So Christmas was good here. It was very low-key. My daughter is home this year (she usually goes away), and we exchanged gifts around midday. (I had to wake her up–also par for the course with that one). I also spent most of the day cooking. Here’s something interesting: apparently, I *can* cook when I *want* to.
I made ham, macaroni and cheese, collard greens (using this recipe), and sweet potatoes. For dessert, I made an apple cake using my grandmother’s recipe, which I haven’t made in a long time. To make things interesting, I iced it using this caramel sauce. Everything turned out awesome. My daughter (who, as a general rule, hates everything I cook) loved everything, and my dad made sure to get some collard greens for the road. That was nice, especially since I was most worried about how they would turn out.
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.)
This was super cute and fun, even though I hate both the title and the cover. There is a smidgen of fake dating in this book–but not enough to make it a fake dating book. I will say, though, that every single one of the fake dating scenes filled me with glee. Fake dating for everyone!
Janette Rallison is now one of my go-to authors when I need something fun and light to read, for sure.
The first half of this book bored me and the second half infuriated me.
I could buy that a woman out of her mind with grief and living in isolation could think a baby washing up on shore was the answer to her prayers.
I could buy that her husband would feel guilty and responsible for his wife’s loss and isolation and go along with not reporting the found baby.
However, I could not buy that (view spoiler)[a woman who had watched her own parents mourn the loss of two children could look into the face of the actual baby’s mother who was beside herself with grief because she thought her baby was dead and not tell the mother her child was alive. (hide spoiler)] I mean, SERIOUSLY. That is where the book 100% lost me.
Anyway, the book club discussion was lively, so there’s that.
A solid reading month. I finished 7 books, which is actually more than I thought I had read. Granted, I did DNF one book (Re Jane) and another one was slow-going (The Light Between Oceans), so it happens.
I read three books for Diversity on the Shelf, which is about half of my reading for this month, so I met that goal for the month. However, I’m at 8/21 for my overall reads, which is not keeping me on track to my goal of 50% by or about POC for the year. I’m sure it’ll correct itself eventually, but that’s where I am.
After giving it some thought, I’m going to count Proposal by Meg Cabot for the Read Harder Challenge. It’s not by or about a POC, but, quite frankly, I don’t see myself reading any other non-kid lit books under 100 pages any time soon. If I do, I’ll note it, but for now, I’m good.
That means I’ve completed the following categories for that challenge:
Read a middle grade novel
Read a biography (not memoir or autobiography)
Read a book under 100 pages
Read a non-superhero comic that debuted in the last three years
Read a food memoir
Read the first book in a series by a person of color
I’m feeling pretty good about my progress there. I was kind of stressing out about it at first, but then I remembered that I basically read from all of the categories last year, so if I just read the way I usually read, I’ll probably wind up doing the same if I don’t overthink it. There are a few categories that take me out of my comfort zone, and I have to be more aware there, but I am confident that I’ll complete the whole challenge.
As of today, I’m reading:
My hold on the Leah Remini audiobook came in at the library yesterday, and I am loving it so far. She narrates it herself (of course!), and it’s stellar. If you want to know how cults work, definitely check out her book. Not only that, but she’s funny and real and raw. And so, so Brooklyn.
I read Something Rotten by Alan Gratz (Hamlet retelling) years ago and remembered the other day that I never read the second book, which is why I’m now reading Something Wicked, a Macbeth retelling. I like how Gratz is playing with the names and characters so far (Macbeth is Mac, Lady Macbeth is Beth, and there’s a dog named Spot–obviously, at some point, Beth is going to have to tell Spot to get out of something, and I am super looking forward to that moment).
One of the Read Harder categories is historical fiction set before 1900, and I absolutely 100% did not want to read a book about slavery. Enter Destiny’s Embrace by Beverly Jenkins. (Thanks to my friend Jasmine for the rec!) I just started this today, and it’s working for me so far.
I’m on spring break this week, and I think I may wind up reading more than these three, but we’ll see. Happy reading, everyone!
I grabbed the graphic novel adaptation of Romeo & Juliet because, well, it’s a graphic novel adaptation of Romeo & Juliet. What I didn’t know/realize immediately is that the book is one of the No Fear Shakespeare adaptations–meaning it’s Romeo & Juliet told in current/modern English instead of the language of Shakespeare’s time.
I enjoyed reading the story. The illustrations are great, the action easy to follow. The pettiness of the Capulets and Montagues is so ridiculous, especially because no one knows why they hate each other. By eliminating the extra language and using the images to tell most of the story, the action becomes a lot clearer.
Unfortunately, by eliminating the language, they’re eliminating the language. And not to parrot my English professor from college (or to parrot him since he was right): part of the problem with changing the language is the poetry is lost. When Juliet says she can’t trust the moon because it changes all the time, it just doesn’t have the same ring as “O, swear not by the moon, th’ inconstant moon, That monthly changes in her circle orb.” See?
That said, reading Shakespeare in the bathroom without having to translate was kind of nice. So I recommend it as a way to get the story for someone who is struggling to understand. Or to just see the play approached in a different way.
Romeo is such a freaking whiny baby. Ugh, I just wanted someone to shut him up during, well, most of the play. He whines over Rosaline, he whines over Juliet, he whines over being banished. Shut up, Romeo.
The friar is so suspect. I love that he’s just like, “Sure I’ll marry you two and help you fake a death and hide a murderer. No big.” I mean, he’s a decent dude, but yeah. He’s a little different.
I love the nurse. She is so great.
So yeah, totally worth the read, and a fun way to experience the play.
You see, when faced with magic, it’s easier to accept than you might imagine. I had been waiting for something in my life to change. I had been whining about my life for so long I could barely stand to be with myself. I let the moment envelop me.
Saving Juliet by Suzanne Selfors is a super fun story about a girl, Mimi, who gets transported from modern day New York to the world of Romeo and Juliet.
Did I mention this book is super fun? It’s super fun. I breezed through it pretty quickly because it was easy to read and the absurd situations just kept piling on. I like that Mimi recognizes the magic of the world she’s in and doesn’t really fight it, but just goes with it. I really, really like that the characters she encounters don’t speak in iambic pentameter. There is, in fact, a call to the balcony scene, and a point is made of the fact that actual lovestruck teens would not do the whole flowery poetic language bit in a chance encounter. So that was nice.
I also really like that it’s not a straight retelling of the story, that Mimi encounters the characters and things aren’t exactly like the play. In fact, she can’t even make them get back on the correct timeline, try though she might. (And she does try.) There’s a real sense of danger as Mimi tries to navigate Romeo and Juliet’s world with a modern sensibility.
Also, her friendship with Juliet is super cute.
There’s nothing about the book I didn’t like. I think it’d make an excellent beach or pool read. Some nice fluff with a cute romance.