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Friday, November 6th, 2015
10:38 am - Empathy Sandwich Counting Commission; Solitary Sex Creature
The Bear Ate Your Sandwich, by Julia Sarcone-Roach
This was cute but predictable. The pictures outshone the story. However, the pictures were SO good that it was a delightful experience anyway.

The Empathy Exams, by Leslie Jamison
These were mostly amazing. I like it when an essayist takes the time they need to take to show you what they want to show you. And the topics were interesting.

The Truth Commission, by Susan Juby
A sharp, funny, quick read that broke my heart and put it back together. Juby is definitely going on the "yes, please, more like this" list.

Daydreams of a Solitary Hamster, by Astrid Desbordes
A very quirky and philosophical kids' comic. It didn't generate much emotion while I was reading it - there were only a few strips that I really dug on their own merits - but once I'd read the whole thing I felt satisfied and amused. Even now, months later, thinking of this book puts a smile on my face.

Creature, by Andrew Zuckerman
Sooooooooo pretty. I'd been craving this book of animal photos for so long that when I finally bought it, I read it THE SAME DAY. <3 <3 <3.
(216, O45)

Sex Criminals, vol. 1: One Weird Trick, by Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky
This comic (one of the Hugo nominees I read this year) irritated me about once every 10 pages. But when I wasn't irritated I was really interested. So it worked out okay. Ingenious and funny, mostly.

Counting by 7s, by Holly Goldberg Sloan
A sweet and sometimes wry book that skates on the edge of absurdity without missing a step. I have a soft spot for child prodigy narrators, as I once was one.

current mood: cozy

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Thursday, October 29th, 2015
11:21 pm - Roller Suit Deafo; Black Crossover Buckle; Seeing Enlistment
Roller Girl, by Victoria Jamieson
A charming, playful story about a girl learning to be a roller derby player. She's also on the edge of puberty so there's some coming-of-age stuff. I appreciated how even though the tone is light, the main character had some doubts and uncertainty at times - her challenges were internal as well as external, and rang true in both cases.

The Hospital Suite, by John Porcellino
The only things I remember about this illness memoir, told and drawn by the wonderful comics artist John Porcellino, are that I really liked it and it made me pretty uncomfortable and anxious at times. Ambivalence, thy name is Maribou. (Seriously I read another book of his YEARS ago that I can't even remember the title of, and I remember more of the storyline of THAT book than this book. Not the book's fault, just had a lot of stuff going on and personal issues and what not.)

Crossover, by Kwame Alexander
I'm not generally much into a) sports novels (unless they are written by W.P. Kinsella) or b) blank verse novels, but when I was a teenager I read a lot of both of those kinds of things, so it can be fun to revisit occasionally. The narrative voice in this one was awesome (and most excellently rhythmous) and I couldn't put the book down. Some of the plot was kinda over the top for me but it didn't make much difference to my enjoyment. This book won the Newbery this year, usually a good indicator, and I think it deserved it.

El Deafo, by Cece Bell
OMG LOVE LOVE LOVE for this book. A graphic memoir of the author's childhood that focuses on her experiences as a Deaf person in public schools (and non-academic social situations). So particular and yet so good at contextualizing her own experiences in the bigger picture. AND it was cute and funny. AND it was trenchant and didn't pull punches. Wow.

Buckle and Squash and the Monstrous Moat-Dragon, by Sarah Courtauld
Fun kids' book that was not as amazing as the imaginary version I wrote in my head before reading it, but a lot more amazing than most other books with princesses in them. I have been enjoying remembering reading it more than I enjoyed reading it, because in my memory I can just focus on the unusual and awesome bits, and skip over the bits that were kind of bleh.

Seeing Voices, by Oliver Sacks (reread)
The last time I read this was in the 90s, when it was more-or-less contemporary. These days it's pretty dated, but still a very interesting overview of deafness and Deaf culture through the lens of three different long essays.

The Boy in the Black Suit, by Jason Reynolds
This was just great. Finely drawn characters who are weird enough to keep my interest, particularly the protagonist. And the narrative voice is the kind where you can feel the *love* at the center of the book - love for the characters but also for the reader. If you are overinterested in the mortuary trade (as I am), well, that's just going to be a bonus.

Terms of Enlistment, by Marko Kloos
Read this because the author withdrew from the Hugos for what I think were very solid reasons. It was a very solid military adventure story. Will eventually read the rest of the series, and probably they will be just as much fun. It's full of world-building plotholes but SO compelling that I cheerfully kept re-suspending my disbelief until the cows came home.

current mood: headachy (bah)

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Tuesday, October 27th, 2015
12:03 am - Hairy Dark Problem; Orange Goblin Saga
The Dark Between the Stars, by Kevin J. Anderson
I read this because it was nominated for a Hugo. I was quite unimpressed (though not nearly as unimpressed as I was with most of the short story nominees). Mostly it just went on and on and on. There were a few characters I was interested in, and if I were trapped on a plane with the next one in the series, I would read it, but I won't be seeking out any more like this one on my own.

The Three-Body Problem, by Cixin Liu
Another Hugo nominee. Smart and compelling - I'm looking forward to the sequels. It's also extremely infodumpy, probably because of the educational context for Chinese SF. Fortunately for me, I don't mind infodumps at all, probably because I spent my childhood reading Asimov et alia.

Hairy MacLary from Donaldson's Dairy, by Lynley Dodd
It's not a very complicated story, but it is rather an adorable one. Especially if you have a soft spot for small dogs of serious mien.

The Goblin Emperor, by Katherine Addison
And another Hugo nominee! This book was incredibly immersive and quite beautiful. There are bits of it stuck in my head that won't be unsticking themselves any time soon. Am kicking myself for not having read more of Sarah Monette before, because this book was so good that my subconscious has now gone into hoarding mode and will find ways of avoiding reading her stuff henceforth (because, you see, omg what if we RAN OUT???). Le sigh. It really is awfully good. Were I not so in love with the Ancillary series, this would've had my Hugo vote.

Saga, vol. 1, vol. 2, and vol. 3 by Brian Vaughn and Fiona Staples
More Hugo stuffs - these ones I'd been meaning to read for AGES. Such a great series, with overtones of many of my favorite comic writers, but still very much itself. It's science fantasy, not science fiction, if you were wondering.
(201, 217, 218)

Out of Orange, by Cleary Wolters
A memoir by the woman that Orange is the New Black used as the basis for Alex Vause. I admit to mostly reading it because I love the show so much, and I also admit that a lot of what made it extra-compelling for me - I would sit in my dining room reading it for HOURS, until my butt fell asleep - was in figuring out how the stuff in the show went down "in real life". But that said, it was an excellent book. Lucid. And not making excuses for the author's mistakes, but also not setting itself up as some kind of overblown redemption story. More of a cheerfully-muddling-through redemption story ;). I very much liked it.

current mood: curious

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Saturday, October 24th, 2015
1:55 pm - Extra Sword Hole; Ancillary Hobby Scientists; Little Weapon Woman; Walls of Note
Extra Yarn, and Sam and Dave Dig a Hole by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen
So while I was waiting for the LONG hold queue for Sam and Dave, I picked up Extra Yarn - another picture book by the same team - and just loved it. Thought it was splendid. Turns out I liked it better than Sam and Dave :D. More vibrant, and one of those unusual books where it's super didactic but I love what it's getting at so I don't mind. Sam and Dave was cute, but not as brilliant as the reviews would suggest.
(188, 196)

Ancillary Justice and Ancillary Sword, by Ann Leckie
I love this series so much. I voted for Ancillary Sword for the Hugo (though I was fine with the eventual winner) and I am SO EXCITED about the third one. I can't believe I'm not already reading it, actually. *gets on that* Anyway, the writing is fluid, the characterizations are compelling, and the world is that delightful mixture of strange and familiar that one chases in this sort of SF. Even though she reads nothing like Le Guin, they are alike in that way. "Yes, given those new circumstances, people WOULD be like that, wouldn't they, though I'd never have thought of this on my own," sort of a thing.
(189, 200)

Park Scientists, by Mary Kay Carson and Tom Uhlman
This was very dry, especially for a kids' book - though maybe I only felt that way because I already knew most of the basic science they were going over - but it is full of really interesting information and cool pictures, detailing various scientific inquiries that are going on in various national parks.

Abe Lincoln's Hobby, by Helen Kay
OMG who knew that Abraham Lincoln was a crazy cat lady? This children's book was so quirky and odd and delightful (pretty sure the first 2 of those adjectives were unintentional) that it made the rounds of my library coworkers. If you come across it, READ IT.

Hawkeye, vol. 1: My Life as a Weapon, vol. 2: Little Hits, and vol. 3: L. A. Woman by Matt Fraction et al
Really solid story-telling, despite the non-linearity of it, and good art. I'm intently looking forward to the next one, and I liked these enough to be willing to try Sex Criminals based on that series ALSO being by Matt Fraction - even though I'd previously been avoiding it like the plague.
(192, 202, 218)

The Walls Around Us, by Nova Ren Suma
I read this so fast I can barely remember it. Which speaks well for the book, if not so much for the reader. The parts I remember were all splendid - readable and yet deeply weird - almost hallucinogenic without losing the thread of the story. A++ would read again.

Letters of Note, edited by Shaun Usher
I have loved this website for years, but the letters / explanations are often long enough and compelling enough that I fell out of the habit of reading it while in grad school. Rabbit holes are dangerous when you don't have any free time. So I was exceptionally excited to see that it had come out as a book, and I gloried in reading it. Letters are basically my FAVORITE literary form, and it's exceptionally well laid out, too.

current mood: weekendly

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Tuesday, October 20th, 2015
11:56 pm - Cinder-Eyed Star; Dullards Tale; Frogs Genius; Dead Depth Revolution
Star Stuff, by Stephanie Roth Sisson
This may be the best picture book biography I've ever read. It doesn't hurt that it is about the redoubtable Carl Sagan.

Meet the Dullards, by Sara Pennypacker, illustrated by Daniel Salmieri
This was pleasant, but not especially remarkable. I wouldn't refuse to read it to a kid for the umpteenth time, but I won't be buying it for any of the kids I know either. The Clementine books by the same author are MUCH better.

The Cinder-Eyed Cats and A Kitten Tale, by Eric Rohmann
Read these because I liked the illustrator's work so much in other books. The Cinder Eyed Cats was completely unimpressive in the plot department (though *gorgeously* illustrated); A Kitten Tale was both pretty and charming.
(180, 181)

All Men of Genius and Depth, by Lev A.C. Rosen
All Men of Genius is Twelfth Night in a steampunk science academy, and Depth is a PI story in a drowned nearish-future New York. Two quite different plots, but sharing some resonances due to having the same author. Wit, and enthusiasm for technology, and interesting female characters, in both books. Rosen wrote a YA novel next - I'm quite looking forward to reading it.
(182, 184)

Frogs and the Ballet, by Donald Elliott, illustrated by Clinton Arrowood
It really is what it says on the tin, lots of drawings of frogs illustrating different ballet positions, with commentary on the side. You are now either wondering where this book has been all your life, or wondering why on earth I would want to read such a thing :D. Obviously I fall into the first category.

Dead Beat, by Jim Butcher (unabridged audiobook, reread)
This was a lot of fun. The heist aspects were still delightful, and the dread generated by the multiplicity of bad guys works really well on audio.

Start a Revolution, by Ben Bizzle
This was fine, but not actually better than his 45 minute ALA presentation that I'd already listened to. So I was disappointed, but if anyone else was looking for a good primer on library marketing, they'd probably be thrilled.

current mood: achy

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Sunday, October 18th, 2015
10:46 pm - Last Flashlight March; Detective Blue Chicken; Tiny Mumbai
Last Stop on Market Street, by Matt De La Peña
A dancing, sparkling children's book, grounded and fun.

Flashlight, by Lizi Boyd
I loved this wordless book that made me feel like a little kid again myself.

March: Book One and Book Two, by John Lewis et al
Incredibly powerful and well-presented memoirs of the Civil Rights movement. Absolutely worth tracking down.
(173, 230)

Detective Gordon: The First Case, by Ulf Nilsson
A short and quirky little kids' chapter book that has the same delightful Scandinavian combination of the serious and the absurd that makes me like a lot of grown up books from that part of the world. Lovely.

The Chicken Squad: The First Misadventure and The Case of the Weird Blue Chicken, by Doreen Cronin
Utterly goofy, but really fun. When I was 7 I would've thought this was the BEST series EVAR (of this particular type of book).
(175, 187)

Hold Me Closer, Tiny Cooper, by David Levithan
Hm. Not as good as the book it's a companion to, but that book (Will Grayson, will grayson) was SOOOOOOOOOOOO good that it's not really a dis to say so. Fleshed out Tiny's character nicely but it was a bit too on the nose.

Mumbai New York Scranton, by Tamara Shopsin
This is an odd story that starts as a travel journal and turns into an illness memoir. I really liked it but it's hard to explain exactly why. It felt friendly and reserved at the same time.

current mood: spacey

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Tuesday, July 28th, 2015
7:13 am - Stranger Bear's Woes; Talented Incredible Clementine; Reader's Bunjitsu English
The Stranger and The Stranger's Woes, by Max Frei
Odd, rambly, intensely detailed fantasy. The structure is one of my least favorites - a few novellas per book, and each novella broken into a jillion tiny sections. Both times, I was just kind of poking along for most of the book, enjoying myself but also restless, and then the last 100 pages or so got REALLY REALLY good. So as long as that keeps happening, I'll keep wanting to read the next one.
(164, 228)

Polar Bear's Underwear, by tupera tupera
Cute kids' picture book with a super awesome trick to it.

Pigsticks and Harold and the Incredible Journey, by Alex Milway
Can an early reader book be witty? it was grade school level wit, but definitely felt like wit rather than straightforwardly funny? Anyway, I enjoyed it.

Clementine and The Talented Clementine by Sara Pennypacker, illustrated by Marla Frazee
Charming and open-hearted kids' series that I originally picked up for the Frazee illustrations. They are lively and the story is equally lively, and quite wonderful as such things go. The next best thing to Ramona Quimby books.
(167, 229)

Tales of Bunjitsu Bunny, by John Himmelman
Engaging albeit didactic stories wherein a bunny learns about martial arts skills. I appreciated that the main character was a girl, too.

The Readers' Advisory Guide to Genre Blends, by Megan McArdle
Hm. This was solid but I think I was expecting to Learn From An Expert and instead figured out that I'm already well ahead of the expected audience for this book. So, like, I didn't learn very much about working with genre blends? Sadness. But I dd read about quite a few specific titles I was unfamiliar with, or only passingly familiar with, that really appeal to me. Woot!

That's Not English, by Erin Moore
This is a superfun book about differences between British and American English by someone who really knows her stuff. The only thing that irritated me was the extremely narrow focus - the author didn't seem to know much about Canadian English (even though she mentioned it a couple of times), and Aussie / NZ / Indian / Malay / etc English might as well have not existed, even when one of those dialects would've been so relevant to the specific word she was discussing that it felt like a big gap in the discussion. I suppose the book was what it said on the tin, British and American, so it feels uncharitable to complain... but it did bother me.

current mood: sore

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Monday, July 6th, 2015
3:41 pm - Beware SuperMutant Nikolski; Oh, Tacky!
Giants Beware!, by Jorge Aguirre et al
One of my favorite single-volume graphic novels EVER. Derring-do! Cuteness! Non-obnoxious life lessons! Complex but loveable characters! Also there is backstory! And probably anyone from ages 8 to 99 could enjoy it.
(157, O43)

Nikolski, by Nicolas Dickner
Another "how did I never read this" Quebecois novel (read in French, so I don't know if the translation to English is any good). I loved many parts of it. Occasionally it dragged or didn't make enough sense or felt too fractured, but for the most part it was human and warm and introspective and imaginative and altogether lovely. Also, occasionally, hilarious.

SuperMutant Magic Academy, by Jillian Tamaki
Really bizarre, surreal, sometimes vulgar, and ultimately deeply affecting comic strips.
(159, O44)

Tacky the Penguin, by Helen Lester
Adorably illustrated and frequently amusing story about the value of nonconformity. The sort of didacticism I dig.

Oh, No!, by Candace Fleming, illustrated by Eric Rohmann
The story for this one was just okay, but the pictures were SO pretty that I went out and found a bunch more picture books with the same illustrator to read.

current mood: still busy

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3:12 pm - Happy Laughing Margaret; Frog Paints Scraps; School Tentacles
My Happy Life and My Heart Is Laughing, by Rose Lagercrantz, illustrated by Eva Eriksson
I really appreciated how this author gave her very young (early elementary school aged) protagonist a fairly complicated emotional life, while keeping the story both light-hearted and also appropriate for kids that age to read. And the illustrations are brilliant, they carry about half the story.
(148, 161)

The Best of Margaret St. Clair, by Margaret St. Clair
A collection of her SF short stories, most from the 50s and 60s. Some of them were genius, and will stick with me - others not so much. I love discovering new-to-me sf writers from back in the day (ie before I was born).

The Scraps Book, by Lois Ehlert
A vibrant, charming memoir by a major illustrator of kids' books. If you like picture books, and haven't read this, you should.

Edward Hopper Paints His World, by Robert Burleigh
This picture book had luminescent Hopperesque pictures. The text was sensitive and appealing. If I knew a kid that loved Hopper, but was too young to get much out of standard adult biographies, I would give them this book. (I was once such a kid.)

Beware of the Frog, by William Bee
Funny, compelling, and in its own odd way, beautiful.

Rat Queens, vol. 2: The Far Reaching Tentacles of N'rygoth, by Kurtis J. Wiebe et al
I was so glad to have another book in this graphic novel series. Still offering up a masterfully executed mix of adventure, drama, and satire. <3.
(154, O41)

Old School Tie, by Paul Thomas
An odd crime novel whose main appeal for me was its Auckland setting ("ooh! I can PICTURE that street!"). Good enough that I'll try the next couple, but spiky enough that I can't precisely claim to have *liked* it.

current mood: busy

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Tuesday, June 23rd, 2015
11:31 pm - Get Short Pirate Save; Memory Bear Hiccups; Summer Boars
Princeless, vol. 1: Save Yourself, vol. 2: Get Over Yourself, The Pirate Princess, and Short Stories, vol. 1, by Jeremy Whitley et al
I am totally in love with this kids' comic book series! I love it almost as much as Rat Queens (though for only partially overlapping reasons) - it is funny, the characters are endearing, believable, and their stereotypical aspects are nicely complicated. Also the plot hums along.
(142; 151; 155, O42; 160)

The Memory of an Elephant, by Sophie Strady
A beautiful, thoughtful picture book of the sort that rewards close scrutiny. Not all that deep, but what is there, is lovely.

Bear Has a Story to Tell, by Philip C. Stead, illustrated by Erin E. Stead
This was absolutely splendid and I don't remember anything about it except that I swooned over how great it was. Guess I can reread it soonish! :D

Skeleton Hiccups, by Margery Cuyler
This had fun illustrations but the story was so simple as to be almost non-existent.

Meet Wild Boars, by Meg Rosoff, illustrated by Sophie Blackall
A hoot! Wild boars are splendid exemplars of the wish-to-destroy that animates many of my favorite children's books, and Rosoff and Blackall manage to make them winsome as well as terrible.

Rules of Summer, by Shaun Tan
A surreal, moving, warm picture story that has a compelling plot. Might be my favorite of Tan's books that I've read - though I have plenty more of his books to read, still.

current mood: ready for a weekend at the end of my weekend

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Tuesday, June 9th, 2015
10:43 pm - Wild Penguin in the Meadow; Imaginary Grudge Pilot; Iridescence of Book
Wild, by Emily Hughes
Beautiful tumbling unkempt art in a story for quite little kids. I didn't like how it ended.

A Penguin Story, by Antoinette Portis
This picture books proceeds forward elegantly and with warm, clean lines. Also, I LOVED the ending. Also, the penguins. <3.

A Lion in the Meadow, by Margaret Mahy (reread)
I remembered that I loved this book when I was a kid but nothing else about it. I still like it very very very much.

The Pilot and the Little Prince: The Life of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, by Peter Sís
This was so utterly splendid that I am afraid to read any more of Sís' children's books for fear of spoiling how completely delighted I am with him at the moment. I spent ages just looking at every single little element of every single beautiful drawing.

The Grudge Keeper, by Mara Rockliff
The writing and the art in this folktale-esque picture book were engaging and satisfying, but the story was awfully predictable.

The Imaginary Garden, by Andrew Larsen
This simple story about a girl and her grandfather made my heart glow.

A Book, by Mordicai Gerstein
This is a children's picture book about a little girl who knows she is a character in a book, but can't figure out what sort of book she's meant to be a character in. SO META, and reasonably charming.

The Iridescence of Birds, by Patricia MacLachlan
Matisse! Matisse Matisse Matisse. A kids' biography of one of my favorite artists, skillfully told and illustrated.

current mood: sleepy

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10:24 pm - Welcome Bottom Click!; Boot Creatures; Shoplifter Mice
A Trip to the Bottom of the World with Mouse, by Frank Viva
This is an early reader comic book mostly about Antarctica and also about a mouse. Sometimes that's all you need.

Click!, by Jeffrey Ebbeler
Beautiful art in the service of a charming but slight story.

Welcome to the Neighborwood, by Shawn Sheehy
Neatish pop-ups. There was something about this that annoyed me but I don't even remember what. (It's been more than a month.) It was fun to play with.

Creatures of a Day, by Irv Yalom
Essays about the experience of being a psychoanalyst. Also mortality. I am a huge fan of him and loved this, though it may not be the best place for someone to start? Not sure.

Shoplifter, by Michael Cho
Very very stylish with a very slight plot (so slight that I can't even remember what it was beyond a few isolated panels). But it was worth it for the pretty.

Boot & Shoe, by Marla Frazee
Intensely adorable art. Fun story about two dogs who love each other very much. Did I mention, I really loved the art? I actually have been seeking out more books illustrated by Frazee, just because I like her lines so much.

Fairest, vol. 4: Of Men and Mice, by Bill Willingham et al
This was exactly all the things I want from a volume of this series. Adventurous and spy-y and funny and full of allusions. And also female-focused, which I am glad they remembered.
(133, O40)

current mood: trying to be sleepy

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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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