bookish posts monthly book list reviews

September 2015 round up

Books I’ve already talked about
A Wish Upon Jasmine by Laura Florand
Hissing Cousins by Marc Peyser and Timothy Dwyer
The Disenchantments by Nina LaCour
The Devil You Know by Trish Doller

Strong Poison by Dorothy Sayers
Gaudy Night by Dorothy Sayers
A Pocket Full of Murder by R.J. Anderson
The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow
Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho
Ancillary Sword by Ann Leckie
The Silence of Medair by Andrea K. Höst
Busman’s Honeymoon by Dorothy Sayers

Other books
The Boy in the Black Suit by Jason Reynolds: This book is on the quiet side, with lots of reflections on grief, family, love, and growing up. But it also has some really funny moments! There’s lots to like here, and I’ll definitely be looking out for Reynolds’s books in the future.

Ms. Marvel: Crushed: AHHH MS. MARVEL, YES! I am always so surprised by just how much I love this story–it keeps getting better. The arc on this one was really great and I just want mooooore.

Lord Peter and Little Kerstin by Ian Crumpstey: A review copy offered by the translator of Scandinavian folk songs/stories. It was interesting to note that sometimes I was able to predict where the story was going and other times it surprised me. I really enjoyed the language chosen for this translation.

A Caribbean Mystery by Agatha Christie: Audiobook. Not my favorite Miss Marple, but it does introduce the idea of her as a nemesis.

Baba Yaga’s Apprentice by Marika McCoola and Emily Carroll: I’m fascinated by the Baba Yaga story, and I loved Emily Carroll’s Through the Woods. So I thought this one might be good and I ended up really liking it. It’s set in the modern day, but I liked the way McCoola’s story and Carroll’s art interact.

Backseat Saints by Joshilyn Jackson: I had a mixed reaction to this one, but I’m not sure entirely why, and I’m not sure I can tease it out in the time and space I have here.

Have His Carcase by Dorothy Sayers: I read this one but didn’t end up writing a post about it. Partly this is because of the DLS books I just re-read, it’s the only one that’s really focused on the mystery, with Peter and Harriet’s relationship second. Also, it’s just vaguely grimy and depressing. Murder Must Advertise is sad; HHC is just unsatisfying.

Fire From Heaven by Mary Renault: I enjoyed this first book about Alexander the Great, but also I became very anxious about MWT’s Gen because of parallels. Arrghhhhh. Anyway, on its own merits this is immersive & beautiful.

Outskirter’s Secret by Rosemary Kirstein: Second in the Steerswoman series. This one starts off a little slowly and ends with an emotional gut-punch. Ow. Also, I really appreciate that Kirstein pays attention to the physicality of her world, and gives a sense of the time it takes to do things/move through the land.

A School for Brides by Patrice Kindl: Great readalike for last year’s Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place! It had something of the same school story + irreverent vibe. I wasn’t in love with the first book, but I really enjoyed this one–maybe because it was less an Austen retelling and more vaguely Austen-esque.

Blind Justice by Bruce Alexander: This is unusual in historical mysteries that I’ve read in that the detective is a real historical figure. Sir John Fielding was a magistrate and social reformer. The book itself is told as reminiscences of a fictional servant boy. I’ll probably try reading at least the next book.

Call the Midwife by Jennifer Worth: Being a big fan of the TV show, I wanted to try Worth’s memoirs. It was interesting to track the places where it was exactly the same and the places where changes had been made. In general, I appreciated the book, but I didn’t love it as much as I did the show itself.

Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer by Kelly Jones: I absolutely loved this one, which is told via letters to and from Sophie. It’s funny, and heartfelt, and I found it truly enjoyable and charming.

Cuckoo’s Egg by C.J. Cherryh

Step Aside, Pops by Kate Beaton

Listen to the Moon by Rose Lerner: review coming closer to the release!

Other posts
Made and Making
Links 9-3-15
Links 9-16-15
Links 9-29-15
Series I need to finish
Mystery books I want to read
Fall TBR
Favorite middle grade mysteries

TV and movies
Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries!!!
Doctor Who
Call the Midwife

bookish posts monthly book list reviews

June 2015 round-up

Books I’ve already talked about
The Dark Lord of Derkholm by Diana Wynne Jones
Hexwood by Diana Wynne Jones
Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones
Archer’s Goon by Diana Wynne Jones
All For You by Laura Florand
Pure Magic by Rachel Neumeier
Picture Book Monday
Captain Marvel vol 1: In Pursuit of Flight
Seriously Wicked by Tina Connolly
The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh
Illusionarium by Heather Dixon

A Dragon’s Guide to the Care and Feeding of Humans by Laurence Yep
Six Impossible Things by Fiona Wood
Jackaby by William Ritter

The Turning Season by Sharon Shinn
Stolen Magic by Gail Carson Levine
Rook by Sharon Cameron

The Water Devil by Judith Merkle Riley
A Civil Campaign

Other books
Seraphina by Rachel Hartman: audiobook review coming later!

The Virtu by Sarah Monette: Feels! ALL THE FEELS. Mildmay feels! Felix feels! As a note, it’s interesting to me that Monette can write a book with two main male characters, largely centered on their relationship, and yet her female characters read as complex and interesting. It’s almost like she sees and writes them as real people! I’m both anticipating and dreading the next book because I’m sure it will be emotionally harrowing.

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness: I…didn’t like this one. I think I have friends who did–and I’d love to hear from you if so! But I just couldn’t get past the fact that I didn’t have any investment in Matthew and Diana’s relationship, and that at times his desire for control led it into territory I was uncomfortable with.

Elephants Can Remember by Agatha Christie: Audiobook. I found the narrator for this one somewhat grating, as he made all the characters sound basically the same and Poirot very Frenchified. There are also some oddly anti-women undercurrents. Not my favorite.

A Faraway Island by Annika Thor: I’m familiar with evacuee fiction, but it tends to mostly be focused on kids in the UK. In A Faraway Island Thor tells the story of two sisters, Jewish girls from Vienna who are sent to Sweden in the advance of the Nazis. It’s sweet and hard and heartbreaking, especially the progression of the letters from the girls’ parents as they begin to realize the trap that’s closing in around them.

The Arctic Code by Matthew Kirby: Middle grade futuristic sci fi, set in a slightly distant future when the world is in a new ice age. I don’t know how accurate the science is; I found the story fast-paced but ultimately a bit unsatisfying and improbable.

P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han: I have so many thoughts about this book and To All the Boys and the value of the way they show the life of a feminine, middle class girl and her concerns and loves and worries. It’s all too rare, and yet we give this kind of page time to male stories. Mostly, though, I just love Lara Jean and her story.

Fall For Anything by Courtney Summers: This is one of Summers’s more intimate books, dealing with the aftermath of Eddie’s father’s suicide. I liked it quite a bit and found Eddie an easy character to sympathise with, in both her strengths and her mistakes. Oddly enough, I think I missed some of the sharp anger that’s a core of some of her other books.

Lumberjanes: Beware the Kitten Holy: I had to request the library purchase this one and for awhile it looked like they were only going to buy the ebooks of individual issues. Happily, they eventually bought the first volume. I think it really helped my enjoyment–not that I didn’t like it when I read it as ebooks, because I did. Anyway, these are funny, feminist, amazing comics. They’ve already entered my personal mythology in a way that I found slightly surprising.

Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters: My first Sarah Waters book! I had a slightly mixed reaction and I’m having trouble pinning down why. On the one hand, the writing is marvelous; I loved Nan’s voice and the prose and so much about it. On the other hand, I had some trouble connecting to Nan as a character, and I’m not sure exactly why; I think perhaps she seems so disconnected from other people for much of the book, and while this is probably deliberate, I think it does add a distance from her. I did love the resolution of the ending, though, and will definitely read more Waters.

Other posts
Links: 6-1-15
Links: 6-17-15
TTT: Anticipated releases for the rest of 2015
TTT: Summer tbr list
Bullet journaling revisited
A letter to Tor & Macmillan
Recent short fiction reads

TV & movies
Poldark: I’ve only seen the first episode, but it’s quite enjoyable. Lots of shots of beautiful Cornish scenery and beautiful Aidan Turner. I mean, I wouldn’t watch it just for that. We’ll see if I can take the melodrama over the long term, but so far so good.

Parks & Rec: I watched the final season and while I don’t think it was as strong as the others–it felt a little self-indulgent at times–it was still lovely. And I did really like the final episode and the way it pulled together the threads of the past few seasons.

Poirot: I went back to watching Poirot and got up to the later seasons that I haven’t seen. The adaptations of Five Little Pigs and Sad Cypress were especially good, I thought.

Continuum: Apparently I had only gotten through half of the first season on this one. I’m appreciating some of the details in terms of both the future and the present, and that it seems to have a good sense of where the story’s going. I feel like Canadian scifi shows seem to be fresher in a way than their American counterparts, and I like it.

bookish posts monthly book list

May 2015 round up

Books I’ve already talked about
Gone Crazy in Alabama by Rita Williams-Garcia
Ms. Marvel vol. 2: Generation Why by G. Willow Wilson
Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
Born Confused by Tanuja Desai Hidier

Ravensbrück by Sarah Helm
Picture Book Monday
Murder is Bad Manners by Robin Stevens
Curse of the Iris by Jason Fry
Castle Hangnail by Ursula Vernon
The Detective’s Assistant by Kate Hannigan

Uprooted by Naomi Novik
Rose Under Fire: audiobook review
Once Upon a Rose by Laura Florand

Other books
House of Many Ways by Diana Wynne Jones: I do like this one, although I almost wish it weren’t connected to HMC at all, since I think I would enjoy it more on its own merits. But Howl as a toddler is pretty hilarious.

Infandous by Elana K. Arnold: Dark and layered. I loved the way myths & fairy tales were woven in, and I appreciated a lot about it. However, when I read it, I was burnt out on Important books, however well written and necessary. So I’m not sure how much that flavors my feelings of slight frustration with this one; I wanted it to be a little less slight, maybe?

Chasing Shadows by Swati Avasthi: Complex, interesting look at friendship and grief and what happens when we ask too much of each other. The text is interspersed with graphic novel panels, which worked a little less well for me than the standard narration. It wasn’t my favorite, but I’m glad I read it.

Lois Lane: Fallout by Gwenda Bond: I’m not a huge Superman fan (*ducks for cover*) but I really enjoyed this YA book focusing on Lois Lane in high school. Girl reporter! Trying to find out the truth and tangling with authority figures. It’s lots of fun.

Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson: Brandy mentioned that both she & her daughter loved this mg graphic novel about roller derbys, so when it came into my library I had to check it out. It’s a great look at growing up and friendships and roller derbys (!!). Also great for Raina Telgemeier fans–I know everyone is pitching it as this, but it fits so well.

NIMONA by Noelle Stevenson: I loved Nimona. It was originally posted as a webcomic and I started reading about 2/3 of the way through the series. I wasn’t sure how it would be to read it as a book, but the format worked really well and HarperCollins did a great job with the colors & quality. And I loved the characters & story just as much. (I’m a SHARK!)

Charmed Life by Diana Wynne Jones: I listened to this as an audiobook and am saving it for a Reluctant Listener review later.

All the Rage by Courtney Summers: Hard read, wonderfully written. I think Romy is the most tender & vulnerable of Summers’ characters (that I’ve read, anyway) and I found myself hurting so much for her. It’s really all about fallout and how you keep going. I think what I found most extraordinary was the way Summers gives us Romy’s point of view without justifying all her thoughts and actions, but also without condemning them.

The Snow Spider by Jenny Nimmo: This is a small, odd little middle grade fantasy. It’s set in Wales, which is totally catnip to me. However, I felt a bit distanced from all the characters–it was like emotional beats were set up but not fleshed out enough for me to buy them.

The Bell Family by Noel Streatfeild: This was a Streatfeild that I don’t think I’ve read before. It was reissued recently, and is a charming little book. Perfect for lying on a couch with a bad cold, although I think it lacks some of the texture of her best books.

A Volcano Beneath the Snow by Albert Marrin: A juvenile biography of John Brown. This one did a nice job of really focusing on the context, so it’s not simply telling the story of one individual. Also, imo, a nice example of showing individuals–including Brown, Lincoln, and Douglass–as complex and contradictory, without trying to smooth out their weaknesses and inconsistencies. (I’m less sure about the conclusion at the end.)

Most Likely to Succeed by Jennifer Echols: review coming closer to the release date

The End of the Sentence by Maria Dahvana Headley and Kat Howard: This is a weird little book and I’m still not sure if I actually liked it or not. I think maybe not? But I liked some of the echoes? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

This Side of Home by Renee Watson: I’d been hearing how excellent this one is for awhile, and it absolutely is. It takes a close look at universal issues of growing up and dealing with personal changes, while at the same time looking at wider changes of gentrification and racism. Maya is a thoughtful narrator, and the story doesn’t give any easy answers but treats a complex issue with the care it deserves.

Other posts
Links: 5-3-15
Authors I’d really like to meet
Made and Making: May 2015

bookish posts

A good reading week

I somehow don’t seem to have any time for blogging at the moment, but I’ve been zipping through some great books so far this week and I wanted to at least mention them.

gone crazy in alabamasimon born confused ms. marvel

1. Ms. Marvel Vol. 2: Generation Why. KAMALA KHAN! She’s the bestest. And I continue to love the balance of normal teenagerdom with superhero fights with Kamala’s family & culture–all in a way that feels realistic and organic. Plus some really smart stuff about people in their teens & early twenties and the messages they internalize. I can’t wait for the third volume.

2. Born Confused by Tanuja Desai Hidier I loved Dimple and Hidier is an amazing writer. The imagery and language is so beautiful. The characters are really strong too–I loved the way Dimple & Gwyn’s friendship changes throughout the book, and the fact that Dimple’s relationship with her family & Gwyn is almost as important if not just as important as the romance. Really smart stuff about gender and cultural identity and art and growing up.

3. Gone Crazy in Alabama by Rita Williams-Garcia Look, I just loved this trilogy. I’m sad it’s over, even while I know it’s a great place to leave Delphine and Vonetta and Fern. I loved how this delved into the Gaither family history, and how it echoes and ripples down into Delphine & her sisters’ lives. I’m looking forward to reading whatever Williams-Garcia writes next.

4. Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli Super sweet book, about a not-really-out gay boy who gets blackmailed (that doesn’t make it sound cute, but it is!). I loved how even though it’s told in first person and we’re definitely in Simon’s head, we also get a little glimpse into the other characters, so that it never feels like Simon’s view is The Only Right Way. Smart, thoughtful, funny romantic comedy.

bookish posts monthly book list reviews

March 2015 round-up

Books I’ve already talked about
Black Dove, White Raven by Elizabeth Wein
Jinx’s Fire by Sage Blackwood
A Fistful of Sky by Nina Kiriki Hoffman
Bad Luck Girl by Sarah Zettel
Persona by Genevieve Valentine
The Penderwicks in Spring by Jeanne Birdsall
The Port Chicago 50 by Steve Sheinkin
Death Marked by Leah Cypess
Through the Woods by Emily Carroll
Lord of the Changing Winds by Rachel Neumeier
Bone Gap by Laura Ruby
I Shall Wear Midnight by Terry Pratchett (such a bittersweet read)
Hunting by Andrea K. Höst

Other books
Displacement by Lucy Knisley: I found myself disquieted by this one, but couldn’t quite put my finger on why.

Land of the Burning Sands by Rachel Neumeier: Second in the Griffin Mage trilogy. At first I was a bit taken aback by the change in point of view, but I really liked the characters and the story, and the way we saw a different side to the countries than in the first book.

Ms. Marvel, vol. 1 by G. Willow Wilson: I absolutely adored this one. Smart, fun, filled with a YA sensibility. I also loved the way Kamala’s family and faith and culture are woven into the story, how they’re both frustrations and sources of strength. I can’t wait for the second collection!

Texts from Jane Eyre by Mallory Ortberg: The titular essay is one of my favorite things EVER. As a whole the book is enjoyable, but also tends to repeat itself a bit. Still, it’s short and tight enough that this didn’t bother me too much.

How I Discovered Poetry by Marilyn Nelson: Nelson’s poetic memoir of growing up black in the 1950s. She uses the sonnet’s snapshort form to great effect. This perhaps doesn’t have the same overview as Brown Girl Dreaming, but it’s likewise an important and powerful story. Its aims are, I think, somewhat different and achieved beautifully. I hope people looking for readalikes for Woodson’s book find it.

Dangerous Deceptions by Sarah Zettel: Second Peggy Fitzroy book. I enjoy these Georgian spy mysteries quite a bit, although this one seemed a bit long (middle book syndrome, maybe?). I do really like the way Peggy’s relationship with Matthew is depicted, and her valiant attempts to keep juggling all her plates.

A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab: Fun, angsty fantasy (not a contradiction!). I liked the concept and worldbuilding a LOT, and the way the magic has a price. I was less connected to the characters than I perhaps wanted to be. There were a few niggling historical details that bothered me, because I am the person who can’t let go of the fact that there were no abundant skirts in 1819. However, it’s a really enjoyable book and I’m looking forward to the rest of the series.

Beastkeeper by Cat Hellisen: Darker middle grade retelling of Beauty and the Beast. Gorgeous language and a pleasingly spare book. I found the characters and the way the story plays with the original to be fresh and engaging, despite a few niggling questions about the resolution.

All Our Pretty Songs by Sarah McCarry: I’ve been hearing good things about McCarry’s writing ever since All Our Pretty Songs came out, and I finally picked it up. SO GOOD. Complex characters, a wonderful narrator, outstanding prose, layers of myths that add a lot of depth. Definitely recommended if you loved Bone Gap–I would love to see someone look at the way the two books engage with the story they have in common.

Iron Kissed by Patricia Briggs
Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews
The Iron Wyrm Affair by Lilith Saintcrow

Other posts
Favorite books from the last three years
Favorite authors: Terry Pratchett
Spring TBR list
Library displays
Books I want to revisit
Links 3-11
Links 3-26
Recent additions to my TBR
Links to two tumblr posts

TV & movies
Poirot. I’ve been watching a lot of Poirot. I find the fact that the stories are transported to the 1930s sometimes a little jarring, and I recently watched “The Murder of Roger Ackroyd” which is just a study in how NOT to adapt that book. (What is the whole point? Christie playing with narrative. What do they ruin? The game she’s playing.) Still, I love the main actors and it’s lots of fun to spot people who would later become famous (or famous for British actors, anyway).

Also watched “Belle”, a beautiful period movie based on the life of Dido Elizabeth Belle. I loved the movie as a story, and the acting was wonderful. It does bother me to a certain extent that the John Davinier of the movie is so obviously not the John Davinier of history, which undercuts the story a bit. But as a story based on Dido Belle’s life, it’s wonderful, and it’s a powerful and important piece of representation.

Finally, I watched Sense & Sensibility (1995) with the Two Bossy Dames crowd. Despite some technical glitches on my end (Netflix, why must you fail me?!), it was an extremely enjoyable evening; there’s definitely something to be said for watching a movie in good company. It’s been awhile since I had seen this one and it ages quite well. I will admit that the climactic scene when Elinor begs Marianne not to leave her had me crying and then texting my sister.

bookish posts reviews

Recent Reading: Sheinkin, Cypess, Carroll, Neumeier

port chicago 50Port Chicago 50 by Steve Sheinkin: I have had somewhat mixed feelings about Sheinkin’s non-fiction in the past, mostly due to his tendency to fudge some of the details just a little. However, I thought Port Chicago 50 did an excellent job of letting the people who were involved tell their own story, while at the same time giving the context and background for readers. I also appreciated that Sheinkin several times said, “We simply don’t know what actually happened at this point.” I would much rather have this kind of statement than a supposition or even a recreation. This is an important and powerful story, and casts light on an often-forgotten moment in the history of civil rights in America. I think it will work best for readers who are ready to grapple with the idea that courage doesn’t always get an outward reward, but I would certainly recommend it for a wide audience.

Book source: public library
Book information: 2014, Roaring Book Press; mg/YA non-fiction

death markedDeath Marked/a by Leah Cypess: After reading and mostly liking Cypess’s Death Sworn last year, I definitely wanted to read the second book in the duology. Ileni has left the assassins’ cave and is now in the sorcerers’ power. But what she finds there will test her loyalty all over again. As with the first book, my reaction is mostly positive. I like Ileni quite a bit, and especially the way she’s shown to be powerful without being the awesomest everrr!!!! Her power does have limitations and a lot of the book is her grappling with the moral issues that her use of the sorcerers’ lodestones brings up. At the same time, I felt that the romance subplot never worked for me, even less than it did in the first book. And I found the conclusion more than a bit abrupt and not entirely convincing. All in all, this is one I perhaps wanted to like more than I did, although I suspect that some readers will love it.

Book source: eARC from Edelweiss
Book information: 2015, Greenwillow Books; YA fantasy

through the woodsThrough the Woods by Emily Carroll: Genuinely frightening graphic novel with fairy tale echoes. I recommend NOT reading this one right before bed, as I unfortunately did. The art and story work marvelously together, and I love the way the pictures sometimes flow out of the confinement of boxes to take over the whole page. I felt that the overall conceit reminded me a bit of Poisoned Apples, but the themes are more subtly dealt with here and in general, I liked Through the Woods better. If you don’t like to be scared, this probably isn’t the book for you, but it’s dark and delicious and will definitely be sticking with me.

Book source: public library
Book information: 2014, Margaret McElderry books; YA graphic novel

lord of the changing windsLord of the Changing Winds by Rachel Neumeier: So, I honestly thought I had read this book, and only got it out to re-read it. It turns out that I hadn’t read it at all, or at least have no memory or record of doing so! Which is a shame, since it’s a really marvelous story. (Also, there’s the whole favorite author/Twitter friend thing.) I love the worldbuilding here, both the details of everyday life and the wider political issues and implications. (There is also some truly excellent food.) Although the story takes on big topics, there is at the same time an intimacy to it. We stick pretty closely to two viewpoints and the arcs of these two main characters are pretty closely interwoven. I found that I liked this one with the same part of my reading brain that likes Andrea K. Höst’s books (which is not surprising at all). I’ve already devoured the second and am part-way through the third book.

Book source: public library
Book information: 2010, Orbit; adult fantasy (though excellent YA crossover)

bookish posts reviews

Recent Reading: 11-28-14

this one summerThis One Summer by Jillian and Mariko Tamaki: A gorgeous graphic novel, which I appreciated very much in terms of artistry, storytelling, and thoughtfulness, but which never entirely grabbed me emotionally. I’m not sure how much of this is due to reading experience (I read it in two chunks) and how much is due to the fact that it was much more of a window book for me than a mirror one. That is, I experienced that age very differently and while I liked how true it seemed to a certain experience of teenage girl life, it didn’t quite resonate with me in the way I imagine it might for other readers. I did love the wordlessness of some of the panels, how the authors relied on these beats of silence to evoke the languid feeling of summer and the tense moments of a struggling family. (Kelly Jensen also has a really nice review of this one, which is worth checking out.)

octobia mayThe Unstoppable Octobia May by Sharon Flake: I’ve been looking forward to this one for a few months, ever since I saw the awesome cover art and premise on Edelweiss. Octobia May is a stubborn, curious girl, who believes that one of the lodgers at her aunt’s house is a vampire. When she attempts to prove this, she uncovers a far different, but equally sinister, state of affairs. I liked this one, although I find it a bit hard to grapple with in a certain way. There’s a lot about being black, being a black woman and therefore unable to get a loan from a bank, and Octobia May’s desire to circumvent all of these rules. In the end, I think, she comes to understand that it’s more complicated than that. And yet, I struggle with how to characterize the book’s larger message, which I only say because I felt that there was one and I didn’t quite get it. Maybe that’s just fine and it’s not a book that in that sense is meant for me (I still loved the mystery and Octobia May herself, so it worked for me on that level). I also want to know more about Octobia May’s family and her somewhat mysterious illness. Hopefully there will be more from Flake about these characters.

the crossoverThe Crossover by Kwame Alexander: I’m not normally a big fan of basketball books, and this is a book “about” basketball. I’m not normally a fan of books in free verse–too often I just don’t see the form justified. But I can’t imagine The Crossover as anything but poetry. Alexander writing as Josh is by turns thoughtful, lyrical, hilarious, and heartbreaking. Some of the poems are bubbling over with effervescence, some are somber and quiet. All of them feel like a teenage boy, grappling with some of the biggest changes he will ever face. Basketball is Josh’s love, and that shows in several of the poems, but it’s not really what the book is about: it’s about family and love and forgiveness and growing up. And it’s the first book in quite some time that made me just full-on cry. I can’t recommend it enough.

el deafoEl Deafo by Cece Bell: A graphic memoir by Cece Bell, showing her childhood after she suddenly went deaf following an illness. I really liked it, especially the way it showed how she navigates the world with the help of lip reading and other artificial aids, but never let that be the only point of the story. It’s clear and funny, and I think a lot of kids will get Cece’s desire to find a best friend, and the journey that desire takes her on. There are also some fun interludes as she imagines herself as a superhero (the titular El Deafo). I also really appreciated the afterword, which goes a bit more into the deaf/Deaf culture and how her experience was perhaps a bit different than many others.

magic thief homeThe Magic Thief: Home by Sarah Prineas: Fourth book in the Magic Thief series, and a Cybils nominee. Conn and his friends are faced with a new issue as someone is stealing the locus stones of all the magicians in the city. Meanwhile, Rowan as the duchess has named Conn the ducal magister, which he is not happy about at all. (Nor are most of the other magisters, to be fair.) This one is perhaps best for readers who have finished the other books in the series, but it’s just as delightful. Conn is of the plucky slightly-amoral type of character, but at the same time he has a good heart and part of his journey is learning to trust others. A great one for the kid who will love The Thief in a few years.

bookish posts reviews

August 2014 book list

Books I’ve already reviewed
The Girls at the Kingfisher Club by Genevieve Valentine
Stray and The Silence of Medair by Andrea K. Host
Strong Poison by Dorothy Sayers–I listened to the audiobook, which was okay, but I wished that Ian Carmichael would turn off his plummy accent for the actual narration. Occasionally made it difficult to tell which was the narrator and which Lord Peter. However, he does women’s voices well, which I have learned is apparently a problem for some male voice actors.
Touch Not the Cat by Mary Stewart: Leila was talking about this one recently and I realized I had to re-read it!
Blackout by Connie Willis: I’m glad I have a friend who doesn’t mind me spamming her with all my feeeeelings, because re-reading this book involves a lot of feeeeelings.

Other books
Cracked Up to Be by Courtney Summers: My first Courtney Summers book! I KNOW! It’s so good, such an interesting complex look at a character who has been the villain in many a YA book. I’m sure there are readers out there who hate Parker, but I loved her prickly, slightly-evil-but-never-as-evil-as-she-wants-to-be self.

Castle Behind Thorns by Merrie Haskell: I really liked Merrie Haskell’s first two books, and Castle Behind Thorns was one I definitely looked forward to. I liked it a lot, especially the way she showed the relationship between Perrotte and Sand. This is a very different, but quite compelling, take on the Sleeping Beauty story.

On the Fence by Kasie West: I was a bit worried about the “girl who doesn’t know how to girl” storyline before going into this one, but overall I thought West handled it pretty well. I liked the friends growing into romance storyline, although I did think some of the plot twists were a little unnecessary.

Faking It by Jennifer Crusie: This is one of my favorite Crusie books and apparently I’ve never actually reviewed it here! But let me put it this way: if you love “How to Steal a Million” (which you should, because Audrey Hepburn! And Peter O’Toole! And hijinks and romance in a cupboard!), you’ll probably like this book. Even knowing the whole plot, it’s entirely enjoyable as a re-read. Plus it’s set in Columbus, OH, where I grew up!

Lulu and the Cat in the Bag by Hilary McKay
Lulu and the Rabbit Next Door by Hilary McKay: Although I love Hilary McKay’s books for slightly older readers, as has been well documented, this recent early chapter book series is so lovely! Lulu loves animals and collects them everywhere she goes. Usually this involves the help of her cousin and best friend Mellie, who is a very different personality but understands Lulu. Hilarious, wonderful, and a nice example of everyday diversity, there’s nothing not to like here.

The Problem with Being Slightly Heroic by Uma Krishnaswami: I loved the first book when I read it earlier this year, and The Problem With Being Slightly Heroic definitely lived up to my expectations. As with The Grand Plan to Fix Everything, the story is sweet, funny, heart-felt, and just a bit larger than life.

Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins: After a long wait, Isla is ours! There were points when I felt a bit nervous about this one, but in the end I did like it a lot. The idea of the happily ever after is presented fairly straight, which is not my favorite trope ever, but I was rooting for Josh and Isla. And I definitely liked the cameos from the earlier books!

Sisters by Raina Telgemeier: Sisters is a graphic memoir, and I really liked it. Perhaps I’m also the oldest child of three (two girls and a boy in that order), and that so much of the sisterly dynamic seemed familiar to me, but I found myself totally engaged in the story Telgemeier told. I also loved the flashbacks to earlier family events, and the PETS!

Voice of the Lost by Andrea K Host: This was amazing! I loved the way Medair resolves her difficulties, I loved the romance, I loved the questions that the worldbuilding brought up. I felt in a couple places that the pacing could have been just a little tighter, but honestly I was invested enough in the characters that I didn’t really care.

The Eighth Day by Dianne K. Salerni: I really loved Salerni’s The Caged Graves when I read it for the Cybils last year. This went in an entirely different direction and, while I enjoyed it, I didn’t really find that it had much emotional resonance with me. Kids who like adventure and heroes with a bit of Arthurian mythology should like it, though.

Traveling with the Dead by Barbara Hambly: Second James Asher book. I liked getting more of an insight into Lydia’s perspective, and Don Ysidro as well, but the pacing and setting of the book seemed a bit too full of dashing about. Part of the strength of the first one was how well it conveyed the moody atmosphere of foggy vampire-laden London. I felt here that I never had time to quite settle into the story.

Unmade by Sarah Rees Brennan: I’ll put up a review closer to the release date, but for now I’ll just say that SRB is the dark mistress of my heart. She does terrible things and yet I love them.
Journey to the River Sea by Eva Ibbotson

Things I wish to share
– You can still be a Cybils judge! Apply here by September 5th

– The latest installment in my series of historical fantasies: the Victorian era. Some interesting comments on this too–check them out! Also, I posted a primer for people who would like to start reading that subgenre.

Made & Making for this month–I posted this late last night so it could technically be an August post.

– And finally, I noticed that I’m listed on the “Places We Love” sidebar on Lady Business. I am tremendously flattered!

bookish posts monthly book list reviews

July 2014 reading list

Books I’ve already talked about
Picture Book Monday
Palace of Stone by Shannon Hale
Adventures of Superhero Girl by Faith Erin Hicks
Biggest Flirts by Jennifer Echols
Those Who Hunt the Night by Barbara Hambly
Alchemy of Fire by Gillian Bradshaw
Landline by Rainbow Rowell
I also re-read all of Laura Florand’s books in preparation for this guest post
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
The Exiles at Home by Hilary McKay
A Conspiracy of Kings by Megan Whalen Turner (and I shared some favorite quotes on Tumblr)
A Posse of Princesses by Sherwood Smith–on this read, the judgement of the other girls annoyed me a bit
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Other books
Deliverer by C.J. Cherryh: I don’t remember this book. All of the Bren Cameron stories are starting to meld together a bit. I enjoyed it, because I’ve found the most recent books in the series to be excellent, but I couldn’t tell you which one this is to save my life.

A Lily Among Thorns by Rose Lerner: My friend B. recommended Rose Lerner to me, and specifically A Lily Among Thorns, since she knows I like Cecilia Grant’s books a lot. And yes, I did very much liked this one! It’s a more grounded version of Regency romances–not a duke or a marquess in sight (well, one or two, sort of). I had to strain my credulity a tad at the end, but I was happy to do so.

Princeless, vol. 1 by Jeremy Whitley: Graphic novel about a black princess who takes off with the dragon that’s supposed to be guarding her tower. If you sat up and said, “ooh!”, then this is for you. While I didn’t feel that it went very deep, I really liked the thoughtful commentary on families and narratives and choices.

The Last Light of the Sun by Guy Gavriel Kay: I’ve really enjoyed Kay’s sweeping historical fantasies in the past, especially the Sarantium duology. Many of the same elements are present in this one, but I didn’t personally feel all that invested in the characters, and I felt somewhat irked by the way the incidental peasant appeared, had their entire life summed up (significant events occurring only in proximity to the main characters, of course), and was dismissed.

The Great Trouble by Deborah Hopkinson: Historical fiction about the Blue Plague (cholera) epidemic in London in the 1850s, and the scientific advances that led to its halt. Unfortunately, characters and plot take a back seat to Historical Details. I ended up wishing that this had simply been non-fiction, since it would have been much more engaging without also trying to be a story.

The Ogre Downstairs by Diana Wynne Jones: I apparently have never reviewed this book here! In fact, I’m not entirely sure if I’ve read it before. It’s a bit of a weird one, but as the story of a blended family learning to live with each other. There are some attitudes about corporal punishment that will likely read as old-fashioned to many people; I noticed them, but they didn’t jolt me out of the story, personally speaking.

Major Crush by Jennifer Echols: Brandy read this one recently and I realized that although I’ve read almost all of Echols’s other books, I hadn’t tried this one. It definitely reads as a first novel, in retrospect, but I enjoyed it quite a bit. Certainly not the strongest of her books, but if you’re looking for an entertaining romance, it’s one to check out.

bookish posts reviews

Recent Reading

adventures of superhero girlAdventures of Superhero Girl by Faith Erin Hicks: I really enjoy Faith Erin Hicks’ work. Although Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong remains my favorite of her books to date, Adventures of Superhero Girl is a marvelous, wry take on the life of a superhero. Superhero Girl has a roommate and struggles with family life. She doesn’t have a tragic backstory and she suffers from comparisons to her older brother Kevin. All in all, great fun and my only complaint is that there’s not more.

biggest flirtsBiggest Flirts by Jennifer Echols: I’ve been a bit hit-or-miss with Echols’ most recent books, but definitely enjoyed Biggest Flirts, which starts off a new series. In some ways it felt like a very setting-up-the-series book, in the sense that it focused quite a bit on the other characters at the high school, but as usual I appreciated the fact that Echols depicts a wide variety of personal backgrounds, both cultural and socio-economic. And perhaps most importantly, I liked Will and Tia as a couple, and bought into their relationship.

those who hunt the nightThose Who Hunt the Night by Barbara Hambly: First in the James Asher series. Victorian professor/ex spy who is blackmailed into helping a vampire solve a series of murders. It sounds a bit weird, but it’s a lovely book, with characters who felt both of-their-time and fresh enough to hold modern sympathies. Hambly’s take on vampires is a cautious but sympathetic one; they are shown, perhaps more than in any other vampire book I can think of, as real people albeit not exactly human anymore. Hambly somehow prevents the plot from devolving into melodrama, which it easily could have. All in all, a great beginning to a series I definitely intend to finish.

alchemy of fireAlchemy of Fire by Gillian Bradshaw: I’m still reading through Gillian Bradshaw’s backlist. Alchemy of Fire takes place in 7th century Constantinople. While I liked the main characters, Bradshaw’s research shows a little more here than usual. There are lots of details about perfume making, and about the invention of the so-called Greek fire. Where the emphasis is usually on character development, here the weight of the details is a little too strong, I think.

landlineLandline by Rainbow Rowell: Oh, Landline. Oh, how I wanted to like you. But I didn’t. Partly, this read as much more adult literary fiction than Rowell’s other books, and I am not a huge fan of that genre. Partly, I never bought the present-day transformation, or the characters as real people versus quirky traits thrown together. So yeah–this one did not work for me. Guess I’ll just go re-read Fangirl.