Whew, this past semester has been a bear. Also, it ended last Monday, I turned in my grades that Tuesday, and then the summer semester started that Wednesday. Basically, I was a mess for the past month because not only was I dealing with end of semester stuff, but I also went to a conference and a training and also a friend’s birthday out of town. Yes, that means I make poor choices (just the timing of the travel, not the events [and especially not the birthday trip]), but it also means I will make better choices in the future. Let us hope.
Along with the semester ending and a new semester beginning, I did read some books:
Great book. Well-drawn and sympathetic characters…even when I didn’t want them to be.
3/31/16: I got to pick for book club (finally!) and picked this one. I feel the exact same way about the book that I did the first time, so yay for that. These characters break my heart. View all my reviews
It is really, really, REALLY hard for books or movies or TV shows to surprise me, and this book did. Also, Princess Ko is the absolute best. I 100% love her, and she has entered the pantheon of my favorite female characters, the likes of which include Ella from Ella Enchanted.
This past month I finished seven books, two of which were rereads and two that fulfilled categories in the Read Harder challenge (book about religion, historical fiction). I’m at 12 books out of 31 for Diversity on the Shelf, which means I still haven’t achieved 50% of the books I’ve read being by or about people of color. I definitely need to do better there. Oh, and Goodreads tells me I am three books ahead of schedule for their reading challenge.
Last week, I posted:
I signed up for the A to Z reading challenge, which means there’s quite a bit of activity here for the next month. Here are the posts I’ve made for the challenge so far:
[wrap-up-posts week=”13″ year=”2016″ category=”Blogging A to Z” listtype=”ul”]
As of today, I’m reading:
Yep, I’m still making my way through Necessary Endings. I started The Adventures of Superhero Girl by Faith Erin Hicks (it started as a webcomic) on the suggestion of a coworker. We were having a prof dev session on building a web presence, and I showed him this blog. Apparently, we read a lot of the same things, so he thought I might like ASG. It’s pretty cute so far, so he wasn’t wrong.
I was traveling this weekend and checked out The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin for my Kindle. I’m only about five or so pages in, so I have no idea how I feel about it quite yet. We’ll see how it goes the rest of the week.
Jaclyn Moriarty is a genius. This book. THIS BOOK. Love. Love, love, love.
Also, I have a deeper appreciation for the first book, which I obviously need to reread now.
3/27/16: Okay, I love this book EVEN MORE now than the first time. Of course because I picked up things I didn’t pick up on the first time but also because I fell super in love with the characters in a way I didn’t the first go around. I knew Princess Ko was pretty amazing, yes. And, oh, my heart aches for Jupiter so much (SO MUCH). But also Samuel is pretty great and Keira, too. Plus everything with Belle.
So, basically, this book is pretty great, and I still 100% recommend it and the first one in the series. I am suuuuuuper excited for the final book in the trilogy.
I’ll be blogging about fannish pursuits (aka things I’m a fan of or have strong feelings about). You can read my sign up post here.
As of today, I’m reading:
I’m still plugging away at Silver Sparrow and Necessary Endings. I’m actually almost done with the former. We’ll see how long it takes me to get through the latter. I hope to be finished this week, though.
My hold for The Magicians by Lev Grossman finally came in, which is terrible timing because (a) it’s an e-book, which means that I only have 21 days to read it, and (b) my copy of Tangle of Gold by Jaclyn Moriarty (the final book in The Colors of Madeleine trilogy) should be here tomorrow (!!!). Obviously, after the above review, you can see which book will take precedence. Also, The Magicians hasn’t really grabbed me yet and it’s kind of bleak so far, which may not be what I’m in the mood for. So, we shall see how it goes for that one.
In other book news:
Our department sent out the call for our fall textbook orders today, and I went into a bit of a panic because I still haven’t decided which novels I want to use for my ENC 1102 (research writing) class. The deadline is April 7. And it’s a hard deadline, too. So I kind of had a mini-freakout, basically.
Right now I’m thinking Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Gareth Hind’s Romeo & Juliet, and possibly Cinder or The Hunger Games. It’s those two possibles that have me on edge. WHAT IF I MAKE THE WRONG CHOICE? WHAT IF I THINK OF SOMETHING ELSE BETTER? Etc.
For my creative writing class, I’m 99.9% sure I’m going to use Stephen King’s On Writing. Oh, and I need to pick a textbook for my LIT 1000 (Lit Appreciation) class.
So I’m not at all prepared for that very, very close deadline is what I’m saying. And I am also open to suggestions. The general theme I’m working with for the research class is protest art or art activism. Or at least that’s what I want the last paper to be about. Which means I am also considering something like Fahrenheit 451 or 1984. Catch-22 might also be good. You can see how those last two novels become ever more important then and why it’s also so hard for me to choose, right? Right.
I finished this last night, forgot to post about it here, and, when I sat down to type this up, forgot how I felt about it. Which is to say that I liked it well enough while reading, but it was kind of forgettable beyond that.
Here’s the thing, though: If Gratz wrote more of these, I would read every single one. He integrates and updates all of the elements and characters really well. And I will be forever amused that Horatio’s sisters are all heroines from other Shakespeare plays, and Gratz includes nods to their plays as well (Mona mentions a jealous soldier boyfriend; Kate can outargue/outsmart anyone). Also! Gratz hinted at a Tempest story in Horatio’s future.
I read this because it’s the last in the Howl’s Moving Castle trilogy. This is the weakest of the three books, especially since I found myself putting it down and forgetting about it for days at a time.
I mean, it’s a fine way to pass the five minutes of pomodoro time at work, but other than that it’s pretty meh. What I liked most about it, though, is how obnoxious Charmain is. More books with difficult female characters, please!
This story took a little while to grab me because it didn’t really become interesting until about 1/3 of the way through. I loved the ending, though, and I really liked that it’s basically a character study that takes these two kind of small moments and expands them out to show how we can be simultaneously really crappy people and genuinely good people.
Bonus points for Nancy and Simon’s most excellent relationship.
I’m still making my way through Necessary Endings. But! I have also started rereading two books. One is The Cracks in the Kingdom, which I loved and am reading in preparation for the final book in the Colors of Madeleine trilogy out next week (!!!). The other is Silver Sparrow, which I loved and picked for my book club to read next month. Excitement!
I don’t typically read traditional romance stories, but this one seemed to check all the boxes pretty well. I was more intrigued by the character of Alanza than Mariah, but it was fun reading about life on a ranch and all of the other fun historical tidbits that you get from historical fiction.
Read Harder 2016: Read a book of historical fiction set before 1900
Zootopia! I don’t make it to the movies often, but my daughter’s birthday was Wednesday, and she really wanted to see Zootopia, so off we went. It was a lot of fun and also a really practical look at how structural racism and sexism (and other forms of discrimination work). Allegory, yay! Anyway, my daughter liked it so much that she has already seen it again, so I can highly recommend it.
As of today, I’m reading:
I’m still making my way through Something Wicked by Alan Gratz. Poor Banks (Banquo), man.
I also started Necessary Endings by Henry Cloud, which is all about recognizing when it’s time to move on from situations in your life. I was introduced to the book through a small group study at my church, which I got a lot out of, so I figured I should probably read the book to get a little more understanding, so here we are. This article provides a little bit more info about the concepts covered in the book, if anyone is interested.
I’ve been reading House of Many Ways by Diana Wynne Jones (the last book in the Howl’s Moving Castle trilogy) at work for the past week. I like the book well enough so far, but I legit keep forgetting about it until I get to work or unless I’m at work. So I guess this is the equivalent of a bathroom book in that way. We’ll see if it picks up. Or if I give up on it altogether. (I will probably finish it since I keep being amazed at how far into it I actually am. Maybe.)
Jane would never ever ever EVER EVER (view spoiler)[have sex with Rochester–excuse me, Ed–knowing that he is married. (hide spoiler)] NEVER EVER. That is fundamentally the core of the book and her character and having her do that means the author DOESN’T GET THE ORIGINAL since that is the WHOLE POINT OF THE STORY.
If this weren’t on my Kindle, I would’ve thrown the book across the room, I swear. Just…no. NO NO NO NO NO NO NO.
That would be like a Pride & Prejudice retelling where Darcy and Lizzie instantly hit it off and started dating. Or if Romeo & Juliet’s families didn’t hate each other. Or if Hamlet was just super happy about his uncle marrying his mom after his dad died and his dad’s ghost visited him saying that he had been murdered. Would Hamlet be all, “Wow, that sucks, Dad, but Mom is super happy with Uncle Claudius now, and I’m just happy for her so probably you should go haunt somebody else”? I mean, that is how ridiculous the whole plot point in Re Jane is. If (view spoiler)[Jane sleeps with Rochester after knowing about his wife (hide spoiler)], you are no longer telling the story of Jane Eyre, but doing something else.
So basically I had to stop reading because of that. Who knew I was such a purist?
So I’m still making my way through The Light Between Oceans for book club. It is really slow, but it has finally started to pick up. Probably because I’m at the part where the baby finally shows up. (No spoilers–that’s the premise of the book.)
I’m not a super Mediator fan (Suze is fine, but not one of my favorite Cabot heroines), but I do enjoy a good Meg Cabot book, and I’m sorely in need of some fun reading, so I’m really looking forward to reading Remembrance this week.
Bahni Turpin is a delight. She’s the narrator for this book, and I love the way she did Tip’s voice. Tip sounds exactly the way I expect a 13-year-old who has saved the world with the help of her alien best friend to sound: a little world-weary but still uncertain. Also, the Boovs were awesome. I loooooved the way she voiced them.
This book was a lot of fun. I listened to it on the way to and from work on the bus, and I was often smiling or laughing along. The characters are great. Tip and J.Lo are, of course, the best, but the other characters they encounter on the way are all memorable and well-drawn. Including Dan Landry, that jerk.
This book deals with some heavy topics (loss, grief, rebellion, politics, displacement) with humor and grace. I absolutely LOVED the political commentary in the book. The New Boovworld presidential election looks a lot like what’s happening in the Republican party right now. So, basically, everything is a mess, and it’d be funny if it weren’t so serious. (Except it’s funny in the book because it’s fiction! And ridiculous!)
Tip is a bit of an arrogant American traveler, and there’s this great bit where J.Lo goes off on her because she didn’t bother to learn the flash cards with common Boov sayings on them that he had given her, which lands them in a jam. “Goes off” is a bit harsh, probably. He does fuss at her, though, and it’s hilarious. So there are lots of little moments like that in the book.
Though J.Lo and Tip are on an intergalactic adventure, the heart of the story is still their friendship and the meaning of family.
All in all, a really fun read and great way to spend my commute. And now I really want to see Home, which is based on the first book.
In an effort to expand my reading horizons, I decided to go through my Goodreads TBR and check out books listed there. Since I was looking for audiobooks, if the book I had listed wasn’t available, but another book by the author was, then I checked out that book. My plan, then, was to read Mistress of Spices, so that’s how I came across The Conch Bearer.
I had no idea this was a middle grade fantasy book when I started the novel (not that it matters–I love middle grade), so I thought the book was going to deal with magical realism, not be straight up fantasy. However, I found that I liked the fantasy elements, especially since Anand’s experience with the conch seems to really be about someone who receives a spiritual calling. This book is not about religion, but when Anand communicates with the conch, it responds to him in a “still, small voice” and, often, refuses to help him until all human methods have been exhausted. Human methods which include, of course, asking other people for help.
I only have two complaints really: (1) the voices of the people Anand and Nisha encounter along the way aren’t that well differentiated. However, considering that we spend most of our time with the three main characters, it’s not that big of a deal. (2) I don’t know how I feel about the ending.
Again, spiritual calling/higher calling, but I found it odd that [spoiler] the only way Anand could join the brotherhood was to erase his existence from his family’s memory. I feel like letting his family know that he was alive and well but that he was choosing to join the brotherhood, which I would call a kind of monastery, would make more sense. Also, whenever it gets to memory modification, I have lots of question. Okay, so his family won’t remember him, but what about the other people in his extended family? The neighborhood? That’s just a lot. Plus also, THIS is when an orphan narrative would make more sense. His poor mother. [/spoiler]
Other than that, though, I loved that this story was set in India and offered a different take on the chosen one narrative. It’s solid.