Saturday, March 31, 2018

Book Review: What We Lose

TITLE: What We Lose
AUTHOR: Zinzi Clemmons
PUBLISHED: July, 2017
GENRE: Contemporary/Realistic Fiction
PREMISE: Thandi deals with grief and many questions as she loses her mother to cancer.
MY REVIEW: The number one thing I have to say about this book is that it is short. It's under 250 pages. I read it all in one sitting. Sometimes this works out well, sometimes it doesn't. For this one, I do think it worked out well for the most part.
As always with literary books: the writing is gorgeous. The story...I think it had something to say, I just didn't particularly get into it. But I've been having issues connecting with all my books this past month or so, so I don't think that's a reflection on the book at all.
This one was kind of a mixed bag for me. I definitely do see a lot of potential in this author, so I'm excited to see what we get from her in the future. For a first book, I think this was pretty decent. I will warn it can be very sad at times, as it is dealing with grief. So if you are dealing with something like that, I'd maybe wait to read it. Unless you really want a good cry, if so, go for it.
WHO SHOULD READ: literary book fans, those that want books dealing with grief
MY RATING: Three and a half out of Five solid debuts

Friday, March 30, 2018

Book Review: So You Want to Talk About Race

TITLE: So You Want to Talk About Race
AUTHOR: Ijeoma Oluo
CATEGORY: Non-Fiction
PUBLISHED: January 16th, 2018
GENRE: Social Commentary, Race
PREMISE: A writer goes into the various issues surrounding race and gives advice on how to talk about it.
MY REVIEW: This book is pretty much what it sounds like: a guide for talking about race. I'm sure someone out there will try and scoff at this book, but personally, I do think it's a necessary read. Especially for us white people who want to try and have these conversations. I can't begin to tell you how many times I see white people try and start conversations about race, but then just pull out of it or give up because they feel uncomfortable, or they just are trying to use the conversation to say there is no racism anymore (if you're going to do that...just maybe, stop). If you have done this...maybe try to read this book.
It is not what I'd call enjoyment reading. I mean, I personally found the author's writing enjoyable, but I know not everyone will, because of the subject matter. But the advice given in it is really good. I'm actually personally going to try out some of the advice myself, particularly the advice about calling out casual racism when you see it. Unfortunately in the area where I live, there are a LOT of casual racists out here. I also love the bit where the author points out that you better be ready to be uncomfortable when having these conversations. I see so many people whine about how talking about race just like, makes them uncomfortable, so they don't want to do it. It makes me want to bang my head against the wall. I'm sorry, but we white people really need to get over how these conversations make US feel.
If you are going to attempt to have conversations about race, please read this book first. I also suggest reading Tears We Cannot Stop by Michael Eric Dyson. I have not read it yet, but I read the blog post it's based on, so I also recommend Why I Am No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge, to remind yourself that PoC are not required to have conversations about race with you if they do not want too.
One piece of advice I have to offer is this: instead of trying to assert your opinion on race in a conversation, stop and listen instead. Fight down that part that tries to say "well I haven't seen this, so you must be lying!" and just listen to people when they try and tell you about instances of racism (or sexism/homophobia/transphobia etc.). If you stop and listen, you tend to learn stuff more. Learning helps you grow. Growth tends to make these conversations go much better.
WHO SHOULD READ: White people, anyone interested in having conversations about race
MY RATING: Four and a half out of Five necessary books

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

My Big Fat Recommendation List: C Authors

Meant to have this up a lot earlier. There were just a lot of authors to go through, and real life has kind of gotten in the way of me blogging, or anything like that. But without further ado, here are the books I recommend from authors whose names start with the letter C:


Thoroughbred series by Joanna Campbell
Alice in Wonderland books by Lewis Carroll
Ramona Quimby series by Beverly Cleary
Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes by Eleanor Coerr

Bruce Coville
-Unicorn Chronicles series
-My Teacher is an Alien series
-Magic Shop series

How to Train Your Dragon series by Cressida Cowell

Karen Cushman
-Catherine, Called Birdy
-The Midwife's Apprentice


Meg Cabot
-Princess Diaries series
-1-800-WHERE-R-U series
-The Mediator series
-Abandon Trilogy
-Airhead Trilogy
-All American Girl Duology
-Avalon High

Rachel Caine
-The Great Library series
-Morganville Vampires series

Dark Unwinding duology by Sharon Cameron
Finishing School series by Gail Carriger
Gold Seer Trilogy by Rae Carson

Ally Carter
-Gallagher Girls series
-Heist Society Trilogy
-Embassy Row Trilogy

Kristin Cashore
-Graceling Trilogy
-Jane, Unlimited

Charlotte Holmes series by Brittany Cavallaro
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
Sea of Ink and Gold series by Traci Chee
Star-Touched Queen series by Roshani Chokshi
Mortal Instruments series and spin-offs by Cassandra Clare

Rosemary Clement-Moore
-The Splendor Falls
-Goodnight Family Duology

Kingdom on Fire Trilogy by Jessica Cluess
Witchlanders by Lena Coakley

Brandy Colbert
-Little and Lion

Pretty Girl-13 by Liz Coley
Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins
With Malice by Eileen Cook
Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst
Vivian Apple Duology by Katie Coyle
Nevermore Trilogy by Kelly Creagh
Tempest Trilogy by Julie Cross
Steampunk Chronicles series by Kady Cross
Breathe Duology by Sarah Crossan
Magnolia League Duology by Katie Crouch


Contemporary/Realistic Fiction

Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote

Historical Fiction

The Girl With the Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier


Heather Wells Mystery series by Meg Cabot
Nikki Heat series by Richard Castle


Meg Cabot
-Ransom My Heart
-Boy series


Insatiable duology by Meg Cabot
The Girl With All the Gifts by M. R. Carey
Parasol Protectorate series by Gail Carriger
Wayfarers series by Becky Chambers
Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke
The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly
Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton


Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg by Irin Carmon, Shana Knizhnik, and Ping Zhu
As If!: The Oral History of Clueless by Jen Chaney
My Life in France by Julia Child
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates


All plays by Anton Chekhov

Monday, March 19, 2018

Book Review: Track of the Cat

TITLE: Track of the Cat
Book 1 in the Anna Pigeon series
AUTHOR: Nevada Barr
GENRE: Mystery
PREMISE: A park ranger discovers the dead body of a co-worker and investigates her murder...
MY REVIEW: I should probably warn you all now: I've decided to go back to my read through the library project. This year I'm doing the B authors. So you'll likely be seeing a lot of random titles in the future. Even more random picks then what I usually do.
This series has been on my list for some time now. I know it's a pretty popular one. I...just found it okay to be honest. It's pretty dated in some stuff. For instance when it's discovered that the dead woman has had an affair with another woman, it's treated as this huge scandalous thing. Then one character tries to say only religious folk get upset about stuff like that. Sadly, it's not just religion that can make people homophobic. Sometimes people are just jerks. I'm a little surprised the author would think that during the nineties, when homophobia was rampant (there was a big resurgence of it when AIDS started happening). Then there was a lot of other things that just made me sigh heavily.
Mystery wise...this was honestly just okay. Anna as a main character...had her moments. Everything else about the book...was just ho hum for me. It's a nice mystery, but that's about it. I'm honestly probably not going to bother with the rest of the books. I didn't feel any particular attachment to any of the characters.
WHO SHOULD READ: mystery fans, those who like books dealing with wildlife/nature
MY REVIEW: Three and a half out of Five okay mysteries

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Notable Releases: 3/11-3/17

Here are the notable releases from this past week that are on my radar:


Tyranny of Petticoats vol. 2: The Radical Element by various authors

A Tyranny of Petticoats was a really fun collection of short stories a few years ago. I can't wait to read this new collection.

Chaotic Good by Whitney Gardner

I adored Gardner's book from last year: You're Welcome, Universe. This one looks just as good. It's taking on the geek world and the double standards we female geeks face from male geeks. I hope it calls out just as much bs as Gardner's last book did. Because as a female geek, let me tell you: there's a lot of bs in geek culture. A lot.

Illuminae Files Book 3: Obsidio by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Conclusion to a series that I have a deep fondness for. If you haven't read this series, seriously do so.

Adult Fiction

Laura and Emma by Kate Greathead

Interesting looking debut that is giving me slight Gilmore Girls vibes.

The Red Word by Sarah Henstra

This one is promising talk about rape culture and how extremism helps no one and all sorts of interesting and relevant topics. How the author handles things seems to be a mixed bag though. So I'll see how this one goes.

The Merry Spinster: Tales of Everyday Horror by Mallory Ortberg

Short story collection that is retellings of fairy tales. Which we all know: is my thing.

The Parking Lot Attendant by Nafkote Tamirat

Interesting looking debut. I'm ignoring the low Goodreads ratings, personally. As I've said before: they are to be taken with a grain of salt because Goodreads reviews...can be very iffy sometimes.


Not My White Savior: A Memoir in Poems by Julayne Lee

Keeping an eye out for this one. I am working my way through poetry still, and am not quite comfortable reviewing anything yet beyond: I liked this bit here. Which is why there haven't been any poetry reviews this year. I have been reading them...I'm just still not sure what to look for in poems, yet.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Book Review: Swing Time

TITLE: Swing Time
AUTHOR: Zadie Smith
GENRE: Contemporary
PREMISE: Two girls lives intertwine when they're kids and taking a dance class...
MY REVIEW: I have never read Zadie Smith before. I've been meaning to read NW and On Beauty for awhile now, but I just never have gotten around to it. So this is my first Zadie Smith book. I do definitely see why she's a thing.
Her writing is beautiful. There are so many quotable lines in this, that I lost track of all of them. Story wise...this was interesting, but I felt like it needed more focus. Too me, there were actually two stories going on here: one where there were two girls who became friends as kids, but slowly grew apart over the years, and another with one of the girls as an adult and the things she was going through. The stories didn't really gel well for me. So there were pacing issues.
I'm kind of torn on this book to be honest. Part of me, wants to give it high marks, because the writing is gorgeous and it talks about a lot of important subjects and issues that I think are worth talking about. But the pacing and plotting were, to me, kind of a mess. I definitely will be still picking up Smith's other books though. From what people tell me, this isn't the best of her work.
WHO SHOULD READ: Zadie Smith fans, fans of Another Brooklyn, contemporary literature fans
MY RATING: Three and a half out of Five interesting, but kind of messy stories

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Book Review: Around the Way Girl

TITLE: Around the Way Girl
AUTHOR: Taraji P. Henson
CATEGORY: Non-Fiction
GENRE: Celebrity memoir
PREMISE: Actor Taraji P. Henson talks about her life.
MY REVIEW: This review will be short because honestly, there's not much to say about this one. It's a very typical celebrity memoir. I can tell you, I really like Taraji, which is why I picked this up. Like most people, I became aware of her when Empire became a thing (I still have not seen it. Sorry guys). I then grew to like her as an actor when I watched Person of Interest a couple of years ago (seriously, watch this show. It's the best). I also highly recommend Hidden Figures, if you haven't seen it yet.
There are a few things in here about her that I actually did not know. She doesn't really tell many dark secrets or anything like that. But it does make me admire her a lot. It's decently written. I can tell she's the one telling me these stories. Which at the end of the day, is all I ask from my celebrity memoirs: that it does actually at least feel like the person is the one telling you their stories and not some ghost writer.
There's no huge bombshells. It's funny and very fast-paced. If you like Taraji and want to know more about her, this is a good one to pick up.
WHO SHOULD READ: fans of Taraji P. Henson
MY RATING: Three and a half out of Five solid memoirs

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Book Review: Truly Devious

TITLE: Truly Devious
Book 1 in the Truly Devious Trilogy
AUTHOR: Maureen Johnson
PUBLISHED: January 16th, 2018
GENRE: Mystery
PREMISE: A girl goes to an exclusive private school where she soon becomes involved in solving a decades old cold case...
MY REVIEW: Maureen Johnson is an interesting author for me. Some of her things, I'm a bit ho hum about (like 13 Little Blue Envelopes for instance) but other things she's done I really liked (the Shades of London trilogy). Luckily, I can put Truly Devious in the category of I liked it.
This is a fun little mystery. It is a bit slow in parts, but what it does with characters is great. It does have Maureen's habit of quirky characters. So if you are not into that, this might irk you a bit. But if you don't mind quirkiness, this does turn into a very interesting mystery. On one hand, you have the older mystery with the family, and then things happen and there's a modern day mystery to solve.
I thought this was a very good introduction book. It gives you a larger mystery solve. There are more modern ones for the character to tackle, and some new questions get raised at the end. I'm personally looking forward to the next book.
WHO SHOULD READ: Mystery fans, Veronica Mars fans, fans of boarding school stories
MY RATING: Four out of Five solid mysteries

Monday, March 12, 2018

Notable Releases: 3/4-3/10

Here are the releases that are on my radar for the past week. March 6th was a big release day, so there are quite a lot of books here.


The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

A contemporary about a girl who finds her voice through slam poetry. I've been working my way through poetry this year (haven't reviewed it on here, because I'm honestly not sure how to review poetry yet). So this kind of looks relevant to my interests right now.

Legacy of Orisha Book 1: Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

One of my most anticipated debuts of the year. I hope this breaks the meh fantasy debut streak problem that I've been having this past year.

Charlotte Holmes 3: The Case For Jamie by Brittany Cavallaro

When it comes to gender-flipped Sherlock Holmes, I recommend this series. The author takes a well known trope (gender-flipping a popular character. There have been lots of gender-flipped versions of Holmes over the years) and puts a fresh unique twist to it. It is great. After the twist of the last book, I can't wait to get to the third one.

To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo

Another debut fantasy that I'm hoping breaks the meh YA fantasy streak. I don't have much luck with mermaid books, but this one is a Little Mermaid retelling with a dark twist. I have to give that a look.

Of FIre and Stars: Inkmistress by Audrey Coulthurst

Companion book to Of Fire and Stars. Deals with different characters, but is set in the same universe. I cannot wait. Oh, and it looks like we're getting a sequel to Of Fire and Stars next year!

The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw

I love books about witches. This one is promising Hocus Pocus vibes. It also reminds me a bit of a trio of Fear Street books that R. L. Stine did called the Cataluna Chronicles. I'm all over this book.

Rebel of the Sands Book 3: Hero at the Fall by Alwyn Hamilton

I admit, I wasn't terribly impressed with Rebel of the Sands. To me it was an average fantasy with a different setting. But then the second book happened. And suddenly this average fantasy became a great fantasy. I hope the third book takes that further and it becomes even better.

The Beauty That Remains by Ashley Woodfolk

Looks like a heart-renching contemporary along the lines of Adam Silvera. I've been all about these kinds of books lately for some reason....

Adult Fiction

Rainbirds Clarissa Goenawan

First off: look at that gorgeous cover. But most importantly: the story sounds good. Brother learns estranged sister is dead. Brother goes and tries to find out why she was killed. All in a small town in Japan. Sounds like my kind of thing.

Speak No Evil by Uzodinma Iweala

LGBT contemporary that has been getting some buzz.

The Last Equation of Isaac Severy: A Novel in Clues by Nova Jacobs

This is being billed as a "literary thriller" which...yeah I hate when people try to put literary in front of a genre to try and make it seem smart or whatever. But I'm still giving it a chance, because mystery. But seriously publishers, stop with the literary fantasy or literary mystery or literary YA nonsense. I don't care if something is literary. I just want it to be an interesting story.

Girls Burn Brighter by Shobha Rao

Literary fiction debut about a female friendship and issues that women face today. Sounds like it could be good.


Broad Band: The Untold Story of the Women Who Made the Internet by Claire L. Evans

I love hidden history non-fictions stuff.

Ask Me About My Uterus: A Quest to Make Doctors Believe in Women's Pain by Abby Norman

If you are a woman, you've very likely had a doctor at some point tell you something along the lines of "oh, that's nothing. You don't have to worry about that." Or just out right dismissal when you try to explain to them that something is wrong with your body. This book goes into that issue and it looks like it's going to be interesting (and probably infuriating).

The Woman's Hour: The Great Fight to Win the Vote by Elaine Weiss

Good book for Women's History Month. A look at how we got the right to vote (at least the right for white women).

Monday, March 5, 2018

Book Review: Meet Cute

TITLE: Meet Cute: Some People Are Destined to Meet
AUTHOR: various authors, edited by Jennifer L. Armentrout
PUBLISHED: January 2nd, 2018
GENRE: Romance, Contemporary
PREMISE: A short story collection featuring a wide variety of meet cutes.
MY REVIEW: This is the first of many interesting looking short story collections out this year. For those that do not know what meet cutes are, they are basically a romance trope. They're just cute circumstances through which two characters meet. Like say...they get stuck in an elevator, strike up a conversation, and a relationship develops from there. That sort of thing.
As with all short story collections, this was a mixed bag. But I will say there were more stories here that I loved then usual. So that's a bonus. There were only two stories I outright did not like. One was a story where the girl was cheating on her boyfriend by kissing the guy. Sorry, I don't find cheating very cute. The second was the story by Ibi Zoboi who is the author of American Street. It pains me that I don't like Ibi Zoboi's stuff. I tried to read American Street last year, but just had to DNF it, because there was so much girl hate and that was taking away from the important stuff she was trying to talk about in it. In this story, it was the same deal: great message about loving yourself when others don't, but hindered by constant girl hate. Also writers: you can write about fat acceptance without shaming skinny girls. It can actually be done. Pushing down one group of people, to prop up another group of people is not okay. I think I'm just going to have to give up on Zoboi. This seems to be a feature in her writing and I'm sorry, I'm just not okay with it. I wish her well, because the stuff she writes about is important, but it's just not for me.
But other then those two stories, I liked a majority of the stories in here. Some...I don't particularly think qualify as meet cutes, but they were cute so I'm okay with them. I'm pleased with the amount of f/f stories in here. There is also one cute story with a trans girl as the main character. I do wish there had been some m/m romances as well, but overall I'm pleased with it. The best stories to me were:
Print Shop by Nina LaCour
Somewhere That's Green by Meredith Russo
The Way We Love Here by Dhonielle Clayton
259 Million Miles by Kass Morgan
The Department of Dead Love by Nicola Yoon
WHO SHOULD READ: romance fans, romantic comedy fans
MY RATING: Three and a half out of Five cute romances

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Notable Releases: 2/25-3/3

Here are the releases from this past week that are on my radar. Note: there was no notable releases from last week, because honestly there weren't that many releases that week I was excited for, aside from one or two non-fiction books.


All Out: The No Longer Secret Stories of Queer Teens Throughout the Ages by various authors

Yes, my friends, a short story collection featuring lgbtq characters in historical fiction stories. Dreams do come true. After this, how about one with fantasy/sci-fi settings? Please, please, please?

A Girl Like That by Tanaz Bhathena

Contemporary debut that I've been hearing good things about.

Kiranmala and the Kingdom Beyond Book 1: The Serpent's Secret by Sayantani DasGupta

I'm really pumped for this one, guys. It's a middle-grade adventure book featuring a demon-slaying girl finding out family secrets when her parents are kidnapped and she's swept off into a magical world. This is my kind of book in so many ways.

Tess of the Road Book 1 by Rachel Hartman

New Rachel Hartman book! And it takes place in the same world as Seraphina! ;does a happy geek dance;

Daughter of the Pirate King Book 2: Daughter of the Siren Queen by Tricia Levenseller

Daughter of the Pirate Queen was one of the few fantasy debuts from last year that really stood out to me. I'm looking forward to its sequel.

Where I Live by Brenda Rufener

Looks like an intense contemporary dealing with abuse, homelessness, and a couple of other things.


How I Resist: Activism and Hope for the Next Generation by various authors

Essays from various YA authors about activism and how you can help.

In Praise of Difficult Women: Life Lessons From 29 Heroines Who Dared to Break the Rules by Karen Karbo

Looks like this could be fun.

Don't Call Me a Princess: Essays on Girls, Women, Sex, and Life by Peggy Orenstein

We'll....see how this one goes. I'm all for essays about girls and calling out sexist stuff, but that title reeks of shaming feminine things and I'm not here for that. You can call out sexist things without shaming people who like girly things.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Graphic Novel Review: Batman/Superman/Wonder Woman-Trinity

TITLE: Trinity
AUTHOR: Matt Wagner
ARTIST: Matt Wagner
GENRE: Superhero
PREMISE: Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman all team up for the first time as Ra's al Ghul plans an attack that will destroy the planet..
MY REVIEW: So I have still been reading comics here and there. I just have been reading ones that are part of a series, so I haven't reviewed them here. My rule now is to only review series comics if I am either completely up to date on it, or finished with it, or am five volumes in. With things like DC and Marvel...that takes awhile. Hence, no reviews.
But this graphic novel is a single story arc, so I feel comfortable reviewing it by itself. First thing I'll go over is the art: um...yeah sorry, Wagner, it's bad. Anatomy for characters is inconsistent, and in the case of Diana, outright bizarre sometimes. The faces are awkward and...I'm sorry, I just don't like it. Normally, I don't make a big deal out of art style in comics. Especially for DC and Marvel. Because the way the business works, the style is usually constantly switching around anyway. Seriously, if you read superhero comics, don't get attached to the art style. Especially if it's a long series. My only requirement for art in superhero comics is that it at least be consistent, doesn't do weird things with anatomy, and doesn't do gross sexual poses with its female characters. Wagner was not consistent, had weird anatomy things going on all over the place, and there were lots of strategically placed sexual poses of Diana. So yeah, I hated the art in this.
Story wise...I liked it. It's a fun look at how Bruce, Clark, and Diana all came together for the first time. There's some fun scenes with Bruce not playing well with others. Aquaman makes a surprise cameo. There's good character insight and the plot moved along fairly well. I recommend picking this one up if you're new to DC. It's a self-contained story, that doesn't require loads of knowledge of other comics. If you know the basic back story of these three heroes, you should be able to read this just fine. So I have mixed feelings about it. On one hand: ugly art. On the other hand: decent story.
WHO SHOULD READ: DC fans, those that have seen the Justice League movie
MY RATING: Three and a half out of Five good stories with bad art

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Book Review: One Dark Throne

TITLE: One Dark Throne
Book 2 in the Three Dark Crowns series
AUTHOR: Kendare Blake
PUBLISHED: September 2017
GENRE: Fantasy
PREMISE: The battle for the throne continues between Katherine, Arsinoe, and Mirabella....
MY REVIEW: Three Dark Crowns was one of my favorite reads from last year. Sequels can either make or break a series. I'm pleased to say, this sequel made it.
No, this series is not ground-breaking. Dark fantasy books in YA are a dime a dozen these days, thanks partly to Game of Thrones. But this series delivers on entertainment value. The plot keeps you guessing. The author is not afraid to have characters be flawed or unlikable. It's got all that good stuff about Game of Thrones, but without the rape and torture scenes. Sadly, there are no dragons. But there is a bear.
Normally, I am not a fan of series extending beyond what the author originally planned. But in this series case...I actually am all for it. Especially with where this second book left off. I can't wait for the third book. In this case, extending the series actually makes sense. It's when it doesn't make sense that I start to get frustrated.
WHO SHOULD READ: Fans of Three Dark Crowns, Game of Thrones fans, dark fantasy fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five thrones