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« October, 2019 »

Frenemy Nations: Love and Hate Between Neighbo(u)ring States   book icon  
by Mary Soderstrom (2019)

read: 29 October 2019
rating: [+]
category: non-fiction

Such a great exploration at how two places can be right next to each other geographically, but worlds apart. I picked it up for the NH/VT chapter, but enjoyed DR/Haiti, Algeria/Tunisia and Scotland/Ireland. There’s a personal story interwoven about how Soderstrom left the US to move to Canada and observed the differences. She’s been to many if not all of the countries she talks about. Good info, well-explained.

Guts   book icon  
by Raina Telgemeier (2019)

read: 26 October 2019
rating: [+]
categories: graphic novel, ya

Another memoir of Telegmeier’s growing up. This one about her anxiety disorder that manifests itself as eating/digestive issues. This is all about how she and her family tracked down and diagnosed her issues and partly about going to therapy. Her growing up in California with her parents' slightly non-normative lifestyle (all three kids shared a bedroom until Telegmeier was in her teens) and her extended family all play into this. Tense at times but some nice lessons learned (about school, about family, about growing up) and wraps up well with some words from modern-day Telegmeier.

In Waves   book icon  
by A. J. Dungo (2019)

read: 24 October 2019
rating: [+]
category: graphic novel

A super poignant and sad memoir about a young woman and the boy who adored her. She learned to surf and this story is partly about the history of surfing and partly about her eventual death (spoiler!!) from cancer. I was not expecting a cancer story and I was expecting a surfing story so I was a little surprised at the direction this took but it was a well-told and really great story nonetheless.

White Bird: A Wonder Story   book icon  
by R. J. Palacio (2019)

read: 23 October 2019
rating: [+]
categories: graphic novel, ya

Other than the fact that this didn’t look like a WWII/Nazi book when I picked it up, I liked this. It takes someone who is a sort of side character in the Wonder world and explains a little bit about the history of that person and their family. Ultimately, this is a story about a Jewish girl in WWII who has to hide out in a barn for a really long time to escape the Nazis. There’s a lot more to it than that, but it definitely is worth reading, though a little graphic at times.

The Future of Another Timeline   book icon  
by Annalee Newitz (2019)

read: 22 October 2019
rating: [+]
category: fiction

A fun time travel romp with the central conceit being “Hey if you could go back in time to right some historical wrongs, but on a more subtle level than killing Hitler, what would you do?” This is a feminist tale through and through and while there is time travel with restrictions, explaining how it works is not what this book is about. Soft science and heavy history (you’ll notice favorite feminist icons along the way) with a little bit of graphic assault, in case that’s something you’re concerned about.

Weather   book icon  
by Jenny Offill (2020)

read: 16 October 2019
rating: [+]
category: fiction

Another great ARC from Offill. Had echoes of Barthelme but in a thoroughly modern context including a lot of post-election dread, caring for mentally ill family members and a feminist viewpoint. Not a ton of words but every one counts. I really like Offill’s voice and her sensitive treatment of complicated issues.

Bomber’s Moon   book icon  
by Archer Mayor (2019)

read: 13 October 2019
rating: [+]
category: fiction

Thirty of these books! Even though there are some people who are killed in this one, there is a little less of the creepy terrify-and0torture aspects that have put me off some of the previous ones. I enjoyed this, we’re back with Joe Gunther and people are doing well and no major character dies or gets grievously injured.

Underland: A Deep Time Journey   book icon  
by Robert Macfarlane (2019)

read: 12 October 2019
rating: [+]
categories: best in show, non-fiction

This is the type of non-fiction I love to read. Very nature-bound, not so venerable as to be a little precious. Good stories, learning things I haven’t learned before and taking me places I haven’t been. I read this after getting Lost Words from a friend for my 50th and wanting to know more about Macfarlane who I know vaguely on Twitter. The book goes a lot of places that are hard to get to either because of geography (caves on the sea coast of Norway) or politics (the place they’re building to deposit Nuclear waste deeply underground). Macfarlane seems to show the proper reverence for these places and the people who inhabit the world around them. It was a joy to get to go to these places with him and I’ll definitely go check out his other works.

Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death   book icon  
by M. C. Beaton (1992)

read: 7 October 2019
rating: [+]
category: fiction

This book was just fine. A light mystery in a small town with a female heroine who is lumpy and not at all sure of herself. I enjoyed getting to know the quirky townspeople and I’ll probably read a few more of these. The only downside for me was that it’s from the 90s and there’s some pretty backwards stuff in terms of gender and race issues. Like even if you have a backwards townsperson, I don’t think you’d put semi-racist words in their mouth in a book in 2019? I found it took me out of the story somewhat and if it keeps up too much would probably turn me away from the series.

Monstress   book icon  
by Marjorie Liu (2016)

read: 7 October 2019
rating: [0]
categories: graphic novel, unfinished

This was a gorgeous graphic novel which I picked off of the library shelves and I enjoyed looking at it but the storyline was way too dark and sadistic for me and I couldn’t keep up with it, too upsetting.

Waste Tide   book icon  
by Chen Quifan (2019)

read: 4 October 2019
rating: [0]
category: fiction

So good and so terrible! A searing indictment of capitalism and a fascinating look into complex Chinese culture. And yet every female character was dead, dying, tortured or a 2d cutout. Did not know it was trending that way until I was too deep in to bail. Like literally most of the characters could be described as downtrodden, sure, but none of them get sadistically assaulted until halfway through the book. As someone who tries to avoid that sort of thing, I felt I was invested. And also, if I’m being honest, hoping for a redemption in this book which didn’t really happen.

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