books read in May…

 

 

  • I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Women’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara. While I don’t read loads of true crime anymore, it used to be a main staple in my reading diet. This was definitely a solid addition to the genre. I loved the combination of true crime with memoir. And like everyone else, I’m saddened by the fact that Michelle McNamara did not live to see the object of her obsession arrested.
  • Love, Hate & Other Filters by Samira Ahmed. Already wrote about this wonderful, wonderful book here.
  • Fruits Basket Collector’s Edition, Volume 1 by Natsuki Takaya. I know this is a beloved series to many, but I have to admit that I wasn’t thrilled with it. It’s not that I actually disliked it. But after just shy of 400 pages, the fact that it still hasn’t wowed me makes me pause at the idea of continuing on with the series. And you know, that’s okay–it’s not like there aren’t thousands of other books out there that I’d really like to read.
  • The Girls by Emma Cline. Hmmm, how do I even describe my feelings about this book… I have to admit that I didn’t love it. But it is not the book’s nor the author’s fault. I found it very well written with interesting insights, and I suspect I would have loved it…if not for my past obsession with the Manson family story. I was in high school in the summer of 1979 or 1980 when I bought the paperback of Helter Skelter at Kmart. And I lounged on a blanket in our back yard devouring it. I’ve since read it at least 7 more times. And watched the movie at least that many times. And read other books, including Child of Satan, Child of God about Susan Atkins. The Girls is a fictionalized story of the Manson family, especially focused on Susan. And that’s where I found the fault–though it’s not a fault at all, of course. But to me, every storytelling choice she made that veered from the facts pulled me right out of the story. There was nothing wrong with these choices, and honestly the voice of Evie that she used to narrate the story was great. And yet all my brain kept saying to me was, “You should just go read Helter Skelter again.” Yeah, I really don’t even want to know what that says about me… Bottom line: I think this a probably a pretty awesome book, but my baggage just got in the way.
  • The Girl With All the Gifts by M.R. Carey. It seems utterly bizarre to me that with all the hype that came with this book, I somehow didn’t know it was a zombie story. Not that knowing that would have affected, one way or the other, whether or not I read it. There were people whose tastes often align with with mine who enjoyed, so I was more than happy to finally get to it. And I fully expected I would enjoy it. What I didn’t expect was how it would rip my heart out, or how intelligent and thought-provoking it would be, or how it would offer hope in a hopeless situation. Yes, I expected to enjoy it, but I don’t think I expected to love it quite as much as I did. This is a book that I can actually see myself rereading down the road (and I don’t say that often with my road getting ever shorter and the pile of unread books only getting bigger).
  • The Awakening by Kate Chopin. OMG–I read a classic! And enjoyed it! It was a little bit of a slow start for me, but I was totally on board before too long. I can see why this short novel has stood the test of time. I’d like to believe that today’s generation of young women has ditched the “put everyone else’s needs ahead of my own” mentality, but I know that’s not entirely the case, however. And still I see signs of hope in some of the young women I’m honored to call friends.

I know there are still a couple days left in May, but I don’t foresee me finishing any more books before the end of the month, so I decided to just finish up this post. What a tremendous nosedive my reading took this month! I knew it was bound to happen sooner or later. I don’t even feel like there’s enough reading there to talk about trends.

But what I can talk about is the MASSIVE FAIL on my “tbr takedown” goal. Instead of knocking off this month’s goal of 14 books off my physical tbr pile, I added to it. *sigh* My Librarything “unread” tag now stands at 1,513–which means I added 8 books! *double sigh* As per my rules, this means I now have to get rid of 22 books. Even though I culled my books a few months back, I’m still hopeful that this won’t hurt too much…

*****

Well that turned out to be a lot harder than I’d anticipated, partly due to my carelessness at keeping my Librarything library precisely accurate. After pulling 22 books to donate, I discovered that 12 of them didn’t even count–one had been marked as “unfinished” as opposed to “unread” and the other eleven had never made it onto my library at all. Argh!!! Which means I’ll be getting rid of 34 books now:

  • The Out-of-Sync Child: Recognizing and Coping with Sensory Processing Disorder by Carol Stock Kranowitz
  • A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court by Mark Twain
  • But I Trusted You and Other True Cases by Ann Rule
  • Books That Cook: The Making of a Literary Meal edited by Jennifer Cognard-Black and Melissa A. Goldthwaite
  • The National Wildlife Federation Book of Family Nature Activities by Page Chichester
  • Six American Poets: An Anthology edited by Joel Conarroe
  • A Creepy Company by Joan Aiken
  • Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan
  • The Titan’s Curse by Rick Riordan
  • The Battle of the Labyrinth by Rick Riordan
  • The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan
  • The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan
  • The Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan
  • The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan
  • The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan
  • Divergent by Veronica Roth
  • Drinking the Rain by Alix Kates Shulman
  • Sea of Poppies by Amitav Ghosh
  • The River by Mary Jane Beaufrand
  • The Dress Lodger by Sheri Holman
  • Zoology by Ben Dolnick
  • Just Ella by Margaret Peterson Haddix
  • In the Woods by Tana French
  • Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card
  • A War of Gifts by Orson Scott Card
  • The Turn of the Screw and Other Stories by Henry James
  • The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz
  • Book Crush For Kids and Teens by Nancy Pearl
  • Panic in Level 4 by Richard Preston
  • Morning Glories Volume Seven by Nick Spenser
  • The Sex Lives of Cannibals by J. Maarten Troost
  • Getting Stoned with Savages by J. Maarten Troost
  • Lost on Planet China by J. Maarten Troost
  • Babylon’s Ark: The Incredible Wartime Rescue of the Baghdad Zoo by Lawrence Anthony
  • Into the Woods by Lyn Gardner

Let this be a lesson, Debra Anne: READ THE BOOKS YOU ALREADY OWN!!!

my summer reading pool…

In coming up with my strategy for choosing a summer book pool, I may have had the dumbest idea in the history of my brain. (Yeah, okay, it’s not even close to the dumbest idea I’ve concocted, but many of said dumber ideas are best not shared.) Anyway, I decided to choose my book pool for summer by choosing one book from each shelf on each of my bookcases. Now it should not have taken a genius to realize this was going to lead to a terribly unwieldy pile of books. But yeah. Sooo, we’re just going to look at it from the angle of having lots of options.

If I calculated correctly, unofficial summer, running from Memorial Day to Labor Day, spans 99 days. I always tend to think I’m going to get tons and tons read during the summer…and I’m always wrong. My tbr takedown goal of 13 books a month off my physical tbr pile is extremely unlikely to happen, but I’ll call that my goal anyway. So a total of approximately 39 books total.

The pool:

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This is one place where I broke the one-book-per-shelf rule. On two of my comics shelves, I pulled all of what I have from a series instead of a single volume.

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The non-fiction pool. Rather eclectic, which makes sense because I organize my non-fiction shelves by largely by genre.

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Only a few kids/YA books ended up in the mix, which I find odd as in the past I’ve gravitated towards younger reads, along with thrillers, during the summer.

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Short stories.

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Some genre fiction.

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And other fiction.

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And finally, a few that don’t fit the one-book-per-shelf rule. The top two library books I currently have out, and the bottom two books that I’m already reading.

Bottom line: I’ve got loads and loads of awesome-sounding books to choose from. HAPPY SUMMER READING!

*****

  • Desperation by Stephen King
  • Pandemic by Sonia Shah
  • If You Could Be Mine by Sara Farizan
  • My Brother’s Husband by Gengoroh Tagame
  • An Untamed Heart by Roxane Gay
  • Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson
  • Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie
  • Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin
  • The Dew Breaker by Edwidge Danticat
  • Wolves of the Crescent Moon by Yousef Al-Mohaimeed
  • A Heart of Stone by Renate Dorrestein
  • Comfort Woman by Nora Okja Keller
  • Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
  • Beasts of No Nation by Uzodinma Iweala
  • See No Evil by Eleanor Taylor Bland
  • Equal Rites by Terry Pratchett
  • Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn
  • Secrets by Nuruddin Farah
  • Adulthood Rites by Octavia Butler
  • Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn
  • Curtain by Agatha Christie
  • A Grave Talent by Laurie R. King
  • Matchup edited by Lee Child
  • Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado
  • Krik? Krak! by Edwidge Danticat
  • Food & Spirits by Beth Brant
  • Hunger by Lan Samantha Chang
  • A Good Man is Hard to Find by Flannery O’Connor
  • It’s A Funny Kind of Story by Ned Vizinni
  • When Dad Killed Mom by Julian Lester
  • The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin
  • The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
  • Threads from the Web of Life: Stories in Natural History by Stephen Daubert
  • Not That Bad: Dispatches from Rape Culture edited by Roxane Gay
  • The Woman Warrior by Maxine Hong Kingston
  • Love Poems by Nikki Giovanni
  • In the Kingdom of the Sick: A Social History of Chronic Illness in America by Laurie Edwards
  • The Girls of Atomic City: The Untold Story of the Women Who Helped Win World War II by Denise Kiernan
  • Where Vultures Feast: Shell, Human Rights, and Oil by Ike Okonta and Oronto Douglas
  • 100 Heartbeats: The Race to Save Earth’s Most Endangered Species by Jeff Corwin
  • Saturday is for Funerals by Unity Dow and Max Essex
  • Unspeakable Things: Sex, Lies, and Revolution by Laurie Penny
  • Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens our Future by Chris Mooney and Sheril Kirshenbaum
  • The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II by Iris Chang
  • Monkey Girl: Evolution, Education, Religion, and the Battle for America’s Soul by Edward Humes
  • Unbowed: A Memoir by  Wangari Maathai
  • Bird by Bird: Some Instructions of Writing and Life by Anne Lamott
  • The Botany of Desire: A Plant’s-Eye View of the World by Michael Pollan
  • An Obsession With Butterflies: Our Long Love Affair With A Singular Insect by Sharman Apt Russell
  • The Naturally Clean Home: 150 Super-Easy Herbal Formulas for Green Cleaning by Karyn Siegel-Maier
  • Lazarus Volume 1 by Greg Rucka and Michael Lark
  • Lazarus Volume 2 by Greg Rucka and Michael Lark
  • Lazarus Volume 3 by Greg Rucka and Michael Lark
  • Lazarus Volume 4 by Greg Rucka and Michael Lark
  • Nylon Road by Parshu Bashi
  • Hot Gimmick Volume 1 by Miki Aihara
  • Hot Gimmick Volume 2 by Miki Aihara
  • Hot Gimmick Volume 3 by Miki Aihara

 

bout of book 22…

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I’ve been excited for Bout of Books 22 for several weeks now, and fully intended on just swimming in books for the whole week. Then an unexpected opportunity popped up that meant I wouldn’t be able to do much reading on the weekend, but figured I’d just read my little heart out during the weekdays, so it would still be worth signing up. But before I had a chance to yesterday, I ran into major technical difficulties–nothing to do with blogging, etc., but things I *need* to get figured out. After spending most of yesterday trying to fix, reconfigure, troubleshoot, what have you, I still haven’t got everything working. Yes, there have been tears of frustration. By last evening I figured there was no point in even signing up for Bout of Books. But this morning, I’m in better spirits, and am hoping to both get said technical issues fixed and to read my little heart out. So yeah, let’s do this!

From the official site:

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda Shofner and Kelly Rubidoux Apple. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, May 14th and runs through Sunday, May 20th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 22 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. – From the Bout of Books team

My stack (which I will obviously not finish):

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Monday:

  • pages read: 38 pages
  • from these books: 2 chapters of The Awakening by Kate Chopin and 5 chapters of The Girl With All the Gifts by M.R. Carey
  • books finished: none

Yes indeed, I’m off to a lousy start. Makes me sad, but it wasn’t unexpected. I did spend the vast majority of the day again fighting a battle I’m apparently not going to win with Google Photo. Anyway, here’s to better day of reading today!

Tuesday:

  • pages read: 96 pages
  • from these books: 7 chapters of The Awakening by Kate Chopin and 10 chapters of The Girl With All the Gifts by M.R. Carey
  • books finished: none

Another not so great day, but hey, better than day 1 anyway. Would like to think that tomorrow will be even better, but it’s another busy one so we’ll see.

Wednesday: 

  • pages read: 77 pages
  • from these books: 6 chapters of The Awakening by Kate Chopin, 7 chapters of The Girl With All the Gifts by M.R. Carey, and the introduction of Pandemic: Tracking Contagions, from Cholera to Ebola and Beyond by Sonia Shah
  • books finished: The Girl With All the Gifts (started before Bout of Books 22)

I really shouldn’t have even signed up for this round. It’s just too busy a week…so sad.

 

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the buzzword readathon…

It surprised no one who knows me that I’ve decided to take part in readathons over the next two weeks, one running from May 7th-13th and one running from May 14th-20th. (The second one is Bout of Books 22, and I’ll make a separate master post for it closer to kickoff time.)

But first up is the inaugural running of the Buzzword Readathon, hosted by Books and Lala on BookTube. For this edition, the word she has chosen is “Girl.” And the idea is to read books with “girl” (or any variation of the word, such as girls, girlfriend, etc.) in the title. “Girl” truly does seems to be in the title of every fifth book out there these days, hence the inspiration for this whole readathon idea. Despite this fact, when I first saw her readathon announcement, I wasn’t sure if I had any books on my shelves that would work. Bwaaaahahahaha! I had Rich help me scan my shelves, and before I knew it we had a pile of nearly 30 books (and that’s if you count all Batgirl volumes as one book). When I looked in my saved audiobook list on Scribd, I found another six. So yeah. I still don’t know which books exactly I will choose to read. I did put a handful of these in my May tbr pool, so if I’m smart I’ll just with those. I’m not generally smart.

My entire list of possibles without even leaving my house:

fiction:

  • The Girl With All the Gifts by M.R. Carey. (The only one I’m pretty sure I’ll read, because I started it during Dewey’s Readathon, but only got about 75 pages in. No idea why I haven’t picked it up since then because I’m really loving it!)
  • Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
  • Such a Pretty Girl by Laura Wiess
  • The Icarus Girl by Helen Oyeyemi
  • Girlfriend in a Coma by Douglas Coupland
  • The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi
  • Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson
  • How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents by Julia Alvarez
  • The Girl Who Chased the Moon by Sarah Addison Allen
  • The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon by Stephen King
  • Short Girls by Rich Minh Nguyen
  • The Girl in the Garden by Kamala Nair
  • The Girl Who Could Fly by Victoria Forester
  • Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli
  • Love, Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli
  • Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
  • The Girl With a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier
  • The Girls by Lori Lansens
  • Girls by Frederick Busch
  • Inside Out Girl by Tish Cohen
  • Batgirl Volumes 1-5 by Gail Simone (though technically the first three volumes would be rereads, but I think I *need* to reread them before reading volumes 4 and 5)
  • For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow is Enuf by Ntozake Shange

non-fiction:

  • The Girls of Atomic City by Denise Kiernan
  • Bachelor Girl by Betsy Israel
  • Odd Girls and Twilight Lovers by Lillian Faderman
  • Monkey Girl by Edward Humes
  • Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen
  • Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank

audiobooks from Scribd (some fiction, some non-fiction):

  • Final Girls by Riley Sager
  • The Girl With Seven Names by David John
  • The Girls by Emma Cline
  • Lab Girl by Hope Jahren
  • Story of a Girl by Sara Zarr
  • The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill

If you have any opinions of books I should really try to get to, or books that I shouldn’t bother with, please do tell!

 

random thoughts on Love, Hate & Other Filters by Samira Ahmed…

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  • Let’s get this out of the way first: I loved this book so very hard. I suspected I would love it, but my actual love clocks in at much higher level than my expectations.
  • Maya, our teenage protagonist, had me rooting for her every minute of this book. She’s smart and funny and conflicted and passionate and talented and determined, and I adored her.
  • Maya’s enthusiasm for filmmaking made me smile. I so wholeheartedly love witnessing other people’s passions. It leaves me full of joy even when I know nothing about the subject in question. Like Annie’s passion for chemistry. Or Ana’s passion for Sufjan Stevens and his music. So yes, even through the pages of a book, I got to experience a little burst of vicarious passion.
  • The writing was a thing of beauty. Not in a flowery, lyrical way. But in a stop-me-in-my-tracks-and-make-me-read-that-bit-again way. These quick little moments of stripped down naked truth. There were many of them.

    …Besides the slight stirring of the wind through the leaves, there are no sounds. I’m alone. Literally. Metaphorically. And in all the other ways I don’t know quite how to name….

  • I love how well Samira Ahmed made this two coming of age stories in one. Not two different people coming of age, but one lovely girl coming of age in two cultures. And it’s always preferable to have an #ownvoices author when reading about experiences and identities that are not my own.
  • There are utterly horrific examples of racism and Islamophobia in this book. Ahmed handled them so deftly, with thoughtfulness and nuance. Some of the tears I shed during this book were for the fact that this book so accurately reflects our country. I would like to say more, but won’t for spoiler sake.
  • Maya’s aunt Hina was such a lovely role model and champion for Maya.
  • I can’t say much, again for spoiler sake, but I love the story of Kareem and Maya. Hooray for non-drama sometimes.

how I fared with my April tbr pool, my May tbr pool, and a plan to shrink the massive tbr mountain…

Oh that massive tbr mountain. I am very happy with all the reading I’ve been doing so far this year. But!!! I’ve noticed (because I’d have to be willfully ignorant not to) that with this increased amount of reading has come an increased amount of book buying. Not cool, Debra Anne.

According to LibraryThing, I have 1,505 unread books in my possession. (This number is not accurate, because I occasionally forget to add books I’ve acquired and forget to move books from the “unread” category when I finish them. But it’s close enough and it’s the number I’ll be using because it’s the best I’ve got.) I’d like to lower that number by 105 by the end of the year. Which means I’ve got to knock off 13 in each of 7 months and 14 in the remaining month. What I don’t accomplish by actually reading, I’ve to to make up for in culling. This, of course, means that if I continue to bring in more books (and likely even if I don’t most months), I will have to get rid of books unread. The inherent sadness of this thought is to my incentive to quit bringing so many books in and to start reading the books I already own. We’ll see how it goes…

*****

So how did I do with sticking to my April tbr pool? If I counted correctly, I had 20 books in my pool. And I actually read 8 of them. I made progress in one. And I started but dnf-ed another. That left 10 books that I didn’t touch from my pool. I read 10 books that were not in my pool. So yeah, it seems as if I pretty much did a crap job…but it’s way better than I used to do, so I’m calling it a sorta win/sorta lose. Because who really cares, and I can call it whatever the hell I please.

*****

What’s up for May? Yes, another way too big tbr pool. It’s inevitable, why fight it. And anyway, that’s why it’s a “pool” not a “pile.” There are at least 3 different readathons I’m considering participating in; I mention this because it does affect the books I pulled from the shelves. This Saturday, May 5,  is the Let’s Get Graphic 4.0 readathon hosted by Elena Reads Books. May 7-13 is BooksandLala’s Buzzword Readathon. And Bout of Books 22 runs from May 14-20. (I’ll talk more about them when I decided for sure if I’m going to participate.)

The pool:

  • The Awakening by Kate Chopin. Holdover from last month. For homeschooling; Gray already read it. I started it yesterday, though just barely.
  • Love, Hate & Other Filters by Samira Ahmed. My hold came in from the library. Also started this one yesterday. Again not far in, but really enjoying.
  • The Girl With All the Gifts by M.R. Carey. Read the first 75-ish pages during Dewey’s Readathon and I need to get back to it.
  • I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara. Listening to audiobook on Scribd. Enthralled. More than half way through, so should have no problem finishing this one.
  • My Brother’s Husband by Gengoroh Tagame. A hold I need to pick up from the library.
  • One Hundred Nights of Hero by Isabel Greenberg. Another hold I need to pick up from the library.
  • If You Could Be Mine by Sara Farizan. Yet another hold I need to pick up from the library.
  • The Nameless City by Faith Erin Hicks. Library book I have checked out.
  • SuperMutant Magic Academy by Jillian Tamaki. Another library book I have checked out.
  • Fruits Basket, Collector’s Edition Volume 1 by Natsuki Takaya. Yet another library book I have checked out.

Yikes! Out of all those I have started or need to read soon, only two will count towards my 13 books for the month. lol

  • Krik? Krak! by Edwidge Danticat.
  • All Out: The No-Longer Secret Stories of Queer Teens Throughout the Ages edited by Saundra Mitchell
  • An Unrestored Woman by Shobha Rao.
  • Adulthood Rites by Octavia Butler.
  • For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow is Enuf by Ntozake Shange.
  • Men We Reaped by Jesmyn Ward.
  • Wave by Sonali Deraniyagala.
  • Pandemic by Sonia Shah.
  • The Girls by Emma Cline.
  • Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli.
  • Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen.
  • The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon by Stephen King.
  • Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank.

books read in April…

 

  • Children of Blood and Bone by Toni Adeyemi. I often avoid hyped books, at least until the initial frenzy dies down. But I was way too excited for this one to wait. And I’m glad I didn’t! Adeyemi’s prose isn’t flowery or lyrical, her storytelling is more straightforward in style. And it suits this tale perfectly. A story that is so agonizingly heartbreaking, but not just in itself. No, even more so in the unmistakable parallels this story has with the unjust society we live in. It’s a beautiful fantasy influenced by Adeyemi’s West African heritage. And I so love fantasy that breaks free of the European-based norm that permeates most fantasy sections in bookstores and libraries.
  • Binti: Home by Nnedi Okorafor. Yes, this was the sequel I was craving! I felt somehow “bigger” and “more” than Binti. Which is a really pathetic way to put it, but I can’t seem to find the words for what I mean. This story felt more fleshed out. Spending time with Binti as she battles to be the person she needs to be, despite what everyone else expects from her is a privilege. And I’m so eager to get my hands on the final volume of this trilogy. Yeah me, who claims not to be a fan of trilogies. lol
  • Don’t Call Us Dead by Danez Smith. This may well be the best poetry collection I’ve ever read. I haven’t read massive amounts of poetry. I don’t really know shit about critiquing poetry. But I don’t have to know anything at all about poetry to know that Danez Smith can write with overwhelming intensity and complexity and compassion. That they can communicate the experiences of being in a black body, a queer body, an HIV positive body with such force and fire. Seemingly simple, straight-forward lines were anything but, and filled my eyes with tears on more than one occasion. Starting on page one. Listen for yourself to Smith reading one of their poems here.
  • On Tyranny by Timothy Snyder. I really thought this was a worthwhile read. The 20 points he expounds on to help us fight tyranny were helpful, and I admit that some of these are things I hadn’t previously thought of. However, there were a few times when I wished he’d acknowledged the privilege he was speaking from. One example was his point that everyone should have a passport, without acknowledging that not everyone can afford a passport. Or “make eye contact and small talk”…ummm, yeah, try telling that to my autistic son. But despite these issues, I think this book makes a lot of good points, points we’d all be wise to pay attention to.
  • Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson. It’s hard to put my feelings about this book into words. It was heart-breaking and yet filled with moments of monumental joy. The real people and the horrific injustices they faced at the hands of our so-called justice system were at the heart of this book, and it was for them that I shed many tears of sadness. But I think I shed even more tears in anger. And on the other hand, I feel as if I got to spend time with a true hero. Because I can think of no more fitting a word for Bryan Stevenson.
  • The Murder at the Vicarage by Agatha Christie. I haven’t read a lot of Agatha Christie’s books, and this is the first of the Miss Marple series that I’ve read. I enjoyed it quite a bit, I must say. But I was surprised by how little Miss Marple actually appeared in the story. As this is the first in the series, it has me wondering if in later books, she gets more more page time. I can say that I’m looking forward to finding out.
  • Simon vs. the Homo sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli. Oh my goodness. Did this book steal my heart? Why yes, yes it did. I can’t believe I hadn’t read it sooner, but am sort of glad for that because it was just the book I needed right now. I gulped this one right down, let me tell you. And it was one of those books that just left me wanting to hug it tight.
  • Zone One by Colson Whitehead. Got this book from the library a few months ago, but only got about a third of the way through before I had to return it. It wasn’t because I wasn’t enjoying it, but more that it was just a reeeeally slow read for me. It’s sort of what you’d call a literary fiction story of the zombie apocalypse, and it’s that literary fiction aspect that made it a slow read for me. When I saw that it was available on Scribd as an audiobook, I knew I needed to give it another go. And even as a listen, it was a slow go. But well worth it. You know how you can sometimes appreciate a book but not really enjoy it. I sort of wondered if that was going to be one of those books for me…but it wasn’t. I really ended up both appreciating and enjoying it.
  • Bygone Badass Broads: 52 Forgotten Women Who Changed the World by Mackenzi Lee. Okay, this was another “I bloody well adored this book!!!” for me. Everything about it! The writing, which is conversational and funny and down-to-earth. The art by Petra Ericsson, which sort of has me wanting to buy yet another copy just to cut out the portraits and make a gallery wall. (I already bought a second copy to give to Annie because I knew she’d love it as much as I did, because how could you not?!!) The diversity. ❤ ❤ ❤ And, most of all, the women featured. I knew of a handful of these women before reading the book, but the vast majority were unknown to me. And they all are truly freaking badass. I sort of wish that Netflix would make a movie about each and every one of them. If I get a vote, I’d like them to start with Stagecoach Mary Fields, Noor Inayat Khan, and Doña Ana Lezuma de Urinza and Doña Eustaquia de Sonza.
  • The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter by Theodora Goss. This book tickled me to pieces! Probably more than it should have, but what can I say. It brings together many of the horror/sci-fi classics. Stories I have a soft spot for. The Island of Dr. MoreauDracula, Frankenstein, “Rappaccini’s Daughter” (one of my favorite short stories of all time), The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (which shame on me, I have not read). Even Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson play their parts. It’s written in such a fun style, with meta elements. Catherine Moreau is writing the story of how this group of young women met and solved the mystery of the Whitechapel murders (a solution not found in any other Jack the Ripper theories I’ve read–lol) and ended up forming a family of sorts. But the other young women frequently interrupt and inject their own opinions, etc. This element does at first make it a bit confusing when listening to the audiobook, so I was happy I had a physical copy from the library to refer to at first. Once I understood how it was structured I had no further trouble understanding the audio. It is a fun and humorous book with small snippets of social commentary. It stole my heart.
  • Dawn by Octavia Butler. Yep, she did it again. Butler confirmed why she is one of my favorite authors. Though this isn’t my favorite book of hers, I still adored it. I wouldn’t call sci-fi one of my go-to genres, but in her hands I know I can’t go wrong. She writes compelling stories with characters that feel so very authentic (even when they’re aliens).
  • The Earth Moved: On the Remarkable Achievements of Earthworms by Amy Stewart. While I wasn’t over the top blown away by this book, I can say that I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was a short, quick read, but one I learned from. And I appreciated Stewart’s passion for her subject.
  • Good Bones and Simple Murders by Margaret Atwood. While I was no means enthralled by every story in this collection, there were a handful that I loved with a passion! “Unpopular Gals,” “The Little Red Hen Tells All,” and “Happy Endings” (the only one of the stories in this book that I’d previously read) were my favorites. One of these days, I really do need to get around to reading more of her novels, having only read The Handmaid’s Tale thus far.
  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling. This was a reread, and not the first time I’ve reread it. But this is as far as I’ve ever gotten in the series. Shocking, I know. And it’s not that I don’t love these books–I do! The Prisoner of Azkaban is hands down my favorite of the first three. And I will continue this time–really, I will! I have extra incentive to not get distracted from the mission this time because Rich and I are reading them aloud together. (He’s read them all a number of times.)
  • I Am Alfonso Jones by Tony Medina, Stacey Robinson, and John Jennings. Absolutely the best graphic novel I’ve read all year. One of the best, maybe the best, I’ve ever read. It has so very much to say, and it says it in such powerful ways. It is about the systemic racism in this country, in our textbooks, in the media, and focusing a lot on our policing policies. It’s a work of fiction, but is filled with the ghosts of real people killed for being Black. It is beautifully written and beautifully illustrated. It is shattering.
  • The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart. I think I may have had my expectations of this book set too high. Which is not to say I didn’t like this book, because I definitely did. I generally didn’t want to put it down. But I think I had wished it was going to be one of those omg-I-love-this-book-so-much-I-could-just-hug-it-forever books, and it just wasn’t. Very glad I *finally* got around to reading it though.
  • Pashmina by Nidhi Chanani. First off, I just have to say how beautiful the art in this book is. Like seriously, seriously beautiful. Both the black and white portions and even more the color portions. The story itself is quite touching. Priyanka is a teenage girl whose mother left India before Priyanka was born. Her mother refuses to answer her questions about India, and even about her father. One day Priyanka finds a magical pashmina, though she doesn’t understand what the pashmina is showing her. It’s a story of cultures, yes. And it’s a story about the choices we must make about our lives.
  • Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them by J.K. Rowling. Not much to say about this one. I honestly only read it because I really wanted to complete the “Care of Magical Creatures” requirement for the O.W.L.s reading challenge. Quick and fun, but certainly not one of my favorite reads this month.
  • The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang. I read Jen Wang’s other book, Koko Be Good, back in January, and while I didn’t dislike it, I didn’t really connect with it either. Though I did adore her art in both that book and in In Real Life which she did with Cory Doctorow. But this book…oh my. All the love for this book. Her beautiful art continues to shine, and this time it’s with a story that stole my heart. I so love when a book makes me cry happy tears. There really is so much to love about this book. A prince who loves to wear dresses. No need to be labeled. Parents who don’t suck. Friendship. And more.

Nineteen books…now that is one stellar month for me! Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon certainly didn’t hurt, of course. But what really qualifies this as a stellar reading month for me is the sheer amount of books I head-over-heels loved! Nine of these books would get 5 stars from me. Often for extremely different reasons. NINE!!! Seriously, I’d consider reading nine books in a month not at all shabby for me. But to read nine books that each in their own ways added so much to my life–well, what can I say, I feel blessed.

Some sort of random thoughts:

  • Marginalized voices made up 10/19 of my reading (9 books by authors of color, 3 by lgbtq+ authors, and 1 disabled+ author, obviously with some overlap). I think I say this every month, but I would like this to be higher. I obviously need to put in more effort.
  • Last month was heavy on non-fiction, but that wasn’t the case this month with only five. Social justice, politics, poetry, biography, natural history.
  • Most were physical books. One was an ebook. Two were exclusively audiobooks, and another four I switched between the audiobook and the physical version. Having rejoined Scribd has definitely upped my audiobook game!
  • Almost perfect split between books I owned, and books from the either the library or Scribd.
  • Three comics. One poetry collection. One short story collection. And one collection of mini biographies.
  • I think the longest book this month was Children of Blood and Bone at 544 pages, and the shortest was Don’t Call Us Dead at 96 pages.
  • Fictional genres included sci-fi, fantasy, dystopian/horror, magical realism, historical fiction, mystery, and realistic fiction.
  • Middle grade, YA, and adult fiction all represented. More YA than I’ve read in a while.

O.W.L.s readathon wrap-up…

Today was the final day of the O.W.L.s Readathon hosted by Book Roast, and I’m still of the opinion that this is one of the most fun reading challenges ever. And maybe that’s what spurred me on to receive the highest possible passing grade of “outstanding” which required passing five subjects. To be perfectly honest, I was really hoping to do even better and complete all twelve of the exams, but well, that just didn’t happen. I did, however, pass eight subjects which should give me lots of options when Book Roast hosts the N.E.W.T. Readathon/Challenge in the future. These are the subjects which I sat for and  passed, along with the book I used to complete it:

  • Ancient Runes (a book with a symbol on the cover)–Bygone Badass Broads by Mackenzi Lee.
  • Arithmacy (a book with a number on the cover or in the title)–Zone One by Colson Whitehead.
  • Astronomy (a sci-fi book)–Dawn by Octavia Butler.
  • Care of Magical Creatures (a book that includes magical creatures or features one on the cover)–Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them by J.K. Rowling.*
  • Defense Against the Dark Arts (a book about or featuring a secret society/club)–The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart.
  • Herbology (a book with a nature-related word in the title)–The Earth Moved: On the Remarkable Achievements of Earthworms by Amy Stewart.*
  • Potions (a book about or with alchemy)–The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter by Theodora Goss.
  • Transfiguration (a book that deals with transfiguration/shapeshifting or a book with a cat on the cover)–Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling.*

*Denotes a book where I read a different book than I originally planned.

my master post for Dewey’s Readathon April 2018…

Pregame:

–The Pool. As usual, it’s far larger than it has any need to be. But, options. And I’m thinking about approaching things a little differently. Instead of working my way through entire books, I may be a bit more of a dipper this go round. I *love* the “read a million pages” goal for this installment of Dewey’s Readathon! And I think Dewey would have loved this idea, which makes it sound even more special. And counting pages over counting books finished makes dipping sound all the more enticing.

  • The Canon: A Whirligig Tour of the Beautiful Basics of Science by Natalie Angier. Have this one on the go already, and would like to read the next-up chapter, the one on chemistry.
  • The Awakening by Kate Chopin. While I’m not as terrified of classics as I once was, I know myself well enough to realize that I still tend to take them slowly. So I’d like to at least get a start on this one, with the hope that I will finish it up in May.
  • Pandemic by Sonia Shah. Another non-fiction selection, but one I haven’t yet started. I likely won’t read this entire book during the readathon, but I suppose it’s not out of the question. I’ve previously read Shah’s The Fever, and found her writing very accessible and compelling, so it’s possible I won’t want to put it down.
  • Good Bones and Simple Murders by Margaret Atwood. I currently have this checked out from the library. It’s a collection of short pieces, and should be perfect for slipping in between other books.
  • Stargirl by Jerry Spinneli. Something about Dewey’s Readathon tends to make me crave middle grade and YA fiction. Should that craving strike, I’ll be prepared.
  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling. Rich and I are currently rereading this one on audiobook, so there’s a chance we could find some time for this. Since we have a physical copy, it will be easy enough to keep track of the number of pages.
  • I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara. I’m also listening to this on audiobook, and should I spend any time with it this readathon, I think I can figure out the page count by looking at the table of contents on Amazon.
  • The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang. I Am Alfonso Jones by Tony Medina, Stacey Robinson, and John Jennings. SuperMutant Magic Academy by Jillian Tamaki. The Nameless City by Faith Erin Hicks. Pashmina by Nidhi Chanani. Comics for the win. Of course.
  • The Girl With All the Gifts by M.R. Carey. I threw this one in the pile because I get the impression that it is gripping reading, and thus may work well to keep me awake for a bit longer before giving in to that inevitable call of the slumber gods. Back during the first couple readathons with Dewey at the helm, I fought to actually read the entire time, but these days…yeah, just doesn’t happen.

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–Cozy clothes are set out. Including socks. And backup socks.

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–Foodstuffs. I don’t think it needs to be said that this is pretty much as important as the books. Variety is key as we want to make sure we’re prepared for any mood. Rich is running out in the morning to stock us up so no picture yet, but these are some of the possibles/probables:

  • fruit salad
  • donuts
  • cheese and crackers
  • chips, rotel dip, salsa
  • nuts
  • pizza
  • coffee
  • tea
  • pop
  • lots and lots of ice water

–My reading buddies this year include both Rich and Max. Yay Max! This is akin to a miracle, if we’re being honest here. And of the non-human variety, the most likely lap buddies include one wild hound, one needy cat, and one sweet/mischievous guinea pig (not all at once, as the wild hound considers all others “lunch”).

–And finally, I’ve got my bullet journal pages set up.

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Wrap up:

–Books read in full or part:

  • Finished Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban reread with Rich. But we only had one chapter left to finish…
  • Finished The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart. Was a little less than halfway through before readathon began.
  • Started and finished Good Bones and Simple Murders by Margaret Atwood. A short story collection.
  • Started and finished I Am Alfonso Jones by Tony Medina, Stacey Robinson, and John Jennings. The best graphic novel I’ve read this year. I cried through much of it.
  • Read one small chapter of The Canon by Natalie Angier. Despite the fact that her writing is accessible and humorous, it was still incredibly slow reading for me. Not the best choice for readathon.
  • Started The Girl With All the Gifts by M.R. Carey.

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–Notes:

  • I am still and forever the slowest reader on the planet, clocking in only 648 pages, despite only sleeping for 4 hours (2:30-6:30am).
  • Unsurprisingly, I have fucked with the improvement I was starting to feel with this flare up. I knew it would happen, and I’m not going to stress about it. Also thinking I managed to catch the boys’ cold.
  • Loved having a fire for most of the day.

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  • And really loved having Rich and Max reading with me much of the time!

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  • I feel enormous amounts of gratitude to Andi and Heather for all the hard work they put into keeping Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon alive and thriving! And am grateful too, to all those who generously donate their time to help Andi and Heather. I don’t doubt for a second that Dewey would be proud of what it’s become.
  • And finally, my heart feels simultaneously full to the brim for having had Dewey as a dear friend and missing a vital piece in her absence. I will love you and miss you forever.

April’s book pool…

Just a little bit (ha!) late in posting my potential reads for April. I’d started a post at the beginning of the month and then plum forgot all about it. Damn middle aged brain. Turns out I’m actually glad I hadn’t posted it though, because I heard about the most fun readathon/challenge yesterday, so I’ve adjusted the month’s book pool accordingly. More on that after I share the portion of my book pool not associated with said fun-ness.

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*Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi.

Why: Because I just bought it and am so bloody freakin’ excited to read it.

It begins: “Pick me.”

*The Murder at the Vicarage by Agatha Christie.

Why: Another I just bought. The first of the Miss Marple series, of which I’ve read none. Annie tells me this is a good one.

It begins: “It is difficult to know quite where to begin this story, but I have fixed by choice on a certain Wednesday at luncheon at the Vicarage….”

*Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson.

Why: Again, I just bought it, and am obviously keen to read it.

It begins: “I wasn’t prepared to meet a condemned man….”

*Dawn by Octavia E. Butler.

Why: Yep, keeping that theme going–I just bought it. Lilith’s Brood actually contains three books, the first of which is Dawn.

It begins: “Alive!”

*Bygone Badass Broads: 52 Forgotten Women Who Changed the World by Mackenzi Lee.

Why: Okay, for the last time–because I just bought it. And yes that brings me to the end of the purchases made with my birthday gift cards.

It begins: “In college, I was a frustrated history major.”

*The Canon: A Whirligig Tour of the Beautiful Basics of Science by Natalie Angier.

Why: Holdover from last month. Really want to finish some of the books that I’ve already got started.

It begins: “When the second of her two children turned thirteen, my sister decided that it finally was time to let their membership lapse in two familiar family haunts: the science museum and the zoo….”

*Every Living Thing: Man’s Obsessive Quest to Catalog Life, from Nanobacteria to New Monkeys by Rob Dunn.

Why: Homeschool. And it sounds interesting.

It begins: “The idea of this book came to me in the middle of the Amazon….”

*Remarkable Plants that Shaped Our World by Helen Bynum and William Bynum.

Why: Again homeschool. And again it sounds interesting.

It begins: I have no clue, because my hold has not yet come in at the library.

*The Awakening by Kate Chopin.

Why: Homeschool. And because frankly I’m ashamed of myself for not having read this book already.

It begins: “A green and yellow parrot, which hung in a cage outside the door, kept repeating over and over: ‘Allez vous-en! Allez vous-en! Sapristi! That’s all all right!”‘

*The Ballad of the Sad Cafe by Carson McCullers.

Why: Ditto previous book.

It begins: “The town itself is dreary; not much is there except the cotton mill, the two-room houses where the workers live, a few peach trees, a church with two colored windows, and a miserable main street only a hundred yards long….”

And here is where things get super fun! I’m going to sit for my O.W.L. (Ordinary Wizarding Level) exams. 🙂  Yes, thanks to the lovely Book Roast on youtube, we can all participate in a challenge (running from April 2nd through April 29th) based on the classes at Hogwarts. The link to her introduction to the readathon/challenge is here.  In a nutshell: Choose which exams you’d like to take, and read a corresponding book. To pass with an “acceptable” you must complete two exams, with an “exceeding expectations” you must complete three exams, and with an “outstanding” you must complete five exams.” There are 12 classes you can choose to sit for their exams. And if you’re at all interested in this challenge, I encourage you to go watch the intro post–she explains it all in more detail, including how there will be N.E.W.T.s later, but you must have sat for the O.W.L. exam in your chosen subjects to take them. Not only that, but her giddy excitement is just delightful to see. 🙂

I’m not sure how many I will end up completing. In a wonderful, all-you-have-to-do-this-month-is-read world, I’d complete them all. Realistically I know that won’t happen, but I think I’ve still got plenty of time to pass with a grade of “outstanding.” I have, however, chosen a book for each of the exams…just in case. The courses and their requirements are as follows (and are followed by my particular choice of book):

  • Ancient Runes–Read a book with a symbol on the cover.

I didn’t need to search out a book for this one, because one of the books already in my tbr pool qualified. (Bygone Badass Babes by Mackenzi Lee.)

  • Arithmancy–Read a book with a number on the cover or in the title.

For this one, I’m using Zone One by Colson Whitehead, which I’ll be reading as an audiobook.

  • Astronomy–Read a science fiction novel.

Already have this one covered with Dawn by Octavia Butler.

  • Care of Magical Creatures–Read a book that includes magical creatures or features a magical creature on its cover.

I chose The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There by Catherynne M. Valente for this one.

  • Charms–Read a fantasy novel.

I’m choosing a reread for this one, The Sisters Grimm: The Fairy-Tale Detectives by Michael Buckley.

  • Defense Against the Dark Arts–Read a book about/featuring a secret society/club.

I’m not 100% sure this fits the subject, but from my recollections of talk about it when first came out I think it does. The book is The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart.

  • Divination–Read a book featuring prophecies.

Finally! going to read Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman.

  • Herbology–Read a book with a nature related word in the title.

Already have this one covered with Remarkable Plants that Shaped Our World by Helen Bynum and William Bynum.

  • History of Magic–Read a historical fiction.

I’ve chose A Mercy by Toni Morrison for this exam.

  • Muggle Studies–Read a muggle non-fiction book.

A good excuse to move a book from last month’s tbr pool over to this month, I’m going with Pandemic by Sonia Shah.

  • Potions–Read a book about or with alchemy.

I’ve chosen The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter by Theodora Goss, which if I get to will be on audiobook.

  • Transfiguration–Read a book that deals with transfiguration/shapeshifting OR a book with a cat on the cover.

Glad she included that second option, as it allowed me to pick Tamsin by Peter S. Beagle which I’ve been meaning to read for years.

 

So there it is, another way too big tbr pool for the month. But thankfully, Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon will be happening on April 28th, just in time to squeeze in some last minute books for the month.