An Un-Calibrated Centrifuge

My dad once said to me, "You give a lot of books three stars." I do.

Dodsworth in Tokyo

Dodsworth in Tokyo - Tim Egan

I was a little nervous for this one, but there's nothing offensive that I saw. It feels relatively modern and all the books are culture lite but manage to avoid stereotypes (that I can remember... I'm writing this two weeks after I read the series).

 

I hope Dodsworth keeps travelling and continues to go beyond Europe.

Dodsworth in London

Dodsworth in London - Tim Egan

There's a small discrepancy between one page of text and its illustration, but other than that I enjoyed this one the most so far.

The Mystery of the Hidden Painting

The Mystery of the Hidden Painting: The Boxcar Children Mysteries #24 - Gertrude Chandler Warner

Boxcar Children books are so great if you only have an hour or so of uninterrupted time. I remember reading this one as a kid. They seemed so much longer and more mysterious back then, but they hold up to rereading. (The best part of any Boxcar Children's book is when they eat.)

Andy Also

Andy Also - Maxwell Eaton  III

Reminiscent of Willems' Elephant and Piggie books with simpler stories and maybe not as much fun to read out loud (I'm just guessing, I read this and Okay, Andy on my break to myself).

Dragon Road

Dragon Road - Laurence Yep

I really wish there were more women in this book. And sometimes I found the basketball writing hard to understand (it's just not always super clear what's happening on the court). Other than that I enjoyed this book a lot. It ties in nicely to the series despite the main character not being a Young.

 

I especially liked the part where the team plays the Harlem Globetrotters. A lot of the others books only concentrate on white/Chinese tensions.* But this book includes the racism Black people were facing in the 1930s as well.

 

The Golden Mountain Chronicles as a series is very good. I personally enjoy the books with more female characters the most. I also enjoy the later books (chronologically in the series, not published order) more than the earlier books. It's easier to feel the personal connection Yep has to those stories (Sea Glass through Thief of Hearts, and maybe include Dragon Road in there too) which resonates with me and my experiences as a Chinese American. I do appreciate the historical novels as well though, especially since they cover less well known aspects of American history.

 

I didn't quite finish my reread of the series in March. I'm hoping to get to the three I skipped later this year. We'll see if I can manage it.

 

*A couple of the books mention the Civil War, but there's nothing as explicit as the scenes with the Globetrotters.

The Island of Dr Libris

The Island of Dr. Libris - Chris Grabenstein

This book was very easy to read and I was very bored at the time which are the only reasons I finished it. A couple of our children's librarians told me Grabenstein was rude to them when he visited our library for an author's talk (there was some miscommunication about the equipment he needed and he made some comment about not us being in Silicon Valley but not having the set up he wanted... I'm paraphrasing).

 

So that story does color my opinion of Grabenstein. I enjoyed his Mr Lemoncello books, but this one just didn't have the same magic/fun to it.

Ada Twist, Scientist

Ada Twist, Scientist - Andrea Beaty, David Roberts

The illustrations are great. There's so much to look at on every page, and the story is simple (it leans slightly younger than I was expecting) and engaging.

Snotgirl Vol. 1

Snotgirl Vol. 1: Green Hair Don't Care - Bryan O'Malley, Leslie Hung, Leslie Hung, Mickey Quinn

This comic is pretty weird. The characters are a little all over the place and pretty unlikeable. I'll probably keep reading it because it ends on a cliffhanger and I need to know what happens. I thought it might be too gross (the title is snotgirl), but it really wasn't that bad.

Dragons of Silk

Dragons of Silk (Golden Mountain Chronicles) - Laurence Yep

This book is not related to any of the others in the Golden Mountain Chronicles as far as I can tell (and I've reread them all within the last two years or so... most of them this month). So don't go into this expecting a story revisiting any previous characters or storylines.

 

Parts of the book reminded me of Amy Tan's novels (mother vs daughter, born in China vs born in America conflicts). Not in a bad way, just in way that felt obvious to me. I was reading and then I was thinking, "This is the same stuff Amy Tan writes about" and then I was back in Yep's story. It didn't feel cliche to me, it felt more like, a lot of Chinese people probably experienced these generational problems.

 

As with the Golden Mountain Chronicles I enjoyed the modern day bits more than the historical. There are some instances of emotional and physical abuse in the book, especially early on. I thought they were pretty well handled, but I also have no personal experience dealing with abuse.

 

Yep does play into one of my biggest pet peeves. At the end of the book there is a new generation of kids that are half Chinese/half white. And of course one has blonde hair and one has blue eyes (or something like that) because that's what all half Asian/half white people look like in books. I know that half Asian/half white kids exist with very distinct "white" and/or "Asian" features, but most of the half Asian/half white people I know have brown hair and brown eyes.

 

Dragon's of Silk is worth checking out if you're a fan of Yep, but I wish it weren't included in the Golden Mountain Chronicles. It just doesn't fit.

Dragonwings

Dragonwings - Laurence Yep

I'm falling behind on my reviews. I'll try and catch up before the month is over.

 

I've slowly been reading Yep's Golden Mountain Chronicles this month. I don't think I've ever read them in chronological order. It was fine for the first four because they were written sequentially. Dragonwings has a very different feel from the first four probably because it's at least a decade older than those first books.

 

The narration style is very different which makes it feel more historical. It also covers a much longer time period than any of the other books.

 

The book explains a lot and at first it felt like a book written for non-Chinese people. As I was reading though, the explanations felt more like they were necessary for historical reference than explaining Chinese culture.

 

I do like that Yep italicizes English words and dialogue. It's an easy way to recognize the code switching in the book and normalizes Chinese (as opposed to most books that italicize the "foreign" words).

The Traitor

The Traitor - Laurence Yep

I definitely didn't feel like reading about a race riot tonight, so I ended up skimming the last 100 pages. It gets intense from what I could see.

 

There are so many men in these books, and they're getting bleaker as they go on. There are also so many matter-of-fact descriptions of death/murder in the stories so far and it feels really weird.

 

It seems like it's been ages since I was reading about Cassia in The Serpent's Children and like it will be ages before I finally reach Casey in The Child of the Owl.

Yotsubato! Vol 11

Yotsuba&!, Vol. 11 - Kiyohiko Azuma

This is one of the longer books (the past few volumes have all been 224 pages), but each episode felt really short. I didn't find it as funny or interesting as the other volumes. Still good though.

The Magician's Nephew

The Magician's Nephew - C.S. Lewis, Pauline Baynes

It's been several years since I've reread this one (maybe seven?). It seems more polished and put together than most of the other Narnia books. This one was the last Narnia book Lewis finished writing (according to wikipedia) and I wonder if that made a difference.

 

This has been one of my favorite books ever since my first grade teacher read it to us in class. In this book the time spent in our world is pretty balanced with the time spent in magical worlds (so it's the opposite of The Horse and His Boy), which I think is part of why it's my favorite. It's the closest to low fantasy that this high fantasy series gets.

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe - C.S. Lewis

I would have given the book 4.5 stars if Lewis hadn't kept mentioning that you shouldn't shut yourself in a wardrobe ever.

 

I think I'm always surprised by how short this book is. I think it might be the shortest in the series, but the story always feels so big to me. It's a fast-paced story that's interesting the whole way through and full of interesting characters. One of my favorites. 

Last Stop on Market Street

Last Stop on Market Street - Matt de la Peña, Christian Robinson

A good story if a little didactic. Add me to the number of people confused as to why this book won the Newbery. To be fair though I think the Newbery committee is often wrong (see: 2014, Flora and Ulysses). 

The Book of Dust is finally being published!!!

I first heard the news from one of our children librarians who saw it on NPR.

 

Quick summary: It's going to be a trilogy. The first book currently has a publication date of October 19 and the books will span HDM (first set before when Lyra's a baby, second and third set after following Lyra as a young woman). According to Pullman "you don't have to read it before you read [the original trilogy] ... this is another story that comes after it, so it's not a sequel, and it's not a prequel, it's an equal."

 

I can't wait!*

 

*Not going to lie, after waiting so many years for this book I feel like I might be jinxing the whole thing with this post. But the publication date is this year, so I'm holding out hope it will finally happen.