An Un-Calibrated Centrifuge

Goodbye Stranger

Goodbye Stranger - Rebecca Stead

I gave Goodbye Stranger another chance after enjoying Stead's newest book The List of Things That Will Not Change. I managed to finish it this time and there were parts that I enjoyed (Stead writes friendships very well). Overall though I just don't think it's her best work, and I still found it less enjoyable than her other books.

The Line Tender

The Line Tender - Kate Allen

I really wanted to like this book. It has so many elements of middle grade novels that I love but they just never come together for me.


Related reads: Song for a Whale by Lynne Kelly and The Thing about Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin.


The Dark Prohecy

The Dark Prophecy - Rick Riordan

Vague spoilers for all Percy Jackson/Heroes of Olympus/Trials of Apollo that I've read so far.

tl;dr: the books are long but nothing is happening in them (or maybe I'm just not interested in the action? That's very possible).


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Return of the Thief

This post is marked as having spoilers, but it doesn't really. I just like to be extra cautious about The Queen's Thief (even though I don't think there's huge reason to be*).


Maybe someday I will read books again and review them. Let's all agree that 2020 is a throwaway year though and that nothing really matters and not reading anything for almost two months is fine. Because it is. Also the booklikes challenge isn't tracking correctly so it looks like I've read nothing either way.


While 2020 has been a pretty garbage year, October did bring/is bringing us the following:


1. the conclusion to the Trials of Apollo (I'm stuck in the middle of the second book... nothing is happening and it's so long? I really miss Percy Jackson... I should probably just reread those)


2. a new Philip Pullman (not published yet, but it's the green book and IT'S NOT ABOUT WILL!?!??! Whatever. I'm excited and hope it's better than The Book of Dust Book 2 which I also started and have not finished yet. Maybe at this point I should just wait for book 3?)




3. Return of the Thief, aka the final Queen's Thief series book, aka something I have been waiting for for almost 20 years now and read for two days straight (in between playing Animal Crossing) and finished this morning at 2am. This might sound a little concerning, but yesterday was a holiday for me and I don't have to go into work until the afternoon today. 


I debated rereading the whole series. I also debated just waiting a few years to read it (or at least until next year... this probably sounds crazy, but I didn't read The Book of Dust Book 1 for almost three years and I'd been waiting for that forever also).


But when my I got an e-copy from the library I thought to hell with it, just read the damn book like you would have if you were a kid. And I did. And it was fine? I don't know. It just didn't have that spark that the other books did. I feel almost exactly opposite from the way I did when I finished Thick as Thieves.


I wasn't looking forward to that book. I didn't want a stand alone from the perspective of Kamet. There was so much poetry. But ultimately I got into it really quickly and liked it a lot. I was so looking forward to Return of the Thief and I don't really feel anything now that I've read it and it kind of felt like work at times.


I'm going to give it some time and do a reread of the whole series to see if anything changes.


*My introduction to the series was Thief! (a short story published in Disney Adventures) which spoils The Thief. But that didn't diminish my enjoyment of the first book at all. So these books are still good even if you know what's coming but I don't want to take the surprise away from anyone who wants to be surprised.

Griffin and Sabine

Griffin and Sabine - Nick Bantock

A coworker lent me these books (the first trilogy) in the middle of February which feels like a lifetime ago.


I really like the format. The book size and shape is satisfying to hold and the letters are fun (I was reminded of the Jolly Postman books that I used to read as a kid).


I would recommend either reading just this one or making sure you have access to the entire trilogy when reading. My coworker initially couldn't find the third book, and it was torture not having it to read as soon as I finished the second book.

Caddie Woodlawn

Caddie Woodlawn - Carol Ryrie Brink

Coworker: I love Caddie Woodlawn. It's great. 

Me: Is it racist like the Little House books?

Coworker: No. 


That's a rough estimation of what my coworker told me and, spoiler alert, she was wrong. Caddie Woodlawn contains bad depictions of Native Americans (I point you to American Indians in Children's Literature for more information). And on top of that, it's just boring. I'm disappointed that it showed up on two of my lists. This is one "classic" that I think we can leave in the past. 


Kindred - Octavia E. Butler

I don't read a lot of sci-fi, but I'm trying to stretch myself this year. Kindred isn't as sci-fi as I expected, which possibly added to my enjoyment. I wasn't planning on starting the book until this month, but since it took me so long to read The Warmth of Other Suns I thought I should start early. I finished in three days. The ending was a little abrupt, and I wanted a little more time with some of the characters, but other than that the book is very good. Butler writes about horrifying material in a way that is both readable and non-desensitizing. 


Wanted! - Caroline B. Cooney

Me: In 2020 I'm going to read more new stuff. 

Also me: Let's reread this Caroline B. Cooney novel late late one night when I should be asleep. 


I don't remember why, but I had a sudden need to reread this book. It was like a craving that wouldn't go away. The book is really silly, but I still enjoyed parts (probably out of nostalgia), especially when Alice is on the college campus. Cooney's novels are very exciting when you're 10 and the internet is not a thing or when you're... older than 10 and just need to take a little brain break and revisit your childhood. 


Echo - Pam Muñoz Ryan

A coworker recommended this book to me at least a year ago and it took me until now to read it. I'm very glad I did though. (I read part on desk and that was a mistake because I kept wanting to cry.)


The stories each on their own are compelling, covering (probably) lesser-known aspects of well-known time periods. And they all come together in interesting ways.  


The book is very long and by the time I got to the end I had kind of forgotten the beginning (much like the first time I watched Moulin Rouge... it took me three days to get through it). So as I was reading the ending I was kind of like, "What is happening? This feels a little like a cop out." But then I went and reread the beginning and remembered a kind of important fact that I had forgotten which really changed the way I was reading the end and made it more enjoyable. 



Last Stop on Market Street

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

I think I've reviewed this book about three times now, but I just can't stop coming back to it. 


I'm currently reading Echo which was a Newbery honor book in 2016, the same year Last Stop on Market Street won the medal. I wanted to see if I thought Last Stop really deserved the medal over Echo (which I'm enjoying much more than I ever liked Last Stop). 


This time I really paid attention to the words, and thinking about it, de la Peña does write effectively and evocatively. There is an expansive story conveyed in very little text.


I think after this reading I better understand why Last Stop won the Newbery, though I still don't agree that it should have won. 

Ocean Meets Sky

Ocean Meets Sky - Terry Fan

I read this as an ebook, and I bet it's even better in print where you can see all the details up close. I liked the story of remembering family, and I loved the illustrations. 


Love - Matt de la Peña, Loren Long

“Love is pretty important. It's like wearing a suit of armor. It makes you strong.” -Rachel, The Visitor


The book contains interesting, often quiet, observations on love and the surprising places it can be found while avoiding triteness or cliche. 


As a kid who comes from a family that is 1. very normal but 2. never represented in any media I really appreciated the diversity in this book. 

Here We Are

Here We Are: Notes for Living on Planet Earth - Oliver Jeffers, Oliver Jeffers

A good book for when you need a little hope or to feel good about humanity and the world we live in. 

They All Saw a Cat

They All Saw a Cat - Brendan Wenzel

Inventive. Plays with art styles and POV. I can definitely see why the book got so much Caldecott buzz (and ultimately was named an honor book). 

The Funny Little Woman

The Funny Little Woman (Picture Puffins) - 'Arlene Mosel',  'Blair Lent'

The cover simply says retold by Mosel, but it doesn't specify what tale is being retold. According to Wikipedia it's based on The Woman Who Lost Her Dumplings as originally collected by Lafcadio Hearn. I haven't read this tale, but I have read some of Hearn's other collected stories and enjoyed them. 


The story is funny but feels a little abridged. I thought I had missed something towards the end. I'll try to track down a copy of Hearn's tale to compare it. 


ETA: I found and read Hearn's original story and there are additional bits that Mosel edited out of her retelling that help the story make more sense (why those bits were cut out I don't understand... the original tale is not that much longer than The Funny Little Woman).

The Man Who Walked Between the Towers

The Man Who Walked Between The Towers - Mordicai Gerstein

I expected a little more story, but the one I got was fine. There's a couple of fun surprises in the middle of the book. I think my reading was enhanced by the fact that I have watched Man on a Wire, so even though the book was a little sparse, I had background knowledge to fill in for myself.