My life in books

ALA recently announced the winners of children’s and YA book awards, and it got me thinking about all the books I loved as a kid.

monsterendGrowing up with three older sisters, who were much older than me (seven, eleven, and twelve years older), books were read to me since the day I came home from the hospital. My sister Tammy is probably the best book reader, especially when she read The Monster at the End of this Book. She has Grover’s voice down and the more scared he got with the prospect of a monster at the end of the book, the more scared she sounded.

FrogandtoadBut it wasn’t just Grover. We had an overflowing bookshelf of books that I grew up with, as my dad said about me, “You were always up in your room reading.” I re-read books until the pages fell apart. Frog and Toad were my good friends. I had tea with Frances. And all the Sweet Pickles animals taught me things, though I probably should’ve read Yakety Yak Yak Yak a few more times.

bfgBy the time I got to 2nd grade, one of my favorite books was The BFG. I don’t remember the name of my 2nd grade teacher (Mrs. Dixon, maybe?), but she read The BFG to us in class, and I was so proud that I had already read it and that I had my own copy of the book I could bring to class and read along with her. The story of Sophie and bone-crunching giants and snozzcumbers fascinated me, but I just really wanted the BFG to come blow dreams into my bedroom window at night.

ramonaI read a lot of other chapter books when I was young, too, like the Encyclopedia Brown books, a ton of different Choose Your Own Adventure books, and I loved Alice’s Adventure in Wonderland, but if I had to pick chapter books that I read again and again and again, there are just two authors you need to know – Beverly Cleary and Judy Blume.

I wanted to be Ramona Quimby. She was ballsy, up for anything, and she’d get in trouble, but she always had the best of intentions. Well, almost always.

And who didn’t love Judy Blume’s Freckle Juice and Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing and Blubber? And what girl didn’t whisper to other girls about Are You There God, It’s Me, Margaret? or Forever? Judy Blume told us about bullying and made us sympathize. Judy Blume told us things adults shied away from telling us and she didn’t make them scary.

I still read quite a few young adult books, and some middle grade books, too, because there are still great stories being published. And now, it’s time for me to dive into one. I hope Dumplin’ holds up to all the praise.

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Book review roundup

Here are some of my most recent book reviews. There are some great books here and some that everyone besides me seems to love.

life-after-life-185x280Life After Life by Kate Atkinson

I just finished Life After Life by Kate Atkinson and now I’m sitting here saying, “So what? What was the point of that?” You’re forewarned: this contains a lot of spoilers.

Life After Life follows the many lives of Ursula Todd, and when I say “many” I mean many. Does she die 30 times? 40? …continue reading

Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay KristoffIlluminae Ray V6FrontOnlyA2A_V3.indd

I absolutely love well done epistolary novels, those told through letters, reports, chat transcripts, newspaper clippings, etc. Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff is one of these novels.

The year is 2575 and widespread space travel, through the use of black holes, is commonplace. …continue reading

undermajordomominor-185x280Undermajordomo Minor by Patrick deWitt

I have been staring at a blank screen for fifteen minutes, not knowing how to start writing about Undermajordomo Minor by Patrick deWitt. I loved deWitt’s The Sisters Brothers, a fabulous western with a riveting main character, and though Undermajordomo Minor had a completely different setting, I hoped to read another unforgettable story. What I didn’t expect to find was a lack of character development and a colossal jump the shark moment that ruined everything. …continue reading

undertowmichaelbuckleyUndertow by Michael Buckley

Undertow: racism and segregation through the lens of merpeople.

Okay, it’s not that profound, but one can’t help but think of Civil Rights-era school segregation while reading Michael Buckley’s Undertow.

Lyric Walker was a typical teenager until the Alphas moved to town. …continue reading

thelibraryatmountchar-185x280The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins

I tend to devour any book that includes librarian characters, but the librarians in The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins are nothing like my kind of librarian. These librarians devour literature, but the kind that teaches them to bend time, bring people back from the dead, and engage in military strategy. …continue reading

welcometonightvale-185x280

 

Welcome to Night Vale by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor

Full disclosure: I have never listened to the Welcome to Night Vale podcast. I tune out things like podcasts, talk radio, and audiobooks, so I’m not part of Serial and Welcome to Night Vale obsessions. After reading the Welcome to Night Vale book, I’m completely content not being part of the obsession.

Welcome to Night Vale is simply a mish mash of idiotic, ridiculous situations in a southwest town. …continue reading

2016 books

The Readers’ Advisory course I’ve taught for the last three years is moving to every other year, so the course won’t be offered this year but will be back in 2017. While I love teaching this course, by not teaching it this year do you know what that means? I can read whatever the hell I want this year.

I read a lot of what I want even when I do teach the course, but I always have to read more in genres that aren’t my favorite. See ya later romance and detective mysteries.

So with me diving into books I’m excited about, these are the ones coming out in 2016 that I’ve got my eye on.

BOOKS IN A SERIES

cityofmirrosThe City of Mirrors by Justin Cronin

This is the final book in The Passage trilogy that I have loved. I wrote about book one and book two in the past and I’ve been patiently awaiting this book for four years. I’m really looking forward to this one, even though I’m kind of hazy on the previous two. I’ll have to find a good synopsis to catch me up again. Damn those series.

A Gathering of Shadows by V. E. SchwabA Gathering of Shadows Final

This is the second book in V. E. Schwab’s A Darker Shade of Magic series. I never wrote about A Darker Shade of Magic, but it’s a fabulous book involving four different Londons and magical people who can move between all four worlds. There’s fun magic in the book, great power struggles between worlds, and some serious attitude. I can’t wait to see what happens in this one.

laststarThe Last Star by Rick Yancey

Another series finale I’m really looking forward to is the last in the 5th Wave series. I liked the first book, but I loved the second book. I never wrote about the second book but it was way better than the first, probably because it didn’t follow Cassie as much in the second. Secondary characters became more pronounced and they were way more intriguing. I have no idea where this one will end.

Stiletto by Daniel O’Malleystiletto

This is the second book in The Checquy Files and I loved the first book. I described the first book as if Mulder and Scully had a baby with Jason Bourne and the X-Men. Myfawny Thomas is the main character who woke up not knowing who she is but soon finding out she works in a secret society that tracks down supernatural creatures in the UK. It was just so much fun and I’m thrilled we’ll be able to visit this world again.

morningstarMorning Star by Pierce Brown

This is the final book in the Red Rising trilogy. I really liked the first two books, and I’m in awe of the fabulous world building, so what I’m most looking forward to is to find out what this war will do to this world and who will come out on top. I have my fingers crossed for Darrow, our bottom dweller Red who’s sticking it to the Golds.


ALL THE OTHER BOOKS

And now, for books that I know nothing about but that sound super good.

Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvelsleepinggiants

This is an epistolary book, the first in a series, and I’m totally intrigued. Just check out this from the description:

A girl named Rose is riding her new bike near her home in Deadwood, South Dakota, when she falls through the earth. She wakes up at the bottom of a square hole, its walls glowing with intricate carvings. But the firemen who come to save her peer down upon something even stranger: a little girl in the palm of a giant metal hand.

Seventeen years later, the mystery of the bizarre artifact remains unsolved—its origins, architects, and purpose unknown. Its carbon dating defies belief; military reports are redacted; theories are floated, then rejected.

But some can never stop searching for answers.

Rose Franklin is now a highly trained physicist leading a top secret team to crack the hand’s code.

Yes, please!

fellsideFellside by M. R. Carey

I loved Carey’s 2014 debut The Girl with All the Gifts, so no matter what this story is about I’m in. Although it sounds good, too:

Fellside is a maximum security prison on the edge of the Yorkshire Moors. It’s not the kind of place you’d want to end up. But it’s where Jess Moulson could be spending the rest of her life.

It’s a place where even the walls whisper.

And one voice belongs to a little boy with a message for Jess.

What’s the message?! We’ll have to wait for April to find out.

All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Andersallthebirds

From the editor-in-chief of io9 comes an apocalyptic tale that includes magic of some sort? There is a time machine at some point, then later there is the global climate crisis and magicians who want to help solve it? I don’t fully understand the description, but I do love a good apocalyptic story.

everyheartEvery Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire

This description also is a little vague, but it involves an underground world that sucks up children, magic, and a girl who comes back from the world and wants to go back, but there’s trouble all around her. It’s something like that. I don’t know a lot about it, but I’ve heard a lot of buzz, so I want to check it out.

Hex by Thomas Olde Heuvelthex

I ran across this book on a Barnes & Noble list of 2016 releases, and I laughed when I read that a 17th century witch holds a town hostage. That’s pretty much all I had read to know I wanted to check it out, but it also didn’t hurt to know that this was a bestseller in the Netherlands and is finally being translated for us. I’m interested to see if I agree with the Dutch.

So, yes, that’s a lot of sci-fi and fantasy, with a little bit of horror, but I said I wanted to read 76 books this year for the Goodreads Reading Challenge, so there will be plenty of other books, too. I really need to catch up on a lot of things I missed in the last few years, but these are the ones I won’t miss in 2016.

Happy reading!

New Year’s Resolution

new-years-day-1062608_1280It’s 2016!

I never thought I’d say a year so high. When I was a young kid in the 80s, there’s no way I ever thought I’d see 2016. Not that I thought I wouldn’t make it there, but it seemed so incredibly far off that it was not in the realm of possibility. Well, welcome to the future.

Since I’m living in the future, I should really take more advantage of our technology and things like this blog. Hence we get to my New Year’s Resolution – blog more.

When my dad died a year and a half ago, a lot of things stopped for me, or at least slowed down. I couldn’t read a book for about six months after he died. It was the weirdest feeling, but I just couldn’t concentrate enough to do it. I also inched along when it came to other things, too, like exercise, hanging out with friends, writing, and this blog. Although, to be fair, I didn’t blog much before he died, but after he died it pretty much stopped completely. I stopped.

But I’m doing much better. This doesn’t mean I still don’t cry and don’t wallow from time to time, but my life is getting more back to some sort of normal and it’s time to start talking about it.

Welcome 2016. I hope to blog in you more.