Friday, June 23, 2017

2017 book 108

Diana Wynne Jones' Castle in the Air
I sometimes like this second Howl's Moving Castle book more than others, because sometimes it really annoys me what a schmoe the protagonist here is (plus he is a fat-shamer). Things do pick up once cats and witches and princesses enter the scene, but it is a bit of a slog until that point. Still, it ends on a high note.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

2017 book 107

Diana Wynne Jones' Howl's Moving Castle
I am perpetually grateful that Goodreads counts rereads now, because it means when none of my to-read list strikes my fancy, I can just enjoy an old favorite and not having to worry about not meeting my reading goal (whether that is honestly something to worry about is another issue). This book is so charming and funny, every time I read it.

Monday, June 19, 2017

2017 book 106

Rebecca Stead's When You Reach Me
The best part of running a book club is making everyone read my favorite books so I can talk about them with people. :) One friend finished this recently and said that she thought it would be just as good on a reread, and I think it is actually better, because you can see all the clues adding up (I start crying in anticipation every time). On the surface, it's a story about a girl in 1970s New York who is having friend issues and has an unconventional-ish home life and loves A Wrinkle in Time, but there are some weird things happening on the edges of the story and gradually it all comes together in a way that I personally love wholeheartedly. Even if it does make me cry buckets.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

2017 book 105

Carrie Vaughn's Bannerless
Vaughn's latest (after the Kitty Norville books, the Golden Age books, and a ton of other books) is a POST-APOCALYPTIC MURDER MYSTERY. Oh boy, you betcha I am here for this. Really interesting world-building in a semi-far-future California, with a woman who serves as an investigator asked to look into a suspicious death. The world-building and the characters are more interesting than the mystery, but I was certainly fine with that, as they are VERY interesting. It looks like this is the start of a series and I look forward to seeing what else will happen in this world. A-.


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A review copy was provided by the publisher. This book will be released on July 11th.

Friday, June 16, 2017

2017 book 104

Kevin Kwan's Rich People Problems
I actually wish they were making like a limited series of these books instead of a movie, because there is just so much delicious stuff going on and they can never do it justice in two hours! Do I remember all the specifics of the ups and downs of this one? Nah. But did I enjoy every moment of reading it and leave feeling satisfied? Hell yeah. Now I need more dishy novels to read! These were so fun. A/A-.

2017 book 103

Kevin Kwan's China Rich Girlfriend 
Yes, I DID stay up too late reading this, because you just can't put these books down, because there are so many interesting characters (so many interesting WOMEN) getting into so many shenanigans! Kwan can plot a book for sure. And these books are like my beloved K-dramas had a love child with Dynasty. Which is to say, I love them. A/A-.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

2017 book 102

Kevin Kwan's Crazy Rich Asians
OOOOH y'all, if you need some good summer reading, grab this book immediately. It had been on my (lengthy) to-read lost for a long time, but when I heard they were making a movie starring Constance Wu (and other awesome ppl), it shot to the top of the list. And it was SO entertaining! Soapy, but not trashy. It centers on a Chinese-American woman, a professor, who accompanies her boyfriend to a wedding in Singapore--only to be blindsided by his crazy rich relatives. And we get a lot of their POVs as well. It's a quick, fun, and satisfying read, and I already bought the sequel. A/A-.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

2017 book 101

Joshilyn Jackson's The Almost Sisters
OMG, did Joshilyn Jackson write her latest book targeting it directly at me, or what? I love all her complicated-Southern-family books, but the protagonist of this one is a woman who makes a living as a comic book artist/graphic novelist, and also has weekly board game nights (Jackson doesn't entirely nail comic book culture but I had no major complaints). Things start with the protagonist discovering she's pregnant, the result of a one night stand at a comic book con with a guy dressed as Batman (omg), but things get more complicated when she discovers her grandmother has dementia and has to suddenly head down to Alabama. I liked the family stuff here a lot-- interesting characters and dynamics and secrets-- but there is a lot of like white lady thinking about race and trying to solve racism stuff going on (the baby she's carrying is biracial). I liked it a lot despite all that. A-.

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A review copy was provided by the publisher. This book will be released in July.

2017 book 100

Gin Phillips' Fierce Kingdom
I read this all in one gulp yesterday because it was such a completely gripping book. It's the story of a woman who has taken her young son to the zoo for the day--but as they go to leave, she realizes there's a gunman shooting people, and she has to hide to save herself and her child. And everything with her narration is so intense and compelling--my heart was in my throat for just about every page. The problem really is that there are brief interludes from three other POV characters, who aren't given enough space for a reader to get to know them (the Robby POV, in particular, needed to be beefed up or eliminated completely, because it just raises a lot of questions that felt unnecessary). It kind of took me out of the story. Still, a really interesting read, even if I did want slightly more from the end. B+.


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A review copy was provided by the publisher. This book will be released in July.

Thursday, June 08, 2017

2017 book 99

Michelle Cooper's The FitzOsbornes at War
Excuse me, I'm just over here sobbing and feeling all the feels that you could feel while reading a book. What a great capper to this series--and educational, without shoving lists of historical facts in your face! I love these characters and their interesting and sometimes unconventional lives so much.


207 book 98

Michelle Cooper's The FitzOsbornes in Exile
This is such a good second chapter in a trilogy--completely gripping and engaging on its own, but still building to a big finale. Of course, how could a story of a small country and its royal family caught in the political turmoil of the late 1930s NOT be compelling, especially with the narrative voice here? Plus alongside all the important political talk--lots of references to Mitfords and Kennedys. This book has everything I love.

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

2017 book 97

Michelle Cooper's A Brief History of Montmoray
The end of the fiscal year means library e-books are thin on the ground, and thus it is time to reread recent favorites! I was pleased that this book held up, though really I read it for the first time not that long ago. And I am realizing that I just love books about girls living in genteel poverty in crumbling old castles (cf Dodie Smith and Patrice Kindl), particularly those told in the journal format. Anyway! This is the story of a fictional royal family, who reign over a small island off the coast of Spain--only it's 1936, and politics are beginning to encroach. And it is also the story of an eccentric family and some awesome girls--my favorite kind of story. Very well-done.

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

2017 book 96

Callie Bates' The Waking Land
I was eager to read this because the publisher compares it to Naomi Novik's Uprooted, but it doesn't have the charm or skill of that book. I mean, it's fine, it's your usual girl-with-magic thrust into a position of power amidst political turmoil fantasy kind of book--which I like--and the magic and politics here are pretty interesting, as are most of the characters. The problem is really the protagonist, who clumsily changes her mind about EVERYTHING like every five pages, so she seems really petulant and wishy-washy--which I doubt is the intent. I actually think this book would have benefited from being longer, when usually I feel like this kind of story is dragged out too far--this could have really benefited from some character development, and the end feels really rushed. There is also a romance and it is fine, if occasionally overdone. Shrug? B.

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A review copy was provided by the publisher. This book will be released on June 27th.

Thursday, June 01, 2017

2017 book 95

Sarah Gailey's River of Teeth
Well, this book has basically the best premise ever: apparently at some point in American history, some people wanted to raise hippos for meat down in the marshy south parts of the US. And this book posits: what if they actually DID that? And . . . what if it was a terrible idea, because hippos aren't exactly docile. Anyway, this book centers on a team of awesomely diverse characters, including a non-binary demolitions expert/love interest, who are working on a CAPER to move some feral hippos out to the Gulf of Mexico. It's great. They're like cowboys but they ride hand-raised tame hippos around. The visuals alone! I read an NPR review that was like "the only problem is that this book is too short!" which is true, but that's because the pacing feels really off--there just is no room for the characters or the plot to breathe. It's all super rushed. And there is a big "reveal" that I was pretty sure the protagonist already knew, so then I thought he was basically a major dope. BUT it has people riding hippos planning a caper, so like, it is still pretty awesome. There is a sequel due out in September. B+.

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A review copy was provided by the publisher. This book is available now.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

2017 book 94

Sandhya Menon's When Dimple Met Rishi
OK, y'all know YA romances are NOT my jam, but this book was SO ADORABLE that I could not even deal. Like I was rooting for this couple so hard because their story is so cute and their characters are so likable and sympathetic and Menon's plotting and humor are both seriously on point. It centers on recent high school graduates Dimple and Rishi--Dimple wants to be a web developer and is super excited about going to a pre-college summer nerd program, and is surprised that her parents are so supportive . . . but it's because they're trying to matchmake with their friends' son, who is also attending the program, and is totally on board with an (eventual) arranged marriage to Dimple. But he is totally great, despite how my description may make him sound. I totally wanted them to grow up and get married and have awesome careers and lots of makeouts. I mean, the ending feels a bit after school special and a bit rushed, but seriously, super cute. A-.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

2017 book 93

Patricia McKillip's The Forgotten Beasts of Eld
This is one of those classic fantasy novels people are always recommending to me, but it was never available in a digital format so I was kind of like eh. But now it is being reissued--with an intro by Gail Carriger!--and will finally be available digitally. It's the story of a young wizard girl, from a line of wizards who care for fantastic creatures of legend, and what happens when a young warrior brings her an infant prince to care for. I will say that it is somewhat rapey (and the protagonist is threatened with even worse things, it is all very upsetting, should we blame it on a 1974 publication date or nah?) but it is beautifully written and well-plotted and moving and etc. Lessons are learned and hugs are given. Good times. A-/B+.


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A review copy was provided by the publisher. This edition and the digital version will be available in September.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

2017 book 92

Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None
It's odd that I had never read this one before--I know I used to have a copy on my shelf--and then I started reading and right away on page 5 is some fairly vile anti-Semitism, and suddenly I remembered why Past Alicia gave that book away. (There is also a lot of racism here! Both on the part of the characters and the author. The original title of this book is also horrifically racist!) At least I knew that all the jerkfaces would die because, of course, that is the premise of the mystery. I actually think this would be almost a horror story without the explanatory epilogue, which falls flat. I admit that my feelings about this are colored by the bigotry on hand, and I am definitely taking a break from Christie for a bit.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

2017 book 91

Dodie Smith's I Capture The Castle
What a delight to revisit this for book club! This book never fails to charm--the narrative voice and the plot are just both totally on point. I don't even want to try to summarize the plot because I could never properly describe its sweetness, humor, realism, etc etc. I should really try more of Smith's work but it's hard knowing they wouldn't be as awesome as this.