Tag Archives: book recommendation

Book Review: My Favorite YA Book of the Year: The Last True Poets of the Sea by Julia Drake

The Last True Poets of the Sea by Julia Drake

Genre: contemporary YA fiction, Shakespeare retelling

Release date: 10/1/19

Rating: 4.5 stars

The Last True Poets of the Sea is a book that wasn’t even on my radar prior to Book Expo, when I heard it pitched in a YA Buzz books panel discussion as, I’m not kidding, a book that’s really hard to describe. Despite the vagueness of this description, or perhaps because of it, I was drawn to pick it up, even though when the panel had started I’d promised myself to only pick up one book that was being pitched, The Grace Year by Kim Liggett, because I wanted to limit the number of ARCs I picked up from BookExpo to ensure that I’d have time to read them all. I broke my promise to myself, which was pretty inevitable in hindsight, and I’m so glad I did, because The Last True Poets of the Sea is probably going to end up being my favorite YA book of the year.

It’s true that you could say The Last True Poets is hard to describe; you could also say that it’s a loose retelling of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night as a YA contemporary, set in a small town in Maine, that focuses on mental health issues, sibling relationships, and family mythology. And yes, that is a lot of components for a premise, but it blends together perfectly through Julia Drake’s seemingly effortless writing style. We’re following fantastically flawed Violet (an incredibly dimensional, realistic main character), whose twin brother Sam has just survived a suicide attempt, and who’s been sent to live with her uncle in Maine for the summer while Sam receives treatment at a mental health facility, and where presumably she’ll be forced to stay out of trouble. Because while Sam has been struggling more and more with his mental health, Violet’s been partying more than she should, to the point where she doesn’t know how or where to draw the line. In Lyric, Maine, the small town where her family originates from and, legend has it, founded the town after her ancestor survived a shipwreck off the coast (one of the many Twelfth Night connections in this story), Violet gets a job at the local aquarium, falls in with an existing friend group, two of whose members, Orion and Liv, instantly appeal to her, and tries, sometimes successfully, sometimes not, to do better–as a daughter, a niece, a sister, a person. Her efforts are flawed and halting some of the time, but she’s trying, and as she does, she starts to investigate the mythology behind her family and the town of Lyric, and simultaneously starts falling for Liv, an unofficial Lyric history truther.

It’s so hard to review a book when your primary thoughts are I LOVE THIS BOOK SO MUCH, YOU ALL NEED TO READ IT, I PROMISE YOU WILL LOVE IT TOO. Because while that’s all true, I do need to also find other, more appealing ways to say it, so let’s try this: The Last True Poets of the Sea is one of the most authentic-feeling books I’ve ever read. It’s able to capture both the contradictions and complexities of being a teenager and also the atmospheric and unique Maine setting, seemingly without much effort, because Julia Drake’s writing is a style that almost seems simple until you realize just how skillful it is. It’s a beautiful book, but it doesn’t shy away from anything difficult or ugly, and it talks about mental health in ways that seem truer than most nonfiction I’ve read. It talks about love, not just first romantic love but sibling love and family bonds, and love for a place that’s wrapped in nostalgia and difficult to recapture as we get older. The characters are people that are so easy to identify with, because none of them are perfect, but messy in a way that’s somehow better. Reading this book made me feel and think about so many things; I was brought back to the three months I spent living in a small town in Maine during grad school, and also to the doubt and insecurities of being a teenager, and to the anxiety I deal with as an adult. The best books are like that, I think: consuming when you read them, and lingering long after you finish, to the point where you can’t help but keep thinking about them.

Hopefully somehow this messy, disjointed review somehow fits with this gorgeous book that’s impossible to simplify, and I hope that you all love it as much as I did.

 

I received an ARC of The Last True Poets of the Sea at BookExpo in exchange for an honest review.

April Reading Wrap-Up

Sorry that this is so belated! I honestly don’t know where the first few weeks in May have gone, because it somehow still doesn’t feel like spring.

Anyways, I read some really fun and wonderful books in April, but I’m still feeling a bit disappointed in my reading progress. I was in a reading slump for part of the month, and even though I made it through to the other side and finished a good number of books overall, I’d have liked to pick up more from my physical TBR shelf and read from my TBR for the month, which I totally abandoned. I shouldn’t feel so down on my reading progress, particularly since I finished 2 wonderful 2019 eARCs, but that’s where I’m at for the moment. On to the stats!

Total books read: 8

eARCs: 2

Audiobooks: 2

#readmyowndamnbooks: 4

The Rules and Regulations for Mediating Myths & MagicRed, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuistonA Princess in Theory by Alyssa ColeA Prince on Paper by Alyssa ColeLagoon by Nnedi OkoraforWicked Saints by Emily A. DuncanConvenience Store Woman by Sayaka MurataIt Happened One Doomsday by Laurence MacNaughton

Red, White, and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston (4 stars) – I loved this political rom-com, and I think it could potentially be the “it” book of the summer. Check out my full review here. 

A Prince on Paper by Alyssa Cole (4 stars) -This was, hands down, my favorite book in the Reluctant Royals series so far. The first two books in the series (A Princess in Theory and A Duke by Default) were definitely cute, smart, well-written books with awesome female protagonists, but I really didn’t love the actual central romances in either one, which isn’t really what you want in a romance novel. A Prince on Paper had all of the awesomeness from the first two books in the series–extremely supportive female friendships, political drama and intrigue, imaginary countries, etc–with the addition of a central romance that had, in my opinion, much more chemistry than the previous two books combined.

Our heroine, Nya, is dealing with the aftermath of emotional abuse by her father, but she’s also on a journey to figure out her own brand of self-confidence and path to happiness. She’s always been intrigued by Johan, the bad-boy tabloid prince of what is basically Luxembourg but isn’t, and the two of them begin to grow closer at their best friends’ wedding, which leads to a fake engagement to help with various political things. It’s cute, it’s sexy, it’s a super fun read about two people struggling with their own issues and coming together to support each other. Highly recommend!

I received an eARC of A Prince on Paper via NetGalley.

Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor (4 stars) -I really enjoy first-contact science fiction, because it’s a premise with so much room for the exploration of new ideas of what other life in the universe could look like. In Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor, aliens land in the waters off the coast of Lagos, Nigeria with the goal of introducing change. They begin with the oceans, where they help sea life become more beautiful and monstrous, and then with humans, by bringing three seemingly random people (a marine biologist, a soldier, and a rapper) together to help introduce one of their own to the city. As Lagos contends with the very real knowledge that aliens have arrived, violence erupts, friendships are forged, and legends awaken. Would definitely recommend if you’re interested in a unique SF book that at times reads like an intricate thriller.

The Rules and Regulations for Mediating Myths and Magic by F.T. Lukens (4 stars) -Really enjoyed this one. It’s a cute and funny contemporary fantasy about Bridger, a high school senior navigating school and college applications and whether or not he’s ready to come out as bisexual when two earth-shattering things happen: a cute boy moves in across the street, and he gets a part-time job assisting an intermediary between our world and the world of myth. Many supernatural and adorable shenanigans ensue. Great for fans of urban fantasy and/or rom-coms. I found it last year at BookCon at the Interlude Press booth, and since I’ve been trying to read all or most of my BookCon acquisitions from previous years before attending this year’s Con, I’m glad to have finally picked it up.

It Happened One Doomsday by Laurence MacNaughton (4 stars) – I’ll be posting a full review of this one later, since I received a free copy to review from Pyr Books (thank you!!), but the short version is that this was a really fun and fast-paced urban fantasy read with a likable crew of characters and a great kickoff to the series.

Wicked Saints by Emily Duncan (3.5 stars) – I had mixed feelings about this one. There were some definite issues with structure/pacing/consistency, but I loved the concept and the three main characters. I did overall enjoy the read and will definitely pick up the sequel, but it wasn’t without its issues. Basically, we’ve got a longstanding war between two countries with Eastern European vibes, and three main characters with the potential to shake things up: the Crown Prince of one country, who’s been acting as a general and has sort of forgotten how to be a prince in the process; a cleric, or mage whose powers are drawn from the gods of the other country, who may be her side’s last hope; and a rogue blood mage with mysterious allegiances. We have a story that’s part road trip and part court intrigue, with one section that gave me Hunger Games/The Selection vibes but could have been better developed, and a lot of great ideas that I felt were explored either too much or too little. Would I recommend this one? Yes, but with a few caveats.

A Princess in Theory by Alyssa Cole (3 stars) – I really enjoy Alyssa Cole’s writing and I LOVE her badass female protagonists, but I had the same problem with this book that I did with book 2 in her Reluctant Royals series, A Duke by Default, which I accidentally read first: I wasn’t a huge fan of the love interest. In A Duke by Default, it was because the titular Duke was just way too grumpy for my taste; in A Princess in Theory, what bothered me was that he was lying to the main character for a good portion of the book.

Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata (3 stars) – I was really hoping to like this one more than I did. I picked it up after seeing recommendations on Bookstagram and hearing that it’s an extremely short and easy listen on audio (it’s only 4 hours long), but there were several aspects of the book that didn’t work for me. Our protagonist, Keiko, is neurodiverse and has difficulty interacting “correctly” in social situations until she finds a job at a convenience store where she is given clear instruction and examples of how to relate to others. I found this aspect of the story, and Keiko’s characterization, extremely interesting, and I was sucked into the story quickly because I enjoyed seeing the world from her perspective. I also like reading books set in Japan, and reading sort of an everyday, slice-of-life type of story set there was very interesting to me. But then we’re introduced to a disruptive male co-worker who proceeds to upend Keiko’s life and her way of relating to the world, and I just absolutely hated where the book went from there. The male character is sort of an MRA-type asshole who can’t stop continuing to spout his toxic philosophies every time he’s on the page, and the repetitiveness of this was really just a terribly unpleasant experience to read. Not only did you have to deal with hearing what he had to say about men and women and how we’re still living in the Stone Age once (which was more than enough), but you had to keep hearing it over and over again through the second two-thirds of what became a short book that was still too long for what it was. I felt like Convenience Store Woman was interesting enough to have Keiko’s character arc on its own without the male character being necessary, and wished that he could have been portrayed in a more interesting fashion. I overall did like Sayaka Murata’s writing style, though, and because of this and Keiko’s character I still ended up giving this book 3 stars, even though a lot of it was frustrating to read.

 

Have you picked up any of these? What were your thoughts?

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.

Gutshotmilk and honey

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!

July Reading Wrap-Up & Mini-Reviews

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So, July was an absolutely fabulous reading month for me; I think it was actually my best reading month of the year. The books, as a whole, that I read in July were really great; I had a lot of fun and got a ton of reading done during #24in48; and I did a pretty great job of reading my own damn books.

Number of books read: 14 (!!!!!)

Audiobooks: 4 (!!!!!)

#readmyowndamnbooks: 7 (!!!!!)

Book Riot Read Harder Challenge tasks completed: 4

✓ 2. Read a nonfiction book about science
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

✓ 16. Read the first book in a series by a person of color
Binti (Binti, #1) by Nnedi Okorafor Binti by Nnedi Okorafor

✓ 18. Read a book that was adapted into a movie, then watch the movie. Debate which is better.
The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler

✓ 21. Read a book about politics, in your country or another (fiction or nonfiction)
Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay (The Neapolitan Novels, #3) by Elena Ferrante Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay by Elena Ferrante

 

So, here’s what I read this month, ranked (as usual) in order of awesomeness, with favorites first:

milk and honey by Rupi KaurThose Who Leave and Those Who Stay by Elena FerranteConfessions by Kanae MinatoMen We Reaped by Jesmyn Ward

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. Will definitely be re-reading this.

Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay by Elena Ferrante (4 stars) – the third book of Ferrante’s four Neapolitan novels deals with adult Lila and Elena, delving into their careers and politics and still maintaining their complex friendship. This may have been my least favorite of the quartet so far, but it was still very good; Ferrante’s writing remains excellent and I only care more about these characters are the books continue, no matter what crazy choices they make.

Confessions by Kanae Minato (4 stars) – this was a psychological thriller where the twists just kept on coming. The premise is that of a middle-school teacher confronting her class about the death of her daughter and accusing two of them of her murder; it only gets more intense from there. I read most of this in this sort of deep trance and literally could not stop reading. Definitely recommend this for fans of well-written, intriguing dark books.

Men We Reaped by Jesmyn Ward (4 stars) – it’s hard to talk about this book. It’s devastating and powerful, and it should absolutely be read by everyone. Jesmyn Ward is an incredible writer, and I admire her so much for being able to tell this story.

Binti by Nnedi OkoraforSaga, Volume 6 by Brian K. VaughanSecond Star by Alyssa B. SheinmelShrill by Lindy West

Binti by Nnedi Okorafor (4 stars) – this is a science fiction novella about Binti, a brilliant girl living in an isolated community on Earth who is selected to attend the most prestigious school in the universe. Going to school involves breaking with her cultural traditions, but she is determined to remain herself and honor her heritage on her trip. On the way, she faces an unexpected enemy. I thought the worldbuilding was fantastic, especially considering how short this was, and I LOVED Binti as a protagonist. I found out that there will be at least one sequel to this novella, which I’m very excited for.

Saga, Volume 6 by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples (4 stars) – the latest volume in this science fiction/fantasy mash-up graphic novel series about an unconventional family defying the odds to try and stay together was really good; there’s only been one volume of Saga that I really didn’t like. This was not it. It was sweet and exciting and exactly what I was looking for. Can’t wait for Volume 7.

Second Star by Alyssa B. Sheinmel (3.5 stars) – this was Peter Pan, if the characters in Peter Pan were surfers living in Southern California. Essentially, straight-A student Wendy Darling is searching for her brothers who went missing and during her search meets and falls for both Pete and Jas (Captain Hook, although with a very odd name choice and two hands. This really bothered me. Why couldn’t he have a hook??). I’ve mentioned before that YA is really hit or miss for me, but this totally worked. It’s full of romance and drama and I enjoyed the entire thing.

Shrill by Lindy West (3.5 stars) – this memoir was somehow both very funny and very important and relevant. I wasn’t familiar with Lindy West prior to picking up this audiobook; I’d definitely recommend it now that I have.

The Quick by Lauren OwenThe Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca SklootGods Behaving Badly by Marie PhillipsBitch Planet, Vol. 1 by Kelly Sue DeConnick

The Quick by Lauren Owen (3 stars) – I wanted to like this book more than I did. Vampires in a historical setting? A sister going to rescue her brother? Sounded great. The Quick is essentially about James, a young writer who moves to London and gets pulled into mysterious circumstances that he wasn’t aware of or looking for; it’s also about his older sister, Charlotte, who travels to London to look for James after she hasn’t heard from him in awhile. It’s hard to say much more than that without spoiling things. There were some things I really liked: I liked both romance storylines in the book (the romance is very light, though, it’s definitely not a romance-oriented book). I also liked Charlotte’s devotion to her brother, and I thought the writing itself was good overall. There were a lot of issues, for me, with the storytelling, though–the first 200 or so pages are from James’s perspective, except for the first chapter, which is in Charlotte’s, and after that it switches around sort of randomly between five or six character perspectives. A lot of this felt really unnecessary to me; we didn’t need a lot of the extra information and perspectives, and it threw the pacing off quite a bit as well. Overall, I liked this, but definitely didn’t love it. I wouldn’t highly recommend it; if you really enjoy historical fiction and vampires, though, you may like it also.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot (3 stars) – Henrietta Lacks’ story is an important one, and I was so intrigued and shocked by the journey of her cells. I thought all of the scientific information was really interesting; where the book didn’t work for me was how much the author inserted herself into the story.

Gods Behaving Badly by Marie Phillips (3 stars) – this was a funny, quick read satirizing Greek mythology by bringing all of the Olympians to modern-day England and seeing how two ordinary people fare when brought into the mix. It’s not at all deep or emotional, but if you’re a Greek mythology fan, it’s definitely enjoyable.

Bitch Planet by (3 stars) – I loved the feminist concept and creepy worldbuilding in this graphic novel, but for me there wasn’t enough characterization and it really took away from the story.

Six Months, Three Days by Charlie Jane AndersThe Jane Austen Book Club

Six Months, Three Days by Charlie Jane Anders (2.5 stars) – this is technically classified as a “novelette,” although it seemed like a short story to me. I enjoyed Anders’ novel All the Birds in the Sky and had her shorter work on my TBR for awhile; it ended up unfortunately being a disappointment. I feel like the characterization was really lacking, and although the concept was sort of interesting, it was a letdown overall.

The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler (2 stars) – I LOVED Karen Joy Fowler’s We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, which was this really unique and emotionally gutting novel that was one of my favorite books of 2015. Unfortunately, that book and this one had absolutely nothing in common. I went in expecting a cute story of friendship and romance; The Jane Austen Book Club ended up being about 80% backstory with almost no plot taking place in the present. It was really frustrating to listen to because nothing ever happened; even the discussion of Jane Austen seemed really lacking to me.

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So, what did you guys read in July? Let me know!

 

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 🙂

 

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?

March Reading Wrap-Up

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March, for me, was the month of the #Weirdathon, hosted by Outlandish Lit. I set ridiculously high goals (and a ridiculously high TBR stack) due to my love of weird fiction, and although I didn’t read even half of what I set out to, I absolutely loved the commitment to reading weirdly. I loved it so much that I plan to continue the #Weirdathon in spirit throughout this spring by keeping up with my weirdest TBR books.

 

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March Reading Summary:

Total books read in March: 5

#Weirdathon books I read in March: 3

#readmyowndamnbooks: 3

Audiobooks: 1

Read Harder Challenge tasks completed: 2

✓ 3. Read a collection of essays (Bad Feminist)

✓ 9. Listen to an audiobook that has won an Audie Award (Bossypants)

Goodreads 2016 Challenge: I’m at 18/50 (6 books ahead of schedule)

 

So, what did I read this month?

Bossypants by Tina FeyThe Rook by Daniel O'MalleyBad Feminist by Roxane Gay

Bossypants by Tina Fey (3 stars) – Fey is really likable, but this book was just okay for me. I did find it easy to listen to since it was read by a comedian, but it wasn’t an amazing read. The part I liked best was the discussion of her Sarah Palin impersonation on SNL.

The Rook by Daniel O’Malley (4.25 stars) – see my review here (https://beachesandbooks.wordpress.com/2016/03/13/weirdathon-update-weeks-12/). To summarize, this book is funny, weird, and absorbing, and you should read it right now.

Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay (5 stars) – for some reason, I had anticipated this book being more of a light-hearted satire of feminism, and wasn’t expecting the emotionally wrenching, thought-provoking, completely amazing read that it was.

The End of Mr. Y by Scarlett ThomasTrigger Warning by Neil Gaiman

The End of Mr. Y by Scarlett Thomas (4 stars)  – again, for some reason I was expecting this to be much sillier than it turned out to be. Ariel, a Ph.D. student researching thought experiments from the 1800s (seriously, how cool is that PhD topic?) finds a book believed to be cursed in that everyone who has ever read it has died or disappeared–including her thesis advisor. Through the cursed book, she discovers the way to enter an alternate dimension called the Troposphere, which allows her to enter the minds of other people and jump through time. It’s a very odd and philosophical read–it starts out slow, and then becomes gripping. I thought that Ariel’s character was sort of flat, but the plot and scientific concepts were fascinating and I really enjoyed the book.

Trigger Warning by Neil Gaiman (3.5 stars) – This was more of a 3-star read for me until the last couple of stories. I love Neil Gaiman’s writing, but this was my least favorite of the three short story collections of his that I’ve read. That being said, it was still quite good, and my favorites were the Doctor Who story and the American Gods novella. Also, his introductions are always fantastic–they’re very thoughtful, and he gives insight into each of the stories. It sounds like he’s going to write another American Gods novella set after the one in this collection, and then possibly follow that up with a full-length sequel, if I’m interpreting it right.

 

 

What did everyone enjoy reading this month?