I’ve been sick for the past week & it’s been majorly upsetting all my plans & routines so here we are! I’m combining two posts into one and calling it good.
Cybils nominations are now open–you have until October 15th to nominate your favorite kidlit books published between 10/16/15 and 10/15/16.
This month’s Reading Notes series is on Joan Aiken’s Willoughby Chase books, and then I’ll be pausing on that feature until January to focus on the Cybils. I’m tweaking things here a bit.
Finally, I am on Litsy now, as it’s finally available for Android! Feel free to follow me–meichner87–for small updates as I read.
Mary Stewart Reading Notes
When twists work & when they don’t (and do check out the really thoughtful comments!)
Perfect Liars – Kimberly Reid: Teen heist book, featuring a really diverse cast & lots of secrets and twists. I did feel like the middle section went a bit long and was a different tone than the beginning–but I’m also not sure the degree to which it’s just my expectations being off. Regardless, if the concept piqued your interest, I’d definitely check it out!
Ancillary Justice – Ann Leckie: Reread–I noticed this time through how much of this book is about surviving after trauma. “Choose my aim, take one step and then the next. It had never been anything else.” And obviously Breq’s particular trauma is VERY particular, but, yeah. (We also see it in Sevendai, in Skaaiat, even in the altar server. Different reactions, different lives, different roads.)
The Wolves of Willoughby Chase – Joan Aiken Reading Notes
Mr. Fox – Helen Oyeyemi: Talked about this one here
Burn, Baby, Burn – Meg Medina: Reviewed here
Monstress – Marjorie Liu & Sana Takeda: The art is so good! Lush and complicated and shadowy without being like furiously grim. The story is pretty grim, though–or at least more violent than my usual comics. I like the choice of having a cast that’s 95% women, which lets Liu do some interesting things with the characters & gives them a chance to be morally complicated in a way that wouldn’t work with mostly men and just one or two women.
Squirrel, You Know It’s True [Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, vol. 2] – Ryan North, Erica Henderson: EAT NUTS KICK BUTTS. Also: NANCY!!!! *heart eyes emoji* (These are my notes for this one verbatim, because I really don’t have anything else to say except that Squirrel Girl continues to be a delight, but also surprisingly complex and thoughtful for a comic series about a girl who’s also a squirrel.)
Lumberjanes: Out of Time – Stevenson, Waters, et al: This series has always been about lady friends (I mean: FRIENSHIP TO THE MAX) but in this volume it goes even deeper into relationships between the various characters. There’s complicated backstory about ladies and friendship and dark secrets and it’s great. Also, I love Jen. Also Jo. Also all of them, because they are ALL DELIGHTFUL.
The Fifth Season – N.K. Jemisin: Talked about this one here!
Of Mice and Magic – Ursula Vernon: Dancing, Princesses, and Magic
The 4:50 from Paddington – Agatha Christie, read by Emilia Fox: Audiobook! Emilia Fox did a nice job of reading it, I thought.This isn’t necessarily my favorite story–I feel like Agatha Christie muffed the ending a bit, especially with regard to Lucy. But it’s still enjoyable, and I do love Miss Marple forever and always.
Jupiter Pirates: The Rise of Earth – Jason Fry: I am of two minds on this book. First: Fry does a nice job of delving into the politics and set up of the world he’s built over the last two books, including the tensions between the Hashoone siblings current and past. BUT THEN he basically ruined it all by shoehorning in a 1) totally unnecessary and 2) completely unconvincing romance. The girl has no real character development & she and Tycho go from 0-120 in 2.5 seconds. It just doesn’t work for me, and so it ruined the emotional payoff of the last part of the book.
James Tiptree Jr.: The Double Life of Alice B. Sheldon – Julie Phillips: Review coming later!
Black Hearts in Battersea – Joan Aiken [reading notes]
The Mystic Marriage – Heather Rose Jones: This is one of those books that makes a really good case for small press/independent/self-publishing. The pacing is quiet and slow, which is right for the story it’s telling. I love the worldbuilding and the characters; this wasn’t a super emotional read, but it was a very satisfying one. The conflict at the end seems a bit rushed, but I like Antuniet a lot & resonate with her journey. And I really liked that we still get Margerit and Barbara’s points-of-view
Another Brooklyn – Jacqueline Woodson: A slight, spare book, which has the compression and space of poetry. (I think I would think this even if I didn’t know that Woodson is a poet.) It’s about girls growing up, doomed and beautiful and alive. I did wish for a little more resolution, but that’s just my desire as a reader–Woodson is obviously making very deliberate choices about giving us these particular moments in time and no more.
Nightbirds on Nantucket – Joan Aiken [reading notes]
October books I’m looking forward to:
Gertie’s Leap to Greatness by Kate Beasley
Not Just Jane by Shelley DeWees
Iron Cast by Destiny Soria
The Singing Bones by Shaun Tan
Crosstalk by Connie Willis
A Taste of Honey by Kai Ashante Wilson
When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore
A Darkly Beating Heart by Lindsay Smith