Sunday, May 15, 2022

What I've Been Reading Lately (Quick Lit)

Today I'm linking up with Modern Mrs. Darcy's Quick Lit to bring you some short and sweet reviews of what I've read in the past month. For longer reviews, you can always find me on Goodreads.

SLAY by Brittney Morris: This story — Black girl creates a video game for the Black diaspora that gets picked apart in the media after a tragedy — was unlike any YA novel I'd read before, and I loved it.

A Good Girl's Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson: I didn't know if this would live up to the hype because I'm very picky about my mystery novels, but it was incredibly satisfying and I have a hold on the sequel now.

Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World by Jack Weatherford: If you can get past Weatherford's strong pro-Mongol bias, this is a fascinating, well-researched work of nonfiction about a part of history I knew very little about.

Ignore It!: How Selectively Looking the Other Way Can Decrease Behavioral Problems and Increase Parenting Satisfaction by Catherine Pearlman: I had a lot of issues with this book and definitely wouldn't recommend it as my top parenting advice book, but Pearlman does provide valuable guidance on an area that many parenting books, with their focus on feelings and attachment and play, skip over: sometimes your kid just intentionally does stuff to get attention, and if you can ignore them effectively, they'll stop.

Heartstopper: Volume Three by Alice Oseman: This was another excellent volume in a 5-star series. This one perfectly captures the experience of going on an international school trip, and we see the main characters getting to know parts of each other's lives that they hadn't previously seen.

Not Your Backup by C.B. Lee: I've kind of accepted at this point that this series doesn't have the tightest plotting or world-building, and I enjoy it for the diverse cast of great characters, the snappy dialogue, and the dramatic action scenes.

Heartstopper: Volume Four by Alice Oseman: I love that in this volume, we see Charlie dealing with his mental illness and the boys even get in a fight, but the undercurrent of deep love is still there. And the side characters are just perfection.

The Time Machine by H.G. Wells: I found this classic of science fiction interesting on several levels, especially seeing what Wells was more concerned with (commentary on the social structures of his day) and less concerned with (coherent world-building, addressing time travel paradoxes).

Thy Queendom Come: Breaking Free from the Patriarchy to Save Your Soul by Kyndall Rae Rothaus: This was a super-accessible text that encourages the reader to think about God and the Bible through a feminist lens. Whether you're already steeped in Christian feminism and looking for more inspiration or you're just starting to look for permission to ask questions about the patriarchal structures around you, this is a quick and valuable read to check out. (Don't miss Rothaus coming on the podcast in a few weeks!)

Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones by James Clear: I didn't enjoy the self-improvement, tech/business bro tone of the book or the heavy reliance on white dudes for examples, but I did appreciate the way the author summarized and simplified research and models previously shared elsewhere to give the reader a wide range of options for building desired habits and reducing unwanted habits.

Griffin & Sabine: An Extraordinary Correspondence by Nick Bantock: As much as I enjoyed revisiting a format I loved as a kid (envelopes pasted onto book pages with actual letters you can take out), unexplained magic, a deep connection to art, and an abrupt cliffhanger are all elements that don't resonate with me, so this wasn't my kind of book.

I Kissed Shara Wheeler by Casey McQuiston: I love McQuiston's books, but I honestly wasn't a big fan of the two main characters here, which made it challenging. However, the big cast of delightfully queer supporting characters and the message about not writing off people or places too early made this an enjoyable read overall.

Looking back:
One year ago I was reading: Fun Home, The Galaxy, and the Ground Within, and Abuelita Faith
Five years ago I was reading: Hidden Figures and American Street
Ten years ago I was reading: The Blue Parakeet

Monday, May 9, 2022

Ten Bookish Characters


I'm linking up with That Artsy Reader Girl for another Top Ten Tuesday.

This week's theme is "bookish characters." Here are ten characters from books that are themselves associated with books in some way!

1. A.J. Fikry (from The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry)
2. Alma Singer (from The History of Love)
3. Francie Nolan (from A Tree Grows in Brooklyn)
4. Hazel Grace Lancaster (from The Fault in Our Stars)
5. Hermione Granger (from the Harry Potter series)
6. Lazlo Strange (from Strange the Dreamer)
7. Liesel Meminger (from The Book Thief)
8. Luigi Lemoncello (from Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library)
9. Matilda Wormwood (from Matilda)
10. Meggie Folchart (from the Inkworld series)

Which other bookish characters can you think of?

Looking back:
One year ago I was reading: Sure, I'll Be Your Black Friend, The Galaxy, and the Ground Within, and The Case of the Missing Museum Archives
Five years ago I was reading: Appointment with Death
Ten years ago I was reading: The Blue Parakeet

Saturday, April 30, 2022

Best of the Bunch (April 2022)

Best of the Bunch header

Today I'm sharing the best book I read in April.

It was a great reading month! Of the 10 books I read this month, I had four 5-star reads.

Heartstopper: Volume Two by Alice Oseman

Because Internet: Understanding the New Rules of Language by Gretchen McCulloch

A Good Girl's Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson

Heartstopper: Volume Three by Alice Oseman

The first volume of Heartstopper was my March favorite! Of the remaining two, I really enjoyed both of them, but I'll go with the one that was the most fun and interesting for me!
Because Internet was so much fun! McCulloch herself narrates the audiobook (which, I appreciated, had been carefully adjusted for the format) and does so with a tone of sheer delight throughout the entire text. I loved that she'd attempted to dig up the origins of everything from "lol" to emoji to older folks' tendency to separate sentences with ellipses. She deftly separates that which is unique to the internet and that which existed pre-internet and has simply found new expression in new technology. I learned a ton and laughed out loud many times, which for me makes this a top-notch nonfiction pick. Even if you're not a data or communication nerd like me, if you use the internet you will probably find something new and interesting in this book.

What is the best book you read this month? Let me know in comments, or write your own post and link up below!

Looking back:
One year ago I was reading: Kate in Waiting and Freddie Ramos Adds It All Up
Five years ago I was reading: Kindred and The Name of the Rose
Ten years ago I was reading: The Family Fang

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Monday, April 25, 2022

Ten Books with Hands on the Cover


I'm linking up with That Artsy Reader Girl for another Top Ten Tuesday.

This week we're picking books with something in common on the cover. I picked hands! Here are ten books I've read that have hands without faces on the covers.
1. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver
2. Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
3. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer
4. The God We Never Knew by Marcus J. Borg
5. God's Bits of Wood by Ousmane Sembène
6. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
7. Kindred: A Graphic Novel Adaptation by Damian Duffy (based on the book by Octavia E. Butler)
8. Let It Snow by John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle
9. The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander
10. The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro

Which other books follow this theme?

Looking back:
One year ago I was reading: Broken, Kate in Waiting, and Freddie Ramos Hears It All
Five years ago I was reading: Death on the Nile and The Name of the Rose
Ten years ago I was reading: Nice Girls Don't Get the Corner Office

Friday, April 15, 2022

What I've Been Reading Lately (Quick Lit)

Today I'm linking up with Modern Mrs. Darcy's Quick Lit to bring you some short and sweet reviews of what I've read in the past month. For longer reviews, you can always find me on Goodreads.

The Ship We Built by Lexie Bean: This was a painfully accurate rendering of a fifth-grader's diary, if that fifth-grader was dealing with incest and being trans on top of all the usual friend drama and feeling awkward and lonely. The result is a kind of unrelenting heaviness that I found hard to get through. This may be valuable if you've never read a trans memoir or #ownvoices novel with a trans character, but it wouldn't be my first rec.

Not Your Sidekick by C.B. Lee: On the whole, I really liked this post-apocalyptic YA sci-fi story with an authentically diverse cast. The plot was quite predictable, but if you're down to embrace the tropes of sci-fi and superhero stories with a queer Asian twist, then I'd recommend it.

Not Your Villain by C.B. Lee: I still loved the characters from the first book, but the plotting was rough on this one. The first part just retells the first book from a different perspective, and then the protagonist repeatedly seeks out trouble for no apparent reason. All that said, I still enjoyed the diverse representation, the character dialogue, and the interesting plot developments.

Sleeping Murder by Agatha Christie: I liked this one, even though I picked out the culprit early on and not all of the plot points totally add up. This one showcased the skill of Miss Marple's particular brand of detecting (being a chatty old lady who can ask nosy questions without suspicion) better than some others.

Drinking the Rain: A Memoir by Alix Kates Shulman: I read this over the course of almost a month, mostly because it begs to be read slowly, in the same way that Shulman lived on her island retreat — carefully and methodically learning what was edible and how to prepare it and spending large parts of each day collecting, preparing, and eating that day's meals. At times the detail was a little too much, but on the whole I really appreciated her reflections.

Heartstopper: Volume Two by Alice Oseman: This book is just pure queer joy. Nick and Charlie are both adorable cinnamon rolls and the relationship between them is amazing. Near the end I legit giggled with tears running down my face because everything was too precious for words.

Kiss & Tell by Adib Khorram: Khorram's YA books are unlike anything else I've read, and I'm so grateful he's out here telling new and authentic stories. Hunter has to grapple with being a queer teen in the public eye after the band he formed with his friends in high school skyrockets to international fame, and everyone (represented through pitch-perfect news articles, emails, blog posts, tweets, etc.) has an opinion about who he should be and how he should act.

Because Internet: Understanding the New Rules of Language by Gretchen McCulloch: This book was so much fun! I'm not sure it would be quite as enthralling for some who doesn't live at the intersection of comm major and data analyst like I do, but I found it fascinating and engaging from start to finish. I learned a ton and laughed out loud many times, which for me makes this a top-notch nonfiction pick.

All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenthood by Jennifer Senior: This was an engaging and highly validating book on parenting told through a combination of interviews and studies that have been done throughout the years. Rather than focusing on "how to" parent, Senior is more concerned with how we do parent and what meaning we make of that. Recommended for both current and aspiring parents!

Looking back:
One year ago I was reading: A Pocket Full of Rye, Rick, and Freddie Ramos Rules New York
Five years ago I was reading: The Bees
Ten years ago I was reading: The New Brain

Monday, April 11, 2022

Ten Authors I Still Haven’t Read (Despite Having Multiple Books of Theirs on My To-Read List)


I'm linking up with That Artsy Reader Girl for another Top Ten Tuesday.

This week's theme is "Authors I Haven’t Read, But Want To." Most of the books on my might-want-to-read list are by authors I haven't read before, so to narrow this down I found the authors I've never read whose books appear more than once on my list. That still left me with 37 authors! Here are ten of the ones I most can't believe that I haven't yet read.
1. Elizabeth Acevedo
I've heard amazing things about both The Poet X and Clap When You Land, and I'm excited to read both of them!
2. Fredrik Backman
The recommendations just keep piling up for Backman's books! I'm most interested in A Man Called Ove (my soft spot for older male characters is documented), but I also have Beartown and My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry on my list.
3. N.K. Jemisin
I've most often heard about the Broken Earth trilogy, but The City We Became got a ton of buzz as well when it came out in 2020!
4. Marie Lu
I've seen a lot of recs for Legend in the decade since it came out, and then Warcross also made a lot of lists when it came out.
5. Hannah Moskowitz
Moskowitz's books have been on my radar for quite a while as having great queer representation, but I haven't yet picked up any of her books. The ones on my list are Not Otherwise Specified and Gone, Gone, Gone.
6. Emily Nagoski
I heard a fantastic interview with Nagoski recently, but still have yet to pick up her two huge nonfiction hits, Come as You Are and Burnout.
7. Patrick Ness
Ness has written a ton of books that I've seen recommended frequently, but somehow I still haven't read any of them. A Monster Calls, The Knife of Never Letting Go, and More Than This are all on my list.
8. Ijeoma Oluo
I'm very interested to read both So You Want to Talk About Race and Mediocre!
9. Neal Shusterman
Shusterman's books have been emphatically recommended to me on multiple occasions, so I can't believe I haven't read any of them yet. I'm interested in Scythe, Unwind, and Challenger Deep.
10. Jesmyn Ward
Ward's name seems to keep coming up over and over again, and at this point I've added Sing, Unburied, Sing, Salvage the Bones, and Men We Reaped to my list.

Have you read these authors' works? Which books do you recommend I pick up first?

Looking back:
One year ago I was reading: The Other Wes Moore, Something to Talk About, and Freddie Ramos Stomps the Snow
Five years ago I was reading: The Three Musketeers and The Bees
Ten years ago I was reading: The New Brain

Thursday, March 31, 2022

Best of the Bunch (March 2022)

Best of the Bunch header

Today I'm sharing the best book I read in March.

Of the 10 books I read this month, I had two 5-star reads back-to-back!

Can I Recycle This?: A Guide to Better Recycling and How to Reduce Single-Use Plastics by Jennie Romer

Heartstopper: Volume One by Alice Oseman

This is a difficult choice! I think everyone in the U.S. should read the recycling book, but for my Best of the Bunch this month I'm going to choose more by joy than by importance.
I loved Heartstopper. I'd seen it recommended many times but finally got around to picking it up, and I read it almost entirely in one sitting. It's a totally sweet graphic novel of two British teenage boys falling for each other. At first I thought it was a little too amateurish, but quickly I saw how perfectly it captured the experience of having a crush through just these tiny, everyday moments captured perfectly in brief strokes. I'm impatiently awaiting the next volume!

What is the best book you read this month? Let me know in comments, or write your own post and link up below!

Looking back:
One year ago I was reading: Tess of the Road and How the Irish Became White
Five years ago I was reading: The Three Musketeers and Einstein Never Used Flashcards
Ten years ago I was reading: The New Brain

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Click here to enter

Monday, March 28, 2022

Ten 21st Century Books I Think Will Become Classics


I'm linking up with That Artsy Reader Girl for another Top Ten Tuesday.

This was an interesting topic! I approached it by looking at all the books I've read that were published since 2000 that I think people may still be reading and studying 100 years from now. Here are ten that I picked out.
1. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
2. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
3. Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
4. How We Fight for Our Lives by Saeed Jones
5. Pachinko by Min Jin Lee
6. Somebody's Daughter by Ashley C. Ford
7. Still Alice by Lisa Genova
8. There There by Tommy Orange
9. The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
10. The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson

What do you think of my picks? Which 21st century publications do you think will become classics?

Looking back:
One year ago I was reading: Tess of the Road and How the Irish Became White
Five years ago I was reading: The Three Musketeers, Einstein Never Used Flashcards, and Milk and Honey
Ten years ago I was reading: Neverwhere