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Monday, June 1st, 2015
11:14 pm - Snatchabook Bot Garden; Loud Romping Please
Boy + Bot, by Ame Dyckman, illustrated by Dan Yaccarino
A simple story about a little boy and a robot, elevated by its emotional warmth and visual brightness.

Curious Garden, by Peter Brown
A delicate, lovely story about Manhattan's splendid High Line Park. Will stick with me.

The Snatchabook, by Helen Docherty and Thomas Docherty
This was cute - I especially liked the illustrator's style - but it suffered by comparison with the other splendid kids' books I was reading before and after it.

Too Loud Lily, by Sofie Laguna, illustrated by Kerry Argent
SUCH a hoot. Funny and playful with a solid but not overly preachy message. The illustrations and the text enhance each other.

Romping Monsters, Stomping Monsters, by Jane Yolen, illustrated by Kelly Murphy
This was fun, but not as fun as I hoped it would be.

Yes Please, by Amy Poehler
Warm and funny and playful. Like most comedy, not every bit hits - but the bits that hit were hilarious. And there's a lot of heart in the book, even as she explicitly chooses what to share and what not to. Much more reserved than the Mulgrew autobiography I read earlier this spring.

current mood: cheerful

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Tuesday, May 19th, 2015
11:06 pm - Tiny Lady Gets Ready; Little Cat Wolves
Tiny Beautiful Things, by Cheryl Strayed (audiobook)
As I listened to this collection of advice columns, I was surprised to realize how many of them I'd read when they were published - I thought of Dear Sugar as a very occasional visit. And yet. I'd read so many of these before. I very much enjoyed hearing them in Strayed's own voice, too. Some of them were very hard to listen to. Some of them made me cry. And some of them made me feel warm and fuzzy and fortunate to be alive. And those three sets have hella Venn diagram overlap. Also when I was googling the link to the (defunct) Dear Sugar column, I found out Strayed and Steve Almond (a previous Sugar) are doing a podcast now. I am intrigued.

The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything, by Linda Williams
Cute Halloween story. Not notable among the slew of very splendid kids' books I've been reading, but it was fun. And I like that the little old lady was the hero of the tale.

Little Mouse Gets Ready, by Jeff Smith
The artwork in this is so very clean that I can picture 4 or 5 different spreads from the book as I wrote this. It didn't really feel like a Jeff Smith book (same guy that wrote Bone) until the ending. Which was great.

The Cat, by Jutta Richter
A short and odd story about a girl and a cat. Although it is mostly text, the images stayed with me more than the text did.

Wolves, by Emily Gravett
So very very much fun, this book! Exactly the kind of scary-andbut-amusing that I loved as a kid, with the attention to detail of Roald Dahl or Joan Aiken, only in a very simply-plotted picture book for kids. <3.

Open This Little Book, by Jesse Klausmeier
I was delighted by this book. As in I sat there and reread it 4 or 5 times in succession. If I were still a little kid I would've literally been clapping my hands with glee. I came close, even now. I made birdmojo read it, and he made a joke about changing it just to get a rise out of me, and even though I knew he was deliberately provoking me, I STILL got indignant. Because this is one of those books that is perfect exactly as it is. Oh, I should tell you something about it. It's a whole bunch of stories tucked inside each other, and each story is in its own progressively smaller book... though ti gets a bit more complex. And every story is both a splendid example, but also slightly mocking, a particular type of somewhat old-fashioned children's book that I read many of as a kid. So, you know, EEEEEEEEEEEEE.

current mood: fuzzy

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Saturday, May 16th, 2015
11:51 pm - Forever Silly Wombat; Enormous Snakes; Yay Zig-Zag!
Enormous Smallness, by Matthew Burgess, illustrated by Kris Di Giacomo
The narration and the artwork combine to give a really stunning portrait of e.e. cumming's life - best suited for an 8- or 9-year-old kid, I think.

Silly Sally, by Audrey Wood
A fun, slight, exuberant book for littler kids. The art is the best part.

Forever Friends, by Carin Berger
The art is the best part of this littler kids' book, sweet and odd.

Wombat Walkabout, by Carol Diggory Shields, illustrated by Sophie Blackall
An absolutely splendid and engaging prey vs. predator story, with art that matches it. <3.

Don't Sleep, There Are Snakes, by Daniel L. Everett
This was kind of dry and linguistics-professor-y by times, but you know? Guy is a linguistics professor, so that is ok. The story parts were fascinating and the linguistics parts were pretty neat too.

Copper, by Kazuo Kibuishi
I started reading this months ago! It is very very good and inextricably wound up for me as "one of my friend N's favorite books", which just made it better.

Yay, You!, by Sandra Boynton
Charming paen to taking the next step, for grown ups. Is not as good as her kids' books, I don't think.

Ah-Ha to Zig-Zag, by Maira Kalman
Idiosyncratic and beautiful alphabet book, all illustrations based on objects from the Cooper Hewitt. Like almost any Maira Kalman books, there were a few pages I was tempted to put up on the walls.

current mood: sleepy

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Saturday, April 25th, 2015
5:45 pm - Proof of Blood; Hairy Frog
Proof of Forever, by Lexa Hillyer (ARC)
I received a copy of this teen novel from the publisher, opened it eagerly, and... almost gave up on it when I realized it was written in the present tense. Oh, my friends, how I hate reading extended narratives in the present tense. Hate hate hate. But I kept going, mostly because I love time-travel premises in all their shapes and forms, and I'm really glad I did. The present tense wasn't the last thing that annoyed me about the book, but it's okay, because this book has THE STUFF - that fierce, unfakeable spark of life that makes a book worth reading, no matter what. The stuff will propel me past any number of eye rolls. I predict I will still occasionally think of this book, with a smile, years from now. And when I was a teenager I would've loved it.
(103, O39, A4)

Blood Rites, by Jim Butcher (audiobook, reread)
I'm still very much enjoying listening to these as a reread through them, and I especially liked this one because it had so much secondary character development that becomes even more important later on in the series. Plus, best of all, Mouse as a puppy!! SUCH A GOOD DOG.

By Mouse and Frog, by Deborah Freedman
This is a sweet, psychologically rich storybook with really cute illustrations.

Very Hairy Bear, by Alice Schertle, illus. by Matt Phelan
And this is a reasonably charming storybook with amazing, lovely, beautiful illustrations. Also it's impressively scientifically accurate for something written at such a low reading level.

current mood: vague

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Friday, April 24th, 2015
12:44 am - Argonauts Telling More
Thomas More, by Richard Marius
This is a very rich, very slow book that focuses mostly (but far from exclusively) on More's intellectual life. I spread reading it out over the course of a year or so because it was more interesting that way. It fully satisfied my urge to know more about Thomas More, and is neither a hagiography nor an indictment.
(100, O37)

The Telling Room, by Michael Paterniti
This story of a cheese and a cheesemaker and a village in Spain took me forever to read. But it was a lot of fun, and sometimes incredibly compelling. On the other hand, it was a hot mess. The hotmessness was part of the compellingness though? Hard to explain. Also I felt like while I *liked* the author's version of this story, there are at least half-a-dozen people IN the story whose version I would've *loved* instead... And yet, there were moments where I so delighted in this book that if the author had been in front of me, I might've hugged him.

The Argonauts, by Maggie Nelson (complimentary copy)
Sometimes when I am all excited about a book because I love the look of it and I love the description of it and I love the press that published it and I squealed when I opened up the envelope the publisher sent it to me in and the last time I read a book by this author I read it all in one day and then bought copies for several friends... I worry that the book itself cannot possibly live up to the level of my hopes for the book.

In this case I needn't have worried.

It's a deeply odd book, intellectual and earthy, crisp and messy, abstract and personal, and lots of other binary pairs and in-betweens. It sometimes made me uncomfortable, and it's not as accessible as Bluets (the book I bought lots of copies of). It's not for everyone. But it was oh so very much for me. What it reminds me of is how when I was 18 and 19 and 20, I would often spend ALL DAY reading nearly-randomly in the stacks of 3 different McGill libraries, and then I would go find one of my friends who, while they'd not usually spent all day reading, were mostly better-educated than I was, and we would bounce ideas and personal stories off of each other until we got all muddied together and tired, at which point we would do something else - fall asleep, cook dinner, get in a laundry fight, cuddle on the couch while looking at Mapplethorpe photos... the options were multiple, and splendid. Anyway, this book makes me feel like I felt on those days, and that is a most welcome thing. It's also one of only a few books I've read that talk about womanhood and motherhood in ways that make me feel more affinity for my mostly-gender, rather than less.

My only regret is that, even though I tried REALLY hard to wait to read it until I could read it all in one day, I instead gave in to temptation and read it in bits and spurts when I didn't really have much time to read. I could occasionally tell that I wasn't as gloriously immersed in the interconnections and callbacks as I would've been if I hadn't had to interrupt myself. Next time I read it, it will be on a day when I don't have to put it down.
(102, O38, A3)

current mood: sleepy

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Tuesday, April 21st, 2015
11:36 pm - Mr. Wet Daylight; Incredible Dancing Drew
Daylight, by Elizabeth Knox
Probably the strangest, knottiest vampire novel I've ever read. Full of weird not-usually-in-vampire-novels things like beatification procedures and technical cave diving jargon. I very much liked it, because I find weird inclusions make things more fun rather than less. Not as utterly brilliant as Knox's later novels, but deeply intriguing, such that I will eventually work my way through as much of her catalog as I can.

Mr. Bliss, by J. R. R. Tolkien
Odd and charming and unpredictable-in-a-predictable-way in the way that kid's books sometimes delightfully are. A minor Tolkien, kind of reminded me of Leaf by Niggle except that was quite adult and this is definitely wild and bedtime-storyish.
(95, O36)

The Big Wet Balloon, by Liniers
Sweet kid's comic book that has a lovely depiction of the relationship between two small sisters. Also there is a panel about what Saturdays are for that I would kind of like to blow up and frame because it is just that awesome.

The Trees of the Dancing Goats, by Patricia Polacco
The rhythms of the (very many) words, and the illustrations, were lively and colorful and welcoming. The story was quite predictable, but not obnoxiously so.

The Incredible Book Eating Boy, by Oliver Jeffers
OMG OMG OMG. I loved this book so much. The art is weird and interesting and the story is the best. I read it twice and then I bought two copies so that after I give one to a kid who is about to have a birthday, I still have one around in case other kids seem to need a copy. 6 year old me would have EATEN THIS BOOK. <3 <3 <3 <3.

Andrew Drew and Drew, by Barney Saltzberg
Kinda like Harold and the Purple Crayon only not as deep. I love the way the book is constructed though; the flaps work integrally to the story.

current mood: sleepy

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Wednesday, April 15th, 2015
10:49 pm - Future Darling Wereduck; Teeth Smurfs
The Future Falls, by Tanya Huff
I enjoyed the relationships in this book very much - the banter, the history, the care shown, the way everybody knows everybody and can predict (not perfectly!) each other's reactions - even though it was the least comfortable in the series for me, because it spent more time than usual pointing out the very-well-worked-out, story-integral, first-cousins-hook-up weird familial sex that happens.* In this case, it helps that, aside from the weird family stuff, all the OTHER sex stuff in this book is *refreshingly* non-conformist in ways that make me happy. And it's only first cousins, which, let's face it, I grew up in PEI, it was not unheard of for first cousins to be married there. And, it is not that big a part of the book really, said book does actually have a world-in-peril plot and a mostly unrelated main romantic storyline. Anyway!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Leaving the part I don't like to think about aside, I really enjoyed this book. The main character's struggles to find the right balance between solitude and connection, and the way music winds through her thoughts, and through the story as a whole, are especially grand. And Tanya Huff remains one of my "yes, because SHE wrote it I will read it and enjoy it, no matter how much I might not read someone else's similar book" authors.
(89, O32)

Wereduck, by Dave Atkinson
OMG this was cute and charming and uncomplicated-but-not-oversimplified and had a good message without being preachy and it was EXACTLY the middle-grade novel I needed to give my brain some fresh air after grappling with the issues just mentioned above in the previous book I read. So many happy duck butt-waggles for this one!
(90, O33)

The Smurfs Anthology, vol. 2, by Peyo
I had forgotten just how much utterly awful, sexist, annoying bullcrap is in Smurfette's origin story. The rest of the stories in this volume were really fun though.
(91, O34)

Born With Teeth, by Kate Mulgrew (ARC)
Very much a Celebrity Memoir of the old-fashioned school, except that (unlike many of those) it is funny and whip-smart and humane. Mulgrew tells some gut-wrenching stories (and some delightful ones), but always in the same easy, friendly, charming tone. As a fellow member of the Irish diaspora, it's a tone I know, and I found it particularly soothing today, because I am sick. That tone didn't keep her from some real depth and grit. Overall, a delightful, incredibly easy to read memoir that I'm so glad to have had in my hands today. (There was a paragraph, early on, that gave me a bad (albeit mercifully short) flashback, mostly because it came more or less out of nowhere. There's also a very difficult chapter about one of her own experiences that could easily trigger someone, though it didn't me. I thought the book was more than worth the discomfort, but I still feel I should mention these things. They don't stop me from reading but I always appreciate knowing them.)
(92, O35, A2)

20 h 17, rue Darling, by Bernard Emond
The sort of novel that, were the plot described to me in advance, I would give it a pass. Luckily, I read it without knowing anything about the plot because I was told that a) it was really hard to put down, b) it was set in Montreal (<3 <3 <3), c) it was really short.** Anyway, it's all three of those excellent things, and so wonderfully told that the plot is not very important to its appeal. A retired alcoholic ex-journalist doesn't get blown up and sets out to figure out why? See, that doesn't sound like my kind of book. But it was awesome.

*(I don't have issues with the particular characters being connected in this way - they all make sense as connections - I just have to LALALALA I CAN'T HEAR YOU about them being first cousins every time it comes up, which it does tend to because it's an important part of the world-building.) That said, I think it is very impressive that Huff has managed to sustain this weird context through all three books without making me give up or be unhappy with the series - usually I just skip a fun book if incest is in any way part of it, because it stops being fun for me to read. It has to reallllllllly make cultural sense, in a really-good-otherwise book, for me to run with it, and even then it still bothers me. (sadly, this criterion keeps me from reading more books than you might think. (also, cultural sense includes hapsburgs.))

** (re: short - I miss reading in French and part of the reason I don't is because, although my comprehension is more or less the same in either French or English, I read a LOT slower in French - less practice as a kid, when I read maybe 3 French books for every 10 English, if that. So long books take me soooooooooo much longer in French that I get discouraged, not being used to this normal human experience where it takes more than a day or two to finish off a novel. Hence my enthusiasm for Francophone novellas.)

current mood: burbly, apparently

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Saturday, April 11th, 2015
8:00 pm - Poseidon's Time Bucket
Have You Filled a Bucket Today?, by Carol McCloud
Ugh. I recently read a couple of kid's self-help books that really spoke to my inner kidlet, and I was hoping this one would be the same. NO. Every bit of me thought it was dumb, obvious, and annoying. Also way too narrow an implied view of what kids' experiences / families are like. Sigh.

The Time It Never Rained, by Elmer Kelton
A very powerful and moving novel about 1950s Western Texas, during the drought, and one man's experiences trying to hold his ranch together. There were parts that bothered me - the author was very realistic in his depictions of racial tensions, and the pov character held beliefs that made me uncomfortable (even though they changed over the course of the novel, and it was clear the narrator didn't agree with them). But I think that was a useful being-bothered, and the characters really stuck with me as people. Also, as libertarian arguments go, it is WAY more well-written (and also more balanced) than Ayn Rand. So there's that. I'll definitely be reading some more Kelton.

Poseidon's Steed, by Helen Scales
A whole book about seahorses!! So cool. History, myth, biology, present-day human interest in them, etc etc etc. The author is really geeked-out on the topic, and very emphatic about conservation issues, and also quite conversational and easy to understand. I wish there had been lots more shiny pictures (it's quite a small book, with only a few pages of black-and-white plates), but I still enjoyed the heck out of this one.

current mood: sick. hungry. etc.

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7:47 pm - Shadow Magazine; Fall of Rutabaga; Shambling Ghost Bernadette
Shadow Scale, by Rachel Hartman
I loved everything about this sequel to Seraphina - but you really should start with Seraphina, rather than this one. That said, I loved how the already-rich world Hartman had shown us became richer and more interesting, and a lot of the world-building in this one resulted in "OH THAT *IS* WHY THAT WORKS THAT WAY" from me. Plus the characters also evolve, in a similar fashion. Really enjoyable. I'd read a Rachel Hartman novel every week, in some alternate universe where that could be possible.

The Last Magazine, by Michael Hastings
Oogh, this was a complicated messy book. There is a lot of hilarious, uncomfortable, charming, fascinating stuff about the news magazine world as it existed 10 years ago, which delighted me - and a lot of uncomfortable, fascinating, sometimes hilarious stuff about sex and porn and being both highly sexual and highly dissociated, which felt awkward and like it didn't belong in THIS novel, even though the thematic parallels were fairly clear, and which I didn't particularly want to read, but didn't want to just skim over either. The book definitely suffered from having been pulled off a laptop after the author died. Not sure if I'll go on to read his other non-posthumous works.

The Fall of Arthur, by J. R. R. Tolkien, edited with commentaries by Christopher Tolkien
The poem itself was lovely - I do so appreciate any chance to declaim Tolkien's version of alliterative verse out loud, and that it was new to me, AND stoked my Arthur enthusiasms, were bonuses. I found that I'm a lot more willing, now, to slog through Christopher Tolkien's explications and commentaries than I was as a kid, which makes me wonder whether I'm ready to go back and dig through all the volumes of Lost Tales, etc, that I didn't much care for back then.

Rutabaga the Adventure Chef, volume 1, by Eric Colossal
This comic book about a goofy but self-confident kid who is a cooking wizard, and his combat-ready questing friends, grew on me a lot. At first it was just ok, but by the end I was grinning ear to ear! Very adorable, reminded me of the good shows on the Cartoon Network.
(81, O31)

The Shambling Guide to New York City and Ghost Train to New Orleans, by Mur Lafferty
These urban fantasy novels about a travel writer who starts working for a supernatural publishing company are occasionally awkward, but mostly they are awesome. Sensible but wonderfully over-adventurous protagonist, lots of geekery, fun plots, interesting characters that are jussst archetypal enough without becoming cliches.
(82, 88)

Where'd You Go, Bernadette?, by Maria Semple
Oh my goodness, I adore this book! It's a satire of upper-middle-class PNW families, in a way - but that isn't very important, other than because it added "Yay, Seattle setting!" to my experience of the book. What is important is the writing, which sparkles and dances and zips around like a firefly. And the heart the book possesses, without which it wouldn't glow nearly so brightly. I had to force myself to put it down, every time, and I was late coming back from lunch twice. Love love love.

current mood: still sick. also hungry.

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7:26 pm - Beginning Underground; Empress of the Sun; Waiting Rules
The Underground Girls of Kabul, by Jenny Nordberg
This is a book about the bacha poch in Afghanistan - girls who through familial decisions and/or their own inclinations pass as boys for some portion of their childhoods. REALLY interesting. I think the author would've been better served by not getting into the theoretical aspects of gender, since her treatment of it wasn't really in-depth enough for it to add to the book, but that was a minor minor minor quibble. The author brings these children, and their lives, into sharp relief, with warmth, and humor. You get a real sense that she is doing her best to get out of the way and let them share their lives. <3.

To Dance the Beginning of the World, by Steven Hayward
I don't often enjoy short stories, but when I do enjoy them, more often than not I inhale them. As I did with these.

Empress of the World, and The Rules for Hearts by Sara Ryan
I needed these books when I was about 14. There are not a lot of lesbian and/or bisexual YA protagonists, even today, and there were many fewer back then. Sadly, these weren't pubilshed until I was in my twenties. But I still very much enjoyed them now, even though I am almost 38. Not as good as Garret Freymann-Weyr's novels about teenagers figuring out who they are (few books are!), but in the same vein.
(75, 83)

Kingdom of the Sun and Moon, by Lowell Press
So I wanted to read this book because I have a fondness for anthropomorphic fiction when done well, and because I was in the mood for something relatively cute or cosy. Turns out this is MILITARY anthropomorphic fiction, whoops! Not cosy at all. But quite solid.

Wisdom in the Waiting, by Phyllis Tickle
I grew up Catholic (with frequent visits to the Anglican side of the ballpark), and reading my aunties' Guideposts magazines when we visited a few times a week, so sometimes I really want to steep myself in religious writing as a comfort mechanism. It's very important that the authors I select for this exercise write intelligently and from a place of personal insight, without getting too analytical or bossy. Tickle fit those requirements to a tee.

current mood: very very sick. bah.

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Wednesday, April 8th, 2015
11:27 pm - Summer Quoted; Bleeding Health; Accidental Tent
The Blythes Are Quoted, by L. M. Montgomery
The Road to Yesterday always felt... lacking to me, and now I know why. This is (as far as a dedicated editor can tell) how that book was meant to go, with extra stories, tons of poetry, and not-very-important-and-yet-truly-important tiny asides by all the Ingleside folks. I loved this so much. I really should go back and read all the LMM books - as a kid I reread them even more than I did Tolkien.
(67, O30)

The Everything Health Guide to Fibromyalgia, by Winnie Yu
This was not as full of useful information as the other book I read (in fact some of this information is outdated or just plain wrong - it was published in 2006). However, it has lots and lots of useful ADVICE - so much of it that I now have a project to do involving organizing all the advice I'm successfully trying, having trouble enacting but seems to help, tried and rejected, really want to try, or am vaguely intrigued by, into a giant annotated document. Inspired by all the advice in this book. Thumbs up.

The Accidental Highwayman, by Ben Tripp
This took a long time to grab me, but once I got to what felt like the heart of the work (at least 100 pages in or more), it was a delight. Wait for the circus bits to decide if you like it, she said cryptically.

The Red Tent, by Anita Diamant
In day to day life, I mostly find the "feminine mysteries" vexing, even self-alienating sometimes. However, once in a while I like to read a book that reminds me of the majesty of life and death and desire and the passage of time for long-ago women. I'm also a sucker for biblical retellings. So I ate this up.

This One Summer, by Jillian and Mariko Tamaki
So so so much love for this book. Captures the splendor and awkwardness of summer friends on the edge of puberty nigh perfectly (to the point of stirring up my own memories). Plus the art is incredible. <3 <3 <3 <3 (x 500).

Bryant & May and the Bleeding Heart, by Christopher Fowler
This one (12th in the series) was definitely better (both tidier and more compelling) than the previous few, which had been on a decline. Still not as brilliant as the first half-dozen. I particularly enjoyed the richness of the one-off secondary characters, and the plague of kittens.

current mood: sad that friendfeed is almost gone

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Friday, March 13th, 2015
12:15 pm - Devil's Sense; Unspoken Goddess; Floating Sphinx
Devil's Kiss, and Dark Goddess, by Sarwat Chadda
The first of these was really good, the second moderately good ... teen paranormals with a half-Pakistani, half-British Templar protagonist and lots of Arthurian allusions. Lots of violence too, woot woot.
(61, 66)

Making Sense of Fibromyalgia: Second Edition, by Daniel J. Wallace and Janice Brock Wallace
This was full of useful information about fibromyalgia. Useful advice, not so much (well, there was advice to be had - but mostly basic and sometimes contradictory). But the information about what is and isn't known about how the syndrome works was both substantive and plentiful.
(62, O26)

In an Unspoken Voice: How the Body Releases Trauma and Restores Goodness, by Peter A. Levine
Powerful and intricate work of mostly theory. Intense - it took me about 6 months of being in therapy before I could read it without triggering to my own trauma at certain points - but very worthwhile.
(63, O27)

Floating on a Malayan Breeze, by Sudhir Thomas Vadaketh
Despite the carefree title, this is actually a serious work of historical/ political / sociological / economical analysis of Singapore and Malaysia, interspersed with travelogue portions that make the whole thing more fun. Very interesting, best read in small chunks.

The Sphinx at Dawn: Two Stories, by Madeleine L'Engle
I found these by accident when I was tidying up! They are remnants of my spouse's evangelical Christian childhood... usually those do not result in my squealing out loud when discovered, but hey, Madeleine L'Engle is Madeleine L'Engle. These two were fables about Jesus' childhood, a genre of which I am not particular fond, but they still had L'Engle's particular spark and wit.
(65, O28)

current mood: hoping i'm not getting sick

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Saturday, March 7th, 2015
1:27 am - Last Gaudy Guts; Death Phantoms
The Last Olympian, by Rick Riordan
A satisfying conclusion that had enough looseness to leave me curious about the spinoff series. Not quite as good as the penultimate book, but endings are hard.

I Don't Hate Your Guts, by Noah Van Sciver
Quirky short comic about being depressed, working at low-wage jobs, and... unexpectedly falling in love. I dug it.
(57, O24)

Death Masks, by Jim Butcher, read by James Marsters (reread, audiobook)
This is the first one of these that I liked the content of better, for rereading it. (I often like the reread better just because Marsters is so lovely to listen to, but that's different.) Many spoileriffic things happen in this volume that are MUCH more interesting now that I know the even MORE spoileriffic things that will happen later in the series, and can see the groundwork being laid.

Gaudy Night, by Dorothy Sayers (reread)
I never run out of new things to be most interested in and thoughtful about, while rereading this, and I never *quite* manage to stay in interested-and-thoughtful mode the whole time, instead of getting totally swept up by the story at unpredictable intervals. Which is exactly how it should be.

Phantoms on the Bookshelves, by Jacques Bonnet
A light collection of bibliophilic essays that is just the right admixture of dryly academic and warmly personal. I'll be hanging on to this one, because I'm pretty sure my 50-year-old self will enjoy it every bit as much as I did.
(60, O25)

current mood: less achy? maybe?

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Sunday, March 1st, 2015
11:29 am - Grave Dingle Murder; Geography of Crumbfest; Psychotherapy of Belong
Murder on the Orient Express, by Agatha Christie, read by Dan Stevens (audiobook, reread)
Not sure whether being able to listen to Dan Stevens (Matthew of Downton Abbey) read to me was an excuse for rereading this book, or vice versa. Either way, it was a delightful experience, and good company for some heavy duty tidying.

Second Grave on the Left, by Darynda Jones
Still a huge amount of fun, still not totally sensical. The Janet Evanovich comparisons are apt, but there seems to be more there there. I think.

Dolly Dingle, Lesbian Landlady, by Monica Nolan
I get so excited when a new book in this series comes out! Each one is good, rather than great, but *huge* on the fun axis. And predictable in the good way - ringing the changes.

The True Meaning of Crumbfest, by David Weale, illustrated by Dale McNevin
Was tidying and I found my copy of this one, which I hadn't seen in a few years. Obvs, had to reread it even though it isn't Christmas. My favorite part is the illustrations, which are absolutely charming.
(52, O22)

The Geography of Bliss, by Eric Weiner
I enjoyed this, but not as much as I remember enjoying it when I first started reading it a couple of years ago. I kept having the feeling "oh, I've read all this before... funny, but not really deep". Of course, that's probably mostly because I *had* read about half the book last time!!! Also because I read an entire non-fiction memoir set in Bhutan at one point. Neither of which are this book's fault. On the upside, the narrative voice is very good company. I would happily buy this author a beverage (or three) of his choice, just so I could hear about whatever is on his mind these days.

Psychotherapy Without the Self, by Mark Epstein
I really like Mark Epstein's interdisciplinary work about Buddhism and psychology, but I didn't realize until I started reading this book that, rather than being a sustained argument written in a layperson-approachable style (like his other books that I've read), it's actually a collection of academic articles, the first half-dozen of which were written before he decided to start writing in a natural rather than a hyper-academic voice. So..... once again, not the book's fault, but I was a bit disappointed. I super-highly recommend his book Going to Pieces Without Falling Apart as a much better place to start.

Where I Belong, by Alan Doyle
This was a gift from start to finish. Good stories, smoothly told, just enough pictures, and the place he is writing about (Petty Harbour, NFLD) is enough like where I grew up to make me pleasantly homesick, while being different enough from where I grew up to be fascinating. Also I laughed out loud a lot, and said "oh, just a few more pages," a lot.
(55, O23)

current mood: determined

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1:25 am - City Voyage; Destiny World; Fire Repair Soup
Tiger's Voyage and Tiger's Destiny, by Colleen Houck
Oh, dear. These never did get very good, writing/cultural context/sense-making romance/-wise ... and yet, the various threads were compelling enough that I really did want to see how things would turn out. And was reasonably pleased by how things went.
ere (42, 49)

Ash Mistry and the City of Death, and Ash Mistry and the World of Darkness by Sarwat Chadda
These were as splendid as I expected after reading the first one. Kind of funny to read them close by the Colleen Houcks as they could easily serve as a primer for how to incorporate many of the same legends in a much less ridiculous and more appealing way. I expect I'll eventually read everything Mr. Chadda has written...
(43, 44; O19, O20)

REPAIR for Kids, by Marjorie McKinnon
I hope, fiercely, that no kids you know ever experience sexual abuse. (Though some of you already do know, and/or have been that kid.) That said, my inner kid who has some very-long-ago never-dealt-with-until-now sexual abuse to process was really helped by this book, and I think actual kids would be too. There are a very few strange statements that *really* would have pissed me off when I was actually seven (inner seven-year-old was similarly unimpressed), but, you know, that's why the book's designed to work through for a caregiver to help a kid work through, not just the kid alone. Mostly, it is great.
(45, O21)

The World of Ice and Fire, by George Martin et al
Boring in exactly the right way. Hard to explain what I mean by that! But basically there's a certain sort of hyperfocused fact-packed reference book that I really enjoy - I used to obsessively read Guinness Book of World Records when I was younger, and multiple different encyclopedias - and this is like that, only for the fictional world of The Song of Ice and Fire. I won't remember much of it, but probably the next time I reread the books, bits and pieces of this copious backstory will rise to the surface. The art was pretty tasty too, as fantasy art goes.

Stone Soup, by Jon J. Muth
A fairly straightforward retelling of one of the stories my mom most liked to read to me as a kid, which I mostly picked up because Jon J. Muth's illustrations are uniformly wonderful. Also it was interestly transposed from Eastern Europe to China. Maybe I will send this one to my mom; I think she would like it too.

current mood: ready for sleep

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Wednesday, February 11th, 2015
4:02 pm - First Summer Cabin; Cat's Canon; Jonah Blackout
First Grave on the Right, by Darynda Jones
Fun, fluffy, often hilarious paranormal romance with some interesting worldbuilding... other parts of the worldbuilding don't really make sense? But I'm willing to overlook that for the sake of the story and characters.

Summer Knight, by Jim Butcher, read by James Marsters (reread, audiobook)
This was a bit weird because I remembered the story well enough to have the right opinion of characters whose motives were secretly bad (or secretly good!), but not well enough to know why I had those opinions. So I felt very smug every time there was a big reveal. Still one of my favorites in this series.

The Graphic Canon of Children's Literature, edited by Russ Kick
A splendid, splendid collection of artistic (sometimes comic-strippy, sometimes not) interpretations of children's classics. A few of the pieces didn't really work for me, but even those I appreciated as part of the whole.

Cabin, by Lou Ureneck
This memoir of building a cabin in a rural area of Maine was quite good, but also VERY professory. So instead of what I thought I was getting - a cabin story - I got an English professor's memoir of his childhood and later family life, with bonus cabin story bits. It was well done enough that I could accept it. (But I still wanna read an ACTUAL cabin story!)

2 A.M. at The Cat's Pajamas, by Marie Helene Bertino (advance reader's copy)
This novel about a 9 year old singer, her teacher, and some other people they know used many many technical devices I hate (ESPECIALLY present tense) but it was magical and playful and self-aware and full of heart, so I didn't mind at all. And you know I have to be *really* charmed to forgive extended use of present tense.
(39, O16, A1)

The Book of Jonah, illustrated and annotated by Eyeteeth
This is a comic, illustrated version of the King James Version of the Book of Jonah! But also a midrash-esque commentary on said book. Wry and earnest at the same time. I love it muchly.
(40, O17)

Blackout, by Annie Solomon
This was a really good plane book that I almost finished on a plane, several years ago. And then didn't get around to finishing. So I started over this time and it was exactly the thing I wanted, and I didn't remember any of the parts I had already read, and it got me through a very annoying plane ride. And I'm glad I finished it ON the plane, because otherwise it might've taken me another several years to ... you see my point. It's romantic suspense with bonus amnesia and PTSD stuff.
(41, O18)

current mood: tuckered

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Saturday, January 31st, 2015
10:00 am - Savage Battle Cottage; Fox Drift
Ash Mistry and the Savage Fortress, by Sarwat Chadda
A splendid concoction - very like the Percy Jackson books, but not copies - and with Indian mythology rather than Greek. We know a 13-year-old who'll be getting this series for his birthday (but I'll finish it myself first).

The Tale of Castle Cottage, by Susan Wittig Albert
A vast improvement on the last book in this series, but not as good as the early ones. I think it stayed on the right side of the twee line, but then I am so fond of the idea of Beatrix Potter solving crimes in a village filled with animals that talk to each other like they were Beatrix Potter characters, that I have a lot of willingness for these. Also I tend to enjoy authorial intrusions if they're done with warmth.

The Battle Bunny Book, by Jon Scieszka, Mac Barnett, and Matthew Myers
A sappy kid's book altered by an imaginary kid to become an epic tale involving many battles and the kid himself being needed to save the day. Really fun.

Jane, the Fox and Me, by Fanny Britt and Isabelle Arsenault
I have a soft spot for stories set in Montreal, but even without that, this would have pleased me deeply. Dreamlike and imaginative, without eliding the pains of middle school.

Monument 14: Savage Drift, by Emmy Laybourne
An exciting and satisfying conclusion to this man-made disaster trilogy. I confess I miss the hook of the kids being stuck in the superstore, but there was more than enough drama to make up for it.

current mood: relaxed

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Tuesday, January 27th, 2015
11:48 pm - Rabbit's Man; Tiger's Life
Little Grey Rabbit's Christmas, by Alison Uttley, illustrated by Margaret Tempest (reread)
One of my absolute favorites, which I reread because I picked it up while I was tidying and cataloguing the children's book section of my home library, and then couldn't put it down until I'd read it again.
(26, O14)

Man Alive, by Thomas Page McBee
This was very very difficult for me to read, but it was worth it. Clean and fierce and honest, frequently ambivalent, transformative.

Life, Reinvented, by Erin Carpenter
A book by a therapist, written to help people who've experienced sexual trauma. Straightforward, basic. A good starting point, not too overwhelming despite having survivors' stories in it.
(28, O15)

Tiger's Quest, by Colleen Houck
Oh, dear. The writing improved compared to book 1. The weird, nearly squicky cultural stuff and the weird, nearly squicky approach to romance got worse. The infodumping was equally omnipresent. And yet, I still found it quite compelling and will be reading the 3rd one as soon as I get through the library hold queue. Maybe this is how (some) people feel about The DaVinci Code.

current mood: a bit nervous

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Sunday, January 25th, 2015
1:59 am - Happy Pool
How to Be Happy, by Eleanor Davis
This graphic-novel-composed-of-short-stories was dreamlike, vivid, and so well-done that I really liked it even though it's in a style I don't usually find compelling.

Dreamer's Pool, by Juliet Marillier
Very relaxing read that made me giggle and fret. Marillier's voices are like old friends for me at this point, even the ones I haven't met before.

current mood: tuckered

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Friday, January 23rd, 2015
1:13 am - Overcoming Trauma Memoirs
Overcoming Shock, by Diane Zimberoff and David Hartman
There was a lot of thoughtful and meaningful stuff in this book. However, if you are like me, and you've studied developmental biology in college, and you try to read it, you will end up exclaiming to your loved one, "They believe in SPERM shock! And EGG shock! And IMPLANTATION shock! And they are not metaphors for what actually happens!!!!!!!!!! They think the **EMOTIONAL EXPERIENCES*** of the sperm and the egg and the fertilized egg's reaction to its good or bad reception by the uterine wall HAVE LASTING RESONANCE IN YOUR LIFE!!! And they think you can hypnotize someone back to the TINY EMBRYO STAGE AND THEY WILL REMEMBER THINGS NOT IMAGINATIVELY BUT BECAUSE THEY REMEMBER THEM!!!" and the (well-intentioned, natural-result-of-the-slippery-slope-of-needing-to-believe-in-your-patients, probably-often-healing) copious pseudoscience WILL BREAK YOUR BRAIN. But at least you will enjoy the incredulous faces your loved one makes as they are hearing all this. And also, the meaningful helpful parts of this book were moving enough that I kept reading it even though they kept discussing all the forementioned. Which is pretty dang impressive, really. But still left me mostly with the o.O when all was said and done.
(21, O12)

Healing Developmental Trauma, by Laurence Heller and Aline LaPierre
This one is much more sound scientifically (not 100 percent, but reasonable-person-percent - I'm not 100 percent scientific either :D), but kind of dry and weirdly structured and overly analytical. There were some really interesting, emotionally compelling parts which I thought were the bomb. And to some degree my complaints are my own fault for reading books meant for therapists rather than for laypersons.
(22, O13)

Memoirs, by Lord John Hervey
Such gossip! So snarky! Wow. Also eloquent and insightful and full of rhetorical snares that actually feel snaggy ("I know this isn't proof of his argument but I am adopting his conclusions despite myself"). Hervey was in the court of Georges I and II, writing extensively about his interactions with queens and kings and princes and princess and Sir Robert Walpole. I found it very nifty indeed, although 18th century diction isn't exactly the fastest read in the world. Also I felt a bit guilty for enjoying some of Hervey's skewerings SO very much, even though all the people are centuries dead. The French bits were extra awesome because I miss reading in French - but they are tiny, so I think if you don't read French you wouldn't feel perturbed by them.

current mood: tuckered

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