Category Archives: Book Recommendations

Top 10 Favorite Books I Read in 2016

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Here they are, after much debating and an awesome year of reading…the ten best books I read in 2016! To be clear, these weren’t all published in 2016, although a few of them were, and they aren’t necessarily ranked in order of how much I loved them. My favorites of 2016 include an essay collection, two short story collections, a historical fiction novel, a retelling of a classic novel, the next book in one of my favorite fantasy series, a beautiful science fiction novel, the first book in a sensational quartet, a genre-bending story with dual narratives, and a collection of poetry. I read a LOT of books this year, and it was hard to choose just ten to represent all of 2016, but these books all touched me in some way, and I’d highly recommend them to everyone.

The Obelisk Gate (The Broken Earth, #2)Bad FeministThe Girl Wakes: StoriesThe Passion

The Obelisk Gate by N.K. Jemisin (5 stars) – this is one of the rare cases where the second book in a series is just as amazing and mind-blowing as the first. N.K. Jemisin always impresses me, but the world she’s created in the Broken Earth trilogy is so fully realized and its characters so engaging that this has become my favorite fantasy series of all time, and it’s not even over yet.

Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay (5 stars) – this essay collection was so good that I had to buy my own copy, since my first reading was from a library book. Roxane Gay discusses feminism, racism, pop culture, and her life in a way that’s complex yet very accessible. It’s a book that I can’t wait to start lending out and will need to re-read myself at some point in the near future. I’m anxiously awaiting her memoir about her relationship with food, Hunger, which comes out in 2017.

The Girl Wakes by Carmen Lau (5 stars) – I loved every page of this book. It’s a very short collection of microfiction focused on dark fairytale retellings with feminist themes, and it’s amazing. I found it at a small press book fair last spring, and I hate the fact that if I hadn’t noticed its enticing cover on a table, I might never have found it. Reading this book really highlighted the importance of reading small press and lesser-known books, because there are incredible things to be found. The story that lingers the most in my mind is about a girl in a relationship with a vampire, but it’s not a romantic, Twilight-esque story; the vampire barely has the strength to stand, and the girl continuously murders people in order to bring him food. The shocking things that she does and the way her life descends into darkness mirrors the trajectory of an abusive relationship, and it’s shocking, heartbreaking, and extremely memorable, despite lasting only a few pages.

The Passion by Jeanette Winterson (5 stars) – this was one of the first books I read in 2016, but it’s endured as one of the very best. This was also my introduction to Jeanette Winterson’s writing and made me want to read everything she’s ever written. It’s beautifully crafted historical fiction that follows a young man who joins Napoleon’s army and a bisexual Venetian woman, both becoming entrenched in different types of passion that may or may not consume their lives. It’s about the nature of love and obsession, and it’s heartbreaking yet beautiful. And the prose is just gorgeous.

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet (Wayfarers, #1)My Brilliant Friend (The Neapolitan Novels #1)Wide Sargasso SeaMr. Splitfoot

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers (5 stars) – this book hits almost every note that I look for in science fiction: the writing is wonderful, the focus is on character-building and the interactions between different types of beings in a complex universe, Chambers hits upon universal themes yet approaches them in a unique way, and the world-building is detailed and well-thought-out. I’ve found a new favorite author in Becky Chambers, and I’m currently reading the companion novel to this one, A Closed and Common Orbit, which is also wonderful.

My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante (5 stars) – I was so skeptical about Ferrante’s work, but I understood the hype almost immediately after I picked this up. The storytelling is beautiful and artful, and the focus in on two fully realized characters and their fraught, complicated relationship. It’s not at all my typical type of book, but it didn’t matter, because this book was so completely absorbing and addicting.

Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys (5 stars) – this retelling of Jane Eyre from the perspective of Mr. Rochester’s wife made me completely rethink the entire story and its narrative. The prose is dense and lush and you feel like you’re falling into a trance every time you pick up the book. It’s bold and profoundly disturbing, intensely feminist, and it completely blew me away. Read it. Just read it.

Mr. Splitfoot by Samantha Hunt (4.5 stars) – this 2016 new release is about cults and ghosts and family and love, and it’s told in this wonderful dual narrative that builds more and more tension throughout the book, ultimately culminating in a can’t-put-it-down finale.

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Gutshot by Amelia Gray (4.5 stars) – This short story collection was completely, perfectly weird. A lot of the stories are microfiction, which I am a huge fan of because it depends on the author being able to cram a ton of meaning and emotion into only a few pages. I was not expecting to be so impressed with this collection when I picked it up, and now I’m planning on reading much more from Amelia Gray in the future (I’ve already picked up a copy of her novel Threats). The most striking stories in this collection included one about a giant snake that appears and physically divides a town in two, which highlights its already-present divides, and one about a woman trapped inside a house’s ventilation system.

Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur (4.5 stars) – This is my preferred style of poetry to read – short poems in free verse with huge emotional impact. The middle two sections of this book absolutely blew me away. I read each poem at least 2-3 times because it’s impossible not to savor her words. This is the type of book I’d absolutely re-read, and you can’t help but feel deeply when you read Kaur’s words.

 

So, there they are! I’d love to hear about your favorite books of 2016–let me know in the comments what yours were and if any of them overlap with mine!

Top Ten Tuesday: Top 10 Books Set Outside the U.S.

IMG_1574Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish (http://www.brokeandbookish.com/).

It’s time for another Top Ten Tuesday! This time it’s books set outside the U.S. I tried to do this theme justice, but it also highlighted a lot of books I need to get to on my TBR.

This week’s theme is difficult–are we talking real countries only or do made-up worlds count? I’m going to take this at face value and not include books set in outer space/fantasy realms/post-apocalyptic reorganized societies. I’m not going to discount SFF entirely for the list, but I’m making a rule for myself that the books need to be set in countries that actually exist. (Wow. I just made this way more difficult for myself.) I also did not count books that are set partially in the U.S. and partially in other countries (like Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and All Our Names by Dinaw Mengestu, both of which I really enjoyed.) Now that I’ve made the challenge more challenging, here are some books set outside the U.S. that I highly recommend you add to your TBRs!

My Brilliant Friend (The Neapolitan Novels, #1)

My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante (Italy) – fascinating in-depth portrait of female friendship and also of tumultuous 1950’s, 60’s, and 70’s Naples.

The God of Small Things

The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy (India) – I read this so long ago, but it was absolutely amazingly written.

Pride and Prejudice

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (England) – of course.

Euphoria

Euphoria by Lily King (New Guinea) – this is the story of three anthropologists in a love triangle, loosely based on a true story.

The Passion

The Passion by Jeanette Winterson (France/Russia/Italy) – gorgeous short novel about love and obsession.

Wide Sargasso Sea

Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys (Jamaica) – feminist reinterpretation of Jane Eyre‘s memorable “madwoman in the attic.”

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami (Japan) – surrealist, fantastic story about a man searching for his missing wife.

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One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (Colombia) – epic family saga featuring magical realism that spans generations

The Girl in the Road

The Girl in the Road by Monica Byrne (Indonesia/Ethiopia/Indian Ocean) – creative story of two women on separate but interconnected journeys in a near-future setting.

Reading Lolita in Tehran

Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi (Iran) – gorgeously written memoir framed by books.

And, since I’m thinking about it, here are 10 (OK, 12) books set outside the U.S. that are high on my TBR list:

Midnight's ChildrenThree SoulsAnna KareninaLagoonA Tale for the Time BeingDeathless (Leningrad Diptych, #1)1Q84Half of a Yellow SunA Brief History of Seven KillingsThe Palace of IllusionsThe VegetarianThe Lake

Have you guys read any of these? Feel free to link me to your TTT below!

BTW, I’m sooooo excited for #24in48 this weekend. TBR post to come (as soon as my latest BookOutlet.com purchase gets here).

 

 

 

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Underrated Books (with less than 2000 ratings on Goodreads)

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish (http://www.brokeandbookish.com/).

I LOVE the theme of this week’s Top Ten Tuesday: underrated books, particularly those with less than 2,000 ratings on Goodreads. I’ve been thinking a lot about lesser-known and independently published books lately, especially since I’ve been reading more of those recently. I really want to start posting more book reviews on here, focusing on books I haven’t seen reviewed a lot around the bookternet.

To start, though, here are 10 books I’ve read with less than 2,000 ratings on Goodreads that I highly recommend you all pick up:

 

The Girl Wakes: Stories

The Girl Wakes by Carmen Lau (17 ratings) – highly recommended dark fairy tale retellings with a feminist slant. A lot of these are microfiction, which I love, and all are creepy and extremely well-written.

All Is Forgotten, Nothing Is Lost: A Novel

All is Forgotten, Nothing is Lost by Lan Samantha Chang (711 ratings) – this is a very short and gorgeously written book about writing and love.

Cuckold

Cuckold by Kiran Nagarkar (725 ratings) – An intricate historical epic that I really enjoyed. From the Goodreads description: “The time is early 16th century. The Rajput kingdom of Mewar is at the height of its power. It is locked in war with the Sultanates of Delhi, Gujarat and Malwa. But there is another deadly battle being waged within Mewar itself. who will inherit the throne after the death of the Maharana? The course of history, not just of Mewar but of the whole of India, is about to be changed forever. At the centre of Cuckold is the narrator, heir apparent of Mewar, who questions the codes, conventions and underlying assumptions of the feudal world of which he is a part, a world in which political and personal conduct are dictated by values of courage, valour and courtesy; and death is preferable to dishonour. A quintessentially Indian story, Cuckold has an immediacy and appeal that are truly universal.”

The Girl in the Road

The Girl in the Road by Monica Byrne (1969 ratings) – Since it’s almost there, let’s help this book hit 2,000 ratings! It’s a near-future science fiction story set in India, Ethiopia, and the newly constructed floating bridge between the two countries; it tells the intertwining stories of two women pulled into voyages for survival.

Mr. Splitfoot

Mr. Splitfoot by Samantha Hunt (1690 ratings) – another book with dual narratives, although these are both set in upstate New York and deal with orphaned children talking to the dead, mysterious cults, and a woman who has lost the power of speech.

Death My Own Way

Death My Own Way by Michael Graziano (10 ratings) – short, powerful, philosophical novel set during a single night in Central Park and focused on a man with terminal cancer.

Roses and Rot

Roses and Rot by Kat Howard (418 ratings) – a story of two sisters at an isolated creative retreat that slowly becomes more and more fantastical.

Redemption in Indigo

Redemption in Indigo by Karen Lord (1295 ratings) – the Goodreads blurb does this book much more justice than I could: “A tale of adventure, magic, and the power of the human spirit. Paama’s husband is a fool and a glutton. Bad enough that he followed her to her parents’ home in the village of Makendha—now he’s disgraced himself by murdering livestock and stealing corn. When Paama leaves him for good, she attracts the attention of the undying ones—the djombi— who present her with a gift: the Chaos Stick, which allows her to manipulate the subtle forces of the world. Unfortunately, a wrathful djombi with indigo skin believes this power should be his and his alone. A contemporary fairy tale that is inspired in part by a Senegalese folk tale.” I also highly recommend Karen Lord’s better-known book The Best of All Possible Worlds.

A History of Glitter and Blood

A History of Glitter and Blood by Hannah Moskowitz (656 ratings) – unconventional YA where bisexuality is the norm and a group of friends try to navigate a city torn apart by war and different kinds of discrimination. I keep meaning to post a longer review for this one, and I swear I’ll get to it.

God's Little Soldier

God’s Little Soldier by Kiran Nagarkar (149 ratings) – Again, the Goodreads blurb is much better than mine would be: “No matter what garb he dons, or the faith to which he subscribes, Zia believes that he is the chosen one, destined to save the world.
Gifted mathematician, stock market whiz-kid, master guerrilla strategist, Defender of the faith, Zia Khan is a man willing to die for his beliefs, and to destroy anyone who comes in his way. Zia Khan is a god’s little soldier: a terrorist.
Zia’s fate is linked with that of his brother, Amanat, who chooses the middle path. Their lives diverge and their beliefs clash, but both are confronted in their own ways with the dilemmas of faith and betrayal, god and morality.
Crafted with a deft, daring and certain hand, God’s Little Soldier is a masterpiece of storytelling. As a literary work, the novel effortlessly combines lyricism and learning, imagination and authenticity; as a modern-day allegory it highlights the dangers of religious extremism of all varieties, and is a profound and unflinching enquiry into the most pressing issues of our time.”

 

 

Looking forward to see what underrated books everyone recommends! Feel free to link to your posts in the comments 🙂

 

Bookish Reminiscing: On Childhood Favorites and Old-School YA

I have a constant, ongoing search for YA novels that I can get lost in. I’m extremely picky, and have a harder time finding a book I can connect with in YA than in most other genres. But when I find it, that magical book (or series, let’s face it, it’s usually a series if we’re talking YA) I become completely obsessed and reread it an absurd number of times because YA, when it’s good, is just so, so good.

YA didn’t explode as a genre until recently. When I was growing up, I never thought of books as being “YA” or “middle-grade;” I asked for recommendations from my parents, teachers, and librarians for what to read. Occasionally I’d glance at the back of the book where a “reading level” was listed that was supposed to roughly correspond to grade level, but usually I just wandered the library and picked up what looked appealing to me (which, for some time, meant anything related to either sharks or Greek mythology).

My best book-finding memory from childhood, however, was when my beloved babysitter, leaving for college, stopped at my house with a car trunk full of her childhood books. She’d wanted to pass them on to someone who also loved to read and who would love the books as much as she had. So much of what I read when I was younger was found in those cardboard boxes that I watched her and my mother carry into the house, while I literally leaped around with excitement. It’s no mistake that a lot of them ended up in this post.

I started thinking about this amazing gift that my babysitter had given me, and how different the reading community is now compared to when I was growing up. And that lead me to think about the books that meant the most to me as I was discovering myself as a reader; the books that, even now, I think about all the time. I hope that people are still reading these books, and I hope that one day I can make a bookish contribution to someone the way that my babysitter did to me.

 

The Message (Animorphs, #4)

The Animorphs series was, for me, my first foray into bookish obsession. Starting in about second or third grade, I began to devour these books; they are a perfectly curated combination of action, humor, heart, and friendship; they’re immersive and addicting while never shying away from the realities of war. They’re sort of the emotional precursors to the Hunger Games series in that way. The premise of the series is that a group of teenagers are given the power to transform into animals by a dying alien prince in order to combat the insidious and secret invasion of Earth by a race of mind-controlling aliens called Yeeks. I loved all of the characters so much, but Marco was probably my favorite; his mom died when he was young, and he turned to humor as an emotional coping mechanism. The group ends up depending on him as the comic relief, even when he’s tearing himself up inside. I’m not sure if these books are still being stocked in bookstores, but it makes me so sad to think of a generation of kids growing up without the Animorphs. I may do another post later entirely about this series and my favorite books from it, so I’ll stop myself here, because just I have way too many thoughts about them.

Island Of The Blue Dolphins

I pretended I was Karana so much after reading this book. Did anyone else do this as a kid? Island of the Blue Dolphins is a survival story about a  young woman alone on an island in the Pacific Ocean, but that’s such a simplified synopsis of what this book is. It’s inspirational and a really sad yet beautiful story. I also read Zia, the sequel, but it did not quite have the same the magic of this one. I did not realize until I looked it up on Goodreads today that this book was published in 1960; I’m glad it’s endured so long.

A Wind in the Door (Time, #2)

I loved the entire Wrinkle in Time series, although the books I read the most were probably A Wind in the Door and Many Waters. These books were so creative, but I don’t think I realized how fully weird they are until I started thinking about them recently; in A Wind in the Door, the protagonist journeys inside her little brother’s mitochondria to save his life; in Many Waters, the identical twins who were previously the more normal members of the Murray clan go back to Biblical times, fall in love with the same girl, and get into all sorts of issues with seraphim, nephilim, manticores, and miniature mammoths. (Yes. This is an actual plot point.) My favorite thing about this series was Meg, the main character, who sees herself as pretty ordinary but is actually impressively strong and devoted to protecting her family.

The Egypt Game

In The Egypt Game, a group of friends devote their free time to learning as much as possible about the culture of ancient Egypt and acting out its ceremonies and rituals in their spare time. It makes you embarrassed for all the time you most likely spent watching TV as a kid, as you could have been doing something as awesome as this.

Alanna: The First Adventure (Song of the Lioness, #1)

Tamora Pierce writes adventurous, female-driven fantasy the way that I wish more authors would. Her world of Tortall is a fully realized fantasy society, and Alanna emerges at a time when no women have been knights for centuries. She disguises herself as her twin brother and devotes herself to winning her shield; her adventures kick off several subsequent series with heroines who are just as badass and likable.

Julie of the Wolves (Julie of the Wolves, #1)

This is another book that I’ve lost count how many times I’ve read it. Julie escapes a teenage marriage and an abusive husband into the wilderness of Alaska, where she learns to become part of a wolf pack to survive. She’s a strong, intelligent, admirable protagonist facing what seems like an inescapable position in society who then battles the odds to live in one of the world’s harshest environments.

Ella Enchanted

Ignore the movie version, as it doesn’t even come close to capturing the spirit of this story.  I think this was my first exposure to fairytale retellings, which have since become one my favorite genres. You can’t help but sympathize with clever, spunky Ella, cursed with obedience by a fairy who thought it was a gift, and who manages to remain fiercely independent of her circumstances despite everything.

Speak

A sad and powerful story of a rape survivor in high school who feels unable to express herself after her assault. I get chills thinking about this book; the writing is detailed yet emotional, and I became so emotionally invested in helping the main character regain her voice.

The Music of Dolphins

There are a lot of dolphin-related books on this list, but that can never be a bad thing. In this book, Mila has been living as a member of a pod of dolphins since she was stranded in a plane crash, and only experiences humanity when she is found by a team of dolphin researchers.

Claudia and the Phantom Phone Calls (The Baby-Sitters Club, #2)

The Babysitters Club was about friendship and young teenagers learning to deal with all sorts of issues; my favorite was always Claudia, who was obsessed with fashion but struggled in school. This series went way past #100 and I had to have read at least fifty.

 

As I look over this list, I can see some themes emerging; female protagonists, for one; survival stories; science fiction and fantasy. I tried to include the covers of the books that I actually owned instead of any redesigned covers. I think it’s important to look back at what we read as children to see how it shapes our reading lives; I can see evidence in this list of my current reading tastes and characters that I will never forget.

 

Do you see any of your childhood favorites on this list? What books did you love as a child that I left out? Let me know in the comments!

Bout of Books Days 1&2 Updates

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I love reading challenges. I find they inspire me to read even more than normal, and I like the feeling of picking book options and going with whatever calls to me the most. I also get very Instagram-obsessed during these challenges because I love seeing what other people are reading. So far, days 1&2 of Bout of Books have been great, but the amount of reading I’ve done isn’t quite where I’d wanted it to be. It’s a good thing there’s still 5 days left 🙂 I ended up totally abandoning where I thought I’d go (of course) and not reading any of A Court of Mist and Fury OR My Brilliant Friend during the first two days; instead, I read a short novel and did some audiobooking.

Here’s where I stand at the end of Day 2:

Books finished: 1

What was I reading? Death My Own Way by Michael Graziano and Notorious RBG by Irin Carmon and Shana Knizhnik (audiobok)

Pages Read: 127

Audiobook time: 1 hour 15 minutes

Mini-Challenges: 1

I participated in the #shelfieforboutofbooks challenges and posted a shelfie of my more organized bookshelf (my other bookshelf is not color-coordinated and the rest of my books are currently stacked on my breakfast bar and in piles in the closet, but this shelf makes me look super organized).

 

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Mini-Review: Death My Own Way by Michael Graziano

This was a very short, philosophical novel about life, death, and art. The premise is that a man with terminal cancer sheds his clothes and former life for an anonymous escape through Central Park; he proceeds to have various encounters that shape his thoughts in different ways. As a reader, you become immersed in the book very quickly, and it’s a good book to read in one sitting. It’s well-written and thought-provoking without being pedantic; in addition to its thoughtfulness, the book is very self-aware and there is a lot of humor. I’d definitely recommend this book; it would actually be perfect for the #Weirdathon!

 

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How is everyone enjoying Bout of Books so far??

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Books that Will Make You Laugh

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and The Bookish (http://www.brokeandbookish.com/p/top-ten-tuesday-other-features.html).

I don’t read a lot of straight-up humor books, so this post should probably more accurately be called “Ten Awesome Books that Also Happen to Have Really Funny Parts.” I also included funny quotes!

 

Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch

  1. Good Omens: This is a wonderful, wonderful book co-written by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. It’s a hilarious account of the impending apocalypse and the main characters are an angel and demon who are best friends. Funny quote (long, sorry):

“I mean, d’you know what eternity is? There’s this big mountain, see, a mile high, at the end of the universe, and once every thousand years there’s this little bird-“

“What little bird?” said Aziraphale suspiciously.

“This little bird I’m talking about. And every thousand years-“

“The same bird every thousand years?”

Crowley hesitated. “Yeah,” he said.

“Bloody ancient bird, then.”

“Okay. And every thousand years this bird flies-“

“-limps-“

“-flies all the way to this mountain and sharpens its beak-“

“Hold on. You can’t do that. Between here and the end of the universe there’s loads of-” The angel waved a hand expansively, if a little unsteadily. “Loads of buggerall, dear boy.”

“But it gets there anyway,” Crowley persevered.

“How?”

“It doesn’t matter!”

“It could use a space ship,” said the angel.

Crowley subsided a bit. “Yeah,” he said. “If you like. Anyway, this bird-“

“Only it is the end of the universe we’re talking about,” said Aziraphale. “So it’d have to be one of those space ships where your descendants are the ones who get out at the other end. You have to tell your descendants, you say, When you get to the Mountain, you’ve got to-” He hesitated. “What have
they got to do?”

“Sharpen its beak on the mountain,” said Crowley. “And then it flies back-“

“-in the space ship-“

“And after a thousand years it goes and does it all again,” said Crowley quickly.

There was a moment of drunken silence.

“Seems a lot of effort just to sharpen a beak,” mused Aziraphale.

“Listen,” said Crowley urgently, “the point is that when the bird has worn the mountain down to nothing, right, then-“

Aziraphale opened his mouth. Crowley just knew he was going to make some point about the relative hardness of birds’ beaks and granite mountains, and plunged on quickly.

“-then you still won’t have finished watching The Sound of Music.”

Aziraphale froze.

“And you’ll enjoy it,” Crowley said relentlessly. “You really will.”

“My dear boy-“

“You won’t have a choice.”

“Listen-“

“Heaven has no taste.”

“Now-“

“And not one single sushi restaurant.”

A look of pain crossed the angel’s suddenly very serious face.”

The Magicians (The Magicians, #1)

2. The Magicians by Lev Grossman – this tends to be a love it or hate it book, and I am firmly on Team Love It. The humor in this book is very dark and subtle, which is perfect for the theme of growing up and finding yourself disillusioned with your childhood fantasies. Funny quote:

“Josh speculated about the hypothetical contents of an imaginary porn magazine for intelligent trees that would be entitled Enthouse.”

Magic Bites (Kate Daniels, #1)

3. The Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews: these books are full of action, romance, and friendship, but they are also ridiculously hilarious. Kate, the main character, has an inability to react to situations without sarcasm and tends to mock every adversary and authority figure she comes into contact with. Funny quote:

“I gave him my best cryptic smile. He did not fall down to his feet, kiss my shoes, and promise me the world. I must be getting rusty.”

The Library at Mount Char

4. The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins: if you like fantasy and dark humor, then this one is for you. It borders on the absurd at times, and the humor helps keep all of the craziness grounded–to a point. Funny quote:

“There might be others,” Alicia said. “Some of the ones we don’t see much. Q-33 North, maybe?” But she was looking at Nobununga, thoughtful.
“Is he the one with the tentacles?”
“No, that’s Barry O’Shea. Q-33 North is the sort of iceberg with legs, remember? Up in Norway?”
“Oh, right.”

The Rook (The Checquy Files, #1)

5. The Rook by Daniel O’Malley: This is a recent read and I’ve been posting about it nonstop. It’s about a secret government agency in London called the Checquy protecting England against mysterious supernatural threats, and for all the life-or-death situations present in the book, it also manages to have a constant snarky humor that keeps you from taking it all too seriously but lets you get invested enough to really care about all of the characters. That’s a delicate balance to strike! Funny quote:

“And the minibar in my hotel room was mysteriously emptied.”
“By arcane forces beyond the understanding of normal human beings?” asked Myfanwy as she sifted through the in-box. It was the sort of question you learned to ask automatically when you worked with the Checquy.
“No, it was me,” admitted Shantay without a shred of embarrassment.”

The Martian

6. The Martian by Andy Weir

“He’s stuck out there. He thinks he’s totally alone and that we all gave up on him. What kind of effect does that have on a man’s psychology?” He turned back to Venkat. “I wonder what he’s thinking right now.”

LOG ENTRY: SOL 61 How come Aquaman can control whales? They’re mammals! Makes no sense.”

Ready Player One

7. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

“Going outside is highly overrated.”
In a Sunburned Country
8. In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson: hilarious nonfiction that also teaches you a lot about Australia.
“Australians are very unfair in this way. They spend half of any conversation insisting that the country’s dangers are vastly overrated and that there’s nothing to worry about, and the other half telling you how six months ago their Uncle Bob was driving to Mudgee when a tiger snake slid out from under the dashboard and bit him on the groin, but that it’s okay now because he’s off the life support machine and they’ve discovered he can communicate with eye blinks.”
Small Gods (Discworld, #13)
9. Small Gods by Terry Pratchett
“His philosophy was a mixture of three famous schools — the Cynics, the Stoics and the Epicureans — and summed up all three of them in his famous phrase, ‘You can’t trust any bugger further than you can throw him, and there’s nothing you can do about it, so let’s have a drink.”
The Princess Bride
10. The Princess Bride by William Goldman
“We’ll never survive!”
“Nonsense. You’re only saying that because no one ever has.”
What are your favorite funny books?

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is a place to meet up and share what you have been, are and about to be reading over the week. This meme started with J Kaye’s Blog  and then was taken up by Sheila from Book Journey. Sheila then passed it on to Kathryn at the Book Date

 

To summarize: my reading week rocked!

My reading this week made me so happy–I read two absolutely fantastic books this week! I am now going to start recommending them all over the place.

Books I finished this week:

 

Wide Sargasso Sea

Every Heart a Doorway

 

Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys: the language of this book is lyrical, and not a single word is wasted. I kept rereading sentences because of how beautiful the writing was, and it took me much longer to read this than I thought it would because I wanted to savor it. It’s a feminist reinterpretation of the “madwoman in the attic” aspect of Jane Eyre, and it discusses racism and sexism, both insidious and overt, through the story of Antoinette Cosway, daughter of Jamaican slave owners, who is later sold into marriage with a calculating Englishman. The story is incredibly sad and disturbing, but it feels like a very necessary discussion of the rarely explored aspects of classic literature.

Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire: I become very easily hooked by any type of exploration of the fantasy/fairy tale genre, and this book was exactly what I wanted to read. The children in this book have all been involved in portal fantasy scenarios (where they have left the real world through magical doorways and emerged into their own fantasylands) but then, for various reasons, have returned (typically, they’ve been forced to return) to reality. I absolutely loved the hints at the different worlds the children went to, and I found the two main characters, Nancy and Kade, to be both intriguing and relatable. I really wish we’d gotten flashbacks to their times in their respective fantastical worlds, though. The hints were not enough! To be honest, I’d have read a much longer book on all of this and loved it, but the novella length did work well as it is.

But I still wish it was longer.

 

Reading now:

Reflections (Indexing, #2)Mr. SplitfootYes, Chef

I bought the ebook of the second installment in Seanan McGuire’s Indexing series, which is about secret government agents dealing with out-of-control and deadly fairy tales snaring unsuspecting civilians. I was so pleasantly surprised by the first book (which is just called Indexing, and I highly recommend it) and I like this one so far as well, although it isn’t quite as surprising since a lot of the fun of the worldbuilding was already accomplished previously.

Sadly, I DNF’d Jackaby, the audiobook I was listening to for the past few weeks (yet another abandoned audiobook for me, oh well). Then today I started listening to Yes, Chef, which is a memoir by celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson. So far I love it.

And still at the beginning of Mr. Splitfoot!

 

Looking forward to:

Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon on Saturday! This week I’ll be posting about my TBR stack and Readathon plans. I can’t wait to hear about everyone else’s Readathoning as well.

 

What are you all reading this week?