Mabith's 2020 Reading Part II

Tämä viestiketju jatkaa tätä viestiketjua: Mabith's 2020 Reading.

KeskusteluClub Read 2020

Liity LibraryThingin jäseneksi, niin voit kirjoittaa viestin.

Mabith's 2020 Reading Part II

1mabith
Muokkaaja: tammikuu 2, 4:27pm



A lot of factors this year are making it hard for me to engage in my usual LT behavior. Hopefully I can get in some more thread reading before the year ends. My reading has slowed down markedly since the pandemic started, and hasn't improved yet, though I hope it will.

The Good Luck Girls – Charlotte Nicole Davis
Lady Killers – Tori Telfer
Beloved Enemy – Shui Qian Cheng
Advance Bravely – Chai Jidan
Delayed Rays of a Star – Amanda Lee Koe

Revolution at Point Zero – Silvia Federici
Exile: Portraits of the Jewish Diaspora – Annika Hernroth-Rothstein
Professional Body Double – Shui Qian Cheng
The Rebirth of Chen An – Wan Mie Zhi Shang
Brazil: A Biography – Lilia M. Schwarcz

The Third Nero – Lindsey Davis
I Am a Chef in the Modern Era – Taozi Su
Girls of Paper and Fire – Natasha Ngan
This Place: 150 Years Retold – Kateri Akiwenzi-Damm (and others)
The Attention Merchants – Tim Wu

Quantum: A Guide for the Perplexed – Jim Al-Khalili
Don't You Like Me – Lu Tianyi
Little Gods – Meng Jin
Reborn with an Old Enemy on the Day of Our Marriage - Lin Zhiluo
Feng Mang – Chai Jidan

Reborn into a Dating Game – Long Qi
Mirage – Nina Burleigh
Fake Dating the Amnesiac School Prince – Qiao Bi
Tattoo - Bù wèn sānjiǔ
I Just Want to be in a Relationship – Lian Shuo

The Year 1000 – Valerie Hansen
Agreement of Being Gay for 30 Days – Lin Zhiluo
After Brushing Face At The Apocalypse’s Boss For 363 Days – Da Yuan Zi
Nothing Ever Dies – Viet Thanh Nguyen
Received a Wife from the Civil Affairs Bureau – Bái Niàn Jūn

The Water Dancer – Ta-Nehisi Coates
Don't Be Jealous, I Will Bend Myself – Xi Mu XiaoXiao
Polar Vortex – Shani Mootoo
Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation - Mo Xiang Tong Xiu
Perfect Destiny – Xi Zixu

Screen Partner – Qi You
My Disciple Wants to Tease me Every Day – Jiang Ru
And the Band Played On – Randy Shilts
I have Amnesia, Don't be Noisy – Lu Ye Qian He
Donald Duck: Under the Polar Ice – Carl Barks

The Realist – Asaf Hanuka
Stop Bothering Me, Emperor – Lu Ye Qian He
My Underachieving Seatmate Doesn't Need Comforting – Long Qi
Chernobyl – Serhii Plokhy

Waiting for You Online – Xi and Qing
Rebirth of a Movie Star – J112233
Very Happy – Yue Xia Die Ying
Memorial Drive – Natasha Tretheway
The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Vol 5 – Ryan North and Erica Henderson

Granma Nineteen and the Soviet's Secret – Ondjaki
The Reader and Protagonist Definitely Have to be in True Love – Tui
Caesar's Legion – Stephen Dando-Collins
Guide on How to Fail at Online Dating – Jiang Zi Bei
A Wave of Exes Came Looking for Me – Long Qi

It's Easy to Take Care of a Live-In Hero – Goldfish
The Thursday Murder Club – Richard Osman
Dance with Snakes – Horacio Castellanos Moya
You Boys Play Games Very Well – Yi Xiu Luo
Kill the Lights – Jangryang

Everyone Thinks I Like Him – Little Snail Running
Later He Became a Royal Healer – Yan Guikang
Waking Up White – Debby Irving
Disability Visibility – Alice Wong, editor
Mr. Melancholy Wants to Live a Peaceful Life – Cyan Wings

New Times, New Hell – Lin Zhiluo

2mabith
syyskuu 10, 2020, 4:41pm


The Good Luck Girls by Charlotte Nicole Davis

First of a two part SFF series in the good old space western genre. It was neither bad nor amazing. I'm undecided on picking up the second book.

"When Clementine accidentally kills a man, the girls risk a dangerous escape and harrowing journey to find freedom, justice, and revenge in a country that wants them to have none of those things. Pursued by Arketta’s most vicious and powerful forces, both human and inhuman, their only hope lies in a bedtime story passed from one Good Luck Girl to another, a story that only the youngest or most desperate would ever believe."

3mabith
syyskuu 10, 2020, 4:48pm


Lady Killers: Deadly Women Throughout History by Tori Telfer

Portraits of a selection of female serial killers, limited mostly by there being enough reliable information about the person and cases (and staying well away from anyone still living, I think the most recent was from the 1930s).

Book is done well enough, so if you like this sort of thing you'll probably enjoy it. I do with the people had been placed in chronological order, but maybe she was trying to insulate the grimmest subjects.

4mabith
syyskuu 10, 2020, 4:52pm


Beloved Enemy - Shui Qian Cheng

Another one of these (by which I mean trashy Chinese webnovels). This author needs an intervention in some regards, but they are very good with the plotting and this is one of their best (I've read five by them now). I think I'm starting to get these out of my system.

5mabith
syyskuu 10, 2020, 4:54pm


Advance Bravely by Chai Jidan

I read one other novel by this author which was very mixed (though had an excellent snake character), so I'm pleasantly surprised by how good this one was (and generally unproblematic). This one had some birds instead of snakes, who were much less appealing, both because I don't care for birds and since they were talking parrots that's cheating.

6mabith
syyskuu 10, 2020, 4:58pm


Delayed Rays of a Star by Amanda Lee Koe

Historical fiction focusing on the lives of Marlene Dietrich, Anna May Wong, and Leni Riefenstahl after (and a little before) they were photographed together at a party in Germany (which actually happened). I have a feeling that if you know a lot about any of these women the book will annoy you in those sections.

Treating it simply as a story, it was pretty good. Trying to be a little too Literary maybe, but that didn't bother me too much. A Chinese refugee working as Dietrich's maid also plays a significant role in the book.

7mabith
syyskuu 10, 2020, 5:04pm


Revolution at Point Zero: Housework, Reproduction, and Feminist Struggle by Silvia Federici

Book of essays written from the 1970s through 2010. Extremely worth reading, recommended.

8mabith
syyskuu 10, 2020, 5:07pm


Exile: Portraits of the Jewish Diaspora by Annika Hernroth-Rothstein

Looking at Jewish communities and life in Djerba, Uzbekistan, Cuba, Morocco, Iran, Finland, Siberia, Sweden, Turkey, Palermo, and Venezuela. An interesting read.

9mabith
syyskuu 10, 2020, 5:12pm


Professional Body Double by Shui Qian Cheng

There's this whole genre around what's called transmigration, where someone dies and their consciousness wakes up in someone else's body (and sometimes a different time, though I've mostly stuck to same time ones). It turns out I really enjoy this concept. Plus I think this author finally wrote something that didn't have anything really problematic in it. Very enjoyable, and maybe this one wasn't horribly embarrassing to admit to reading at all (or I've blocked out the parts that were). Progress.

10mabith
syyskuu 10, 2020, 5:21pm


The Rebirth of Chen An by Wan Mie Zhi Shang

Another transmigration novel, by the author of the four volume one I read in July. I really like this author. This one got a bit silly, but it was very enjoyable. They understand how the multi-suitor story should be and I need them to quickly start writing TV scripts.

11mabith
syyskuu 10, 2020, 5:23pm


Brazil: A Biography by Lilia M. Schwarcz

Just the kind of book I want more of. A wide history, written by someone from that country.

It was very interesting and readable.

12mabith
syyskuu 15, 2020, 12:33am


The Third Nero by Lindsey Davis

This is the fifth Flavia Albia book, a spinoff from Davis' Falco mystery series featuring his adopted daughter as the detective (and narrator). I have had a hard time with these books and I'm not totally sure why. I just don't warm to Flavia Albia and she often doesn't seem like someone raised by Falco and Helena. However, that could mainly be because I don't cope with change well and I loved the Falco books SO much.

They've evened out from the first couple, but I'm still not sold.

13mabith
syyskuu 15, 2020, 12:43am


I Am a Chef in the Modern Era by Taozi Su

Yes, I realize I said my reading of these was winding down when I still had three to review. It might actually be winding down now. I'm feeling a strong urge to bury myself into history, anything older than 1500.

This is another transmigration novel, my first that involved a significant time jump. A scholar dies in misc ancient times and wakes up in the present day. He's always wanted to be a chef and happens upon an old man running a restaurant who basically adopts him.

Actually this was kind of fascinating. It was almost totally domestic and just... fluffy gay wish fulfillment? Like non-chef's grandfather was trying to make him marry a woman, so non-chef lied and said he'd already had sex with the chef. So grandfather says well now you have to get 'married' to the chef because you've stolen his virtue and we'll hold a press conference about it (since they were a super wealthy family, obviously). Then a month later they're adopting two children. It was so surreal.

14mabith
syyskuu 15, 2020, 12:46am


The Waning of the Middle Ages by Johan Huizinga

Why NOT read a book about the middle ages originally published in 1919. I like reading old history books, since the style is so different to anything you get now.

This was interesting for that reason. I'm not banking on it being super accurate. For most people it's probably not worth reading.

15mabith
syyskuu 15, 2020, 12:49am


Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan

YA fantasy, picked up to read with a friend who moved away and is missing our book club. Tailored more for her tastes than mine.

Basically here's a world where some magical rain allowed people who were out in it to become some form of demon, depending on how much rain hit them. The people who stayed away from it are referred to as paper caste and live at the bottom of society. A certain number of paper girls are chosen to be the demon king's harem basically. Unsurprisingly one girl is unwilling to submit to this.

It felt kind of anemic to me, and mostly like a set up for later books, just giving you a rundown on the world and getting you attached to the two main girls.

16mabith
syyskuu 15, 2020, 12:51am


This Place: 150 Years Retold by Kateri Akiwenzie-Damm and others

A (mostly) non-fiction comic anthology by Canadian First Nations authors, covering various people and events in their history. The last story is fiction imagining the future.

Well worth picking up. I think it's one I'll get for my niece and nephew as well.

17mabith
lokakuu 16, 2020, 3:25am


The Attention Merchants: The Epic Scramble to Get Inside Our Heads by Tim Wu

A nice popular science book about advertising and how the industry has evolved (including talking about ads on Youtube videos, Facebooks, etc...). The sections about clickbait were quite interesting. A good read.

It was amusing to me that in all the social media talk he didn't mention Tumblr at all, which no one has managed to successfully monetize and which features some incredibly bizarre ads. So bizarre that there are endless requests to make the ads themselves rebloggable. I'm curious what Wu makes of that, though I understand not wanting to deal with that hinterland in the book.

18mabith
lokakuu 16, 2020, 3:30am


Quantum: A Guide for the Perplexed by Jim Al-Khalili

Eventually I'll read enough of these books for the information to fully penetrate my brain. I assume. This was a pretty good one.

19mabith
lokakuu 16, 2020, 3:38am


Don't You Like Me? by Lu Tianyi

If you thought my two regular books in a row were a sign of a return to my previous reading cycles, oh boy, were we both wrong. I know my toothgnashing about suddenly reading what are mostly romance novels is getting old, but imagine suddenly being wildly interested in a genre you've never touched before! It's unnerving.

This one involved a cowardly boy who could suddenly see ghosts but the power/curse faded if he clung to his yang-overloaded roommate. The classic tale. Highlights include him having to listen to his boyfriend's ancestor's ghosts complain about their relationship.

20mabith
lokakuu 16, 2020, 3:46am


Little Gods by Meng Jin

The story of an eccentric scientist, Su Lan, and her daughter, Liya. Liya mostly grew up in the US, with her mother carefully hiding any details of their past. When Su Lan dies suddenly, Liya takes the chance to try to figure out her mother's story and find out who her father is. The focus switches characters several times through the book.

I liked this quite a bit. It's a fairly quiet book, a good one for a book club that is better than the stereotypical book club book.

21avaland
lokakuu 16, 2020, 1:36pm

Not sure how I missed this thread, but I'm all caught up now!

22mabith
lokakuu 16, 2020, 1:39pm


Reborn with an Old Enemy on the Day of Our Marriage - Lin Zhiluo

I finally found it, a truly excellent gay Chinese web novel. It was very funny, very sweet, and well paced. Admittedly there was quite a lot of "work hard, do your homework" propagandizing as well.

Two boys spent about ten years feuding before realizing they had developed feelings for each other (suspend your disbelief). They're now in their 30s and decide to get married. While on the plane their consciousnesses are sent back to their 17 yr old selves, just before they make some mistakes that hugely impacted their lives (which they can now prevent of course). Now the two enemies are suddenly inseparable, and their respective friends groups, parents, and teachers are incredibly confused. Plus 30-something brains dealing adults who think they're teenagers is always amusing.

I truly loved this book. My book club has been goading me to suggest one of these books for us to read, and I'm slightly tempted with this one. I think this is my aspirational book, I would love to relive my late teens and twenties with the knowledge I have now.

23mabith
Muokkaaja: lokakuu 19, 2020, 9:12pm

On the plus side my reading numbers for October are basically back to my normal level. On the meh side I've mostly been binge reading novels of questionable quality. I keep starting them because it is genuinely nice to read a novel in a day or just get sucked into something, which isn't happening with a lot of my reading (and watching). And October is only half over. I think dread of the election has really slowed this month down for me.

Feng Mang by Chai Jidan - I worry for this author but I do really like her ridiculous characters. 3 stars.

Reborn into a Dating Game by Long Qi - Silly, cute, too heavy on the fantasy world issues and not heavy enough on the romance. 3 stars.

Fake Dating the Amnesiac School Prince by Qiao Bi - Meh, ups and downs, more homework propaganda. 2 1/2 stars.

Tattoo by Bu Wen Sanjui - Genuinely very sweet and enjoyable yet also grown up. I can only read about high school/college people so much, especially now that I talk to them in real life so often. 4 stars.

I Just Want to be in a Relationship by Lian Shuo - SO CUTE and fun and a different twist on the transmigration trope (actor who kept his sexuality hidden and never dated at the advice of his agent has his consciousness sent back seven years to when he was just starting out, whereupon he and an autistic college professor imprint on each other). 4 stars.

Agree to be in a Relationship for 30 Days by Lin Zhiluo - Who among us hasn't said, upon discovering our crush is a terrible person, "I'll pretend to date my former enemy to upset all the people who wish they could date me." That makes so much sense. 3 stars but only for silliness.

After Brushing Face at the Apocalypse's Boss for 364 Days by Da Yuan Zi - These "I've gone into a video game" books are so variable. It took over half the book for the love interests to routinely be in the same space and aware their feelings were mutual. Disappointment! 2 stars.

Received a Wife from the Civil Affairs Bureau by Bai Nian Jun - I would like to live in a world where a woman can propose to a woman she just met at the marriage office and have the crowd support that. I mean, sort of, public marriage proposals are really not okay, but this is basically fantasy fiction. Very cute, and I related to the outgoing character who was very cheeky and flirty and but secretly quite nervous and insecure as this was her first real relationship. 4 stars.

24mabith
lokakuu 17, 2020, 12:04pm

Also, I know there are lots of fluffy gay novels from anglophone authors, but I'm learning lots of good idioms and cultural things from these which sort of help with my Mandarin learning. Plus you don't get enough transmigration silliness in western fiction (and you frequently get more sex scenes than I would like).

25mabith
lokakuu 17, 2020, 12:08pm


Mirage: Napoleon's Scientists and the Unveiling of Egypt by Nina Burleigh

Note: I didn't read ALL those Chinese books in a row, I just thought I'd post them together. This was actually my third October finish.

A nice little history book about a subject I knew almost nothing about. Previously any knowledge I had of Napoleon's invasion of Egypt came from Tom Reiss' excellent book about Alexandre Dumas' father, The Black Count, and it didn't focus on the scientists of course. Both are good reads.

26mabith
lokakuu 19, 2020, 8:44pm


The Year 1000: When Explorers Connected the World--and Globalization Began by Valerie Hansen

The subtitle makes it sound like Hansen is particularly pushing an "entire world fully connected" idea, but she's not. She's talking about important contacts between specific regions which had large impacts.

This was generally interesting. Not super in depth, not super detailed, but a good read for giving you a few things to think about and maybe encouraging reading in specific directions.

27mabith
lokakuu 19, 2020, 8:47pm


Nothing Ever Dies: Vietnam and the Memory of War by Viet Thanh Nguyen

This is a sprawling sort of book. Very well done, very well written, probably not what I should have picked up in mid-November, but worthwhile. I'd definitely recommend it.

Going from fluffy romance to this and a fiction book which is giving me serious anxiety (it's a relationship under strain partly due to the couple not being honest with each other), it was a shock to the system.

28mabith
lokakuu 19, 2020, 9:05pm


The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Another un-cheerful book (though it's written largely in a light tone)! I wouldn't have read this right now, but my book club picked it. It was on my to-read list, so that's not a bad thing.

Very well-written, as is everything by Coates. I was impressed that he did this well with his first novel. There are some aspects that I'm not sure about (does giving Tubman magical powers diminish what she accomplished in real life?), and the end was extremely open, but it was a good read.

29mabith
lokakuu 19, 2020, 9:09pm


Pimsleur Mandarin 3

Not a book, but I finished the third volume of Pimsleur Mandarin audio lessons (I also have a Mandarin app I use that I really like - Hello Chinese). Just adding it here because I'm proud I'm still doing Mandarin lessons even if sometimes I'm not as dedicated as I'd like to be. I have stuck with working on it for over a year now!

Some US company bought the rights to Miss S, the Chinese adaptation of Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries, and who knows when it will be released with English subs. It has given me some pressure to up the pace of my learning because the original show is such a favorite and I also love Chinese dramas. Will the cab drivers still be communists is one of my many questions.

30mabith
Muokkaaja: marraskuu 17, 2020, 7:17pm

I technically read seven more Chinese web novels, but you don't need to know about all of them.



Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation - This was the second edit of the novel that the hit show The Untamed was based on. I say hit since I do know a number of people who don't watch Asian dramas who did watch this, so I guess it counts (it is hugely unwarrantedly popular in the Asian drama world). Chinese TV studios have decided their new Olympic sport is getting shows based on explicitly gay novels past the censures. I'm not sure how many straight people going into the show without prior knowledge would clock the romance but I think all LGBT+ folks would (since we're used to looking for/creating that subtext). I watched the show so I could properly criticize it, which it deserves because people seem to refuse to engage critically with it, and read the book out of curiosity.

I Have Amnesia, Don't be Noisy - Man rescues boyfriend after he was kidnapped and then loses memory after a head injury. His mother tries to convince him he was engaged to a woman but luckily the one thing/person he remembers is his boyfriend. I really like a novel where the couple is already together because right now I just want Fluff. This had some dramatic bits but they didn't last too long, and there was so much humor in it.

Stop Bothering Me, Emperor - The previous author wrote this one too, with main characters who were side characters in I Have Amnesia (this came first though). Fictional emperor who married a man, emperor dies and lover kills himself so they can reincarnate together. They end up waking up as high schoolers who then have to catch up to modern times and sort out their messed up families. Again, it's very nice to read books where the couple is already together and there's not angst around that.

31mabith
marraskuu 17, 2020, 2:51am


Polar Vortex by Shani Mootoo

Priya and Alexandra fled the city to live a simple rural life, and Priya took the opportunity to cut ties with most of her former life. Now her college friend Prakash is coming to visit and she's anxiously lost in the memories of their complicated relationship, which is creating trouble in her relationship with Alex.

I found this incredibly stressful to read. All three characters behave poorly, deceiving themselves and projecting guilt and blame. It was a little too realistic.

The writing is very good, which is probably the main reason it succeeded in stressing me out so much. Recommended if you want contemporary sadness.

32mabith
marraskuu 17, 2020, 7:16pm


And the Band Played On: Politics, People, and the AIDS Epidemic by Randy Shilts

I'm old enough to have grown up with the AIDS being a very present part of news cycles, and even the rare TV show (Life Goes On really decided to break my heart young) but young enough that I also grew up knowing all the facts about it. Trying to imagine the early years was so difficult, and admittedly a lot of the ignorance on display in the book is willful. I've been meaning to read this for years, and I guess I'm glad I waited until a pandemic to finally get to it. While there are not loads of similarities, I do think it helped get my head more in the right space.

The writing and pacing of the book is truly accomplished, and it's something everyone should read. Part of me does wish I'd read it closer to my reading of Saturday is for Funerals, but we can't have everything.

33RidgewayGirl
marraskuu 17, 2020, 7:57pm

>27 mabith: I picked up a copy of Nothing Ever Dies because the author is lovely and I've liked his novel and short stories. Thanks for the reminder to read it.

>28 mabith: I liked this one, but had the same question you did. I do think that discovering this as a teenager would have been impactful in many ways. The portrait of the Virginia plantation owner who worked for the Underground Railroad was so fascinating.

34mabith
marraskuu 17, 2020, 11:54pm

Kay, it would be definitely be good if The Water Dancer gets picked up for required reading in high school. There are so many branches the discussion can go.

35mabith
marraskuu 17, 2020, 11:57pm


Donald Duck: Under the Polar Ice - Carl Barks

Another volume of Duck comics. I will probably stop buying *every* volume, since I have so many now and we're getting into a less stellar period. I will still buy the Uncle Scrooge volumes though.

There's no really stand out story in this volume, and it includes a number of Grandma Duck comics. I remain annoyed that they've been sticking those and Gyro Gearloose titles in these volumes rather than having some separate books for them.

36mabith
marraskuu 18, 2020, 12:01am


The Realist by Asaf Hanuka

This is a collection of one-page autobiographical comics. Sometimes they are way off in fantasy allegory land, sometimes they're very straight forward. They're almost all very internal and person, vs taking in the wider world.

It wasn't a great read for me, though there were some standouts. I think all the autobiographical comics by middle-aged men with wives and kids who are having a hard time balancing/enjoying their lives all run together now.

37kidzdoc
marraskuu 21, 2020, 8:59am

I agree with you, Meredith: And the Band Played On is outstanding, and it should be required reading. Your review reminded me that I need to make time for the book How to Survive a Plague: The Story of How Activists and Scientists Tamed AIDS by David France early next year.

38mabith
joulukuu 20, 2020, 12:14pm

>37 kidzdoc: That's another one on my list. A nice hat trick with my earlier read of Saturday is for Funerals.

39mabith
joulukuu 20, 2020, 12:34pm


I didn't read all of these in a row, but these are the last ones for November. All were SO good and satisfying and now I'm worried I'm nearly out of already fully translated fluff.

My Underachieving Seatmate Doesn't Need Comforting - Privileged kid going undercover at a normal school to aid in recovering from trauma. His seatmate sleeps through class but turns out to be the number one student in the city, and of course has an immediate crush on the new kid. Super sweet and very funny as their friends assume they're dating months before they are leading them to try to protect their 'secret' in amusing ways.

Waiting for you Online - College student starts playing a game again, after abandoning his account for six years. He immediately receives a message from a former friend, his game character's 'husband,' who has been unconsciously awaiting his return. Of course it turns out they're attending the same college.

Rebirth of a Movie Star - Actor whose career goes from high to low over and over as he's taken advantage of by his family and blackmailed for his sexuality dies, but awakens seven years earlier just before his career takes off. Previously he'd ignored a powerful man who had courted him, but this time around decides to accept his protection and avoid mistakes from before.

Very Happy - Small time actor finally gets a few breaks, and in the process befriends a man he thinks has a small amount of money from selling a house. In reality he's an extremely wealthy company president with hidden trauma and the actor is the ray of sunshine he needs. Aww. This was interesting in that two of the side characters were actually rebirth cases and kept targeting the main character thinking they'd succeed by removing him from competition (it never works).

As I continue to ponder why I'm so drawn to these books (there are many reasons), one thing that strikes me is how often a character only seem to have ever fallen in love with one person even though they're 22 or even older. I realized recently that, though I'm 35, I've had maybe two proper crushes in my life, and they've never faded. Almost all my romantic relationships had no romantic feelings, just a background of "logically we get along and can be good friends and dating is a way to deeper friendship." Something that would seem incredibly unrealistic to some readers is something I deeply relate to.

40mabith
joulukuu 20, 2020, 12:36pm


Chernobyl: The History of a Nuclear Catastrophe by Serhii Plokhy

A good read, well written and accessible.

41mabith
joulukuu 20, 2020, 12:41pm


Memorial Drive: A Daughter's Memoir by Natasha Tretheway

Poets write such beautiful memoirs, and this is no exception. When Tretheway was 19 her mother was shot and killed by her former step-father (notably after a police officer who was supposed to remain outside the building left his post). It's heartbreaking and beautifully written and well worth a read.

42mabith
joulukuu 20, 2020, 12:45pm


The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Vol 5 by Ryan North and Erica Henderson

Another really fun volume. This has been such a good run, and just the kind of title that mainstream comics needs.

43mabith
joulukuu 20, 2020, 12:52pm


Granma Nineteen and the Soviet's Secret by Ondjaki

By the beaches of Luanda, the Soviets are building a grand mausoleum in honour of the Comrade President. Granmas are whispering: houses, they say, will be dexploded, and everyone will have to leave. With the help of his friends Charlita and Pi (whom everyone calls 3.14), and with assistance from Dr. Rafael KnockKnock, the Comrade Gas Jockey, the amorous Gudafterov, crazy Sea Foam, and a ghost, our young hero must decide exactly how much trouble he’s willing to face to keep his Granma safe in Bishop’s Beach.

This is my second read by this author and it was really enjoyable. He writes children so well, and the flow of the book made it very more-ish to read. Recommended.

44mabith
joulukuu 20, 2020, 1:42pm

I've totally given in to my Chinese webnovels, and it's very nice. It's such a comfort place to just read all day. Plus I'm learning all this interesting slang and unexpected cultural notes (like the Chicken Soup for the Soul books have come up a number of times, when a character has delivered a particularly fluffy platitude another character will ask if they're serving up chicken soup). I've always been coming across a loan word referring to Mary Sue characters but in these cases it's only referring to a person's voice, not their skills at all.

Only two of the recent batch of eight deserve words.

A Guide on How to Fail at Online Dating - Uni student's cousin gets deceived by a fellow player in a game and he decides to take revenge by pretending to a be a girl in the game and getting the guy to fall in love with him before revealing the deception. The target quickly figures out who the protag is (they go to the same university, of course) and assumes he's pretending to be female because he's in love with him but can't admit it. Obviously eventually they're both in love and it's all adorable. And yes, the game-based novel is a huge genre in China (there are a number of TV shows with that focus as well).

Everyone Thinks I Like Him - A student is caught taking a picture of the school idol, and everyone assumes it's because he has a crush on him. In reality he's taking them to trade with a girl for pictures of the boy he actually likes. His friends, refusing to listen to denials, rally behind him to encourage a relationship between the two, including forcibly moving him to a new room in the dorm. These friend misunderstandings are always so much fun. This book actually had some thoughtful commentary on the way we can get stuck on a categorization of someone and have a hard time changing it even when our actions show that our feelings have changed.

45mabith
joulukuu 20, 2020, 1:50pm


Caesar's Legion: The Epic Saga of Julius Caesar's Elite Tenth Legion and the Armies of Rome by Stephen Dando-Collins

A mixed bag book that felt a little confused about it's audience at times. Not particularly recommended. The author also uses Roman army rank terms for some ranks and Australian/UK ranks (maybe US for US editions? I don't know, they're similar anyway), which was bad news for me because I know the Roman order better. It was a weird choice though.

46mabith
joulukuu 20, 2020, 1:55pm


The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman

When I heard about this book I knew I'd read it, because I like Osman so much generally. I didn't expect it to become such a huge hit, but I'm certainly happy it did.

I don't read many modern mysteries (zero really), when I read a recently published mystery it's always a historical one. If they were all like this though, I'd read more. It's a very fun book, with an emphasis on the characters. Osman's grasp on them really impressed me, and if I'd read this unaware I might have assumed it was written by a woman (which is a compliment).

Great fun, and just what we all needed this year.

47mabith
joulukuu 20, 2020, 2:19pm


Dance with Snakes by Horacio Castellanos Moya

My track record with magical realism novellas is mostly bad. It's often a genre that doesn't appeal to me, but sometimes I love it (like novels where the house is a character, that's my jam).

The first third of this book unexpectedly turned to a murder spree with talking snakes. Somehow, this book really worked for me. Perhaps it's the desire for talking snakes, or the characterization of them. Perhaps it's the fact that the perspective shifted a couple times and the plot didn't go where I expected it to.

Recommended but be prepared for a crazy journey.

48kidzdoc
joulukuu 20, 2020, 9:11pm

Memorial Drive is superb, and it's one of my best books of 2020.

49mabith
tammikuu 2, 4:47pm

>48 kidzdoc: Definitely one of mine as well.

50mabith
tammikuu 2, 5:15pm

Time for another round up of my Chinese (and one Korean) novels. I've never smiled so much while reading before.



You Boys Play Games Very Well - There are just so many gaming based novels. I guess the unknown identity factor is too tempting a lure for romance writing. This one was very funny and cute, which is all I want in books lately.

Later He Became a Royal Healer - Another gaming novel, another pretty cute and fun one, though it took way too long for the main couple to get together. It had a double hidden identity, which made for some good humor.

Mr. Melancholy Wants to Live a Peaceful Life - This was quite a unique fantasy novel. Some body with power basically kidnaps people and forces them to go on missions in various worlds, killing targets. One person completes so many that he's able to settle on a peaceful world, pretending to be a regular person with his power sealed. While he's hiding that identity, his partner is hiding his own identity as a secret protector of that world. There were strange powers, a lot of comedy, and the plot was actually very nicely done and well paced.

New Times, New Hell - What happens when the underworld needs a computer programmer and has to hire a living human in a work place staffed by ghosts? All sorts of hi-jinks, that's what! As he's modernizing afterlife dealings and ghost hunting the ghost king (aka the boss) has fallen in love. This was HILARIOUS at times. It's by the same author who wrote my favorite Chinese book of this year, and was almost as good.

51mabith
tammikuu 2, 5:20pm


Waking Up White, and Finding Myself in the Story of Race by Debby Irving

Read for my book club. A memoir about the author educating herself about racism and the up and down journey of actually internalizing what she learned. Irving was incredibly sheltered, to the point where it seems almost unbelievable for someone living in cities. Her parents went particularly hard on the "never let the children see/hear anything remotely pleasant" front and she was a late baby but it was a little shocking at times.

It wasn't a book that told me anything I didn't know already, but I commend Irving for her seeming willingness to be extremely honest and open about this process.

52mabith
tammikuu 2, 5:23pm


Disability Visibility: First-Person Stories from the Twenty-First Century edited by Alice Wong

A very good read for me, and one essay by someone with chronic pain (which I also have) felt like it could have been pulled from my own journals. Recommended for anyone.

The audio edition is not the best. It should have had at least two readers, so they could alternate and the essays wouldn't run together so much.

53mabith
Muokkaaja: tammikuu 2, 6:40pm

I really failed on using LT this year, but I'm glad I managed to at least keep writing my reviews since it does help my memory of what I read. I hope next year will be different and I can be a better member of the groups I'm in. I'd have found more new-to-me books that really suited me if I hadn't gotten behind reading everyone's threads.

Looking back at what I read in the first three months of the year and wow, I feel like I barely remember those books. All the same, here are my favorites for the year:

Non-Fiction:
It's OK That You're Not OK – Megan Devine
In the Dream House – Carmen Maria Machado
Stamped From the Beginning – Ibram X. Kendi
Good Talk – Mira Jacob
Silver, Sword, and Stone – Marie Arana
In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts – Gabor Mate
The Whisperers: Private Life in Stalin's Russia – Orlando Figes
Our Women on the Ground – Zahra Hankir
Revolution at Point Zero – Silvia Federici
Brazil: A Biography – Lilia M. Schwarcz
Nothing Ever Dies – Viet Thanh Nguyen
Memorial Drive – Natasha Tretheway
And the Band Played On – Randy Shilts

Fiction:
Strange as This Weather Has Been – Ann Pancake
Saudade – Suneeta Peres da Costa
Romola – George Eliot
The Big Six – Arthur Ransome
Heartstopper Vol 1-3 – Alice Oseman
In the Country – Mia Alvar
Female General and Eldest Princess – Qing Jun Mo Xiao
Don't You Like Me – Lu Tianyi
Little Gods – Meng Jin
Reborn with an Old Enemy on the Day of Our Marriage - Lin Zhiluo
Received a Wife from the Civil Affairs Bureau – Bái Niàn Jūn
I have Amnesia, Don't be Noisy – Lu Ye Qian He
Granma Nineteen and the Soviet's Secret – Ondjaki
The Thursday Murder Club – Richard Osman
New Times, New Hell – Lin Zhiluo