea: Thanks, Amber! Yeeeah, I have to unpack if I want to have any chance to stay on top of the anxiety a major change like this can spike. So, unpacked yay! The flip side is that I am *still* exhausted and burned out, a week after all the real *moving* is done. But! Not down the well of an anxiety spiral! Calling it a win.
>91 Caroline_McElwee: Thanks, Caroline! Thursday was pretty verklempt for the first few days, but has pretty much settled in now. We can tell she's not one hundred percent at her ease yet, but she's pretty calm and happy and settling into her new routine. I think it helps immensely that she's still going to the doggie day care she did before. A big chunk of her life is just as it was before. I pushed really hard for us to get a house that was close enough to where we were before for us to keep sending her there, and I'm super glad I did now.
16.) The Vampire Diaries: The Struggle, L.J. Smith ****
I've had some volumes of The Vampire Diaries on my shelves for a while now, and I can't for the life of me remember why. I do enjoy modern vampire stories, so maybe I just snagged them at some point simply because vampires. Last month I started watching the show for the first time and I thought, sure why not.
These books are very different from the TV series that was based on them, but it was a lot of fun to see the different little threads that the show picked up and what they changed. I'd say the show is a much better supernatural teenager soap than these books are supernatural YA, but I also enjoyed the books on their own merit. They do, however, feel very dated, not just in their content but in their form. These were published in the early 90s, when YA was an entirely different beast than it is now, and that difference is abundantly apparent here. (In a word, I'd call these books "unsophisticated.")
As a note, I'll point out that, as always, my star rating is meant to indicate how well I *enjoyed* the book, not represent some attempt at an objective assessment of how good it is. Often my enjoyment stars and my assessment stars (if I gave those) would probably line up pretty well. In some cases they are likely far apart. This is one of those cases. Take that as a caveat lector, I suppose.
A collection of critical essays by YA authors about The Vampire Diaries TV show published after the first season had aired. Worth a read if reading light criticism is a way you like to interact with media you love, though as with any book of this type, some pieces were better than others. I like Claudia Gray's piece about the use of the Civil War in the show's flashbacks (and especially her calling out the weird* race relations contained in them). Kiersten White's critique of Stefan activated my "do you even like the show?"/"shh, let people like things" switches pretty hard. The rest were entertaining and worthwhile but don't stand out now, a month on from reading them.
*"Weird" is putting it very mildly. The show largely erases race (and slavery (!)), especially in the past, in a way that is deeply problematic and disturbing (and probably, to be honest, has aged really poorly). Someday I hope to find an article that really dives into it. The Gray piece was not that, but it was good for what it was trying to do.
I've been putting off this first in the Flavia de Luce series for a long time, afraid it would be, I don't know, twee, or that Flavia would be just too precocious. Oh contraire, piston puss! I *loved* this book. (Flavia *is* a bit too precocious, but I didn't care.) The mystery was entertaining (and I felt like it learned me things, which is a thing I adore when fiction does it well), and I just wanted to keep picking up the book to get back to the setting and the characters. Bradley created a world I wanted to return to and set in a while. I'm looking forward to reading more of these. The book was also universally enjoyed by members of my book club, which makes for fairly lousy conversation but is happy-making as it is so rare.
***For Book Club
I almost passed on this one entirely because its title and cover made me think it was going to be the kind of light, possibly gooey, relationship fiction that I am in the mood for about once a year and already own enough of unread to get me through a decade at least. Then I came across a copy in the bookstore and read the first few pages and was all "Welp. It's not that." and bought it. And read it in three days. I wasn't quite prepared for how rough of a read it was going to be (even after I realized it wasn't going to be light)--check the end of my review for a content advisory), but I'm really glad I read it. The story is set in the sixties in Australia and follows two characters--Tom and Hannah--both of whom have been knocked around pretty hard by life, Tom in sort of "ordinary" ways involving a cheating a wife and a son he is prevented from seeing, and Hannah through the almost unthinkable atrocities of the Holocaust. Hillman's telling of their stories is tender and beautiful and unflinching. I need to let this one percolate a bit, as I think he may have been doing something pretty amazing with his juxtaposition of the stories of these two, saying something about what we label "unthinkable" and set apart as the worst that humanity does to its own, versus what we accept as "normal," if hard. Recommended but, content advisory: graphic animal death; emotional abuse and excessive, abusive corporal punishment of a minor; persistent threat of rape and violence against women in a post-war setting; and sustained scenes of the atrocities of the Holocaust and concentration camps.
>96 katiekrug: I think I'm going to have to go back to Flavia. I remember being put off by the reader when I listened to the second book in the series. I wasn't entirely captivated by Flavia anyway, and the voice did me in. But quite likely I could get into her world on the page if I gave it another try.
A picture book following an anthropomorphic bunny family through their day. The text says what the bunnies are doing and what time they are doing it. Each illustration includes an analog clock within the scene showing the appropriate time. I imagine this would be a good start to helping children tell time on clocks with hands, though there is no complexity to the times shown (they are all on the hour). Aside from that, the book is sweet and shows a family doing things together, including getting chores done in a timely fashion so that everyone can enjoy more fun activities together afterwards. A book that can teach some lessons without feeling overly didactic or preachy. The illustrations are rich (lots of "new" things to see on repeat readings) and lovely.
An epistolary middle grade novel about two girls who discover their dads are dating and set out to sabotage the dads' plans for the girls to become friends in anticipation of merging their families. The comparison to The Parent Trap is inevitable, and it's a good comp for the initial premise (if inside out) and the tone--though this novel is not a retelling of tPT, for the story goes in entirely its own directions.
This was a delight to read. I loved all the characters, and I thought Sloan and Wolitzer captured the ever shifting and morphing idiosyncratic interests of pre-adolescents perfectly. The format was fun, especially as we occasionally get letters (emails, mostly, really) from other characters aside from the two girls. Recommended.
This is an excellent collection of short essays by black American women, each discussing the first time they saw themselves in fiction. In addition to the experience of reading the essays themselves for the insight they provide, the collection as a whole is an indispensable set of recommendations for further reading, both within the essays and in the lists of books by black women included throughout. Recommended.
Well, dang. I'm glad I didn't let my totally lukewarm reaction to A Wrinkle in Time stop me from picking up this first novel in L'Engle's The Austin Family Chronicles. I've said that I enjoyed the first bit of A Wrinkle in Time, before the kids go off on the adventure, while the rest of it left me pretty cold. This book is like nothing but that first bit that I liked! The story follows the Austins, a family of six, and centers around second oldest Austin child Vicky. At the start of the story the Austins take in a spoiled and recently orphaned child of a family friend, and the novel revolves around the family's reactions to this disruption to their lives, but really it's just wonderful slice of life stuff, dealing with hard things, big emotions, growing up, and figuring out who you are and where you fit in the universe. That last bit is specifically Christian in the book, but I think the experience of the seeking would be widely applicable, regardless of the reader's religious feelings. I will be reading more of this series. Recommended.
I very much enjoyed Obama's book about her life, especially her early years (through college), her first meeting Barack Obama, and the presidential years. I read this fairly slowly over the course of about a month, which I think was just right for me, as I was invested in reading it and seeing what Obama had to say but there really was no thrust to the book--I mean, it's not like I was itching to find out what happened. The whole thing did make me a little sad though, as it drives home for me how great I think BHO was for us and, well. Now, here we are where we are. *sigh*
***For Book Club
This edition compiles the four original Eloise books--Eloise, Eloise in Paris, Eloise at Christmastime, and Eloise in Moscow--along with a "scrapbook" by Marie Brenner, which tells a brief history of the Eloise books and provides lots of photos of the author and illustrator. I was new to Eloise--I'm sure I'd seen her image before, but I didn't know much about her and certainly never read any of the books before--and this collection was (mostly) a delight. The scrapbook was interesting, and I loved loved loved the first book, Eloise, which tells of Eloise's life living with Nanny in the Plaza hotel in the fifties. It's part absurd, part adorable, part silly, and all wonderful. I also liked Eloise at Christmastime very much. The other two books didn't do as much for me, but Eloise in Paris was a good deal more enjoyable than Eloise in Moscow, which I wrinkled my nose at and actually said, "I don't get it." Perhaps, more than the others, it was a product of its time and doesn't translate well to someone born twenty-five years after it was written. So though I cawn't quite unequivocally say, "Oooooooo I absolutely love Eloise," I will recommend checking her out if you've never met her. Just skibble down to your library and get a copy. But maybe skip the trip to Russia.
A contemporary YA novel about Claire, a young woman who is a Big Name Fan in a new fandom with a strong contingent of the fandom vocal that they believe the male leads on the fandom's show should be in a romantic relationship. When Claire presses the issue at the Q&A at a panel at a con, she sets in motion a series of minor crises in the show's fandom and within the ranks of the show's show runner and actors.
I enjoyed this book a good deal, and was especially happy to find that I was equally interested in both point of view characters--the second pov is that of one of the actors on the show--especially as in books that switch povs that is often not the case. I liked the depiction of fandom, and there were passages where I felt super "seen," as we say now. The book wasn't without its flaws however, chief among them being some questionable behavior on Claire's part toward her love interest. I also wish the book had examined a little more thoroughly the questions it raised about fandom and what a show does or does not "owe" its fans. The story raises great questions, but it didn't always follow through as well as I would have liked. And ultimately I'm not sure I'm really on board with a lot of the conclusions it kind of sort of makes.
This is one of Christie's "stand alone" mysteries, of which there are *far* more than I had previously realized. I read this as a buddy read with an old friend, and the discussion of the book was by far the most interesting aspect of this reading experience as a whole. The book isn't bad, exactly, but the pacing was odd (it dragged *a lot* in the middle), and there were little to no clues or detecting that a reader could follow. Add in some period-appropriate and largely not malicious but still (at best) quite distasteful attitudes towards race, and this Christie falls pretty far down my list of favorites from her.
A contemporary romance following Weston Wilde, a young small-town doctor from a well-loved family, and Nico Salerno, a black sheep who ran away from that same small town as a teen and has only returned fifteen years later after learning his sister has died and left her baby daughter in his custody. West and Nico have to work out a lot of issues between them, and watching them do so was a delight. This was a great combination of sweet and sexy, enemies to lovers and small town. I also just loved the Wilde family, which is enormous and loving and heckles its members adorably. This is the first book in this series, but the second I've read. I'll be getting on to the rest of them in time.
And yes, what Laura said! Come join us (although I'm awful at posting over there these days)!
This fictionalized biography of Herman Melville follows him from a young man to death, using known facts about his life as a framework and filling in the details of conversation and some incident through fiction. The tale is told from two points of view: one a close third to Herman himself, the other a first person pov of his wife, Lizzie, who the author says in his note that he had to "make up" since so little is known of her.
I can't say I cared overly much for the book, unfortunately (I love Moby Dick). Mostly, I think, it just didn't have that spark that makes one really enjoy a book. The writing is fine, and Parini's imagining of Melville is full. But I find I don't care for him much, and I really didn't warm to Lizzie, although oddly, I found her sections more compelling than his. Perhaps I simply grew impatient with Herman and his inability to get anywhere (whether physically, intellectually, metaphysically or what-have-you) with his homoerotic desire (although one might argue that he got somewhere literarily with it, I suppose). I might have liked, in a novel, some more growth and arrival at self-awareness from the main character, but that may have caused the book to lack the verisimilitude the author was going for.
So, not my favorite, but in a way that feels a bit more me than the book. And it does make me think I'll check out something else by Parini, perhaps one of his straight-up biographies.
***For the AAC and fulfills challenge #16 on my personal challenge for 2019, a book that satisfies the American Authors Challenge on LibraryThing
This was one of my very favoritest books when I was eleven or so, and it holds up pretty well now. David's adventures are saved from being too episodic (which I usually don't care for) by the drive to get home and claim his inheritance. Alan Breck Stewart (he bears a king's name!) is entertaining throughout, and there's a good deal of Scottish Highland politics, scenery, and culture, which is just as fascinating to me now as it was when I was a kid. I had forgotten just how long David and Alan mess about in the Highlands, going from one sympathetic family or clan to another (this bit is much shortened in the 1960 Disney movie, which I watched ad nauseam in the same period I was reading the book over and over). There's also an important bit as they exit the Highlands which was changed from book to film (and I think the film version is better). Overall an enjoyable read, and one which was enriched by the fact that since I'd last read it, I've been to some of the places where the book is set (particularly Edinburgh).
***For Book Club
>116 lycomayflower: I was really ambivalent about this story the longer I thought about it. But, like most all Dame Ags's stuff, I thought about it.
Have a lovely weekend.
Yeah, not one of Christie's best, for sure.
Though it is marketed as middle grade, this comics collection about a fourth-grader and her unicorn best friend would appeal far beyond the 8-12ers. It reminded me of both Calvin and Hobbes and Wallace the Brave but is fully its own thing too. Phoebe is a little bit of an outsider, so when she rescues a unicorn and is granted a wish, she wishes for the unicorn to be her best friend. And then adventures ensue, including run-ins with a mean-girl at school and summertime adventures. The humor stands out and I love Marigold Heavenly Nostrils and her commentary on human life. I'll be reading more. Recommended.
The first original Supernatural tie-in novel. This is set during the second season, and was a decent, pretty entertaining read. DeCandido gets Sam and Dean pretty much right (less so Dean), and the story is interesting, if a little anti-climactic-y in the end. I might have liked a little more insight into the brothers, rather than just a good facsimile of what we see on the show, but I imagine that's not really what a book like this is aiming for. (There's always fanfic for that, I suppose.) My only real complaint is that some of the characterization felt a bit too... on the nose and therefore not *quite* right? But this was good enough that I'll probably try a few more, especially as the book introduced a black character who ended up neither a bad guy nor dead, so points there over the show. =p
This picture book tells the story of Emma "Grandma" Gatewood's thru-hike of the Appalachian trail for a kid audience. The illustrations are nice (the various maps of the trail are standouts), and I suspect the idea of a grandmother setting out on her own with a knapsack to hike from Georgia to Maine would spark the imaginations of a lot of kids. Some good light info on the trail and what you might find there, including a longer text write-up (as well as a timeline) of the history of the trail and of Gatewood's walking it at the end of the book. I enjoyed this and am sending it to one of my nieces for her birthday.
I haven't read a ton of KJ Charles, but this is my favorite of what I have read. Set in the Regency, the story revolves around siblings Guy and Amanda Frisby, who live in the country on an allowance provided by their aunt. Previous family scandals compel them to stay out of society, and they have a somewhat happy (if starkly limited) life together. When Amanda breaks her leg on the property of a notoriously scandalous neighbor and is forced to stay in his home while she convalesces (I love this nod to Pride and Prejudice), Guy joins her, partly out of genuine sibling warmth and partly to protect her and her reputation. But the neighbor turns out to be not what he seems (and neither is his "band" of guests), and both siblings end up falling for members of the company. The story mostly focuses on Guy and Philip (the scandalous neighbor), but Amanda's love story chugs along in the background nicely (I'd love to see a book devoted to her, either set during this same period or later). A thoroughly enjoyable read.
35.) Unicorn on a Roll, Dana Simpson ****
This continues to be great. I love Phoebe and especially Marigold Heavenly Nostrils.
36.) Giant Days vol 8, John Allison ****
Giant Days is for sure my favorite comic I'm reading. I only have one more volume before I'm caught up, and I'm sad about that. At least the next volume comes out shortly.
37.) Unicorn vs. Goblins, Dana Simpson ****
Honestly, I just wish these were longer. I miiiight have gone out and bought the entire series so I have more on deck, but they go so quick.
I just read volume 11 of Lumberjanes and adored it as always.
A middle grade graphic novel about Cat and her family, who move towns for the health of her younger sister, who has cystic fibrosis. Their new town is haunted by the friendly ghosts of previous residents of the town. We follow Cat as she deals with her feelings about her sister and her illness, copes with the move, and considers how she feels about her family heritage, especially as her sister sets up an altar hoping their grandmother's ghost will come to visit. This was a great read, especially its treatment of and information about the Day of the Dead. Recommended.
40.) Unicorn Crossing, Dana Simpson ****
41.) Phoebe and Her Unicorn in the Magic Storm, Dana Simpson ***1/2
42.) Unicorn of Many Hats, Dana Simpson ****
I continue to really enjoy this middle grade comics series. Volume 6 (Magic Storm) was a proper graphic novel, with a continuous plot throughout, and I didn't enjoy that one as much. But on the whole I enthusiastically recommend these, and definitely not just to middle-grade-aged readers.
43.) Phoebe and Her Unicorn in Unicorn Theater ****
Coming close to running out of these, and that makes me sad. This was another great one.
I previously read (and enjoyed immensely) the book that HGS co-wrote with Meg Wolitzer, but this middle-grade story didn't do much for me. I think it was meant to be quirky and hopeful in the face of tragedy, but the quirky didn't really work for me and that rather made the whole thing fall apart.
A romance novel about two vets each struggling with his own demons as a result of his time in the service. Thomas deals mostly by trying to hide, and Flynn deals by taking risks he shouldn't and staying in relationships he really shouldn't. This was the best kind of romance novel for me--it is deeply interested in exploring and developing character, and there's a lot of plot ticking away along with the love story. It's also got very nice sentences. Recommended.
This first book in the Arrows trilogy, set in Lackey's Valdemar, was mostly enjoyable. It's pretty episodic, which I don't love, but I liked Talia and the whole set up here enough to carry on. Since I first read the Magic's Whatsit" trilogy in my early twenties, I've been wanting to return to this world, and I'm glad I did. I mean to continue on with this trilogy soonish, and I hope that the next book will be a little more plotty.
***Fulfills challenge #7 on my personal challenge for 2019, an sff novel from my shelves
This is a Lord Peter Wimsey novel with Harriet Vane, but honestly it's mostly Harriet for a good chunk of the story. This was my first foray into any Lord Peter books, and it probably wasn't the best place to start. Harriet and Peter have important history that I can't fully grasp having not read the previous book where it developed, but I was able to muddle through. The detecting here was largely in the background (I'm not sure that you could figure out who was behind the mysterious and disturbing goings on from info that was provided), but I didn't mind too much as the real interest of the story for me was in Peter and Harriet's relationship and how they worked through what marriage between them might be like. I got a bit of a bad taste in my mouth at a few points where I thought that not just some characters' but also Sayers's views on some things (unmarried women, the working class, criminals etc) were pretty unpleasant. Not sure I want to read more of her work, but I might be interested in reading something *about* her. In any case, I'm glad I read this, not least because I read it along with a friend and we had a great discussion about it.
This collection of essays about the TV show Supernatural was published (or at least all of the essays were written) after season three but before season four, so it's *really* early in the show's run and thus some of the points made are laughable now (one essay makes a point about how the SPN universe contains demons but no angels. whelp.). But on the whole I really enjoyed this and found many of the essays really insightful. One on Dean as a mothering figure is great; another fascinating essay discusses how SPN uses "masculine characters to traverse a female landscape." A couple on the Impala as a third main character are interesting (apparently the state of the Impala (clean or dirty) usually reflects Dean's state of mind--neat). A few of the essays felt like filler, and one or two were just terrible--one, about Dean as the character we want to be and Sam as the character we really are, I think seriously misreads Dean, unless you stopped watching at about the midpoint of season one, and is written in a way that I think is supposed to be clever but which just made me cross. But generally I was thrilled to spend two afternoons with this, and it learned me a few things.
This is the first novella in a mystery series about a policeman in Cornwall and the clairvoyant he falls in love with and partners with to solve crimes. A tad light on the mystery, but a lovely bit of character and atmosphere and setting. I'll be more than happy to settle in with Gideon and Lee for more little adventures in Cornwall.
Another in Lennox's Forever Wilde romance series, this one follows vetturned body guard Saint when he is assigned to the son of a wealthy family who has been the victim of repeated break-ins. The two fall in love (natch), and Lennox does a great job, as usual, with character development and with situating her heroes among their families and acquaintances. The secondary characters in a Lennox novel always raise them above the already high level the romance story itself achieves. This one also has a decent little mystery running along side the love story (who keeps breaking in to Augie's house?). It's not earth shattering plottiness, but I was entertained and interested. Recommended.
I was all set to love this, but I'm afraid it disappointed. I can't decide if I think it just didn't spark for me or if there's something more objectively meh about it. I read it for book club, and no one there liked it either (though most of them are not usually fantasy readers, so that honestly doesn't help me out a whole lot). The story is told from three different points of view, and I found little to nothing differentiated those three povs. I also didn't love the use of first person present tense. Finally, nothing about the book really came alive for me, not the characters, not the world building. And by the end I felt like the plot was just one thing after another. I really like the idea of a fantasy story based in an African culture rather than a European one, and Adeyemi's desire to put the struggles of black Americans against police figures into a fantasy setting I think is a great idea, but I wasn't feeling it as a story. I dunno. YMMV.
I enjoyed this YA novel about a teenaged boy in the seventies struggling to accept his sexuality while being told from all sides that he is "sick." The writing is lovely, the main character has a distinct, captivating voice, and his budding relationship with Web, a Lakota boy dealing with oppression and violence himself, is handled nicely. While this was an entertaining read, it was also a hard one: content warnings for racism and homophobia (and accompanying language), violence, and scenes of "conversion therapy."
>174 scaifea: I'm glad you don't hate it! I think a lot of books can really thrive on audio if they have a great narrator where they might otherwise be more meh.
A quirky, mostly gentle novel about a woman who needs to find her way again who is left a house and a collection of "lost things" (mostly small found objects like gloves and buttons) by her employer. He wanted her to return them to their owners. The story is peopled with the house's gardener (the love interest), a teenager from next door (a new friend), and a ghost (maybe?), and interspersed among the main narrative are the stories of many of the lost things. Pulled me along and was a pleasant diversion, but little of it has stuck with me.
Miss Jane Pittman begins her story when she is about eleven years old, just as she and her fellow slaves learn that they are now free. Then she tells of her life over the following hundred years, as she lives through reconstruction, Jim Crow, and the beginnings of the Civil Rights movement. Gaines brings Jane alive and, especially in the beginning of the novel, I was riveted by her story. Some of the later incidents (excepting the final one, where I was again riveted), didn’t engage me quite as much, but on the whole I am very glad to have read this novel and feel like I learned things in the best way that story telling can teach. I’ll be looking out for more by Gaines.
Young reporter Camille returns to her small hometown in hopes of getting a scoop on a possible serial killer of young girls operating there. As she investigates, we learn about her messed up family. This story was populated with unhappy, unpleasant, uninteresting people, and the plot was lackluster. By a third of the way through I wanted to scream at Camille, “
A middle-grade novel about a sixth-grade girl who finds a strange book and then realizes that the events in the book parallel the history of a farm to which her class is taking a field trip. And then the scarecrows start to come alive, and the girl and her classmates have to survive and solve the mystery of the supernatural whatnots going on. I really enjoyed the characters and the writing here and appreciated the creepy but not scary elements (NB that for younger readers, my creepy might well be their scary), but the action was a little too “one adventure we have to survive after another” for me to fully fall in the love with the story. And it dragged a bit for me in the middle. But, I did read the whole thing in one sitting, and I liked the bits I liked well enough that I’ll likely try the sequel someday.
This is probably the first time I've read a poetry collection and really felt like I "got" all of it. And I truly enjoyed the whole thing! I *can* be taught! (Or maybe I just hadn't found the thing that clicked?) Some favorites were "Fishing on the Susquehanna in July," "The Death of the Hat," and "Nightclub."
***Fulfills challenge #1 on my personal challenge for 2019, a book of poetry
Mike Frazier lives a cozy life in an idyllic 1950s town where all the townsfolk are eagerly waiting for him and his almost boyfriend Sean to finally make things official. But things don't seem quite right to Mike (readers were clued in right away by this 1950s town's enthusiasm for Mike's relationship with another man), and he slowly starts to pick at the seams of his life. This is a slow burn of a novel, with Mike and Sean's relationship coming together at a glacial but somehow lovely pace, and the mystery of what is really going being revealed in tiny tiny layers until
Enjoy your reading binge Laura.
I had a little trouble sinking into this book, I think because the sentences and I didn't always get on. (This is distinct from my thinking the sentences weren't *good*--just sometimes an author's writing doesn't work great for me.) I loved, loved, loved McGuire's premise of a home for children who have returned from portal worlds, though, so I'm likely to try some more books in this series.
The second Cornish mystery with Gideon and Lee, this time involving a seemingly haunted house that has a detrimental affect on Lee. This story was much creepier than the first in the series, but I still enjoyed it a good deal. I especially enjoyed the arrival of Gideon's brother, who is a fascinating enigma. I do kind of feel like these novellas could stand to be a little longer though.
YA novel about high school senior Emoni, who is a single mom and an aspiring chef. I enjoyed so much about this novel, including the main character, the sentence writing, and the food details. The pacing felt off, however, especially in the middle, with several events seeming like they could be the story's climax but weren't. But ultimately I was very pleased with the read, particularly as I loved the way Emoni worked out a way to follow her dreams without feeling like she was letting her responsibilities slide.
This YA graphic novel follows two best friends as they work their local pumpkin patch on Halloween night of their senior year of high school. This will be their last night in the patch ever, and they both feel some kind of way about that. I loved this, from the characters to the art to the rep. And it makes me want autumn right. now. plox.
>197 lycomayflower: I'll be right over. I'll bring tea!
>198 laytonwoman3rd: Linda: You should come, too, and bring your own version of the cake, with lots of apples. I'm happy to sample both and deal out opinions.
>199 scaifea: Well now I'm a mix of really excited to read something you love so much and a little scared of what if I don't like it. Like 60/40.
Ooo yes, you are welcome here any time!
>200 laytonwoman3rd: Aw, shucks.
>201 scaifea: She's sneaky like that, ya know?
>203 laytonwoman3rd: Linda: Well, I suppose the recipe would be a close second after actually having it baked *for* me... (read: Oh, yes, please, I'd love the recipe if you don't mind sharing)
Recipe! (I think you should be able to grab this image and print? If it is not being agreeable, let me know and I can type it in for you. Also: please to excuse the giant mess I make out of recipes when I bake.)
Another Phoebe and Her Unicorn collection. These continue to be the best. This one is more of the same, but it doesn't get old. Nothing beats Marigold Heavenly Nostrils in her bowling outfit (the shoes!). I hope Simpson carries on for a long time.
64.) Giant Days, Volume Nine, John Allison et al ****
Big changes are on the horizon for the gang as they finish their second year of uni and look ahead to their last. I just love this series to bits. I enjoy every character, and the humor, and the art. I'll be sad when this ends.
This anthology of critical essays about Supernatural was wildly hit or miss for me. A few of the pieces were some of the worst examples of the ways academic-facing critical writing sometimes wallows in obscuring language and privileges critical lenses over illuminating discussion of the primary text in question. BUT some of the essays were written in clear and concise language and succeeded in making compelling arguments about the show (without sacrificing rigor *gasp*), and those I enjoyed. All of the essays were written before season six, but the book came out after six had aired, so some of the supplementary material includes season six: there's a great episode guide which would be helpful for reference.
The essays I found particularly good/useful/illuminating were:
"Televisual Folklore: Rescuing Supernatural from the Fakelore Realm"
"Crossing Over: Network Transition, Critical Reception, and Supernatural Longevity"
"Plagiarism or Props?: Homage to Neil Gaiman in Eric Kripke's Supernatural"
This book is part of a series called The Cultural History of Television, and it provides fairly surface-level yet substantive discussions of Gilmore Girls with regards to several cultural topics, such as feminism, class, popular culture, romance, and so on. It didn't offer any earth-shattering insights into the show or anything, but for a person who *likes* to sit around and theorize about TV for fun, it was entertaining. It would probably be a nice introduction to starting to think about TV critically if one wanted such a thing.
Grann relates his own trip into the Amazon in search of clues to what happened to early 20th-century explorer Percy Fawcett, as well as providing a narrative constructed from primary sources of Fawcett's various expeditions into the jungle. Can't say this did a lot for me. The jungle bits with Fawcett started to feel like one thing after another, with a lot of gross details about how the jungle will eat you. I enjoyed the bits that were straight up geography and the very very end when Grann talks about the archaeological discoveries made in the Amazon well after Fawcett disappeared during one of his quests for the city of Z.
***For Book Club
A contemporary romance with an inter-racial couple and representation of autistic spectrum disorder on the page. I loved the characters and the interactions between the hero and heroine. Thought the pacing was maybe a little off. But I enjoyed the book and will likely read more by Hibbert.