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Reading in November

November was a tough month for me. And I think my reading showed it. I returned several books to the library that I just knew I wouldn't be able to read right now (right then).

So, first, the books I did not read:
Barkskins by Annie Proulx. Have you seen this book? 717 pages. One of the searchable metadata descriptions for it is "epic fiction." I have to try to remember it and save it for a month I can dedicate to an epic.

The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill. It's nearly award time for Children's and YA literature and this book was touted early on as a contender, plus I like Kelly Barnhill. But a friend read it and didn't think too much of it, so I've moved it to a back burner (or whatever the equivalent is in reading -- no burning books!) and will read it later rather than sooner.

Girl Unbroken: A Sister's Harrowing Tale of Survival from the Streets of Long Island to the Farms of Idaho by Regina Calcaterra and Rosie Maloney. The authors are sisters and I read Regina's first harrowing book (Etched in Sand) so I know the horrible way she and her siblings were abused and discarded right here on Long Island. I started it and decided not to go on. I'm not closing my eyes to the situations they describe, but rather just paring my reading list. I know that Rosie goes on to find peace.  

Crosstalk by Connie Willis. Guys, I love Connie Willis. I made it through six chapters and thought, I think I've read this all before. (I'm not going to tell the plot, but it's very today in the sense that it involves lots of cell phones and the internet.) I will read it in its entirety one day. Just not now. (I've said that a three times already in one post!)

So, what did I read? I think I'll list them in order from favorite to least favorite:

The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon. (YA)
99% of the action in this book takes place in one day. And it's almost a glorious day, as two teens happen to meet and truly fall in love. It all goes to shite near the end and it's sad. But it ends on a wonderful note. Thank goodness or I would have thrown the book across the room. (No, I wouldn't have. It was a library book.)

Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk. (YA)
This book examines prejudice in subtle and not-so-subtle ways. It's also about bravery. And doing what's right. It's a bit sad, but worth the read.

The Lion in the Living Room: How House Cats Tames Us and Took Over the World by Abigail Tucker. (A, NF)
I think the title says it all. Cats are apex predators and we shouldn't be surprised some day if there are more house cats than there are people.

The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman (A, Fantasy)
I'm still looking for a fantasy novel that will engage me the way fantasy novels did when I was a teen. It might just be me. I got old and crankier. But this was good. It really was. The novel mixes in a bit of world building, multiple dimensions, non-human creatures, and adventure. I considered reading the second in the series, but time is against me. Still I recommend it for fantasy-loving librarians. 

Sachiko: A Nagasaki Bomb Survivor's Story by Caren Stelson. (J, NF)
This is a very informative book and may win some awards. I didn't think the writing was very sophisticated -- I know, it's a children's book, but even so, the writing left much to be desired. It wasn't engaging. You could argue that the story is so horrific that it shouldn't be engaging. But no, writing for children should always be engaging. This writing was dull. 

Gertie's Leap to Greatness by Kate Beasley (J)
Poor Gertie. Her mom didn't want anything to do with her from the moment she was born. This year -- before her mom moves out of state -- Gertie is going to show what a wonderful kid she really is. Things don't go as planned, but Gertie proves she's a great kid anyway.

A City Dreaming by Daniel Polansky (A, Fantasy)
Oh! Another fantasy book. This one takes place in an alternate world, similar to ours, but not. It's actually reads like a series of short tales unified into a novel. I liked it. I would recommend it. Would I read a sequel? Nope. It's not a world that I want to return to. 

As Close to Us as Breathing by Elizabeth Poliner (A)
I wish I had liked this book a little more. It's about three Jewish sisters and their families in the 1940s and it's depressing. A death occurs (we're told about it from the start) and then we go back and forth to relive that fateful summer. But the family falls apart completely and no one's story has a happy ending. I would sort of recommend it because it does describe an interesting period in history for American Jews.

My Name Is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout (A)
I read this book (as well as the book directly above) because one of our librarians here picked these books for her monthly readers group. I was a little surprised at how boring this one was. Nothing happened. A woman is sick and in the hospital and her taciturn mom comes and talks to her, revealing a love for Lucy that Lucy didn't know and town gossip at the same time. It was OK. But I expected more.

Words on the Move: Why English Can't and Won't Sit Still by John McWhorter (A, NF)
I was an editor; I like reading about words. This book is a bit esoteric, though. He uses PhD level terminology that kills off much of the enjoyment. 

Inherit the Bones by Emily Littlejohn (A)
I think if I were ever to attempt to write a mystery, it might turn out like this. All the hallmarks of a police procedural were included and checked off -- honest cop who will do what's right regardless, newbie who gets hurt, bad copy who turns out not to be so bad, old timers being old timey. So, it was an OK book, but I didn't love it. Congrats to Emily Littlejohn -- you did good. I think you have a lot of promise. I loved your main detective and hope your future books get better and better.

The Wild Robot by Peter Brown (J)
I do not know what to make of this book. A lot of librarians like it. One of my co-workers loves it. I feel like I don't have a heart for disliking it. Simple summary: It's the near future... robots help us with everything. A shipment of robots crashes and only one robot is left intact on a woody island. (I'm thinking Pacific Northwest.) She learns little by little of the ways of the creatures of the island (and even adopts a goose) and in the end sacrifices herself to protect them all. Ugh.

Rivers of London: Body of Work by Ben Aaronovitch (A, Graphic)
I wish I hadn't wasted my time. It's a graphic novel trying to be a noir/police procedural. All it is is choppy and poorly rendered (not the art work, the storytelling).

It just occurred to me that I never wrote about the books I read in October. My brain is so tired. This gives me a serendipitous opportunity to tell you that I took advantage of my library's Pinterest page and made a board of all the books I've read this year! Woo-hoo. You can look at the books any old time if you have a Pinterest account. Look for Marie's 2016 Reads on the Hewlett page. Of course, all the books I read are also on Goodreads. (Word to the wise, use Pinterest and Goodreads, and you can free up some RAM in your brain.)


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