mini-reviews

March Recap

Image result for parks and rec happy gif

So, as I was going through my spreadsheet and uploading photos for this post, I realized I forgot to add a book to my sheet and I actually read 9 books this month instead of 8! Woohoo! And also 22 comics. Way to go, March.

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami – Murakami has been running daily for about the last 23 years – at time that he wrote this, which was 10 years ago. He talks about why he runs, and recounts a few interesting stories like the time he ran SIXTY TWO MILES IN ONE DAY. I might have to get my own copy of this some day.

Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – Short but so worth it, especially if you’re a person worried about how to raise a feminist daughter.

Skulduggery Pleasant (Books 1and 2) by Derek Landy – This middle grade series about a skeleton detective and his preteen sidekick named Valkyrie is so fun that I went and ordered all 9 books off Amazon. I’m reading the third one now.

wp-image-1596963246jpg.jpg

Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison – Not my favorite Morrison, but one that gives plenty of food for thought. This was the first book by her that I’d ever heard of and that was like 12 years ago, so I feel like I finally accomplished something by FINALLY reading it.

A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers – This is the follow up to The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet and it was so delightful. There’s so much goodness about what it means to be a person and how people that are different can be accepting all against a sci-fi setting and I just really need Becky Chambers to write more things please.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas – Such a great, heartbreaking book and much needed right now. Starr sees her friend die and her story deals with what it means to be that witness, how to reconcile the person you knew with facts about their life, the emotions of leading almost two separate lives based on race and class… it’s just fantastic. I’m sure it will be on a lot of school reading lists, and I’m sure it will get challenged constantly.

Binti and Binti: Home by Nnedi Okorafor Binti: Home came out in March, so I re-read Binti first to refresh my mind. It seems like there will be another one, hopefully soon? These novellas are perfect little gems of sci-fi/fantasy.

STATS – BOOKS

Books read: 9

Female authors: 6 (67%)

Non-white authors: 6 (67%)

Format breakdown: 4 print, 5 e-book

STATS – COMICS

Issues read: 22

Female authors/illustrators: 6

Non-white author/illustrators: 2

Format breakdown: 19 print, 3 digital

So not too bad of a month! Maybe one of these days I’ll actually write some complete reviews. Also, I’m now at 24 books so far for the year so if I can keep up this pace, I actually have a shot at reading 100 books this year. Not that numbers matter to anyone but me, but I haven’t read 100 books in a year since 2013. I’ve been hovering around 60-70 for the last several years, and it’d feel so nice to get into at least the 80’s in 2017.

Have you read any of these? Let me know your thoughts.

Advertisements

January Recap

Image result for kicking ass

I basically kicked January’s ass. I read 9 books and 34 comics. Whaaaat??? I know, crazy. My goal for the year is 60 books, so I mean… that’s a pretty big dent.

wp-image-1294478109png.png

Be Not Afraid by Alyssa Cole – I bought this at BRL and Alyssa Cole signed it for me! This was my first read of the year –  two black protagonists who are on opposing sides of the Revolutionary War fall in love. Some serious topics packed into this short little romance and it’s great.

All Our Wrong Todays

All Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai – This comes out tomorrow, and if you like interesting time travel mishaps this will be right up your alley.

wp-image-1832717990png.png

Battle Hill Bolero by Daniel Jose Older – Conclusion to the Bone Street Rumba series! Except I kind of refuse to acknowledge it’s the end because I don’t want to leave these characters.

aviary-image-1484489621251.png

The Magpie Lord by K.J. Charles – So this is a m/m romance, but reads more like a dark, gritty regency fantasy novel. And I’m pretty sure the author is a straight woman, so even though the story was good, the sexy bits felt a bit off. I re-read a couple paragraphs trying to figure out the sexual logistics of what she was describing. I’m not going to count this for “LBGTQ romance” for the Read Harder challenge, I’m going to find something #ownvoices instead.

aviary-image-1484448992948.png

Freedom is a Constant Struggle by Angela Y. Davis – I’m not sure a collection of speeches and essays was the best intro to Davis. But basically we need to connect with movements on an international level, G4S is evil, and she’s very pro-Palestine (which I don’t know nearly enough about to have my own opinion on yet).

wp-image-1810676022png.png

Breasts by Florence Williams – This was both terrifying, funny, and informative. Definitely highly recommend, even if it now has me second-guessing myself every time I put lotion on or use scented body wash or basically do anything that could affect my ladies in the slightest.

aviary-image-1485036169816.png

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty – One of those really hyped up books that sounded like basic chick lit and I let it sit on my Kindle for 2 years, but it turns out it was kind of worth the hype. I was surprised as how much I got into it.

Sweet to the Taste by Alyssa Cole – Listen, you basically need to read ALL the Alyssa Cole, okay? Especially if you find diversity sexy (and if you don’t I’m not sure you’re in the right place).

wp-image-787509420png.png

Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – CNA is a bombshell. This focuses on four people, all connected in some way, as they make their way through the Biafran War, AKA the Nigerian Civil War. I was totally sucked into the minutiae of their lives. This is definitely my second fave CNA novel (first being Americanah).

STATS – BOOKS

Books read: 9

Female authors: 7 (78%)

Non-white authors: 5 (56%)

Format breakdown: 5 print, 4 e-book

STATS – COMICS

Issues read: 34

Female authors/illustrators: 8

Non-white author/illustrators: 10

Format breakdown: 33 print, 1 digital

So yeah, off to a pretty strong start for 2017! I need to read more comics on Marvel Unlimited, I have it for a year and I’m totally not using it enough. I also need to write more actual reviews… I’ve been writing review blurbs on Litsy but that’s basically it. On the other hand, I wrote hardly any reviews and read a bunch of books… so maybe that’s where my time is better spent. We’ll see.

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?

November Recap

Image result for mindy lahiri

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!

aviary-image-1478167585511.png

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.

wp-image-1086005311png.png

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.

aviary-image-1480216057534.png

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.

aviary-image-1480558985432.png

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.

September Recap

 

Image result for beyonce

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. 

wp-1474229922594.jpg

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.

the rise of io

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

wp-image-65164725jpg.jpg

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.

wp-image-259505314jpg.jpg

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.

Image result for you can't touch my hair phoebe

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!

wp-1474637363610.jpg

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.

wp-1474835767490.jpg

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.

Image result for the girl with the lower back tattoo audiobook

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?

When You’re Behind in Reviews = Mini-Reviews!

I’ve done a decent amount of reading this month, but unfortunately me finishing a couple books in the last week or so means that I’m kind of failing on getting those reviews up in a timely fashion. And since I don’t have a ton to say on them anyways, mini-reviews will work to get caught up.

image

Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake by Sarah MacLean

This was on the a list at Book Riot of romances featuring plus-size heroines. I don’t know if Callie is really “plus-size” – it sounds like she was just slightly more curvy than the thin, willowy heroines that frequently appear in historical romances. I still liked Callie, because she was a woman who was out for a little spice in her life, but I’m getting sick of the virgin lady / promiscuous wealthy man mash-up. Also, during steamy scenes when Ralston is kissing her, it says he “ate her face” and I just can not get over that. And that phrasing was used not once, but twice, in two different make-out scenes. ATE HER FACE. How is that good sexy writing?

image

In The Country We Love by Diane Guerrero

Not being a OITNB fan, and never having seen Jane the Virgin, I didn’t really know who Diane Guerrero was but I picked up her memoir just because. It focuses on how at age 14, her undocumented parents were deported and she was left alone in the United States. Immigration is one of those things that always seems to be in the news, and I really suggest you read her memoir and seek out more information before voicing your opinions on immigrants in the US. Oh, and I highly suggest the audiobook version, Diane is a great storyteller.

image

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

“How could he explain to Marjorie that what he wanted to capture with his project was the feeling of time, of having been a part of something that stretched so far back, was so impossibly large, that it was easy to forget that she, and he, and everyone else existed in it – not apart from it, but inside of it.”

Homegoing has been earning a ton of praise, and it is so well-deserved. I don’t know what I can say about it that hasn’t already been said. Yaa Gyasi’s debut novel spans continents and centuries, following the descendants of two sisters – one who was married to a British slave trader, and one who was captured as a slave and sent to the American colonies. Each chapter focuses on one of those descendants, alternating between blood lines, and each story is heartbreaking in it’s own way. I loved that the perspective changed every chapter – you never grew bored with any of the characters, and it gave such fascinating glimpses into so many points in history that are now just smushed under one general heading in American history. I can’t recommend it highly enough, go get it.

Have you read any of these?

~Sarah

November Mini-Review Recap

November FLEW by. The entire last week or so of it was taken over by Thanksgiving and Jessica Jones watching, but that’s okay because Jessica Jones is AWESOME. And so is food. Obviously. Oh and I’ve started playing The Wolf Among Us, a video game based on the Fables comic series, so that’s pretty cool.

I finished 4 books, and 32 issues of comics. Here’s the itty-bitty thoughts. (I didn’t manage to get any full-length reviews written this month, no surprise there.)

img_20151201_121116.jpg

Please Do Not Taunt the Octopus by Mira Grant – This is yet another Newsflesh novella, and it was a pretty good one. This is one of those trilogies/series that has SO much room to explore, so I enjoy all of the little novellas but kind of hope she just writes a fourth book, or a prequel.

img_20151107_095952.jpg

Career of Evil (Cormoran Strike #3) by J.K. Rowling – You guys, the Cormoran Strike books are SO GOOD. They’re nothing like the HP series, of course – they’re graphic and gruesome – but they’re fantastic. I hope she has the fourth one already in the works.

img_20151201_120810.jpg

Signal to Noise by Silva Moreno-Garcia – Magical realism surrounding the turbulent teenage years of a girl named Meche. I both cheered and rolled my eyes at her.

img_20151201_120737.jpg

Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor – Weird and oddly hopeful, despite the level of destruction in the book. Okorafor writes some really fantastic other-worldly sci-fi.

Alrighty, let’s see those stats.

STATS – BOOKS

Books read: 4

Female authors: 4 (100%)

Non-white authors: 2 (50%)

Format breakdown: 1 print, 3 e-book

STATS – COMICS (including writers and illustrators)

Issues read: 32

Female authors/illustrators: 2 

Non-white authors/illustrators: 3

Format breakdown: 22 print, 10 e-book

 

So nothing particularly notable here, except I read no books by dudes last month. Don’t really care much about that. I started looking into my book-spending stats for the years, which I talked about on Twitter on Monday, but I’ll wait until the actual end of the year to dive into those on the blog.

I’m so ready for the end of the year. How about you?

~Sarah

Mini-books = Mini-reviews

image

I read a lot of short little things for the readathon this past weekend, so I figured they’d all add up to one post at least.

Cybersexism: Sex, Gender, and Power on the Internet by Laurie Penny – I mainly know Laurie Penny from Twitter, and haven’t gotten around yet to reading one of her full-length books. This short ebook was interesting, all important points on how men attempt to silence women in the internet – but probably too short to do the subject matter much service.

Binti by Nnedi Okorafor – What a great novella! The main character comes from a culture of people who live in the dessert and rarely leave, so when she is the first of her kind invited to go to an intergalactic university to study, her parents won’t here any of it. She leaves home to follow her passion, but on her journey encounters a terrible danger – and her uniqueness might be the very key to her survival. SUCH a good read, and has me even more excited to read Okorafor’s new novel, Lagoon (which is currently $1.99 on Kindle, BTW, so perfect time to check out her work if you haven’t yet.)

Hell-Heaven by Jhumpa Lahiri – This is actually a short story in one of Lahiri’s collections, Unaccustomed Earth, but I bought this for 99 cents because I thought it might be good readathon material and I was right. It’s the story of the narrator’s mom, and how she falls in love with a man that isn’t her husband. Unrequited love to the max, I tell ya, but it was beautiful and intriguing. I really really need to read more Lahiri.

Total cost for these was $6. Totally worth it. Do you have any short stories or novellas to recommend? I think I’m going to need to stock up again before the next readathon.

~Sarah

April Mini-Review Recap

Alright, so 6 books (well, plus 2 graphic novels). That’s pretty good, April. Let’s see the tiny thoughts.

wpid-img_20150401_221220.jpg

King Maker by Maurice Broaddus – This is a fantasy novel set in the ghetto of Philadelphia – such a great premise, and I liked some of the characters. Buuuut it felt short for me because it took way too long to actually get to the fantasy element, and even then, it didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me. I did love that it was set in an urban setting and focused on a lot of social issues, that was the strongest part. There’s definitely some potential in the writing.

Buzzing Easter Bunnies by Nick Spalding – Oh right, this is just a short little novella I read. Spalding is pretty funny.

wpid-img_20150409_174532.jpg

Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed – REALLY great fantasy novel. Per the author himself on Twitter: “If you’ve never read my novel, you should change that. There’s ghuls & a lion-woman & a revolution & a fat old hero.” Exactly.

wpid-img_20150420_192945.jpg

Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige – The writing was rough in the beginning, but overall not a bad job for a debut novel about the story of Oz being kind of flipped on it’s head. I’ll probably read the sequels.

The Sculptor by Scott McCloud – I read this graphic novel during the readathon and  I basically soared through those 500 pages. Really good.

 The Griff by Christopher Moore and Ian Corson – I was looking forward to this graphic novel for a long time, because I’m a big Moore fan. I finally read it since it was Scribd, buuuut it was a bit of a letdown. The writing didn’t really feel like the Moore I’m used to.

wpid-img_20150502_193531.jpg

Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine – Such an incredibly powerful poetry collection, focusing on race and the black experience, and touching on the recent young black individuals killed by police. I’m glad The Socratic Salon picked this book to discuss soon.

wpid-img_20150428_210910.jpg

The Rebirths of Tao by Wesley Chu – This is the third (and probably last) book in the Tao series, and it’s a really great ending. I mean, I’ll be happy if Chu writes more Tao books, but this was a satisfying ending. I love the whole trilogy so hard and love seeing them on my shelf.

Alright, and now time for my April stats. As a reminder, I’m counting the graphic novels as 1 “issue” in these stats.

STATS – BOOKS

Books read: 6

Female authors: 2 (33%)

Non-white authors: 5 (83%)

Format breakdown: 3 print, 3 e-book

STATS – COMICS (including writers and illustrators)

Issues read: 84 (!)

Female authors/illustrators: 3 

Non-white authors/illustrators: 13

Format breakdown: 50 print, 34 e-book

See what I mean about the comics? I attribute this to 2 things – I focused on comics for most of the readathon (I read 32 issues that day, I think), and I’ve been reading comics on Scribd. I FINALLY have a way to read comics in bed, without needing the light on. Reading a couple issues before I fall asleep definitely helped up those stats.

I’m bummed I didn’t finish any audiobooks this month. I’ve started High Price by Dr. Carl Hart, but I’ve been listening to more podcasts (Book Riot, Fanboys at Large, and Oh Comics) and my commute is a few minutes shorter, so that just hasn’t been happening.

Alright, I’m going to stop rambling and go read. Have you read any of the books above?

~Sarah