Jan. 3rd, 2016

maribou: (book)
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 [livejournal.com profile] 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)
maribou: (book)
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*
maribou: (book)
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)
maribou: (book)
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.
maribou: (book)
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.
maribou: (book)
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.
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