Saturday, April 30, 2016

(Tri-) Weekly Review, Saturday, April 30th

Wow! I have been putting off my weekly reviews for almost 3 weeks now, which means that I have 20 books to cover. It also means that since April 10th I have finished a book a day, which seems crazy. Tomorrow is the last day of April, and before I can summarize my month, I need to get caught up on my reviews. Sorry, these will be super short!

Out of DarknessThe Naturals (The Naturals, #1)The Monsters of Templeton

1. Out of Darkness by Ashley Hope Perez - YA historical fiction about the worst school disaster in U.S. history; also racism; 4 stars.

2. The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes - YA nominee for Gateway Readers Award about a teenager who is recruited by the FBI to analyze cold cases but ends up in the middle of an active investigation; 3 stars.

3. The Monsters of Templeton by Lauren Groff - Adult fiction novel about a twenty-something woman who returns to her hometown of Templeton and spends the summer trying to sort out her life and figure out who her daddy is based on old letters and diary entries. 3.5 stars.

The NestInkheart (Inkworld, #1)Thousand Words

4. The Nest by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney - Adult fiction novel about a group of adult siblings who were relying on getting an inheritance when the youngest sister turned 40, but find out Mom spent the money on big brother, and they are left trying to figure out how to clean up the financial messes they are in. 4 stars.

5. Inkheart by Cornelia Funke - Juvenile fiction novel about a man who can read people and animals out of a book and is being hunted by an evil book villain because of it. 4 stars.

6. Thousand Words by Jennifer Brown - YA nominee for Gateway Readers Award about a girl who sends her boyfriend a naked picture of herself and ends up paying for it. 3 stars.

Ways to DisappearAlexander HamiltonAll Our Yesterdays

7. Ways to Disappear by Idra Novey - Adult fiction novel about a woman who travels to Brazil to look for the missing author whose work she translates. She meets up with the author's children and misadventures ensue. It is both thoughtful and light. 3.5 stars.

8. Alexander Hamilton (abridged) by Ron Chernow - Adult nonfiction about one of the U.S.'s founding fathers. I checked out the audiobook from the library not realizing it was abridged until I downloaded it, but in the end I think it was detailed enough for me. 4 stars.

9. All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill - YA nominee for Gateway Readers Award about a girl who is trying to stop the creation of a time machine. 3.5 stars.

Gaby, Lost and FoundThe Rules for Disappearing (The Rules for Disappearing, #1)Rapunzel Untangled

10. Gaby, Lost and Found by Angela Cervantes - Juvenile fiction nominee for Twain Readers Award about a girl whose mom has been deported to Honduras. 3 stars.

11. The Rules for Disappearing by Ashley Elston - YA nominee for Gateway Readers Award about a girl in the witness protection program with her family, but they won't tell her why. 3.5 stars.

12. Rapunzel Untangled by Cindy C. Bennett - YA nominee for Truman Readers Award about a girl who is trapped in a tower (modern retelling of Rapunzel). 2.5 stars.

The Summer Before the WarThe Queen of the Night13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl

13. The Summer Before the War by Helen Simonson - Adult fiction novel about a woman who is trying to make her living as a latin teacher in the town of Rye, England, at the beginning of WWI. 3.5 stars.

14. The Queen of the Night by Alexander Chee - Adult fiction novel about an opera singer whose past has come to find her. 4 stars.

15. 13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl by Mona Awad - Adult fiction novel that follows a girl who struggles with her weight into adulthood, meeting her in different stages of her life in each of 13 chapters. I thought it was a smart but uneven discussion of the body image issues that plague us. 4 stars.

All American BoysJane SteeleOne Good Turn (Jackson Brodie, #2)

16. All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely - YA novel about police brutality. Very straightforward but still manages to tease out a lot of the surrounding issues. 4.5 stars.

17. Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye - Adult fiction novel that re-imagines Jane Eyre as a murderess with a conscience. Not great literature, just great fun. 4.5 stars.

18. One Good Turn by Kate Atkinson - Adult fiction novel in which Jackson Brodie travels to Edinburgh where he witnesses a couple crimes and encounters a lot of interesting characters. 3.5 stars.

Only Love Can Break Your HeartMargaret the First

19. Only Love Can Break Your Heart by Ed Tarkington - Adult fiction novel in which Rocky grows up in a small Virginia town and experiences heartbreak. Also filled with interesting characters. 3.5 stars.

20. Margaret the First by Danielle Dutton - Adult fiction novel about Margaret Cavendish (1623-1673), an English noblewoman during the interregnum and restoration, known for her writing and offbeat sense of style. That outfit that she wore to the theater! 3.5 stars.

Random spoilery thought: I was thinking about the book that Bea almost writes in The Nest because I knew it reminded me of something, and I finally figured it out: What I Loved by Siri Hustvedt. Hustvedt is married to author Paul Auster, and What I Loved is based loosely on something that happened to/near Auster's son from his first marriage.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Thursday Thoughts on Friday, April 29th - The List

On March 15, I participated in my first Top Ten Tuesday of 2016. It was "Top Ten Books on Your Spring TBR" and while I focused on new books on my list, I made a separate list on a notecard of authors whose backlist I wanted to read. It started as 10 authors and ballooned to 20 (although really 19 because one author was repeated twice). In the intervening month and a half, I've read books by 4 of the authors on the original list of 10, and it's actually been kind of great. I think I'm going to give myself 3 months to get through as many of the 10 as I can, then I will start a new list.

The 10:

1. Jennifer Egan
2. Kate Atkinson
3. Lauren Groff
4. Fredrik Backman
5. Kazuo Ishiguro
6. Hannah Kent
7. A. S. King
8. Claire Messud
9. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
10. C. Taylor-Butler

The list has a clear female bias. 8 of the 10 authors are women. Fredrik Backman and Kazuo Ishiguro being the token men. 8 of the 10 also write adult fiction. A. S. King writes young adult fiction, and C. Taylor-Butler is actually someone I've met in real life at a friend's lake house. Her book is middle grade fiction. 3 of the 10 are authors of color. The authors in bold are the ones I've read since March 15th.

Who would be on your list of backlist authors?

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Library Love, Wednesday, April 27th

It's been a couple weeks since I posted a library update. I try to keep all of my library books on one shelf. At the time of my last writing, I had one shelf plus another 8-10 books that had to be stacked in front. Recognizing that things had gotten a little out of hand, I suspended all of my library holds. This has slowed things down considerably. 

Here are my checkouts for the last 2 weeks:

From the library where I work:

In the Unlikely EventThe Reason I Jump: The Inner Voice of a Thirteen-Year-Old Boy with AutismOdd and the Frost Giants
GorskyBig Girls Don't Cry: The Election That Changed Everything for American WomenInkspell (Inkworld, #2)

From the library across town that has a more diverse collection:

The Physics of SorrowThe Story of My TitsGuapa
LaurusMargaret the First

The Physics of Sorrow by Georgi Gospodinov
The Story of My Tits by Jennifer Hayden
Guapa by Saleem Haddad
Laurus by Evgenij Vodolazkin
Margaret the First by Danielle Dutton

And on e-audio:

The Madwoman UpstairsThe Memory of Light

Often, I don't remember why I requested a book. This time, two books were checked out as a direct result of a blog post. I requested The Reason I Jump because I wanted to participate in Doing Dewey's Nonfiction Book Club. Sadly, April is almost over, and I still haven't started it. I requested Big Girls Don't Cry because of Shannon's post at River City Reading. It seemed like timely.

Monday, April 25, 2016

It's Monday, April 25th! What Are You Reading?


It's a new week and time for the weekly Monday post! "It's Monday! What Are You Reading?" is a weekly meme hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date. It gives bloggers a chance to share what they've been reading and what they plan to read next. 

Gosh, another Monday! By the way, I am so behind on my weekly review posts that I am not sure if I can catch up. But I will try. Maybe. But not today.

Here is what I am currently reading:

Margaret the First 

I belong to a new literary fiction group on Goodreads, and a few of us are doing a buddy read of Margaret the First by Danielle Dutton. I am a little behind because I had to wait for it to be in at the library, but it is fairly short and I should finish it easily this week. 

Jane Steele

I am listening to Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye, and it is as good as everyone said it was. I was pretty sure that I did not want to read a Jane Eyre-inspired novel where Jane is a serial killer, but I was wrong. It is so much fun!

One Good Turn (Jackson Brodie, #2)

Also, this week I hope to read at least one book from my back list TBR. This will probably be One Good Turn by Kate Atkinson, although it could just as easily end up being a Jane Eyre reread.

Private CitizensWhy We Came to the City

If I finish that, I will read one of these two novels next: Private Citizens by Tony Tulathimutte or Why We Came to the City by Kristopher Jansma. One is a novel that I haven't heard much about by an author of color, and the other is a novel that I have heard so many great things about that it would be hard to pass up. Decisions, decisions!

All American BoysOnly Love Can Break Your Heart

I am about 60% done with Jane Steele on audio. Up next, I will listen to either All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely or Only Love Can Break Your Heart by Ed Tarkington, both of which come highly recommended by friends. All American Boys is only 6 hours, so I am hoping to get to both books this week. 

And after that I am going to need some serious girl power next week. Last year approximately 2/3 of the books that I read were written by women. I am a little behind on my 2016 spreadsheet, but I would expect that to continue.

I am also still reading a couple books from last week: The Reason I Jump and Inkspell. I didn't get around to starting The Reason I Jump, and I am reading Inkspell aloud to my third grader. I also didn't finish one of the Gateway books: In The Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters. I haven't decided if I will finish it.

What are you reading this week?

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Thursday Thoughts, April 21st - MASL Reader Awards

While I intend for this blog primarily for me to be a place where I share about all of the great literary fiction and occasional nonfiction that I am reading, I am a mom with school-age kids who works in a library, and so I read some kids' books too.

Last year I set a goal of reading all of the nominees for the Missouri Association of School Librarians' Reader Awards for grades 4 and up before the winners were announced. Well, the winners will be announced on Monday, and I am proud to say that I have read 38 of the 39 nominees. I have read the first 99 pages of the 39th book.

Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's LibraryThe Testing (The Testing, #1)Eleanor & Park

My predictions for what books will win are shown above: Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library by Chris Grabenstein (Mark Twain 4-6), The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau (Truman 6-8), and Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell (Gateway 9-12).

Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library and Eleanor & Park are definitely my favorites of their categories. I found The Testing a little derivative, but it was by far the most popular of the nominees this year, and it appealed to kids of both genders. (Case in point: it is one of only 2 nominees that my seventh grader bothered to read. The second book he read was SYLO by D. J. MacHale, which I thought was such a BOY book. Ugh.) My favorite was either Prisoner B-3087 by Alan Gratz or the little read Rogue by Lyn Miller-Lachman, but I questioned whether Rogue was a good choice for this age group. Of the Twains, I also really enjoyed Rump: The True Story of Rumplestiltskin by Liesl Shurtliff, The Great Trouble: A Mystery of London, the Blue Death, and a Boy Called Eel by Deborah Hopkinson, and Al Capone Does My Homework by Gennifer Choldenko.

In the Gateway category, there are almost too many to name, but if I had to choose just 3, it would be Winger by Andrew Smith, Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys, and Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson. The content in Out of the Easy and Winger are definitely more appropriate for older teens! My young teen has read Steelheart and its sequels. It is violent, but doesn't contain some of the more questionable behavior found in the other two.

Funny story: I have been trying to get my third grader to reading Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library since I read it last May. I even got him his very own copy to keep. My seventh grader read it and liked it, but apparently that wasn't enough for the younger one. Well, he finally read it last week and loved it! If you have an elementary-school kid, I definitely recommend it. It is a lot of fun!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday, April 19th - Books that Made Me Laugh

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week's theme is books that make you laugh.

This was a little tricky because I don't think that I actively seek out books that are funny with the obvious exceptions of memoirs by comedians: Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, and Mindy Kaling, you all deserve to be on the list, but you feel a little too obvious - sorry! I also left off The Sellout and Nimona because I feel like they were highlighted on lists recently. I may have included Sherman Alexie on a list recently too, but I firmly believe almost everyone should read that book (it's a little off-color at times).

Oh, and yes, I have a counting problem. This list goes to 11. (Not initially intentional, but now it is.)

Also, the list is noted without comment because I have to go to work today!

Dear Committee MembersI Feel Bad about My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a WomanBad Feminist

Catch-22The Importance of Being EarnestMuch Ado About Nothing

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time IndianThe Sisters BrothersAmerican Housewife: Stories

Let's Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True MemoirHyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened

What's on your list?