April Wrap-Up

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Number of books read:  9

Popsugar Reading Challenge books read:  1
#2. A book that makes you nostalgic: Anne of Green Gables (or Anne of Avonlea, or Anne of the Island because I read all 3 this month)

Book of the Month books read: 1
Daisy Jones and the Six

OwlCrate Books read:  1
Grace & Fury

The Unread Shelf Project 2019 books read:  1
Spook

Book group books read:  1
Dumplin’ 

Average rating:  3.94

Favorite book:  That isn’t a reread: Spook.  That was actually tricky, as so much of what I read were rereads.  Apparently I like to read the Anne books in the spring.  Who knew?

I’m finding myself getting stressed out again about all the books I “should” be reading.  And when that happens I put a pause on reading and move on to something else.  Which means I’m not that productive and end up feeling more stressed out in the long run.  But seriously.  Reading. Shouldn’t. Stress. Me. Out.  So I will accomplish what I accomplish, and it will be great!

Bring it on, May!

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Spook

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Date Read:  April 22, 2019
Title:  Spook
Author:  Mary Roach
Genre:  Science; nonfiction
Audience:  Adult
Rating:  4 stars

Writing Style:  Best. Footnotes. Ever.

Mary Roach is a good writer to start with if you’re a reluctant nonfiction writer.  Her style is humorous, intelligent, and perfect for the layperson.  Basically she writes about topics she’s interested in but doesn’t know much about.  She starts with a question and moves on from there.  That is a massive simplification, but it’s also very close to what she herself says about her writing.

In the case of this book, Roach tries to use science to determine whether or not there is existence after death.  By this I don’t mean whether or not someone goes to heaven, but rather if ghosts exist or some part of a human’s…being (soul) hangs around after the body dies.  The short answer is there is no real conclusive evidence one way or the other.

It’s not so much what she says as how she says it that attracts me to her writing.  She knows how to draw me in with her snarky humor and hilarious footnotes, and hooks me with her attention to detail.  Without a doubt, I will read just about anything Mary Roach writes.  Highly recommended.

The Problem of Susan

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Date Read:  April 17, 2019
Title:  The Problem of Susan and Other Stories
Author:  Neil Gaiman, P. Craig Russell, et. al.
Genre:  Short stories; graphic novel (again, a format, but I haven’t included that on my “reviews”)
Audience:  Adult
Rating:  4 stars

World Building:  It’s Neil Gaiman. He has the power to build the strongest worlds with the shortest amount of words.  I don’t understand this man’s talent.

Characters/Character development:  I have to admit to having quite a soft spot for character about whom the title refers, Susan. I was never a fan of the Narnia books (my apologies to anyone who is), so I adored Gaiman’s take on what happened to one of the siblings after the story ended.  I was also a tad shocked, because I’m not actually sure I finished the whole series (does that make my previous opinion null and void? Ah well).

Plot:  Differs with each entry. My favorites were the story of Susan and that of the anthropomorphized months of the year, sitting around a campfire telling stories.  A tad meta, that one.

Writing Style:  Each story is slightly different from the last, and I’m fairly certain the last entry is a poem.  I stand corrected…two of the “stories” were actually poems.  I’m not sure what that says about me that I didn’t notice.

P. Craig Russell’s artwork is also usually hit or miss for me.  For the most part, I loved it in this collection.  I think if you’re a fan of either or both artists you will enjoy this.

Overall, a quick, visually compelling edition to the NG comics library.

Little Bird

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Date Read:  April 10, 2019
Title:  Little Bird, Chapter 1
Author:  Darcy Van Poelgeest, Ian Bertram, Matt Hollingsworth, Aditya Bidikar, Ben Didier
Genre:  Fantasy/Sci Fi; comic books (not a genre, but I forgot to put format on here somewhere)
Audience:  Adult. Definitely adult.
Rating:  4 stars

Where to start with this one.  I’m going to ignore the usual categories to go right into my overall impressions.

Occasionally my husband will pick out a comic because he thinks I’ll like it.  He’s almost always correct, and this is no exception.  I’m still not completely sure what’s going on, though.

Little Bird is a….child? Preteen? Teen?  Her age is somewhat ambiguous…anyway, she’s a youth whose mother hides her away when their homeland is invaded (by a very messed up religious sect; I’m intrigued to see where this part of the story-line goes). When Little Bird finally comes out of her hiding place, everyone is dead and her mother is nowhere to be found.  She then sets out on a previously agreed upon mission to find The Axe, who (or what?) will presumably help LB figure out where her mom is and how to save the world.

The storytelling and artwork are fantastic.  For some reason, the cover art reminds me a little of Princess Mononoke, by Hayao Miyazake.  There is a LOT of violence and blood in this, though, so if you’re not thrilled with images of gore, I would skip this one.  However, I am excited to continue this limited series (the creator(s) mentions that there will only be 5 issues total).

Daisy Jones and The Six

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Date Read:  April 6, 2019
Title:  Daisy Jones & the Six
Author:  Taylor Jenkins Reid
Genre:  Fiction
Audience:  Adult
Rating:  4 stars

World Building:  Sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll, baby.  Definitely felt I was right there in 1970s California.

Characters/Character development:  I really wish I hadn’t read somewhere that Daisy and Billy were based on the relationship between Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham. The entire time I was reading this I kept picturing the two of them, which was a tad disconcerting. So there, I just spoiled that bit for someone else.

Every character was an asshole in their own special way. Self-destructive, and egotistical beyond all get out. However, they were all also fairly introspective and self-aware at the end, which gave more depth to the struggles they described.

Plot:  Daisy Jones & the Six were the hottest rock n’ roll band of the late 1970s until they mysteriously imploded after a concert in 1979.

Writing Style:  Told in the style of an oral history/documentary interview.  This could be a deterrent for some people, I imagine.  For some reason, it worked really well for me.  Sometimes (as mentioned in an earlier post) I get very stressed out by plot-driven novels, so this was a nice change.  I *basically* knew what was going to happen (the whole “band breaking up in a spectacular way” thing that is written in the blurb), so I was able to relax and enjoy the ride.

Overall, a very fast, enjoyable, entertaining read.  This would be a fantastic beach or vacation read.  Highly recommended!  With the small caveat of a non-traditional writing style, of course.

Logical Family

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Date Read:  March 27, 2019
Title:  Logical Family : a Memoir
Author:  Armistead Maupin
Genre:  Autobiography; memoir
Audience:  Adult
Rating:  5 stars

Writing Style:  As in his Tales of the City, Maupin’s style is personable and chatty, like he’s writing a letter directly to the listener.  He is such a fantastic storyteller.  And like most memoirs, my opinions about this book are more personal than usual.  I’m not sure how someone would react to this book if they weren’t familiar with Maupin’s other work.

Side note, this audiobook finished off with Maupin being interviewed…by Neil Gaiman!  Best. Surprise. EVER.  Gaiman blurbed the book, but nowhere on the packaging does it say that he actually INTERVIEWS Maupin.  It’s amazing.  And it figures.  Of COURSE two of my favorite storytellers know each other.

I love Maupin’s name-dropping.  It’s there, but it’s pretty gentle.  For instance, he and Ian McKellen were in love with the same man (at different times; why does this tickle me so much?).  And Maupin had a relationship with Rock Hudson.  Again, a little gossipy, but harmless in the grand scheme of things.  I would definitely NOT label this as a “tell all.”

Maupin grew up in the South in the 1940s and ’50s, and tried for decades to be the kind of man he thought his father wanted him to be.  So he spend his youth and early adulthood as a conservative and hidden deep in his closet.  He volunteered for the Navy and did a tour in Vietnam, because that’s what his father wanted him to do.  And yet he still writes lovingly about his father, and the realization that it was his mother he should have emulated all those years.  It’s a love story to his biological family and to his logical family – people who love him for who his was, exactly as he was.  I love this book for what it was.  Obviously, there are some significant social issues that he mostly glosses over, but as this is a memoir I can understand that decision.

Overall, I highly recommend this to anyone who is a fan of Maupin.  And if you’re not familiar with Tales of the City, I’d also highly recommend it.  If you want a glimpse of 1970s San Francisco, TotC is such a treat.

 

Crown of Feathers

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Date Read:  March 27, 2019
Title:  Crown of Feathers
Author:  Nicki Pau Preto
Genre:  Fantasy
Audience:  Teen
Rating:  2.75 stars

World Building:  The idea of women phoenix riders as the defenders of an empire is fantastic.  However, there was just too much background information dumped for me to get a very firm grasp on the world.  This is probably because I skimmed. Info dumps make me lose focus, oddly enough.  I get distracted and bored, and turn to other books that my hold my interest more. I ADORED the phoenixes, though, and wish I could become a phoenix rider myself.

Characters/Character development:  Blergh.  I’m not sure if this or the plot were my least favorite parts of the book.  Honestly, my rating waffled between 2 and 4 stars for most of the book.  The sisters were mostly eye-roll inducing.  Even with the extenuating circumstances (which is a major plot spoiler, so that’s all you’re gonna get), Val is an asshole and abusive.  There’s no better way of putting that.  I did appreciate that Preto made the relationship complicated enough (realistic enough) that Veronyka still loved her sister even though she was overbearing, controlling, and mean. Val, that is.

Plot:  16 years before this story opens, a war between two sisters divided the country, and phoenix rider warriors were hunted down or fled into hiding.  A secret band of riders is trying to resurrect (ha! Bad pun, my apologies) the warrior group, and Veronyka wants desperately to join them.  But they only accept boys.  Naturally.  So she disguises herself as a boy

Writing Style:  Way, WAY too many info dumps.  I felt dragged down by the explanation of things, and that it took too long to get to the point.  Overall, though, it was entertaining and told a good story.

This seems like a fairly negative review, but I didn’t really have super negative feelings about it.  Again, it was a fairly entertaining read, and I have hopes that the sequel will have better…pacing?  Plot devices?  Anyway, I’ll definitely pick up the second book.