books

July Books

This month I got through 7 books, which means I’m 67% done! Only 32 more to go!

Tequila Mockingbird by Tim Federle

Tequila Mockingbird by Tim Federle

Title: Tequila Mockingbird
Author: Tim Federle
My Rating: 5/5
GoodReads’ Rating: 4.22/5

This book is full of amazing drink recipes based on literature, most of which are named with amazing puns! Yes!!!

Book of 1000 Days by Shannon Hale

Book of 1000 Days by Shannon Hale

Title: Book of a Thousand Days
Author: Shannon Hale
My Rating: 4/5
GoodReads’ Rating: 3.94/5

I almost quit this book halfway through, but I’m glad I kept going because it went to a place I did not expect. It’s written from the point of view of a maid, shut up in a tower with her mistress who refused to marry the man her father picked out for her. It reminded me a lot of Mulan, I guess because there’s an invading army led by a total creeper, a lot of assuming false identities, and unconventional uses of power.

Notorious Royal Marriages by Leslie Carroll

Notorious Royal Marriages by Leslie Carroll

Title: Notorious Royal Marriages
Author: Leslie Carroll
My Rating: 4/5
GoodReads’ Rating: 3.90/5

This book was pretty chatty, which I like. I learned some things I didn’t know. I wish it had included even one non-European example. Or that it had included more royals from countries besides England. I know all about that already, thanks.

172 Hours on the Moon by Johan Harstad

172 Hours on the Moon by Johan Harstad

Title: 172 Hours on the Moon
Author: Johan Harstad
My Rating: 2/5
GoodReads’ Rating: 3.61/5

This book is completely ridiculous. Completely. The only reason I gave it a 2 was because the concept of creepy evil doppelgangers is incredibly creepy, whether they are on the moon or otherwise. So, yes, there were one or two parts of this book that definitely creeped me out. But overall it is pretty hilarious bad. NASA decides to send three non-US teenagers to their secret moon base for a publicity stunt, except that the things on the moon that caused the base’s abandonment in the first place are–surprise!–still there and bent on killing everyone. One of the most hilarious things about the book is the author’s stereotypical treatment of teen girls that he never bothers to flesh out fully. “But what would I do on the moon? There’s nowhere to shop!”

It by Stephen King

It by Stephen King

Title: It
Author: Stephen King
My Rating: 1/5
GoodReads’ Rating: 4.06/5

Some parts of this book were legitimately creepy. I wasn’t as scared as I thought I would be, probably because jump scares don’t work as well in literature compared to film. The characters were less like cardboard cutouts than a typical King novel, and I liked the non-chronological storytelling. Unfortunately, I can’t get over the completely random sex scene towards the end where seven 11-year-olds decide to bang in a sewer tunnel they’re supposed to be escaping for vague “This way we’ll always be friends” reasons. And the implication that this was the way the one girl character was able to “save” the others. No thanks forever.

The Ones I Decided Not to Read

Title: The Sweet Revenge of Celia Door
Author: Karen Finneyfrock
GoodReads’ Rating: 3.73/5

Title: Winger
Author: Andrew Smith
GoodReads’ Rating: 4.2/5

Previously: June Books
Next: August Books

June Books

This month I got through 10 books, so I’m 59% done with this project! 39 to go!

Relish by Lucy Knisley

Relish by Lucy Knisley

Title: Relish
Author: Lucy Knisley
Rating: 5/5
GoodReads’ Rating: 3.89/5

This is a graphic novel/memoir about food adventures that includes recipes!! Delicious recipes! I tried the chocolate chip cookie one and definitely plan to use it again.

I actually checked it out of the library again when I realized I forgot to write down the recipe

I actually checked it out of the library again when I realized I forgot to write down the recipe

The stories in the book are hilarious, the recipes are delicious, and the art is fun. A great book for anyone who loves food!

The Theory of Everything by J. J. Johnson

The Theory of Everything by J. J. Johnson

Title: The Theory of Everything
Author: J.J. Johnson
Rating: 4/5
GoodReads’ Rating: 3.97/5

Even though I rated this one a 4/5 after I read it, I literally remember nothing about it now so maybe it wasn’t as good as I thought. I actually had to look it up again to remember what book it was. Even then, I’m just remembering it as “dead best friend + Christmas tree farm”. Each chapter started with an amazing chart or graph, which is probably why I upped its final score.

Geeks, Girls, and Secret Identities by Mike Jung

Geeks, Girls, and Secret Identities by Mike Jung

Title: Geeks, Girls, and Secret Identities
Author: Mike Jung
Rating: 3/5
GoodReads’ Rating: 3.91/5

I read this book while waiting for my car inspection, so it wasn’t really a deep read, but it was okay for what it was: a middle grade novel about a town with a resident super hero and his biggest fanboy. So of course major drama ensues when he discovers the superhero’s secret identity: a girl at his school. I liked the girl power messages (of course).

Concierge Confidential by Michael Fazio

Concierge Confidential by Michael Fazio

Title: Concierge Confidential
Author: Michael Fazio
Rating: 3/5
GoodReads’ Rating: 3.34/5

I wouldn’t say the writing in this book was particularly strong, but it was interesting to read about funny and ridiculous stories from a concierge’s past. I guess I never really knew the full extent of a concierge’s job, not usually frequenting the kind of hotels that have them. My favorite part was probably his attempts to fill and subsequently clean up a hotel bathtub with liquid chocolate for a guest’s romantic anniversary surprise.

The Ones I Decided Not To Read

Title: Joel and Cat Set the Story Straight
Author: Nick Earls
GoodReads’ Rating: 3.74/5
Why I’m not reading it: This looks like the kind of gimmicky chick lit I would enjoy on a plane, but not enough to ILL.

Title: The Boy Who Sneaks Into My Bedroom Window
Author: Kristy Moseley
GoodReads’ Rating: 4.06/5
Why I’m not reading it: I’m pretty sure this was only on my list because the title reminded me of Clarissa Explains it All. This book could never live up to that expectation.

Title: September Girls
Author: Bennett Madison
GoodReads’ Rating: 3.01/5
Why I’m not reading it: The reviews didn’t sound great after further investigation

Title: Railsea
Author: China Mieville
GoodReads’ Rating: 3.93/5
Why I’m not reading it: I read the first chapter, and decided that I would love this movie, but it ultimately wasn’t worth forcing myself to read the rest of the book. It was more about worldbuilding and spectacle and I need to care about characters first.

Title: In the Garden of Iden
Author: Kage Barker
GoodReads’ Rating: 3.78/5
Why I’m not reading it: Similar to Railsea, the concept the novel is built around is interesting, but the first chapter didn’t grab me.

Title: Divergent
Author: Veronica Roth
GoodReads’ Rating: 4.37/5
Why I’m not reading it: I feel like I already know everything about this book.

Previously: May Books
Next: July Books

May Books!

This month I got through 8 books, so I’m 49% done with this project! Gotta pick up the pace!

To Be Or Not To Be by Ryan North

To Be Or Not To Be by Ryan North

Title: To Be Or Not To Be: A Chooseable Path Adventure
Author: Ryan North
Rating: 5/5
GoodReads’ Rating: 4.26/5
When it was added to my list: 11/4/2013
Why was it on my list?: Um, did you read that title?

THIS IS A CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE BASED ON HAMLET!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! You should buy it right now. The e-book is ridiculously easy to navigate, and the illustrations are amazing. My favorite ending involves becoming a ghost marine biologist. Let’s face it, the other books I read this month really didn’t have a chance of making Top Spot after this.

Hell House by Richard Matheson

Hell House by Richard Matheson

Title: Hell House
Author: Richard Matheson
Rating: 3/5
GoodReads’ Rating: 3.8/5
When it was added to my list: 10/23/2013
Why was it on my list?: A list of good horror stories before last Halloween

I was interested to read this because my only Matheson experience is his seminal vampire/zombie work I Am Legend, which is pretty different than the Will Smith movie of the same name. I like how he tends to write horror in an almost clinical, science fictiony manner, where the “supernatural” elements can be explained by science even as traditional horror tropes are utilized. This is a typical “strangers locked in a haunted house” narrative, which I enjoyed, though like most genre novels, the characters were mostly two-dimensional and I didn’t really care about any of them.

An Exaltation of Larks by Robert Reed

An Exaltation of Larks by Robert Reed

Title: An Exaltation of Larks
Author: Robert Reed
Rating: 3/5
GoodReads’ Rating: 3.49/5
When it was added to my list: 03/09/2010
Why was it on my list?: No idea

This book was way weird. Like to the point where I don’t even really know how to describe it. Here is the first sentence: “Youth is a bird. A simple and vivid wild bird. Quick to anger, and love, and hungry to forget, if only so that it can do everything again for the first time. Yet this is not a time of birds. It is a time of turtles.”

Easy by Tammara Webber

Easy by Tammara Webber

Title: Easy
Author: Tammara Webber
Rating: 3/5
GoodReads’ Rating: 4.24/5
When it was added to my list: 11/16/2012
Why was it on my list?: Who even knows, that was 2 years ago

I struggled a lot when it came to rating this book, because parts of it are really problematic, but I was still able to enjoy it by purposefully not thinking too hard about it. It’s a fairly typical romance novel about college students, but it also addresses rape frankly and calls out the bullshit victim blaming that so often shrouds the issue on college campuses. I really appreciated that, but found a lot of the main character’s actions surprisingly chill for someone who should be dealing with the aftermath of a sexual assault. Hopefully no one reading this would think there’s something wrong with them if they aren’t ready to fall in love/lust with the next cool, hot dude they meet.

Enchanted by Alethea Kontis

Enchanted by Alethea Kontis

Title: Enchanted
Author: Alethea Kontis
Rating: 2/5
GoodReads’ Rating: 3.72
When it was added to my list: 1/10/2013
Why was it on my list?: Probably because I was really into reimagined fairy tales in 2013, like everyone else

Ugh, I am so over reimagined fairy tales, and this one gave me nothing special to focus on. The characters ranged from forgettable to annoying.

The Counterfeit Family Tree of Vee Crawford-Wong by Tam L. Holland

The Counterfeit Family Tree of Vee Crawford-Wong by Tam L. Holland

Title: The Counterfeit Family Tree of Vee Crawford-Wong
Author: Tam L. Holland
Rating: 2/5
GoodReads’ Rating: 3.53/5
When it was added to my list: 12/2/2013
Why was it on my list?: A list of notable books out last year

I really wanted to like this one! The plot sounded interesting: after an assignment about making a family tree in school, Vee sends a fake letter to his father, supposedly from his long-lost grandfather in China asking for a family reunion, basically tricking his father into exploring a past he’d left behind. Unfortunately, Vee is completely unlikable. I think the author was going for how teenagers can sometimes be selfish or egotistical, but went too far until I couldn’t understand why any of the other characters would willingly spend time with him. I certainly didn’t want to.

The Ones I Decided Not To Read

Title: Breaking Beautiful
Author: Jennifer Shaw Wolf
GoodReads’ Rating: 3.93/5
When it was added to my list: 10/25/2012
Why was it on my list?: Good YA books published that year?
Why I’m not reading it: No joke, I have checked this book out on THREE separate occasions. The furthest I’ve gotten is Chapter 2. I have no idea why. I can’t tell you anything really wrong with it. I guess it just didn’t grab me, so I’m giving up.

Title: Wildwing
Author: Emily Whitman
GoodReads’ Rating: 3.43/5
When it was added to my list: 6/11/2012
Why was it on my list?: The cover looked really stupid
Why I’m not reading it: I don’t have time to ILL something for a funny cover

Previously: April Book List
Next: June Books

April Book List

This month I knocked off 11 books from my list, so I’m now 41% done with this project! Exciting!

All the Truth That's In Me by Julie Berry

All the Truth That’s In Me by Julie Berry

Title: All the Truth That’s in Me
Author: Julie Berry
Rating: 5/5
GoodReads’ Rating: 4.01/5
When it was added to my list: 12/2/2013
Why was it on my list?: I’m sure I read a good review

This historical fiction/mystery is amazing. I don’t want to give away too much of the plot, but the main character and her best friend disappeared from their village for two years… and then only Judith came back. With her tongue cut out. HOW? WHY? WHO? Can she salvage some kind of life for herself and her family? The answers are not what you think–I tried to guess the mystery behind this book, and was completely wrong multiple times. Surprises are the best!

Paris Out of Hand by Karen Elizabeth Gordon

Paris Out of Hand by Karen Elizabeth Gordon

Title: Paris Out of Hand
Author: Karen Elizabeth Gordon
Amount Read: All
Rating: 4/5
GoodReads’ Rating: 3.88/5
When it was added to my list: 1/8/2013
Why was it on my list?: I have no idea

This book was beautiful and adorable. It’s a travel guide to Paris featuring surreal, entirely made up hotels, restaurants, and attractions. A hotel run by children, another where the sheets are printed with the day’s newspaper so guests can keep up with the news, a restaurant whose strange meals are prepared by blindfolded chefs. The pages are also beautifully laid out and artistic.

Fat: The Owner's Manual by Ragen Chastain

Fat: The Owner’s Manual by Ragen Chastain

Title: Fat: The Owner’s Manual
Author: Ragen Chastain
Amount Read: All
Rating: 4/5
GoodReads’ Rating: 4.53/5
When it was added to my list: 7/7/2013
Why was it on my list?: I’m a big fan of Ragen’s blog

I’m glad I bought this book because I’m happy to support Ragen Chastain’s work, although I was mostly familiar with everything it contained from reading her blog. Size acceptance and body image issues are two things that have affected my life deeply, and reading Ragen’s work has really helped me focus on my health instead of my appearance. Last year I was working out better and more consistently than any other time in my life and didn’t lose any weight at all. A lot of people might see that as some failure on my part, but I was demonstrably healthier in all real measures of health: strength, stamina, cholesterol, blood pressure, quality of life. This year I’ve lost 50 pounds, and I’ve never felt worse. You can’t know anything about a person’s habits or health just from their appearance, and everyone deserves respect and the right to happiness no matter their size.

Death, Dickinson, and the Demented Life of Frenchie Garcia by Jenny Torres Sanchez

Death, Dickinson, and the Demented Life of Frenchie Garcia by Jenny Torres Sanchez

Title: Death, Dickinson, and the Demented Life of Frenchie Garcia
Author: Jenny Torres Sanchez
Amount Read: All
Rating: 3/5
GoodReads’ Rating: 3.85/5
When it was added to my list: 12/2/2013
Why was it on my list?: A list of best books of 2013

As a senior in high school, Frenchie has a wild night of adventure with the boy she’s had a crush on for years but never really talked to. Then he kills himself the next day. Now it’s the summer after graduation and she has to deal with her own feelings of guilt, anger, depression, and love. Frenchie was a pretty cool main character, but I didn’t find myself caring enough about her emotional struggles to rate this book higher. I like that she had imaginary conversations with Emily Dickinson, though. I think that fact was the reason I marked this one as To Read in the first place.

360 Degrees Longitude by John Higham

360 Degrees Longitude by John Higham

Title: 360 Degrees Longitude
Author: John Higham
Amount Read: About a third
Rating: 3/5
GoodReads’ Rating: 3.95/5
When it was added to my list: 10/29/2013
Why was it on my list?: Recommended to me by GoodReads because I liked One Year Off

Ironically, I stopped reading this book because it was too similar to One Year Off but, I felt, not as good. The author seems kind of smug about a lot of his choices–bragging about how his kids will be cosmopolitan citizens of the world and how they’re biking across Europe instead of taking the train. I don’t know, that was just my impression. I’ve been in kind of a weird mood lately, so I could be wrong.

The Ones I Decided Not To Read:

Title: The Storyteller
Author: Antonia Michaelis
GoodReads’ Rating: 4.14
When it was added to my list: 1/2/2013
Why was it on my list?: It got completely stellar reviews
Why I’m not reading it: All those reviews also say that it is utterly heartbreaking. I don’t really need that right now.

Title: Palace of Stone
Author: Shannon Hale
GoodReads’ Rating: 3.92/5
When it was added to my list: 11/16/2012
Why was it on my list?: I liked the first one, Princess Academy
Why I’m not reading it: I felt like the first one wrapped things up pretty well, and didn’t care about the characters enough to start the sequel.

Title: The Last Dragonslayer
Author: Jasper Fforde
GoodReads’ Rating: 3.82
When it was added to my list: 1/2/2013
Why was it on my list?: I’ve liked some of Fforde’s other books
Why I’m not reading it: Jasper Fforde is a tricky writer because I really like his ideas, but I hardly ever care for his writing style. I usually find his main characters unlikable and hard to connect with. Sometimes the cleverness of the world he’s built overrides that concern, but I just couldn’t get in to this one.

Title: Al Capone Does my Homework and Al Capone Shines my Shoes
Author: Gennifer Choldenko
GoodReads’ Rating: 4.02 and 3.96
When they were added to my list: 6/5/2013
Why were they on my list?: I liked the first one
Why I’m not reading them: I didn’t like the first one enough

Title: Renegade Magic
Author: Stephanie Burgis
GoodReads’ Rating: 4.06
When it was added to my list: 12/17/2012
Why was it on my list?: I liked the first one
Why I’m not reading it: I didn’t like it enough

Next: May Books
Previously: March Books

March Book List

This month I read only 5 books from my list. A little less than usual, but that’s okay. I took a break and read some other great things that weren’t part of my goal. I’m about 29% of the way there so far.

Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers

Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers

Title: Grave Mercy
Author: Robin LaFevers
Amount Read: All
Rating: 5/5
Why was it on my list? That cover!

This book was awesome! I immediately looked to see if there was a sequel (and there is!! Though about different characters). It takes place in historical Brittany, where Ismae escapes from a terrible arranged marriage to an island abbey where the nuns serve Death. As assassins. There’s a little bit of magic, a lot of complex intrigue, and the perfect amount of ~romance~ with the added drama of whom can you really trust??. Love it.

More Than This by Patrick Ness

More Than This by Patrick Ness

Title: More Than This
Author: Patrick Ness
Amount Read: All
Rating: 4/5
Why was it on my list? A list of good YA novels from last year

The novel opens with Seth drowning. He hits his head on a rock and dies. Then he wakes up, in the dusty remains of the house his family moved away from 8 years ago. Everything is abandoned and the entire town seems empty except for him. He must come to terms with the fact that he’s in some kind of hell…. or is he? I really liked the mystery involved, trying to figure out along with Seth what the hell is going on, and also the flashbacks to his life before drowning. There are multiple mysteries in this book, and I liked the way they twisted around each other. Only the ending was kind of unsatisfying, but maybe it’s a sequel set up. I’d be cool with seeing how this story continues.

Scorch by Gina Damico

Scorch by Gina Damico

Title: Scorch
Author: Gina Damico
Amount Read: All
Rating: 2/5
Why was it on my list? I enjoyed the first book in the series, Croak

True confession: I was not in the best state when I read this book, so maybe I would have liked it more at another time. The plot seemed unfocused, and the writing style and language kind of gimmicky. It ended on a cliffhanger, but I probably won’t read the third one.

Ash by Malinda Lo

Ash by Malinda Lo

Title: Ash
Author: Malinda Lo
Amount Read: All
Rating: 2/5
Why was it on my list? A list of fairy tale re-imaginings

This book was sold to me as “lesbian Cinderella” and I am all about that concept. Unfortunately, the execution wasn’t as exciting. Lo is very skilled at creating tone and mood, but all of her characters were somewhat two-dimensional and lacked personality. I didn’t really care about any of them, so of course none of them had any chemistry together and the romance portions seemed boring and awkward. I liked the world this lackluster story is built on top of, trembling between magic and modernity and full of myths and huntresses, and I wish the main characters had lived up to it.

Penpal by Dathan Auerbach

Penpal by Dathan Auerbach

Title: Penpal
Author: Dathan Auerbach
Amount Read: All
Rating: 1/5
Why was it on my list? A list of horror books from around last Halloween

This book started as a series of Reddit posts, and that’s pretty much all you need to know. It didn’t even creep me out, and I am the world’s biggest wuss. Each lengthy chapter is its own short story, with a classic-style “THE CALL WAS COMING FROM INSIDE THE HOUSE!” urban legend gotcha line at the end. The writing style was overly pompous, especially when the main character is mostly a child. Most of the characters act or speak in ways that aren’t appropriate for their age or situation (Mom is totally cool with letting her 5-year-old wander around the woods by himself! 11-year-olds analyze their friendships and admit when they are being distant and at fault!). Also, I had to buy this one (e-book), the first book I’ve bought for this project, so perhaps I was even more disappointed than usual.

The Ones I Decided Not To Read

Title: The Night Climbers
Author: Ivo Stourton
Why was it on my list? I have no idea. It’s been more than 4 years
Why I’m not reading it: This book only has a 2.95 star rating on Goodreads. All the reviewers basically just said it was a rip-off of The Secret History and not to bother. Since I would have to ILL it, and I already have enough to keep my library’s ILL department busy, I’m going to take their advice.

Title: Glamour in Glass
Author: Mary Robinette Kowal
Why was it on my list? It’s the sequel to Shades of Milk and Honey
Why I’m not reading it: The reviews made it sound like, though I enjoyed the first one, I wouldn’t like this one. I am still all about regency romance/historical fiction+now there’s magic! though

Previously: February
Next: April

2014 Book List: February

I got through books this month from my 2014 booklist, which means 22% of my goal is complete! Here they are, in order of me enjoying them:

Code Name Verity

Code Name Verity

Title: Code Name Verity
Author: Elizabeth Wein
Amount Read: All
Rating: 4/5
Why was this on my list?: I think I already had it on my list because of a review I read, but then it won just all the awards

The best thing about this book is the point of view. It starts off as the “confession” being written on scraps of paper by a Scottish spy in a Nazi interrogation headquarters in occupied France. Things get intense, as you can imagine. I also really enjoyed a look inside women’s lives during World War II: female wireless operators, female pilots, female spies, female special ops. It’s not a part of wartime life that gets a lot of press (did you even know there were lady pilots being badass back then?) and Wein deals with the issue with such humanity that it hardly feels like history. Her characters feel very real, which is part of why this book is so crushing because, yeah, they are in the middle of a brutal war, so most of it is also terrifying.

Letters from Skye

Letters from Skye

Title: Letters from Skye
Author: Jessica Brockmole
Amount Read: All
Rating: 4/5
Why was this on my list?: I read a review of it, and I love epistolary novels.

This novel is a series of letters telling one love story that spans 2 world wars. It begins when a cocky college boy sends a fan letter to his favorite poet, a semi-recluse who lives in the beautifully remote Isle of Sky, Scotland. Make anything an epistolary novel, and I will automatically like it more. It also kind of made me miss the rugged beauty of Scotland, and all those sheep fields and hills-not-mountains I used to tramp around.

Who Could That Be At This Hour?

Who Could That Be At This Hour?

Title: Who Could That Be At This Hour?
Author: Lemony Snicket
Amount Read: All
Rating: 3/5
Why was this on my list?: Leeeemoooooonyyyyy Sniiiiiickeeettttt

The Series of Unfortunate Events dragged on too much for me, but I’ve always enjoyed Lemony Snicket’s writing style (in manageable doses), and some of Daniel Handler’s adult novels are really enjoyable and well-written (particularly The Basic Eight, a mystery, and Adverbs, a confused fever dream). This first book in a new series takes place in the same universe as A Series of Unfortunate Events, just some years earlier. It has the usual Snicket kind of things: an ex-island (now mountain) that mines ink from terrified underground octopi, sneaky note passing through library book request cards, and a grim, Edward Gorey-like pall hanging over everything. Basically exactly what you’d expect, and sometimes that’s comforting.

Delusions of Gender

Delusions of Gender

Title: Delusions of Gender
Author: Cordelia Fine
Amount Read: All
Rating: 3/5
Why was this on my list?: A review I read, probably on one of the blogs I follow about gender issues

This book was intensely interesting, and, of course, all about a subject I’m already very invested in. Cordelia Fine gives an overview of the various studies surrounding the “neuroscience of sexism,” the belief that there are two kinds of brains in the world and, say, the lady ones are somehow inherently bad at math and the guy ones just can’t grasp the concept of emotion unless it’s about bacon. Which you know is total bullshit, and it’s nice to have a more thorough understanding about some of the studies that supposedly back this up, and all of the ones that disprove it.

Gifts

Gifts

Title: Gifts
Author: Ursula K. Le Guin
Amount Read: All
Rating: 3/5
Why was this on my list?: A book list about interesting kinds of magical systems in fantasy

This book was very atmospheric and odd, but unmistakably well-written, at least from a language standpoint. I got to the end and really felt like I knew the place she was writing about–I just wished more had happened there. It’s one of those slow-moving, world-building type of books, but at least the world is an interesting one. The poor hill clans each have magical “gifts” that help them survive, at least when bloodlines run true. The main character’s family birthright, just like his father’s, is to be able to unmake things with a glance and a gesture, at least it would be, if it would show up already. Sometimes waiting for puberty to turn you into a killing machine is such a drag.

The False Prince

The False Prince

Title: The False Prince
Author: Jennifer A. Nielsen
Amount Read: All
Rating: 3/5
Why was this on my list?: It was nominated for a Goodreads award

I feel like I would have been all about this book when I was like ten (except for the lack of badass ladies–ten-year-old me had standards), but unlike other children/YA books, it was harder to get into as an adult. The main character and a few other boys are being groomed to impersonate the crown prince of their fantasy-medieval country, which may be treason or may be Their Civic Duty. Also, the ones that don’t get picked get murdered, so it’s good motivation to study hard.

A Queer and Pleasant Danger

A Queer and Pleasant Danger

Title: A Queer and Pleasant Danger
Author: Kate Bornstein
Amount Read: All
Rating: 3/5
Why was this on my list?: It’s full title is A Queer and Pleasant Danger: The true story of a nice Jewish boy who joins the Church of Scientology and leaves twelve years later to become the lovely lady she is today

The best thing about this book is that on the first page there are a list of “Also By This Author” and the first thing my eye saw was Nearly Roadkill: An Infobahn Erotic Adventure. I was immediately thrown back in time to the single greatest thing I ever found while wandering the undisturbed stacks in Fondren. This book was insane. It was written entirely in chatroom transcripts, at a time when “Infobahn” was totally a word people thought would be used to describe the Internet in the future. I think I gave James Fox a copy for his birthday and reaching similar levels of ridiculousness is our yearly goal for Script Frenzy (alas, never achieved). I was BEYOND psyched to read its author’s memoir. Although looking back, that expectation set my sights a little too high. This book was crazy, but real-world crazy that was often just sad.

The Wedding Planner's Daughter

The Wedding Planner’s Daughter

Title: The Wedding Planner’s Daughter
Author: Coleen Paratore
Amount Read: All
Rating: 3/5
Why was this on my list?: I have no idea

This book was… okay. I can picture a certain kind of 8-year-old girl really liking it, although not 8-year-old me. It’s less about pretty dresses than you might suppose, but it’s more about everyday life drama of dealing with loss and moving on and making friends. Nothing all that exciting happens, although I enjoyed a lot of the descriptions of Cape Cod.

Parenting: Illustrated with Crappy Pictures

Parenting: Illustrated with Crappy Pictures

Title: Parenting: Illustrated with Crappy Pictures
Author: Amber Dusick
Amount Read: All except one chapter
Rating: 2/5
Why was this on my list?: Recommended on Goodreads because I liked the Hyperbole and a Half book

I didn’t like this book for two reasons, neither of which were its fault. The first is that, because of the style and the way it was recommended to me, I was comparing it to Hyperbole and a Half, which is a comparison no one can win. Allie Brosh is amazing in every way (writing style, comedic timing, explaining something that is so true and sad somehow in a funny way) and it’s unfair to hold anyone else to that standard. The second is that it’s about parenting (duh), but mostly the really gross unappealing parts. Which is like all of them, when you’re me. I was already feeling sick when I read this, so I ended up skipping the chapter about being sick since the other ones had still been too much about bodily fluids for my liking.

Every Day

Every Day

Title: Every Day
Author: David Levithan
Amount Read: All
Rating: 1/5
Why was this on my list?: I think it was nominated for an award or something?

The idea for this book is interesting–the main character is a new person everyday, wearing their body and accessing their memories until midnight when he moves on to some other random body (always the same age as him and within a close proximity). This premise raises a lot of interesting issues, almost none of which are explored. Towards the end, almost off-handedly, the protagonist discovers there are more people like him, and that they can learn to control what they do. But he dismisses finding out anymore about that because, whatever it’s not boring enough or something. The bulk of the plot is about his creepy relationship with the girlfriend of one of the people he possesses. Maybe it’s just because I really hate the love at first sight trope, but their relationship struck me as superficial bullshit. “He looks at her and only he can see her secret sadness” uggggggggh no. You can’t use that as a shortcut to establishing a believable connection between two characters. Plus, the ethical implications of dragging your host body around, wrecking its life because it’s your vehicle for the day are only kind of acknowledged. We’re supposed to realize that his stalker-Nice Guy(TM) love trumps all those concerns, I guess. Also, he hops into a lot of different teen-problem-novel-esque situations that we’re supposed to Learn A Very Important Lesson about, even though these people are portrayed as strange cardboard cut-out minorities with almost no humanity of their own. Except the one fat guy he possesses, who is described as “the societal equivalent of a burp.” The protagonist makes a big show of how non-judgmental he is, except of the fat guy, because since you did this to yourself, you deserve society’s scorn. A GIANT NOPE TO BOTH THOSE ASSUMPTIONS, David Levithan. Ew.

Goblin Secrets

Goblin Secrets

Title: Goblin Secrets
Author: William Alexander
Amount Read: One and a half chapters
Rating: ???
Why was this on my list?: It won some awards

I wanted to like this book! I love Baba Yaga, and people with clockwork robot legs, and fish that swim in dust. But somehow the beginning and the main character both failed to grab me, and I found myself really unenthused about reading anymore. Maybe it’s the higher level of commitment you have to make to a fantasy novel, all the time it takes to understand the world it’s set in. I’m not willing to make the effort for just anyone! Maybe that makes me lazy, or picky, or something. I guess I have pretty high standards. But there’re too many books I want to read, so no sense wasting time on something that doesn’t excite you.

Previously: January

2014 Book List: January

One of my goals for 2014 was to clear out my To-Read list on Goodreads. I’m happy to report that I’m already on my way, although my library only owns about 60% of them, so things might slow down once I’m stuck waiting for inter-library loan or (GASP) spending money on books I haven’t read. J/k, you know I wouldn’t do that unless things got pretty dire. It’s against my principles as a cheapskate and a bibliophile. You want a coveted place on my bookshelf, you have to prove you’re up to it.

Anyway, I’ve gotten through 10 books so far, which is about 10% of the way towards my goal (there are 96 in all). Here they are:

The Ones I Read

Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean M. Auel

Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean M. Auel

Title: Clan of the Cave Bear
Author: Jean M. Auel
Amount Read: All
Rating: 5/5
Why was this on my list?: A list of books with good heroines

A teacher recommended this novel to me in the 7th grade during a unit about prehistoric man, but I only read the first 10 pages before giving up. The book was intimidatingly huge, and the characters barely had any dialog. This time around I loved it so much and can’t wait to read the rest in the series. Ayla is amazing, and this time I found Auel’s depiction of prehistoric neanderthal society really interesting. Plus, badass lady hunter! So yeah, I’m all about this.

Rapture Ready by Daniel Radosh

Rapture Ready by Daniel Radosh

Title: Rapture Ready
Author: Daniel Radosh
Amount Read: All
Rating: 5/5
Why was this on my list?: Recommended by GoodReads because I liked The Unlikely Disciple

This book is an exploration of the strange parallel world of Christian pop culture in its many facets. Of course, I vaguely know about the Left Behind series and that Christian pop music exists, but I didn’t know about things like Christian electronica (What makes it Christian without lyrics? “the heart of the composer”), “break dancing as worship,” Bibleman superhero show, and Christian pro wrestling. I immediately contacted Rachel when I read the pro wrestling chapter telling her to give up her pursuit of a divinity degree and immediately start training. All that was left was to think of names. Since she is three months away from being a Master of Divinity, she came up with “Jezebellicose.” My only contribution was “Mary Magdapunch.”

Other People's Love Letter's

Other People’s Love Letter’s

Title: Other People’s Love Letters
Edited by: Bill Shapiro
Amount Read: All
Rating: 4/5
Why was this on my list?: Recommended by Goodreads because I liked Found and Postsecret

Initially I thought this book was a collection of love letters from famous people, probably in like the 17th century or whatever. I would have been down with that, but the reality was even better! It’s random love notes, drawings, texts, email messages, and, yes, even some real letters, all from normal people, all presented in a similar format to Found/Postsecret. The result is artistic and sweet in its simplicity. There was also an epilogue of sorts at the back that explained the background behind some of them and if the couples stayed together or not.

The Weight of Water by Anita Shreve

The Weight of Water by Anita Shreve

Title: The Weight of Water
Author: Anita Shreve
Amount Read: All
Rating: 4/5
Why was this on my list?: I’m thinking a book list of unusual narrative construction? I’m just guessing, I don’t remember.

This novel is two stories entwined around each other: one, a gruesome historical murder mystery that really happened in the 1870s, the other a modern-day drama about a marriage falling apart. I was interested in the outcome of both stories, but the real draw was the weirdness of the setting. The Isles of Shoals are a small island group 6 miles off the coast of New Hampshire, and living there–especially in the 1800s–sounds desolate and terrible.

Where Children Sleep by James Mollison

Where Children Sleep by James Mollison

Title: Where Children Sleep
Author: James Mollison
Amount Read: All
Rating: 2/5
Why was this on my list?: Recommended by Goodreads because I really liked the photo essays by Peter Manzel and Faith D’Aluisio (Hungry Planet, What I Eat, Material World, Women in the Material World)

I was pretty excited for this book, because I love everything Peter Menzel and/or Faith D’Aluisio have ever done, like photographing different people around the world with a typical day’s worth of food surrounding them followed by a short essay about their lives. I really think this kind of personal, themed display is a more powerful tool for understanding modern society globally than the normal statistics and news reports. Mollison’s book has a similar theme: photographing children’s bedrooms–well, where they sleep, they don’t all have bedrooms–with short paragraphs about their lives. Unfortunately, I didn’t find Mollison’s work to be as engaging. He didn’t visit as diverse a population as the other books I referenced (for instance, there were at least 4 or 5 in the US, but almost all in New York or New Jersey), and a single picture per subject often didn’t capture as much detail as I would have liked.

The Ones I Sort Of Read

I still gave these a rating even though it’s maybe unfair to judge them after only reading half or a third or a few pages. I’m willing to be convinced that they got better after I gave up, but I shouldn’t have to force myself to get into a book, so I’m not really apologetic about the giving up part.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time

Title: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Author: Mark Haddon
Amount Read: Half
Rating: 2/5
Why was this on my list?: A list of books with unusual narrators

I remember when this book was a big deal, the Life of Pi or Girl with a Dragon Tattoo of its day. Like those other books, I found it difficult to muster the enthusiasm necessary to read it, and found it didn’t live up to the hype once I did (sometimes things do live up to their hype–I was similarly reluctant to read The Hunger Games and you know how that turned out). Steven tells me I’m too hard to impress because I read too much, and maybe that’s true, because I found this book uncomfortably gimmicky. I’m not sure if I was supposed to be able to guess the truth behind the narrator’s family drama in the first chapter or what, but it made the subsequent revelations boring. I decided I would power through to the end to see if my supposition about who killed the neighbor’s dog was correct, but then my prime suspect confessed about halfway through. I immediately thought, “Oh, well… thank you. Now I don’t have to bother.”

Carter Finally Gets It

Carter Finally Gets It

Title: Carter Finally Gets It
Author: Brent Crawford
Amount Read: A third
Rating: 2/5
Why was this on my list?: I have no idea. Was it banned somewhere? It’s possible, the narrator is very preoccupied by breasts

This book is fine, really, if you’re interested in the inner-workings of the mind of a 14-year-old boy. I’m not so much, and it was around the chapter about burrito farts ruining a first date that I decided I didn’t really need to read further. I’m obviously not one of those people that thinks just because something is shelved in YA it’s going to be a teen problem novel of no interest to adults (because, come on, Abhorsen, True Meaning of Smekday, MOSCA MOTHERFUCKING MYE). I think there are the books that get shelved in YA just because they happen to be about someone who isn’t an adult, and the books people write with the actual purpose of being put there. It’s a big difference, in terms of scope, and sometimes quality, and I wish so many of my favorites didn’t get stigmatized by association with the Carter Finally Gets Its of the library. It’s okay–some people would like this book and probably think it is hilarious–but not me.

The Night Strangers

The Night Strangers

Title: The Night Strangers
Author: Chris Bohjalian
Amount Read: 5 pages
Rating: 1/5
Why was this on my list?: A “best ghost stories” book list that came out around Halloween

This book started out describing a creepy house with a creepy cellar sporting a creepy door that’s been nailed shut with a vengeance. Cool, I’m with you so far, prologue. Until the main narration starts, and it’s in second person. NOPE! SO DONE! That is only appropriate in Choose Your Own Adventure Novels, and even then it can get annoying. What’s the point of making the main character “you,” a regional airline pilot and father of two? I’m NOT any of those things, and trying to convince me I am is distracting and terrible. If that’s the only way you can think of to make your scary story seem more immediate for the reader, maybe you shouldn’t be writing horror. Anyway, I read some reviews to see what I was missing, and it seems to be a botany-related immortality cult. So yeah, I’m good.

The Ones I Decided Not To Read

Title: Found II
Author: Davy Rothbart
Why was this on my list?: I liked the first one
Why I’m not reading it: I liked the first one, but I didn’t like it enough to wait for it through inter-library loan, especially since I have so many other books to inter-library loan this year.

Title: Carrion Comfort
Author: Dan Simmons
Why was this on my list?: A list of good scary stories from Halloween
Why I’m not reading it: I read the description, and it doesn’t sound like something I’d enjoy. Secret alien societies are not really my thing, and since my library doesn’t own it, it doesn’t seem worth the effort.

2013 Books: The Ugly

I don’t know what happened with the Ugly list this year. Usually it’s my favorite part of the year end book review, but I guess I picked out my literature based more on cover art in 2013 or something, because I looked through all 200+ books and only found these for you:

The Key by Lynsay Sands

The Key by Lynsay Sands

Even this is about what you’d expect from a romance novel

Biological Exuberance by Bruce Bagemihl

Biological Exuberance by Bruce Bagemihl

This book was actually really interesting, but something about that bird’s face staring at me from my desk… I don’t know

Wifey by Judy Blume

Wifey by Judy Blume

Okay, I don’t know how much of this opinion is colored by my hatred of the word “wifey,” but this cover kind of freaks me out. Does it not look like she’s hanging herself? Maybe she’s supposed to be jumping on the bed? Levitating? It’s confusing and a little disturbing

Not Love But Delicious Foods by Fumi Yoshinaga

Not Love But Delicious Food by Fumi Yoshinaga

Kind of a non-fiction managa review of different Tokyo restaurants? Which is kind of a weird thing for my library to own, but I checked it out for the sentiment of Foods Before Dudes, because yes. Then her kind of creepy goblin face stared at me for a week. I don’t know if I love it or hate it. Her expression says she might eat me if I’m not complimentary.

Keeping a Journal You Love by Sheila Bender

Keeping a Journal You Love by Sheila Bender

I don’t really get what’s happening here or what it has to do with journals

Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr

Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr

I can’t wait for Twilight-style covers to die

The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing by M. T. Anderson

The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing by M. T. Anderson

You probably remember this one from The Good list, but it took me so long to read because the cover is really unappealing. I actually thought it was some kind of revolutionary war-era Man in the Iron Mask retelling. I was glad to be proven wrong.

I Was Told There'd Be cake by Sloane Crosley

I Was Told There’d Be cake by Sloane Crosley

Just blah. And speaking of just blah…

The Cemetery Book by Tom Weil

The Cemetery Book by Tom Weil

Not a gravestone or a creepy angel or anything? Just… okay. Nice try, Cemetery Book.

2013: The Good
2013: The Bad
Bonus: The Pretty

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