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bookish posts monthly book list

April 2014 reading list

Oh, such a thin one this month! Trying to comfort myself with the knowledge that there have been lots of other good things going on.

Books I’ve already talked about
Precursor by C.J. Cherryh
Defender by C.J. Cherryh
Explorer by C.J. Cherryh
The Princess Tales by Gail Carson Levine
Serpent’s Egg by Caroline Stevermer
Death Sworn by Leah Cypress

Other books
The Everlasting Meal by Tamar Adler: I loved this collection of essays and recipes on food, cooking, and the way we think about both. The prose is also a joy to read, to the point that I was posting quotes on my (sporadically used) tumblr. Lovely boo, and one that will definitely inform how I approach food and cooking in the future.

The Seven Sorcerers by Caro King: A middle grade fantasy. I liked the characters a lot, and the world, and the motivation for the main characters, but I found that the pacing was kind of draggy, especially towards the end. I kept waiting for something to happen.

Not a Creature Was Stirring
Act of Darkness
Quoth the Raven
A Great Day for the Deadly
by Jane Haddam: I wasn’t feel well and inhaled several of these while lying on my bed, the couch, and my bed again. They’re lightish mysteries, with a somewhat old fashioned feel and a nice detective. Occasionally the holiday-related aspect seemed a little forced, and the descriptions of characters a little cruel (there was one in the first book that really made me wince), but overall they’re the perfect sick day reading.

Saga, Vol. 1 by Brian Vaughan and Fiona Staples: I’ve been hearing good things about this graphic novel and they are definitely deserved. An epic story with a fun, slightly snarky voice and great visuals. Note that it is definitely more of an adult comic book–there’s some violence and sexual content, for people who want to avoid such things.

The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski: I have a great many thoughts about this one, so I will try to come up with an actual post soon. Suffice it to say that there’s a lot to like about it, and some aspects I quibble with a bit.

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bookish posts monthly book list reviews

March 2014 reading list

Books I’ve already talked about
The Year of Billy Miller by Kevin Henkes
How I Became a Ghost by Tim Tingle
Hunt for the Hydra by Jason Fry
Dragonborn by Toby Forward
Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred Taylor
Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy by Gary Schmidt
Hide and Seek by Ida Vos
Kingdom Under the Sea by Joan Aiken
Sun Horse, Moon Horse by Rosemary Sutcliff
Binny For Short by Hilary McKay
Enemy Brothers by Constance Savery
Runemarks by Joanne Harris

Other books
The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson: Rachel Neumeier suggested this one when I posted about books that give me feels. It’s a heartwrenching contemporary YA. I liked Lennie, the main character, a lot. I especially liked that the story gives her room to make mistakes without judgement. And I was happy with the way the romance was resolved.

Hob and the Goblins by William Mayne: This is an older book. It’s an odd little story, which I enjoyed but in a dreamy sort of way which doesn’t really lend itself to enthusiasm. It might work well for fans of Elizabeth Goudge’s children’s books.

Rose by Holly Webb: This is a very lovely middle grade fantasy, which focuses on a different class than most books of its type. Rose is an orphan and then a servant, rather than a lady. I liked the historical setting and especially Rose, who is a lovely main character.

Constable & Toop by Gareth Jones: Another middle grade historical fantasy. For some reason, I didn’t like this one as much as I thought I was going to, and I’m not quite sure why. There were lots of nice elements, and yet somehow it never quite became amazing. Bah.

Charlotte, Sometimes by Penelope Farmer: Which I found, appropriately enough, on Charlotte’s Library. It’s a time-travel story, with an English boarding school feel. There’s a bit of heartache, but it’s not traumatic.

A Song for Bijou by Josh Farrar: This is a sweet middle grade romance with multi-cultural elements. It was nicely written, but at the same time I had niggling doubts about it. Perhaps something about how easy it was for Alex to enter into Bijou’s world? I don’t know.

Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh: Tears of laughter.

The Headless Cupid by Zilpha Keatley Snyder: The Egypt Game was one of my favorite books when I was younger, so I decided to try The Headless Cupid. It turned out to be super creepy! I appreciate ZKS’s writing chops, but no. Just no.

Five, Six, Seven, Nate by Tim Federle: I think I’m the only one who didn’t love this one as much as the first book. Maybe it’s just middle book syndrome, but so much seemed unresolved. I did like Nate’s romance, which was sweet and nicely done.

The Twistrose Key by Tone Almhjell: This is a nice classic-feeling middle grade fantasy. Like several other recent mg fantasies, it has a Scandinavian feeling to it (which makes perfect sense in Almhjell’s case). It doesn’t do new and exciting things, but it has the kind of comforting and old-fashioned feel of a good cup of hot chocolate.

The Blossoming Universe of Violet Diamond by Brenda Woods: A biracial girl connects with the black side of her family, who she hasn’t met because her father died before she was born and they’re not on speaking terms with her mother. It’s not very subtle, but it’s a sweet story and well written, and does come organically from Violet’s experiences. And there’s a lot of nice bits about identity and family and forgiveness.

Real American Girls Tell Their Own Stories by Dorothy and Thomas Hoobler
Bird Lake Moon by Kevin Henkes
The Dream Stealer by Sid Fleischman
A Girl Named Disaster by Nancy Farmer

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bookish posts monthly book list reviews

February 2014 reading list

Books I’ve already talked about
Picture Book Monday
Engines of the Broken World by Jason Vanhee
And All the Stars by Andrea K Host
The Bearkeeper’s Daughter by Gillian Bradshaw
Imperial Purple by Gillian Bradshaw
The Pride of Chanur by C.J. Cherryh
Such a Rush by Jennifer Echols
Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta
Night at the Vulcan by Ngaio Marsh

Other books
Better Nate Than Ever by Tim Federle: This is a delightful middle grade book about a boy who wants to be on Broadway more than anything else. There’s a lot of heart and a lot of complexity to its portrayals of the different characters. The sequel is out now, and I can’t wait to read it!

The Real Boy by Anne Ursu: There are shades of Pinocchio in this middle grade fantasy, but it’s not as straightforward as a retelling. It does have a lot to say about what makes people ‘real’ and the lengths they’ll go to when they’re afraid.

The Wagered Widow by Patricia Veryan: Anna recommended Veryan as a good Heyer read-alike, and since those are few and far between, I jumped on this immediately. I enjoyed The Wagered Widow quite a bit! Although it didn’t reach quite the same level as my favorite Heyers, I will definitely be reading more of Veryan’s books.

The Naturals by Jennifer Lynne Barnes: Quickest summary? YA version of Criminal Minds, only slightly less creepy. I’m not sure I completely bought the solution to the mystery, but I liked the characters and it’s an intriguing concept. Definitely a quick, enjoyable read. (Plus a love triangle that did not hugely annoy me!)

Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy by Karen Foxlee: A middle grade retelling of “The Snow Queen”, sort of. I liked the way Foxlee played with the original story, while not simply telling HC Andersen over again. She certainly has a gift for resonant prose, and the characters were nicely drawn. I did spot the Big Bad very quickly, but I’m not the book’s target audience.

Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge: Several of my friends really, really loved this book, and so I had very high expectations for it. Unfortunately, something kept me from completely loving it, even though on paper it’s about the most Maureen-y book there ever was. I haven’t managed to put my finger on what that is, other than the fact that I never connected with the characters as I think I was meant to. Regardless, I’ll definitely be trying Hodge’s next book, because she’s clearly a gifted writer.

Snuff by Terry Pratchett: The last City Watch book, sniff. I liked the subtle Austen homage, and Sam in the country. The rest was fine, but didn’t quite click for me the way the best of the other books in the series did.

Roomies by Sara Zarr and Tara Altebrando: I very much enjoyed this YA book about two girls who are about to become college roommates. I liked their different voices and the way their relationship went through ups and downs. I also thought that Lauren’s family was a nice depiction of a bigger family that isn’t shown as rednecks or the Duggars.

Plus, I wanted to highlight my post on Fairy Tales and Retellings again, because I’m really proud of that one.

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bookish posts monthly book list reviews

January 2014 reading list

Books already discussed:
Magic Marks the Spot by Caroline Carlson
The Nazi Hunters by Neal Bascomb
Magic Under Glass by Jaclyn Dolamore
Night at the Vulcan by Ngaio Marsh
The Chocolate Temptation by Laura Florand
Arrow by R.J. Anderson
Magic Most Deadly by E.L. Bates
Jinx’s Magic by Sage Blackwood
Shards of Honor by Lois McMaster Bujold
Barrayar by Lois McMaster Bujold
Brothers in Arms by Lois McMaster Bujold
Mirror Dance by Lois McMaster Bujold
Thud! by Terry Pratchett
Scepter of the Ancients by Derek Landy
The Mysterious Disappearance of Leon (I Mean Noel) by Ellen Raskin

Other Books
The Professor and the Madman by Simon Winchester: Adult non-fiction, about two of the men behind the creation of the Oxford English Dictionary. It’s a fascinating story and Winchester tells it well, although sometimes with unsubtle foreshadowing. It’s also fundamentally a pretty sad story.

Black Dog by Rachel Neumeier–review coming tomorrow!

Palace of Spies by Sarah Zettel: I just flat-out adored this book–it reminded me of Y.S. Lee’s Agency series in its combination of strong heroine, mystery, and historical hijinks. Plus, it was a ton of fun to read, especially when I wasn’t feeling that well. Love, love, love, and I hope there are more to come!

Ink is Thicker Than Water by Amy Spalding: I truly enjoyed Spalding’s debut, The Reece Malcolm List, and Ink is Thicker Than Water hits several of the same places: complicated family dynamics, a main character who is flawed but awesome, understated romance. I liked it quite a bit, although I think I prefer The Reece Malcolm List and I’m not sure exactly why that is.

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bookish posts monthly book list reviews

November 2013 reading list

Books I’ve already talked about
Jane Austen Goes to Hollywood by Abby McDonald
A suggested Diana Wynne Jones reading list
Picture Me Gone by Meg Rosoff
Cherry Money Baby by John Cusick
Dr.Bird’s Advice for Sad Poets by Evan Roskos
The Reece Malcolm List by Amy Spalding
A Spark Unseen by Sharon Cameron
Thornyhold by Mary Stewart

Other books
Lockwood & Co: The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud: This is a lovely, spooky read. I really enjoyed the interaction between the three main characters, although I occasionally wished that the descriptions of George had not fallen into problematic tropes. Aside from that, this is pure enjoyment. Stroud is sometimes hit or miss with me, but this is a keeper. Can’t wait for the sequels!

Yellowcake by Margo Lanagan: Short stories from Lanagan. I think I like her short stories, since her writing is often like dark chocolate: intense, bitter, and great in small doses. “The Point of Roses” and “Ferrymen” were, I think, my favorites.

Feet of Clay by Terry Pratchett: I started to warm up to the Watch books with this one. Sam started to be more competent and I liked the way Pratchett used the golem tradition.

The Chocolate Heart by Laura Florand: I like the way Florand plays with the themes she uses. Here, her heroine hates Paris, for good reasons, and hates desserts, also for good reason. As usual, there’s a subtle weaving in of fairy tale/mythological themes, and some lovely writing.

Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys: A Cybils book. I liked this one, but not as much as others have. I never quite managed to engage with the characters or the story, and I felt a bit lost as to the setting. I didn’t dislike it, but it never quite clicked either.

Where the Stars Still Shine by Trish Doller: A Cybils book. I liked this one a lot, even though the plot summary sounds a bit ridiculous. The glimpse into Greek sponge-diving culture in Florida was nice, and Callie is a gutsy, wonderful main character.

OCD Love Story by Corey Ann Haydu: A Cybils book. I wasn’t super wild about this one. I appreciated some aspects of the depiction, but the relationship between Beck and Bea never quite worked for me, somehow. And I felt overall that the characters were so completely defined by their diagnosis, which bothered me.

Mrs. Pollifax at the Hong Kong Station by Dorothy Gilman: More Mrs. Pollifax. Dated, and more than a little ridiculous, but lots of fun.

Jingo by Terry Pratchett: I loved this one. Nobby and Fred Colon, Sam Vimes really coming into his own (wild cheers!), 71 Hour Ali. The way Pratchett sets up expectations and then deftly turns them on their heads.

The Fifth Elephant by Terry Pratchett: Loved this one, loved the way we get more of a sense of who Sybil is. My only complaint is that this means I’m getting close to the end of the Watch books. Nooooo.

Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass by Meg Medina: A Cybils book. The best book about bullying I’ve ever read. In fact, it’s not even fair to call it that, really. There are no easy answers, no adult judgment making it clear that if only you did this, the problem would be solved. Medina captures the helplessness and insensibility of bullying, while also creating some great characters.

The Lucy Variations by Sara Zarr: A Cybils book. I loved Lucy and her relationship to music, her search to find the thing to fill that gap in herself. I hated Will. I loved the way Lucy’s perceptions of her family and of herself began to change, becoming more complex and faceted. It’s one I’m still thinking about a few days after I read it.

The Lampfish of Twill by Janet Taylor Lisle: A middle grade title. I liked a lot of it–the worldbuilding, the descriptions of fishing and the sea. Ultimately it felt a little too precious for me to love it completely, but it’s a nice quiet fantasy for kids who like that sort of thing.

This is How I Find Her by Sara Polsky: A Cybils book. I wasn’t sure what I would think of this one, but I ended up loving it. Sophie and her vulnerability, her fears about what her mother’s life means for her, her realization that she can’t do it alone–it was lovely stuff and I actually got choked up at the end.

Lord of Emperors by Guy Gavirel Kay: Sequel to Sailing to Sarantium. I loved the way Kay structured the book, and the world, and the characters. I was a little dubious about the very very end, which needed a bit more set-up to work for me. But overall, LOVE these two.

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bookish posts monthly book list reviews

October 2013 book list

Books I’ve already talked about
The Caged Graves by Dianne Salerni
Belle Epoque by Elizabeth Ross
Charm & Strange by Stephanie Kuehn
Prep School Confidential by Anne Dowling
The Distance Between Us by Kasie West
Uses for Boys by Erica Lorraine Scheidt
The Lightning Dreamer by Margarita Engle
September Girls by Bennett Madison
Love and Other Perishable Items by Laura Buzo
Victoria Rebels by Carolyn Meyer
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
The Summer I Became a Nerd by Leah Rae Miller
Golden Boy by Tara Sullivan
The Boy on the Bridge by Natalie Standisford

Others
Shadows by Robin McKinley: A new McKinley book is always a joyful event! And yet, slightly nerve-wracking, because what if it’s not good? I’m happy to say that I thoroughly enjoyed Shadows. The resolution is perhaps a bit hand-wavey, but I’m quite willing to live with that, because the rest of the book is so strong, and also that does tend to be the type of resolution McKinley writes. I very much appreciated the subtle-but-present diversity of the world, and I loved the shadows. However, I wish SO MUCH that the book had a different cover, and I even know exactly what it should be: one of the origami creatures that Maggie folds, with its shadow projected behind it, except that the shadow is real. Why don’t they hire me?

Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick: A Cybils contender, as well as one that was featured on the Printz Blog. The central conceit of this one was interesting, but I thought there were way too many things going on technically–the framing narrative of the four gifts and the four goodbyes, the letters from the future, the footnotes, the semi-poetic shifting of text during key moments. One or two of those, well developed, would have served the story a lot better. I’m still not sure whether my visceral personal reaction was due to being in Leonard’s head and not liking what I saw there (i.e., effective writing) or reliance on sloppy characterizations. Perhaps it’s some complicated combination of both. I still don’t know. In the end, I think it’s a gutsy book, but a flawed one.

Nobody’s Secret by Michael MacColl: I really liked the historical mystery aspect of this book–a young girl has a brief encounter with a stranger, whose body then turns up in her family’s pond. The adults seem to not care whether his murder is solved, so she takes it on herself. The problem is, the young girl is supposed to be Emily Dickinson. This creates two issues for me. First, I simply didn’t buy that the Emily of the book was Emily Dickinson, even a younger version. Second, the process of writing poetry that was shown in the book did not ring true to me; poems which are dated years later apparently are springing fully-formed from a much younger girl’s mind.

Lulu and the Dog From the Sea by Hilary McKay: I love Hilary McKay, and I’ve been really enjoying this younger chapter book series. In this one, Lulu and family go to the sea, where Lulu encounters a wild dog and, naturally, wants to save him. I liked this one a lot, although I was personally less wild about the sections from the dog’s point of view.

Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant by Tony Cliff: This is a wonderfully fun graphic novel, full of hijinks and adventures. I loved the story and the art. And huge bonus points for the historical setting, Delilah’s awesomeness, and the humor. Anyone who thinks mad-cap adventures with a sword-wielding lady sounds fun should check it out.

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black: This is a case of wanting to like a book more than I actually did. I loved the world and the set-up, and I really liked Tana. But…something about it just left me cold–I was never fully engrossed in the story. The closest I can come is to say that the romance really didn’t work for me because I did not understand what Tana saw in Gabriel. I did like the relationship between Tana and Adrian, which seemed complex and complicated and interesting. This is one I suspect will work for a lot of people, and I’m glad that it does. It just didn’t work for me, and again, I’m still struggling to say why.

Between the Forest and the Hills by Ann Lawrence: Charlotte mentioned this one at some point and I got it from inter-library loan. I’m really glad I did! It’s a lovely, quiet, old-fashioned middle grade book, about a small Roman-British town in the days after Rome has left. I loved the characters, and the setting, and the humor, and just the flavor of it. If you’re looking for something a little slower and quieter, I highly recommend this historical fiction.

Men at Arms by Terry Pratchett: I still missed the competent and resourceful Captain Vimes. But I did like the developing relationships between the different Watchmen (and Watchwomen).

Kingdom of Summer by Gillian Bradshaw: The second in Bradshaw’s Arthurian trilogy. It’s told from the point of view of Rhys, Gwalchmai’s servant. I thought the point of view shift was interesting; in some ways I missed the immediacy of Gwalchmai’s narration, but I liked seeing the point of view of someone different, and of a different class. The fact that the names are the same as in Elizabeth Wein’s Arthurian books continues to mess with my head. (I keep expecting Medraut to be, you know, Medraut. And he’s really really not.)

Rogue by Lyn Miller-Lachmann: Another Cybils book. I appreciated the intent of this one, but it really didn’t work for me. Too many Issues, and not enough complexity. On the most simple level, a picture of a young girl on the autistic spectrum, it does work, but the other characters weren’t convincing. I’m sure there are readers who will really connect with this book, but for me it isn’t one I could whole-heartedly love.

Fortunately, the Milk by Neil Gaiman: A very cute story from Gaiman, with a wild, building on itself plot. Lots of fun, and one I expect will be enjoyed by many a child (it seems like the most child-friendly of any of Gaiman’s kids books to date).

Her Mother’s Secret by Barbara Polikoff: A Cybils book. Historical fiction, based on the life of one of the author’s relatives. The details of 1890s life in Chicago were interesting, as were the details of the Jewish immigrant experience. But it never completely gripped me, and the writing was occasionally shaky enough to be a problem. I would say that if you’re interested in the time or setting, or Jane Addams and Hull House, it would be worth reading.

Saints and Boxers by Gene Luen Yang: I read these two-volume set because it’s on the Printz Blog’s longlist. Gene Luen Yang does a wonderful job of setting up the story, telling it from two points of view and valuing them both. We can understand and sympathize with the motives of both main characters. I do think that, from the Printz perspective, it suffers from being split into two separate books, even though I actually love the format simply as a reader.

Sex & Violence by Carrie Mesrobian: A Cybils book. In some ways, I wish that this book had a different title, because I suspect it has turned off some readers who would otherwise try it. And it’s well worth a try. Evan’s narration is fantastic–the layers of it, the way he is struggling to rebuild his life, the fact that he is both open and closed off, both hurtful and hurting. He’s a wonderfully complex character, as are most of the other characters in the book. It’s a very strong title, and I’d encourage those of you who like contemporary books that take on hard things to give this one a try.

Life in Outer Space by Melissa Keil: Another Cybils book. I very much enjoyed this contemporary Australian title. (Are they just exporting the good ones to the US, or are Australian writers all excellent?) The story was fresh and funny, and I did buy the nerdiness of the characters (sometimes I am a little more dubious when this kind of plotline comes up). It wasn’t a hugely deep book, but I do think it’s one a lot of readers will enjoy.

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bookish posts monthly book list reviews

September 2013 book list

Books I’ve already talked about
The Lost Kingdom by Matthew Kirby
the entire Dark is Rising series by Susan Cooper
Picture Book Monday
Island of Ghosts and Hawk of May by Gillian Bradshaw
The Pale Horse by Agatha Christie
Thomas the Rhymer by Ellen Kushner
Echo by Alicia Wright Brewster
Handbook for Dragon Slayers by Merrie Haskell
Far Far Away by Tom McNeal
Starglass by Phoebe North
The Different Girl by Gordon Dahlquist
Black Helicopters by Blythe Woolston
Shadowcry by Jenna Burtenshaw
Relish by Lucy Knisley
Night Watch by Terry Pratchett
Maggot Moon by Sally Gardner

Others
Sorrow’s Knot by Erin Bow: Review here.

26 Women Aviators by Karen Bush Gibson: This was a nice introduction to a number of pioneering women aviators. I’d recommend it for upper elementary school/middle school kids. I did have a sense that some things were a bit glossed over, which is natural, I suppose.

Sailing to Sarantium by Guy Gavriel Kay: Tori recommended this one, and I’m really glad I picked it up! Great historical fantasy, set in a world based on the Byzantine Empire, with a fascinating cast of characters. I can’t wait to see what happens in the sequel!

Untold by Sarah Rees Brennan: I’m not going to do this one justice in this small space, but basically I thought I was prepared for the worst that could happen. I really wasn’t. Like The Dream Thieves, I finished the book and immediately wanted to throw it across the room, not because I disliked it, but because I couldn’t handle my feeelllllinnnnngssss. What’s with this year-between-books business, anyway?

Secret of the Mansion by Julie Campbell: The first Trixie Belden book. This book is wild. Within about 200 pgs, we have concussion, multiple snake bits, people falling off of horses, fires, broken ankles, and lost treasure. It was something to marvel at, if not exactly admire.

Guards! Guards! by Terry Pratchett: I didn’t like this one nearly as well as Night Watch–I missed competant and resourceful Captain Vimes. But I definitely like it more than most of the other Discworld books (always barring Tiffany Aching, which I adore!).

Course of Honor by Lindsey Davis: Amanda McCrina recommended this one to me–historical fiction based in ancient Rome, which could be described as historical romance except that the romantic plot is so utterly unlike anything else I can think of. It takes place over a long period of time–nearly forty years, if I’m remembering correctly–and the characters spend quite a bit of time apart. And yet, it’s totally real and wonderful. Lovely writing as well; I definitely recommend this to anyone who’s looking for politics and understated romance.

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bookish posts monthly book list reviews

August 2013 book list

Books I’ve already talked about
The Bitter Kingdom by Rae Carson
Dirty Little Secret by Jennifer Echols
Rusalka by CJ Cherryh
The Lost Kingdom by Matthew Kirby, very briefly
Pure by Julianna Baggott
Tortilla Sun by Jennifer Cervantes
The Pirate’s Wish by Cassandra Rose Clarke
Berlin Boxing Club by Robert Sharenow
The Chaos of Stars by Kiersten White
P.S. Be Eleven by Rita Williams-Garcia
The Princess Curse by Merrie Haskell
Golden Girl by Sarah Zettel
Cotillion by Georgette Heyer
The Quiet Gentleman

Other books read
Daydreams of a Solitary Hamster by Astrid Desbordes: A nice juvenile graphic novel with a wry tone to it. I kind of expected it to have a more messagey resolution, but I was glad it didn’t. And I really liked the interactions between the different animals, and the way we see different sides to each.

The Amazing Mrs. Pollifax
The Elusive Mrs. Pollifax
Palms for Mrs. Pollifax
Mrs. Pollifax on Safari
Mrs. Pollifax on the China Station
by Dorothy Gilman: What can I say? I went on a bit of a Mrs. Pollifax binge this month. In some ways, the closest I can come to fulfilling the vain desire for another Agatha Christie book; perfect when you want to be entertained and not think too hard.

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz: So much to love here! I can’t believe it took me this long to actually read this book, but I’m glad I did. Ari’s voice is really strong, and although at first I kept noticing the style, eventually I settled in and stopped noticing it. There’s so much depth and complexity in its depictions of both characters and their differences as well as connections.

The Beacon at Alexandria by Gillian Bradshaw: Rachel Neumeier recommended this one on my Historical Fantasy post (Bradshaw is straight historical fiction, to be clear), and I’m really glad she did! Lovely, lovely writing–the kind of historical fiction that looks completely effortless, which means it’s not. The funny part is that apparently my mom and sister have been reading Bradshaw’s books for years and have no idea how I missed her. I don’t know either, but I’m going to be catching up.

London in Chains by Gillian Bradshaw: I borrowed this one from my mom while I was in Connecticut; it’s not as good as Beacon, in my opinion. It’s not quite Bradshaw’s period somehow and the background gets a bit confused. However, I love how she treated Lucy’s character and her history.

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan: There was so much about this book I enjoyed–the quirky cast of characters, the bookstore itself, the secret society. However, I generally liked the set up portion of the book much more than the resolution, and I really wasn’t convinced that the story managed the synthesis of love of books and love of technology that it was reaching for. I suspect others disagree with me, although this isn’t one I’ve seen many reviews for. Probably worth picking up just for the book bits, if you’re so inclined.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern: I read most of this on the plane coming home from CT. Gorgeous writing, with beautiful, dreamlike descriptions of the circus and its inhabitants. I loved most of, but found myself slightly confused and distanced by the ending, which was a little too coy in places for me to follow.

The Ides of April by Lindsey Davis: A Roman mystery with a female protagonist/detective. I liked it a lot, in a mild kind of way, and will probably read the next one, as it seemed to be the first in a series.

The Mighty Miss Malone by Christopher Paul Curtis: This book was unexpectedly harrowing! The Malones are a determined, brave, and resourceful family, but the world they live in is hard. I loved Deza’s voice, which managed at once to be wise beyond its years and naively young. That contrast worked really well for how I read her character. Heartbreaking and bittersweet.

Poems of Akhmatova, trans. by Stanley Kunitz: These were decent translations, but in some cases I was puzzled by the way the translation didn’t follow the original structure (parallel structures, which Akhmatova seems to have been very fond of) when it seemed fairly simple to me to do so. I’m glad at least that this was a side-by-side version, with the original Russian first.

Our Hearts Were Young and Gay by Cornelia Otis Skinner and Emily Kimborough
Over Sea, Under Stone by Susan Cooper

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bookish posts monthly book list reviews

July 2013 book list

Books I’ve already talked about
Picture Book Monday
Tam Lin by Pamela Dean
Cinnamon and Gunpowder by Eli Brown
Swordspoint by Ellen Kushner
Gaudy Night by Dorothy Sayers
Queen of Attolia and King of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner
Deep Secret by Diana Wynne Jones
House of Shadows by Rachel Neumeier and my reaction this time
An Abundance of Katherines by John Green (which, that review, hah). This time around, I liked it but felt bothered by the distance from the female characters, by Colin’s self-centeredness.

Other books
Nightshifted by Cassie Alexander: I’d heard good things about this urban fantasy, and it was definitely fun. On the other hand, I didn’t find very much to relate to in the main character. I think partly, I’m just not an urban fantasy person. Or maybe I haven’t been reading the right ones? I don’t know.

King of Ithaka by Tracey Barrett: A retelling of the Odyssey from the point of view of Telemakos. Barrett does a marvelous job of creating a sense of place and time, and the theme of coming to terms with family is nicely done.

The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen: I love Sarah Addison Allen so much. And The Peach Keeper is beautiful. I loved the relationship between the sisters. I do think that Garden Spells is my favorite of her books so far.

Agent to the Stars by John Scalzi: Scalzi at his slap-stickiest. I enjoyed it a ton, but probably will re-read the Old Man’s War series, or Redshirts, more often.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman: This book has had tons of praise heaped on it, and deservedly so. It’s short, but that makes it exactly the right length–any longer and it would be bloated. It’s full of mythological resonances and beautiful imagery.

Carolina Girl by Victoria Kantra: This was a nice, light contemporary romance, but I didn’t have a lot of investment in the characters or the relationship. It’s also possible I was in the wrong mood that day.

The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax by Dorothy Gilman: A friend of mine recommended this series, and I’m really glad she did! They’re really enjoyable. A cozy spy thriller, if you can imagine such a thing. It naturally gets comparisons to Miss Marple, but really Mrs. Pollifax and Miss Marple are quite different, in personality, temperament, and outlook on life.

Mortal Fire by Elizabeth Knox: My feelings on this book are so complicated. On the one hand, I loved so much of the writing and premise, and the main character. I loved the way it engaged thoughtfully with issues of race and history. On the other hand, the pacing seemed very off in the middle section, and I was oddly put off by Ghislain’s character. Still, I think there are lots of fascinating things about this book, and I hope there are some good discussions about it.

Mendoza in Hollywood by Kage Baker: So, um, I totally thought this was the last in the Company series. I was wrong! Quite a bit of the book was slow, and I’m not sure if I’ll keep reading the series or not. Although once the plot started to move, it did add quite a bit to the overall series.

The Water Castle by Megan Frazer Blakemore
The Elementals by Saundra Mitchell
The Whatnot by Stefan Bachmann–review in September
The Bitter Kingdom–review later this month!
The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater–review in September (sorry)

Categories
bookish posts monthly book list reviews

May 2013 reading list

Books I’ve already talked about
Death of the Necromancer by Martha Wells
The Wizard Hunters by Martha Wells
Wise Child by Monica Furlong
Quicksilver by RJ Anderson
Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein
Promised Land by Connie Willis and Cynthia Felice
Doll Bones by Holly Black

Other books
Star Crossed by Jennifer Echols: I love Jennifer Echols’ YA books, so I thought I would try her first adult novel. I was not terribly impressed, partly because the world that it takes place in has almost no interest for me, and also because it seemed to lack some of the charm of her YA books.

Speaking From Among the Bones by Alan Bradley: Latest Flavia! So glad that we finally got some plot happening, as I was beginning to feel a bit strung along.

Wooden Bones by Scott William Carter: Unfortunately, I wasn’t wild about this sequel to Pinocchio. It seemed disjointed and didactic.

A Corner of White by Jaclyn Moriarty: I wasn’t sure how I would like this one, but I ended up liking it a lot! I did have a very personal reaction to the end which caused me to disengage from the book a bit, but this is so completely personal that it shouldn’t affect anyone else’s decision to read it. (For those who have read it and are curious, the answer to the Holly subplot was a little too real for me. Despite the fact that I suspected it almost instantly, when it was confirmed it was still a little shocking. Nothing to fault in Moriarty’s writing or depiction, just that it was a bit much for me.)

17 & Gone by Nova Ren Suma: This is a great mystery with a bit of a paranormal twist. I think Lauren’s narrating style might grate on some nerves. I noticed it, but I wasn’t particularly bothered by it. Lauren is definitely an unreliable narrator, which is (almost) always one of my favorite things, and there’s lots to chew on in the questions about young girls and how we view them.

Gate of Ivory, Two-Bit Heroes, and Guilt-Edged Ivory by Doris Egan: This is the kind of sci-fi I love! Actually it’s probably more of a science fantasy, since there’s magic, except that there are spoilery reasons for the magic that tips it back into SF, sort of? Regardless, I really really enjoyed all three of these.

Hattie Ever After by Kirby Larson: Sequel to Hattie Big Sky, but one which I think could be read as a standalone. I loved the way Larson addressed Hattie’s desire to be a journalist and her relationship with Charlie. All in all, it was a very satisfying sequel and, I think, even better than the first book.

Bloody Jack by L.A. Meyer: A wild book about a girl who passes herself off as a boy and joins the British Navy. I didn’t believe it at all, but it was fun. And I do think that it portrays the grittier side of historical fiction, which is a nice counterbalance.

Splendour Falls by Susanna Kearsley: A mystery recommended by RJ Anderson. I liked it quite a bit–it has some of the Gothic flavor, plus the French setting, of a Mary Stewart novel. I’ve tried one of Kearsley’s books before and didn’t finish it, so this was a nice antidote. I’ll definitely keep an eye out for her in the future.

Ships of the Air by Martha Wells: Second of the Ile-Rien books. Eeee, I love this series! Martha Wells is such a great writer, and I’m completely invested in the characters. There were definitely some plot twists I did not see coming too! Third book is on the shelf, waiting for me to get to it.

Dark Triumph by R.A. LaFevers: I had mixed feelings about the first book, Grave Mercy, and Dark Triumph confirmed that this is not the series for me. Siggghhh. I just didn’t enjoy reading it, and I felt like Sybella’s coming to terms with her past happened very easily.

Ghoulish Song by William Alexander: Sequel to Goblin Secret, which I really liked. This one was a bit disappointing–I went in with high hopes, but the resonance and dreaminess of the language which was present in Goblin Secrets didn’t seem to be there in this one. This may partly be second book syndrome, but I didn’t get that sense of the wild strangeness of the city that I did in the first book.

The Last Englishman: The Double Life of Arthur Ransome by Roland Chambers: I love (LOVE!) Swallows and Amazons, which is absolutely one of the books that shaped me and my life and my way of thinking. I also liked Old Peter’s Russian Tales and The Fool of the World and the Flying Ship a lot. Unfortunately, this biography made me really dislike Arthur Ransome, as it gave the strong impression that he spent his whole life in a kind of wilful & childish ignorance. I kept hoping he would snap out of it, but he did not. I still love S&A, but I wish Ransome’s own story had a happier ending.

The Education of Bet by Lauren Baratz-Logstead: Another book where a girl dresses up as a boy! This time, she goes to boarding school. I liked the fact that it was fairly realistic about her struggles passing as a boy, and clear about why she chose to do it (she wants an education). I called several of the plot twists, but it was a fun read and quite well written.

A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan: 19th century England WITH DRAGONS, but quite different than the Temeraire series. I liked it, but felt that it dragged a bit in the middle. However, the world and characters were engaging enough that I definitely plan to read the sequel.

Stolen Magic by Stephanie Burgis: Last of the Kat Stephenson books, SOB. I love the resolution, and the way it stays definitely middle grade, and the fact that there’s no clumsy epilogue. YAY for all these things! And yay for Kat!

The Brendan Voyage by Tim Severin
The Nightmare Affair by Mindee Arnett