May 2018 Reading Recap

I read SUCH GOOD THINGS THIS MONTH. I love them all.

I’m now done with The Books of the Raksura series so everything is sad in my life now.

The only reread was The Two Towers.

Crazy facts: I only read ONE comic this month, and I listened to an audiobook! Boom accomplishment.

 

Short Stories/Novellas

Dance, Princes, Dance! by Tansy Rayner Roberts (4/5 stars)

Pet by C.S. Pacat (5/5 stars)

Stories of the Raksura Volume 1 by Martha Wells (4/5 stars)

Stories of the Raksura Volume 2 by Martha Wells (5/5 stars)

 

Novels

Binti by Nnedi Okorafor (no rating)

Hamilton’s Battalion: A Trio of Romances by Courtney Milan, Rose Lerner, and Alyssa Cole (3/5 stars)

Hamster Princess: Whiskerella by Ursula Vernon (5/5 stars)

Steel Blues by Melissa Scott and Jo Graham (4/5 stars)

The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien (5/5 stars)

 

Nonfiction

A Little History of Dragons by Joyce Hargreaves (4/5 stars)

The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy by Sam Maggs (3/5 stars)

 

Graphic Novels/Comics

The Unbeatable Squirrel: I’ve Been Waiting for a Squirrel Like You by Ryan North (4/5 stars)

Audiobooks

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows (5/5 stars)

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April 2018 Reading Recap

So I went on a bit of a trip this past month, and so I’m behind on my recaps, blogging, etc. But like…I was kind of busy in London, Dublin, and Italy. I read quite a bit before I left on my trip, though, so without further ado, here’s what I read last month!

Comparatively, I read a lot of Tai Nehisi-Coates. I really enjoy reading him: I don’t always agree with him, but he always makes me think. Also his Black Panther comics are good storytelling!

My favorite reads were by Patricia McKillip and Martha Wells (all fantasy novels, so I’m staying on brand).

Fiction

Harrowing the Dragon by Patricia McKillip (5/5 stars)

Hamster Princess: Of Mice and Magic by Ursula Vernon (4/5 stars)

Hamster Princess: Ratpunzel by Ursula Vernon (4/5 stars)

Hamster Princess: Giant Trouble by Ursula Vernon (4/5 stars)

And I Darken by Kiersten White (5/5 stars)

The Edge of Worlds by Martha Wells (5/5 stars)

The Harbors of the Sun by Martha Wells (5/5 stars)

Persuasion by Jane Austen (5/5 stars)

White Rabbit by Caleb Roehrig (4/5 stars)

Graphic Novels/Comics

The Wicked and the Divine: Imperial Phase II by Keiron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie (4/5 stars)

Afar by Leila del Luca (4/5 stars)

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl: Who Run the World? Squirrels by Ryan North (5/5 stars)

Poe Dameron: Legend Lost by Charles Soule (3/5 stars)

Ms. Marvel: Mecca by G. Willow Wilson (5/5 stars)

Black Panther and the Crew: We Are the Streets by Tai Nehisi-Coates (4/5 stars)

Black Panther: A Nation Under Our Feet book 2 by Tai Nehisi-Coates (4/5 stars)

Nonfiction

We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy by Tai Nehisi-Coates (4/5 stars)

The Landmark Arrian: The Campaigns of Alexander by Arrian (4/5 stars)

 

March 2018 Reading Recap

Whew I read a lot this month! And most of it was really amazing. My favorites were Martha Wells’ Books of the Raksura series (this was just nominated for a Hugo award, too!), and The Book on the Bookshelf by Henry Petroski (my review here). My favorite comics were Joyride, which I’m pumped to read more of, and the Library Wars manga series, which is hilarious but also really resonant. Yikes.

What were your favorite reads this month?

Comics/Graphic Novels

Fruits Basket 16-23 by Natsuki Takaya (5/5 stars)

Library Wars 1-15 by Kiiro Yumi (5/5 stars)

Heart and Brain by Nick Seluk (5/5 stars)

March: Book Three by John Lewis (5/5 stars)

Garbage Night by Jen Lee (2/5 stars)

Drowned City: Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans by Don Brown (4/5 stars)

M.F.K. Book One by Nilah Magruder (4/5 stars)

Black Panther: World of Wakanda by Roxane Gay and Ta-Nehisi Coates (3/5 stars)

Batgirl and the Birds of Prey: Who Is Oracle? by Julie Benson (3/5 stars)

Joyride Volume 1 by Jackson Lanzer (5/5 stars)

The Force Awakens by Chuck Wendig (2/5 stars)

Lumberjanes: A Bird’s-Eye View by Shannon Watters (4/5 stars)

The Wicked and The Divine: Imperial Phase 2 by Kieron Gillen (4/5 stars)

Afar by Leila del Duca (4/5 stars)

Poetry

How We Became Human by Joy Harjo (4/5 stars)

Fiction

Opal by Maggie Stiefvater (5/5 stars)

Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo (4/5 stars)

The Cloud Roads by Martha Wells (5/5 stars)

The Serpent Sea by Martha Wells (5/5 stars)

The Siren Depths by Martha Wells (5/5 stars)

The Forgotten Beasts of Eld by Patricia McKillip (4/5 stars)

Harriet the Invincible (Hamster Princess) by Ursula Vernon (5/5 stars)

Lost Things by Melissa Scott and Jo Graham (5/5 stars)

Harrowing the Dragon by Patricia McKillip (5/5 stars)

The Fellowship of the Ring by JRR Tolkien (5/5 stars)

Nonfiction

Castles by Alan Lee (3/5 stars)

The Book on the Bookshelf by Henry Petroski (5/5 stars)

 

A Book for the Book Nerds

95979.jpgI recently read a fantastic book detailing the technology of books and bookshelves in the western world called The Book on the Bookshelf by Henry Petroski. I recommend reading it if you’re a bookworm or interested in learning about basic things that we take for granted.

The main questions this book answers are: “How and why did we get books in the form they are today? How and why did we get bookshelves in the form they are today?

The Book on the Bookshelf goes through the history of books in the western world, starting with scrolls, tablets, etc and going all the way through 1999 (when it was published), when e-readers were in development. This book is worth it if only for the (sometimes hilarious) speculation and analysis the potential effects of e-readers and e-books. It also goes into how we came to organize the books the way we do, and goes over the different ways of arranging books, which I found fascinating because I am constantly reorganizing my personal library.

However, whether or not you end up reading it, I’m going to share some (BUT NOT ALL) of my favorite facts that I learned from this book:

  • capsae are adorable-looking hat-boxes that one could use to carry one’s scrolls about with them. I want to get some scrolls and then I want to get a capsae and I want to frolic around and whip out my scrolls whenever I need to look up fun facts.

    clark-the_care_of_books-book_box
    Online Source (this image of a capsae is also shown in The Book on the Bookshelf)
  •  Apparently in the 11th century, English Benedictines had really strict rules on using the limited-and-precious books they had. In some monasteries, the librarian would assign ONE book per brother per year to read. At the end of the year, the librarian would gather all the brothers and read off their names and the book they had been assigned. If the brother had NOT read their assigned book, they had to confess their terrible literary sin on their knees to the librarian. I’m not saying we should bring this one back, but….
  • Books were stored in locked chests, but eventually the chests were turned on one end and left open and shelves put in, leading to the first armarium which turned into bookshelves!
  • Monasteries had the biggest collections of books until the Reformation, when they DESTROYED ALL THE MONASTERIES AND BURNED ALL THE BOOKS because no one has any religious chill. The printing press took a while to replace all of those big collections. Boo!
  • Spines were considered ugly for a VERY LONG TIME, like until the 17th/18th centuries. Books were shelved with their spines facing the back, because no one wants to look at that ugly thing. Sometimes librarians used slips of paper sticking out of the pages to mark what book it was, since titles weren’t on the spines and the spines were facing the back.

 

There’s lots more where those came from! I really enjoyed this book, although I’d love to read something similar that looks at book technology around the world. This one didn’t often specify if/what technology we received from or gave to the middle-east, east, etc.

 

February 2018 Reading Recap

Comics/Graphic Novels

Fruits Basket volumes 1-15 by Natsuki Takaya (5/5 stars): I’m rereading this series and it turns out that it’s still one of my top 3 manga of all time.

Wires and Nerve: Gone Rogue by Marissa Meyer (4/5 stars): Funny! Adventurous! Romantic! And it’s groovy, too!

The Backstagers: Volume 2 by James Tynion IV (5/5 stars): It’s about highschool stagecrew who explore the magical land of the backstage. I love it.

Nonfiction

Myths and Legends of Japan by F. Hadland Davis (3/5 stars): This was first published in 1913 by British authors and YOU CAN TELL. The narration really annoyed me at times. That being said, this was a pretty comprehensive volume of legends, myths, ghost stories, etc. so it’s a good starting point for newbies like me.

Of Mess and Moxie by Jen Hatmaker (3/5 stars): I love Jen Hatmaker but most of this was aimed exclusively at moms, despite being marketed at all women.

Bitch Magazine #77 (4/5 stars): I finally gave in this year and subscribed. So far, so good!

Fiction

Thief’s War by Hilari Bell (4/5 stars): Hilari Bell is always a good time.

Chainbreaker by Tara Sim (4/5 stars): Sim’s writing/plotting/characterization has improved by leaps and bounds since her first book, Timekeeper (which I also enjoyed). WHEN CAN I GET BOOK 3???

Razor’s Edge by Martha Wells (5/5 stars): THE LEIA NOVEL WE ALL DESERVE.

Black Panther: The Young Prince by Ronald L. Smith (3/5 stars): It was okay? But I might be too old for it, as it’s aimed at middle-grade readers.

The Dangerous Art of Blending In by Angelo Sumelis (4/5 stars): This is one of the best fictional treatments of family abuse that I have ever read. Judging by the author’s note it’s at least partially autobiographical. I dropped a star for some rough debut-novel edges, but I will be keeping an eye on this author!

The Red Threads of Fortune by JY Yang (4/5 stars): Magic, love, and raptors.

The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien (5/5 stars): It’s a classic.

January Recap: Rereads

I didn’t read very much this month so I decided to give you mini-reviews for everything. This will be in two posts: Rereads and Goodreads. This one will cover the books I read this month that I’ve read before, so they’ll be more “what-did-I-notice-this-time?” than legit reviews.

By the way if anyone finds my blogging brain please return it. I miss it and I need it.

Cress and Winter by Marissa Meyer

I’ve been rereading The Lunar Chronicles for a few months, and it’s really rewarding. I think Cress is overall the best Lunar Chronicles book (although I enjoy Scarlet more because Scarlet and Wolf are The Best). We finally have the entire main cast on the page, and lots of little things are setting up for the conclusion in Winter. There is a lot happening and all of the main crew have their roles and strengths, but Cress and Thorne have the most growth in their arcs.

In particular, I’ve appreciated Kai more this time around. He’s in really difficult political position, and inexperienced. He knows enough to know that he can’t win every battle, and so he focuses on picking and choosing where he can do the most good in a war against a superior enemy. He’s also very self-sacrificing but not happy about it; he’s a grouchy selfless emperor playing a long game.

I’m still mad about how long Winter is. It’s twice as long as any of the other books in the series, and while there are a lot of characters to deal with and lose ends to tie up, they should have edited this thing more. If they moved some stuff around and revamped other parts, they could cut out one whole palace visit, and therefore a couple hundred pages at least.

That being said, I love this series, these characters, and how Winter deals with the Snow White fairy tale. Winter is a beloved character (both in her world and to me personally). Her sacrifice, in not using her glamour and “brainwashing” people, is one of the strongest parts of this book because it’s not an easy or simple decision to make and live with the consequences.

The Silmarillion by JRR Tolkien

This book was published posthumously and therefore I love over-analyzing the editorial choices and wondering if Tolkien would have presented it in the same way. The organization is so interesting! They put everything chronologically which is probably the best choice, but it means that some topics gets separated out and scattered throughout the book.  For example, what the “Men” are doing while the Elves are throwing themselves into shenanigans. Some sections are much stronger and better developed than others. The creation of the Trees of Valinor and the Silmarils, and the final stories of the Quenta (Beren/Luthien, Turin, Gondolin) are the best. The rest is, essentially, context. I’d love more development of Finrod, Fingon, and the trash pile sons of Feanor. But. There’s so much here as it is. The last two sections seem more like appendices to cover the years between Quenta and The Lord of the Rings than anything else.
There should be more ladies. I always find Yavanna really interesting because she’s just trying to create and accomplish, and everyone else gets in her way or ruins it all the time. Melian has A Lot To Deal With pretty much all the time. Galadriel doesn’t get much screen time but she’s great. Luthien gets the biggest role and is AMAZING but I wish we got more of girls like Haleth, Idril, Elwing, Morwen, Nienor, and Rian.

 

January Recap: Goodreads

I didn’t read very much this month so I decided to give you mini-reviews for everything. This will be in two posts: Rereads and Goodreads. This one will cover the books I read for the first time this month.

By the way if anyone finds my blogging brain please return it. I miss it and I need it.

Meet Me In St. Louis by Sarah Benson

This was a light and enjoyable read for the most part. The book is divided into the months between June 1903 and May 1904. The “chapter” months are very episodic, almost like a series of short stories, as there aren’t any strong arcs to speak of. The characters are consistent but a little shallow; Esther and Rose, especially, don’t ever move past their boy-crazed silliness; but at least they keep us entertained. Grandpa Prophater was my favorite, as he is the most “aware” of the hilarity of this family. One of the scenes I found most interesting was when Mrs. Smith said she could understand why someone would want only one child, creating an ABSOLUTE UPROAR in the house from her five kids. Mr. Smith explains she’s upset because she can’t care for all five kids the way she wishes she could, but there’s a subtext of real frustration in Mrs. Smith’s pronouncement, as well. No matter how hard she tries, life is always uncertain and keeps her anxious about taking care of everyone.

So. Light and enjoyable read, but with some darker undertones that kept it interesting.

 

Rey’s Survival Guide by Jason Fry

This Middle Grade book is a delight. It’s a fictional nonfiction book, written by Rey about the planet of Jakku and the people, places, and things you will find on it. There are lots of pictures: Rey’s drawings and schematics, manuals, documents that she has picked up in her wanderings. I have never cared about Jakku much, either as a fictional setting that I wanted to know more about, or a place I wanted more stories set on. However, author Jason Fry make Jakku really fascinating through Rey. Part of it is all the plants and animals she describes, which make Jakku feel more like a real place with an actual ecosystem. The geography was even more fascinating: some of the locations Rey draws and describes we see in The Force Awakens, but some of them we don’t, like The Sitter on his rock and Old Meru’s shack. Rey mentions lots of stories and legends floating around Jakku as well, such as a secret imperial base that someone is still guarding, buried beneath the sand.

If you’re looking for a “story,” though, you won’t find much of one here. It’s almost entirely exposition, with anecdotes from Rey’s childhood, her scavenging adventures, or about other scavengers that she knows or has known (she knows a lot of dead scavengers who weren’t careful enough to avoid sinking sand or live wires or leaking fuel lines. Yikes.). The end of the book tries to tie this book into TFA more, but it was the only part of the book I didn’t like. If she takes her “survival guide” with her off-planet it becomes more of a diary with a lot of useless tips about how to survive a place she no longer lives in. I like the idea of Rey leaving her journal behind, so someone on Jakku exploring can find it in her AT-AT house, and use the information to survive.

Beloved by Toni Morrison

What a heartbreaking book! Each of the characters from the protagonist Sethe, her boyfriend Paul D, her lost husband Halle, her MIL Baby, to her daughters Denver and Beloved have their own personal scars and brutal histories. In multiple ways this book is a horror story: the horror story of American slaves and their owners; the horror story of Sethe’s murdered daughter and the family she is haunting; the horror story of Paul D’s life history.

However, there is such a strong hope throughout the book, even in the very worst moments, that redeemed the story from a bleak resolution. Sethe begins to realize that maybe she can hope for more than just getting by, or living in the horrible choices of the past. She learns how to want things for herself, and since she’s got her freedom legally, all she needs to do is seize it psychologically. The way the different members of the family persevere and support each other, and the way their community forms around them to help at different stages, is amazing.

Even if every happy bit in this book was gone, it would still be worth reading to remind us of how horrific American slavery was and how we should never ever ever forget or gloss over it. It happened, to real people, by real people, in a country that prides itself on liberty and justice for all.  Beloved doesn’t shy away from this or completely excuses the choices that anyone makes, whether they’re slaves, ex-slaves, slaveowners or employers.

The ending of Beloved, with the emphasis on community, and the importance of asking for help, concluded the psychologically-messy story very well. I would have liked to see Paul D take some responsibility for his actions re: Beloved and being so rude to Sethe but it is implied that he’s going to make up for past behavior.