Book Riot Live

Mini-reviews because I’m way behind

Y’all I’m behind and there’s no way I’m catching up, so let’s do some mini-reviews! These are all books I read in December, so I guess this would be my normal monthly review/recap post, except I’m not going to talk about stats since I already did my 2016 wrap-up. Anyhoo, I read a lot of good things at the end of the year! So if you’re somehow still holding on to bookstore gift cards that you got for Christmas, you might want to consider using them on some of these.

I’m Judging You: A Do Better Manual by Luvvie Ajayi – This, like many recent books by funny ladies, is a worthwhile humorous read in which Luvvie talks about how her friend’s need to choose better boy toys but also how we need to be better people in general – less homophobic, less racist, etc. There were some pieces that absolutely cracked me up and I highlighted and read out loud to people, but one of the bits that sticks out in my mind the most is when she talks about the teachers and kids in her (mostly white) school basically refusing to learn how to say her name (Ifeoluwa), and how her last name gives people so much trouble they barely try, but yet we can all pronounce Schwarzenegger with no trouble. I didn’t read this on audio, but I heard it’s GREAT, so maybe you should do that.

The Good Immigrant edited by Nikesh Shukla – This is a collection of essays by British immigrant and POC authors about their experiences. Since I live in the US, the conversations and news about race are usually centered on American experiences – and weirdly, trying to Google to find out the race issues that other countries are struggling through doesn’t turn up much useful information. I’m so glad I got to read this, which gave me insight into some of the prejudices and microaggressions that are ingrained in British culture. This isn’t available to purchase in the US, even on Amazon, but you can get your copy from The Book Depository easy peasy.

Do You Want to Start a Scandal by Tessa Dare – I haven’t loved a Regency historical romance this much in a long, long time. Charlotte is trying to avoid being thrown in front of eligible bachelors by her match-making mama, because she just wants to go on a traveling tour with her bestie. Piers is a marquess but also secretly a spy, who certainly has no interest in marriage unless it’s necessary to keep his cover from being blown. One night Charlotte and Piers are caught alone in a room together and mistakenly taken to be secret lovers. They’re engaged, unless Charlotte can prove who the real mystery lovers are. I giggled SO MUCH reading this, and actually really liked Charlotte and Piers – the character-building was fantastic and the romance was realistically built up. I can’t wait to read more Tessa Dare (if you’ve read more of her novels PLEASE give me recs on which ones to read next.)

How to Make White People Laugh by Negin Farsad – I saw Negin speak at Book Riot Live and immediately went to buy her book. She is an Iranian-American-Muslim lady, and her book talks about her growing up and wanting to be involved in activism and advocacy, and how she does that by trying to make people laugh. She discusses being a “hyphenated” person in a white-dominated society, and her work to use comedy to combat the irrational fear that some Americans have of anyone who identifies or looks Muslim. I really want to watch her documentary The Muslims Are Coming! soon.

The Wangs vs The World by Jade Chang – This totally deserves all the praise it’s been receiving. Chinese immigrant Charles Wang was a massively successful businessman who made his fortune in make-up- that is, before the recession of 2008 hit. Now the once-wealthy Wangs are broke and on a road trip across America, and it’s a bumpy, funny, heart-warming ride. The Wangs are flawed but quirky and I had a great time with them, and was sad when the book ended.

Ghost Girl in the Corner by Daniel Jose Older – This is just a short little novella, but if you enjoyed Shadowshaper then it’s a must-read (especially since it’s only 99 cents.) I’m not going to go into any details because it’s such a quick read, but figured I’m mention it here in case you like Daniel Jose Older’s other books but didn’t know about this.

Have you read any of these?

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November Recap

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Alright, November was awesome for a few reasons (trip to DC, trip to NYC for Book Riot Live, Thanksgiving, etc) but it was not awesome in terms of reading time. I was hella busy and I managed to read 4 books. And I finished the fourth one, the audiobook The Clancys of Queens, at like 9 pm on the last day of November which I was happy about but then led to a heated discussion between me and the honeyman about whether or not that “counts” as reading a book. I may or may not have threatened to stab his kneecap with the pen I was holding.

Anyways, let’s see what I read!

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The Girl With All the Gifts by M.R. Carey – Such a surprisingly lovely book about zombies! There are zombie children in this book that function like normal children except you know, they have a hunger to eat people. I thought it was great and I really enjoyed reading it. I haven’t seen the movie yet, but I have some feels about the race-switching in the casting.

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Devil in a Blue Dress by Walter Mosley – I read this, my first Walter Mosley, partly because of Luke Cage and partly because I knew he was going to be at Book Riot Live! I missed him at BRL, but this was a really great read. Mystery isn’t so much my jam, but I enjoyed Easy Rawlins and the social commentary in the book enough that I’m definitely going to be picking up the second book.

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Let It Shine by Alyssa Cole – Pretty sure I already had this e-book, but I bought the print copy for Alyssa to sign at BRL (she was so sweet!) and I sat down to read it over a relaxing Thanksgiving weekend. Wonderful, short little historical romance about an interracial couple falling in love and fighting for civil rights. I think I’ll always have a soft spot in my heart for Sofie and Ivan.

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The Clancys of Queens by Tara Clancy –  I saw Tara speak at a panel at BRL and she was just SO great and made everyone laugh and then cry a little bit (myself included) and so I grabbed this on audio ASAP. It’s about her growing up in wildly different environments as a child – working class and kind of broke most of the time, but also spending weekends in the rich Bridgehamptons. It’s very much a love letter to her big, crazy family and so many of them reminded me of my family (I have Italian family members) and you should definitely listen to it on audio because her voice is distinct and she’s a great storyteller.

 

STATS – BOOKS

Books read: 4

Female authors: 2 (50%)

Non-white authors: 2 (50%)

Format breakdown: 2 print, 1 e-book, 1 audiobook

STATS – COMICS

Issues read: 1 (This was the Adulthood is a Myth collection of comics by Sarah Andersen, ALSO from Book Riot Live.)

Female authors/illustrators: 1

Non-white author/illustrators: 0

Format breakdown: Print.

 

Okay then! I’m just realizing how BRL-influenced my reading was this month, holy crap. I can’t believe I didn’t read basically ANY comics this month. My stack is over-flowing, I tell ya.

Sarah Sunday – where I’ve been (literally)

Holy shit it’s been a busy November. I have finished exactly 1 book this month. It’s tragic. BUT things have been super busy, and instead of my usual brief survey-ish post I’m going to ramble about what I’ve been up to.

First I was in D.C. – extra exciting because 1) I never go anywhere and 2) it was my first time riding a plane. We stayed in the Phoenix Park Hotel (I recommend it, it was right in the Capitol near Union Station and it was lovely, even if the room was a bit small but who cares about that?) and I did lots of walking around and looking at things – the Capitol Building, the Supreme Court, the Library of Congress, the White House, the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, etc etc etc. And it is all GORGEOUS, it’s such a pretty city. And of course, I went to as many bookstores as I could. I’m bummed I didn’t get to go to Politics & Prose, but you know it was only a weekend and Uber trips start to rack up, so. And in case you’re wondering, no I didn’t particularly enjoy flying, but I was much less afraid than I would have been at 18. The view is pretty but otherwise it’s stressful and take-off/landing make me nervous.

Book acquired: John Henry Days by Colson Whitehead (from Capitol Hill Books) and The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert (from Kramerbooks)

THEN I was in NYC for Book Riot Live! Well, actually then I was home and worked 36 hours in three days and THEN I was in NYC, but whatever. Also, second plane trip (well, third and fourth flight if we’re being very specific). I got to see my mom and sister and nephew, and I loved Book Riot Live – being in the room with so many other book lovers, people that I talk to online all the time, and seeing BR staff all over the place. I made myself go up and say hi to Rebecca Schinsky, and I did my first ever author signings – Alyssa Cole signed two of her books for me (she was so kind and funny) and Valentine DeLandro signed volume 1 of Bitch Planet for me (intimidating but he was very nice). The panels were mostly fantastic, and so many books went to the top of my to-read list.

And I got to see Alley! Hi Alley! And also Victoria, Dani, and Kenya – all lovely ladies 🙂

Books acquired: Too damn many to type here, but some are visible in that picture below. (My wallet hurts just thinking about it.)

Then I came home and spent some time with my Gabby cat ❤

Outside of all of this travelling, work has been absolutely bananas and I’ve been working 10+ hours a day and I’m really sick of it. This big rush should be over for the most part, but I’m kind of done with this working all the time crap. This is a three-day week because of Thanksgiving, and I’m not staying past 4:30 any of those days, dammit. My right eye has been twitching, which isn’t so unusual when I’m dealing with a lot of stress, but it’s been weeks and I’m actually starting to get concerned.

In other news – the election was a disaster, the Hamilton Mixtape tracks are coming out a couple at a time and it’s delightful, and I have family coming to visit in two weeks! Also, the aforementioned Kenya and I are thinking about a Rochester area book group based on Book Riot’s Read Harder challenge (for 2017, I guess, since 2016 is just about over), and I’m psyched about getting together with other book people on a more regular basis. And in the spirit of trying to find other local readers and to join Alice’s #ReadUp group (because you can never be in too many social justice book clubs, amirite?) – I’m back on Facebook. I rejoined VERY reluctantly because I loathe it, which is why I spent the first half hour blocking as many family members and co-workers as I could find, because it’s going to be for bookish purposes only.

OKAY that was a lot of catch-up, but that’s where I’ve been. In other cities, and buried in work. How’s November treating the rest of you?

September Recap

 

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I don’t know what it was, but I kicked September’s ass. I read 8 books and 21 comics. I even reviewed most of the things I read. Maybe it was my super low expectations? Or my tendency to choose reading over unpacking/cleaning/doing anything active or productive? Who knows, but it was awesome. 

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Playing Dead by Elizabeth Greenwood – She kind of lost be when she started talking about whether or not Michael Jackson is still alive, but the parts that focused directly on pseudoside were was kind of fascinating and it’s great on audio.

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The Rise of Io by Wesley Chu – More action-filled awesome from Wesley Chu. I can’t wait for the next one.

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Here Comes by Sun by Nicole Dennis-Benn – Really engrossing but also very heartbreaking, seeing these female characters struggle through life and how hard tourism impacts life in Jamaica.

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The Hike by Drew Magary – Weird and delightful, had a little bit of a video game quest vibe going on. But I like the other’s other novel, The Postmortal, better.

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You Can’t Touch My Hair by Phoebe Robinson – Phoebe tackles racism and sexism while talking about her own experiences as a young black female comedian, and she does it while making you laugh out loud. VERY psyched she’s going to be at Book Riot Live in November!

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Burn Baby Burn by Meg Medina – Nora’s growing up in NYC during the Son of Sam’s reign of terror, but the things she’s dealing with at home – an increasingly violent brother, and a mother barely scraping by – are almost as horrible. Nora is one of the better depictions of those turbulent teen years that I’ve seen in YA.

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The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins – Absolutely bizarre and a little creepy. I don’t think it lived up to the hype I heard, but it was a decent read.

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The Girl With the Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Schumer – I am really pleasantly surprised with how much I enjoyed this. I’m hoping to do a full review soon, but it was funny and poignant. Awesome on audio.

 

STATS – BOOKS

Books read: 8

Female authors: 5 (63%)

Non-white authors: 4 (50%)

Format breakdown: 2 e-book, 2 audiobook, 4 print

STATS – COMICS

Issues read: 21

Female authors/illustrators: 0  😦

Non-white author/illustrators: 2

Format breakdown: All print.

This is such a late update, but man September was awesome. So far October has not been so awesome – more busy, less reading. But my focus is basically to read ARCs and books by authors that will be at Book Riot Live in November.

How was your September?

October Monthly TBR

I don’t know what is was, but September kind of rocked. I finished 8 books, (8!) and 19 issues of comics. So, I’m being a little ambitious in my October reading.

In the stack:

  • Fledgling by Octavia E. Butler – I’ve been meaning to read this FOR.EV.ER. It’s about a little black girl vampire who is actual in her 50’s and is able to be outside during the day.
  • Super Extra Grande by Yoss – Cuban sci-fi! Space travel faster than the speed of light  is a real thing thanks to Latin American scientists, and a veterinarian will be responsible for saving the day and keeping the peace among the galaxy’s species.
  • The Girl Who Fell From the Sky by Heidi W. Durrow – This is about a biracial girl who loses her family and has to rethink how she identifies. I think. I don’t know, it’s gotten so many great reviews.
  • Spontaneous by Aaron Starmer – Seniors students start exploding in class, with no rhyme or reason. I heard about this on the Book Riot podcast and it sounds weird and hilarious.
  • Preacher by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon – I have the first three volumes from the library and I really do want to check it out, ideally before I get around to watching the show.

On the Kindle:

  • Rich and Pretty by Rumaan Alam – Focuses on two best friends who are really different? Honestly the premise isn’t my usual jam, but it’s gotten fabulous reviews and the author will be at Book Riot Live.
  • IQ by Joe Ide – A young inner city kid starts to try to solve the crimes that the police just ignore or dismiss. I am BEYOND PSYCHED that I got approved for this on NetGalley.
  • The Terranauts by T.C. Boyle – I’m about 15% into this, the premise is basically like Bio-Dome (that Pauly Shore movie). But you know… without stoners creeping into the giant science experiment. Of course I had to request it on NetGalley!
  • Never Look an American in the Eye by Okey Ndibe – Another NetGalley approval. I haven’t read anything by this author before, but his memoir is about moving from Nigeria to America and it sounds so great.

Alright, and then there are a couple other books coming out this month that sound fantastic and hopefully I’ll get to those too. It’s gonna be a good month, right? Right.

What are you excited to read soon?

September Monthly TBR

I’m baaaack!

I read 4 books in August, which honestly was more than I thought I’d be able to, so that’s cool, plus 19 issues of comics. Not too bad. We’re all moved into the new place and books are unpacked, so I can finally get back into the swing of things with blogging and such. Yay! So this is late, but here’s what I’m gonna try for this month.

From top to bottom:

  • Drums of Autumn by Diana Gabaldon – Continuing on with my Outlander re-reads. Not sure if’ I’ll actually finish this in September, but I’d like to dive into it.
  • The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros – Because it’s one of the books on my physical “unread” shelf.
  • Here Comes the Sun by Nicole Dennis-Benn – I actually only have about 130 pages left in this – so far I strongly recommend.
  • The Hike by Drew Magary – New Drew Magary novel! I’m excited but I also admit to being a little hesitant because what if it’s not as good as his first book? It’s not a sequel, but you still always have that risk, ya know?
  • Jessica Jones: The Pulse, The Complete Collection by Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley – Library find win!

On the Kindle:

  • You Can’t Touch My Hair by Phoebe Robinson – ARC and I’m really looking forward to it, and the author is going to be at Book Riot Live!
  • The Terranauts by T.C. Boyle – Another ARC and the premise reminds me of the Pauly Shore movie Bio-Dome so I’m quite excited to start it.
  • The Angel of History by Rabih Alameddine – Seriously, I have a ton of ARCs for books coming out in October. I’ve heard great things about Alameddine so I bet this will be a good one!
  • More by Hakan Gunday – Another ARC, I think this is a novel about the human traffickers who smuggle refugees into Greece.

And of course, I have ton of other books on my Kindle waiting for me. After my books being packed for so long though, I’m finding myself reaching for print more, so I’m struggling a tiny bit with e-book reading. I’m sure that will fade.

What else are you excited to read this month?

~Sarah

Sarah Sunday

Happy Sunday there, folks. I packed and moved furniture and boxes around a LOT yesterday, so today is going to be mostly about relaxing.

Reading: I finished Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova, and I started reading The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead. I’m a little annoyed at Oprah getting the release date for it, because I had an e-galley and was about to start reading it to prep for next month’s release. Anyways, I started the e-galley and it’s so good I went and bought the hardcover yesterday, so.

Watching: Yeah, we watched Stranger Things in it’s entirety this weekend. Damn, Netflix is good. And I know everyone kept going on about Winona Ryder being in it, but I’m pretty sure Dustin was the star of that show. OMG that kid.

If I have a kid in some parallel universe, I hope he’s like Dustin. LOLs forever.

Listening: Podcasts mostly. And I tried The Partly Cloudy Patriot on Audible, but I had to return it – Sarah Vowell narrates herself for the most part and it was a bit rough to listen to. And her books seem PERFECT for audio, so that was disappointing. SO instead I got Playing Dead: A Journey Through the World of Death Fraud by Elizabeth Greenwood on Audible, and I admit that my decision was based like 95% on the fact that Mindy Kaling Instagrammed about it. (The other 5% was me listening to the sample and deciding that I could handle the narration.) Excited to start it.

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Eating: The honeyman is making me breakfast sliders right now.  🙂

Blogging: HA. My blogging is all over the place – I can’t get on a set schedule with work being so crazy busy that sometimes I stay late and then trying to deal with packing stuff at home. But I’m not abandoning my blog so I guess that’s all that matters right now.

Thinking: About those sliders. And how I should go to the gym, but I think staying inside and reading and doing laundry sounds a lot better.

Anticipating: Book Riot Live! I think I’m going to buy tickets this week, and trying to get my sister to go with. Anyone reading this gonna be there? It’ll be the first time in all my years of blogging that I’ll be able to go to a big bookish thing and meet people IRL!

For reals, let me know. Now how is your weekend shaping up?

~Sarah

Things I’m Looking Forward to This Fall

August is a big old mess. We’re moving at the end of the month to a bigger apartment and I am excited about that, but that means that my focus and time for reading are super limited and I’m busy and just ahhhh I can’t wait for the month to be over. 

I know I’m going to miss the summer once it’s gone, but here’s what I’m looking forward to in the fall…

 

New apartment – Well duh. A two-bedroom townhouse with a basement and everything. GONNA HAVE TO MUCH MORE ROOM YESSSSSS. And we’ll be getting a washer and dryer, like adults dammit!

Reading outside – Our new place has a deck right off of the kitchen. I am so looking forward to reading on the deck, even if it means being bundled up in sweaters and a blanket and drinking coffee or tea.

Non-fiction November – I ALWAYS forget about this, but not this year! I have an Amazon wishlist going of non-fiction books to choose from for November and I am so excited about it.

Rebecca Schinsky of Book Riot. I hope she doesn’t mind me using this.

Book Riot Live – One of my goals for this year was to go to Book Riot Live and I’m about 90% sure that I’ll be buying tickets soon. So if you are going, PLEASE TELL ME SO WE CAN SAY HI!

Book Riot Live reading – I also made an Amazon wishlist to keep track of the authors that will be there and their books, so I can attempt to read some before going. Very excited about the line-up so far.

The election being over – I am terrified that Trump will win, but at the very, very least the anticipation and worrying about the results will be over.

Chicken pot pie – I only make chicken pot pie from September to March/April. Also looking forward to chili, stews, etc. COMFORT FOOD!


Decorating for Christmas – Since we’ll be in a bigger place, I can bring my really big Christmas tree back out again. It’s been 3 years. Last year I didn’t even put up the little tree because it seemed like too much work for such a small space. 

Luke Cage – September 30th, baby! Gonna binge watch the crap out of it.

And I’m sure there’s more, but this is a pretty fantastic list right here. What are you looking forward to once fall hits?

~Sarah

Sarah Sunday

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Good morning!

Feeling pretty awesome right now – ran the 1.4 miles to Starbucks, got coffee, and then took the long way walking home (2.25 miles) while listening to Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari (Scribd is awesome) and drinking my skinny caramel macchiatto. And now I’m eating grapes and writing this and singing along to Avenue Q.

It’s a good Sunday morning.

  • I’m doing the 24 in 48 readathon this weekend. Basically, you aim to read 24 hours within those 48 hours. I managed about 7 hours yesterday… hoping to get in at least 12 today. So I’ll fail the basic premise of the readathon, but it’s fun. I finished Missoula by Jon Krakauer, and I’m about halfway through Shadowshaper by Daniel Jose Older. Going to hit the comics hard today.
  • That picture up there of Gabby basically hugging my leg is the cutest.
  • I’m making chicken tacos for dinner tonight – it’s practically readathon tradition now. Plus the honeyman has drill this weekend and he loves those, and I’m nice.
  • Also making a big batch of Southwestern Black Bean Salad for the week. It’s one of my favorite Skinnytaste recipes.
  • So, remember how my little sis became a federal officer and moved up to Maine with her son and Mom? Well, she just got offered a position in NYC, so they’ll be moving there in October. This is awesome! It’s closer, and they’ll be in a city with millions of people, instead of just 800 (not kidding, there’s actually only 800 people in the town they live in now. The closest pharmacy or WalMart is 1.5 hours away).
  • ALSO… I really really want to go to Book Riot Live in November, but didn’t buy tickets because I wasn’t sure I’d be able to afford getting a hotel for the weekend. But now that I could potentially crash of my sister’s couch, it seems so much more possible. Trying to think of how to scrounge up the money for BRL tickets now.
  • Hoping to get some reviews written during the week, and lots of reading in. Next weekend is our anniversary (8 years, hell yeah!) so I probably won’t be around much on the internet then.
  • I used Periscope for the first time this week! Used as in I watched a broadcast (pre-podcast prep with Fanboys At Large), not that I broadcasted anything. It was fun, and I can see SO much potential for it for a lot of things. I miss making vlogs, but my laptop is just too old for that now. My phone, on the other hand, is pretty great. Wondering if Periscope would be fun for book vlogging… any book bloggers use it that way?

Alright, I gotta hop in the shower and get more reading in. Only 15 more hours left in the day! How’s your weekend going?

~Sarah