48 hour challenge: update the last

Wow! I did it!
48 hours

This was my first 48 hour challenge, and I’m happy to say that I 1) successfully completed it 2) got a lot of reading done and 3) read some books I really enjoyed.

The Grand Plan to Fix Everything by Uma Krishnaswami-finished
Sister Mine by Nalo Hopkinson-finished
Pointe by Brandy Colbert-finished

Cold Steel by Kate Elliott
A Moment Comes by Jennifer Bradbury
Flygirl by Sherri Smith-finished
Lost Girl Found by Leah Bassoff
A Bride’s Story 2 by Kaoru Mori-finished
She Is Not Invisible by Marcus Sedgwick
Ninth Ward by Jewell Parker Rhodes-finished
Range of Ghosts by Elizabeth Bear-finished
Tin Star by Cecil Castellucci-finished
My Neighbor Totoro-finished
Melusine by Sarah Monette-finished

Reading time: 19 hours total
Blogging time: 45 min total

Brief reviews for the four I read yesterday:
Flygirl by Sherri Smith: The story of a young African-American girl during WWII who passes for white in order to join the Women Airforce Service Pilots. Smith tells the story well, with a lot of sympathy for Ida Mae, as well as a look at the consequences of her decision and what she both gains and loses. I will also admit that I thought a lot about Code Name Verity–this is a great readalike for CNV fans who like the flying bits. Also, someone mentions “Dream a Little Dream” which is just not fair; ow, my heart.

My Neighbor Totoro: An elementary age novelization of Miyazaki’s classic film which…I have not seen. The novelization stands well in its own right. There are some slightly awkward moments which I suspect are due to the vagaries of translation, but there’s also a lovely timeless, magical quality to the story.

Ninth Ward by Jewell Parker Rhodes: It seems strange to call a book set in New Orleans just before and during Hurricane Katrina gentle, but I kept thinking of Ninth Ward as just that. Lanesha faces extraordinary difficulties, but her story is about much more than the hurricane. It’s about friendship, and about family, about love and loss and finding out who you are. I also love the cover–perfect for the tone of the book, and for Lanesha herself.

Melusine by Sarah Monette: I loved The Goblin Emperor, written by Monette under the pen-name Katherine Addison, SO MUCH. So much that I immediately checked out the first book in her debut series, The Doctrine of Labyrinths. It’s very, very dark and intense, which means that I couldn’t quite love it as whole-heartedly as The Goblin Emperor. I do very much appreciate what it does, and some of the things that happened were horrifying because I cared so much about the characters. (I also think there would be an interesting little essay on how it fits into and resists the grimdark genre.) That said, I’m not sure if I’ll be reading the rest of the books in the series.

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48 Hour Challenge: update 3

48 hours

So yes, updating last night did not happen. Baking bread while reading did (and it even turned out!). Today I’m at work until 5, which means the bulk of my reading will have to happen this evening.

The Grand Plan to Fix Everything by Uma Krishnaswami-finished
Sister Mine by Nalo Hopkinson-finished
Pointe by Brandy Colbert-finished

Cold Steel by Kate Elliott
A Moment Comes by Jennifer Bradbury
Flygirl by Sherri Smith
Lost Girl Found by Leah Bassoff
A Bride’s Story 2 by Kaoru Mori-finished
She Is Not Invisible by Marcus Sedgwick
Ninth Ward by Jewell Parker Rhodes
Range of Ghosts by Elizabeth Bear-finished
Tin Star by Cecil Castellucci-finished

Reading time: 11.5 hours total
Blogging time: 30 min total

On to short reviews!

Pointe by Brandy Colbert: This book is intense. Really intense. Also, heartbreaking, unsettling, and beautifully written. Theo’s story had me reading and reading because I couldn’t bear to stop before I knew how it ended. There’s a lot more to unpack in this one, but for now I’ll say that this is a very impressive debut and if you liked Charm & Strange last year, this is definitely one to look for.

A Bride’s Story 2 by Kaoru Mori: I’ve been liking this series of manga, set in Central Asia in the 19th century. It does a lovely job of both showing the characters as products of their time and place, and also not falling into the “any woman before now/any woman from a traditional culture was a repressed doormat!” The story also moves right along, and I love all the details of clothing and place that Mori depicts. A nice lighter break in the middle of some heavy books.

Range of Ghosts by Elizabeth Bear: Everyone has been reading and praising Range of Ghosts since it was published and I finally gave it another try (I had read the first few chapters and hadn’t felt enthralled by them). This time went much more smoothly. Bear’s writing is quietly lyrical, with the kind of understated emotion that I often like quite a bit. I liked the main characters quite a bit, though Temur reads as a bit callous to me in one particular respect (which I don’t want to spoil).

Tin Star by Cecil Castellucci: I was feeling a bit burnt out on heavy books, so I hunted around for something lighter to try. Well. Tin Star is not necessarily what I would call “light”. Its main character, Tula, is beaten and abandoned on a space station by the leader of her colony ship, she has to make her way through an alien world where humans are not very well regarded, and there’s a lot of betrayal or possible betrayal. It’s interesting, in certain ways, and Castellucci uses this kind of staccato narration effectively. But I never felt the slightest emotional connection to Tula or her struggle.

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48 Hour Challenge: update the second

48 hours

Another two hours of reading, and another book finished–Sister Mine, which is weird and lovely. Wonderfully intersectional too. I am confused regarding its winning of the Norton Award, since it does not read as YA to me, nor did I read Makeda as a teenager. But okay, fine. It’s an excellent book and I’m glad it was recognized.

So the updated list:
The Grand Plan to Fix Everything by Uma Krishnaswami-finished
Sister Mine by Nalo Hopkinson-finished
Pointe by Brandy Colbert
Cold Steel by Kate Elliott
A Moment Comes by Jennifer Bradbury
Flygirl by Sherri Smith
Lost Girl Found by Leah Bassoff
A Bride’s Story 2 by Kaoru Mori
She Is Not Invisible by Marcus Sedgwick
Ninth Ward by Jewell Parker Rhodes
Range of Ghosts by Elizabeth Bear

Total time: 3.5 hours reading; 30 min blogging

Now I’m heading home, so I’ll be internetless again. I may manage another update tonight, or it may have to wait till tomorrow morning.

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48 Hour Challenge Starting Line post and first update

48 hours
So, despite the fact that I still have no internet*, I decided to try to do the 48 Hour Reading Challenge (hosted at Mother Reader). Also despite the fact that I’m working 8 hours on Saturday. This is possibly ridiculous, but that’s okay. I have wanted to participate in some of the reading challenges that go on, but my work schedule makes this difficult. And given the focus on diverse books in this reading challenge, it was also something I felt strongly about wanting to support.

Here’s my (extremely ambitious) list:
The Grand Plan to Fix Everything by Uma Krishnaswami
Sister Mine by Nalo Hopkinson
Pointe by Brandy Colbert
Cold Steel by Kate Elliott
A Moment Comes by Jennifer Bradbury
Flygirl by Sherri Smith
Lost Girl Found by Leah Bassoff
A Bride’s Story 2 by Kaoru Mori
She Is Not Invisible by Marcus Sedgwick
Ninth Ward by Jewell Parker Rhodes
Range of Ghosts by Elizabeth Bear

I am happy to note that most of these were already on my checked-out-to-read stacks! I started at 8 this morning (Friday) and have read for an hour and a half so far.

At this point, I have finished The Grand Plan to Fix Everything, which was absolutely charming, and a wonderful example of how diverse books can both be wonderfully specific and true (in this case to Indian culture) and touch on wider concerns, like friendship and family.

And now I’ve started Nalo Hopkinson’s Sister Mine, which recently won the Andre Norton award. I am loving Makeda and the cadences of her narration.

* By the end of next week this should be fixed. Yay!

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Not quite here yet

Hello friends! I’ve been moving and don’t have internet yet. I was hoping to be able to post anyway but…that’s not happening. So I’ll be back when I get internet access at home, which will hopefully be soon.

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Recent Reading: Short stories, romance, and middle grade

sun kissedSun-kissed by Laura Florand: A new short novel from Florand. This one is a bit different in that it 1) takes place in America and 2) focuses on the older generation, Mack Corey and Anne Winters. I really enjoyed the way Florand explores the different characters, who are more mature and self-confident than their children and their children’s peers in some ways, and yet still very vulnerable in others. I did miss the French setting a bit, but the sea-side is a lovely alternative. I loved the way Mack sees his daughters and sons-in-law; it was great to see some of the other characters from the Chocolat series through his eyes. All in all, this was a lovely endcap to Florand’s earlier stories (though if there are more in the future, I won’t be sad!)

conservation of shadowsConservation of Shadows by Yoon Ha Lee: A collection of sff short stories. Lee is Korean-American, and based several of the stories on incidents from Korean history. I found that the sensibility underlying the stories to be clear and beautiful; I can’t speak to how and what has been informed by her heritage, but there’s certainly an awareness of non-western based cultures that is refreshing. I loved the worlds Lee creates, and her characters–often caught between two duties or two loyalties. This is one of the most cohesive anthologies I can remember reading, which I greatly appreciated–while I love short stories, I often feel that collections lack coherence. If I have a complaint, it’s that occasionally the endings felt less forceful than I wanted them to be; not rushed, exactly, but compressed in a way that didn’t quite give me the follow-through I wanted. I don’t know if the fault is in the stories, or in me, but this happened often enough for me to notice it.

clair de luneClair-de-Lune by Cassandra Golds: A middle-grade book, which falls somewhere between fantasy and magical realism (the tone reminds me a bit of The Tale of Despereaux). I liked the characters and writing a lot, but felt some vague unease about the tidiness of the ending and an occasional hammering-home of points. In general, I think this is one I would have absolutely loved a few years ago; it’s probably a good one for the quieter, dreamy young girls.

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Top Ten Tuesday: Books about friendship

top-ten-tuesday
This is a post for Top Ten Tuesday, hosted at The Broke and the Bookish. You can find out more and follow along there!

I’m moving this week, so this is a pretty brief post. There was a similar topic not too long ago, so I challenged myself to come up with a different set than my first post. I did find eight!

1. And All the Stars by Andrea K. Host
2. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred Taylor
3. The Story of Owen, Dragon Slayer of Trondheim by E.K. Johnston
4. Doll Bones by Holly Black
5. George and Martha by James Marshall
6. Charm & Strange by Stephanie Kuehn
7. Kiki Strike by Kirsten Miller
8. Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong by Prudence Shen and Faith Erin Hicks

Plus I can’t help mentioning Code Name Verity and Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein, because if any books are about friendship, those two are.

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