Monday, May 22, 2017

I'm Moving - to Wordpress!

I've been talking about this for such a long time...  so I just decided to go for it.  I have a lot of things to configure and whatnot...  and I'm giving up my domain name and everything.... 

But now you can now find me at

Book Review: "Horrorstor" by Grady Hendrix

Something strange has been happening at the Orsk Store where Amy works.  In the morning, employees are finding broken or missing items, or items smeared with a "foul substance".  Everything is fine when the store is locked up for the night.  Basil, the guy in charge, asks Amy and another employee Ruth Anne, to stay an extra, overnight shift with him, to try and discover the truth of what's happening.  As it happens, Matt and Trinity, who also work at the store, have chosen this night to sneak in with their ghost-hunting equipment.  They couldn't have chosen a worse night.

I have been curious about this book ever since it came out.  I love the design - the book looks just like an IKEA catalog (which is the obvious inspiration for the setting), and each chapter starts with an "ad" for a piece of furniture that features prominently in that chapter.  Its all very clever, and I love it.

I listened to this on audiobook (though flipped through the print book to see the ads).  The ads are set apart like commercials, and I loved that piece of the production.  The narrators - Tai Sammons for the book and Bronson Pinchot for the ads - were fantastic.

As for the story itself...  it definitely gets weird and suspenseful.  I can't deny that.  But there was something a little off.  There was one character that I thought was described one way at introduction, but acted completely differently and that confused me.  Another didn't seem to flesh out as completely as he was set up to do.  And the pacing was weird.  It would slow down right when I thought it was gearing up.  Perhaps this is a result of listening instead of reading; I don't really know.

I did think this was fun and clever and all.  The ending is a bit open, and I thought that was satisfying, but I just wasn't overwhelmed or wowed by the book.

by Grady Hendrix
Quirk, 2014
248 pages
Source:  Library


Thursday, May 18, 2017

Book Review: "The Upside of Unrequited" by Becky Albertalli

So given just how much I loved Albertalli's first book, Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, there was no way I was going to let her next book go by without reading it as soon as I could.   I never even looked up the premise, I just put myself on the hold list at the library as soon as I could.... which means I got it just after it was published.  Yay!

So what is it about?  It stars Molly Peskin-Suso as a girl who in the course of her 17 years, has developed 26 crushes on guys that didn't go any farther than just that.  Her twin sister, Cassie, has hooked up with a bunch of girls, but has never found herself in a real relationship.  Enter Mina.  Cassie and Mina start a relationship and together decide that Mina's cute hipster friend Will would be a great first boyfriend for Molly.  And while Molly does think Will is cute, and maybe he does think she's interesting....  But Molly also just started a summer job, and there's this kind of adorable geeky boy there named Reid that she can't stop thinking about.  In the background, the Marriage Equality Bill is upheld by the Supreme Court, so guess who's finally getting married?  Molly & Cassie's Moms!!

I really really enjoyed this book.  I think Simon still rules, but this is a very close 2nd place.  I liked how well the relationship between the sisters developed, and how both felt insecure about different things.  Most importantly, they were both caught up in keeping their tight bond tight, while also developing relationships with new people and trying to keep a balance.  That is such a tough road to travel as you're growing up - at all stages of life - but it feels most tragic in your teens.  I also liked how perfectly, casually, and realistically diverse this book was.  I'm hoping this is a thing that will show up more often in YA contemporary lit, because it makes the story more real to me as it more closely resembles real life.  Also, the character flaws in these characters are realistic.  Molly deals with social anxiety and takes Zoloft for panic attacks, and even though I could see that maybe that isn't the best thing she should do or think, I also know that I would probably do the same thing.

So, yes, go out and love this book too!!

The Upside of Unrequited
by Becky Albertalli
Balzer + Bray, 2017
336 pages
Source:  Library


Monday, May 15, 2017

Book Review: "Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions" by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

I read this short novella during the last Dewey's Readathon.  I figured it would be a perfect little thing to read before I got too tired, as I've been really loving feminist pieces this year.

So maybe I was more tired than I thought, or maybe I've put Adichie on a pedestal, but I was kind of disappointed.  It is all fine and good with it's original premise:  this is really a letter that Adichie had written to a friend who had asked advice on how to raise her baby daughter as a feminist.  And, it does that.  And, as you would write to your friend - it is pretty simply written.

I think I was just hoping for more.

If you are just starting out in reading feminist writings, this would be an excellent place to start.  If you're looking for a gift for a new mom (especially a mother of girls, though I do believe this would be beneficial to boy-moms too), this might be lovely.  But if you've been around the feminist literature block once or twice (and I'm saying this a kind of a newbie myself), you won't find anything new here.  But it won't take long to read, so you might as well!  It certainly won't hurt :)

 Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions
by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Alfred A. Knopf, 2017
63 pages
Source:  Library


Thursday, May 11, 2017

Book Review: "My Lady Jane" by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows

Do you know the story of Lady Jane Grey?  The woman who was Queen of England for 9 days until Mary took it from her and had her beheaded?  (Of course "Bloody" Mary was only queen for a few years before her younger half sister, Elizabeth I, was crowned).  Anyway, this book is all about Jane, her husband G, and her best friend and cousin, King Edward.  But let's just say that the authors told their version of the history, and boy did they have fun with it.

I can only imagine how the idea for this book came about.  I've never read anything by any of these authors, or know anything about them at all really, but I imagine they are really good friends.  Maybe they were on a book tour together, and up late one night, one started telling a story like - 'What if that isn't really what happened way back when in jolly ol'England.  What if it really came down to shapeshifters, and the politics of shapeshifters as a different race/class of people?'.... and it just spiraled from there.

This really is a fun read, full of love, political strategy, back stabbers, shapeshifters, and potential beheadings.  I think I was smiling throughout much of the book, when I wasn't laughing right out loud.  I even loved the way the authors broke the fourth wall to work through some little scene or plot hole or whatever which reminds the reader not to take it too seriously.  Rumor has it that there will be more books like this coming....  and I really hope that is true!

My Lady Jane
by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows
HarperTeen, 2016
491 pages
Source:  Library


Monday, May 8, 2017

Book Review: "Paper Boats" by Dee Lestari

Kugy has always been a dreamer and her passion is to write fairy tales for a living.  Keenan is also a creative soul with a natural talent for painting.  But then there is the harshness of reality, and Kugy knows that she'll have to make money first before she can be who she really wants to be, and Keenan is being forced to follow his father's footsteps in business.  Feelings develop between the two, but the timing is never right, and as the years go by, it seems that they were just meant to be friends and collaborators.  After all, they both have good people who love and support them, so everything's good, right?

I was really very curious about this because I don't think I've ever read anything set in Indonesia (Hello Reading All Around the World Challenge) and definitely nothing written by an Indonesian author.  I really loved the setting, as it happens, as it is so unlike what I'm used to in so many ways but is also so perfect for the story.  Kugy and Keenan meet at University, where they make a foursome of friends with Kugy's best friend Noni, and Eko who is both Noni's boyfriend and Keenan's cousin.

Now a lot happens between the four of them.  And this is where it gets a little bit like a soap opera.  At first I was a little confused by the vague start to each chapter, but it fits the soap opera feel.  I did enjoy when the real world entered in - like that Kugy was teaching poor Sudanese children how to read and write in a makeshift school under a tree, or when Keenan is emotionally affected by a bomb that went off in a nearby town on Bali.

This is a cute story and fun to read, but I wasn't overly excited by it.  I'm not shocked that it went on to be a blockbuster film in Indonesia, it has that feel to it naturally.

Paper Boats
by Dee Lestari
Translated by Tiffany Tsao
Amazon Crossing 2017.  First published 2004.
400 pages
Source:  Amazon First Books


Thursday, May 4, 2017

Graphic Novel Review: "It's All Absolutely Fine" by Ruby Elliot

This is a book I first heard about on Litsy...  I love Litsy but it really isn't doing me any favors in terms of my TBR piles!  I'm thankful for this recommendation as I think it is a book that could be overlooked when it really shouldn't be.

In this book, the author takes an honest approach to talking about the mental illnesses that she has lived with her entire life.  She's still in her early twenties, so this is something that she is still very much learning about and working on, but she's making progress.  She shares what she has learned and what has helped her thus far.  This is not a comprehensive examination nor is it suggested that everything in here will work for somebody else.  But it is a place to start a conversation - with loved ones or within yourself.

The artwork is understandably dark, but helps keep the reader from falling into a pit of despair themselves.  I've seen comparisons to Hyperbole and a Half (a book I loved), and I do see those comparisons, but think that Brosh was a little better with keeping a lighter edge to her story.

It's All Absolutely Fine
by Ruby Elliot
Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2017
256 pages
Source:  Library


Monday, May 1, 2017

Book Review: "Giovanni's Room" by James Baldwin

Set in 1950s Paris, a young American man named David is caught in at a personal crossroads.  He is torn between two relationships - one that is expected and fits in with societal norms, that he keeps up for only those reasons and not for love.  The other relationship not, but is filled with raw passion and love.  He fights the passionate affair because he cannot see a future with a man, and tries to keep the "normal" relationship with the woman, Hella, because he thinks it is something he must do.  Things come to a head when Hella returns to Paris and David chooses to be with her instead of Giovanni...

This is a terribly sad and emotional story.  It is just heartbreaking how much David is holding back from true love.  How different this could be if David was able to accept his homosexuality; if he was able to allow himself to open completely to Giovanni.

Giovanni's room, as in the actual physical location in the book, became a metaphor for David's breaking point.  He all at once needed to get out of Giovanni's room where he had been living, and get away from Giovanni, because if he stayed, he would've given into his true feelings.  He would've been forced to really face them, and he couldn't do it.  After everything went bad, he had to leave Paris - the entire city was too much for him - but he found that you can't really run away and it will go away.  I mean, he's grappling with his own feelings - those go with you when you change addresses.

I fell in love with Baldwin's writing style as well.  This is the first I've read of him, and it took a few pages to get used to the long sentences that tease a stream of consciousness feel.  But it was all so very controlled - like David.  It is beautiful in its sadness.

Giovanni's Room
by James Baldwin
Vintage, 2013.  First published 1956
176 pages
Source:  Gift


Saturday, April 29, 2017

Dewey's 24 Hour #Readathon Master Post

It's Readathon Day!  Yay!  I haven't set any specific goals - just read as much as I can and have fun.  I'll update here every 4 hours.  Check out my Twitter and Litsy (sarahreadstoomuch) for more frequent updates.  Just counted back - this is my 6th Dewey's Readathon!

8:00am:  The Start!  Let's GO!!

12 Noon:  Off to a great start!  I finished the book I had been reading, My Lady Jane, which was fantastic!!  Then followed it up with the quick and funny graphic novel Big Mushy Happy Lump by Sarah Andersen.  I'm now 65 pages into The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli.  Also, my 10 year old read with me for a couple hours - he finished The Timekeeper by Rob Kidd which is in the Jack Sparrow series, and is half way through Say Cheese Medusa by Kate McMullan.  He's taking a video game break with his brother right now.  But now it is time to have a little lunch, put dinner in the crock pot and then get back to reading in a half hour or so!

4:30pm:  OK, so I couldn't update at 4 because I had like 15 pages left in my book and you don't just put a book down with that few pages left.  So I've finished Upside now and it is so awesome!  Dinner smells great and will be ready in about 2 hours, so I'm grabbing a graphic novel next!

8pm - Halfway Mark!:  Had a great dinner break with the family...  and I finished two more books since the last update.  One was very short, the other a graphic novel.  I'm kind of feeling another novel coming on... I might start it on audio, and see how that goes.  I do have a print copy too, just in case the narrator starts to put me to sleep.

12 Midnight (really 11pm):  I've listened to the first 90ish pages of Horrorstor, and starting to feel really tired.  Therefore, I'm posting this update now instead of at midnight.  I am still hoping to get to the latest Lumberjanes volume....  maybe in the morning.

4am:  ZZZZZZzzzzzzzzz.......

8am - The Finish Line:  I woke up around 6:15am and jumped back in for the last 90 minutes of the readathon.  I read another graphic novel - Giant Days Vol 4 and another chapter in Horrorstor.  This has been an incredibly successful readathon as far as I'm concerned!  I'm still feeling a little sleepy today, so I'll probably just keep reading!  I hope you've enjoyed this readathon as much as I have!  Have a great Sunday!

Books finished:  

  • My Lady Jane  by Cynthia Hand (and others) - was in progress at start of readathon.
  • Big Mushy Happy Lump by Sarah Andersen
  • The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli
  • Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifest in Fifteen Suggesstions by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  • Saga Volume 7 by Brian K. Vaughan
  • Giant Days Volume 4
Books Not Quite Finished:

  • Horrorstor by Grady Hendrix           
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