Wednesday, July 11, 2018

My Reading Life

Currently Reading:

My sister gave me this book some years ago, but it's been sitting on my TBR shelf for a while. However, I just moved and there's now some doubt as to where the books/bookshelves will end up, so all my books are sitting in boxes AND I don't have Internet, so I reached in and pulled a book out of the TBR box, and almost haven't put it down since!

I found this audiobook in the library, and it's been on my TBR, so I went for it. Very glad I did since I DNFed the last couple audiobooks I started. Even though it's got multiple perspectives and a little bit of multiple time periods (so far, just a preface in a different time), which drive me crazy in general and especially with audiobooks, I am LOVING it. Also, I love the voice(s) of the narrator Kathleen McInerney. You's Judy Blume for adults!

Recently Finished:

This was a powerful conclusion to a powerful trilogy. While describing it to my dad, he asked if it was fantasy or science fiction, and I hesitated. At the beginning of the trilogy, it was clearly fantasy, but I like how it morphed into science fiction by the end. It's a world totally remote from ours and yet sharply analogous in the ways that matter, as in this quote from the preface that blows me away with its truth:

"Some worlds are built on a fault line of pain, held up by nightmares. Don't lament when those worlds fall. Rage that they were built doomed in the first place."
-The Stone Sky by N.K. Jemisin

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Bookish (And Not So Bookish) Thoughts

Bookish (And Not So Bookish) Thoughts are hosted at Bookishly Boisterous!

1. We bought a house! Taking care of the paperwork and scheduling and now packing has been a second job, although, imo, not as stressful as planning a wedding! So glad we waited a year after the wedding to do this.

2. Packing my books is an ongoing saga. I reduced my collection from approximately 700 to approximately 400 three years ago, and yet, it seems they've been reproducing! So far, I'm at 17 boxes with two and a third bookcases (of four) packed...

3. I'm not even counting my cookbooks, which got packed (generously, by my parents) with kitchen stuff.

4. Let me know if anybody wants these! I found the Dummies book helpful for understanding basics; I think the 100 Questions book would be useful for anyone who hasn't bought a home in several years, although of course, each market is individual, so for example, the negotiating advice isn't very helpful in a sellers' market!

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Books, Books, and More Books!

I've had some wonderful bookish adventures lately!

A family friend was downsizing her collection...

I browsed the aisles at Barnes & Noble with birthday gift cards...

and I absconded to the library for a lunch hour or two this week.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Still Reading!

Just Finished:

We Are Okay by Nina LaCour

The cover art perfectly encapsulates the claustrophobic college dorm room, gradually overlooking the lonely seascape of the life Marin left behind. This poetic gem of a YA book lives up to all the hype though it reads more like The Writing Life by Annie Dillard than The Hunger Games, and its raw emotions are all the more poignant for being gentle.

America Is Not the Heart by Elaine Castillo

Although set mostly in the United States, the Philippines are the heart of this novel, and how the Filipino-American characters relate to each other, their homeland, and other Filipinos in America. It's refreshing to read an "immigrant" novel that showcases the immigrants' cultures and isn't about fitting in with Americans at all. There are Pangasinese, Ilocanos, manilenos, not to mention religious and ideological differences. At least this book mentions enough ethnic dishes, from pancit to pinakbet to sisig, to feed them all.

Currently Reading:

The Obelisk Gate by N.K. Jemisin

The Broken Earth saga continues to delve into its characters (sometimes literally), address its audience directly, and play with tone and geology and magic so lightly you barely even notice Jemisin juggling the planets in the air. Or moons, or obelisks, as the case may be.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

What I'm Reading

Just Finished:

FINALLY finished the audiobook. And...I'm still conflicted. There is so much here that's intellectually interesting. But also, the narrator and all the characters except maybe one are terrible people. I mean, straight up murderers and torturers terrible. And characters are usually what I care about most. Instead, what's compelling about this book is the worldbuilding, the politics, economics, religion (or lack thereof), professed gender neutrality, philosophy, and obsession with the 18th century. However, even though the central concept of their societies are being future versions of the 18th century Enlightenment, what stood out to me most were the clever similarities to Thomas More's Utopia, perhaps because I'm a student of the 16th century Renaissance. Anyway, still deciding if I want to read the next book or not.

I finally read it! I have no excuses. It was just as good as everyone said.  Jemisin did some interesting experimenting with tone in The Inheritance Trilogy, and here, the tone is totally confident AND approachable even though she's a) casually using real and fantasy geological terminology and b) using second person in one of the book's three viewpoints! Using second person is such a huge no-no in fiction right now, that it's satisfying to watch her knock it out of the park. And the characters, I love the characters, and how casually weird and complicated they are. I guess my summation of the book is that Jemisin makes difficult look really easy, and I can't wait to read the next one!

Sunday, May 13, 2018

What I'm Reading

Currently Reading:

I've been listening to this audiobook for about three weeks, and I've still got 5 discs left of 17. It's a tome, to say the least. I've got complicated feelings about this Enlightenment-centered future heterotopia (a term I learned from my class on utopian sf in grad school that feels most appropriate; essentially future utopias and dystopias coexist). It feels ostentatiously performative yet satisfyingly intellectual. It's got, at current count: an "18th century" preface, an unreliable narrator, Latin, literal Utopians, Masons, living toys, economic and political intrigue, and shifting gender pronouns and racial/ideological markers. The gender pronouns are the most deliberately performative and distracting element, far more noticeable than the consistent "she's" in Ann Leckie's Imperial Radch books or the nonbinary pronouns ("xyr" "they") in Becky Chambers' Galactic Commons books. It doesn't bother me that the narrator is unclear on gender so much as the frequent vacillating on characters' genders composes a LOT of narrative, but it serves the author's point that even though the world is supposed to be beyond gender with the neutral "they" for everyone, gender, or perception of gender, still affects how people in these societies relate to each other.

I'm almost done with the first of the Witcher books, translated from the Polish, which the Witcher video games are based on. The book is everything I love about the game: a series of interconnected short stories with the Witcher facing and defeating a plethora of Eastern European dark fairytale creatures. Even better, although similar in tone and content, most of the stories I've read in the book so far are not exactly the same as the adventures depicted in the game. This book even features some dark, twisted versions of Beauty and the Beast and Snow White. I'm not sure what's so compelling about the fantasy world of the Witcher, perhaps the comforting familiarity of a Western-style fantasy punctuated by unexpected (in the United States of America) creatures like strigas and bruxas, or perhaps the comforting cynicism that, even in fantasy, work is sometimes scarce, government is often unjust, and climate change threatens to obliterate existence. True, adventurous, fun!

And the reason I haven't been posting as often is, I've been putting these books to good use...hope it pays off soon!

Monday, April 23, 2018

Book Review: Would You Rather? A Memoir of Growing Up and Coming Out by Katie Heaney

Book Review: Would You Rather? A Memoir of Growing Up and Coming Out by Katie Heaney
* Released March 6, 2018 from Penguin Random House*

Katie Heaney's second memoir expands on a "bigger truth" following her first memoir, Never Have I Ever, about never getting the guy at twenty-five. Three years later, she is happily dating her first girlfriend.

Although each chapter tells a self-contained story regarding Heaney's unexpected epiphany, they build on each other and are best read in order. Heaney's writing is structured, funny, and wordy in an endearing way, like your best friend who can't wait to spill (and micro-analyze) every detail. She's undoubtedly a millenial, and references to Twitter, Instagram, and being sucked down internet rabbit holes will be familiar to readers of her generation. Heaney's late-blooming revelation isn't the answer for single girls everywhere, as she's quick to point out, but it paints an alternative narrative that's validating for those who haven't known they're gay since middle school and were lucky enough to come out into a more welcoming environment. Highly recommended to millenial women, who, no matter their orientation, will see at least part of themselves in Heaney's stories.

I received this as an Early Reviewers book from the publisher. All opinions are my own.