Reviews: 12/1-12/10

Blood Water Paint
Joy McCullough

This was an interesting novel in verse that told the story of Artemisia Gentileschi, an Italian painter. It gets very heavy, dealing with her rape and the trial that follows it, but in the end it’s a story of resilience. Throughout her story, the stories of Susanna and Judith from the Bible, the subjects of two of Artemisia’s most famous paintings, and spiritual guides who help her carry on through the trial and its aftermath. It’s a very strong read, but a good one, and I definitely recommend it, especially if you’re trying verse for the first time.

Finding Baba Yaga
Jane Yolen

This was another story told in verse, albeit much shorter than the one above. It’s about a modern girl who runs away from home only to find Baba Yaga in the forest. She makes her home with Baba Yaga, promising to become a Yaga after her. During this time, she meets another girl who eventually leaves off with a prince. It’s a very fast read, which was nice for me at the end of the year, but it was solid.

Go to My Grave
Catriona McPherson

This was a wild ride. Though I figured out the mystery well before the end (not sure if it was meant to be that way, or I’m just really that attuned to mysteries; I do read a lot of them, so twists don’t usually surprise me), the writing was strong enough to keep me interested in the Why of the crime, even if I already knew the Who. The dialogue was very strong, very naturalistic, with people talking over and sideways around each other. It can be a little difficult to get used to, with the large cast (once again, I find I have trouble distinguishing white men apart, even in book form), but overall it’s a good effect. I really enjoyed this one and sped through it in two days, so I definitely recommend it.

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Reviews: 11/2-11/30

Rough Justice
Alex Ross

This was a good art book, especially if you’re interested in sketch art and process work. There are some beautiful sketches in there that aren’t just Kingdom Come. It’s definitely worth a look if you like Alex Ross’ art.

Cover Run
Adam Hughes

This was a showcase of Adam Hughes’ covers. A big interest for me was his Catwoman covers, because his face reference for her is Audrey Hepburn. I have to admit, I’m not really a big Hughes fan. I find his art a little too cheesecakey for my tastes. There’s one Catwoman cover he did that I swear I’ve seen in porn fanart done better. Still, it was an interesting look through.

In the House in the Dark of the Woods
Laird Hunt

This book is like having someone tell you a dream that they had. Like, it’s interesting in a sort of WTF way, but at the same time, trying to follow along with it is like being on a winding path in the fog. You never learn the name of the main character you follow. But you follow her through getting lost in the woods, meeting the inhabitants of the woods, and watching a cycle go on that apparently goes on forever.

Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup
John Carreyrou

I desperately need every one of you to read this, because this is the most fascinating book I’ve read in a long time. A Wall Street Journalist’s investigation of the sham company Theranos (which you might remember being big news in the last years of the Obama presidency), this book delves deep into the corruption, mismanagement, and outright lies the company spread in its quest to raise money for a non-functional blood testing machine.

Run by a college dropout whose life goal was to be a billionaire, Theranos claimed it was going to take the medical field by storm with its new single-drop finger-pricking blood tests. None of its machines worked, none of them even reached past raw prototype stage (certainly none of them were functional enough to work without crashing, breaking, or malfunctioning), and even though they had no product, they managed to get the non-functional machines into a few Walgreens and almost into Safeway.

This book reads like a novel. It’s fast-paced, invigorating, and desperately makes you want to learn what’s going to happen next. Watching Theranos rise and fall is especially interesting if you even vaguely followed it in the news in 2015-2017. The leaders of Theranos are now facing criminal charges, as well as a host of lawsuits.

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Reviews: 10/15-11/1

The House With Chicken Legs
Sophie Anderson

This was a really cute book about the granddaughter of a Baba Yaga. She doesn’t want to be a Yaga, even though it’s her destiny. So when her Baba goes through the veil, it’s up to her to save her, however she can. It’s really great about the boundaries between life and death, and the relationship between the granddaughter and the house. I definitely recommend it if you like Baba Yaga myths.

Guess Who
Chris McGeorge

This was a good crime thriller, even though you couldn’t figure out who the ultimate villain was because he wasn’t introduced until late in the book. Still, the mystery was intriguing and the main characters was like a train wreck you couldn’t look away from. I’d still recommend it, if only so people will talk about it with me.

Pedro Paramo
Juan Rulfo

This was a very interesting book, full of ghosts and kind of stream of consciousness writing. We follow a young man searching for his father as he travels to a literal ghost town. His father, it turns out, is dead, but so is everyone else he meets. It’s a very short book, but definitely one I’d recommend.

Mythology: The DC Comics Art by Alex Ross
Alex Ross

This was an artbook showcasing Alex Ross’ work on DC superheroes, with a major focus on how his work began and Kingdom Come. I won’t lie, I didn’t much read it so much as look at the art, because that’s what I was really there for.

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Reviews: 8/21-10/14

I haven’t been reading as much as I’d like to over these last few month, whether because of other projects, vacations, or general depression.  Finally, I’ve pulled these reviews together to give you an idea of what I have been reading.  Hopefully the next series will come much quicker.

A Princess in Theory
Alyssa Cole

This is my very first romance read, and I have to say, it was probably the perfect one to pick up as a first-timer. Ledi is a very relatable protagonist and a joy to read and follow. The romance was measured and steady, with enough bumps to make you root for it to last. Overall, I’m enjoying this series (I’m in the middle of A Duke By Default) and I’m looking forward to the next book.

Jell-o Girls
Allie Rowbottom

This was quite the book to get through. Part memoir, part history of Jell-o, blended together excellently, it was a fascinating look into the lives of the owners of Jell-o and how the world took hold of this family. It’s definitely worth a read, and it’s a fairly easy flow, even when the subject material can be a bit heavy. It deals quite a lot with death, so be aware if that’s not something you’re into.

The Boy at the Keyhole
Stephan Giles

This was a pretty good mystery, even though I saw the biggest twist coming. It was well-paced and an easy read, each chapter leading you to read the next one and so forth. I actually like the ending twist, although it may not be to everyone’s liking. I do love writers who explore the dark side of children.

Sweet Little Lies
Caz Frear

This was a pretty solid mystery with a really big twist of an ending. I liked the style and the story was easy to follow. The text, however, is small in the hardcover, so be forewarned if you, like me, have some trouble with that. The main characters were all fairly likable and I enjoyed following them along in the story.

My Brother’s Husband Vol. 2
Gengoroh Tagame

Volume two made me cry, not just because it was a volume of partings, but because the heart of it is so earnest and sweet. The brother slowly comes to change his mind about mike and how he feels about knowing gay people in his life and there’s a real honesty to it how sometimes he worries about screwing up, but ultimately knows it’s something he can talk about.

The Personality Brokers
Merve Emre

This was a lot to get through, not because it’s necessarily a hard read, but there’s just so much information packed into it. It’s a biography both of Katharine and Isabel Briggs and a story of how their combined efforts made the Meyers-Briggs Personality test that we know today, even though it’s only loosely based on an interpretation of Jungian theory and not really based in anything solid or even repeatable.

And the Ocean Was Our Sky
Patrick Ness

A whale’s version of Moby Dick, don’t go in thinking this is going to be the whale’s side of the story. This is Moby Dick as written by whales searching for their own “white whale” as it were (a man named Toby Wick, get it?) The illustrations are beautiful and the prose is spare and neat. It’s a beautiful book that will most likely move you to tears by the end of it. It’s also a meditation on war and why we wage it.

The Chrysalis
Brendan Deneen

This is a great horror book for Halloween if you’re looking for a good old fashioned monster story. Something is growing down in the basement of this old house our couple buy, and it needs to feed. It takes hold of the husband and soon he is consumed in his effort to feed and take care of the thing. It has great personality shifts and subtle horror until the last chapter when all hell breaks loose. Really, it would make an excellent movie. I definitely recommend it.

The Retreat
Mark Edwards

This is a nice kind of spooky read where there might be a ghost or there might not, but either way, there’s something very mysterious going on. A girl goes missing in the woods, snatched from beside a river where everyone believes she drowned. Her mother turns her home into a writer’s retreat, and strange things begin happening to the people staying there, leading up to murder. There’s a mystery from 35 years before that needs solving as well, and the key to all of it just might lie in a dead man’s past. It’s very engrossing and easy to read. I definitely recommend it.

The Forbidden Place
Susanne Jansson

The bog in a small town in Sweden holds many mysteries and just as many bodies. When a man is found unconscious in the mire, the police are called out to see where he was attacked. Soon, they find other bodies, people who have gone missing who have been sacrificed to the bog. The question is who is doing it and why. There’s elements of a ghost story in here as well, including a very spooky epilogue. It’s a solid mystery only occasionally dragged down by philosophical musings from the main characters. Overall, it’s a very Swedish mystery.

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Reviews: 8/6-8/20

Hangman
by Daniel Cole

This was the sequel to Ragdoll, last year’s debut. It was just as intense and page-turning as the first one. I actually read it about the end of July, but I forgot to log it then. It’s well-paced and takes you on a wild adventure of bodies and terrorist attacks.

Diary of a Haunting
by M. Verano

This was interestingly done. It was written in an online diary format. I wasn’t really a fan of the “twist” ending. Still, it was eerie enough, especially with duplicating entries and slight changes in text.

Campfire
by Shawn Sarles

This started a bit slow, then went balls to the wall hectic in a matter of chapters. After two days of relatively peaceful camping, bodies start dropping. I liked how this one ended a lot.

The Mere Wife
by Maria Dahvana Headley

This was an interesting one.  It actually took me a long time to finish reading it, because the switching between Gren’s mom and Dylan’s mom gets dizzying.  Like Beowulf, it doesn’t have a happy ending (if, like me, you were especially rooting for Grendel and his Mom), but it’s sort of satisfying?  I just wish Gren and Dylan had had their happy ending, because it’s just another novel where queer people get dead.  Spoiler. Alert.

An Unwanted Guest
by Shari Lapena

I finished this in one afternoon. It definitely harks back to the old school mysteries where everyone’s trapped in one place with a murderer. I really enjoyed it. The ending reveal was a bit typical for Lapena (you might remember me not being a fan of her first book The Couple Next Door and it’s bullshit ending). But on the whole, the mystery was solid and the journey through the book was good enough I recommend it as a quick read.

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Reviews: 8/1-8/5

The Outsider
by Stephen King

I was really impressed at how good this book was. It’s probably the closest thing to a standard police procedural King has ever written, which is probably why I enjoyed it so much. It’s a very typical mystery with some very untypical supernatural elements in it. This is also the longest book I’ve read in a while (560 pages), but I devoured it in one day, so you know that’s a fast-paced book. I don’t want to spoil too much, but let me say, the first part of the book went by so fast you wondered just how he was gonna fill out the rest of it.

There are some spoilers for his Bill Hodges trilogy in this book, so if you care about that and you haven’t read them yet, I suggest you do before you get into this one. On the other hand, if spoilers don’t bother you or you have no plans to read them (as I don’t), go for it and dive into The Outsider full on. I promise it won’t disappoint.

The Book of Leon
by Leon Black (JB Smoove)

I listened to the audio book of this, because the library doesn’t have a copy and I bought the audio book on sale one time, so I thought, why not?, and went ahead on. It was hilarious. If you aren’t familiar with Leon Black the character, he’s from Curb Your Enthusiasm. However, you don’t really need to know his character from that to enjoy this book. It’s 90 short chapters, the average coming in at about 3 minutes long, so it covers a lot of topics. It’s definitely not safe for work or for children, but it’s funny as hell. I recommend it if you need a laugh and don’t mind copious swearing or sexual references.

How Not to Get Shot
by D. L. Hughley

Pitch black satire about taking advice from White people about how not to get shot by police. It’s funny as hell, but in a very darkly comedic way. It contains advice from such pinnacles of wisdom like Megyn Kelly and Bill O’Reilly, suggesting such great advice like, “Comply with police” and “Don’t wear hoodies”, or, what it basically comes down to, “Don’t be Black”. It’s so worth a read, especially in the current political climate, and it might help White people understand exactly what your Black friends, neighbors, and strangers are going through right now.

Barracoon
by Zora Neale Hurston

Wow, this book was powerful. Told pretty much verbatim by Kossula Cudjo Lewis (and in dialect, so if you have trouble with that, be prepared), the story of his life back in Africa and being brought here as a slave at the end of the slave trade in America, and his life here. It’s a tragic tale, but one told willingly and fully. Hurston spent a lot of time getting the full story of Kossula’s life and it’s such an important read to hear first-hand what the slave trade was like from the point of view of a former slave, unlike so much of the history we learned from the slave traders.

 

One book I DNF, Hope Never Dies, the really promising Obama Biden team up fanfic that got published. Unfortunately, it doesn’t live up to the hype. I’m glad I just borrowed it from the library instead of ordering it, because that would’ve been an extreme disappointment. It starts, unbelievably, with Biden whining that Obama never writes, calls, or sees him anymore, which is hilarious coming off of a week where they were both spotted happily having lunch together. It tries too hard to be something dark and edgy when neither of the people involved are dark and edgy types. Believe me, I’ve written better fanfic than this, but I didn’t have the gall to have it published.

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Reviews: 7/16-7/31

Bone Game
by Louis Owens

I read Bone Game after seeing it on a indigenous reading list. It’s about a centuries-old mystery, prophetic dreams, and new murders. The author himself is Cherokee-Choctaw-Irish and his lead character is Choctaw-Irish. It’s an odd sort of rambling tale, with frequent flashes to the past, to dreams, and later to other characters. Each chapter follows its own path, all of which wind up together for a rather startling climax.

Over all, I recommend it. Don’t go into it expecting it to be a traditional murder mystery, but let it flow around you and flow with it. You’ll find it’s a very good read.

Stay Hidden
by Paul Doiron

This is a more classic mystery, with a twist I can give away because it’s given away on the blurb, so nyah. Ariel Evans has been found murdered by person or persons unknown on a small Maine island. Except the next day, Ariel turns up alive and well. It’s a small mystery to figure out who the victim is, but finding the killer is the real challenge, especially on an island where no one is willing to talk.

I really love the Mike Bowditch series. The writing style is very natural, impressive for being in first-person imo, and flows easily. Every book is a unique mystery and you learn quite a lot about Maine, the wildlife, and some Maine slang. The voices are distinct and the characters are all pretty well fleshed out.
Currently, I’m in the middle (OK, first third) of The Outsider by Stephen King. It’s the closest to a typical detective story I think he’s ever written, which is what made me pick it up, but I already know we’re about to get into some kind of strange Stephen King twist. More on that next week.

Also!  If you like what I do here, check out my Patreon here or sign up for my brand new Facebook page Fleet’s Reviews.  That’s where all my reviews will be going from now on.

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Reviews: 7/1-7/15

No, you didn’t skip a page.  It’s been almost a month since I last did reviews, but I was in the middle of a reading slump, so bear with me. There’s not a lot of books (these were spread out by weeks), but I’m going to review them the best I remember them.

Broken Ice
by Matt Goldman

The second in the Nils Shapiro series, and it’s just as good as his first, Gone to Dust. Broken Ice is about a missing girl, a dead girl, and two arrow murders. Our hero Nils gets shot with an arrow in the first or second chapter, so you know things are going down fast in this book. It’s really readable, with likable characters and a solid mystery (or two, as it turns out). I definitely recommend it. It can be read as a standalone, but it does make mention of the previous book (no spoilers, though).

Ask a Manager
by Alison Green

This was a very informative, and sometimes funny, book. I definitely recommend it to have on hand if you work in an office, because it gives very good tips on how to navigate an office job with bosses and coworkers. It covers a wide variety of topics, from how to get along with your boss, how to ask for a raise, to how to get along with coworkers, and even how to get along in interviews.

Over the Garden Wall Vol. 4

Our quest for the dread Pirate Croaker continues. We’ve found the Hero Frog, but something suspicious is happening. But Greg and Jason Funderburker (the frog) are on the case! Meanwhile, Wirt and Sarah are on the trail of a shapeshifter who steals candy. It all culminates in a wild ending I won’t spoil for you.

This series is unfathomably adorable and I definitely recommend it to fans of the show.

Unbound: Transgender Men and the Remaking of Identity
by Arlene Stein

I have a lot of opinions on this book, so be prepared. First, the good. It follows several trans men and one woman (though it spends almost no time talking to her, so) getting top surgery. It does a good job explaining to the layman what top surgery is about and how these different men came to be there to get it. And here’s where we get to the bad.

Arlene Stein is a cis lesbian. She really has no business writing a book about trans men, especially when she frequently undermines them by asking if they’d “would have been butch lesbians 20 years ago”. No, because they’re men. Lesbians do this a lot to trans men, acting as though we’re “taking away” lesbians by… somehow convincing them to be men, instead of just being men to begin with. She talks about one man who gains passing privilege (she claims gaining cis white male privilege), without acknowledging that that privilege is solely dependent on “passing” as a cis man, something which can be lost in an instant the moment someone learns you’re trans.

While she admits at the very end of the book that she brought her own judgements to her writing this, she claims that she learned better. However, there’s enough in the way she talks about trans men that makes us seem like some sort of inversion to the natural order. Clearly, objectivity is not her strong suit. Fucking TERF.

Neverworld Wake
by Marisha Pessl

Moving on to a good book, now, we reach Neverworld Wake, a book about five teenagers who become stuck in time following a car crash. They must solve the mystery surrounding the death of their other friend to escape the Wake. But only one can survive.

This was a quick read that made me keep reading to finish it in a day. The pacing was just right and the story itself was worth diving into. The repetition of the same day was a fascinating device, which kind of asked the question of what you would do if you kept living the same day over and over with no consequences. The pursuit of the mystery was a solid journey that revealed secrets about everyone, even people you thought were innocent. Also, there’s a fictitious book mentioned in the story that I so want to read, it’s not even funny. I definitely recommend this for a quick, fun read.

Awakened
by James S. Murray and Darren Wearmouth

Awakened is a fast-paced horror adventure that I ended up so caught up in, I legitimately forgot about time and what I was doing while reading it. It starts with a train pulling up to a new underwater platform with its car covered in blood. It then escalates to a global conspiracy and a fight for survival against a race of unspeakable creatures.

I’m going to spoil something now, so stick forks in your eyes if you want to avoid that.

Continue reading

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Reviews: 6/4-6/17

Caged
by Ellison Cooper

What a thrilling ride! The search for a serial killer in DC leads Senior Special Agent Sayer Altair on a hunt through mythology and science. One great thing I really loved this book for is when a transgender character was introduced, no one misgendered him even after they found out. I give major brownie points to an author who understands the right way to gender people. The mystery itself is a wild chase, with twist after twist that are all worth it. There’s no sudden out-of-nowhere plot device that figures in this book. Everything is based on deduction and science. I definitely recommend it if you’re not a big serial killer reader like me; it hits the right balance of mystery and thrills without feeling overly reliant on serial killer tropes.

Nickel and Dimed
by Barbara Ehrenreich

This book was the result of an experiment to see how long she could live on minimum wage jobs. It’s a really good look into the world of waitressing, housework, and Wal-Mart workers. A surprise to few of us, wages were too low often to cover rent plus food and other expenses. But the reason she did this was not to tell people like us, the minimum wage workers of the world, but to explain to her middle class peers what life is truly like for the bottom percent of the country. It’s a fascinating read (and one that’ll make you hate Wal-Mart even more than you probably already do).

Death Notice
by Zhou Haohui

Oh god, I could talk for days about this book. Just… everyone go out to your library and get a copy. I’ll wait.

….

Are you back? Good. Now we can dish.

The plot revolves around the return of a vigilante named Eumenides, who goes around killing those who have gotten away with crimes the police can’t touch (either because they were acquitted or never caught). Before each killing, Eumenides sends a death notice, a paper saying who is going to die, what their crimes are, and when they’re going to die. Even when the police try and protect the victim, somehow Eumenides reaches them.

But there’s more going on than just Eumenides. Each member of the newly reformed 4/18 task force has something to hide, and something to find. With secrets hidden just below the surface, ones that could bring the task force down from the inside, plus the connection between cases old and new, Death Notice has twists and turns that’ll throw you for a loop, but will keep you completely enthralled. Just beware: this is only part one.

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Reviews: 5/28-6/3

Julian is a Mermaid
by Jessica Love

This was really cute. Julian sees three mermaids on the train and decides he’s a mermaid, too. Instead of punishing him for taking down the curtains for his mermaid tail, his abuela takes him to the parade where the mermaids were going.

The art is very lush, full of color and movement. Most of the story is told through the art, but the writing is solid, too. Definitely a good book for kids.

Undead Girl Gang
by Lily Anderson

The fat Latinx witch tale I never knew I wanted. I can’t say enough good things about it. It’s a solid mystery with a genuinely warranted twist. The friendships are solid and form naturally, and the dialogue is well done. There’s a bit of romance for those who like that, and a lot of zombies (well, three, but that’s three more than most YA novels), and a good murder mystery to be solved. Definitely check it out if you’re looking for a fun, fast read.

Bright-Sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking has Undermined America
by Barbara Ehrenreich

I’ve now read two books by Barbara Ehrenreich and I’ve enjoyed both of them immensely. Not one to pull punches, she takes on the “positive psychology” and “positivity” world with wit and a good dose of skepticism. She talks about the history of positivity as an opposite of Calvinism, its rise through the middle and upper-classes as a way to win over illnesses, and its inevitable destruction of the economy (the housing bubble and crash of the mid-’00s). She tackles the megachurches and The Secret, the faulty science behind “positive psychology”, and the almost cult-like approach to positivity among breast cancer patients.

There’s a dark side to positivity, with its brand of “cutting out the negative” in your life and its shaky claims to give you all you want, which leads to victim blaming once things don’t go as planned. This is a brilliant book I think everyone should read. I know it’s going on my shelf.

I Really Didn’t Think This Through
by Beth Evans

In the style of Hyperbole and a Half, Beth Evans takes us through the process of adulthood, with all its fears, trials, and strengths. From not knowing exactly how to be an adult to working through mental illness, Evans intersperses her writing with comics to illustrate her points. It’s a good little book. I found it similar to a lot of that kind (particularly Everyone’s an Aliebn when You’re an Aliebn Too), but it’s unique to Evans’ experiences. Worth a read, especially if you are someone who deals with anxiety.

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Reviews: 5/21-5/27

Blanky
by Kealan Patrick Burke

A short (73 page) story about ghosts or murderers, you get to decide. It’s a good little story with a decent, if somewhat predictable twist, that does leave an open ending as to what is real and what’s not. It was worth the money.

Sour Candy
by Kealan Patrick Burke

Another 70-odd page short story, this time about a man whose life is suddenly and abruptly changed by the appearance of a young boy. There’s more supernatural horror in this one, so if you’re down for mysterious cults of supernatural beings, this is the one for you.

Crooked: Outwitting the Back Pain Industry and Getting on the Road to Recovery
by Cathryn Jakobson Ramin

A long book, but one full of information, this book tells the story of how back pain became the hottest health care issue through startling amounts of fraud, money changing, and ignorance that led to all kinds of spinal surgeries and injections. The first half of the book tells the history and corruption of the back pain industry, while the second half focuses on what can actually be done for those in pain. She has great resources for those looking to manage their back pain. I highly recommend this one.

Tin Man
by Sarah Winman

Ugh, this one made me cry, and I’m so not a crier. It’s about Michael and Ellis, two best friends and one-time lovers, and Annie, Ellis’s wife, and their relationship. It starts with Ellis alone, both of them gone, dead, as we come to find out. Then it takes us back to Michael’s diary and we learn about his life. Finally, it cuts back to Ellis to finish out the story. It’s beautiful and tragic and bittersweet all at once. It’s also short, so if you’re looking for a nice, if heartbreaking, quick read, this is the one for you.

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Reviews: 5/14-5/20

Kwaidan
by Lafcadio Hearn

This was an interesting set of Japanese ghost stories collected back in the early 1900s by Lafcadio Hearn, a British man who moved to Japan and devoted himself to all things Japanese (the original otaku!). There were some really good ones in here, and I recommend checking it out. It’s not too Orientalist, which is a good thing, but he does explain some things that wouldn’t be known to his audience. I’m looking forward to finding more (possibly more authentic?) stories in the future.

Ghost Boys
by Jewell Parker Rhodes

This made me cry. It starts with a young Black boy getting killed by the police. You follow him as a ghost as he watches his family grieve, and goes through to meet the daughter of the cop who shot him (she’s the only one alive who can see him), and meets Emmett Till, who guides him through this new world he inhabits. It’s heart-wrenching and brutal, but it’s such an important read. I definitely recommend this one.

Natural Causes
by Barbara Ehrenreich

I really enjoyed this book. It’s a look at medical practices and how we’re sometimes killing ourselves to live longer. She talks about all the unnecessary tests doctors put patients through, the lack of understanding we have of ourselves even down to the cellular level, and the way wellness has become some kind of societal marker, all of which stems from a fear of death. It was really fascinating to read, and I definitely recommend it to anyone questioning the rationale of the new wellness trends.

White Rabbit
by Caleb Roehrig

I’ve seen two one-star reviews of this that both center on a throwaway set of lines from a pining teenage boy, that addressed absolutely nothing else about the book. The book itself is about murder, and boy is there going to be a lot of it. Rufus (our lead) gets a call from his half-sister telling him he’s the only one who can help her. When he and his ex arrive at the cabin she called from, they find her bloodsoaked and holding the knife that killed her boyfriend (and, of course, her boyfriend’s body at her feet). What follows is an all-night chase across town to find out who really is guilty, and to do so quickly, before more people are killed.

It was a solid mystery with enough clues that you could follow along easily. I recommend it for a good queer mystery that has a great balance of both romance and mystery.

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Reviews: 5/7-5/13

Word by Word
by Kory Stamper

This was a very enlightening look into how dictionaries are made (particularly Merriam-Webster). It introduces you to lexicography, to the editing process of dictionaries, to the vetting process of words, and to the mind-boggling task of defining such words as “take” and “run”. I found it super interesting, if a little heavy at times. It’s especially good for anyone interested in words and how they work, especially how they’re defined. I recommend it to any word nerd.

The Gunners
by Rebecca Kauffman

This was an interesting novel about a group of friends whose friendship ended when one member of their group suddenly broke away from them. They come together at her funeral and one by one, secrets come out, secrets that might have had to do with her leaving. It’s a very human book full of foibles and changes. I actually really enjoyed it, which was surprising to me, since I’m mostly into books with a plot. This didn’t really have one, just a selection of life moments one after another.

We Should All Be Feminists
by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

The print version of her TED talk, it was very inspiring and very interesting. I can definitely see it being a staple on any feminist shelf. While she focuses strictly on cis relationships, don’t hold that against her. It’s a very good introduction to feminism.

The Princess Saves Herself in This One
by Amanda Lovelace

This was an interesting poetry collection. It deals with a lot of heavy issues, like child abuse, intimate partner abuse, death, and eating disorders, but at the end there’s a light of happiness that shines through to make it tolerable.

The Witch Doesn’t Burn in This One
by Amanda Lovelace

This is the second in her poetry series. There’s a thread of hope that runs through this whole collection that was missing in the first one, a fierceness and a fire that keeps you going through the heartbreak inside. This is anger at the society we live in, and very righteous anger. I enjoyed this one a lot, and I look forward to her next collection.

Passing Strange
by Ellen Klages

A historical queer novel that ends happy? I almost couldn’t believe it. While there is plenty of period-typical racism, it’s always called out and shown as being wrong, not just a *shrug* part of life thing. The queerphobia in here is treated the same way, shown to be wrong. The little bits of magic in here are weaved in very well. The characters are very well rounded and lovely to read about. I enjoyed this one very much.

Dictionary Stories
by Jez Burrows

This was interesting collection of short stories. Some were a little random with the connecting sentences, and yet some were very poignant. There was a good selection of comedy in there as well. It’s a long way through the alphabet, but worth it for some of the stories.

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Reviews: 5/1-5/6

Countdown City
by Ben Winters

This is the second of the Last Policeman trilogy. Doomsday is coming closer and Henry is asked to find the husband of his past babysitter. No longer officially a policeman, he does his best to track him down, with the help of his sister Nico. Nico tries to convince him of her secret plan to save the planet through a wild conspiracy. This becomes more relevant in the third book. This series was really fun. I like a detective who works because he believes in justice for everyone, even the dead in a pre-apocalyptic situation.

World of Trouble
by Ben Winters

Henry leaves safety and goes in search of his sister. I won’t lie, this was the weakest of the books, I felt, in part because it’s in the last days leading up to the meteor strike, but mostly because by the time he reaches her, his sister is already dead. There’s no real closure on that. I’d say spoiler alert, but it’s pretty obvious from the get go. Still, I recommend the whole series because once you read one, you’ll want to finish them all. I finished this one in a single day after finishing number two, so it’s a quick read.

Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions
by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

I really enjoyed this. It’s a short essay (in relation to others), but it’s a good primer on feminism. I found it very refreshing and challenging, as it requires you to unlearn some of your own internal biases. It’s a good reference to have on hand when you need a refresher, or want to look up an answer to a tricky situation. I particularly liked the way she called out Feminism Lite, the so-called feminism that still puts women second to men. I definitely recommend this book. It’s short, a quick read, but a very important one.

My Brother’s Husband
by Gengoroh Tagame

This was super cute. It was written to show changing thoughts about gay people and to challenge homophobia. Every character is written so well (and Kana, the little girl, is adorable). I really recommend this one for the art (Mike is such a bear) and the story.

Bring Me Back
by B. A. Paris

Oh, how I wanted to like this one. I really, really wanted to like it. After his girlfriend disappears twelve years before, Finn begins receiving messages that she might not be dead. But what is she back for? Oh, and he’s getting married to her sister. At first, I was just a little bored, which I often find when I’m stuck reading a male perspective, especially one so caught up in himself. Then, oh god, then the ending happened.

I’m going down to spoiler town now, so follow me below the cut only if you don’t mind spoilers. Don’t tell me I didn’t warn you.

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Reviews: 4/23-4/30

Miniature Mysteries: 100 Malicious Little Mysteries
by Various Writers, edited by Isaac Asimov

This amazing collection was the 1981 (I think) version (there’s a 1990s version that might be updated) and the stories were deliciously ’70s. There are, as it says on the tin, 100 short stories in this anthology, making for a very big book! Stories range from two to five pages each, a good size for short mysteries. There were some mediocre ones, of course, but there were some spectacular stories in there, most of them with a darkly comic twist. I highly recommend seeing if your library has a copy. They’re great stories to read when you’re short on time or want something bite-sized before bed.

The Story of Be
by David Crystal

Ugh, this man. If I could take a class under him, I’d do it in a heartbeat. He’s renewed my interest in linguistics once again. This is a history of the word “Be” in all its forms (is, am, are, were, was, etc.). It’s a fascinating read, especially when he goes back to Old English to show you where all these different forms come from, and then shows regional dialectical forms in Modern English. He goes over a number of forms of “be” (and also explains the “he is risen” phrasing and why that’s so particular). Honestly, I loved it. If you’re a word nerd, you’ll love it too.

Dr. Coo and the Pigeon Protest
by Sarah Hampson

This was a cute children’s book about taking things for granted and promoting peace and happiness between people. The pigeons believe it’s been too long that they’ve been harassed and forgotten and shooed away, and they’re ready to protest. This results in a day without pigeons, which turns out to be a very sad day indeed. There’s some solid history in here about the use of pigeons as messengers in wartime, and in the end they’re appreciated as they are. It’s really cute, the art is precious, and it’s a good fit for kids, especially once in cities where pigeons are everywhere.

Macbeth
by Jo Nesbo

I won’t lie to you, I got to where Banquo’s ghost showed up and called it quits. It’s a bit too on-the-nose a Macbeth retelling for me. It’s also, for my tastes, rather dry in places. The first two chapters are the hardest to get through, with paragraphs focused on raindrops and seagulls, respectively. I wish I was kidding.

Maybe one day I’ll finish it. If someone got it for me as a gift, I definitely would. But my library copy is due tomorrow, so it’s going back unfinished.

The Best Kind of People
by Zoe Whittall

This was an interesting one. Ostensibly, it’s about an accusation of rape against a male teacher, but it’s actually about what his family goes through during the accusation, imprisonment, and subsequent trial. It never answers the question of what actually happened, but it doesn’t need to. The story focuses on the family falling apart and how they survive what’s going on. It’s interesting enough to warrant a read, though I can tell you it might be triggering for some for talks about child abuse/molestation/rape.

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