supercheesegirl: (books - cute reading)
Pippi in the South Seas (Pippi #3), by Astrid Lindgren: Finished 6/3/17. Found this on my shelf and read chapters at bedtime with Freya. She really loved it, especially the monkey and the parts where Pippi is exceptionally silly. This time around I was struck by the ending of the book - the last two pages are just completely lovely writing, an absolute gift from Lindgren - and I never noticed before. Glad to have read this with my girl.

Freya (Freya #1), by Matthew Laurence: Finished 6/5/17. I’m already a fan of mythologically based YA fiction, but with that title character? Of course I had to pick this up. :) The whole “gods are still alive” thing has been done a lot, and Lawrence does base his plot on the idea that these gods need worship for strength (which has been done by greats like Gaiman and Pratchett), but I did think there was some fun and interesting stuff here. The mental institution and the Disney tie-in were really smart. Is Lawrence trying to take advantage of the cultural wave going on with American Gods? Probably (although this is certainly closer to the Rick Riordan end of the mythological spectrum). Is it still a fun read? Yeah.

Mysteries of the Middle Ages: The Rise of Feminism, Science and Art from the Cults of Catholic Europe, by Thomas Cahill: Finished 6/6/17. I was working on this for several months on and off. A fun look at the Middle Ages, and I learned a lot about several different areas (such as religious and scientific thought and art). I didn’t really understand why the last chapter or two digressed into the 20th century Catholic child abuse scandal, though; the book title really didn’t suggest to me that that’s where we were heading. Overall worth reading, a good challenge for myself, and I’d read something else by this author, as he made the historical info relatable and had some funny lines, but this has to lose a star on that ending.

Fairest, by Gail Carson Levine: Finished 6/9/17. Binge-read this very quickly late at night. Not my favorite by this author, but definitely worth reading.

Overwhelmed, by Brigid Schulte: Finished 6/12/17. Full title: Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time. Five stars. If I could give this book six stars, I would. It feels like a game changer to me. Brigid Schulte digs into not only the problems inherent in our current system of busyness, but examines how we got here, looking at how these ideals around workers and mothers and fathers grew in our society and set us up to fail no matter what we do. And knowing this stuff, I feel, gives me power to change how I react. I will probably read this book again before the end of the year. I highly recommend this book to people who are parents, people who work, people who feel too busy, and pretty much just people.

Ever, by Gail Carson Levine: Finished 6/14/17. A quick and easy read. I enjoyed the setting in an ancient culture you don’t see in fiction too often; on the supernatural end, I particularly liked the bird people in the underworld, and the god wrapped in linen). The plot felt a little contrived and, once set in motion, pretty predictable (it’s not as if the lovers aren’t going to find a way to be together), but even so, it was sweet and fun to read.

A Tale of Two Castles, by Gail Carson Levine: Finished 6/16/17. Really enjoyed this. The dragon and the ogre really did it for me.

The Four Hoods and Great Dog, by Susan Fromberg Schaeffer: Finished 6/22/17. I read this many, many times as a child, but just recently read it aloud to my daughter. She loved Great Dog and laughed a lot at Foudini.

The Collapsing Empire (The Interdependency #1), by John Scalzi: Finished 6/24/17. I wanted to read some Scalzi and so checked this out as an eBook from the library. I was so sad when I got to the end and found out it’s his latest book and the first of a series! Now I have to wait for the end! Which speaks well of the book, because the situation is interesting and the characters are compelling. The primary players are excellent - I particularly like the Empress, and Kiva may be the most entertainingly foul-mouthed character I’ve ever encountered - but even the minor characters are memorable and interesting. Highly recommended, darn it.

The Other Einstein, by Marie Benedict: Finished 6/27/17. I picked this up because it was the “Big Read” in Philly and so there were unlimited e-copies available. At first I enjoyed it, but ultimately this book made me really angry. Benedict created a compelling character, but all along I was wondering how much of this story was really true. Was Albert Einstein really as awful as she paints him? And in the author’s note at the end, she doesn’t really address that, stating that the novel was her way of exploring the “what-ifs” of Mileva’s life. I really wanted more answers than that, which I suppose the world of physics has been feeling for a few decades, but still, as a novel it left me wanting more and feeling pretty angry.

Leroy Ninker Saddles Up (Tales from Deckawoo Drive #1), by Kate DiCamillo: Finished 6/29/17. Read this to my little one at bedtime (twice). I kept getting preoccupied by where he’s going to keep this horse and whether he can afford to feed it, but if you stop being a grownup for a few minutes it’s a really enjoyable little read, especially for fans of hot toast with a great deal of butter. My daughter liked it a lot and definitely worried about the horse during the storm scene.
supercheesegirl: (books - hugged by words)
Yes, Chef, by Marcus Samuelsson: Finished 5/7/17. I enjoy Samuelsson on TV and was curious about his story, so I thought I'd check out the book, and it was light and fun. Not a great work of literature, but enjoyable, especially if you like fine cuisine, cooking, or TV chefs.

The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper, by Phaedra Patrick: Finished 5/8/17. A really fun, fast read in a subgenre I love that I’m calling “charming geriatric adventurers.” I loved all the places this charm bracelet led Arthur, and I particularly loved the ending. Highly recommended if you also enjoy stories about old people who thought their lives were over rediscovering themselves and the world.

A Bear Called Paddington (Paddington #1), by Michael Bond: Finished on 5/8/17. My daughter really enjoyed this book. We would read a chapter each day at bedtime, and it's really funny. She would laugh and laugh! Then it would be time to turn out the light, and she'd be all jazzed up. Oh well. This is definitely an older book but it held up pretty well against modern standards; the downside was that no one says things like "darkest Peru" anymore and there were a few lines that were a little colonialist, but we talked about it. Overall: bear! adventures! messes!

Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: Read on 5/9/17. Suggestions for how to raise your child as a feminist, written as a letter to a friend of Adichie's who had asked her advice. A quick and worthwhile read.

We Should All Be Feminists, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: Read on 5/9/17. Short and well worth reading. (Weirdly, both of these came available through the library on the same day, so I read them both together. They were fast.)

The BFG, by Roald Dahl: Finished 5/19/17. This was a pleasure. Freya enjoyed this a lot, particularly the whizpoppers, and the other giants were just the right level of scary. (We watched the movie a week or two later, which she also loved, and I was delighted to find it a really excellent adaptation with a perfect BFG and less gory than the book!)

Replay, by Ken Grimwood: Finished on 5/16/17. A really good entry in the “Groundhog Day” genre (i.e., a protagonist living his life over and over again). Not as good as The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August, but pretty close. I really enjoyed the structure of this one, as well as the ending, which felt unexpectedly fresh to me.

Grindhopping: Building a Rewarding Career Without Paying Your Dues, by Laura Vanderkam: Finished 5/22/17. This book is aimed at a younger demographic than I am at this point: Vanderkam is writing to inspire twentysomethings to pursue their dreams rather than investing years in an unfulfilling career, while I’m more at the “years of investment” stage and looking to get out of the career grind. But Vanderkam still had some decent advice, and the book felt inspirational; it helped me feel like I could just maybe make it work. One criticism is that, having been written in 2006, a lot of the content feels a bit dated; I’d love to see Vanderkam do a revision. Still glad I read it, and I’ll likely come back to it.

Windthrow, by K.A. Hays: Poetry. Finished 5/23/17.
supercheesegirl: (books - Matisse reading lady)
The Doll's House (The Sandman #2), by Neil Gaiman: Originally read in November 2005, reread 4/3/17. I didn't remember much of this. The serial killer convention was a little much for me these days, but I did enjoy the reread.

Fangirl, by Rainbow Rowell: Finished 4/6/17. I started this as an audiobook on a day when I had a long drive to make by myself in the car (a thing that never happens anymore). Cath did get on my nerves, and I had some trouble understanding why these interesting people wanted to hang out with her. But the Simon Snow stuff was fun.

Monstress, Vol. 1: Awakening, by Marjorie M. Liu: Finished 4/12/17. Wow. The art is amazing, and the story is unique, with so many interesting plot threads and so much rich history. All the gory death and torture was pretty disturbing for me, but I will definitely read the next one.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (Harry Potter, #1), by J.K. Rowling: Finished 4/16/17. My fourth reread, and OK, fine, I read this aloud to my four year old. I figured I'd read until it got too scary, but even toward the end she was hanging in okay, so I kept going. A LOT of it was over her head, but she seemed to really enjoy it, and the big bad reveal at the end was a total surprise to her. It was really a pleasure to read it with her, and I'm looking forward to doing it again in a few years.

I Liked My Life, by Abby Fabiaschi: Finished 4/20/17. Really, really enjoyed this, even if I was anticipating the twist at the end. A quick and engaging read, in one of my favorite niche genres, “ghost love stories”.

The Lost Princess of Oz (Oz, #11), by L. Frank Baum: Finished 4/30/17. Read this aloud with my daughter at bedtime. She enjoyed the mystery of it a lot and laughed pretty much every time I said "Cayke the Cookie Cook".

The Left Hand of Darkness, by Ursula K. Le Guin: First read in maybe 2002, reread 4/30/17. I was surprised how much I didn't remember: all the folk tales and anthropological bits, much of political machinations. I had remembered the book as being primarily (and endlessly) traveling over the ice, but that's really not even a third of the text (according to my friend Warren, who read it on an eReader and took note). My sci-fi book club read this on my suggestion, and it was the book that led to the most and deepest book-related conversation, so I was pretty proud.

Also, the copy my husband got out of the library had an interesting essay by Le Guin included at the end, about how she would have done things differently if she'd written the book later, and some alternate versions of chapters where she actually plays with the pronouns. This really added to my understanding and appreciation.

Genly isn't a particularly accessible character, and we know so little of his life before he came to Gethen (like, for example, why he would choose to give up everyone he'd ever known). But even without that backstory, by the end we see Genly opened. It's a sad book. I had forgotten the ending.
supercheesegirl: (books - narnia lucy)
Christmas in Camelot (Magic Tree House, #29): Finished on 3/3/17. Was desperate for a book to read with my daughter and found this one as an eBook through the library, so we read it on my tablet, which she liked. In this one, all the joy and laughter has been magically sucked out of Camelot, and Jack and Annie have to go on a quest to find it, on the way rescuing Arthur's three bravest knights from certain death. Freya liked the part with the dragons.

Carnival at Candlelight (Magic Tree House, #33): Finished 2/19/17. I was psyched about this one because, first, they go to Venice, and secondly this is the first in a four-book run of which we’d already read all the others several times, and I had been wondering and wondering what happened in the first one. (Freya had no such issue and enjoyed this one because there was a flying lion and because Jack wore a silly costume.)

A Ghost Tale for Christmas Time (Magic Tree House, #44): Finished this for the second time on 3/18; I think we listened to it at least four times total. Freya now asked many questions about Charles Dickens, but she didn’t seem confused at all by the scene with the chimney sweeps (and she hasn’t seen Mary Poppins), so I’m wondering how much she missed here.

Dogs in the Dead of Night (Magic Tree House, #46)
Abe Lincoln at Last! (Magic Tree House, #47): Listened to these two in the car back in February. The Frey really enjoyed the antics of the silly dog, and hearing Jack and Annie transform into dogs, but we talked about Abraham Lincoln for DAYS. We also, coincidentally, listened to it right around Presidents Day. She was extremely interested in him as a president, in the fact that he died, in the fact that he had two young sons one of whom also died.

Balto of the Blue Dawn (Magic Tree House, #54): Finished 2/24/17
Night of the Ninth Dragon (Magic Tree House, #55): Finished 2/26/17. Listened to these two in the car, both at home and on the go in Orlando, FL. The dog sled one was popular because Jack and Annie got a puppy out of it, but the Camelot one was listened to over and over again. Just something about it captured her imagination. She loves the Camelot books particularly, I think. In unrelated news, if I have to listen one more time to the scene where Annie keeps saying "Bad DISEASE!" over and over, I may throw the CD out the window. One scene that comes across a lot better on paper than in audio, though I do appreciate Annie's cleverness with the yellow highlighter.

Sleepover Sleuths (Nancy Drew and the Clue Crew #1), by Carolyn Keene: Finished on 2/23/17. Freya got this free. It’s a cute concept to reinvent Nancy Drew for modern kids, but it’s way too girly, and it doesn’t read well aloud. I want to discourage further volumes in this series until my daughter can read them to herself.

Ricky Ricotta's Mighty Robot vs. the Mutant Mosquitoes from Mercury (Ricky Ricotta, #2) (finished 2/16/17)
Ricky Ricotta's Mighty Robot vs. the Mecha Monkeys from Mars (Ricky Ricotta, #4)
Ricky Ricotta's Mighty Robot vs. the Jurassic Jackrabbits from Jupiter (Ricky Ricotta, #5)
Ricky Ricotta's Mighty Robot vs. The Stupid Stinkbugs from Saturn (Ricky Ricotta, #6)
Ricky Ricotta's Mighty Robot vs. the Uranium Unicorns from Uranus (Ricky Ricotta, #7)
by Dav Pilkey, Martin Ontiveros (Illustrations)
Freya is loving these formulaic graphic novels about a young mouse, his giant robot best friend, and the evil aliens they must defeat. The exact same thing happens in each volume, but that totally doesn’t matter. One thing we both really enjoyed, though, has been cousin Lucy’s character development over the series, as well as that of the Jurassic Jackrabbits, first introduced as bad guy minions in the Jupiter book and who later become small and cute and Lucy’s pets. I was totally delighted to find them coming back again to help Ricky and Lucy save the day. I also love how Lucy steals every scene she’s in. Neither of us particularly loves the flip animation action section in each book, though.

Junie B. Jones and a Little Monkey Business (Junie B. Jones #2), by Barbara Park: Finished 3/12/17. Freya’s class has been reading Junie B. at school and she loves her, so we got this one from the library to read at home (as well as an audio collection to listen to in the car, but this is the only one I’ve personally read all the way through). I find Junie to be pretty awful, honestly, and when we’ve been reading or listening to a lot of Junie B., we start getting behavior issues and have to remind her that if Junie gets in trouble when she does these things, Freya will also get in trouble. But in this book I was pretty entertained by the “little monkey” misunderstanding.

The Courage of Sarah Noble, by Alice Dalgliesh: Finished 3/25/17. Found this in our basement (it must have been a hand-me-down from a relative) and it was the right level of chapter book for bedtime reading so I brought it up. It was named a Newbery Honor Book in 1955, and on the whole it holds up okay in terms of story, plot, and readability, although the depictions of Native peoples were overly simplistic and caricatured. I’m willing to grant the book some slack in that Sarah’s perspective, as a child in 1707, is going to be biased against the Native people she meets, and the whole book is basically about how she overcomes her fears and discovers their kindness and humanity, but I just think Dalgliesh could have gone further in making the family Sarah meets into actual characters rather than pleasant brown cutouts who accept these White settlers without question. My daughter really liked the wilderness and Sarah’s bravery, though. We may be ready to dig into some Laura Ingalls.
supercheesegirl: (books - reading girl)
Finished 2/20/17. I'd really been enjoying this series but the ending to this book was really upsetting. Not sure where the authors are going from here.
supercheesegirl: (books - narnia lucy)
This was cute. Long have I wanted to see more of Elsa actually trying to govern her kingdom; Disney needs to do more, but this was a start. My daughter was just delighted for a new adventure with all her favorite characters, and by the idea of flangendorfers.
supercheesegirl: (books - cute reading)
This volume was almost as adorable as the first, but I wasn't in love with the resolution of the weirdness, and most of the characters continue to blur together for me. Still fun to read.
supercheesegirl: (books - narnia lucy)
First two Jack and Annie books of the year:

Moonlight on the Magic Flute (Magic Tree House #41): In this adventure, Jack and Annie need to help Mozart, but they don't recognize him because he's an annoying little kid. Also, Jack bumbles around so badly that people assume he must be a trained clown. I don't know whether it's Wolfie's antics, Jack's clown performance, or the magic animal parade, but my daughter liked this one enough that we've read it twice already.

A Perfect Time for Pandas (Magic Tree House, #48): I missed the beginning of this one but got to enjoy most of it. There are cuddly baby pandas. Who need rescuing. What's not to love? A lot of "awwwww!" as we read this one.
supercheesegirl: (books - narnia lucy)
Listened to this and also read it in hardback. We had a long gap between when we started and when we finished due to reading Rinkitink in the middle. I liked that this adventure takes place entirely in the land of Oz and introduces Scraps Patchwork, who is a really fun character. I also get a big kick out of the glass cat, and it's good that Ojo isn't some perfect hero. Downsides are that Ojo really gets on my nerves, and the ending wraps up way too quickly. But overall a great Oz story, and highly rereadable.
supercheesegirl: (books - narnia lucy)
We listened to this in audiobook and also read it in hardback from the library. Although the "Oz" connection is really more of a deus ex machina (couldn't Baum have gotten Inga out of the Nome Kingdom without you know who getting involved? Would I have read it if he had?), it was really enjoyable, fun story with great magic. Almost as good as Ozma of Oz.
supercheesegirl: (books - narnia lucy)
I really enjoyed the twists at the end of this one, and I'm excited for where this series is going to go next.
supercheesegirl: (books - narnia lucy)
This was a lot of fun. Not just your usual "kid goes to a magic school" YA novel. Looking forward to the rest of the series.
supercheesegirl: (books - narnia lucy)
Read this back in October and forgot to post about it. Apollo was really annoying and not as much fun to read as the standard interchangeable Riordan hero, but the book was pretty enjoyable for that reason: seeing Riordan do something different, seeing our heroes through entirely different eyes, hearing about events from someone without superpowers for once. I'll read the next one (presumably next Christmas, when I buy it for my dad).
supercheesegirl: (books - reading girl)
Read 11/9/16 - 11/10/16. This book was SO GOOD and I am really upset because my library doesn't have the rest of the trilogy in ebook format! Gwyneth still has a little ways to go as a heroine, but I'm in.
supercheesegirl: (books - narnia lucy)
Read this aloud to my daughter. It was a little above her level (Ramona is, after all, twice her age) but she really liked it (there's throw-up, and a smashed egg in someone's hair, so really what's not to love?) and she recently insisted on starting it over again. Guess I'll have to renew the library book.
supercheesegirl: (book - medieval)
Read 11/2/16 - 11/3/16. I get why we needed a POV book on Sophos, and I liked the idea that all the first-person Sophos chapters are him telling his story to someone. But I'm still more interested in Gen.
supercheesegirl: (books - can't talk reading)
Finished 11/2/16. At first I was frustrated with this book because we didn't get enough first-person POV from Gen, but then I really got to like Costis, and I can understand why Turner approached this book from the perspective of a character observing Gen as a new addition to the Attolian court. Definitely a worthwhile read.
supercheesegirl: (books - reading girl)
On one hand, the combination of a new magically genderfluid main character with the existing devout Muslim Valkyrie character makes this book read a little like Rick Riordan Trying Really Hard To Be Inclusionary. But on the other hand, Samirah is written in a way that makes sense, Alex kicks ass, and hooray for a transgender teen hero/ine in a genre book! Not something I remember seeing in all my reading. Oh yeah, Magnus was there too. He got a haircut.
supercheesegirl: (books - cute reading)
Read 10/20/16-10/22/16. Honestly, I was disappointed. The "is he lying or not" with Leon, the continued love drama with the other men, and the single-minded evilness of the bad guys - I mean, do they seriously never think of anything except babies and dominating over others? I didn't find it believable even for a dystopia. And I didn't love where the ending left Gaia - I mean, of course she'd have special genetics, she's our heroine, but still. This trilogy started out so strong but didn't wrap up the way I would have liked to have seen.
supercheesegirl: (books - reading girl)
Finished this yesterday. I'm a little concerned about the romantic relationship that develops in this book - not that I didn't see it coming, but I guess I don't feel it evolved naturally? Or maybe I'm just worried about Gen - but this was definitely a compelling read.

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