Because my job has been kind of kicking my ass lately I’ve been slacking on the posts. I’m sorry! Getting used to working a 10 hour shift and then almost breaking your ankle takes a lot out of a girl. ANYWAY. Today is the start of the ContemporaryAThon hosted by Chelsea over at ChelseaDollingReads and Julie from Pages and Pens. The main goal is just to read as many contemporary books as possible, but there are a few challenges if want to aim for those. The readathon goes from November 13 to November 19. Since doubling up is allowed, I’ve picked separate books for each category but most of them can fit multiple categories if need be.
1. Read the most recent contemporary book you purchased/acquired – Turtles All the Way Down by John Green
2. Read an adult contemporary – The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender
3. Read a contemporary that has characters on the LGBTQIA+ spectrum – Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Abertalli
4. Read a contemporary that is 5 years old or older – Sloppy Firsts by Megan McCafferty
5. Read a contemporary that (to the best of your knowledge) is NOT set during the summer – Done Dirt Cheap by Sarah Nicole Lemon
6. Read a dark/taboo contemporary – The Art of Starving by Sam J. Miller
7. Buddy read a book with someone OR read the group book! – The group book is Like Water by Rebecca Podos but I’m not sure if I’ll get this one from the library in time and I don’t really have anyone to buddy read stuff with (although if anyone is reading anything I’m reading, and wants to buddy read, let me know. I swear I’m friendly!)
Welp, there’s my list. Let’s see how well I do!
Hello again friends! I’m sorry about the radio silence lately, but between a vacation, a cold, 2 training sessions at work, and a new position at work, I’ve been insanely busy for most of the month. I made it through all of one book! (I did read a little of the half dozen other books I am in the middle of, but I only finished one.) So, onward to my review!
Sourdough by Robin Sloan – 4.5 stars. I liked this book a LOT. As in, I finished it and brought it with me on vacation so I could shove it at a friend is normally 3000 miles away from me so she could read it too. Let me start off by saying that this is a weird, quirky, contemporary book, so if that is not your style you definitely won’t like this one. Our main character is Lois. She’s a stressed out, overworked programmer in San Francisco, putting in 80+ hours a week at her job and hating things. One day she comes home and finds a menu from a new place on her door. She calls and orders dinner and falls in love with the food. When the owners of the restaurant have their visas revoked and have to move back to their homeland, they gift Lois with the starter for their sourdough bread. She starts baking her own bread and quickly learns that there is more to the starter than meets the eye. Hijinks ensue, all the while poking fun at the bay area, tech companies, liquid food, and the culture of work needing to be the most important thing in your life.
As I have a lot of friends in the tech industry (and am tangentially in it myself) I adored the portrayals of tech bros, the pressure to work every moment of your life, and the idea that hobbies are weird things no one should have unless they can profit from them somehow. The kind of hipster food trends also get lampooned a fair bit and that was always good for a laugh too. There are some good ideas on finding things that make you happy and taking time for yourself to take away. If you are a foodie, getting some of the science on how starters work, and the best ways to make bread were fun too!
Overall, if you’re looking for a lighter read, some hilarity, and a sourdough starter with a mind all of its own, I highly recommend Sourdough.
August was a pretty productive month for me. I read five novels and three graphic novels for a total of eight books. Thanks library card for giving me deadlines and upping my reading. If there are any books you’d like a more in depth review on, let me know in the comments!
- We Are Okay by Nina LaCour (5/5) – This book. I can’t say enough good things about this book. I checked it out from the library and now it’s on my Buy-This-ASAP-to-Annotate List. The story takes place over a period of 4 days with flashbacks to the last year. Our main character Marin has left her hometown in the Bay Area of California for college in New York and has isolated herself from everyone. At it’s core it is a book about grief changes us and our relationships before and after something big. I saw so much of myself in Marin and I already want to reread this.
- The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan (3/5) – This was an enjoyable, if slightly predictable contemporary novel. I have a total weakness for books about books and/or bookshops. I guess it’s my bookseller heart still. It was cute and fluffy and an easy to read in one shot book. The writing was beautiful at parts, but suffered from some “oh he’s rude, he likes me!” and a plot you saw coming from a mile away.
- The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (5/5) – I was a little worried that this book wouldn’t live up to the hype, but it did. I have a mini review of it in my weekly progress post, but suffice it to say if you haven’t read this book yet, you need to.
- When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon (4/5) – This book also has a mini review on my progress page but it was a cute YA contemporary featuring two Indian-American teens. I listened on audio and both narrators were solid. The plot had some wonkiness in parts, but overall it was so stinking cute that I was willing to overlook things. It was also nice to get a perspective that isn’t seen often.
- Alex + Ada, Volume 1 by Jonathan Luna (4/5) – This was a reread for me. I picked up this volume digitally through a humble bundle about a year ago. Now one thing you have to know about me is that I absolutely LOVE robots and androids in pretty much any form. If there’s a robot or android in a movie it will probably be my favorite character. This story is set in a not too distant future where Alex has been given an android by his grandmother. These androids are so lifelike they can only be identified by their tattoo. Alex soon realizes he wants more than a perfectly compliant android and he finds a way to alter her programming to make her sentient. It’s a solid start to the series and I was left wanting to read more.
- Alex + Ada, Volume 2 by Jonathan Luna (3.5/5) This was a pretty decent follow up to the first volume. It follows Alex and Ada after Ada gains sentience and their relationship navigating the world after bans on android/robot sentience has been banned. There were some weaker parts to this volume and it kind of suffered from 2nd book syndrome but overall it was still enjoyable and I definitely wanted to finish the series to see where it wound up.
- Alex + Ada, Volume 3 by Jonathan Luna (4/5) The last volume in this comic had a lot to say about tech and AI and where is the line of personhood. I won’t spoil anything but I enjoyed the wrap up even if parts of it broke my heart a little.
- Midnight at the Electric by Jodi Lynn Anderson (5/5) – I was looking forward to this book so much. I read Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson last year and it was one of my favorite novels. I didn’t love this book quite as much. but it was still a solid showing. It is set in the nearish future but parts of the story take place in the past as well. Our main-main character, Adri is a teenager who is getting ready to be shipped out to help colonize Mars after America has suffered the effects of climate change. She gets sent from her hometown of Miami to Canaan, Kansas to stay with her elderly aunt, who is her last remaining family member before her journey. She finds correspondence in the home from the owners in the 1930s and starts diving in to who these people and how they fit in with her and her family. It was a solid story and a good luck at how important knowing your history can be.
Last week wasn’t exactly the most productive reading wise since I was training at work and couldn’t read for half my shift like I normally do. I still managed to finish two books, and I loved both of them.
- When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon – I started out listening to this on audio but when my digital check out from the library expired and I couldn’t renew it because of the hold list, I swapped to the ebook. I highly recommend both but the audio is particularly well done. It’s also great because you don’t have to stop and google search how to pronounce the Hindi phrases that pepper the book.I loved Dimple and her act first, think later, somewhat bitchy personality. Rishi is essentially a precious cinnamon roll too perfect for this world. The book is an adorable read, with some insight into living your truth even if you’re afraid your family won’t like it. I highly recommend if you’re a fan of YA contemporary.
- The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas – This book. I almost don’t know how to put into words how I feel about this book. Despite many, many sources telling me it was amazing and the 13 house auction it went through to get published, I was worried that it wouldn’t live up to the hype. It so did. It’s important and I only hope the movie does it justice. I read the ebook, but I really want to listen to the audio as well at some point. Starr was so well written and the depiction of PTSD that sadly often happens to most kids who grow up in bad neighborhoods witnessing horrible things. If you’re looking for something to show you how these horrific things affect a community and how the people who witness them are forced to deal with them, then I can’t recommend it enough.
Currently reading; Midnight at the Electric by Jodi Lynn Anderson, Certain Dark Things by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl (audio, reread)
Immediate TBR: Nevernight by Jay Kristoff, Stephanie Brown Batgirl trades by Brian Q Miller, and Alex + Ada by Jonathan Luna
What about you? Has anyone read any of these, if so, what did you think?
Even though I struggle to get through books in the fall and winter due to not always feeling well, there are a few titles I’m excitedly awaiting.
- Forest Dark by Nicole Krauss. I don’t have words for how excited I am about this book. History of Love is one of my favorite books ever. I’m just hoping that either the bookstore in my local airport or the one in Orlando has it because I am going to Disney World the day that this is released.
- The Living Infinite by Chantel Acevedo. This historical fiction novel is about a rebellious princess, the Chicago World’s Fair, and a visit to revolutionary Cuba. What’s not to like?
- Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan. I imagine after the success and acclaim of A Visit from the Goon Squad, this will be on all the must read lists and I can’t say that I blame anyone. I am always interested in books on The Great Depression as I grew up listening to stories from my grandmother about her childhood.
- We Were Eight Years in Power by Ta-Nehisi Coates. Coates is one of my favorite essayists and I loved Beyond the World and Me so much. I bought multiple copies and shipped them to friends who I felt needed to read it (and then felt slighted when they didn’t respond about whether or not they loved it, naturally). I’ll be picking this up on audio for sure.
- Turtles All the Way Down by John Green. Despite the unending amount of shit I get for being a John Green fangirl, I steadfastly remain a John Green fangirl. I preordered this as soon as it was announced and I absolutely cannot wait for this teenage detective story with a neuroatypical heroine.
- One Dark Throne by Kendare Blake
- They Both die at the End by Adam Silvera
- A Semi-Definitive List of Worst Nightmares by Krystal Sutherland
- Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
- Before the Devil Breaks You by Libba Bray
- Warcross by Marie Lu
- Remember Me Always by Renee Collins
- Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman
- This Darkness Mine by Mindy McGinnis
- Bonfire by Krysten Ritter
- Whichwood by Tahereh Mafi
- Artemis by Andy Weir
All I can say is with a list like this, I am hoping for some serious bookstore gift cards for the holidays!
Since I am in the process of moving things over from other sites to this one, please bear with me. I decided having one spot for everything books and knitting was infinitely easier than having 3 blogs that almost never updated. PROGRESS.
Anyway. on to the books since presumably that’s why most people would be here. Due to Real Life being Real Life, I set my Good Reads goal at 52. I’m coming out a little ahead of the game so far this year. I’m up to 35 with only one book that I’ve DNF’d. So far my top three books of the year are:
- We Are Okay by Nina LaCour
- The Love Interest by Cale Dietrich
- Dead Little Mean Girl by Eva Darrows**
We Are Okay may be short, it is only 234 pages of a smaller hard cover book, but it packs a huge punch. It’s primarily a grief novel about how sometimes we push people away even if they only want the best for us because things are too hard. As someone with cptsd I related to this so much and spent half the book in tears. If you don’t mind a darker book that depicts grief in a way that it usually isn’t then I highly, highly recommend it.
The Love Interest is part spy novel and part romance with a whole lot of trope subversion. Love Interests are assigned to people the agency deems important. These can be geniuses, athletes, influential people, etc. The agency sets up a love triangle and whichever Interest loses the battle for the target’s heart is killed. Things don’t go exactly as the agency plans and the classic love triangle trope is turned on its head. Action, espionage and a very sweet romance put this one on my top list.
Dead Little Mean Girl is a grief novel and mean girl trope subversion in one. Emma’s step-sister Quinn is your garden variety mean girl. She terrorizes the school, Emma, her mom, and pretty much everyone she comes in contact with. When Quinn dies, Emma has to deal with grieving for someone she hated and who did awful things, while learning that there may have been more to Quinn than met the eye. It hits you hard even while you’re laughing and gives you a lot to think about.
** Disclaimer: I know and am friends with Eva Darrows but my copy of DLMG was purchased by me and I legitimately love the book and have foisted it upon people of my own accord.
So my posting got bricked in 2016 because I was sick for most of the year, but I did manage to hit my GoodReads goal of 52 books. Barely. The last two I was finishing up on NYE. I even came really close to finishing the BookRiot Read Harder Challenge too. I got through 20 of 24 tasks on the list. Here’s what I read last year. Bolded titles were my top books for the year.
- Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer
- Cupcakes, Trinkets, and Other Deadly Magic by Meghan Ciana Doidge
- Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler and Maira Kalman
- Normal Gets You Nowhere by Kelly Cutrone
- Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell
- The StoneKeeper (Amulet #1) by Kazu Kibuishi
- This Is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper
- Illusions of Fate by Kiersten White
- Anatomy of A Misfit by Andrea Portes
- Trinkets, Treasures, and Other Bloody Magic by Meghan Ciana Doidge
- Me Before You by JoJo Moyes
- Fuck Love by Tarryn Fisher
- The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
- Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins
- Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson
- Trigger Warning by Neil Gaiman
- Curio by Evangeline Denmark
- The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma
- The Good Luck Girls of Shipwreck Lane by Kelly Harms
- Shakespeare by Bill Bryson
- One of those Hideous Books Where the Mother Dies by Sonya Sones
- Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
- Used & Rare: Travels in the Book World by Lawrence Goldstone
- The Fireman by Joe Hill
- The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
- The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan
- The Titan’s Curse by Rick Riordan
- The Battle of the Labyrinth by Rick Riordan
- Unbreakable by Kami Garcia
- The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan
- Every Heart A Doorway by Seanan McGuire
- Church of Marvels by Leslie Parry
- All Involved by Ryan Gattis
- Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy
- Heroine Complex by Sarah Kuhn
- Redefining Realness by Janet Mock
- Love, Loss, and What We Ate by Padma Lakshmi
- Everyone Leaves by Wendy Guerra
- The Moment of Everything by Shelly King
- Spinster by Kate Bolick
- Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson
- The Disappearance of Melody Dean by Alexis Sugden
- A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab
- A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay
- The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness
- Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova
- This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab
- The Odds of Loving Grover Cleveland by Rebekah Crane
- Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey
- My Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga
- The Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman
- Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay
Well, the first half of this year kicked my ass health wise and along with it went all my beautiful plans of blogging, but such is life with a chronic illness. On the bright side, I got lots of reading done and a fair amount of knitting too. I figured I’d take a look at what I’ve read so far this year and see what I’ve enjoyed, what I’ve not enjoyed and see how I stand on my challenges.
- Belzhar – Meg Wolitzer 3.5/5 – BR Challenge – Read a book with a main character with a mental illness.
- Cupcakes, Trinkets, and Other Deadly Magic – Meghan Ciana Doidge 4/5
- Why We Broke Up – Daniel Handler and Maira Kalman 4.5/5
- Normal Gets You Nowhere – Kelly Cutrone 1/5 (DNF)
- Assassination Vacation – Sarah Vowell 3/5 – BR Challenge – Read a book about politics
- Amulet: The Stonekeepers – Kazu Kibuishi 3/5 – BR Challenge – Read a middle grade novel
- This is Where I Leave You – Jonathan Tropper – 5/5 – BR Challenge – Read a book adapted to a movie and then watch the movie. Debate which was better. I’m going with book, though the movie was quite good for this one, especially if you were a fan of Arrested Development.
- Illusions of Fate – Kiersten White 5/5
- Anatomy of a Misfit – Andrea Portes 4/5
- Trinkets, Treasures, and Other Bloody Magic – Meghan Ciana Doidge 4/5
- Me Before You – JoJo Moyes 2.5/5
- F*ck Love – Tarryn Fisher 4/5
- The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath 5/5
- Rebel Belle – Rachel Hawkins 3/5
- Warbreaker – Brandon Sanderson 4/5 – BR Challenge – Read a book over 500 pages
- Trigger Warning – Neil Gaiman 4/5
- Curio – Evangeline Denmark 1/5 (DNF)
- The Walls All Around Us – Nova Ren Suma 4/5
- The Good Luck Girls of Shipwreck Lane – Kelly Harms 3.5/5
- Shakespeare: The Word as Stage – Bill Bryson 3/5 – BR Challenge – Read a Biography
- One of Those Hideous Books Where the Mother Dies – Sonya Sones 5/5
- Everything I Never Told You – Celeste Ng 4/5
- Used and Rare: Travels in the Book World – Lawrence and Nancy Goldstone 3.5/5
- The Fireman – Joe Hill 5/5 – BR Challenge – Read a dystopian/post apocalyptic novel
- The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao – Junot Diaz 1/5 (DNF)
- The Sea of Monsters – Rick Riordan 4/5
- The Titan’s Curse – Rick Riordan 4/5
- The Battle of the Labyrinth – Rick Riordan 5/5
- Unbreakable – Kami Garcia 3/5
- The Disappearance of Melody Dean – Alexis Sugden 5/5 (There was a kickstarter for the printed trade paper book of this webcomic so I got to read the whole thing already :P ) – BR Challenge – Read a non Superhero Comic debuted in the last 3 years
Overall I’ve enjoyed most of what I’ve read so far this year, with only a couple books that I’ve given up on. I’m 30 out of 52 on my yearly goal of books read and only 8 out of 25 of the Read Harder challenges, so I guess I’m really going to have to step those up for the latter half of the year. I’m in the middle of a few more Read Harder challenges, but I’ve not gotten much reading done in the last couple weeks. I’ll do a more detailed breakdown on what I’ve read and my thoughts on the books in the next post!