The Monday Check-In ~ 9/3/2018

cooltext1850356879 My Monday tradition, including a look back and a look ahead — what I read last week, what new books came my way, and what books are keeping me busy right now. Plus a smattering of other stuff too.

Life.

Three-day weekends rock! It’s so nice to get that extra day to sleep in, wear pajamas past noon, and (of course) read all the books.

What did I read during the last week?

The Girl in the Green Silk Gown by Seanan McGuire: The sequel to Sparrow Hill Road, both of which have a tangential connection to the InCryptid series. My review is here.

Wild Magic by Tamora Pierce: Book # 1 in The Immortals series. Continuing my journey through the world of Tortall! I enjoyed the audiobook, once I got used to the full cast recording.

Nothing like getting a little carried away by YA love! After watching the Netflix movie last week, I decided to read To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han… and couldn’t stop until I’d read the whole trilogy! Sweet, light, and surprisingly touching. My thoughts on the book and movie are here.

Pop culture goodness:

I saw Crazy Rich Asians! Loved it, of course… and now I need to read the books.

Fresh Catch:

I had a big old Amazon credit to spend, so I treated myself to the new Harry Potter boxed set! Sooooo pretty.

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:

The Gone World by Tom Sweterlitsch: Creepy and time-twisty. So close to the end — I hope to finish today.

Now playing via audiobook:

Wolf-Speaker (The Immortals, #2) by Tamora Pierce: This series is growing on me! I really like the main character, and I’m interested to see where all this leads.

Ongoing reads:

Book group reads:

  • Classic read: My book group’s current classic read is Middlemarch by George Eliot.  We’re reading and discussing two chapters per week. Slow but steady!
  • The Scottish Prisoner by Diana Gabaldon. Continuing our group read of the Lord John works, it’s lovely to revisit The Scottish Prisoner, which stars Lord John Grey and everyone’s favorite Scottish laird, Jamie Fraser. Want to join in? Ask me how!

So many books, so little time…

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Take A Peek Book Review: The Girl in the Green Silk Gown by Seanan McGuire

“Take a Peek” book reviews are short and (possibly) sweet, keeping the commentary brief and providing a little peek at what the book’s about and what I thought.

 

Synopsis:

(via Goodreads)

The second book in the Ghost Roads series returns to the highways of America, where hitchhiking ghost Rose Marshall continues her battle with her killer–the immortal Bobby Cross.

Once and twice and thrice around,
Put your heart into the ground.
Four and five and six tears shed,
Give your love unto the dead.
Seven shadows on the wall,
Eight have come to watch your fall:
One’s for the gargoyle, one’s for the grave,
And the last is for the one you’ll never save.
 
For Rose Marshall, death has long since become the only life she really knows.  She’s been sweet sixteen for more than sixty years, hitchhiking her way along the highways and byways of America, sometimes seen as an avenging angel, sometimes seen as a killer in her own right, but always Rose, the Phantom Prom Date, the Girl in the Green Silk Gown.

The man who killed her is still out there, thanks to a crossroads bargain that won’t let him die, and he’s looking for the one who got away.  When Bobby Cross comes back into the picture, there’s going to be hell to pay—possibly literally.

Rose has worked for decades to make a place for herself in the twilight.  Can she defend it, when Bobby Cross comes to take her down?  Can she find a way to navigate the worlds of the living and the dead, and make it home before her hitchhiker’s luck runs out?

There’s only one way to know for sure.

Nine will let you count the cost:
All you had and all you lost.
Ten is more than time can tell,
Cut the cord and ring the bell.
Count eleven, twelve, and then,
Thirteen takes you home again.
One’s for the shadow, one’s for the tree,
And the last is for the blessing of Persephone.

My Thoughts:

This has been quite the year for me and Seanan McGuire. I was a fan of her Wayward Children books already, but this year I obsessively consumed her October Daye and Incryptid series — so of course I had to read the Ghost Road books too.

The Girl in the Green Silk Gown is the sequel to the 2014 book Sparrow Hill Road. I first started Sparrow Hill Road about a year ago, and couldn’t get into it. This year, in the midst of my Seanan McGuire frenzy, I decided to give it another try, and actually enjoyed it — enough so that I was keen to read The Girl in the Green Silk Gown as well.

This book is the continuing story of Rose Marshall, who was killed in a car crash on the way to her prom back in the 1950s, and has haunted the highways of North America ever since as a hitchhiking ghost. Rose is the stuff of urban legends, who escorts doomed drivers to their afterlives but also helps those that she can to avoid a deadly fate. All the while, she’s been on the run from Bobby Cross, the driver who killed her, and this time around, it looks like he finally has her trapped.

Sparrow Hill Road is more like a bunch of interwoven stories that make a whole, whereas The Girl in the Green Silk Gown is a novel with a beginning, middle, and an end. It’s a hero’s journey, an epic quest, and a story of belonging and home. Rose makes unusual choices, accompanied by unexpected friends and allies, and has both bravery and kindness to see her along her way.

The ghostly elements aren’t scary — this isn’t a horror story — but create an atmosphere that’s otherworldly and strange and (yes) haunting in the best sense of the word.

For those who haven’t read Sparrow Hill Road, I’d say start there — but you can also start with The Girl in the Green Silk Gown, as there are enough reminders and exposition to get you up to speed even without prior familiarity with the general story. Also, for those who’ve read the Incryptid books, you’ll see some familiar names popping up in this book. Not being familiar with Incryptid won’t get in your way at all, but if you have read those books, you’ll smile in recognition at least a few times.

Rose Marshall is a memorable lead character, and I hope we’ll see more of her!

_________________________________________

The details:

Title: The Girl in the Green Silk Gown (Ghost Roads, #2)
Author: Seanan McGuire
Publisher: DAW
Publication date: July 17, 2018
Length: 352 pages
Genre: Urban fantasy
Source: Library

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The Monday Check-In ~ 8/27/2018

cooltext1850356879 My Monday tradition, including a look back and a look ahead — what I read last week, what new books came my way, and what books are keeping me busy right now. Plus a smattering of other stuff too.

What did I read during the last week?

Rogue Protocol by Martha Wells: It’s the return of Murderbot! My review is here.

Fatal Throne (by a whole list of authors): My review of this YA take on the Tudors is here.

Competence (The Custard Protocol, #3) by Gail Carriger: I just adored the audiobook! My thoughts are here.

And a late addition — just finished over the weekend:

You Me Everything by Catherine Isaac: Sweet, heart-centered contemporary fiction. My review is here.

Pop culture goodness:

I watched the Netlix movie version of To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before — adorable! Question for all my bookish friends: Since I enjoyed the movie, should I read the book?

Fresh Catch:

I bought a business-y book. Can you believe it? I’ve made a vague commitment to a few folks at work to read this… but I have a hard time using my precious reading moments for non-pleasure reading.

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:

The Girl in the Green Silk Gown by Seanan McGuire: It’s Seanan McGuire! Of course I’m going to read this book!

Now playing via audiobook:

Back to Tamora Pierce and Tortall! I’m starting The Immortals series, which begins with Wild Magic. I’m not loving the full-cast recording so far (those rarely work for me), but I’m sticking with it to see if the story itself grabs me.

Ongoing reads:

Book group reads:

  • Classic read: My book group’s current classic read is Middlemarch by George Eliot.  We’re reading and discussing two chapters per week. Slow but steady!
  • The Scottish Prisoner by Diana Gabaldon. Continuing our group read of the Lord John works, it’s lovely to revisit The Scottish Prisoner, which stars Lord John Grey and everyone’s favorite Scottish laird, Jamie Fraser. Want to join in? Ask me how!

So many books, so little time…

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The Monday Check-In ~ 8/20/2018

cooltext1850356879 My Monday tradition, including a look back and a look ahead — what I read last week, what new books came my way, and what books are keeping me busy right now. Plus a smattering of other stuff too.

Life.

It’s back-to-school day here in San Francisco — so despite what the calendar may say, in my mind, that’s the end of summer. Ah well, it was nice while it lasted! Back to the parental duties of nagging about homework, doing school drop-offs, and worrying about grades.

 

 

What did I read during the last week?

Night and Silence by Seanan McGuire: The 12th October Daye book is brilliant and powerful, demonstrating that this series is going strong even 12 books in! I’m just upset now at the idea of waiting a full year for book #13! Check out my review of Night and Silence, here.

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman: Once again, my book group’s book of the month turned out to be a terrific read! My review is here.

In children’s books…

I came across a reference to the ballad of Tam Lin in my reading this week, and realized that while I’d heard of it before, I didn’t actually know the story. Children’s books are a terrific source of fairy tale knowledge! My local library had a copy of Jane Yolen’s telling of Tam Lin, and I loved it. The story is enhanced by Charles Mikolaycak’s beautiful illustrations, and this book turned out to be exactly what I needed — much better than reading a dry synopsis on Wikipedia!

Pop culture goodness:

I watched the Netlix movie version of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society over the weekend. Just lovely! It’s been many years since I read the book… and now I’m thinking I should read it again.

Fresh Catch:

While I was at the library, I picked up a couple more books that caught my eye. Because apparently I don’t already have enough to read?

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:

Rogue Protocol by Martha Wells: Murderbot is back! I’m justing starting the 3rd novella in the series, and Murderbot is as fed up with humanity as ever. Such fun.

Now playing via audiobook:

Competence (The Custard Protocol, #3) by Gail Carriger: I’m so close to the end! Loving every moment.

Ongoing reads:

Book group reads:

  • Classic read: My book group’s current classic read is Middlemarch by George Eliot.  We’re reading and discussing two chapters per week. Slow but steady!
  • The Scottish Prisoner by Diana Gabaldon. Continuing our group read of the Lord John works, it’s lovely to revisit The Scottish Prisoner, which stars Lord John Grey and everyone’s favorite Scottish laird, Jamie Fraser. Want to join in? Ask me how!

So many books, so little time…

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An early look: October Daye, book 12 — Night and Silence

I am beyond thrilled to have received an ARC of the newest, soon-to-be-released book in the October Daye urban fantasy series. Thank you, NetGalley and DAW Books! October Daye continues to be at the absolute top of my list of ongoing series (and October herself is definitely a favorite hero) — read on to find out why!

Things are not okay.

In the aftermath of Amandine’s latest betrayal, October “Toby” Daye’s fragile self-made family is on the verge of coming apart at the seams. Jazz can’t sleep, Sylvester doesn’t want to see her, and worst of all, Tybalt has withdrawn from her entirely, retreating into the Court of Cats as he tries to recover from his abduction. Toby is floundering, unable to help the people she loves most heal. She needs a distraction. She needs a quest.

What she doesn’t need is the abduction of her estranged human daughter, Gillian. What she doesn’t need is to be accused of kidnapping her own child by her ex-boyfriend and his new wife, who seems to be harboring secrets of her own. There’s no question of whether she’ll take the case. The only question is whether she’s emotionally prepared to survive it.

Signs of Faerie’s involvement are everywhere, and it’s going to take all Toby’s nerve and all her allies to get her through this web of old secrets, older hatreds, and new deceits. If she can’t find Gillian before time runs out, her own child will pay the price. One question remains:

Who in Faerie remembered Gillian existed? And what do they stand to gain? No matter how this ends, Toby’s life will never be the same.

Seanan McGuire never fails to amaze me… and to wreak utter havoc with my emotions. Night and Silence is a strong addition to the October Daye series, with new twists and turns and some totally startling revelations and developments. How many series can get to book #12 with no signs of slowing or slumping? The October Daye series has always been excellent, and this new book lives up to all the rest.

Since this is a pre-release review, I’m going to be vague about just about everything. I know I’d hate to discover spoilers before the book even comes out, so I’ll be discreet, I promise! If you’re reading this review, chances are more than good that you’re a Toby fan, and that you’re panting (and maybe drooling a bit) to find out what happens next, after that doozy of an ending from book #11, The Brightest Fell.

As the synopsis above makes clear, things are NOT okay at the beginning of this book. Toby and Tybalt are more or less estranged, since Tybalt is suffering serious trauma after his ordeal at the hands of Amandine in book #11. And this just breaks my heart. I love the two of them together, and I love Tybalt as an individual. It hurts to see him suffering, and it hurts to see Toby suffering from his distance and her inability to reach him and help him.

When Gillian is kidnapped and Toby springs into action, it brings her back into contact with both the humans from her past and some nefarious folks from the fae part of her life too. Still, it’s great to see Toby on a mission, and to see her allies rallying round to back her up and give her their support.

There are some MAJOR reveals, including the answer to a question that’s bugged me almost from the start of the series. But see, I’m being discreet, so I won’t even say what the question is, much less the answer.

The hunt for the kidnappers and the outcome are not what anyone would expect. Let’s leave it at that. The ending of this book is a game-changer, and I can’t wait to see what happens next.

It’s startling to me to realize that as of the beginning of this year, I had not yet entered the amazing world of October Daye. What a difference a few months make! I love this series to bits and pieces, and can’t recommend it highly enough! Seanan McGuire must be part Fae herself, because she spins the best magical stories. I love everything she writes, and Night and Silence is a treat. Read it! And if you haven’t read any October Daye books yet, start with Rosemary and Rue. I dare you to stop after one book!

I’ll wrap things up with a quote from the book, without providing any context, just because the dialogue in these stories always makes me smile:

“You have got to stop defusing every conversation you don’t want to have by talking like something out of a Regency romance.”

But wait, there’s more!

As an afterward to Night and Silence is the long short-story Suffer A Sea-Change. I’m not going to tell you who’s in it (okay, obviously the Luidaeg, but I’m not saying who else) or what it’s about, because anything I might say would be majorly spoilery. Suffice it to say that Suffer A Sea-Change picks up from the end point of Night and Silence, and is a fantastic side note to the main novel — absolutely not to be missed.

_________________________________________

The details:

Title: Night and Silence (October Daye, #12)
Author: Seanan McGuire
Publisher: DAW Books
Publication date: September 4, 2018
Length: 510 pages
Genre: Urban fantasy
Source: Review copy courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley

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The Monday Check-In ~ 8/13/2018

cooltext1850356879 My Monday tradition, including a look back and a look ahead — what I read last week, what new books came my way, and what books are keeping me busy right now. Plus a smattering of other stuff too.

Life.

Tomorrow is my baby boy’s 16th birthday! Where has the time flown? I couldn’t ask for a better, funnier, more amazing human being as a son. Just imagine, if he were actually a reader, he’d be perfect!

 

 

What did I read during the last week?

It’s been a slow reading week, due to crazy times at work and a bit too much TV binge-watching. But, what I’ve read, I’ve loved!

It’s been all about the re-reads this week. I don’t know about you, but for me, re-reading the previous book in a series gets me super-psyched and ready when there’s a new release, so that’s what I’ve been doing.

Imprudence by Gail Carriger: I listened (again) to the 2nd book in the adorable Custard Protocol series, and loved it completely. Narrator Moira Quirk is amazing.

The Brightest Fell by Seanan McGuire: I decided to re-read the 11th October Daye book before starting #12. I love this series and these characters so, so, so much — but #11 is such a heart-breaker. It’s been a rough week. My thoughts from my original read of this book are here.

Fresh Catch:

It’s the new Kopp Sisters book! An amazing package of goodies arrived — read more about it here.

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:

Night and Silence by Seanan McGuire: As I mentioned above, I did a re-read of the previous book in the series to get read for Night and Silence, and now I’m diving in! I’m almost too excited to be actually reading this book. I love Toby. And I want her to be happy. That is all.

Now playing via audiobook:

Competence (The Custard Protocol, #3) by Gail Carriger: This series is just so much fun, and the audiobooks are amazing.

Ongoing reads:

Book group reads:

  • Classic read: My book group’s current classic read is Middlemarch by George Eliot.  We’re reading and discussing two chapters per week. I think we’ve finally passed the halfway point!
  • The Scottish Prisoner by Diana Gabaldon. Continuing our group read of the Lord John works, it’s lovely to revisit The Scottish Prisoner, which stars Lord John Grey and everyone’s favorite Scottish laird, Jamie Fraser. Want to join in? Ask me how!

So many books, so little time…

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Top Ten Tuesday: Ten recent novellas that I really, really loved

TTT summer

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, featuring a different top 10 theme each week. This week’s topic is Favorite Novellas/Short Stories.

I’m not a huge short story fan, but I have read some amazing novellas lately. Here are some of the best:

1) The Wayward Children novellas by Seanan McGuire:

Every Heart a Doorway (review)
Down Among the Sticks and Bones
Beneath the Sugar Sky

2) The Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells (review)

3) Time Was by Ian McDonald (review)

4) The Binti novellas by Nnedi Okorafor

5) American Hippo novellas by Sarah Gailey (review)

6) The Only Harmless Great Thing by Brooke Bolander (review)

7) Gwendy’s Button Box by Stephen King and Richard Chizmar (review)

8) How to Marry A Werewolf by Gail Carriger (review)

9) The Dispatcher by John Scalzi (review)

10) Rolling in the Deep by Mira Grant (review)

 

What are the best novellas and short stories that you’ve read recently? Please share your TTT links!

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Top Ten Tuesday: My ten favorite books (so far!) in 2018

TTT summer

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, featuring a different top 10 theme each week. This week’s topic is Best Books I’ve Read In 2018 (So Far).

Where to even start? 2018 has been full of amazing books for me — here are some of my favorites:

1) The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah (review)

2) The Glass Forest by Cynthia Swanson (review)

3) Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld (review)

4) The Newsflesh series by Mira Grant (review)

5) The October Daye series by Seanan McGuire (11 books and counting!)

6) The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir by Jennifer Ryan (review)

7) Only Human (Themis Files, #3) by Sylvain Neuvel (review)

8) The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See (review)

9) The Murderbot Diaries, books #1 & 2 by Martha Wells (review)

It’s kind of hard to limit myself to just ten… but the final spot, I think I need to go with one of the two Georgette Heyer books I’ve read (so far) in 2018. I can always count on GH’s books to brighten my day!

10) A Civil Contract by Georgette Heyer (review)

Oh, what the heck… let’s include one more, because it was just so unique and awesome:

11) Pride and Prometheus by John Kessel (review)

And now I’m going to hit the “publish” button before I add any more to this list!

What are your top books read so far in 2018? Please share your TTT links!

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Book Review: Robots vs Fairies – edited by Dominik Parisien & Navah Wolfe

 

A unique anthology of all-new stories that challenges authors to throw down the gauntlet in an epic genre battle and demands an answer to the age-old question: Who is more awesome—robots or fairies?

Rampaging robots! Tricksy fairies! Facing off for the first time in an epic genre death match!

People love pitting two awesome things against each other. Robots vs. Fairies is an anthology that pitches genre against genre, science fiction against fantasy, through an epic battle of two icons.

On one side, robots continue to be the classic sci-fi phenomenon in literature and media, from Asimov to WALL-E, from Philip K. Dick to Terminator. On the other, fairies are the beloved icons and unquestionable rulers of fantastic fiction, from Tinkerbell to Tam Lin, from True Blood to Once Upon a Time. Both have proven to be infinitely fun, flexible, and challenging. But when you pit them against each other, which side will triumph as the greatest genre symbol of all time?

There can only be one…or can there?

This awesome story collection has a premise spelled out in the introduction by the editors:

“I, for one, welcome our __________ overlords.”

Assuming the mechanical and/or magical revolution has already taken place by the time you read this, we, the editors, always knew you would come out on top. Yes, you.

We knew this day would come. We tried to warn the others. It was obvious either the sharp rate of our technological advancement would lead to the robot singularity claiming lordship over all, or that the fairies would finally grow tired of our reckless destruction of the natural world and take it back from us.

And so, we have prepared a guide to assist our fellow humans in embracing their inevitable overlords. (If you are reading this and you are human, we are so pleased you found this book in time to ready yourself for the impending/current robot/fairy apocalypse. You are quite welcome.)

Robots vs Fairies is an anthology of stories by an impressive assortment of sci-fi and fantasy writers, each focusing on either robots or fairies (or in a few cases, both). There are eighteen stories in all, ranging from silly to darkly serious. In each case, right after the story, the author declares him/herself “team robot” or “team fairy”, and explains why — and these little pieces are just as entertaining as the stories themselves, in my humble opinion.

As I’ve said in many a review, I’m really not a short story reader, so the fact that I made it all the way through this book is somewhat of an achievement. I did end up skipping 2 or 3 stories that just didn’t call to me, but otherwise read them all, even the ones that left me puzzled or disengaged or with a mighty shoulder shrug.

Still, the stories that I enjoyed, I really, really enjoyed. Best of the batch for me were:

Build Me a Wonderland by Seanan McGuire: Well, of course I loved the Seanan McGuire story! I’m been on a roll with Seanan McGuire books all year, so there’s really zero chance that I wouldn’t love what she wrote. In this story, we see behind the scenes at a theme park with really magical magical effects. Hint: They’re not CGI. The story is clever and intricate and very much fun.

Quality Time by Ken Liu: Ooh, a disturbing robot story! All about a young tech worker looking for the next big breakthrough, whose inventions have unintended consequences.

Murmured Under the Moon by Tim Pratt: About a human librarian given responsibility for fairy archives. Creative and magical and just a wee bit threatening — and hey, it’s about a library! What’s not to love?

The Blue Fairy’s Manifesto by Annalee Newitz: Not a fairy story! It’s a robotic version of Pinocchio, and asks all sorts of great questions about what it is to be real, and what it means to have choices.

Bread and Milk and Salt by Sarah Gailey: I loved Sarah Gailey’s American Hippo novellas, so was really excited to see her included in this collection. Bread and Milk and Salt is probably the creepiest story of the bunch, about a fairy captured by a sadistic human and how she turns things around. Dark and disturbing and delicious.

And perhaps my favorite, because I love John Scalzi and his humor, and this story left me rolling on the floor:

Three Robots Experience Objects Left Behind From the Era of Humans For the First Time: Oh my. This story is exactly what the title says it is — a dialogue between robots trying to figure out the purpose and functionality of human objects such as a ball, a sandwich, and a cat. Just amazing. And in case you’re wondering about our future overlords, it would seem clear that it’s cats for the win.

There are plenty more stories, some I found captivating, some weird, all original and entertaining and often perplexing too. It’s really a strong collection, and I could see enjoying it either as a book to read straight through, or as a collection to leave on the nightstand and pick up from time to time to read just one story here or or there, whenever the mood strikes.

As a side note, I had purchased an earlier collection from these editors, featuring some of the same authors plus several others whose works I love. The Starlit Wood: New Fairy Tales was published in 2016, and I have yet to open it. Maybe it’s time for it to come down off the shelf and sit on my nightstand, close at hand for when I need a story or two.

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The details:

Title: Robots vs Fairies
Authors: Dominik Parisien & Navah Wolfe
Publisher: Saga Press
Publication date: January 9, 2018
Length: 373 pages
Genre: Science fiction/fantasy anthology
Source: Purchased

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Travel reading wrap-up (summer 2018): A big batch of mini-reviews — bread, tea, roller derby, and more!

As I mentioned in my post-vacation blog post, I’m home again after three weeks away. And yes, as always, my reading time was an essential part of my fun! (But try explaining that to my 16-year-old son, who is most adamantly not a believer in recreational reading…)

Here’s a quick wrap-up of what I read while I was away. Definitely an odd assortment of topics and genres, which is just how I like it!

 

The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See: A haunting, beautiful story of a young woman’s life in a remote village in the Yunnan province of China, growing up as part of the Akha ethnic minority with their unique blend of rituals, traditions, and superstitions. Li-yan’s family depends upon the rare tea trees they nurture for their income, but as the outside world discovers their valuable tea, their entire way of life is changed by their collision with the modern world. Meanwhile, Li-yan’s personal life leads her into sorrow and redemption, and we span the globe as we follow Li-yan and her family members through this touching saga. Fascinating and lovely, The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane is a provocative look at a culture I knew nothing about previously. Above all, it’s a moving story of a woman whose life changes dramatically and the power of family bonds and traditions.

 

 

Sourdough by Robin Sloan: Sourdough takes the prize for my weirdest read of the year. I bought it on a whim at the airport, despite having a fully loaded Kindle in my backpack. Well worth it — I “devoured” Sourdough in a day. (Mmmm, sourdough.) This is such an odd book. It’s the story of a young woman who comes to San Francisco for a tech job that sucks the soul out of her, until her life turns around thanks to a strange pair of brothers who gift her with their mysterious sourdough starter. As Lois learns to nurture the starter, she is slowly introduced into a (literally) underground world of foodies who attempt to reinvent peoples’ relationships with food and eating. Meanwhile, the sourdough starter has an uncanny tendency to display odd lights and make strange sounds… and oh yeah, the bread loaves baked from the special starter have faces etched into the finished crusts. The writing is funny and quirky, and I just loved it. I think I’m the only person on earth who hasn’t read Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore (by the same author), and I know I need to fix that pronto.

 

 

The Merry Spinster: Tales of Everyday Horror by Mallory Ortberg: This collection of retellings is a mixed bag, which includes some truly creepy fairy tale retellings, and some stories that simply failed to make an impression. I particularly loved The Daughter Cells (a retelling of The Little Mermaid) and The Six Boy-Coffins (a retelling mash-up of the Grimm stories The Six Swans and The Twelve Brothers). For sheer creepiness, you can’t beat The Rabbit, a retelling of The Velveteen Rabbit that’s just awfully bloodthirsty and disturbing and wonderful. As a whole, the collection is worth reading, especially if you’re familiar with the original stories. I’m really not much of a short story reader, and some of the stories here left me cold — but the ones I liked, I really liked.

 

 

 

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J. K. Rowling, John Tiffany, and Jack Thorne: This was a re-read for me — I read the book when it was first released two years ago, but after seeing the show on Broadway, I just had to read it again. The visuals and presentation of the live show are stunning, and having experienced it, I was able to much more fully enjoy reading the book. (I’ve since learned that the show will be coming to San Francisco in 2019, and I definitely want to see it again!)

 

 

 

 

 

InCryptids! Books #5, 6, 7 in the delightful series by Seanan McGuire: Saving the super awesomeness for last! I couldn’t help myself — I binged my way through the remaining 3 books in the InCryptid series, and now I’m stuck waiting for the next new book, which doesn’t come out until 2019. Sob. This series is just so much fun. Chaos Choreography goes back to the original lead character, Verity Price, who battles snake-god-summoning idiots while competing in a reality TV dance competition. Weird, wonderful, absolutely delicious. In books 6 and 7 (Magic for Nothing and Tricks for Free), the focus shifts to Verity’s younger sister Antimony, who ends up joining a carnival and later, working at a Florida theme park that’s almost (but not quite) Disney World. The magic at this kingdom is not particularly friendly, mayhem ensues… and there’s plenty of trapeze work and roller skating too. Oh, and an awesome boyfriend who has quite a few secrets of his own. The InCryptid series, about a family of cryptozoologists who battle evil in order to keep the world safe for all sentient creatures, is silly and funny and totally hilarious — but also contains moments of real emotion and pathos. And hey — talking mice!

 

 

And that’s what I read while I was away! No matter how busy we were, I always managed to sneak away here and there for a bit of reading in the sun. Bliss!

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