Sunday, January 13, 2019

2019 book 7

Faith Erin Hicks' Comics Will Break Your Heart
I am not super into YA romances, but I am here for books about nerds into comics AND for books by Faith Erin Hicks (this is her first novel that isn’t a graphic novel) so here we go. The story starts with Miriam, working in a comic book store in a small Canadian town, when a cute new boy walks in—who turns out to be the heir to a major comic book company, whose new movie is about to premiere. Except her grandfather co-created those characters, and their families were involved in a messy lawsuit for years. Oops! Obviously Hicks nails the comic book nerd aspect, and the two protagonists are likable enough that I was not annoyed by their romance. She does the family stuff well, but subplots involving Miriam's friends were kind of underbaked. Still, a very enjoyable and fun nerdy read! B+.

A review copy was provided by the publisher. This book will be released in February.

Friday, January 11, 2019

2019 book 6

Kate Heartfield's Alice Payne Arrives
Well, this was VERY fun. In 1788, a biracial bisexual woman poses as a highwayman to try and deal with her father's debts (and to support herself and her partner, a mechanical genius), and if that's not complicated enough, soon a time traveling woman trying to avert a future war (and stop feuding time traveling groups from interfering with history) enters the mix. I liked all these characters a lot and my only beef with the story is that there wasn’t more to it. Luckily a sequel is forthcoming! A-.

2019 book 5

Sharma Shields' The Cassandra
Shields' latest novel centers on a young woman in the 1940s, a young woman who sees visions of the future, who goes to work as a typist at the Hanford Site. While at first she doesn't know what their Project is, she is soon seeing terrifying visions of the terrible devastation it will bring--but of course, she is a Cassandra, and no one listens to her. I found this to be fairly bleak, though not exactly how I expected, but also I found it very interesting. It was engrossing, but am not sure I’d say I enjoyed it, per se. Content warning for rape and violence. B/B+.

A review copy was provided by the publisher. This book will be released in February.

Monday, January 07, 2019

2019 book 4

Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera's What If It's Us
Two different book club members suggested we read this book, and who am I to deny my book club so much adorableness?? It’s the story of a summer romance between two gay teen boys who have an excellent meet-cute, told from their alternating perspectives. It’s by turns funny, sad, bittersweet, romantic, and super cute, and I like the way it wraps up a lot. Definitely holds up to a second read.

Saturday, January 05, 2019

2019 book 3

Sally Rooney's Conversations with Friends
The description of this book (two young friends caught up in the whirlwind of an older glamorous couple) makes it seem like it could be a great book, or an unbearably annoying one, so I had never gotten around to reading it. Then this New Yorker profile of Rooney came out and I was like, oh, I bet this falls more on the interesting side of things. And it does. It ends up being more the story of one of the girls, a college student and poet. If I was still in my twenties, I’d have found the narrator even more relatable, but as someone on the older side of things I did roll my eyes at her a teeeeeensy bit. Still, it was easy to sit down and read this more or less in one sitting—very compelling writing and narrative voice. A-/B+.

Thursday, January 03, 2019

2019 book 2

Lianna Oelke's Nice Try, Jane Sinner
This was a very good and very entertaining book! It centers on the titular Jane Sinner, who has left high school (for reasons disclosed later in the book) and is now planning to reinvent herself through a community college reality show. It's all very funny and darkly relatable, told through Jane's journal entries. I guess I could complain that some of the other characters could have used more development, but then again, it is supposed to be a teenager's journal, so that works. Anyway, I thought this was very good and surprisingly deep. A/A-.

Wednesday, January 02, 2019

2019 book 1

Melissa Lenhardt's Heresy
Here we are, back at the beginning! I had heard great things about this book--it's a Western about an all-female gang of outlaws, and should have been right up my alley. I had issues getting past the framing device, though (it's presented as a series of documents collected by a historian, but the likelihood of TWO characters writing journals in such a literary way, complete with dialogue, strains belief), and found it to be a little bit slow. I did like the main characters a lot, and think it would make a great movie. B/B+.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

2018 book 193

Natalie Parker's Seafire
Y'all know I am here for books about GIRL PIRATES. And this book is about a ship with an all-girl crew--a crew bent on REVENGE against the nefarious criminal who controls the seas and who killed their families and friends. I liked that the focus was primarily on the girls and their various relationships, but could have done without the little heterosexual romance there was. Lots of girls to root for and good action scenes, too. Based on the somewhat unsatisfying ending, I’m guessing this is the first in a series, and I liked this enough to read the inevitable sequel(s). B+.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

2018 book 192

Mette Ivie Harrison's Not of This Fold
The latest Linda Wallheim mystery—about a fairly progressive Mormon woman in Utah—is pretty entertaining, though as usual I am more interested in the character, her family, and her experiences with the Church than in the actual mystery. The mystery here involves the murder of a woman from the Hispanic branch of their local Mormon church, but that part of the story mainly involves the protagonist and her friend being bumbling white women; there isn’t much for a reader to solve. Again, I like the protagonist a lot and enjoy the series, the mystery elements in this one are just kind of weak. B/B+.

A review copy was provided by the publisher. This book is available now.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

2018 book 191

Mary Adkins' When You Read This
This is being compared to books by Rainbow Rowell and Maria Semple, so I was eager to read it. I will say that I found it enjoyable, but it didn’t really reach the emotional depth of either of those authors, for me. It's all told in emails and texts, which can only go so far. The story is set into motion by the death of a young woman, who it turns out was blogging her cancer experience, and has asked her boss/friend at a PR firm to try and get it published—which means he has to get permission from her prickly sister. Some parts of this were too neat, and at first the obnoxious intern character was TOO obnoxious for me, but I really came around to his story by the end. I did appreciate seeing the two main characters working on their grief, but just wished for something slightly meatier. B+.

A review copy was provided by the publisher. This book will be released in February.

2018 book 190

Jaclyn Moriarty’s A Tangle of Gold
I love this trilogy so much. I love how Moriarty brings it all around again, and how the world is saved by a couple of teen girls—one dreamy and romantic, one hardheaded and practical—and also a cool teen boy (and assorted other teens, to be honest). This book is funny and bittersweet and just gorgeous.

Saturday, December 22, 2018

2018 book 189

Jaclyn Moriarty's The Cracks in the Kingdom
What a great second volume in a trilogy this is! Often the second book is used to just move pieces around for the epic finale, but this one answers some mysteries, introduces more, deepens the characters and their relationships, and is all-around awesome. Like I don’t want to even type words about it, just have this review be a bunch of incoherent gleeful noises.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

2018 book 188

Jaclyn Moriarty's A Corner of White
Rereading some favorites to close out the year! I love the Colors of Madeline trilogy—in this first one, a crack between world allows a teen girl in Cambridge to correspond with a teen boy in a different world (though she believes he is a nerd writing a fantasy story for much of the book). There are great friendships here, and great moms, and mysteries are solved, and optics are discussed at length. I love the writing here; no one can bring me into a world like Moriarty.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

2018 book 187

Mary Stewart's Airs Above the Ground
This classic mystery centers on a young woman whose husband has cancelled their vacation because he has to go to Sweden for business--except then he turns up in a newsreel featuring Austria, with a pretty young woman at his side. So she heads off to Europe to track him down--with a teenage boy, a family friend, in tow. Soon enough everyone is involved in a CAPER--a caper involving famous horses! Sure, why not. This book was a lot of fun, even if the dated-ness made me cringe a couple times (ie one racial slur, some terrible descriptions of a little person in a circus, weird attitudes about women, etc). I am surprised this was never made into a movie, as it seems like it would have been a fun one, like one of those 60s live action Disney movies (though perhaps slightly more menacing). Anyway, good fun. A-.

Monday, December 17, 2018

2018 book 186

Rebecca Makkai's The Great Believers
The hazard of putting out your favorite books of the year list before the year actually ends--you might finally get around to reading one of the well-reviewed books and get completely wrapped up in it and regret not including it. I hadn't read this earlier in the year because I had read one of Makkai's previous books and thought it was just okay, and assumed this one would be just okay as well. But damn if it isn't a tour de force. It alternates from the mid 80s, telling the story of a group of gay men in Chicago and the devastation of the AIDS crisis, to 2015, when one of the characters from the 80s section is in Paris, looking for her missing daughter. That sentence maybe makes it seem like a smaller story than it is, when really it is engrossing and amazing and as you start to see where the stories are leading you are just trying not to start sobbing. Ugh, this was so good. A.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

2018 book 185

Alexandra Rowland's A Conspiracy of Truths
This novel centers on an aging man, a storyteller who travels the world, who's been arrested for witchcraft, and now must navigate the politics of the country and its five rulers using all the skills and stories at his disposal. This was a little bit slow but satisfying anyway; I liked the narrative voice a lot and especially enjoyed the protagonist's relationship with his apprentice. A-.

Friday, December 14, 2018


All right, I think we have finally reached the point in the year where I admit to myself that I am not going to read any more of the big books of the year, and will stop checking them out of the library and then ignoring them. As always, this is a list of my FAVORITE books that were released, and not the "best" ones per se. Alphabetically by author!

--Rumaan Alam's That Kind of Mother
--Sara Gran's The Infinite Blacktop
--Rachel Hartman's Tess of the Road
--Chelsey Johnson's Stray City
--Tayari Jones' An American Marriage
--Ling Ma's Severance
--Rebecca Makkai's The Great Believers [LATE ADDITION TO LIST!]
--Jaclyn Moriarty's The Extremely Inconvenient Adventures of Bronte Mettlestone and The Slightly Alarming Tale of the Whispering Wars
--Naomi Novik's Spinning Silver
--Robin Stevens' Death in the Spotlight
--Scarlett Thomas' The Chosen Ones