books read in January…

 

 

  • My Soul to Keep by Tananarive Due. The first in her African Immortals series. Eva asked me if this was her “vampire” book, and I was a bit confused because I never once thought vampire while reading it. But I guess once mentioned, I can see it. If this is Due’s take on vampires, its a very unique one. And it was a very enjoyable read for me. While I’m generally not a big fan of series, I suspect I’ll eventually continue on with this one. I think the territory we’ll be heading into will be quite fresh as there is really no going back. Due’s characters feel authentic, and the story moves along at a nice, if slightly uneven pace. The suspenseful parts of the story are great. If supernatural-type stories were my passion, she would almost certainly be one of my favorite authors.  This is the second of Due’s books that I’ve read (the other being The Between), and I think it’s safe to say that she’s an author I trust for a well-told, unique and interesting story.
  • Koko Be Good by Jen Wang. I loved the art in this book–Wang is amazing with facial expression. And the overall story was quite sweet and charming, but not in a sappy, saccharine way–in fact, it had quite a bit of bite to it, and I really appreciated that. But ultimately this was somewhat of a meh book for me. I found it hard to follow at times, and found myself wishing for a little more depth. While this might have been more of a miss than a hit for me, I suspect many others would completely disagree. (Used for #18–a comic that isn’t published by Marvel, DC, or Image–of Book Riot’s Read Harder Challenge.)
  • The Decagon House Murders by Yukito Ayatsuji, translated by Ho-Ling Wong. With a definite nod to Christie’s And Then There Were None, this was quite the fun little locked room murder mystery. A group of students from a university Mystery Club, all of whom go by nicknames of famous mystery writers from the past, set off to spend a week on an island with a notorious past. There is no way to contact the mainland (yep, pre-cell phone days), and sure enough, one by one, they’re picked off in various and sundry ways. And I fully admit that I did not figure it out. (Used for the “shape” category in the What’s in a Name? challenge and for #19–a book of genre fiction in translation–of Book Riot’s Read Harder Challenge.)
  • Becoming Naomi León by Pam Muñoz Ryan. Oh my goodness, this book is such a treasure! Loved it hard. I sometimes forget how much I can adore middle grade books. The characters, the story, the writing…all of it, just perfect in my opinion. (Used for yellow spine category for my Reading the Rainbow challenge.)
  • Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge. This book was excellent! It begins with a chapter on race relations in the U.K. and illustrates how this history continues to inform the present. There are wonderful chapters on the intersections between race and gender and class. I highlighted so many passages in this book to return to. But honestly, I think it would be worth my while to read the entire book again. (Used for identity I don’t hold–black woman–of my identities reading challenge and for racism category of my dig deeper reading challenge.)
  • The Enchanted by Rene Denfeld. After watching Amanda’s youtube video about her favorite read of 2017, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this book. And I’m so grateful that I did. This is a book full of brutality. The brutality isn’t spelled out in graphic detail, but somehow that just makes it infinitely more powerful. It is a story of broken systems and broken people. Set in a prison, we meet death row inmates, a woman hired to help try to get death sentences commuted for inmates, the warden, a fallen priest. No one is whole and all are human. I think the author’s choice to leave the vast majority of the characters unnamed was also a powerful one. And all of it is told in such beautiful language…and this somehow makes the book all the more unsettling. (Used for prison category of my dig deeper reading challenge.)
  • If You Come Softly by Jacqueline Woodson. Oh. My. Goodness. What a little treasure of a book. Thus far I’ve only read a few of Woodson’s books, but every single one I have read has been wonderful. A heart-breaking, heart-expanding story of first love. Honestly, I want to pick it right back up and read it again right now. (Used for #10–a romance novel by or about a person of color–of Book Riot’s Read Harder Challenge and for racism category of my dig deeper reading challenge.)
  • Zodiac by Robert Graysmith. I don’t read nearly as much true crime as I once did. And quite honestly, this book didn’t make me want to change that. The first half of the book felt much stronger than the latter chapters. And to some extent that’s just the nature of the Zodiac story, where so much is still unknown to this day. But to some extent, it also felt to me that the writing in the later part of the book didn’t feel as tight and well-organized. I don’t know, maybe it’s just me. But overall the book just failed to wow me. (Used for the starts with the letter “z” category in the What’s in a Name? challenge and for #2–a book of true crime–of Book Riot’s Read Harder Challenge and for serial killers category of my dig deeper reading challenge.)
  • The Illustrated Treasury of Fairy Tales designed by Rita Marshall. This book collects a dozen fairly tales from a variety of sources (Grimm, Perrault, Andersen, and more) and pairs each with a different artist. The result is wonderful. I admit that I wasn’t fond of all of the art styles, but I think that is part of the charm–there’s bound to be selections to please nearly everyone. These are a few examples from my favorites:IMG_3003From “Beauty and the Beast” illustrated by Swiss artist Etienne Delessert.

IMG_3005From “Hansel & Gretel” illustrated by Swiss artist Monique Felix.

IMG_3007From “The Fisherman & His Wife” illustrated by Canadian illustrator John Howe.

IMG_3009From “The Fir Tree” with photographs by Swiss artist Marcel Imsand.

(Used for fairy tale category of my dig deeper reading challenge.)

  • Feed by Mira Grant. This book sucked me right in, I tell you. But then I’m a total sucker for post-apocolyptic/dystopian reads. I previously read Grant’s Parasitology trilogy, and figured it was time to give the Newsflesh trilogy a go. I adored this book every bit as much as I loved Parasite (the first book in the Parasitology trilogy)…and obviously this is a good thing. And I plan to continue with this series, but I do so with the realization that the following books may not hold up to the initial one, as that’s what happened for me with the Parasite books. (Not that I disliked the remainder of the series, just that I didn’t love them with a passion like I did the first book.) Grant writes a unique story, which probably isn’t easy to do in the wealth of zombie stories out there. And she makes me care deeply about her characters. There were tears. (Used for #17–a sci-fi novel with a female protagonist by a female author–of Book Riot’s Read Harder Challenge. And for identity I do hold–bisexual–of my identities reading challenge.)
  • Rats: Observations on the History & Habitat of the City’s Most Unwanted Inhabitants by Robert Sullivan. While I largely enjoyed this book, it wasn’t quite what I had hoped for. Which is solely my fault, not the fault of the book. I was hoping for a lot more natural history, but if I’d have paid attention to the subtitle I should known better than to expect that. I certainly learned a lot about quirky little bits of NYC history. While I wouldn’t call the writing dry by any means, I also can’t claim that it possesses that engaging quality that makes some non-fiction so unputdownable. Overall, I’m not sorry I read it, but neither do I feel I would have been missing out had I not. (Used for the “word ‘the’ used twice” category in the What’s in a Name? challenge.)
  • The Beginning of the World in the Middle of the Night by Jen Campbell. I need a new word to describe the stories in this book. Because if the perfect word already exists, I simply don’t know it. These stories are magical and lyrical and whimsical and delightful…and yet. And yet there is a darkness to them. And sometimes a heartbreaking sadness. And that combination is so compelling. It’s been a while since I’ve loved a short story collection quite this much.
  • Black Panther: A Nation Under Our Feet, Books One-Three by Ta-Nehisi Coates and Brian Stelfreeze. I’m not extremely well-versed in the Marvel Universe, and have not before been introduced to Black Panther or Wakanda. But I enjoyed this series a lot, and would now like to go back and read some of the earlier chronology. (Used for #8–a comic written or illustrated by a person of color–of Book Riot’s Read Harder Challenge.)
  • Black Panther: World of Wakanda by Roxane Gay, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Alitha E. Martinez, and Roberto Poggi. Okay, as much as I enjoyed A Nation Under Our Feet, it doesn’t compare to the love I had for this one! Because Aneka and Ayo! *swoon* I’d like to say that I can’t believe that this series was cancelled…but yeah, sadly, of course I can.
  • “A Problem from Hell”: America and the Age of Genocide by Samantha Power. It probably goes without saying that this wasn’t the easiest book in the world. But it can be said that it’s an important book and a powerful book. It’s quite a well researched book and Power lays it out in a clear, accessible way. I’m grateful that I finally made the time to pick this book back up and read it in its entirety. (Used for #24–an assigned book you hated or never finished–of Book Riot’s Read Harder Challenge. And technically this is cheating–it’s a book I assigned to Gray for homeschooling but never finished myself because other things got in the way…but I’m pretty sure I finished all my assigned books from decades ago when I was in school.)
  • Deadline by Mira Grant. The second in the Newsflesh trilogy. Another fast-paced compelling read, but for me it ultimately fell short of the awesomeness of Feed. I found myself a little irritated by some of the repetition. And I literally rolled my eyes at the ending. If Grant doesn’t come through with a believable explanation of that in the third book, I am going to be seriously disappointed. And yes, I will be reading the third book.

Wow–I realize eighteen books read in a month is peanuts to some people, but it’s a stellar month for me! But of course what really made it stellar was the quality–I really read a lot of books I truly loved.

Random notes:

  • Marginalized voices made up more than half of my reading, and that definitely makes me happy…though I’d like it to make up even more. (10 books by authors of color, 5 by lgbtq+ authors, 1 by disabled/disfigured author–there is some overlap)
  • Four of my eighteen reads were non-fiction. I’m okay with that ratio.
  • I listened to three audiobooks, which might be a record for me. I often go months between audiobooks. I also read one ebook, which while not rare is not exactly common for me either.
  • Ten books were from my own shelves, and most of those I’ve owned for more than a couple years, so hooray for knocking down the physical TBR pile a bit. And I gave four of them away after reading them, so yay that too.
  • Five of the books were comics. One was a fairy tale collection. One was a short story collection.

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One thought on “books read in January…

  1. And here I thought I was rocking it with fourteen books!! You had an amazing reading month, and it looks like all of what you read was pretty darn good. I say that’s a great way to start the year!

    Like

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