Friday Reads · On My Bookshelf · Read-A-Thons · Reading · Reviews · Suzy

Friday Reads: Welcome June

I’m going to start with a bit of a rant: while reading The Princess Saves Herself in This One, I saw a lot (I mean a LOT) of “this isn’t poetry” complaints. Um, really? Really? Have you read some of the poets we now consider classics? How about E.E. Cummings?

ee cummings poem

That is somehow poetry while Amanda Lovelace isn’t? Right. I can only shake my head at such small-minded people. Some of their complaints were downright hurtful, and I only hope that Lovelace had the sense to avoid at least the worst of the reviews. People can be mean and spiteful and sometimes I want to divorce the whole human race.

2a9eb7f62b777068d5c095819f2790bc.jpg from The Princess Saves Herself in This One by Amanda Lovelace

But then there are the good sorts, too. Sometimes I just have to focus on that.


May 2019

Number of books read: 13
Number of books DNF: 1
Number of pages read: 1,803
Number of hours listened: 22.16


My Ratings (if there’s a hyperlink, that will take you to my review of the book)

5star

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Seanan McGuire’s One Salt Sea

This book is yet another example of how Seanan doesn’t pull her punches, and yet isn’t truly mean about it, either. Going into why leads down the path of spoilers, so I won’t go into detail. But there are at least two instances in this book where she could have either been mean or been too soft, yet instead she found the right balance for the story.

4star

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Paolo Bacigalupi’s Mika Model

Fascinating short story. The online version I read had a link to a robotic law expert’s take on the story, and that was (in its own way) just as interesting a read.

Nebula Awards Showcase 2013

I liked “The Paper Menagerie” by Ken Liu and “The Man Who Bridged the Mist” by Kij Johnson the best in this collection. I thought the characters in both were well-developed. (Granted, I didn’t read all the stories.) I also read “Ado” by Connie Willis (interesting, thought-provoking, but not her best work) and “What We Found” by Geoff Ryman (didn’t really care for it at all, but the story was well-crafted). Still, all worth reading.

Masaji Ishikawa’s A River in Darkness: One Man’s Escape from North Korea

This is a really hard read. It feels like it should be dystopian fiction. It feels like it should have a happy ending. It feels like this can’t possibly be real. It feels like a bleaker 1984 retelling.

But the truth of it is that this is not Orwell. This is the darkness that can happen when people in control lose their humanity. And while the ending is better than it was, it is not happy. It is barely even hopeful. I really, really hope that many people read this and others like it so that we can try to prevent similar horrors from happening in the future.

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Amanda Lovelace’s The Princess Saves Herself in this One

Good collection of poetry. It’s very personal, so I find it hard to recommend — it seems more like the kind of volume that people should select for themselves. However, if you need something to help you grieve, or help you learn to love yourself, this might help you.

John McWhorter’s The Story of Human Language

As to the course itself, I expected a slightly different approach than he took. He acknowledged this at the end, mentioning that if he had bought the course as a listener, he would have expected this to be a set on how words change and enter a language. The last lecture was exactly and entirely that, and after listening to it I am glad the course wasn’t what I expected. It turns out that the story of how languages grow and change and die and form is a lot more interesting than I had realized. Highly recommended for anyone interested in Linguistics.

Mary Robinette Kowal‘s Forest of Memory

Really neat futuristic story (set in a world I want to read more of) that is possibly sci-fi mixed with an adventure story or an unreliable narrator or possibly just a big case of gaslighting. You’ll have to read it for yourself in order to come to your own conclusions. (And the cover is GORGEOUS.)

3star

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Marko Kloos’s Lines of Departure (Frontlines #2)

Enjoyable sequel, but I didn’t like it as much as the first book. The action / character development wasn’t as balanced at the beginning of this book as I like. The second half or so was good, though, and I really enjoyed the last third the same way I liked book one. I’m currently undecided on whether or not to continue the series, though. I can only handle so much of the main character getting into — and then lucking out of — every worst possible situation imaginable.

Nancy Willard’s William Blake’s Inn: Poems for Innocent and Experienced Travelers

Enjoyable set of poems. I don’t know the original poetry that inspired it, though, so I probably didn’t get as much from it as I should have.

Margaret Wise Brown’s Goodnight Moon

Cute picture book. I realize that as neither a child nor a parent I’m not the target audience. I also recognize that this is a classic picture book. It’s not my favorite, though. I read it for the purpose of getting the various pop-culture references to it.

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Marguerite de Angeli’s The Door in the Wall

Not bad, for a 70-year-old children’s book. It’s not a favorite, but I can see why it won the Newbery Award for its year and why it is a classic. It holds up as far as what it is, but you can’t truly compare it to a contemporary book.

2star

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Paula McLain’s A Mind of Her Own

Highly disappointing. From the title, I got the impression that this would be about Marie’s mind and accomplishments. I guess I should have read between the lines of the synopsis: this is not about Marie’s mind, but about the courtship between Pierre and Marie. (And from the way it’s presented, this is NOT a love story, but the story of a man too stubborn to accept “no”. However — also from the way it’s presented — I do not trust this to be a highly accurate portrayal of the courtship so I will withhold judgement until after I have read a more factual biography.)

(Note: I’m giving it 2 stars instead of 1 because I did learn a little about Marie, and this book short prompted me to TBR some actual biographies.) 

Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea

I didn’t like this book. I wanted more from it. Hemingway continually hinted at something that he could describe or discuss and then didn’t. However, while I didn’t like it I didn’t hate it either. I am at best indifferent to this book, and I certainly don’t need to read it again. I can see that there might have once been merit to studying this in school, though I would argue it is no longer relevant. We don’t need to know what a white man thinks a Cuban man’s life might have been like when we can read books written by Cubans.

0star

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Julie Berry’s Wishes & Wellingtons

DNF @ 8%. Not rating because I didn’t get very far, and I’m not the target audience anyway. But still: I couldn’t stand the main character. She’s a pretentious little snot as far as I can tell.


Plans for June 2019

I’m currently reading:

  • Guards! Guards! (Discworld #8) by Terry Prachett (paper) — 140/376 pages
  • Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow (paper) — 19/731 pages
  • Middlegame by Seanan McGuire (ebook) — 21%
  • The Carnelian Crow (Stoker & Holmes #4) by Colleen Gleason (audiobook) — 23%

And my plans for June reading:

  • Get at least 25% of Alexander Hamilton read. (For the record, that’s 146 pages.) I’m not going to fool myself and think I can finish the whole rest of the book in a month. But I would like to make more some progress.
  • Read a book from my physical TBR shelf. I have a lot of books that I own but haven’t yet read. I want to start whittling that number down.
  • Re-read something. (A non-Discworld something.) I love reading new books, but I also love re-visiting old favorites. I intentionally read mostly new books last year, and it’s unintentionally carried over this year. While I don’t have a problem with this, I do want to revisit some of my old favorites. Most of what I’ve re-read this year have been Discworld books.

And in sad wrap-up news, we had to say goodbye to Miss Suzy-cat this month. She had cancer, and while we were managing it for a while, it finally got to be too much for her.

Rest in peace, Miss Suzy. We’ll miss you.

(Picture was from a couple months ago. Once she started looking sick, I didn’t want to take pictures that showed just *how* sick she looked.)

7 thoughts on “Friday Reads: Welcome June

  1. Oh I’m so sorry about Miss Suzy Cat. She was beautiful. I love my dog like he’s my own kid so I can’t imagine. Sending virtual hugs.

    1. Thanks, it’s been a rough month. Luckily we had some good time with her before the end, and we at least knew it was coming. Didn’t make it easier, but it made us more appreciative of the time we had.

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