SarahMichigan (sarahmichigan) wrote in 50bookchallenge,

Books #33-34

Book #33 was "The Summer Prince" by Alaya Dawn Johnson. I ran into the author in an elevator at a local convention, and I wish I had read this book before I met her because I would have gone full-on fangirl on her and squeed about how much I LOVED this book. It's a YA dystopian novel set in a futuristic Brazil, when some kind of nuclear disaster has radically changed the earth's climate and political structures. Teenage aspiring artist June Costa lives in Palmeres Tres and has a best friend name Gil. Her city elects a "Summer King" every 5 years who gets to live for one year as king and then appoints the new queen as he is sacrificed at the end of his reign. June falls in love with the newly-elected Summer King, Enki, but Enki falls in love with Gil. Over the next year, Enki becomes June's close friend and artistic collaborator, and June begins to understand the ways her city is corrupt and in trouble and begins to question the way queens are appointed and young men are elected to be summer kings. This is very, very loosely based on the Epic of Gilgamesh, with the thematic elements of city vs. wilderness and necessary sacrifices coming through from the myth. I adored everything about this book, including the design of the hardback, and I am excited to see what else Johnson will write in the future. Highly, highly recommended.

Book #34 was "The Killer of Little Shepherds: A True Crime Story and the Birth of Forensic Science" by Douglass Starr. I thought this book about 19th century French serial killer Joseph Vacher was really well done. It puts the killing spree in context and taught me a lot about the very beginnings of forensic science, as the subtitle suggests. Vacher was known to have killed at least 11 people, possibly as many as 25, and all but a few were teenage boys or girls, many of them sheepherders, thus the title "Killer of Little Shepherds." The case wasn't well-known in the U.S. but it sparked a huge debate about the insanity defense, which was very new at the time of these murders in the 1890s. The book was well written for the average person and contains a selection of photographs of the killer, the men who caught and prosecuted him, and reproductions of newspaper stories and headlines from the case. I liked this book a lot and would recommend it to anyone interested in *real* forensic science, which is very messy compared to the TV version, and anyone interested in true crime and serial killer tales.

1. Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace ... One School at a Time" [nonfiction]- David Oliver Relin and Greg Mortenson (unabridged audiobook)
2. The Detroit Electric Scheme [fiction]- D.E. Johnson
3. Classic Philip Jose Farmer 1964-1973 (Volume 5  in the Classics of Modern Science Fiction series) [fiction/short stories]- PJ Farmer
4. "The Aspern Papers" and "The Turn of the Screw" (omnibus volume with notes and commentary) [fiction]- Henry James
5. Ever After (11th in "The Hollows" series) [fiction]- Kim Harrison (unabridged audiobook)
6. On Gold Mountain: The One-Hundred-Year Odyssey of My Chinese-American Family [nonfiction]- Lisa See
7. Are You My Mother?: A Comic Drama [nonfiction/ graphic memoir]- written and illustrated by Alison Bechdel
8. My Year with Eleanor: A Memoir [nonfiction/memoir]- Noelle Hancock
9. House of Leaves [fiction]- Mark Z. Danielewski
10. Ready Player One [fiction]- Ernest Cline (unabridged audiobook)
11. Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America [nonfiction]- Barbara Ehrenreich
12. Too Late to Die Young: Nearly True Tales from a Life [nonfiction/memoir]- Harriet McBryde Johnson
13. The Blood of Olympus (Heroes of Olympus series) [fiction]- Rick Riordan (unabridged audiobook)
14. Ivanhoe [fiction]- Sir Walter Scott
15. Ancillary Justice [fiction]- Ann Leckie
16. Beauty Queens [fiction]- Libba Bray (unabridged audiobook)
17. Burnt Mountain [fiction]- Anne Rivers Siddons
18. Midnight in Siberia: A Train Journey into the Heart of Russia [nonfiction]- David Greene
19. Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex [nonfiction]- Mary Roach (unabridged audiobook)
20. The Likeness [fiction]- Tana French
21. Atonement [fiction]- Ian McEwan
22. The Westing Game [fiction]- Ellen Raskin (unabridged audiobook)
23. Nappy Edges [poetry]- Ntozake Shange
24. Childhood's End [fiction]- Arthur C. Clarke
25. Tartuffe [play/drama]- Moliere, translated and with introduction by Richard Wilbur
26. Bicycle Diaries [nonfiction]- David Byrne
27. Cotton Comes to Harlem [fiction]- Chester Himes
28. Artemis Fowl: The Time Paradox [fiction]- Eoin Colfer (unabridged audiobook)
29. House of Sand and Fog [fiction]- Andre Dubus III
30. Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes [nonfiction]- Maria Konnikova
31. Blood Colony [fiction]- Tannarive Due
32. All the Light We Cannot See [fiction]- Anthony Doerr (unabridged audiobook)


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