An Un-Calibrated Centrifuge

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

milk and honey

milk and honey - rupi kaur

I like Kaur's poetry when I see it on tumblr because it's usually paired with something else that gives it meaning. On their own the poems feel shallow. I can see young teens liking it if they're encountering these ideas for the first time. They're just not for me.

Self-Help

Self-Help: Stories - Lorrie Moore

I enjoyed Moore's "How to Become a Writer" in college. I didn't really enjoy this collection though. These stories didn't do anything for me. I kept having flashbacks to creative writing class. 

Same Difference

Same Difference - Derek Kirk Kim

I think I read this book at the right time. I was in the right mood and the right frame of mind. At another time I might have related too much or too little, and the story would have annoyed me. Gives me Lost at Sea vibes (but more normal).

Saga, Vol 8

Saga Volume 8 - Brian K. Vaughan, Fiona Staples

OK, I love this series, but it is so hard to only get one volume a year. Seriously.

 

Also, I feel like the story has stalled a little bit. This volume was good, but where is it taking me? I love the characters, but it feels like they've been wandering in space for a while now without much purpose. Let's get this story going.

Annihilation

Annihilation - Jeff VanderMeer

I don't get it.

 

This seems to be a book people either love or they don't. I read it mostly at work, which maybe contributed to my 'eh' reaction. If I had read it all at once I might have appreciated the writing more?

 

I kind of wish the book hadn't been framed as the biologist's notebook. There was one moment that made me like the idea, but the rest of the time it didn't really work for me.

 

I was intrigued enough by the story to start Authority, and I already like it better than I liked Annihilation. I mostly read this book because the movie is coming out soon. It looks like the film is going in a very different direction which I'm pretty excited about.

Esperanza Rising

Esperanza Rising - Pam Muñoz Ryan

I wish this book were longer. I wish we got to see more of Esperanza's life. I wish the plot about the strikers hadn't been dropped so quickly.

 

Overall, a good read. This was the pick for this month's book club (which I will be missing because of a basketball game... oops). Historical fiction that is still very relevant today.

 

I will say though that I wasn't a huge fan of the comparison of Mexican Repatriation to Japanese Internment and the Indian Removal Act (I assume that's what Ryan means by "Native American removals of the nineteenth century"). The comparison felt a little like Oppression Olympics. Which is weird because the book did a good job of navigating race (and class).

 

There has to be a better way to mention that the US is fond of treating its non-white citizens terribly. One that doesn't make it feel like the different groups are being pitted against each other. The note works without the comparison; the numbers stand for themselves (historians estimate 450,000 to one million Mexicans and Mexican Americans were sent back to Mexico between 1929 and 1935).

Under the Egg

Under the Egg - Laura Marx Fitzgerald

It took me a while to get into this book. It was different than what I expected.

 

I found the ending unsatisfying, and even though the story is set in present day it felt like it  was taking place in the past (1960s maybe?). As I read the book it became clear why the book couldn't be set in the past, but the writing just never felt modern/contemporary to me. 

 

I was drawn in by the comparison to From the Mixed-Up Files, and while I can see why people would compare the books it's 1. Not a very accurate representation of the story of Under the Egg and 2. Not fair to compare Under the Egg to children's lit perfection. 

Little House on the Prairie

Little House on the Prairie - Laura Ingalls Wilder, Garth Williams

It took me two tries to get through this one. It was just so much more boring and racist than Little House in the Big Woods. I only "finished" because I skipped the malaria and Native American parts. 

Step Aside, Pops

Step Aside, Pops: A Hark! A Vagrant Collection - Kate Beaton

I always enjoy Kate Beaton's comics, even when I don't have any knowledge of the work she's referencing. My favorites from this collection are the Katherine Sui Fun Cheung comics. 

Lumberjanes Vol 7

Lumberjanes Vol. 7: A Bird's-Eye View - Shannon Watters, Kat Leyh, Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, Brooke Allen, Carey Pietsch, Ayme Sotuyo, Maarta Laiho

This volume was published relatively quickly (so it seems), but it was mostly a filler adventure. The ending hinted that something bigger is coming, so hopefully the next volume follows through. Maybe the start of a longer arc? I don't mind these shorter side stories, but they weren't what I was expecting when I started reading the series. 

 

Sourdough

Sourdough: A Novel - Robin Sloan

I don't know what happened. I enjoyed the first 100 pages I read, but I now have zero interest in reading any more. I might give it another try at another time. The story just didn't grab me the way Mr Penumbra's did.

 

I did like the little nod to Mr. Penumbra's, but it made me question the timeline in the novel (I'm pretty sure from Lois's age and the DS mention it has to occur in 2017... but I could be wrong).

Origin

Origin - Dan Brown

What can I say? I'm a sucker for a Robert Langdon book (except for The Lost Symbol, but I don't think any of us were here for that...).

 

If you like the Robert Langdon series, Origin is more of the same. Occasionally Robert Langdon will be so obtuse you'll want to hit him over the head. The descriptions will be ridiculous (I don't think I've ever Googled anything Brown has describing and gone, "Ah, yes, you captured this perfectly." It's always more like, "What caricature were you looking at when you wrote this description?"). Nothing will happen until the end, and you will guess the twist at the very beginning (the twist is so obvious).

 

Brown talks a lot about religion and clearly did a lot of research for this book but was apparently too lazy to research any African religions at all. At the beginning he writes "an African god parting the clouds and lowering two humans to earth" after specifically naming the Christian God, Prometheus and Brahma. Come on, dude. Try harder.

 

I plan on fully forgetting the plot in the next week or so. I do this with every Dan Brown book I've ever read. It makes the movies more exciting.

Guardians of the Louvre

Guardians of the Louvre - Jirô Taniguchi

It took a while for me to get into this one. I didn't like the first chapter or so (why did the tense keep changing? Bad writing or bad translation?). The middle was great and the ending was eh. I would have preferred a graphic novel of the history of the Louvre without the framing story. 

Gotham Academy, Vol 3

Gotham Academy, Vol. 3: Yearbook - Brenden Fletcher, Rafael Albuquerque, Derek Fridolfs, Dustin Nguyen

This book is basically all filler. I thought I might like that since I do like the characters, and I don't care about the story, but alas this volume didn't do anything for me either. I might return if Maps and Olive ever start dating, but until then I'm going to find the Lumberjanes/Gotham Academy crossover and then be done with this series.

Gotham Academy, Vol 2.

Gotham Academy Vol. 2: Calamity - Brenden Fletcher, Karl Kerschl, Becky Cloonan

I want to like Gotham Academy, I really do. But I just don't. I really like the characters. I just wish they were in a different book.

 

The comic itself is difficult to read (I had this same complaint about Vol 1). The frames are not well-defined and text box placement doesn't make sense a lot of the time (two boxes in the top right corner, one on the bottom left... which one am I supposed to read first!?).

 

I'm also not familiar with the DC universe at all, and I think that lack of knowledge is hurting my reading, too.

 

I'm excited to read the Lumberjanes crossover. Both comics have that same Scooby-Doo feel, and I think they'll go well together. But after I finish this first arc, I think I'm done with the series (although, maybe the series is over? I don't understand DC...)

The Year of the Garden

The Year of the Garden (An Anna Wang novel) - Andrea Cheng, Patrice Barton

This book needed to be longer. It was too short to serve its story well. Laura and Anna's friendship needed more space to develop.

 

Also I don't believe that Anna cannot PRONOUNCE HER OWN NAME. Seriously, what the fuck? Cheng does a pretty good job of writing Asian characters but this part of the story was so ridiculous I almost quit reading.

 

Anna would have some pronunciation of her name. Whether that pronunciation is "correct" could be up for debate, but KIDS KNOW THEIR NAMES. Speaking from experience, it would have been 100% more realistic if Anna didn't tell Laura her middle name because 1. LAURA wouldn't be able to pronounce it or 2. Anna is embarrassed by her middle name because she's told people before and they made fun of her for it.