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Sunday, July 6th, 2014
8:16 pm - Emperor's Man Cats; Hidden Return Empress; Full Dead Messenger Storm
Cats Sleep Anywhere, by Eleanor Farjeon, illustrated by Anne Mortimer (reread)
So many paintings of kitties sleeping, so adorable.

One Man Guy, by Michael Barakiva (advance reading copy)
This was awkward and clumsy and I often felt lectured - I was pretty disappointed because, you know, how many books about Armenian kids discovering they are really into someone of the same sex are there? This is the only one I know of, and I wanted it to be AMAZING, and it just wasn't quite all that. And yet, I slowly fell in love with the story as I became more and more fond of the main character, his friend, and his boyfriend. By the end I was really into it.
(121, A2, O28)

The Emperor's Edge, by Lindsey Buroker (nook)
Straightforward steampunk adventure with a fun side of spy/assassin stuff.

Fairest, vol. 2: The Hidden Kingdom, by Bill Willingham, Lauren Beukes et al; Fairest, vol. 3: The Return of the Maharaja, by Bill Willingham, Sean E. Williams et al
I liked the 2nd volume ever so much more than the 3rd (which was still a bit of alright) and I cannot decide whether the difference is that Lauren Beukes is far more to my taste as a writer than Sean E. Williams is, or whether it's that volume 2 really was about THE FEMALE CHARACTERS and volume 3, while purporting to have a heroine, was really all about Prince Charming. (Plus, dude, the "cad becomes an upright man due to the power of twoo wuv" plot? Way done. I'm oversimplifying a tiny bit, but not much. Too bad, because the side stuff was cool.) Either way, this series is still my favorite.
(123, 124)

Empress, by Karen Miller
OMG SO INTERMINABLE. But also so delicious. I felt overstuffed. Also I decided to not borrow or buy any more first books in fiction series (amazing most-beloved-already authors exempted as I see fit) until I catch up on them. Because this was one too many "wait, what about the rest of it???"s for me. I really want to read the rest of the trilogy, but decidedly NOT more than I want to read the rest of many other trilogies... and quartets... and 14-book monsters....

I Am the Messenger, by Markus Zusak
This was so good that it took me until half way through the book to notice that it was written in present tense and even then I didn't mind. I wasn't quite satisfied with the ending but the rest of the book is, well, aces. (heh, couldn't resist.)

Full Contact: The Collection, by Daniel Kucan
I found many things about the narrator of this book frustrating, andbut I had to tear myself away every time I stopped reading it. Full of heart, full of insight, full of people whaling on each other, and the whole is definitely greater than the sum of the parts.
(127, A3)

Dead Neon, edited by Todd James Pierce and Jarret Keene
Speculative fiction about Las Vegas. It says "near-future" on the wrapper, but there was at least one far-future story, and a couple that felt like contemporary horror. Some stories were meh, some were "OMG THAT WAS SO GOOD I NEED TO ILL THE AUTHOR'S SELF-PUBLISHED BOOK AND HOPE UNLV LETS ME HAVE IT." Ok, that really only happened with one story, but there were at least 2 others that were just as delicious.

Ceres Storm, by David Herter
Science fiction, but heavy on the lyricism and introversion. An odd, poetic, fantastical book that I didn't entirely understand, but which I loved. And a surprisingly quick read.

current mood: tired

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Monday, June 23rd, 2014
11:14 pm - Favorite Slayers Handbook
Lay the Favorite, by Beth Raymer
I really liked this book. Partly because it's a very well-told story, but also because a lot of it takes place in Vegas at the beginning of the 2000s, which is the time I used to visit it the most, because one of our best friends lived there. I kept expecting him to turn up in one of her stories :D. I liked it so much I'm now watching the movie, which is mostly not nearly as good except that her youth and goofiness and naivete comes across more clearly than it did in the book. And also, you know, Bruce Willis. I <3 Bruce Willis.

The Diary of Mattie Spencer, by Sandra Dallas
This was a very compelling read, hard to put down, but it rang a bit hollow for me - I kept having the experience I'm used to from reading REAL diaries and travelogues, thinking "OOH, I know where that is, neat to read about it in the past.... ohwait. Right. Novel." And also I felt that a lot of the sad things near the end of the book were clearly telegraphed at the beginning, to the point where I just sort of spent the whole book in dread of their eventual unveiling. And yet, I did like it. Just not as much as I hoped I might.

Handbook for Dragon Slayers, by Merrie Haskell
I started out a little wary of this one - it's hard to read books of people you already know(ish) and think highly of - but I LOVED IT. The set-up was maybe a bit slow, but not in a bad way, just in a not-quite-revealing-how-incredibly-in-love-with-the-book I would soon become. And as for the meat of the book, well! I loved the characters. I liked their flaws. I *really* appreciated that the heroine has a bum leg, given my own sometimes-bum-leg - it was amazing to read a tween adventure story that articulated that so well. It articulated A LOT of stuff really well. So well that I am singularly NOT articulate, trying to describe it. Reduced to arm-flapping-so-fun-best-middle-grade-novel-I've-read-in-ages expostulations, I am! Also I am bolstered.

current mood: thoughtful

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Saturday, June 21st, 2014
8:37 pm - Wrong Black Brain; Bad Kimmie66 Re-Gifters
Brain Camp, by Susan Kim, Faith Erin Hicks, et al
This was cute and cheerfully creepy. Love Faith Erin Hicks' style, will read just about any comic she draws.

The Wrong Hill to Die On, by Donis Casey
Not my favorite of this series. A bit too fragmented and earnest, but I still enjoyed it. It was very comforting to spend time with the lovable and upright protagonists.

The Black Hawk, by Joanna Bourne
Someone back in February told me I would like this and I believed them well enough that I sent myself an email, but I don't remember anything else about who it was or why they thought I would like it. It was a bit too Template Historical Romance for me at times, but it was also a cracking good Scarlet-Pimpernel-style adventure with a compelling heroine.

Re-Gifters by Mike Carey et al, and Kimmie66 by Aaron Alexovitch
I think that is all the Minx books? manintheboat is right that Kimmie66 was the best one, it had a hookiness and a depth that the others lacked and reminded me a bit of Neal Stephenson. Re-Gifters was fun but fairly by-the-numbers.
(114, 115)

Bad Kitty, by Michelle Jaffe
This was hilarious and charming and very very (very very) fluffy in a self-aware way. Kind of like The Spellman Files meets Gossip Girl.

current mood: sick

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Sunday, June 15th, 2014
1:26 pm - Minx Click Game; Short Giver Gathering Son Messenger; Expat Novel Lightning Crushes
Clubbing, by Andi Watson et al; The Plain Janes, by Cecil Castellucci et al; Confessions of a Blabbermouth, by Mike and Louise Carey et al; Janes in Love, by Cecil Castellucci et al; The New York Four, by Brian Wood et al; Water Baby, by Ross Campbell et al; Good as Lily, by Derek Kirk Kim et al; Token, by Alisa Kwitney et al; Emiko Superstar, by Mariko Tamaki et al; Burnout, by Rebecca Donner et al
I went on a bit of a tear. These are almost all the comics put out by Minx books .... muchly the same, aimed at teenage girls and quite melodramatic and relationship-focused. For the most part I got exactly what I was looking for. Be wary of Confessions of a Blabbermouth, it makes one kid think another kid is undergoing something incredibly awful as a red herring for only undergoing something quite awful. My favorite was Water Baby, mainly but not only because the protagonist reminded me of someone; and next favorites were Token and Emiko Superstar.
(92, 93, 95, 97, 99, 100, 106, 107)

Skin Game, by Jim Butcher
NOMNOMNOMATEIMEANREADALLTHEJIMBUTCHERNOMNOMNOM. Fascinating revelations and exciting plots continue apace.

Click: When We Knew We Were Feminists, edited by Courtney E. Martin and J. Courtney Sullivan
Essay collections like this one fall into ... "grape reading" territory for me. Not *popcorn* reading exactly, but I also don't usually remember much about them other than recognizing the names of authors I particularly liked when they come up later. I don't remember which ones I liked best, but I will later :). Overall, I prefer book-length visits with one or two authorial voices, in terms of connecting with what I read - but sometimes I just want to skip along the surface of a book rather than diving into it. Lots of good essays in here, so it made good grape reading.

Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher, by Timothy Egan
This biography of Edward S. Curtis surprised me with how much I liked it. I feel the difficulties of being his wife were given short shrift in favor of pointing out how hard she made it on him.... but that was a small (and sadly predictable) flaw in the gripping biography of an impressively open-hearted, adventurous, and maniacally dedicated man. And, central-casting of his wife aside, I really appreciated how Egan took the time to talk about people OTHER than Curtis and explore their stories as well.

The Giver (reread), Gathering Blue, Messenger, and Son, by Lois Lowry
I remembered how much I loved The Giver as a young teenager (I think I read it three times?) but not really anything about it. And I'd never read the sequels. And I was super-excited that I will be listening to Lowry speak soon. So I decided to reread the book and then read all the sequels. I expected to enjoy them; I did not quite expect them to be so unputdownable that I tore through all four of them in two days. I was a little crotchety about the ending of Messenger, but given what Lowry was going through herself at the time, I can see why she ended the book the way she did. Taken as one work, these four books are astoundingly good.
(101, 102, 103, 104)

The Novel Cure, by Ella Berthoud
Books about books are the most comforting books for me, although I would get frustrated quickly if that were all I read. This one does a very good job of walking the line between earnest and tongue-in-cheek, and where I knew the books under discussion, I agreed more often than I disagreed. And lots and lots of the books I hadn't read sounded like they would be just my cup of tea.

The Lightning Thief, by Rick Riordan
Checked this out because it was part of a "books about Las Vegas" set of recommendations. It is only very slightly about Las Vegas. Also occasionally eye-rollingly obvious that the author himself is a middle-class white guy with the privileges pertaining thereto. That said, I've been meaning to read it for ages and it was really fun. Glad to know there are lots and lots more to read.

100 Crushes, by Elisha Lim
Splendid splendid splendid comic / set of illustrated musings and interviews. So captivating!

Expat, edited by Christina Henry de Tessan
Well, for the most part the comments above about Click! apply to this book too - a collection of women's essays about living as an expatriate. I am an expatriate of nearly sixteen years myself, so these ones did cut a little closer to home... but I reckon in a few days I'll have forgotten them, and will only be reminded when when something flashes off a spark of recognition.

current mood: ambivalent

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Saturday, June 7th, 2014
11:51 am - Deep Living American Batman Circles
Batman: Earth One, by Geoff Johns et al
A more "realistic" retelling of the Batman story. Oddly moving.
(86, O26)

Living with Shakespeare, edited by Susannah Carson
Lots and lots and lots of essays about the importance of Shakespeare in individual lives, by actors and writers and comic book artists and some other people. Some of them were brilliant (here's lookin' at you, James Earl Jones), a few were a bit tedious, but overall it was a satisfying assortment.

Circles of Time, by Phillip Rock
Still with the melodrama, still with the awesome, still with the "wow, Downton Abbey owes a LOT to this series."

American Vampire, vol. 1, by Scott Snyder, Rafael Albuquerque, and Steven King
Intriguing, complicated, pretty and gory and archetypal. I liked the alternating timelines.
(90, O27)

Skin Deep, vol. 1: Orientations, by Kory Bing
Friendly, playful, imaginative - I'm hooked on the free webcomic now, but I prefer book format for deciding whether I like a comic or not...

current mood: a bit sore

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11:30 am - New Dead Gulp; Shayla's Interestings
Three Parts Dead, by Max Gladstone
It took me a while to get into this one, but I really dug on the complicated theology and necromancers-as-lawyers, and caring about the characters snuck up on me. The plot heated up nicely too.

Gulp!, by Mary Roach
This was as good as her books always are, although I wish she had spent more time on the small intestine and less time on poop. I know that sounds ridiculous, but seriously? The butt end of the digestive track got way too much attention.

New Watch, by Sergei Lukyanenko
Man, I freaking love this series. And I especially love how the world-building gets richer and deeper as it develops, without losing the intimacy of the first books.

The Interestings, by Meg Wolitzer
I really enjoyed almost all of this book - it was more "Judy Blume for grownups" than I've found Judy Blume's adult books to be. Though I suspect the author would not appreciate the comparison, I mean it as a compliment. Kinda fizzled out at the end though - I ended up rereading the ending in case I'd missed something; I hadn't. But the other several hundred pages were tops.

Shayla's Double Brown Baby Blues, by Lori Aurelia Williams
This book more than fulfilled the promise of its prequel. The plot was less compelling, but the writing was a lot more developed. I'm glad the author's got more for me to read.

current mood: tired

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7:15 am - Winter Philosopher's Thief; Ultimate Voyage of Cress; Create Spider-Man
Winter Well, edited by Kay T. Holt (nook)
Four stories united only by their protagonists being "older" women (and older spans a very broad range). I really enjoyed all four of them, especially the one about the expat living on another world and her relationship with the community she lived in.
(73, O19)

The Philosopher's Pupil, by Iris Murdoch
It took me a long time to tackle this one (I think the first time I tried was in 2012), because one of the main characters is too much like someone in real life that upsets me. However, I'm glad I read it, finally - her novels aren't very much like real life in general (yes, I see the contradiction with my first sentence), but they soothe and excite me at the same time, much like Robertson Davies does. This is a rare and splendid thing.
(74, O20)

Lhind the Thief, by Sherwood Smith (nook)
This was just *fun*. The author (hi, Sherwood!) says she kitchen-sinked in many of her favorite fun fantasy elements, and it does have a bit of a kitchen sink feeling, but I *like* all those things, so it worked out well for me. And it's funny how much just having a female gender-hiding-sometimes protagonist can make a classic quest plot feel relatively fresh (even though lots of quest fantasy has girl protagonists these days). Sherwood Smith has become one of the authors I hoard unread and dole out to myself in small doses, although I may have a binge later this summer...
(75, O21)

The Voyage of the Beagle, by Charles Darwin (nook)
Glad to have finally read this. As is often the case with travel and science books from this time, it is a mishmash of astonishingly modern ideas, astonishingly offensive ideas, gripping narrative, and tiresome digressions.
(76, O22)

Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man, vols. 2 and 3, by Brian Michael Bendis et al
I had forgotten we had these! Then I was cleaning up and I found them. The perfect break from cleaning up.
(77, 78, O23, O24)

Cress, by Marissa Meyer
This series still has the power to invoke a major case of page-turning-itis. I had originally thought it was a trilogy? So I had that whole noooooooo, I still don't know what happens thing going on. But otherwise it was a lot of fun. Twisty but easy to read.

Things You Can Create, edited by Harvey Stanbrough (nook)
Very very many mostly quite short stories in honor of Jack Williamson. I read this because two people I know had stories in it, and they were my favorite stories - but there were some other good ones too.
(80, O25)

current mood: tuckered

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Friday, May 23rd, 2014
8:05 pm - Real
My Real Children, by Jo Walton
It seems possible that a day will come when a new novel by Jo Walton (papersky) arrives in the mail, and I neither open it that night nor finish it before bedtime. And then I don't skip it ahead of all the other books in my reviewing queue either. But yesterday was not that day. And my current reviewing queue is not that reviewing queue.

The book was, obvs., splendid. Absorbing and thoughtful. Very roomy for a short novel, and, oddly enough for an experimental-ish novel, somehow both solid and comforting (even though it sometimes made me cry). There are a lot of books out there which don't have any people like me in them, and don't tell stories that connect to my experience of life; this is the opposite of those.

current mood: sleepy! i stayed up way too late reading this book

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Thursday, May 15th, 2014
7:19 am - Passing Tropic Queens; Retribution Pentimento Cottage
The Passing Bells, by Phillip Rock
If Downton Abbey doesn't give this book a shout-out somewhere, it ought to. Also, this is a very good historical written in the late 70s, whose occasional soap opera tendencies are more than counterbalanced by the appealing characters, compelling plots, and tasty descriptions. (Much like the aforementioned TV show!) Already have the sequel on my shelf waiting for me.

Rat Queens, Vol. 1: Sass & Sorcery, by Kurtis J. Wiebe
OMG fun!!!!!!!! This is a comic set in a D&D-made-real type of fantasy universe, and all the main characters are female. Also, funny. So many people are waiting to borrow it from me that I made a joke about putting a router slip on the thing.

The Tropic of Serpents, by Marie Brennan
These books are so good at imitating the thing they are imitating (broadly, 19th century naturalist memoirs) that they have some of the same flaws! Ie, in this case, slow bits where not a lot happens and you get bogged down in the naturalist's professional politics. But it was kind of entertaining to get bogged down considering! And the rest of the book was delightful.

Paw Prints at Owl Cottage, by Denis O'Connor
An older retired professor talks about his personable Maine Coon cats. Exactly the book I needed that day; I read it all at once.

Pentimento, by Lillian Hellman
Fragmented, self-absorbed, and utterly compelling. So glad I finally got around to reading this.
(71, O18)

Retribution Falls, by Chris Wooding
It took me a while to get into this one. Once the characters made some connections to each other, it was a lot more fun. Most of the reviews I read namechecked Firefly, and they are not wrong, although these characters are not quite as awesome - but the plots are better!

current mood: uneager to get up

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Wednesday, May 14th, 2014
12:14 am - False Kambia Incal; Unlikely Father Infographics; ACB with Penelopiad
The Incal: The Epic Journey, by Alejandro Jodorowsky, Moebius, et al
This was just as gloriously weird as the first one but not quite as compelling. Which means the irritating bits were also louder. Still it was fun.

Forty-One False Starts, by Janet Malcolm
Malcolm is such an excellent writer that she could write about just about anything and I would enjoy it. This collection being about mostly about arts and letters was just icing on the cake.

When Kambia Elaine Flew in from Neptune, by Lori Aurelia Williams
This was stressful to read (personal issues for me with things that happened), but moving, thoughtful, and well-characterized as well. I'll definitely be reading the sequel.

Best American Infographics 2013, edited by Gareth Cook
The best of these were SO NIFTY to look at, but a lot of them made me say "really??? this is the best that's out there???" It made me feel like a crotchety oldster.

The Complete Father Brown, by G.K. Chesterton
Reading 19th or early 20th-century classics is sometimes an exercise for me in remembering that even kind, decent, perceptive, insightful people in those times were often also sexist, racist, classist, homophobic jerks. Sometimes that happens just once or twice in such a book, and sometimes, like this time, it happens over and over. Sigh. I really loved some of these stories, and I really found some of them off-putting. Sometimes the same stories.
(63, O16)

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, by Rachel Joyce
This was quite fun and full of lovely or heartwarming bits. Fair warning, I read it because I thought it would be light and cheery when I was recovering from news of someone's suicide and you know what? IT IS A BAD CHOICE FOR THAT. But it was fun.

The Penelopiad, by Margaret Atwood
Rich and layered but also spare and elegant. <3.
(65, O17)

The ACB with Honora Lee, by Kate De Goldi
A charming, quirky kids' story with diverse characters and strong relationships. I dug it.

current mood: sleepy

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Sunday, May 11th, 2014
9:57 pm - Atchison Code; Hay People; Fix the Lane
The Magus of Hay, by Phil Rickman
This was good. One of the ones of this series I really like, rather than just mostly like. BUT I MISS JANE.

Atchison Blue, by Judith Valente
A lovely, reflective memoir of one person's interactions over time with a community of nuns. Spare but warm.

The Book of Other People, edited by Zadie Smith
Character sketch stories! Some wonderful, some kinda meh. The comics were my favorite.

Code Name: Verity by Elizabeth Wein
So I absolutely adored the first part of this book, despite the torture scenes (the narrator for the first half is brilliant) - but the second half of it threw me off because the narrator of that part Did Not Sound British (she sounded American, actively - something about the rhythms; it wasn't just that the slang was all Americanized, I'm used to that part). So that kind of bothered me. But it was okay because the book was SO GOOD that I had to finish it anyway, which if you know how easily distracted I am by this sort of thing, well. It is a really good book! With one frustrating flaw.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane, by Neil Gaiman
The most Neil Gaimanest book of all. Which made me very happy.

In a Fix, by Linda Grimes
Paranormal chick lit fluff with EXACTLY the right plot / cotton candy balance. Also an intriguing premise. I dug it. Just put the sequel on hold at the library.

current mood: self-indulgent

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Tuesday, March 18th, 2014
6:58 pm - Super Equis; Night Way of the Blood Finch
Dos Equis, by Anthony Bidulka
Warm, clever, self-aware indulgent fun. Endearing characters, and an intriguing plot. I'm always bummed when I get fully caught up on this series.

Finch, by Jeff VanderMeer
Not as perfectly my sort of book as Shriek: An Afterword was, and a bit too slipstreamy for me sometimes. Still delightful and twisty and as full of the tang of words as a book can be.

Super Graphic, by Tim Leong
SO FUN. Wide-ranging, self-aware, sometimes very funny, always very shiny.

The Way of the Fight, by Georges St-Pierre
If you like MMA, you are probably already planning to read this book, and you will probably be as charmed by it as I was. If not, well, I wouldn't start by reading this. My favorite MMA book (so far) is A Fighter's Heart, by Sam Sheridan, so maybe try that one.

Days of Blood and Starlight, by Laini Taylor
I spent most of this book feeling really good about it WHILE I was reading it, and pretty skeptical about it when I wasn't reading it... but then the ending was totally awesome and satisfying and now I can't wait for the next one.

Night Broken, by Patricia Briggs
Another delightful, absorbing, escapist series entry. (As an aside, expect to see a lot of these kinds of books as I slog my way through the rest of the semester.) (As another aside, Stefan is really growing on me. What is it about honorable non-sparkly vampires?)

(Not-confidential to N: I AM NOW CAUGHT UP ON POSTING. But I'm also most of the way through several different books - so if you're ahead of the pace car, don't slow down!)

current mood: sad

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Sunday, March 16th, 2014
11:11 pm - Redefining Epic 10 PM Science Essays
The 10 PM Question, by Kate De Goldi
This book is sweet, and also funny. I was a bit wary of the loud PROBLEM NOVEL stamp set up by the first couple of chapters, but it stayed well on the side of "let's tell EVERYONE's story, not just those of the people without weird stuff going on" and far away from the "life sucks" porn.

Best American Science and Nature Writing 2013, edited by Tim Folger and Siddhartha Mukherjee
SO MUCH NEATO STUFF. And limited polemic. I mean, there was some polemic, but embedded in excellent essays, not just page after page of peroration like some of the pieces that found their way into earlier volumes. I think this may be my favorite in this series...

The Incal: The Epic Conspiracy, by Alejandro Jodorowsky and Moebius
This is very weird. I almost stopped reading it in the first 10 pages. But I'm glad I didn't because I really got into it after about 30. Like a mashup of Promethea and bande dessinées, only weirder.

Redefining Realness, by Janet Mock
An excellent, pointed memoir. The voice is accessible and intelligent, the story gripping. Highly recommended.

Best American Essays 2013, edited by Robert Atwan and Cheryl Strayed
This collection was far more all-one-thing than many of those in previous years, but I also liked almost every essay in there, which is not the case every year. So, good show, Cheryl Strayed; and keep up the good work, Robert Atwan.

current mood: sleepy

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Wednesday, March 5th, 2014
11:41 am - Island Whipping Moon; Flight of Humans at War
High Moon vol. 1, by David Gallaher and Steve Ellis
This grew on me a lot. I'm really starting to trust "Weird West" stuff - if I stick with it, I almost always get into it.
(36, O13)

Island, by Jason Chin
soooooo pretty. less impressed with the text (it's the biology critic in me), but the art was so good I didn't mind much.

Whipping Girl, by Julia Serano
This memoir / polemic / analysis was mostly very interesting and occasionally challenging / provocative.

A Flight of Angels, by Rebecca Guay et al
I thought I was only reading this for the art (<3 Rebecca Guay), but it turned out that I enjoyed the stories too. Very Sandman-esque.
(39, O14)

Humans of New York, by Brandon Stanton
I love love this website and I loved loved loved this book. So nice to just curl up and flip pages; it reminded me of doing similar things with a photo book called The Human Body many moons ago.
(40, O15)

Wizards at War, by Diane Duane, read by Christina Moore (audiobook)
I continue to really enjoy this series; this one occasionally felt a little like she was trying to stuff in EVERYTHING possible (in general, and from previous books), but the meat of the story was excellent. Reminded me a bit of T.H. White and Octavia Butler... not stylistically, just in the underlying assumptions (and challenges to those assumptions).

current mood: thoughtful

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Friday, February 28th, 2014
3:13 am - Punk Orchardist Librarians; A Matter of Heroines; Beyond the Cock
Punk Rock Jesus, by Sean Murphy
I picked this up because I liked Joe the Barbarian so much. Had trouble putting it down, generally a good sign with comics. Reminded me a bit of Hitman and Sin City.

The Orchardist, by Amanda Coplin
This was really hard for me to read for some family-history-related reasons. The weirdest part is that I kept avoiding reading it without knowing why, and then once I stopped dissociating and said, 'OH, DUH,' I was a lot more ok with reading it. Anyway, it's a good book, engrossing, but potentially upsetting for those of us with rough childhoods. :/

How to Teach: A Practical Guide for Librarians, by Beverly E. Crane
Parts of this were super-useful but most of it was dry and non-inspiring.

A Matter of Life, by Jeffrey Brown
I really enjoyed these. Little slice-of-life strips that were just whimsical enough and just cynical / self-conscious enough. Plus sometimes they were funny.

Heroines, by Kate Zambreno
This was really good in the personal / laser-focused parts and really annoying in the generalize-y parts. I kept thinking I was going to stop reading it, but then the former parts won me over. I ended up enthralled.

Cock, by Mike Bartlett
Funny, sometimes heartbreaking, quick read of a play. Whenever I read plays, I think "I should read more plays!" Maybe one of these days I actually will.

Beyond the Wall, edited by James Lowder (complimentary copy)
This was a really fun collection of essays. Also, it unexpectedly had a Ned Vizzini essay in it, which I really liked, in the bittersweet sort of way where you think "Yup. I really really like this author," and they are dead and they will never write more stuff.
(35, A1, O12, E8)

current mood: keyed up

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Tuesday, February 25th, 2014
9:44 am - Barefoot Family Court; Dark Invisible Zen Coreyography
Fright Court, by Mindy Klasky
My favorite of her books so far. Funny, suspenseful, romantic, and a very very smooth read. Plus I liked the worldbuilding. Doesn't hurt that I have a secret, rarely-exercised love for the appurtenances of courts, going back to watching Night Court as a kid.
(22, O7, E4)

Barefoot Pirate, by Sherwood Smith
A romp! Delightful and cosy to read. If I were reading Sherwood's middle-grade-ish novels as a kid myself, I would like them even more.
(23, O8, E5)

Fierce Family, edited by Bart R. Leib
I liked a notably greater percentage of these stories than is usually the case in an SFF anthology. Which is good since it is part of my Crossed Genres Kickstarter rewards and I have about a jillion more of their publications to read for the same reasons :D.
(24, O9, E6)

Dark Magicks, by Katherine Kerr
I enjoyed these, good airplane reading. I really have to get around to reading some of her more popular works (like the novels I already own) one day.
(25, O10, E7)

Coreyography, by Corey Feldman
I expected to enjoy this but I didn't expect to not be able to put it down. I finished the book really feeling good about the author and my childhood crush on him. Then I spent some time with Google and now I feel kinda skeeved out? Celebrities, man.

The Invisible Code, by Christopher Fowler
Not one of my favorites in this series (those mostly came earlier on). But I really enjoyed both the occult-weirdness-of-the-week and some of the character-banter scenes.... mostly the ones with Bryant in.

Zen of Wonder, by Frank Beddor et al
I continue to find the plots of these somewhat confusing and the artwork incredibly nifty. Plus I have a soft spot for popularizations of zen, which this also is.
(28, O11)

current mood: waking up

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Wednesday, February 19th, 2014
9:51 pm - Light Bright Dare; King Dragon Loves Errantry
I Dare Me, by Luann Cahn
This book was not the sort of thing I usually read, but it was fun. More for the infectious enthusiasm and quirkiness than for the self-helpy bits.

Down the Bright Way, by Robert Reed
Old-school pessimistic scifi. Male-gazey, but I really liked it, which is rare for male-gazey things. I think because the male gaze felt so *particular* - the gaze of that one particular person who happened to be male, rather than something more assumed-to-be-universal.
(16, O2)

Travel Light, by Naomi Mitchison
This was charming, and odd, and I think if I'd read it as a child, it would be one of my childhood favorites. Did not quite have that power, retroactively.
(17, E1)

Diary of a Dragon, by Tad Williams
Entertaining fluff. I liked the illustrations especially.
(18, O3, E2)

Errantry, by Elizabeth Hand
For some reason I kept restarting this book, over a period of years, so the first couple of stories felt like old friends and the last few were still new and strange. Not my favorite Hand, but solidly in the middle of her delicious oeuvre.
(19, O4)

Anything That Loves, edited by Charles "Zan" Christensen
GBLTQetc comix, focused on the BTQetc. I enjoyed them, some more than others. The overall effect of their being a whole great book of them was even more enjoyable than any particular comic, for me.
(20, O5)

King Dog: A Screenplay, by Ursula K. Le Guin
The was decidedly odd, and philosophical, and, I mean, if Le Guin wrote the phonebook it would be elegant and precise and impossible to put down. <3.
(21, O6, E3)

current mood: weirded out by the weather

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Friday, January 17th, 2014
8:10 pm - Owls Circle Tracks; Journey with Education; Pretty Library
Tracks and Shadows: Field Biology as Art, by Harry Greene
This was lovely - easy to read but deeply geeked out. Only the last section directly addresses the subtitle, but the entire work exemplifies it.

The Circle, by Dave Eggers
I ate this in one enormous serving. Yes, yes, it has flaws. But a lot of its critics don't seem very familiar with the conventions of satire or the nuances of the text. Definitely worth my time.

Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls, by David Sedaris
This was a mixed bag, and less than I expect from Sedaris - who when he is on is one of my most favorites. Most of the pieces I liked were toward the end of the book.

Stuck in the Middle with You, by Jennifer Finney Boylan
Boylan is one of the most readable, intriguing writers I haven't read enough of. Trying to remedy that a bit :).

My Education, by Susan Choi
This was overwhelming and strained and often very very good. Some sentences so apt I had to reread three or four times before I could let them go. Often very funny, often perfectly observed. I enjoyed this infinitely more than "graduate student sleeps with a bunch of people older than she is in varyingly weird power relationships" might suggest.

Journey, by Aaron Becker
Lovely, wordless, reminiscent of a video game.

All Our Pretty Songs, by Sarah McCarry
Magical, though it never quite stopped being frustrating to read on a sentence by sentence level - everything all stuffed in and present tense everywhere. Still, I'm awfully glad I didn't let those things stop me, because I was very satisfied by the end.

Evaluating the Impact of your Library, by Sharon Markless and David Streatfield
I can't imagine many of you would be in a situation where you must read about library assessment, but if you ever are, this book is SO MUCH BETTER THAN ANY OF THE OTHERS OMG. British dry wit can make anything better, and reasonableness also helped.

current mood: anticipatory

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Sunday, January 5th, 2014
4:40 pm - Exquisite American Gift; Red Incredible Tale
The Last Gift of Time, by Carolyn G. Heilbrun (reread)
Essays, or musings, about being an old lady. The best of these were amazing, but sometimes she frustrated me. I don't mind though, because, wow. Heilbrun. I wish she was still around, and I will keep doling her out to myself in small doses. Weirdly, I realized about 50 pages from the end that I had read this before, in my very early 20s. Now I sort of want to reread it once a decade. We'll see.
(1, O1)

Encyclopedia of the Exquisite, by Jessica Jenkins Kerwin
It took me a long time to get into the groove of this reference book, but once I did I zoomed through it. Pretty, magazine writing - but in the best sense of the words.

The Best American Comics 2013, edited by Jessica Abel, Matt Madden, and Jeff Smith
As always, this was a combination of enjoyable rereads, delightful new finds, and tiresomely opaque things I would never seek out on my own. Thank you, o editors.

Red Rocks, by Rachael King
Simple and straightforward, emotionally solid story about a young boy, his father, and old man, the Wellington coast, and selkies.

The Hobbit: The Incredible Journey: Chronicles II: Creatures and Characters, by Daniel Falconer
Not as interesting as the art and design book, but still full of very pretty pictures.

A Tale for the Time Being, by Ruth Ozeki
If this is a year where every month I read a book that is as shimmering and earthy and heartfelt and carefully structured and real and surreal as this one, it will be a very good year indeed.

current mood: pensive

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1:50 am - my favorite reads in 2013
I think this is the shortest yearly roundup I've ever done. As always, I'm mostly reposting the reviews I wrote back when I first read these. Usually I have to fight to confine myself to 10 percent of the books I've read, but this year - despite the many many wonderful books I'm not listing here - there were a few books that really took me to the woodshed. So much so that for the First Time Evar, I'm breaking my rules for this post by including a reread AND not just one, but TWO series.

So, my very most favorite books from the past year.

The Young Wizards series by Diane Duane, as read by Christina Moore
Here's what I said after the first one:
I loved this book so much! The story was great! The characters were great! The language is delicious! New York City is incredibly well-described! Anything I say will sound a bit goofy because I am so enthused! Also, the reader did an amazing job. Mostly, I'm just wondering wtf I didn't read this as a 10 year old when I was reading Every Other YA Fantasy The Library Had.... it came out in 1983. I'm so excited that there are 9 more of these, although I realize my inner 10 year old probably can't sustain this level of enthusiasm that long.
And here's what I said part way through:
This series has come to mean an awful lot to me. I listen to it when I can't sleep or when I'm lonely or when things seem really hard... like the rope you hold on to when you're crossing a log bridge, you know? It's that kind of a story.
I'm in the middle of the eighth one now, and my inner 10 year old is still completely in love.

Not-yet-published theses, by no-longer-undergraduate friends (bis)
As transparent as this pseudonym is, I somehow don't feel like naming these. Or even saying much about them :D. But they were very, very good.

Bluets, by Maggie Nelson
This book was heaven for me. I read it all in one go over lunch and then I immediately bought a copy for me and two for friends. I will be rereading it again this summer. At least once.

Evil for Evil, and The Escapement, by K.J. Parker
Oh, man. These books wrecked me. Particularly close readers *might* just possibly remember that I've read the first book in this trilogy, Devices and Desires, several times, and that I've occasionally accused it of being My Platonic Book. I love it so. These ones are equally tightly plotted and they rise to absolute brilliance regularly. And yet. And yet. They are so heartbreakingly sad. I found myself, at the end, telling myself consolingly that I wasn't meant to *believe* this story's thesis about the world; instead, I was meant to react against it, and in so doing formulate my own more joyous and less desperate conclusions. Whatever the intent, I loved these. Fucking K. J. Parker, man; there's no one else like her.

Mr. Fox, by Helen Oyeyemi
I loved this book so much. Twisty and beautiful and sharp-toothed, and everything resolves perfectly at the end, without resolving at all. <3 <3 <3. <3 <3. I'mma reread it soon. And various persons should count themselves lucky I didn't actually make them listen to the last two chapters on Skype. Unless, I suppose, any of you would actually LIKE me to read you the last 2 chapters on Skype. In which case, let me know, eh?

An Angel at my Table, by Janet Frame
Oh my god. This is brilliant. Recommended for anyone who likes a) memoir, b) affectionate family stories that are also sad, c) reading about other people's time in college, d) historical context around psychology and psychiatry, e) stories rooted strongly in a sense of place, f) non-fiction about writing and/or writers, g) New Zealand. As I like ALL OF THESE THINGS, I was well-satisfied.

The Bone People, by Keri Hulme (reread)
I first read The Bone People as a young teenager - 13 I think? - and the father in the story was so like my own father, good and bad both - more so, but still recognizably alike in a way no other father in a book ever had been - that I managed to block out everything about the book except that it was really good, so I didn't have to think too hard about what it meant. Rereading now, it was even better - because I'm not so in need of compartmentalizing as a coping mechanism, and so there were a lot of powerful things I could look at more squarely. Also her writing is amazing, and there are allusions I caught this time around that I wouldn't have heard at thirteen. [Warning: It's a very violent book. Bad things happen to a small child at the hands of someone he loves. Please don't read it if that will hurt you. It helped me, both times, because the book doesn't stop there.] I loved it so much I went and read everything else of hers I could easily get my hands on, and then started ILLing things that are harder to find.

The Love School, by Elizabeth Knox
Chronological collection of Knox's essays and occasional nonfiction. I am so in love with this author I cannot even tell you.

Anyone out there reading this, who hasn't already told me what books they dug in 2013, is hereby strongly encouraged to do so. Actually, even if you already did, I welcome additions or reiterations :)

current mood: tuckered

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