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Kaethe

Kaethe

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Nine Perfect Strangers - Liane Moriarty 

Nine Perfect Strangers - Liane Moriarty

Dear book designers: a rainbow on a book jacket currently means Gay. While I support inclusion, and appreciate it, in this context, it is misleading. I get not wanting it to look girly, but I think I would have gone more in the crime vernacular. Not that it matters about selling it to me, I was going to read the book regardless, because I really like Moriarty's unusual mix of humor and crime and social issues and romance, but some people be sadly disappointed.

 

Loved the book. I was pleased that at least one character wasn't white. There were some interesting surprises, lots of story on everyone, and a very satisfying finish. 

 

Library copy

Lethal White - Robert Galbraith 

Lethal White - Robert Galbraith

Gratifying long and convoluted. I like that it stretches out over such a long time span. There's an expansive quality to the large cast and to the very many secrets being kept by everyone. It was fun: I never even thought about trying to solve it, I just let it flow over me, longingly observing every cigarette smoked. There's a ban on smoking areas at the front door of businesses, so the cloud of smoke is a nostalgic element from the 20th century for me. 

 

Library copy 

Prophecies, Libels & Dreams: Stories - Ysabeau S. Wilce

Prophecies, Libels & Dreams: Stories - Ysabeau S. Wilce

  It would be five stars if the Flora novels weren't so good. Same universe, some of the same characters. I love the framing : these are fragments being discussed by a future historian, there are sources cited, and judgment of the veracity of the stories.

 

Library copy 

Flora's Fury - Ysabeau S. Wilce

Flora's Fury - Ysabeau S. Wilce

  Watching Flora in adulthood is fascinating: it feels a bit like watching a child grow up. Flora Segunda was inventive and fun and a bit like watching Hermione get the lead role. I particularly enjoyed the world -building, but also the way each book 's focus shifts as Flora grows up. 

 

Vague discomfort with the way indigenous cultures are treated, but no fully formed opinions yet. Maybe later.

 

Library copy

 

They All Saw a Cat - Brendan Wenzel 

They All Saw a Cat - Brendan Wenzel

Cool book. Nice use of art to show different perspectives juxtaposed with a repetitive, rhythmic text. The sort of book that can make repeated re-reads a delight. It lends itself to open speculation on the nature of seeing and the nature of depiction. It also makes me want to set loose a whole classroom in the art supplies to see how many different styles of cat they can come up with.. I'm going to follow this cat into a metaphysical/artistic  rabbit hole: don't wait up for me.

 

Library copy

The Extremely Inconvenient Adventures of Bronte Mettlestone - Jaclyn Moriarty 

The Extremely Inconvenient Adventures of Bronte Mettlestone - Jaclyn Moriarty

So much win.  It's kind of amazing how much I love Moriarty's books. I really liked how it all came together. Interesting universe with so many pirates and dragons and water sprites, but also committees and dull trips and people being late to pick one up at the station. I only had two tiny quibbles: it's weird to read about a girl living in a more-or-less-contemporaneous setting who wears dresses or skirts all the time. It's just a slight thing, but it pulls me just the tiniest bit out of the story every time a dress or skirt is mentioned because I so rarely see girls or women in them anymore. And also, this is a very white world. Not that everyone is explicitly called white, but because no one isn't. The illustrations reinforce the white-is-default impression. It's a good thing that I've become so accustomed to reading books with a diverse cast that I can't stop noticing when there aren't any other characters.

 

Despite those two issues, I loved the book. It's my favorite middle grade in I don't know how long. Highly recommended for white readers.

 

Library copy

We Don't Eat Our Classmates - Ryan T. Higgins

We Don't Eat Our Classmates - Ryan T. Higgins, Ryan T. Higgins

It's impossible for me to choose which of the two books I read today about friend-eating will have the longest or strongest effect. All libraries would be wise to stock both, just in case.

 

Library copy 

Gnomes - Wil Huygen, Rien Poortvliet 

Gnomes - Wil Huygen, Rien Poortvliet

The art is still lovely, but the text is so twee, so folksy and back-to-nature, but also sexist as hell.

 

Library copy 

One Good Earl Deserves a Lover - Sarah MacLean 

One Good Earl Deserves a Lover - Sarah MacLean

Borrows the hero, surprise twist, tragic backstory and all from another of her own books.

Initiates, The: A Comic Artist and a Wine Artisan Exchange Jobs - Étienne Davodeau 

Initiates, The: A Comic Artist and a Wine Artisan Exchange Jobs - Étienne Davodeau

No surprises: two friends who know nothing about one another's fields spend a year learning and then appreciating their two fields, and the reader learns alongside. There's no drama,  just a slowly developing knowledge and discernment. Because it is a story about middle-aged white French men primarily, it can be hard to grasp the references. It was good, but I remained at a distance and never really felt any emotional attachment.

 

Library copy 

Geraldine - Elizabeth Lilly 

Geraldine - Elizabeth Lilly

More picture book tropes I am over: men in neckties for no discernable reason except gender-marking, and gendered insults like "drama queen". Geraldine loses a point for putting most of the girls in dresses, but I love Geraldine being the only giraffe in her new school, an excellent metaphor for all kinds of visible difference.

 

 

Library Copy

The Quiet Place - Sarah Stewart, David Small

The Quiet Place - Sarah Stewart, David Small

An antidote to the toxic attitude toward immigrants of color right now. As if people of Northern European descent somehow have a more valid claim to American citizenship than indigenous people of the continent. It's like demanding that the UK remain for Romans only. 

 

Set in 1957 the dresses are spot on an appropriate, and matched with mid-century furnishings, signage, and motor vehicles.

 

Library copy

So You Want to Talk About Race - Ijeoma Oluo

So You Want to Talk About Race - Ijeoma Oluo

Really I don't have any interest in talking about race. What I want is to be a better human in a way that is helpful to other human beings. Oluo is someone I follow on Twitter. Her writing is wonderfully clear and straightforward and also surprisingly kind.  But so practical! Mostly I try to avoid ever talking to anyone about anything, but this book lays out for me concrete times and places and ways to use my privilege to benefit others. Surprisingly kind because withstanding a lifetime of abuse by society should enrage everyone. Our culture is cruel and dehumanizing and grossly unfair, and some days it is all I can do not to run screaming. This is what we have made and it is awful and cruel and murderous. It is prejudiced and short sighted and stupid and it is only the astounding grace and kindness of individuals in the worst moments that make it worthwhile.

I want to make life easier and better and more just for everyone and I thank Oluo for taking the time to share her wisdom and determination and to encourage me forward in the light. Right now feels very dark, so I am grateful to all those who can show me a way forward and give me hope not just that we can do better, but that we will rise up and choose to do better. Sometimes just looking after those closest to me is all I can manage and not even do that well. But more often I can listen, and learn, and witness, and maybe, just a little more, I can speak. And remember, every day that humankind is my business.

 

Library copy

Rosalie Lightning: A Graphic Memoir - Tom Hart 

Rosalie Lightning: A Graphic Memoir - Tom Hart

So apparently I'm on a sequential art jag: graphic novels and memoirs and history. There's no way a memoir about the time just after the inexplicable death of his very young daughter can not be heartbreaking, but that's certainly not the main emotion I felt on reading this. Of course I felt so sorry for the author and his wife, and a little terrified at the possibility of one of my own children dying, but also something else. Undefinable. It's such a vivid and concrete telling of a few short weeks of the worst kind of grief, and although my own experiences haven't resembled his at all, still, I empathized with every moment. Probably every parent thinks "how does one go on after losing a child?" Tom's particular path, although shared with his wife, is still only his. But it gives an example of how one gets through such a terrible grief.

 

So vivid, and so personal, but he doesn't dwell on the death itself, so I didn't cry until the very end, reading the long list of names of people who helped him through that awful time. I am always moved by the kindness of others.

 

Library copy

Check, Please!: #Hockey - Ngozi Ukazu 

Check, Please!: #Hockey - Ngozi Ukazu

So not a Halloween Bingo book.  The vlogged and tweeted adventures of a Georgia boy on the hockey team of a New England college team. There are hijinks, there is bonding, there is a truly astonishing numbers of pies. And almost entirely angst-free. I'll be enjoying Bittle's further adventures in real time: checkpleasecomic.com

 

Library copy 

Bad Astronomy: Misconceptions and Misuses Revealed, from Astrology to the Moon Landing "Hoax" - Philip Plait

Bad Astronomy: Misconceptions and Misuses Revealed, from Astrology to the Moon Landing "Hoax" - Philip Plait

A good book for people like me who haven't studied astronomy in a very long time and could use a refresher. Nice job covering some very common questions and misconceptions. And a fair amount of time debunking non-science of the Young Earth or aliens-among-us or astrology fans.

 

The only reason it took me so long to finish was Halloween Bingo interceded. I spent a month just getting other books out of the way to be ready for my bingo choices. Only to discover that the real horror is willful ignorance.

 

Fair warning, this is sixteen years old, so not exactly cutting edge. There are no gorgeous Hubble depictions of astonishing beauty. (I really like those kinds of books, too)

 

Library copy