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Saturday, January 16th, 2016
8:43 pm - Night Ball; Lucy Train Boots; Nueve Octopus Girl; Lizard Ghost Ants
On the Ball, by Brian Pinkney
Picture book about a kid and his soccer ball. I know it was fun and well made but it was very much NOT memorable, ie I already don't remember anything else about it.

Night Animals, by Gianna Marino
Suuuuper cute picture book about night animals who are worried about Night Animals. Not very complex, but that's fine.

Lenny & Lucy, by Philip C. Stead, illustrated by Erin E. Stead
Sweet, slightly melancholy story with beautiful illustrations. Magical realist? I think?

A Mile in Her Boots, edited by Jennifer Bove
Ooh, this was a cracking read. A plethora of essays about working in the wild, all by women. You're probably either already investigating how to get your hands on this book, or already tuning me out, so I don't need to say more than that.

M Train, by Patti Smith
I absolutely loved this book. It's very internal, but also very interested in the world. She writes so sparingly, but every word is there for a reason. And her life has been rich, and full, and she skims around over top of it in a way that should be confusing but actually just helps you to pay closer attention. And it was so WORTH the attention I paid it. I'll definitely reread this some day, and I hope she writes another one this good soon.

The Octopus Scientists, by Sy Montgomery
Really cool YA nonfiction picture book, tons of very engaging andbut information-stuffed prose, tons of pictures, and I feel like I can take as long as I want to get around to the author's adult work Soul of an Octopus now, because I suspect this one might be better.

Drum Dream Girl, by Margarita Engle
Some pictures books just fly, you know? Everything comes together and the experience of reading them is a bit like listening to a poem while dreaming. Marvelous book.

Nueve Dias Para Navidad, by Marie Hall Ets
I wanted to learn more about traditional Mexican Christmas celebrations and this picture book from the 50s was the only book my library had. It's written at like a 2nd-grade level? I was pleased to still have at least enough Spanish to read it. Glad that stuck. The book itself is quite fun in that old-picture-book way.

Lizard from the Park, by Mark Pett
Very well made, did not blow me away as there is an entire genre of such books (SPOILER: kid discovers dinosaur), for many different age levels, and I read pretty much ALL of them as a kid (and still do for that matter, 'cause my niece likes dinosaurs too). So, you know, it's cool. But there weren't really any distinguishing features.

The Grasshopper and the Ants, by Jerry Pinkney
The art is the amazing beautiful Jerry Pinkney art, but I felt like his retelling really didn't have the power I was hoping for (based on my love for his book about the mouse and the lion). It's a perfectly *serviceable* retelling, but that's all. Good thing that art is so amazing.

Leo: A Ghost Story, by Mac Barnett
Probably my favorite of all the picture books I read this year. The illustrations and the text are very old-school but also very fresh and the story and the word choice are so darn good. Gnah! Why are the best picture books always the hardest to talk about? Even though it was published this year, I felt like I was discovering a lost classic from Crockett Johnson or something, like it had just been part of the Ursula Nordstrom canon since long before I was born and I had never happened to come across it before. LOVED it.

current mood: cosy

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8:12 pm - Perfectly Potato Dream; Scary Dreaming Away; Funny Owl Song
I was almost done writing this post and then Semagic ate my draft. For the first time in years. (It also reset itself in multiple other ways.) GRAAR. Here's take two.

A Perfectly Messed-Up Story, by Patrick McDonnell
Cute story, charming illustrations, not nearly as good as the other picture book of his I'd read.

Dream On, Amber, by Emma Shevah
I really liked the parts of this middle-grade novel that were about interactions between the two sisters, and their relationship more generally. There was not a lot else that was remarkable in the book, other than its ease in reading. As a middle grade reader I read so voraciously that, while I did occasionally find Amazing Memorable Cherishable Books (eg the Green Howe series), when I was hearing about a book, I mostly wanted to know which of three categories it fell into: "Solid and Indvidual," "Weirdly Addictive Series [or Author] of Dubious Quality," or "UGH BORING SKIP IT." This one fits neatly into the first category.

The Potato King, by Christoph Neimann
UGH BORING SKIP IT ;). More specificallly, it's weirdly monarchist and anti-democratic in its implications, and I've seen better potato stamp pictures back when I was a kid making potato stamp pictures with my
friends. Not sure why this was so well-reviewed.

Blown Away, by Rob Biddulph
An elegant, stylized picture book with heart. Made me think of Mad Men aesthetically (and ONLY aesthetically). I was thoroughly won over.

Dreaming in Indian, edited by Lisa Charleyboy and Mary Leatherdale
A thought-provoking and well-designed anthology that showcases Native American writers. Aimed at young teens, enjoyable by everybody. Sometimes rather heart-breaking, but only in the service of more fully communicating some very rough experiences.

The Fun Book of Scary Stuff, by Emily Jenkins
It was fun! And full of monsters! Does what it says on the tin. (Though *I* wasn't scared ;).)

The Song Within My Heart, by David Bouchard, paintings by Allen Sapp
The paintings in this book are exquisite, and grounded. Unfortunately, I really didn't care for the accompanying text.

Funny Bones: Posada and His Day of the Dead Calaveras, by Duncan Tonatiuh
Perfectly balanced nonfiction picture book about the Mexican artist Posada and, well, you already read the subtitle. Anyway, the art is beautiful, the narrative is compelling but has lots of interesting factual stuff, and the whole thing fits together to be more than the sum of its parts. Nifty!

Hoot Owl, Master of Disguise, by Sean Taylor
Goofy, zippy picture book about a young owl who thinks very highly of himself. It made me giggle.

current mood: curious

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Sunday, January 10th, 2016
9:52 pm - Quick Splendid Inch; This Is King Yeti; Come Wolf-Birds World
Quick as a Cricket, by Audrey Wood
I checked this out wondering if it was one I'd liked as a kid, because I vaguely remembered the title. BUT NO, it was one I thought was dead boring as a kid. Le sigh.

A Splendid Friend, Indeed, by Suzanne Bloom
Not much of a story, but what's there is quite cute, and the illustrations are adorable.

The King and the Sea, by Heinz Janisch
This is a wonderfully absurd and strange series of fables that manages to be koan-like for adults and also make sense for kids. Plus the illustrations are very perfectly child-like (which is harder than it sounds!).

Inch by Inch: The Garden Song, by David Mallett, illustrated by Ora Eitan
This was my favorite song as a little kid so I thought I would explore some different ways of enjoying it. This picture book was among my favorites. Bright, potent pictures accompany the text of the song, and then at the end there's a musical setting so folks can learn to play/sing it. Absolutely excellent.

No Yeti Yet, by Mary Ann Fraser
Pictures that buzz with affection and humor, and a text that shows the author is quite familiar with sibling dynamics. I really liked this, enough that I bought it to give to a little kid I know whose older brothers read to him a lot.

This Is Sadie, by Sara O'Leary
What a splendid, splendid book. The story is inspiring (which is what I call didactic stories which a) I like and b) I don't find heavy-handed) and the illustrations fly and sparkle. Bought a copy for each of my nieces for Christmas and the jury's still out on whether I will buy myself a copy too. I hope eventually I will get to read it to both of them.

The Wolf-Birds, by Willow Dawson
I very much enjoyed this story about the relationship between wolves and ravens, but the violence level and the apparent age level are... not terribly consonant. I mean, if *I* read it when I was the age the text is aimed at, I would've loved it, but I was a very odd child who watched a great deal of nature television.

The Night World, by Mordicai Gerstein
My inner 5-year-old informs me that this book is just a little bit scary but mostly it is very exciting and full of pretty things. Sounds about right to me.

Come On, Rain!, by Karen Hesse, illustrated by Jon J. Muth
I was wary of this book because most of Karen Hesse's YA/middle-grade books have depressing enough themes that I've avoided them. But it's not like that at all, it's an expression of pure joy. Beautiful. And of course Muth manages to match that joy in his illustrations.

current mood: thoughtful

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12:35 am - Friendship Kitten; Happiest Woundabout Color; Summer Raindrops Mess
Lumberjanes, vol. 1: Beware the Kitten Holy and vol. 2: Friendship to the Max, by Noelle Stevenson
This series is marvelously FUN. I know I use that word a lot, but seriously. Kids running around having PARANORMAL scouting adventures and saving each other's bacon in clever and varied ways. And the characters are ALSO varied, every single one of them has some personality! What a hoot. I wish I could be 10 again just to read these.
(360, 415)

A Brush Full of Color, by Margriet Ruurs
A beautiful picture book biography of Ted Harrison that reminded me how much I love his stuff and sent me on a bit of a tear.

Woundabout, by Lev A. C. Rosen
I was a bit cautious of this one because I really dug both of his adult novels for different reasons, and was worried he wouldn't successfully make the transition to upper-middle-grade. Silly me. This is a lovely book, only didactic in the way I *like* such books being didactic, and full of memorable ideas and images. Also has a sufficiently high excitement quotient.

When I Am Happiest, by Rose Lagercrantz, illustrated by Eva Eriksson
This series! How utterly charming and Scandinavian and humane it is! Possibly my favorite early reader series of all time (which puts it up against some VERY stiff competition!!!).

Mess, by Barry Yourgrau
This was hard to read, because I am always involved in a complicated dance with my own clutterbug tendencies, and some of my dear ones have it far worse than me in that department. But it was funny and honest and wry and, in the end, triumphant. More memoirs like this one, please.

Raindrops Roll, by April Pulley Sayre
Pretty but not otherwise memorable. I think very young kids would like the alliteration and the macros.

Summer Birds, by Margarita Engle
Such an incredibly beautiful book. Not only are the images astoundingly lovely, the story is written with care, delicacy, and verve. I think perhaps the writing evoked Merian even better than the pictures did. <3 <3 <3 <3.

current mood: sleepy

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Saturday, January 9th, 2016
11:45 pm - Good Home Writers; Drawing Chickens Reading; Zen Goodbye
Home, by Carson Ellis
Liked the pictures a lot more than the story. Also it reminded me that I'd eventually like to finish reading the Wildwood Chronicles.

Reading Writers Reading, by Danielle Schaub
Such a very very splendid book. Coffee-table sized, with one page a photo of some or the other Canadian writer (ranging from the even-famous-in-the-US to the totally-obscure-everywhere-including-Canada) caught in the act of talking about writing and reading -- and the facing page an essay about a page long by that writer, discussing the impact that books had on their lives. I say essay, but a few of the entries are poems or short stories. I do so love it when the books my brain demands exist do, in fact, exist, and I can find them and read them.

Thank You and Good Night, by Patrick McDonnell
A charming, sweet bedtime story from the Mutts cartoonist.

Last Night's Reading, by Kate Gavino
This is really cool - every time Gavino goes to a reading, she draws a portrait of the reader and includes a quote from what they said. I couldn't get enough of them, so I dug up her tumblr of the same name, and it is also really cool :).

Drawing the Line, edited by Priya Kuriyan
An anthology of feminist comics drawn by Indian woman that I helped Kickstart. Some of the comics were absolutely brilliant, some were a bit rough, but still meaningful; all in all, I'm so very glad to own this book.
(356, O76)

Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer, by Kelly Jones
Cute middle grade story, cute premise which I won't spoil because it's more fun to get the slow reveal. Not sure why I didn't love it, but I only liked it. C'est la vie.

Zen Socks, by Jon J. Muth
I so love these books about Stillwater the Panda, and this is definitely a major entry in the series. The books themselves create a zen space while you are reading them, in the way that the words and pictures and your heart combine into peaceful equanimity. It's quite glorious.
(358, O77)

Goodbye Stranger, by Rebecca Stead (ARC)
I really liked this story of friendship turning slowly (though inexorably) into love, though not quite as much as her other book that I've read. Also, because her first book was clearly a wonderful riff on Madeleine L'Engle, and the second on Louise Fitzhugh, I spent way too much time trying to figure out who this one is a riff on. Judy Blume? M.E. Kerr? I'm still not sure. But I'm glad she wrote it.
(359, O78, A9)

current mood: sniffly

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Thursday, January 7th, 2016
8:32 am - Last Circle of Penderwicks; Baby Alice Zoo; Invincible Snow Garden
The Last Witness, by K. J. Parker
Spooky good, and due to its novella status, clipped along at a much faster pace than I'm used to with this (beloved) author.
(340, O74)

Circle of Stones, by Suzanne Alyssa Andrew
The sort of book that is not usually to my taste, but I read it because it was recommended to me by a student and I'm so glad I did. Super. (Experimental-ish fiction around a disappearing girlfriend, with art school students everywhere and weird crime underworld stuff.)

The Penderwicks in Spring, by Jeanne Birdsall
This is a bit more complicated than the previous volumes - a big plot point is waiting for someone to come home from the war - but still does the same deal, basically: difficult things addressed in a light and comforting tone, mixed with incidents that are smaller but still important to kids. And some funny stuff mixed in. If she writes more of these (or something else), I will no doubt find them just as soothing.

How Machines Work: Zoo Break!, by David Macauley
Oh my goodness! This book is AMAZING. On one level it is the story of many many escape attempts carried out by two zoo animals working together to outwit their keepers. On another, integrated level, it is a pop-up tutorial in the physics of different simple machines (levers, gears, etc.) So fun to play with (it even has a working teeter-totter), and easy to understand. My nephew who got it for Christmas really liked it. If I'd had a copy of it during my first college physics class, I might have done better than a C.
(343, O75)

Baby Love, by Rebecca Walker
Not the classic that Black, White, and Jewish is, but still a very interesting memoir with much to mull over (and a happy ending).

After Alice, by Gregory Maguire
Odd and intriguing. Something of a return to form for Maguire, IMO, after the disappointment of Egg & Spoon. A bit breezier than his usual books, probably due to the short length, but still thought-provoking and hard to put down.

Hamster Princess: Harriet the Invincible, by Ursula Vernon
OMG I LOVED THIS BOOK SO MUCH. URSULA VERNON IS THE BEST. SO MUCH SO THAT I CAN'T STOP WRITING IN ALL CAPS. *deep breath* Seriously, I have recommended and given away this book so many times already, and I only read it this fall. The ONLY middle-grade novel I have found that challenges the *assumptions* of princess culture without denigrating princesses. The protagonist is perfectly happy being a princess, she just figures that if SHE likes doing something, it is thus included in the set of "things princesses like to do" and thus refuses to have limitations imposed upon her. But!! The book accomplishes this without being obnoxiously didactic. Mostly by being very funny. AND the illustrations are awesome, often doing that thing I particularly loved as a kid where they are commenting directly or indirectly on the text. AND the story is a ripping adventure yarn. Love love love.

Up in the Garden, Down in the Dirt and Over and Under the Snow by Kate Messner, illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal
Both of these stories tell kids what is going on above and below the titular substrate - at different times of year obviously. Both are beautifully illustrated and factually based, and both are a joy to read. I preferred the story of Up in the Garden, Down in the Dirt - there was more there there - but either one would make a great gift for a curious kid. I especially liked that they went further into the ecosystem than just the cheerfully bland part.
(348, 373)

current mood: reluctant to get out of bed

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Wednesday, January 6th, 2016
11:57 pm - Sheep Honor Moletown; Sidewalk Meet Cute! Again!
Honor Girl, by Maggie Thrash
Astoundingly good. A relatively quiet graphic novel memoir about summer camp and figuring out you might like like girls and growing up and ... wow. Seriously, I want to read everything Maggie Thrash ever publishes now.

Louis I, King of the Sheep, by Olivier Tallec
Cute. Cartoony. Not as awesome as I'd hoped.

Moletown, by Torben Kuhlmann
More awesome than I'd hoped. Intriguing nearly wordless story, intricate and grandiose illustrations.

I'm Not Cute!, by Jonathan Allen
Spoiler alert: the young owl protagonist of this story is, in fact, cute. Fun but slight.

Toys Meet Snow, by Emily Jenkins, illustrated by Paul Zelinsky
A bit over-self-serious, but generally lovely. Particularly the illustrations.

Again!, by Emily Gravett
I wanted something as ingenious as her book Wolves, which was GREAT. This is not great. Not bad, though.

Sidewalk Flowers, by JonArno Lawson, illustrated by Sidney Smith
Lovely, playful, energetic illustrations in this wordless story, which is a bit overly didactic but not so much so as to ruin things.

current mood: finally getting sleepy

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11:35 pm - Why Literature; Hairy Saga Guardians; Approximately A Hundred Worlds
Guardians of the Galaxy: Deluxe Edition, vol. 1, by Brian Michael Bendis et al
I love how goofy this comic is. But at the same time I can't totally fall IN love with this comic because of how goofy it is. It's a thing. I'll eventually keep reading them but I'm not panting for the next one.

Ms. Marvel, vol. 2: Generation Why, by G. Willow Wilson et al
I enjoyed vol. 1 of this series but thought it was overhyped. Liked volume 2 MUCH better, lots more action and humor. Excited to read the third.

Essays on Literature and Life, by Arthur Clutton-Brock
A very odd little book, from the 20s, that I think was not odd at all back then. What I remember most about it is how utterly lovely the book design is - beautiful fonts, beautiful layout, lovely textual ornaments. A perfect size for the hand, and a beautiful binding. What I don't remember at all about it is why I got the notion to read it in the first place. It was quite charming, though, so I'm glad I did.

Hairy Maclary's Bone, Hairy Maclary Scattercat, Hairy Maclary's Caterwaul Caper, Hairy Maclary's Rumpus at the Vet, and Slinky Malinki (reread), by Lynley Dodd
For most of this series, I had the feeling that I'd read it before, but didn't really remember it. (This happens to me sometimes - I read A LOT as a kid.) Finally, with Slinky Malinki, I realized what was going on: I'd ONLY read Slinky Malinki, but the artwork is so adorable and lively and distinctive that reading other volumes by the same author in the same illustrative and poetic style somehow felt like rereading. Even though they were new to me. The story sometimes leaves something to be desired in these, but some of them are great both ways. Slinky Malinki was, unsurpisingly, my favorite.
(324, 352, 362, 383, 409)

King Dork, Approximately, by Frank Portman
This is more of the same that made King Dork so great. Except, unfortunately, without the driven sense of narrative need. It's just... kind of there. It was fine, I would read more like it (the voice is still spot on), but I wasn't in awe of it. If you want something like King Dork, I would actually go for Andromeda Klein first (I loved that one), and only then move on to this lesser work.

A Hundred Words for Hate, by Thomas Sniegoski
I keep checking out books in this urban theological fantasy series from the library and then returning them unread. Then when I finally DO read them, I really like them. Same goes for this one. Same will probably go for the next one. Wish I knew what my deal is with that. This one had some George C. Chesbro-style not-actually-science fiction bits, which in the wrong hands could be offputting, but, in Sniegoski's hands, was exciting, dramatic, and pulpy in the good way.

Sex Criminals, vol. 2: Two Worlds, One Cop, by Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky
Hm. I know I liked this 2nd installment of Sex Criminals (albeit a bit less than the first installment), but I don't remember anything else about it. *peeks at summary* Oh right. The difference is that the first volume was mostly lighthearted and this volume is mostly depressing. If you want me to read about absurd sex-related scifi premises, you really do have to make it fun. The writing and art were still good enough to keep me interested, though, so I'll read the next one.

Saga, volume 4, by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples
I loved this volume of Saga so much - my favorite in the series so far. The exact right mix of straightforwardness, absurdity, and realism. Starting to develop a real fondness for many of the characters. It's muscling its way toward the Fables/Unwritten/Sandman top tier, though it hasn't quite broken through the velvet rope yet. We'll see how volume 5 goes.

current mood: so many unfinished series in 2015

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Tuesday, January 5th, 2016
9:24 pm - Unbound Suffragette; True Born Libriomancer; Midnight Spud Books; Wish Rules
Libriomancer(reread), Codex Born, and Unbound by Jim C. Hines
This was a really fun series - the central premise is that libriomancers can pull magical (or sfnal or prosaicly useful) objects out of books, and then it complicates itself from there. I really enjoyed each book, and all the characters, though none of them *quite* floated my boat like Hines' kickass princesses do.
(312, 314, 349)

Sally Heathcote: Suffragette, by Mary M. Talbot et al
Fictional but historically detailed story about a maid who becomes a suffragette. Lots of class stuff in here (unsurprising given authors). I liked it.

Author: A True Story, by Helen Lester
So cool! Nonfiction autobiography for kids by a well-known children's author, which really talked about what her life is like without glossing over her own faults and struggles. Would have LOVED this when I was a kid. Warm and fuzzy feelings for it now.

The Midnight Library, by Kazuno Kohara
Lovely illustrations with a very airy feeling, and a story to match. <3.

The Girl Who Hated Books, by Manjusha Pawagi, illustrated by Leanne Franson
This book was quite concretely illustrated, so that you get a real sense of how oppressive the books are in this young child's life - teetering piles of them everywhere, distracting her parents, etc. SPOILER: books turn out to be okay ;). And the journey to get there is credible. Not bad at all.

Eoin Colfer's Legend of Spud Murphy, by Eoin Colfer
Hilarious middle grade novel about a pair of brothers and their encounters with a dread librarian (aka Spud Murphy). I literally got the giggles, I literally laughed out loud, I literally slapped my thigh. Can't wait to see what the 10 year old I know thinks of it.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Season 10, vol. 1: New Rules and vol. 2: I Wish, by Joss Whedon et al
Season 10 is SOOOOOOOOOOO much better than Season 9 was. Thank you writers for pulling yourselves back together!! Now if I could just figure out which Angel & Faith volumes I *have* and which ones I need to buy, and then catch up on those, I would be all set.
(319, 321)

current mood: crotchety

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Monday, January 4th, 2016
8:58 pm - Divine Old Sleeping People; Paper Dragon Days; East Bloomer on the Road;
My niece came to visit me in early October! So most (not all) of this post consists of the sort of books that 6-year-olds like read aloud to them.

People I Sleep With, by Jill Fineberg
This is a lovely (grown-up) photo book of people sleeping with animals. Mostly their pets although there are a few others. Wide variety of animals and wide variety of people. Kind of new age-y backstory but in an interesting rather than an irritating way.
(302, O66)

The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime, by Phyllis Tickle
So I've kind of sort of been doing fixed-hour prayer? I'm doing it more because I miss liturgy (and my paternal grandmother and maternal great-grandmother) than because I miss praying. (Not that there's a hard and fast division between liturgy and prayer in the Catholic tradition anyway.) I'm also extremely haphazard and do it when I am in the mood to do it which often is 4 times a day in a regular fashion for weeks but SOMETIMES means skipping for several days and then catching up all in a burst, or just skipping bits that are non-productively irritating instead of nostalgically and engagingly frustrating. In any case, if you are interested in such things you might like to request this volume; it's quite representative (though without the special sections for Lent/Easter and Advent/Christmas that the other 2 volumes have, obviously), and very well put together. The Compline sections in particular show Tickle's soul as well as the weight of tradition.
(303, O67)

There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed Some Leaves, by Lucille Colandro
So if you know the old lady who swallowed a fly song, this is like that only seasonal. Apparently it is my niece's comfort reading book that comes with her everywhere. I found this highly amusing because I was obsessed with the original at her age. The illustrations are appropriately playful.

Sleeping Dragons All Around, by Sheree Fitch
One of my niece's current favorites, which I had never read, despite Sheree Fitch being a popular kids' author when I was growing up (in Canada). It's pretty cute. I can see why she loves it.

The Paper Bag Princess, by Robert Munsch, illustrated by Michael Martchenko (reread)
Still one of my favorites of all time, she said with relief. (I was afraid it wouldn't have aged well.). My niece likes it too, and was very surprised to find it on my shelf. "YOU have this TOO??" she said. "Oh yeah," her mom said, "Your auntie used to read that ALL THE TIME when she was your age."
(306, O68)

There's No Such Thing as a Dragon, by Jack Kent (reread)
This was one of my husband's favorites as a kid. I liked it fine but there's a mystery to kids' favorites, you know? My inner kid thinks all my favorites are WAY better.
(307, O69)

Leo the Late Bloomer, by Robert Kraus, illustrated by José Aruego (reread)
Another of my kid favorites that my niece really liked. I think as an adult the best part was the illustrations, but as a kid I freaking LOVED the story. Even though I was a bit of a prodigy, not a late bloomer, I still found it super reassuring.
(308, O70)

East of the Sun and West of the Moon, by Mercer Mayer (reread)
This was a book I loved as a kid but had almost forgotten until I found it in a box of remainders at the bookstore where I used to work. Mayer's illustrative style here is VERY different than in the little critter books - lush, old-fashioned, and glowing. I grew progressively hesitant about reading it to my niece as I belatedly realized that it was a fairly dull and complicated storyline that I would think was more suited to 9 year olds... but then the next night it was the very FIRST thing she wanted to read, even before her own books. I think she was as entranced by the illustrations as I am.
(309, O71)

Grasshopper on the Road, by Arnold Lobel (reread)
Another classic, this one wasn't one of my favorites as a kid, but I like it more every time I read it.
(310, O72)

Days with Frog and Toad, by Arnold Lobel (reread)
This was a fun one to read aloud because my sister and I kept breaking off the story to tell my niece one or another anecdote about ways that this book had featured in our lives - trouble we got into, comfort we found, and the time my mom dragooned us to act it out for one of her lesson plan presentations when she was getting a certification. Good times.
(311, O73)

current mood: a bit cold

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Sunday, January 3rd, 2016
11:05 pm - First Uprooted Shadowshaper; Secret Flash Parade; Weird Mix
Shadowshaper, by Daniel José Older
This YA fantasy was incredibly well-done, warm and playful and pushing at the boundaries of things. I am not so MADLY in love with it as many of the other people on the internet seem to be, but I am in love with it enough that I wriggle just thinking about it, and about the fact that there are other books by this author that I have yet to read.

Uprooted, by Naomi Novik
Now this! This I am MADLY in love with. Start to finish, it could not have been more perfectly perfect for me. If I had to do the "it's like X and Y" thing, I would say it's like Lifelode mashed up with Wrede's Forest Chronicles with a dash of Zelazny's Amber thrown in for good measure, spiced by having had some of Theodora Goss' more folkloric writings waved in its general direction. But really it's not like any of those equally splendid things, it's its own, newish thing, that is also an oldish thing, and which (evidently) I loved so very much that I can't really explain my feelings.

The First Elizabeth, by Carolly Erickson
This was very spritely, except when it was so busy being thorough that it got bogged down a bit. I learned a lot about Elizabeth. (I find that getting most of my knowledge about British history from fictive sources causes some problems, and have slowly been working to remedy that; in fact, I started reading this book after I was watching some or other TV show about Henry VIII and was SCANDALIZED that they merged two of his sisters into one character! wtf??? you don't just MERGE princesses like that! *ahem* sorry, tangent.) I was irritated that the author's sympathies so clearly were more with the aristocratic class and not at all with the peasants and servants, about whom she was often snide, but that was a reasonably small quibble that may simply have been a side effect of immersing herself in her subjects.
(295, O64)

Secret Coders, by Gene Luen Yang (ARC)
What a great idea this book was! It's basically a comic that teaches kids boolean logic and logo programming as puzzles, except it's all woven into an exciting story that I would have superdug as a kid. The only thing that made me mad is that it stopped on a HUGE cliffhanger! And since I was reading an advance reading copy the next book wasn't out yet. so I had no way to remedy my Need To Know What Happened. *twitches just remembering it* And even as of this writing, the 2nd book is still not out! *staples hand to forehead and assumes an attitude of despair* But, thinking back to how much fun I had tearing through series like this as a kid, I am hoping the rest of the volumes do come out, soonly, because then I would be more than willing to share them with the kids I know. Right now it would just be mean!
(296, O65, A8)

The Flash: A Celebration of 75 Years, by Gardner Fox et al
So I really love the Flash as a character but had only the spottiest context in terms of, you know, actually having read the comics in situations other than randomly-reading-comics-aloud-to-my-cousin-when-I-was-thirteen-and-babysitting-him. Now I have read lots of Flash comics! And his entire confusing backstory makes like 80 percent sense to me instead of 30 percent sense! Huzzah! Also it was interesting to watch how these comics changed stylistically over the decades.

Mix It Up!, by Hervé Tullet
Another charming kids' book with lovely pictures about which I don't have a whole lot to say. Think this would be especially fun for kids at the age where they have to think a lot in order to go from hearing someone tell them to do something to actually doing it. The things they are told to do are educational (teaching about color mixing) but not so much so as to get in the way of the silliness.

Tippy and the Night Parade, by Lilli Carré
This was cute - another one of those TOON books I was enthusing about a few posts back. Not my favorite of them, but still lovely.

You're Never Weird on the Internet (Almost), by Felicia Day
I have no idea if this would be any good if you don't already know who Felicia Day is, or don't particularly care. As someone who leans toward fangirl but isn't ACTUALLY a fangirl of the author, and who is interested in how people deal with anxiety and other stressful life things generally, I enjoyed it very much. Funny, warm, endearing, insightful, honest.

current mood: sleepy

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9:29 pm - Beast Friday; California Dietland; Last High Marvel
Friday Night Lights, by Buzz Bissinger (reread)
When I first read this it was only about 5 years old - now it's more than 20. The age shows, in places, but it's still a very solid and worthwhile nonfiction read about high school football in Texas. And especially about a few particular people involved, in the town of Odessa, and how football shaped their lives.
(286, O63)

Ana of California, by Andi Teran
Oh, this was positively scrumptious! A retelling of Anne of Green Gables, only with various things changed to make it a story of its own; also set in modern-day California instead of ye olden PEI. Of course, Anne was not ye olden when Montgomery was writing. Anyway, it flows marvelously and most of the writing is excellent. There are some uneven bits, but I found they added to rather than detracted from its charms. This sort of homage becames rather hollow if too perfectly executed.

The Nature of the Beast, by Louise Penny
Another of Penny's excellent Armand Gamache novels. I would've liked this one better if a) the plot had been less over-the-top and more part-of-the-village, and b) (relatedly) we'd seen more of the characters that used to be part of an ensemble and now have become decidely bit parts. But a minor Gamache novel is still cause for excitation in my books, and I tore through this one.

Dietland, by Sarai Walker
This was excellent - it started as one of those parodies that is also a solid example of the thing it mocks, and then got weirder and even more interesting - kind of Matt-Ruff-esque, I guess, though similar to his later work which I like less than the earlier stuff. But in this context it worked great! And I laughed and growled and nodded my head in various places. Hope she writes more.

Captain Marvel, vol. 1: Higher, Faster, Further, More, Captain Marvel, vol. 1: In Pursuit of Flight, Captain Marvel, vol. 2: Down, and Captain Marvel, vol. 2: Stay Fly by Kelly DeConnick et al
I know the numbering is confusing on these, I found it confusing too, and read them all out of order. Anyway, someone (Reading the End podcast maybe? maybe not) mentioned how swell these are, and they are, in fact, swell! The tone varies widely as does the subgenre (frequently because of who her teammates are for any particular arc), but somehow it all comes together into a capable, amiable, bristly heroine and several pageturning adventures. Waiting eagerly for my hold on the next one to come in, though not quite at the point of buying them for myself.
(290, 298, 314, 394)

Last First Snow, by Max Gladstone
At last! At last! A Max Gladstone novel that I fell in love with before the last 80 pages. (It's quite awkward, you know, figuring out whether to recommend things that you trudge through until the end and then end up swooning over... ) I really enjoyed this one right from the start! I'm not sure why, but my working theory is that Gladstone, for all his virtues, is not very good at *introducing*. In this book many of the characters are familiar - intimately known from previous books - as is the setting. That's the only really difference I can find between this one and the others? I don't think it's that the writing has improved; it was already excellent and just hadn't mattered compared to my trudging. Hm. Is possible the rhythms are better, but I don't *think* that's it... anyway, it was so fun to read! I can't wait for another one! I still have no idea whether to recommend these to people!

From a High Tower, by Mercedes Lackey
Quick, fluffy fairy tale retelling around Rapunzel set in her Elemental Masters alternate history world. I liked how she worked this one to hook up (including an overlapping major character) with the Red Riding Hood one, while still telling a new story. Wish she would write another one with the depth that a couple of the early volumes have, but will keep enjoying this series regardless of deeper insight or lack thereof.

current mood: not ready for vacation to be over

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7:33 pm - Invisible Black; Failed Stone Dope; Moonstone Burqa Country;
Invisible Beasts, by Sharona Muir (ARC)
I was a bit skeptical about this book - often literary fiction does poorly with anything even approaching science - but Bellevue is rather a wonderful imprint so I thought I would give it a try. Absolutely worth it - exactly the right mix of thoughtfulness, humor, and wonder - and I love how casually she worked a novelistic story into these not-at-all-novelistic entries of an imaginative bestiary. It might be Borgesian, except their writing styles are so different. Anyway, I loved it.
(278, O60, A7)

Inside Dope, by Paul Thomas
Gnarrrrr. Even being set in New Zealand was not enough to make me like this book, and yet there were flashes of brilliance amid the muck: 4-8 page chunks where everything flowed perfectly and nothing made me want to bang my head against a wall. So I will probably try the next one, but warily.
(279, O61)

How to Be Black, by Baratunde R. Thurston
This was pitched to me as a humor book The author is a comedy writer and the book WAS often funny - but really it's a memoir-in-essays. And a damn good one at that. Still, if you're expecting laugh-a-minute, you will be confused. Once I adjusted, I was much more into this book than I would've been into the book I thought it would be. Flat out excellent.

11 Experiments That Failed, by Jenny Offill
HILARIOUS. SO SO SO FUNNY and the pictures match the text perfectly. 8 year old me would have read and reread this book, giggling like mad all the while.

Stick and Stone, by Beth Ferry
A touching but not sappy fable that left me feeling better about life. Also I liked the pictures. (Also, I am particularly noticing that it is hard to find so many different but still accurate ways to explain "picture book. was good." so close together. Must not procrastinate so much on writing these next year.)

Burqa de chair, by Nelly Arcan
This book was extremely hard to read because of the subject matter, extremely easy to read in terms of style. Nelly Arcan was a very angry, very heartbroken genius, who took her own life far too early after leaving behind a bunch of writing - published and not - about femininity, philosophy, and her experiences (including the experience of working as a prostitute for several years). I am glad I read this book, but it will be a long time before I gather the energy to read more of her writing.

The Moonstone, by Wilkie Collins (nook)
Much like reading Chesterton's detective stories a few years back, I found parts of this absolutely fabulous and parts of it disgustingly racist. There were also parts that were quite funny and insightful about human nature, and parts that read as though he'd never actually known a woman in his life. I developed a sturdy fondness for one of his protagonists, the Robinson-Crusoe-worshipping butler. All told, it wasn't my favorite novel of the era, but I'll be reading more of him eventually.
(284, O62)

The Country You Have Never Seen, by Joanna Russ
For whatever reason, even though I have almost never met a feminist sf novel I didn't like, I've read almost no Joanna Russ. After listening to Samuel Delaney talk about her on a podcast, I felt the need to remedy the situation and decided to ease into her work with this collection of essays and reviews. Frequently frustrating, more frequently delightful, always wicked smart. Consider me eased. I'll be very surprised if I don't read at least one of her novels this year.

current mood: restless

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6:36 pm - Dead Guji Honey; Hot Cherry Stories; Single Modern Witchcraft
Guji Guji, by Chih-Yuan Chen
A charming, ebullient, and sufficiently chaotic new spin on the Ugly Duckling, featuring a crocodile of all things. So fun!

Bunny My Honey, by Anita Jeram
Comforting and sweet. If I had a kid of my own and this became their "read every night" book, it would take me a long time to get sick of it.

Dead Ice, by Laurell K. Hamilton
Ugh. There is JUST enough that I still love about any LKH book that I keep reading them, even though the things that irritate me pile higher with every successive entry in this series. (The other series irritates me less.) There are just certain things that she does better than anyone else even as she gets painfully less good at everything else. I miss the tight structure and sense of mystery from the first few books...

Cherries and Cherry Pits, by Vera B. Williams
Cleverly done AND heartwarming, an admirable combination. Wish this children's book had made a deeper dent in the collective consciousness than it has, I think a lot of kids would still love it today.

Stories of My Life, by Katherine Paterson
Lovely to read about the childhood and early adulthood of one of my favorite children's authors. And she writes with the same combination of emotional understatement and attention to concrete detail that characterize her best books.
(273, O56)

Harley Quinn, vol. 1: Hot in the City, by Amanda Conner et al
Goofy and over-the-top. Occasionally obnoxious but much more often endearing. For all my skepticism about the New 52, there's some good work being done.

Girl's Guide to Witchcraft, Sorcery and the Single Girl, and Magic and the Modern Girl, by Mindy Klasky (nook)
These were the *perfect* airplane books during the tiresome travel needed to return to PEI for a visit this summer. Light, brisk, funny, and never too demanding - but with real emotional stakes for the characters (even when I the reader am pretty sure what will happen, I never get the sense that the characters are just marking the paces). I don't read a lot of chick lit, or romantic novels in general, but this series is among my favorites. And I suspect it still would be if I were deeply versed in the genre. Mindy Klasky is such a reliably ... fizzy... writer. Like a cold Sprite. I appreciate her a lot.
(275, 276, 277; O57, O58, O59)

current mood: more vacation please

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11:39 am - Young Pool Savages; Clementine's Exploring Heroes; Yaga's Butterfly
Pool, by JiHeon Lee
A slight story, but lovely artwork in an unusual style. Captivating.

Savages, by K. J. Parker
The thing about K. J. Parker is that he can write about anything and I will enjoy reading it. Not just enjoy, but inhale his writing, dance through his writing, wallow in his writing. That said, I *care* more about some of his topics and characters than others and I didn't care as much about these ones. (This is a criticism that applies only within the set of K. J. Parker novels, as within the set of all the novels I read, this was still among the most interesting.)
(263, O54)

Young Sentinels and Small Town Heroes, by Marion Harmon
I like that Astra's picked up a teen team although I personally would rather have seen her leading the main team. The teen team makes for more teen-level drama, which is probably more interesting to the main demographic of Harmon's readers, but not so much so to me. (That's what I have YA novels for!) That said, though, I like most of the new characters. And the plots are just intricate enough for popcorn reading. So I'm still hooked on the series.
(264, 326)

Clementine's Letter, Clementine: Friend of the Week, Clementine and the Family Meeting, Clementine and the Spring Trip, and Completely Clementine by Sara Pennypacker, illustrated by Marla Frazee
The stories are fun and emotionally complex in the same way that Cleary's Ramona books are. And the illustrations are even better than the story. Can't wait till my younger niece gets the right age for these; I think she will LOVE them.
(265, 327, 331, 367, 434)

Exploring Calvin and Hobbes: An Exhibition Catalogue, by Bill Watterson et al
I wish this had had more of Watterson's commentary, but not having it just left more room for classic Calvin and Hobbes strips, and it would be silly to complain about that. Plus having ANY Watterson commentary was really cool.

Baba Yaga's Assistant, by Marika McCool
Just a bit scary, exciting, and well put together. If you like kids' comics, it's totally worth checking out.
(267, O55)

Butterfly Park, by Elly MacKay
Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah. I don't even remember what this book was about because something about the art technique (a type of paper-cutouts) put all the human figures in this book well into uncanny valley territory for me and it creeped me the bleeping bleepity bleep bleep out. I vaguely remember thinking if it didn't do that, it would be pretty cool? And I liked some of the illustrations that didn't have people in them. It's not MEANT to be creepy, at all. But mostly: aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah. *shudders*

current mood: lazy

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12:19 am - Loki As Philosopher; Brave Max; Aurora Women
Come As You Are, by Emily Nagoski
So when I read this I was all "Well, this is extremely interesting because it has case studies and stuff but I already knew most of the science and it's not like I have EVER had any issues having orgasms." Then like a month later I went on a new medication and I had to relearn how to have an orgasm (until that side effect wore off like 3 months later and they became easy again, HOORAY). Anyway, it turns out that I ended up remembering and thinking about a lot of the techniques, etc., discussed in the book, and they were very helpful. Gold star for Ms. Nagoski.

The Gospel of Loki, by Joanne Harris
I liked it because it's about Loki and it's a myth retelling and it's very fluidly written. But I didn't LOVE it because it's about Loki and thus I have Very Strong Opinions and the voice was just not... interesting enough. Not clever enough. Not subtle enough. And not playful enough. Which maybe sounds like I didn't like it? But I did. I just have a very very high standard when it comes to Norse mythology. I also happened to read this *right* before delving into the wonderful wonderful work of Ada Palmer et al (Sassafrass), doing a Norse musical thing with very complex harmonies, and HER Loki is damn near perfect. So close to perfect that, while listening to a live performance, at one point the chorus in my head were all declaiming "SEE JOANNE HARRIS THIS IS WHAT YOU DO." Sorry, Joanne Harris. I keep being disappointed in you and I suspect it is not your fault. I will try at least one more of your books before I give up.

The Philosopher Kings, by Jo Walton
Absolutely and utterly as wonderful as I was hoping it would be; I'm still all warm and fuzzy just remembering reading it, months later (and also heartbroken / angry / intrigued / intellectually engaged / etc, depending on which part of the story I am remembering reading). AND she pulled off that thing I was lamenting a lack of in another author, earlier today - the thing where I can kind of see how things ought to end but I am hoping for a miracle different ending anyway? She managed said miracle *splendidly* in a way that reframes the whole trilogy, and left me so very eager for the third book, and retrospectively thinking it wasn't a miracle at all, but rather precisely what *would* happen, given all the givens. I am rather lucky, to have more than one ideal author - authors who actually write exactly the books I want to read - and even more lucky that more than one of them are still writing (as opposed to decades or centuries dead). But if I did have to pick *just* one to be able to keep reading - at least just one of the living ones - it might well be papersky.
(257, O50)

No Time for Tears, by Judy Heath
I was rather hoping this would be a book about how to grieve in 15 minute segments or something, which I realize is ridiculous but one can dream. Also see the title. But even though it was NOT what I wanted, it was quite solid, full of good reminders that helped me and helped me help someone else, so cheers to it. Not the best grief book I've read, but a useful one.

Max the Brave, by Ed Vere (ARC)
A delightful romp of a kid's book, which, for whatever reason, I keep holding on to instead of giving away to some kid I know. Wait, I know the reason - it's because the cover is so damn cute that it makes me grin every time I see it sitting around in my computer room. :D.
(259, O51, A6)

Aurora, by Kim Stanley Robinson
It was very weird to read this book while attending a fantasy convention, because it is so relentlessly sfnal in rather an old-fashioned way. I started to talk about its bleakness or pessimism because it is, fundamentally, a "your dreams are a crock and won't work" kind of a book - but actually I don't think it *is* bleak or pessimistic. The characters are loved by the narrator (and, I infer, the author), and the ending is full of hope. Just a retargeted hope. Plus I'm enough of a dreamer that I don't actually see this as an end to anything - more the antithesis that comes before a synthesis. (Which I realize wasn't even really Hegel and also is more memelike than is trustworthy - but I'm still fond of thinking of the world that way.) I really really love the narrative voice - I think it's fresh and original and makes a virtue out of the infodumping that you just KNOW is always going to be part of any KSR book - and I was fond enough of several of the characters that I kind of wish I knew them and kind of feel that I *do*. I also wish I could quit hoarding-instead-of-reading Robinson's books. I have 3 or 4 stashed away in my house in various places (including the extremely obvious R's-of-hardcover-fiction shelf) that I would really like to read.
(260, O52)

Women of Wonder, by Cathy Fenner
So many beautiful fantasy drawings all in one place, all drawn by women, and lots of them with still working (or easily search-engine-replaceable) URLS so I could go enjoy more of their work. Exactly what I needed in the middle of a very hot summer. Still grinning when I think about this book. (I didn't love EVERY painting in this book - when does that ever happen? But there is so much I did love that I barely remember the duds.)
(261, O53)

current mood: bedtime

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Saturday, January 2nd, 2016
11:05 pm - Dragon's Pretend Box; Between Bitterns; Wishful Family
Dragon's Breath: and Other True Stories, by MariNaomi
I grabbed this at random from the new books shelf at the library and I'm so glad I did. Even though it was a collection of graphic stories, it all cohered marvelously. Funny and raw and delicate and goofy.

Benny and Penny in Just Pretend, by Geoffrey Hayes
This was adorable, and totally relatable for anyone who has had a loved-but-irritating younger sibling, no matter how old they are now. (Also, TOON books? the whole line of comics for kids, leveled a-la-easy-readers? SUCH a good idea. I just have to point that out every so often. Because it keeps being brilliant.)

The Grenadillo Box, by Janet Gleeson
Ennnnnh. I did like this historical mystery with lots of glorious detail about 18th century England, quite a bit, but not nearly as much as I would've expected given that plausible fiction about 18th century England is almost a surefire home run as far as I'm concerned.. The voice just wasn't a good match for me. It was a well-constructed voice, but not one I cottoned to. I'm so fussy about feeling an emotional pull to my narrators. (yes, even the almost-not-there ones. yes, ESPECIALLY the first-person or close-third ones. yes, even when it creeps me out to feel the emotional pull, because it's not like said narrator is AT ALL a likable person. yes, even when the character themself is almost emotionless. there's just gotta be chemistry, man.)
(249B - whoops :D)

Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates (ARC)
I loved this book so much and it made me think so much. And feel so much for that matter. We ended up buying THREE copies of it at my tiny academic library where we almost never buy 3 copies of anything, just to keep up with the demand. (Seriously, I could count the number of things we have more than 2 copies of without running out of fingers and toes!) It has flaws, but the flaws feel like an inextricable part of the whole package. Love. Love love love.
(251, O49, A5)

A Siege of Bitterns, by Steve Burrows
This was a very neat mystery with tons of birding stuff. I am not a birder but I like a lot of the same things birders do (eg counting obsessively, categorizing, wetlands, fresh air) so that part was fun. And all the other parts were handled with satisfying competence. Will keep track of this author.

Wishful Thinking, by Frederick Buechner
Very short essays about different theological things. I'm pretty sure this at least partially inspired Kathleen Norris' similar book, which I love, but unfortunately it suffered by comparison. I suspect partly just because it's much older (early 70s). I still love Buechner's voice and will read more books by him.

Hip Hop Family Tree, vol. 1: 1970s-1981, by Ed Piskor
This was cool. I was expecting more of a through-narrative? Instead it was more a bunch of disconnected but quasi-related parts. Strips, not GN. I would've preferred GN. I dug it, though.

current mood: achy

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3:10 pm - Wild Escape from Prudence; Prairie Afterlife Jobs; Royal Middle-School Seconds
Wild Boars Cook, by Meg Rosoff, illustrated by Sophie Blackall
Still fun, and chaotic, but not as sly and rumptious as the original book. The authors make a good team, I'll probably pick up anything else they make.

Prudence, by Gail Carriger
The thing about Gail Carriger books is that I immerse myself in them SO wholly that I end up not remembering them very well. I know that sounds contradictory, but it stems from running out of books a lot when I was a little kid - I learned to let go of the story the minute it was over, so I could better enjoy rereading it. Even now, certain books trigger that old habit, and then all I can remember of them is that I really enjoyed them, but not what they were about. This is one of those. I feel confident recommending it, given the circumstances, but obviously as the author's umpteenth book, possibly not where you want to start. I do have a ghost of a memory of saying "YES MORE LORD AKELDAMA ALL THE LORD AKELDAMA PLEASE" with enthusiasm to my office mate - so if you don't like him maybe this isn't the book for you;).

The Death of Archie by Paul Kupperberg et al and Afterlife with Archie, Vol. 1: Escape from Riverdale by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa et al
I'm rather delighted by how these modern Archie comics manage to sate my deep-rooted desire for more Archie comics but ALSO be different and weird enough that I don't get irritated with my inner 9-year-old for demanding them in the first place. Good job, modern Archie workers.
(240, 241)

Prairie Fire, by E. K. Johnston
Well, the plot of this book almost had to disappoint me due to the constraints placed on it by its chosen context. And it did. But I really don't see any other way things could have worked out; I was just mindlessly hoping the author was cleverer and more insightful than I am, and would thus pull a miracle out of a hat while still making it believable, which is a lot to ask really. Probably it was better for her to be true to what had to happen. And it's just as well-written, and has just as compelling an authorial voice, and as many clever touches as the first book, and I'm glad I read it, and when I reread the first book I will probably reread this one too... but it just didn't ... I wasn't IN LOVE like I was last time. Or maybe I was, but this time had to go and inevitably break my heart where the last time didn't, and that has to sting a bit. These things happen. Me, not her. Etc. She's still on my must read always list.

Steve Jobs, by Walter Isaacson
This was really hard to read because of how much like my dad Steve Jobs was. Very well constructed, lots of interesting info about Apple. Glad I bailed on it a couple years ago when I was going to do a school project, and did Emerson instead, because that would've been disastrous. This time around it was worth reading, even if I had to take some breaks.
(243, O48)

Seconds, by Bryan Lee O'Malley
On the one hand I really loved this story - great illustrations, compelling main character, fun plot, etc etc. On the other hand there is just ... something... about how O'Malley writes women that keeps him from being in my top tier of writers. It's not horrid - he's comfortably in the 2nd tier - but ... just ... some unreality or the other that creeps in. Maybe after I read all the Scott Pilgrims I'll figure it out.

Royal Wedding and Notebooks of a Middle-School Princess, by Meg Cabot
I have such a soft spot for Cabot's Princess books. I cannot even tell you if they are good or not because I am too busy having a soft spot for them. If you have a soft spot for this sort of book (or for this series), they will no doubt do very nicely for you too.
(245, 246)

current mood: deliberate

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1:55 pm - God's Pleasant Interstellar Musician; Thinking In a Cat
God's War, by Kameron Hurley
This sf-fantasy is extremely intense. SO intense. (War stuff, torture stuff, boxing stuff, other stuff.) Lots of great world-building, excellent plot, interesting characters, all so much so that I read it despite not really clicking with the narrative voice (and narrative voice is normally my primary criterion) - definitely curious to keep reading her, will resist later books till I have read the earlier ones in the hopes that she keeps being progressively more my cup of tea. (I love it when that happens.)

Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant?, by Roz Chast
A heartbreaking and funny graphic memoir of her parents' getting older and needing more help. Really well-done. Grief, loss, but restorative rather than emptying.

Interstellar Cinderella, by Deborah Underwood
Kid's picture book that was charming but fluffy. Wanted more from it than I got.

The Green Musician, by Mahvash Shahegh, illustrated by Claire Ewart
Really cool to read a story from the Shahnameh presented in typical picture book fashion. Also the illustrations were lovely. Made an excellent present for my Farsi uncle (to read to his grand-nieces).
(235, O47)

Listful Thinking, by Paula Rizzo
Meh. I really thought this might turn out to be useful for someone who already makes tons of lists, to be more effective with them, but instead it was more trying to TURN you into someone who makes tons of lists. Which I really don't need. Plus there was magical thinking a la The Secret, which is my least favorite kind of magical thinking.

In and How to Be a Cat, by Nikki McClure
Both of these were perfectly perfectly illustrated; How to Be a Cat was prettier but more straightforward; In was slightly less lovely but much more playful. I'd read more of her books, but have not swamped myself with her backlist (in case it turns out to be less wonderful).
(237, 249)

current mood: busy

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Friday, January 1st, 2016
11:26 pm - O'Brien's Necromancer Pictures; Revisionists Rockin' Machina - also reading goals for 2016
Batten your hatches, folks! I've read 465 books this year, and you'll notice that this entry starts with book #222... I don't intend to catch up tonight, but I will be posting a lot for the next few days :D.

Hold Me Closer, Necromancer, by Lish McBride
This is a fun book, Buffy-esque but with a male protagonist who is actually working class, and not just sometimes broke. It's also funny and earnest. Need to read more of this author's work.

The Book with No Pictures, by B. J. Novak
This was cute enough, as storybooks without pictures go, and would make a fun read-aloud - it feels designed for a read-aloud - but it'd been overhyped by the time I got around it, and ... hm, it was okay, you know? Not the sort of thing I'd have felt called to go around overhyping.

Glory O'Brien's History of the Future, by A. S. King
This YA novel exploded my brain. So so so so good. Just weird enough, just grounded enough, just bitter enough, just sweet enough.... I loved it start to finish and will probably reread it in the next couple of years, because here it is six months out from when I read it and I am remembering specific images from the story and I can almost *taste* how good it is, all over again!

Rockin' the Boat, by Jeff Fleischer
This was an odd but neat book. Basically YA non-fiction mini-biographies of dozens of different rebels, many of them not at all admirable. The juxtapositions were sometimes uncomfortable, and not especially appealing, but each individual article was engaging and well-researched. Perfect for the kid I gave it to, not entirely my own cup of tea.
(225, O46)

Ex Machina, vol. 1: The First Hundred Days, vol. 2: Tag, vol 3: Fact v. Fiction, vol. 4: March to War, vol. 5: Smoke, Smoke, and vol. 6: Power Down, by Brian K. Vaughan, Tony Harris, et al
As you can tell, I spent a lot of time with this comic book series this year. I have no idea why it took me this long to get to it, considering how much I like Y the Last Man, Saga, and what few issues of Runaways I've read. It's extremely solid - not quite as wonderful as Fables or Unwritten but often reaching Transmet or Hitman or Preacher levels of unputdownability. It reminds me a bit of Y the Last Man, actually, although I find it more fundamentally sympathetic (but, oddly enough, less superficially sympathetic ... I am contrary). Anyway! If you like politics in your comics and compelling plots and interesting characters, you should try it. I am waiting on vol. 7 right now, and sad that I am getting close to the end...
(227, 228, 329, 344, 353, 459)

The Revisionists, by Thomas Mullen
Another odd and interesting book. This was kind of a time travel fantasy and kind of a Beltway grinder and kind of a spy story and kind of a psychological thriller. The disparate elements gelled elegantly. Also, I checked it out because I had it confused with another novel by the same name, but it satisfied me well enough that I haven't yet gotten around to checking out the book I was originally wanting. So that's something.


Last year I had no reading goals, even though I wasn't in school anymore, and it worked out pretty darn well. I read a lot, things I wanted to read, and it was fun. But this year I'm going to try for something different, so I've set a bunch of absurd reading-related goals for myself. If I meet ANY of them, I will be shocked! But it's fun to let my reach exceed my grasp, too...

1) Read at least 700 books.
2) Read at least 300 of my own books.
3) Read at least 100 advance reading copies (that would pretty much catch me up on ARCs, I think? if I actually have less than 100 and read all of them, that counts as meeting this goal...) These also count toward goal 2.
4) Read at least 100 of my ebooks, starting with the giant Tor stories compilation I'm in the middle of. These also count toward goal 2.
4) Get my library checkouts down to no more 10 between both libraries, including ILLs.
5) Keep them at that level for at least 3 months.
6) Catch up completely on reading my backlog of magazines.
7) Catalog every book in my entire house.
8) Get rid of at least 8 boxes full of books. (Shh, I'd be donating them, not throwing them away...)

So those are my ridiculous goals for the year. It's funny, I have no expectation of meeting them - and yet my heart stirs with excitement just reading the list. Goals are weird.

current mood: full

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