An Un-Calibrated Centrifuge

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

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 As I was reading though, the explanations felt more like they were necessary for historical reference than explaining Chinese culture.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.

Fables

Fables - Arnold Lobel

I enjoyed this book. I kind of wish there were more than one illustration to go with each tale. The stories themselves are good fables. Some are more serious while others are just funny. I only recall one being didactic (the one about table manners) and that could just be the age of the book showing.

Paper Girls

Paper Girls Volume 1 - Cliff Chiang, Brian K. Vaughan

This comic was confusing, but that's OK. Mostly it was weird to me that the girls are supposed to be 12. They look a lot older to me but maybe that's because I was born in the year the book is set?

 

I just kept reading because 1. I liked these supposedly 12-year-old girls 2. The book is gorgeous and 3. I had faith that the story was going somewhere. And I still do. I'll definitely keep up with this one.

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (Chronicles of Narnia, #5) - C.S. Lewis

This is definitely one of the best Narnia books, probably my third favorite. I love all the different places the characters sail to and the adventures they have. Eustace's main storyline stands out the most in my memory, but it's all so good.

 

You don't need the backstory of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe or Prince Caspian but reading those two before this one enhances the story.

 

 

Talking as Fast as I Can

Talking as Fast as I Can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls (and Everything in Between) - Lauren Graham

Three and a half stars is becoming my new three stars. 

 

Marshmallow book: light, sweet, fluffy. I liked reading the bits about the Gilmore Girls revival. It helped some of those episodes make sense and got rid of some of the bitterness I felt about the ending, and the middle... the whole thing really. 

 

Worth checking out if you're a Gilmore Girls fan or just a fan of Lauren Graham in general (though I feel like the Venn diagram of those people is very close to a perfect circle). 

Prince Caspian

Prince Caspian (Chronicles of Narnia Series #4) - C.S. Lewis, Pauline Baynes

I have an impression of each book in my head, and it turns out those impressions are mostly wrong. For some reason I remember Prince Caspian as being a lot of walking in the woods, when in fact the characters don't spend that much time walking in the woods at all.

 

This is one of my favorite in the Narnia series. I especially liked Caspian's backstory (which I had completely forgotten) this time around. It's like a little adventure tale inside an adventure tale.

Flare

Flare - Kallie George, Geneviève Côté

Again really cute character design and an OK story. As a kid I definitely would have understood the moral to be

"It's OK to cry if you're a phoenix and your tears have healing properties"

(show spoiler)

which isn't the point the book is trying to make. But I was a weird kid.

Spark

Spark - Kallie George, Geneviève Côté

The story is pretty simple. but the illustrations are super cute. It was worth reading the book just to look at the pictures.

The Last Battle

The Last Battle (Chronicles of Narnia,  #7) - C.S. Lewis, Pauline Baynes

Friends, I'm not going to lie, this is a weird book. But I remember liking it the first time I read it. I stayed up late to finish it. There's something about the descriptions of the new lands at the end that I found captivating. Same thing happened to me on this reread.

 

But the rest of the book is so strange. For some reason I thought the bits with the shed were a lot longer than they actually are. Basically from my first reading I only remembered the shed and that people go into it and it's really dark (I don't think these count as spoilers as it's only kind of sort of what actually happens in the book).

 

The allegory gets pretty heavy handed in this book. Moreso than any of the others. And there's that whole bit where

 Susan doesn't end up with the others at the end of it all which is bs.

(show spoiler)

 

Both of the most common reading orders end with this book, which makes sense (the title is literally The Last Battle), but I'm glad I'm not ending my Narnia journey here this time.

The Horse and HIs Boy

The Horse and His Boy - C.S. Lewis

My reread of The Horse and His Boy was greatly improved by skimming all the boring bits (which ended up being most of the book for me). I'm not here for the Calormenes even though Aravis is my favorite character in the book.