January 25, 2020

The quest continues

5 Worlds Book 3: The Red Maze by Mark Siegel, Xanthe Bouma, Matt Rockefeller, & Boya Sun is the continuation of the series that I started back in December 2018. [Reviews for Book 1 and Book 2] It's such a fun read but because it's a collaborative project there's a long break in between publishing dates. Therefore, if you're waiting for the next book in the series you're going to be waiting until later this year for it. 😭 More of the mystery of what exactly Jax is becomes clear but with that revelation comes a threat to his very individuality and existence. Our heroes head to Yalta to light the red beacon but the Mimic is ready for them and banishes them to the Red Desert where they meet other magical outcasts. While the team is stranded in the Red Desert, Oona's powers are expanded and An Tzu discovers he has heretofore untapped potential. (I imagine this will be explored further in the next book.) All in all, a great continuation of a story which I wouldn't mind owning in an omnibus edition once it's completed. 10/10

Source: Amazon

What's Up Next: Stanislaw Lem masterpost
What I'm Currently Reading: The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes

**If you're interested in buying this book or any books really, you can click here or here. The first will re-direct you to AbeBooks and the second will re-direct you to The Book Depository. These are great websites for purchasing books (AbeBooks carries inexpensive used and out-of-print books and The Book Depository ships free everywhere in the world). Full disclosure: I will receive a commission on all sales made by following either of these links. I wouldn't recommend a site that I didn't use and you are under no obligation to purchase anything. :-) **

January 15, 2020

When the past comes back to haunt you

Straight away I want to say The Invited by Jennifer McMahon was such a fun reading experience! The book opens in the 1920s with a woman named Hattie who lives in a small house in the swamp with her daughter Jane. There's already friction with the local townsfolk but a tragedy occurs which results in an act of cruelty that resounds through history to the present day (2015 to be precise). And that's where we're introduced to Helen (a young woman who moves to Vermont with her husband) and Olive (a young girl who just wants to solve the mystery of her missing mother). It turns out that Helen is a history buff and she decides that she wants to use reclaimed objects to build a house on their newly purchased land...which is in the swamp. Yes, she and her husband are occupying the same space that Hattie had once called home and when they start using objects that tie back to Hattie Breckenridge and her kin weird (supernatural) things start happening. The unfolding of the plot is divided by the stages of the house's construction which I thought was really clever and further helped to make the novel feel more cohesive. While it ounces between different points of view it's done in such a way that it doesn't detract from the flow of the novel (which you all know is a pet peeve of mine). McMahon really knows how to weave a supernatural thriller/mystery with lots of intricate details and a host of characters. While I felt like I had a vague idea where the book was heading she somehow managed to keep throwing curve balls to lead me astray. Mystery fans and/or those looking for a spooky supernatural book will really get a kick out of this one. 10/10

Source: Amazon

What's Up Next: 5 Worlds Book 3: The Red Maze by Mark Siegel, Xanthe Bouma, Matt Rockefeller, & Boya Sun
What I'm Currently Reading: A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court by Mark Twain

**If you're interested in buying this book or any books really, you can click here or here. The first will re-direct you to AbeBooks and the second will re-direct you to The Book Depository. These are great websites for purchasing books (AbeBooks carries inexpensive used and out-of-print books and The Book Depository ships free everywhere in the world). Full disclosure: I will receive a commission on all sales made by following either of these links. I wouldn't recommend a site that I didn't use and you are under no obligation to purchase anything. :-) **

January 8, 2020

Relevant and necessary

So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo is the kind of book that will have you really thinking about your actions and the way that they affect others. When I finished this book, I immediately passed it onto my manager to read because I wanted to continue the conversation. Oluo uses her own experiences as a person of color navigating our (you have to admit) white supremacist society here in the United States. So this is not only extremely relevant but also a necessary book about an incendiary topic. We (I speak as a collective here with a definite side-eye at my fellow white folks of privilege) need to do better and that starts with educating ourselves. Oluo uses this book like an instruction manual with vocabulary lessons on things like microaggressions, the school to prison pipeline, tone policing, intersectionality, cultural appropriation, and the model minority myth. It's full of talking points about how to successfully navigate uncomfortable talks about race, racism, and racial inequality. This isn't an easy book to read because the truth about our society and the way that we have been conditioned to act is a hard pill to swallow BUT it's important to face this head-on so that we can move on to all (hopefully) be better people. Lest you think this is directed solely at white people, Oluo also stresses the importance of people of color having affirmation that their feelings and hurt are valid. Basically, this is a great book that all people wanting to do better should read. 10/10

Source: Amazon

What's Up Next: The Invited by Jennifer McMahon
What I'm Currently Reading: The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper by Hallie Rubenhold

**If you're interested in buying this book or any books really, you can click here or here. The first will re-direct you to AbeBooks and the second will re-direct you to The Book Depository. These are great websites for purchasing books (AbeBooks carries inexpensive used and out-of-print books and The Book Depository ships free everywhere in the world). Full disclosure: I will receive a commission on all sales made by following either of these links. I wouldn't recommend a site that I didn't use and you are under no obligation to purchase anything. :-) **

January 1, 2020

2019 Book Roundup

Hi there, friends! It's time to put together the list of the books that I read in 2019. I really thought I would break the cycle and get all of my reviews finished before the end of the year but I didn't take into account how much busier my new branch was going to be. [Spoiler alert: It's super busy and my reading really reflects that.] Once again, I'm going to list out the rereads and I'll try to get another post out about the books that I did not finish (DNF) of which there are quite a few (if I can remember their titles). Without further ado, here's the list!
  1. My Side of the Mountain
  2. Warren the 13th and the All-Seeing Eye
  3. The Library Book
  4. Warren the 13th and the Whispering Woods
  5. Elfquest Archives: Volume 3
  6. Strange Magic
  7. The Thirteenth Tale
  8. I'll Be Gone in the Dark
  9. New Kid
  10. Remember, Remember
  11. Notes from a Small Island
  12. HiLo Book 5: Then Everything Went Wrong
  13. Once Upon a River
  14. Elfquest Archives: Volume 4
  15. Three Things About Elsie
  16. Adulthood is a Myth
  17. Big Mushy Happy Lump
  18. Herding Cats
  19. Excellent Books for Early and Eager Readers
  20. The Dreamers
  21. Dread Nation
  22. The Saturdays
  23. Lumberjanes: Beware the Kitten Holy
  24. Lumberjanes: Friendship to the Max
  25. Lumberjanes: A Terrible Plan
  26. Lumberjanes: Out of Time
  27. Lumberjanes: Band Together
  28. Like Pickle Juice on a Cookie
  29. The Doll People
  30. Redwall
  31. Born to be Posthumous
  32. Toys Go Out
  33. Mirror Mirror: A Book of Reverso Poems
  34. Locomotive
  35. Doctor Proctor's Fart Powder
  36. The Right Word
  37. The Birthday Ball
  38. The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy
  39. Amphigorey
  40. Amphigorey Again
  41. Amphigorey Too
  42. Ready Player One
  43. A Discovery of Witches
  44. Strange Sight
  45. The Hidden Witch
  46. The Witch Boy
  47. Our Uninvited Guests
  48. Stranger in the House
  49. When the Children Came Home
  50. Jambusters
  51. The Gods Themselves
  52. Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets
  53. Cool Japan Guide
  54. Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates
  55. The Star Diaries
  56. So You Want to Talk About Race 
  57. The Invited 
  58. 5 Worlds Book 3: The Red Maze 
  59. Solaris (review pending)
  60. Exhalation (review pending)
  61. Will my Cat Eat my Eyeballs? (review pending)
  62. Disappearing Earth (review pending)
  63. The Hunting Party (review pending)
  64. We Were Killers Once (review pending)
  65. The Poet and the Vampyre (review pending)
  66. It Takes One (review pending)
  67. The 7th Victim (review pending)
  68. When Life Gives you Pears (review pending)
  69. Kindness and Wonder (review pending)
  70. The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat (review pending)
  71. The Toll (review pending)
  72. The Ride of a Lifetime (review pending)
  73. Miss D & Me (review pending)
  74. Fair Play (review pending)
  75. Inside Out (review pending)
  76. Cat Diary: Yon & Muu (review pending)
  77. When I Arrived at the Castle (no review - I just didn't like it)
  78. Cicada (no review - not my favorite by Tan)
And the reread books:
  1. 84, Charing Cross Road
  2. The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil
That brings our total count to: 79 books.

I've once again included the links for the reviews of each of the titles but you can always use the search feature to look up any genre, subject, etc. to find your next book to kick off 2020. :-) Happy New Year!!

**If you're interested in buying any of these books or any books really, you can click here or here. The first will re-direct you to AbeBooks and the second will re-direct you to The Book Depository. These are great websites for purchasing books. Full disclosure: I will receive a commission on all sales made by following either of these links. I wouldn't recommend a site that I didn't use and you are under no obligation to purchase anything. :-) **

December 28, 2019

For fans of Isaac Asimov

The Star Diaries by Stanislaw Lem (my first Polish translated work!) came into my life due to an observant patron recognizing my Star Trek tattoo as the nerd alert that it is and recommending it to me. [Hallelujah!] The book is organized into short stories touted as the numbered voyages of Ijon Tichy. [A/N: Don't be thrown by the fact they aren't in order. Read my note at the end of this review for a better understanding.] The beginning offers an introduction which has the reader questioning the 'validity' of Tichy as a narrator and the last voyage really solidifies that doubt. [We are given to believe that these chronicles are studied by dedicated scholars and that Tichy is a great explorer.] We follow Tichy as he makes his way across the universe on a solo trip which ultimately turns into a philosophical journey about the nature of being and how he fits into the grand picture of the universe. One particular story was a standout for me (and absolutely terrifying) featuring robot monks, wild furniture, and a type of humanity that was horrifying for Tichy (and the reader) to behold. (Really dig into the underlying message here.) Lem, like most good sci-fi writers, is looking at what it means to be human by tapping into our curiosity for all things that are decidedly alien or other. Tichy is our lens into a world that is as ever changing as the various voyages that he makes. I absolutely loved it. 10/10

A/N: A note at the back of the book explained that the voyages were written out of order because Lem wrote the book over the course of 20 years and his writing style changed somewhat across the span of the stories.

The cover on the book that I read. [Source: Amazon]
I just love this cover. [Source: Goodreads]

What's Up Next: So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo
What I'm Currently Reading: Inside Out: A Memoir by Demi Moore

**If you're interested in buying this book or any books really, you can click here or here. The first will re-direct you to AbeBooks and the second will re-direct you to The Book Depository. These are great websites for purchasing books (AbeBooks carries inexpensive used and out-of-print books and The Book Depository ships free everywhere in the world). Full disclosure: I will receive a commission on all sales made by following either of these links. I wouldn't recommend a site that I didn't use and you are under no obligation to purchase anything. :-) **

December 26, 2019

Fact or fiction?

About 3 pages into Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates by Brian Kilmeade I felt that the author had a real issue with Muslims and he wrote this book to denounce them through a historical lens. As he drew parallels to the Barbary Wars (what's detailed in this book) and present day conflicts, he made the claim that slavery was a unique and barbarous practice only perpetrated by Muslims against whites. (Duh that's not the case.) By the time I had finished the book my overwhelming impression was that this book was not only Islamophobic but a major piece of revisionist history. (I even checked other reader's reviews to make sure that I wasn't completely off the mark here and they back up my feelings pretty much across the board.) He makes a strong argument for a show of military strength over diplomacy. In fact, the Barbary Wars were what precipitated the formation of the Navy and Marines (the 'shores of Tripoli' ring any bells?). I couldn't even tell you if what he says happened really happened when such a large focus was on ideas other than the historical events of the moment. 0/10

And then to discover that this book which was recommended to me by a coworker was in fact written by a co-host of Fox & Friends made total sense after the fact. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ 


Source: Amazon


What's Up Next: The Star Diaries by Stanislaw Lem
What I'm Currently Reading: Inside Out: A Memoir by Demi Moore

**If you're interested in buying this book or any books really, you can click here or here. The first will re-direct you to AbeBooks and the second will re-direct you to The Book Depository. These are great websites for purchasing books (AbeBooks carries inexpensive used and out-of-print books and The Book Depository ships free everywhere in the world). Full disclosure: I will receive a commission on all sales made by following either of these links. I wouldn't recommend a site that I didn't use and you are under no obligation to purchase anything. :-) **

December 21, 2019

Why did I read this when I have no plans to visit Japan?

I had high hopes for Cool Japan Guide: Fun in the Land of Manga, Lucky Cats, and Ramen by Abby Denson. Some of this stemmed from the fact that this was recommended to me from a trusted source but more so from the fact that I've so enjoyed the travelogues that I've read in the past (especially Lucy Kinsey's). Sadly, this book fell far short of the mark for me. While this is 'marketed' for a young adult audience the cat character that the authors use for Japanese vocabulary lessons (a great idea in theory) was childish in the extreme. The illustrations weren't anything to write home about either but I think they were secondary to the purpose of providing helpful information to the international traveler. In this the authors definitely succeeded although their advice should be taken with a grain of salt as some information could potentially be out-of-date. All in all it was a 2/10 for me although I did have a craving for ramen right after reading it. 😉

Source: Amazon


An example of the illustrative style (and the cat). [Source: Comics Worth Reading]

What's Up Next: Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates by Brian Kilmeade
What I'm Currently Reading: Fair Play: A Game-Changing Solution for When You Have Too Much to Do (and More Life to Live) by Eve Rodsky

**If you're interested in buying this book or any books really, you can click here or here. The first will re-direct you to AbeBooks and the second will re-direct you to The Book Depository. These are great websites for purchasing books (AbeBooks carries inexpensive used and out-of-print books and The Book Depository ships free everywhere in the world). Full disclosure: I will receive a commission on all sales made by following either of these links. I wouldn't recommend a site that I didn't use and you are under no obligation to purchase anything. :-) **