books read in February…



  • The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris. I enjoyed this book, as I enjoyed Red Dragon when I read it last year. The stories are well told and compelling and suspenseful. At times I found myself caught off guard by a the beautiful way Harris would write something. Surprised because I don’t really expect beautiful writing in a suspense/thriller/serial killer type of book. All that said, I have a big problem with these stories–between the two books, there have been three different serial killers. And two of them had some sort of deformity. This is just NOT okay. This linking of “bad/evil/etc.” with deformity or disfigurement or disability needs to effing stop. So yeah, I enjoyed these books, but they are also extremely problematic. (I used this for the serial killers category of my dig deeper reading challenge.)
  • Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur Volume 1: BFF, Volume 2: Cosmic Cooties, and Volume 3: The Smartest There Is by Amy Reeder, Brandon Montclare, and Natacha Bustos. Oh my gosh–I can’t believe I haven’t heard more about this comic. I found it positively delightful! Lunella Lafayette is a brilliant nine-year-old girl with spunk and determination…and a major worry. She knows she carries the Inhuman gene and wants nothing more than to find a way to avoid being turned into Inhuman. She finds a device that she thinks could possibly stop it, but when it is accidentally activated I time portal is opened and her new best friend arrives. Though it is not clear at all to Lunella (tauntingly called Moon Girl by her classmates) at first that Devil Dinosaur is anything but a terrifying trouble-maker. This comic has pretty much completely charmed me, and I cannot wait to see what adventures these new best friends will encounter.
  • Saga Volume Eight by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples. Not sure what else to say about this series, other than I think it just gets better and better. My only complaint is that I have to wait for the next volume…
  • The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander. This book floored me. The breadth of my ignorance about how completely fucked up our criminal justice system and the War on Drugs is astounded me. Of all those books we tend to label “should be required reading,” this book should be at the top of that list. I honestly believe every person in the United States, if they care even one iota about justice, should make this book a priority. (Yay–first book knocked off my Official 2018 TBR Pile Challenge list. Also used this as my book for #14–a book of social science–of Book Riot’s Read Harder Challenge and for the prison category of my dig deeper reading challenge.)
  • Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates. This book was the perfect companion to The New Jim Crow. In a personal letter written to his son, we get a glimpse of what it is like to be a black man in a country that refuses to see black men as human. I know that I cannot truly know what it is like to live in skin that isn’t “white,” and that makes it all the more important for me to listen to as many black and brown voices that I can. (Used this for the racism category of my dig deeper reading challenge.)
  • Tender Points by Amy Berkowitz. This is a painful book. And a book about pain. Chronic physical pain. And emotional traumatic pain. Fibromyalgia, rape, patriarchy. Prose poetry. Small vignettes. Her story is my story, but her story is very different from my story. A reminder of the importance of many stories. (Using this for the indigo spine in my reading the rainbow challenge, for the chronic/invisible illness sufferer category in my identities reading challenge, and for the invisible illnesses category in my dig deeper reading challenge.)
  • Blackout by Mira Grant. The final in the Newsflesh trilogy. While I am glad to have finished the series, I can’t claim to have loved this volume as much as the first. Though I did enjoy it more than the second. The excessive repetition that got to me in the second book continued to annoy me in Blackout, but I found myself more drawn into the story again. Grant definitely writes a unique, compelling story, but as with the Parasitology trilogy, I think she drags them out too much. But that is very likely just me–while there are definitely series I adore (hello, Chaos Walking trilogy), I generally tend to prefer stand-alone books…and my feelings about both these trilogies may well be a consequence of that preference.
  • Hallowed Murder by Ellen Hart. Okay, so if I’m not a fan of series, why the hell did I go and start another one? lol. But this is not the trilogy sort of series that tells one bigger story, but is more of an episodic mystery type series. Overall, I really enjoyed this book and hope to read more. I love Jane Lawless, our amateur lesbian sleuth. And her best friend Cordelia is the sort of person who would completely intimidate me in real life, but I found her sort of fun despite her grouchiness. Not without its problematic moments, however: selling humps to be worn at a Richard III party and some fat stereotyping. Also, Trigger Warning for rape. I *truly* wish someone would have spoken up a bit more vehemently when it came to the aftermath of this rape (don’t want to say more for fear of spoilers). So yeah, it definitely wasn’t perfect, but I enjoyed it and am hopeful that some of these types of problems will disappear in later books. *fingers crossed* (Used this for #21–a mystery by a person of color or an lgbtq+ author–of Book Riot’s Read Harder challenge.)
  • An American Marriage by Tayari Jones. Oh my god–I loved this book! I don’t tend to read a lot of general/realistic/literary fiction, but this book might just change that. I certainly want to pick up every book Jones has written! It’s a story of injustice and a story of love and a story of heartache and a story of family and a story of people trying so hard not to hurt people they love but finding no way around it and a story of trying to hold onto the past and a story of looking ahead to the future and a story of maybe just maybe learning to live in the present. (Used for the “nationality” category in the What’s in a Name? challenge, for #13–an Oprah Book Club selection–of Book Riot’s Read Harder Challenge, and for the prison category of my dig deeper challenge.)
  • Orange: The Complete Collection, Volumes 1 and 2 by Ichigo Takano. This was such a sweet, sweet manga. I seriously just wanted to hug these books. The group of six friends in this story were just so easy to love, so kind and caring of one another. It was not a story without sadness, however. Trigger warning for suicide. (Used for the “fruit or vegetable” category of the What’s in a Name? challenge and the “orange” title in my reading the rainbow challenge.)
  • Vital Lies by Ellen Hart. The second in the Jane Lawless series. Again, I very much enjoyed. In this episode, Jane and Cordelia are spending the week of the winter solstice and Christmas at an old restored Victorian style inn owned by an old friend of Jane’s. Odd, frightening events have been occurring at the inn for the last two months, and her friend Leigh is hoping that Jane can help her get to the bottom of things.
  • Ghost World by Daniel Clowes. I can’t be the only person silly enough to hoard away books they’re sure they will love until that “perfect moment.” Or maybe I am. Who knows. Anyway, the reasonable portion of my brain tries to tell me that this is downright ridiculous, that I should read those books that I’m sure I’ll love now instead of saving them for some mythical perfect time. This book gave that reasonable brain portion more ammunition…but in a totally unexpected way. Turns out that I haven’t been denying myself the pleasure of this book for all those years it sat on my shelves–instead I found that I’ve been letting it take up valuable real estate for no good reason. It may be that I just had this book so built up in my mind, but damn, talk about disappointed! I was completely underwhelmed. Oh well, you win some-you love lose some, right?

Fifteen books. That’s a pretty high number for me. Granted almost half were comics as it was #comicsfebruary. Two months in a row with much higher than usual number of books read. And again, the thing that really matters–quality–was definitely not lacking. The New Jim Crow is possibly the most important book I’ve ever read; it’s definitely in the very top few. I discovered Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur, a comic series that totally makes my heart happy. And also discovered, thanks to Memory, a fun new mystery series featuring lesbian sleuth Jane Lawless. I became an instant fan of Tayari Jones with An American Marriage. So yeah, I’m feeling good about February’s reading.

Sort of random notes:

  • Marginalized voices made up far more than half of my reading, so hooray for that! (8 books by authors or artists of color, 3 by lqbtq+ authors, 1 disabled+ author)
  • Three of the books I read were nonfiction. I’m a terribly slow reader, and tend to read nonfiction even slower, so I’m okay with this ratio. Honestly I guess I don’t care how much nonfiction I read, as long as I’m reading some.
  • I listened to one audiobook and read four ebooks (which includes the three Dino Girl comic collections)–I will probably always lean more towards the physical book.
  • Only six of the books I read were from my own shelves–I would really like that percentage to be higher. I did at least give away two of the books from my shelves after reading them so that’s something.
  • Seven comics, one book of prose-poetry, one book a letter from a father to his son.
  • I sort of suck at assigning genre, but of the fiction–mystery, sci-fi, dystopia, and general fiction were all represented. Nonfiction was largely social justice.
  • Seven new-to-me authors.


49×4 dip deeper challenge…

Yep, yet another personal challenge. Forty-nine topics/four books each. Both fiction and nonfiction allowed. No time limit.

The topics, with books filled in as read:

  • American imperialism
  • beverages
  • birds
  • bisexuality
  • Burma
  • climate change
  • colonialism/post-colonialism
  • death
  • effects of war
  • endangered species
  • epidemics
  • evolution
  • fairy tales
  1. The Illustrated Treasury of Fairy Tales designed by Rita Marshall (January 2018)
  • garbage
  • gardening
  • fat
  • Haiti
  • hiking
  • human trafficking
  • immigrant experience
  • India
  • insects
  • in the courtroom
  • invisible illness

1. Tender Points by Amy Berkowitz (February 2018)

  • Madagascar
  • Native Americans/First Nations
  • natural history
  • OCD
  • parasites
  • Palestine
  • plants
  • poverty/classism
  • prison
  1. The Enchanted by Rene Denfeld (January 2018)
  2. The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander (February 2018)
  3. An American Marriage by Tayari Jones (February 2018)
  • racism
  1. Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge (January 2018)
  2. If You Come Softly by Jacqueline Woodson (January 2018)
  3. Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates (February 2018)
  • sea creatures
  • serial killers
  1. Zodiac by Robert Graysmith (January 2018)
  2. The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris (February 2018)
  • sex
  • the arctic
  • the Great Lakes
  • the human body
  • the Yugoslav wars
  • transgender
  • travel
  • trees
  • Victorian life
  • water
  • winter
  • women in science

identity reading challenge…

This is another personal reading challenge I’m giving myself, inspired by a post at Book Riot. I am picking 10 personal identities that influence how I see the world and 10 identities that are not mine. And then hope to read a book by an author with each of those identities. Many of my potential reads are nonfiction, but there are some fiction choices mixed in as well. This might just be the challenge I’m most excited about.

Categories and potential reads:

Identities that influence how I see the world–

Anxiety sufferer: 

  • Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh
  • Monkey Mind: A Memoir of Anxiety by Daniel Smith


  • Nothing: Something to Believe In by Nica Lalli
  • The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins

Bisexual: *completed*

  • An Untamed State by Roxane Gay
  • Feed by Mira Grant
  • Bi: Notes for a Bisexual Revolution by Shiri Eisner

Chronic illness/invisible illness sufferer *completed* (for me that is endometriosis, fibromyalgia, IBS, but author need not have same constellation of illnesses):


  • The Rarest of the Rare by Diane Ackerman
  • Arctic Voices edited by Subhankar Banerjee


  • Dietland by Sarai Walker
  • Things No One Will Tell Fat Girls: A Handbook for Unapologetic Living by Jes Baker


  • 52 Projects: Random Acts of Everyday Creativity by Jeffrey Yamaguchi
  • How to Be an Explorer of the World by Keri Smith


  • Of Woman Born by Adrienne Rich
  • The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson

Rape victim/survivor:

  • All the Rage by Courtney Summers (I don’t know if Courtney Summers is a rape victim/survivor herself, but from all I’ve heard, this is a powerful book about rape culture, so I’m including it as a possible read.)
  • Lucky by Alice Sebold


  • A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf
  • I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman by Nora Ephron

Identities I do not hold–


  • Viral Airwaves by Claudie Arseneault
  • The Bone People by Keri Hulme


  • Born on a Blue Day by Daniel Tammet
  • On the Edge of Gone by Corinne Duyvis

Black Woman: *completed*


  • The Best We Could Do: An Illustrated Memoir by Thi Bui
  • The Beautiful Things that Heaven Bears by Dinaw Mengestu


  • When I Was Puerto Rican by Esmeralda Santiago
  • Before We Were Free by Julia Alvarez


  • The Unquiet Dead by Ausma Zehanat Khan
  • The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid

Native American:

  • Food & Spirits by Beth Brant
  • Love Medicine by Louise Erdrich


  • Love You Two by Maria Pallotta-Chiarolli
  • Queer: A Graphic History by Meg-John Barker


  • Redefining Realness by Janet Mock
  • She’s Not There: A Life in Two Genders by Jennifer Finney Boylan
  • The Gender Games by Juno Dawson


  • Battling the Storm Within by Stephanie J. Shannon
  • Love My Rifle More than You: Young and Female in the U.S. Army by Kayla Williams




reading the rainbow…

Just a personal reading challenge. In two parts:

1. read a book that contains in its title one of the colors of the rainbow (7 books total)

2. read one book whose spine represents each of the colors of the rainbow (7 books total)

Categories and potential reads:

“Red” in title:

  • The Red Tree by Caitlin R. Kiernan
  • Red Rosa by Kate Evans
  • Chasing Redbird by Sharon Creech

“Orange” in title: *completed*

“Yellow” in title:

  • Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  • Yellowcake by Margo Lanagan

“Green” in title:

  • Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
  • Freaky Green Eyes by Joyce Carol Oates
  • Green Grass, Running Water by Thomas King
  • Green Witch by Alice Hoffman

“Blue” in title:

  • The Bluest Eye  by Toni Morrison
  • Reservation Blues by Sherman Alexie
  • Born on a Blue Day by Daniel Tammet
  • Blue Covenant by Maude Barlow

“Indigo” in title: 

  • Indigo’s Star by Hilary McKay
  • Sassafrass, Cypress, & Indigo by Ntozake Shange

“Violet” in title:

  • Violet & Claire by Francesca Lia Block
  • The Purple Violet of Oshaantu by Neshani Andreas

Red spine:

  • Sula by Toni Morrison
  • Troublemaker and Other Saints by Christina Chiu
  • Family by Ed Sanders
  • Queer: A Graphic History by Dr. Meg-John Barker and Julia Scheele

Orange spine:

  • Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
  • The Coming Plague by Laurie Garrett
  • Of Bees and Mist by Erick Setiawan
  • Birdology by Sy Montgomery

Yellow spine: *completed*

  • Caramelo by Sandra Cisneros
  • The Girl with All the Gifts by M.R. Carey
  • The Armless Maiden: And Other Tales for Childhood’s Survivors edited by Terri Windling
  • Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh
  • Becoming Naomi Leon by Pam Muñoz Ryan

Green spine: 

  •  Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward
  • All Families Are Psychotic by Douglas Coupland
  • Primates: The Fearless Science of Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Biruté Galdikas by Jim Ottaviani and Maris Wicks
  • Still Missing by Chevy Stevens

Blue spine:

  • The Diving Pool by Yoko Ogawa
  • War Dance by Sherman Alexie
  • I Hadn’t Meant to Tell You This by Jacqueline Woodson
  • Asleep by Banana Yoshimoto

Indigo spine: *completed*

  • The True Deceiver by Tove Jansson
  • Wild Seed by Octavia Butler
  • Living, Loving and Lying Awake at Night by Sindiwe Magona
  • The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness
  • Tender Points by Amy Berkowitz

Violet spine:

  • Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  • Tell No Tales by Eleanor Taylor Brown
  • Nocturnes by John Connolly
  • Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters


book riot’s reader harder 2018…

Another day. Another reading challenge. First time attempting Book Riot’s Read Harder challenge, and I’m really looking forward to it.

This year’s category’s and my lists of potential reads for each:

A book published posthumously.

  • Lady Susan by Jane Austen
  • The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
  • The True Deceiver by Tove Jansson

A book of true crime. *completed*

  • The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher by Kate Summerscale
  • The Family by Ed Sanders
  • Zodiac by Robert Graysmith
  • The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson

A classic of genre fiction.

  •  Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
  • Busman’s Honeymoon by Dorothy Sayers
  • It by Stephen King
  • Fledgling by Octavia Butler
  • The Chrysalids by John Wyndham

A comic written and illustrated by the same person. *completed*

A book set in or about one of the BRICS countries.

  • Journey to the River Sea by Eva Ibbotson
  • One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksander Solzhenitsyn
  • Five Past Midnight in Bhopal by Dominique Lapierre and Javier Moro
  • Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie
  • A Human Being Died that Night by Pumla Gobodo-Maidikizela

A book about nature.

  • Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer
  • Notes from the Shore by Jennifer Ackerman
  • Birdology by Sy Montgomery
  • Mycophilia by Eugenia Bone

A western.

  • Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown
  • The Blessing Way by Tony Hillerman
  • Love Medicine by Louise Erdrich

A comic written or illustrated by a person of color. *completed*

A book of colonial or postcolonial literature.

  • Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  • The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
  • Annie John by Jamaica Kincaid
  • Cereus Blooms at Night by Shani Mootoo

A romance novel by or about a person of color. *completed*

A children’s classic published before 1980.

  • The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgkin Burnett
  • The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery
  • Tom’s Midnight Garden by Philippa Pearce

A celebrity memoir.

  • You Can’t Touch My Hair by Phoebe Robinson
  • Born a Crime by Trevor Noah
  • Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes

An Oprah Book Club Selection. *completed*

A book of Social Science. *completed*

A one sitting book.

  • A Mercy by Toni Morrison
  • I Have the Right to Destroy Myself by Young-Ha Kim
  • The First Part Last by Angela Johnson
  • Murder in the Dark by A.S. Byatt

The first book in a new-to-you YA or middle grade series.

  • Kiki Strike: Inside the Shadow City by Kirsten Miller
  • The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan
  • Once by Morris Gleitzman
  • The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

A sci-fi novel with a female protagonist by a female author. *completed*

A comic that isn’t published by Marvel, DC, or Image. *completed*

  • Koko Be Good by Jen Wang
  • Primates by Jim Ottaviani and Maris Wicks
  • Che: A Graphic Biography by Spain Rodriguez
  • Epileptic by David B.

A book of genre fiction in translation.  *completed*

A book with a cover you hate.

  • East of Eden by John Steinbeck
  • Lady Audley’s Secret by Mary Elizabeth Braddon
  • A Murder Is Announced by Agatha Christie

A mystery by an author of color or an lgbtq+ author. *completed*

  • Tell No Tales by Eleanor Taylor Bland
  • The Body at the Tower by Y.S. Lee
  • Inspector Singh Investigates: A Most Peculiar Malaysian Murder by Shamini Flint
  • Pleasantville by Attica Locke
  • The Lavender House Murder by Nikki Baker
  • Hallowed Murder by Ellen Hart

An essay anthology. 

  • Revolutionary Mothering edited by Alexis Pauline Gumbs, China Martens, and Mai’a Williams
  • Yes Means Yes! edited by Jaclyn Friedman and Jessica Valenti
  • Nasty Women Project edited by Erin Parsons

A book with a female protagonist over the age of 60.

  • Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout
  • The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey
  • Murder at the Vicarage by Agatha Christie
  • The Summer Book by Tove Jansson

An assigned book you hated or never finished. *completed* (I suppose it could be said that I will be cheating on this one. But I actually read the books I was assigned, or at least cannot remember any that I didn’t finish. And the only one I can remember hating was Babbitt, and I am not reading it again. So instead I’m going to read a book that I assigned to either Annie or Gray for homeschooling that I never got finished myself. I guess it goes against the spirit of the category though, because I was very much liking each of these choices.)


the 2018 TBR pile challenge…

All the official rules for this challenge can be found at Roof Beam Reader. The basics: 1. Pick 12 books that you’ve had on your shelves for over a year. (Thus all books must have been published before 2017.) 2. Pick 2 alternates, in case you find you just can’t through each of your original choices. 3. Read and review the books on your list.

My List:

  1. The House of Dies Drear by Virginia Hamilton (1968)
  2. The Summer Book by Tove Jansson (1972)
  3. The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter (1979)
  4. Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson (1985)
  5. Breath, Eyes, Memory by Edwidge Danticat (1994)
  6. I Have the Right to Destroy Myself by Young-Ha Kim (1996)
  7. Fledgling by Octavia Butler (2005)
  8. Wolves of the Crescent Moon by Yousef Al-Mohammed (2007)
  9. A Mercy by Toni Morrison (2008)
  10. Essex County by Jeff Lemire (2008)
  11. The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander (2010)
  12. The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka (2011)

My Alternates:

  • Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri (1999)
  • The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie (2007)

I am excited about this one, and will be so blissfully happy if I get these off the “TBR shelves” and onto the “have read shelves.” And if I can only tame my check-out-all-the-books urges every time I go to the library maybe I’ll stand a chance…

Huge thank yous to Adam at Roof Beam Reader for hosting this!


what’s in a name 11 reading challenge…

Oh my. I cannot believe I’m falling down this rabbit hole again. Reading challenges. There was a time when I was a complete and total reading challenge enthusiast. I managed to step away for several years, but I can no longer resist the urge to wallow in the joy of making those lists of books to fit all those reading challenge categories. And the What’s in a Name challenge is the perfect one to dive back into first since it holds such a special place in my heart having been started by my own sweet daughter half her life ago. It is now hosted at The Worm Hole.

This year’s categories and my lists of potential reads for each:

The word “the” used twice.

  • The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa
  • The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka
  • The Girl With All the Gifts by M.R. Carey
  • The Djinn in the Nightingale’s Eye by A.S. Byatt
  • The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer
  • The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse by Louise Erdrich
  • The Book of the Toad by Robert M. DeGraaff
  • The Palace of the Snow Queen by Barbara Sjoholm
  • In the Kingdom of the Sick by Laurie Edwards
  • The Ballad of the Sad Cafe by Carson McCullers
  • Rats: Observations on the History & Habitat of the City’s Most Unwanted Inhabitants by Robert Sullivan

A fruit or vegetable.

  • Sexing the Cherry by Jeanette Winterson
  • Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson
  • Peel My Love Like an Onion by Ana Castillo
  • The Golden Apples of the Sun by Ray Bradbury
  • The Lemon Tree by Sandy Tolan
  • Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn
  • Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout
  • A Mango-Shaped Space by Wendy Maas
  • Monique and the Mango Rains by Kris Holloway
  • The Blueberry Years by Jim Minick
  • Orange: The Complete Collection, Volumes 1 and 2 by Ichigo Takana

A shape. *completed*

Begins with a Z (may omit a leading article). *completed*

A nationality.

  • Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dad Sijie
  • American Widow by Alissa Torres
  • When I Was Puerto Rican by Esmerelda Santiago
  • Dreaming in Cuban by Cristina Garcia
  • An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

A season. 

  • Ravens in Winter by Bernd Heinrich
  • Raven Summer by David Almond
  • Armageddon Summer by Jane Yolen and Bruce Coville
  • Summer for the Gods by Edward J. Larson
  • Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson
  • WinterWood by Patrick McCabe
  • Farewell Summer by Ray Bradbury
  • The Summer Book by Tove Jansson