Books, Lately [August]

pages of the book as a bird flying away
Welcome to Quick Lit! This is where I partake in Modern Mrs. Darcy’s link-up and share short (sometimes) and sweet (cavities not included) reviews of what I’ve been reading lately.

So I read eleven books this month, and it felt amazing. There were definitely several shorter novels, and that helped, but I felt more motivated to just keep reading than I have in awhile, and I liked it. We’ll see if I can even remotely keep that up. I definitely don’t feel like keeping it up for the reviews, so I’m only mentioning six here.

WE NEVER ASKED FOR WINGS
Vanessa Diffenbaugh

I  received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I was pleasantly suprised Diffenbaugh’s The Language of Flowers was much deeper and richer than what I (for no real reason) expected. So I hoped for the same from We Never Asked for Wings, and it didn’t disappoint me.

Family, race, immigration laws, growing up (even if it’s later than you were supposed to), and love and all kinds of good things are here. It wasn’t quite as unique as Language of Flowers, but it was just as enjoyable. This was also one of those books that makes me feel pretty confident saying that even though we generally think of non-fiction as the books you really learn from, you can learn plenty from fiction.


THE INVASION OF THE TEARLING
Erika Johansen

This was unexpectedly different from the first book because it introduced some sci-fi elements to the first book’s purely fantasy feel. But it was good, and still got me wishing for the next installment just as much as the first one did.


MAGONIA
Maria Dahvana Headley

“Above the clouds, in a land of trading ships, Aza is not the weak and dying thing she was. In Magonia, she can breathe for the first time.”

The premise of Magonia was particulary unique. Lots of teen angst in the beginning, which might annoy some, but it felt deserved here. And a whole other world in the sky called Magonia? Yes, please. I didn’t really expect the blue people (or talking birds), but execution of these weirder elements was fun, most of the time. Less fun: realizing I had just commited to another series when I thought this was a one-off book! I bought this, but I’ll likely stick to the library for the next one.


PERSEPOLIS
Marjane Satrapi

The last few months were a bit of a book slump for me, so the amount I read this month was a nice suprise, but not unexplainable: meandering through Persepolis in a couple of hours was exactly the motivation I needed to check out a few of the shorter books on my to-read list, get back in a reading groove, and hopefully get me through some longer pieces too.

Persepolis is a graphic novel, and it was a really nice change of pace–and suprisingly good beach reading, despite the heavier topics. It was two hours of education on another culture that I didn’t know I needed–and now I want more. Basically, it was just as good as everyone says.


THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME
Mark Haddon

At my first job in a diner / ice cream shop scooping desserts when I was 14, this book was inexplicably always sitting behind the counter. I picked it up and read a few pages once or twice (there were definite lulls at that place, which might start to explain the less-than-minimum wages), but never finished, and always just remembered it as seeming “weird.” I’m so glad I finally read it.

This was for a work book club. It’s from the perspective of a 15-year-old boy on the autism spectrum writing a mystery book about who killed the next door neighbor’s dog. The brief chapters went by extremely fast, and I was never bored with it.


ELANTRIS
Brandon Sanderson

Ooooh Sanderson, you already had my love with Mistborn, but Elantris sealed the deal. I am officially your fan. Elantris showed a different side of Sanderson because it was self-contained (as opposed to a huge triology), but it was a lovely other side. Others have mentioned that it does show through the writing that it’s his earliest work, and I agree, but it’s not neccessarily a failing. The premise is big and complex and engaging and even though I was reading this after almost 7 really fast reads, I barely realized this was twice the size of those.

It may have helped that I spent the better part of a Sunday finishing it, but everyone does that once in awhile, right?


WHAT’S UP NEXT

I really don’t know. I’m meandering through a few different things–my reading burst of last month has definitely slowed in the face of some heavy duty job hunting. I am realizing it’s been a few months since I focused at all on non-fiction, so I will definitely be trying to fit some in here at the end of summer.

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Books, Lately [July]

pages of the book as a bird flying away
Welcome to Quick Lit! This is where I partake in Modern Mrs. Darcy’s link-up and share short (sometimes) and sweet (cavities not included) reviews of what I’ve been reading lately.

So apparently these posts become just as much about my life surrounding each book in question as about the book itself. Which may or may not be a good thing. I suppose those already reading my reviews get a better taste of who I am, but anyone who would read life-posts but doesn’t read book-posts probably isn’t going to read the latter to get the former.

If anyone reads anything here, that is.

Solution: blog more.

Obstacle: all of the excuses in the world.

Conclusion: indecision and writer’s block and I’ll probably just see you next month for another book post, kay?

THE LIBRARY AT MOUNT CHAR
Scott Hawkins

So sometimes you read something on a total whim, and sometimes you request books off NetGalley based on very, very little. And then sometimes those books are meh, and clearly you should choose more carefully.

And other times an awesome book reinforces your laziness. This is one of those.

Don’t you love when a fantasy author takes mythology you know of and goes a little crazy with it and gives you wonderful backstory and interpretation for that mythology? This *isn’t* one of those. I don’t recognize a single bit of the mythology in here (though that doesn’t mean much), and Hawkins doesn’t baby you through explaining. You’re tossed into a world of gods and ancient powers and a library with all of the knowledge of this age (as opposed to earlier ages, obviously) and pocket universes and suns that are made of a single pure emotion and lions.

So have fun and good luck figuring it out as you go.


SILVER BAY
Jojo Moyes

I don’t have a lot to say for this one. It’s earlier Jojo Moyes, and not nearly as good as her recent stuff. But judged on it’s own caliber and not against what we now know she can do with a story, it’s… still just decent. It moved sooo slooow and I wished Liza’s backstory was revealed sooner as the tragedy informed so much of her character. The slow reveal just added to the slowness. Did I mention this was a bit slow?


Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore
Robin Sloan

Time to talk book club, because book club is clearly not going to get its own post anytime soon.

So, I started a book club two months ago, because in the span of a week two different people told me if I started one, I should let them know. (Sometimes you realize the world just might be trying to tell you something.)

There were five of us (and now there are only four, so if you’re interested…) and we’ve only met twice, but it’s been pretty great. Fair warning: there’s not a *ton* to talk about with this book, especially as opposed to last month’s Peace Like a River, but I actually liked this book a lot better than last month’s. It’s a lot of fun, and goes quickly, and is all about books and secret organizations. So worth a book club that was mostly just wine and life-talk.


ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE
Anthony Doerr

Let’s just start with the confession, huh? I haven’t technically “finished” this book. I’ve read approximately 70%, and that includes the last 20%, so that counts for something!

Twas the night before morning work-book-club and all through the studio, I was frantically pulling up reviews with spoilers trying to decide if I should stay up all night finishing the book or just not go or go and pretend I’d read things I hadn’t.

The compromise: read some spoilery reviews, then read the ending. So how could I possibly have appreciated this book properly without that middle bit? Well, maybe I didn’t appreciate it “properly,” but I really did appreciate it. The massive amount of detail is exquisite and somehow didn’t even bore me–quite a feat.

I’m on hold for a renew of this to (maybe) go back and read what I missed!


WHAT’S UP NEXT

More summer reading, catching up on some eGalley’s, this month’s book club pick, and maybe finally actually reading Gaiman’s American Gods.

Summer Reading List (and beyond)

Note: WordPress glitched and I published a half-done version of this post! Hence the re-publishing. Woops.

I’ve learned from my Fall Reading List and Spring Reading List that setting myself up to read a set of pre-determined books for three months is one of the most untenable ideas I’ve ever come up with. Which, yes, probably speaks directly to some of my greater personality flaws, but there you have it. Reading plans are not my thing, and it’s also why I didn’t bother committing to any reading challenges besides a Goodreads number!

(Confession: That fall list from last year? I read two books from it. Woops. That’s what I get for not adding anything I could read on Kindle.)

That said, I do have a smattering of books I more-or-less intend to read over the next few months. Some are for book clubs, some are E-galleys, some are sequels that have just or will soon be released (that Tearling book!), and others are actually books that seem like they’d be good summer reads. (And others have just been on my book shelves for too long that it’s getting ridiculous.)

Summer Reading 2015

Obviously, if I’m averaging about 5-6 books a month, and I inevitably add in other books other than these as I go, there’s no way I’m going to read them all before September. And I’m saying ahead of time that that’s OK. In fact, it’s part of why I didn’t bother trying to cull this list back to something reasonable. These are the books I really want to read, and anyways, they do darn good together on my Goodreads list (seriously, check out that accidental color coordinating!)

I’m also getting smarter, and have learned to keep my non-fiction expectations to a minimum. Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant and How’s Your Drink? have both been on my shelves for awhile, and they’re begging to be read

I also made sure  that I wasn’t overwhelming my list with books I would expect myself to read on paper. I simply read more books and faster when I focus on Kindle books, so most of these are accessible from my library through Overdrive. (A few still aren’t available, through I’ve “recommended” them to the library, like the Jenny Han sequel and The Sea of Tranquility, so these will be dependent on availability or Kindle sales.) Only three of the fiction books (Invasion, Penumbra, and Life After Life) are ones I already own copies of, and they’re all books that I particularly want to read (or need to for book club!), so I’ll be more likely to be willing to cart them around in my purse as long as I have to, or actually read them when I’m home.

Probably the biggest challenge, though it wouldn’t be uif I read it on Kindle, is The Secret Keeper. I got it off Audible a couple of months ago and haven’t tackld it yet. Almost 20 hours of listening is seriously push my super lax (basically nonexistent) audiobook habit!

So I’m super looking forward to reading all of these (especially the second Tearling book and that new Vanessa Diffenbaugh!), but don’t be suprised if some of these turn up again this fall or something next year!

Happy Summer Reading!

 

Books, Lately [June]

pages of the book as a bird flying away
Welcome to Quick Lit! This is where I partake in Modern Mrs. Darcy’s link-up and share short (sometimes) and sweet (cavities not included) reviews of what I’ve been reading lately.

So this month we had our first book club, reading Peace Like a River, and it was great. The meeting, I mean. The book was good too, but, um, I didn’t quite finish it. (cough I read half cough). I’m thinking of a post about book club, as in I feel almost obligated to write one, so maybe that and finishing the book will have to go hand in hand!

Only four books this month besides that, but they were seriously all fantastic–and really different. Not like I read a happy clappy spiritual growth book, a bloody horror thriller, and Dosteovsky different, or Rachel Held Evans and Nancy Leigh DeMoss different, but different enough.

 

I CAPTURE THE CASTLE
Dodie Smith

I’d heard this was fantastic, a classic and a YA one at that. And I bought it, but it sat around until I lent it to Cristina on the whim that she imight like it (despite not even having read it myself.) And when she bought it back with a glowing recommendation, it did seem like it was time to pick it up myself. Which I did, but like two weeks later.

Castle  covers some six months of 17- and 18-year old life in the 1930s~ English countryside. It’s essentially a coming-of-age journal full of first love, family disfunctionality, and beautiful descriptions, and Cassandra is a great narrator. Smith captures the ebb and flow of trying to get life down into a journal, including the times when you’re saying, “Oh, I want to write about today, but I still need to write about all of last week first!” Thankfully, Cassandra is adapt at speed writing and I mostly enjoyed the pacing.


THE LANGUAGE OF FLOWERS
Vanessa Biffenbaugh

Do you have any books on your TBR lists that you know very little about, yet they’ve been on there for years? Language of Flowers was in that catagory for me.

I finally downloaded it from my library’s Overdrive one day, not really expecting much from it: maybe a lite women’s fiction or even something closer to chick lit. Definitely something rote.

So, so not the case. It’s deep, it’s a little dark (but thematically rather than plot-wise), and I know this is vague and kind of a cheat word but it’s quite compelling.

 


SAINT ANYTHING
Sarah Dessen

I’ve noticed, because how can you not, that YA contemporary (specifically with female protags) can get stereotyped as lite, fluffy, and overfocused on boy-crazy girls.

I have feminist feelings about this: the assumptions that, (1) teenage girls only care about vapid things and (2) that the things teenage girls care about are silly or irreleveant or not worth caring about. But it honestly might take a while longer and more reading before I try to put those thoughts and feelings down better than this.

Sometimes, of course, contemporary YA is lite and fluffy. (There’s a whole other conversation that could be had about the legitimacy of fluffy reading, but that’s not neccessary here.) But the stereotype is superficial at best, because these books so often deal well with everyday life–including some of the deeper, darker issues that neccessarily crop up. What I’m poorly trying to say is that I’ve found Sarah Dessen, among other YA writers, to create great, varied female protaganists who deal with some serious s—: abuse, depression, crippling social anxiety, etc. (Dreamland is a great example of this.)

What I’m also poorly trying to say is that I really, really liked this book.


THE HERO OF AGES
Sarah Addison Allen

I loved/hated finishing the three-book Mistborn epic. Loved, because it was fantastic. Hated, because it was over. But the love side gets a boost because Sanderson has books coming out this fall and next January that will complete a second triology set in this same world–just a few hundred years later.

I should read something different from him to be sure (Elantris is on my list of summer reads), but I think Sanderson might be one of my newest favorite authors.


WHAT’S UP NEXT

Theoretically, I’ll actually write a blog about the graphic I already made with my (theoretical)(possible) summer reading , but I might take advantage of the fact that the first day of summer is the 21st, instead of considering summer to be June-August!

Right now I’m reading The Library at Mount Char, an eGalley I nabbed a bit back that officially released a few days ago. It’s twisted and mythology-filled and great. And within the next week I’ll be reading All The Light We Cannot See  and Mr. Penumbra’s 24-hour Bookstore as fast as possible for book clubs!