December 23rd, 2014

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American Star Flight Girl; Syllabus Wolf; Normal Sleeper Oversight

Earth Girl, Earth Star, and Earth Flight by Janet Edwards
Sometimes I talk about "my platonic xylophone solo" and "my platonic epic fantasy trilogy" and etc. Turns out that this is my platonic juvenile SF story - the one I was looking for when I read all those other ones. Since I'm a grown-up now, and I've read ever so many science fiction stories, they didn't have quite the impact on me they would have had at thirteen... but I ate them up just as greedily.
(254; 256; 265, O50)

The Best American Comics 2014, edited by Bill Kartalopolous and Scott McCloud
I was curious to see what would happen with this series after its previous series editors left... so far it seems to be quite similar, which is a good thing. Scott McCloud, the guest editor, actually had a pretty heavy organizational hand in this year's volume, which was also to the good - coherent sections with introductions!

Syllabus, by Lynda Barry
An idiosyncratic and fascinating compendium of class- and teaching-related materials by one of my favorite cartoonists. My copy was misprinted but I read it anyway because I am weird like that, then I went and found a proper copy to read the part I missed.

Wolf in White Van, by John Darnielle
This story of a guy and his mistakes and his career as a mail-in game maker was really hard to follow at first but once I put enough of the story together to have a hold on the plot, I really liked it. And throughout there were small gems of paragraphs or sentences that I found myself reading over and over again, sometimes out loud.

The Sleeper and the Spindle, by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Chris Riddell
A kid's fairy tale - a new one and/or a mashup of some old ones. So pretty, so engrossing. Not quite as perfect as I hoped it would be, but I'll still be keeping and rereading it.
(258, O47)

Ms. Marvel, vol. 1: No Normal, by G. Willow Wilson et al
Fun! Straightforward adventure story with a wonderful, well-developed protagonist.
(259, O48)

The Oversight, by Charlie Fletcher
This historical fantasy was rich and vivid and strange and I'm so glad there will be more of them. The characters and the worldbuilding and the magical structure and the plot were all wonderful.
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    Shamir, "On the Regular"
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Great Hooked Monument Sky; Inhuman Tidying Science; Olympians No-Drama Shy Apocalypse

Monument 14 and Monument 14: Sky on Fire, by Emmy Laybourne
For both of these, I started reading and then didn't stop - even to get a drink of water or something - until the book was finished. Compelling as heck. I am a sucker for stories about kids of different ages having to work together to survive. (Less importantly, I also liked that it was set in Colorado. I enjoy stories like this even more when they happen somewhere I can clearly picture.)
(261, 284)

Peter Panzerfaust, vol. 1: The Great Escape and vol. 2: Hooked, by Kurtis J. Wiebe et al
The idea of Peter Pan in WW2 without magic is a really neat one, and these are well-told and well-illustrated. I'm not in love with them but they're so well-done I'll probably read the next one too.
(262, 277)

Inhuman Beings, by Jerry Jay Carroll (reread)
So much of this book is in the plot; it was fun to reread it and pay more attention to how it's built. All the same things appealed to me and annoyed me as last time through. It's more or less Philip K Dick if Veronica Mars' dad was telling the story, so if you like those guys, you should like this. I did.
(263, O49)

Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, by Marie Kondo
This is such a weird and at times really perplexing book. But it did light a fire under me to get me started on cleaning up my house after years of grad-school-induced sloth in the housekeeping department (I'm on page 2 of my 6 page plan). And there were some exceptionally insightful points mixed in among the "really????"s.

The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2014, edited by Tim Folger and Deborah Blum
Lots of interesting essays in here, more than the average year. Some of them only barely felt like they fit, but since those ones were particularly good, I didn't mind. A particularly large number of global-warming-related stories, which is both reassuring and depressing.

Once Bitten, Twice Shy, by Jennifer Rardin
Bad-ass heroine, appealing romantic lead, intricate plot and engaging secondary characters. Yep, I will be reading more of these. I actually would've already except it reminded me of several other similar series that I had to abandon that I want to catch up first (Kelly Armstrong and Jennifer Estep and Rachel Caine's books, among others).

The End of the World: Stories of the Apocalypse, edited by Martin H. Greenberg
This anthology ranges widely through the 20th and 21st centuries. Funny to realize I could mostly tell when a story was written from the attitudes espoused therein. I enjoyed most of these stories though nothing made me swoon.

No-Drama Discipline, by Daniel J. Siegel and Tina Bryson
So I've been trying to re-parent my inner children (yeah, yeah, therapy speak) and I had the idea that reading some parenting books might help me with that. Turns out they did, but mostly by confirming that a) I wasn't doing such a bad job and b) I did an okay job with the parenting I did do as an oldest sibling with not-always-present-or-helpful parents. This one is very clearly written, with warmth, honesty, and thoughtfulness. Doesn't talk a whole lot about kids who aren't in "normal" situations, but it does acknowledge that they exist - I think they are trying to reach possibly-borderline-abusive parents, too, and thus were being careful of what they said and how they said it.
(269, O51)

The Olympians: Zeus: King of the Gods, Athena: Grey-Eyed Goddess, Hera: The Goddess and Her Glory, Hades: Lord of the Dead, Poseidon: Earth Shaker, and Aphrodite: Goddess of Love by George O'Connor
A hoot! Beautifully drawn, cleverly put together retellings of some of the major Greek myths, using individual gods as the focus points of each book. Poseidon and Hera were my favorites.
(270; 294, O63; 299, O65; 300, O66; 301, O67; 302, O68)
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    Majid Bekkas, "Choroq"
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Slowly Curse Easy Love; Grave Truth; Yesterday's Rockaway

Curse of the Mistwraith, by Janny Wurts
There was a good story somewhere in this very very thick fantasy novels about two opposed brothers but the prose was REALLY flowery and I kept getting bored and reading other stuff so it took me about 7 years to finish the thing and by then I wasn't very enthused about it.
(271, O52)

Bite Me: Big Easy Nights, by Marion G. Harmon
Jacky is one of my favorite characters in this author's main superhero series so I was excited to read a whole book about her. It ... it was good but fairly firmly in the Genre of Vampire, of which I have read many books and have very high standards, rather than the Genre of Superhero, which the author excels at. So I was a bit let down. I mean, it was good. Just not all that.

How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America, by Kiese Laymon
I like Laymon's writing so much that I keep rereading it. Recently an essay of his went viral and it reminded me that I'd been meaning to buy this (and reread the essays which I mostly had read on his blog) so I did. They translate very well to the printed page. He's one of those writers that is so splendid I don't know how to explain it. Just go read some of his stuff already.
(273, O53)

My True Love Gave to Me, edited by Stephanie Perkins
I read at least one Christmas/holiday-themed anthology almost every year and this was one of the ones I read this year - more or less YA themed. I think it's my favorite Christmas/holiday anthology too. Every story was good and some of them were REALLY good. <3.

Grave Peril, by Jim Butcher, read by James Marsters (audiobook, reread)
This is the point in the Jim Butcher series where I started to really like them! So it is also the point at which I started to SWOON over the audiobooks. I'm so excited that there are so many more of these :D :D:D:D:D:D. They make excellent company while I'm cleaning or cataloging my books, too.

Yesterday's Kin, by Nancy Kress
I enjoyed this sf novella quite a bit - especially because it had lots of biology in - but it never became fully immersive for me. I would've liked it better as a full-length novel with more character development and less hurry, I think.

Far Rockaway, by Charlie Fletcher
Mmmrgh. I don't really know what to make of this book. It's basically YA fanfic where a character ends up having adventures amongst the characters of Last of the Mohicans, Treasure Island, and some other books. But it was ... uncomfortably trying too hard to be modern and uncomfortably enjoying the excuse to revel in decidedly non-PC stereotypes in these already-written-that-way characters, a bit? Not all the time and not enough to make it unreadable. But it definitely made me like the book a lot less than I like his other (swoonworthy) books that I've read.

The Truth is A Cave in the Black Mountains, by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Eddie Campbell
Splendid splendid with the dark spark that I was hoping it would have. And funny. And aesthetically interesting. Woo.
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    Perfume Genius, "Queen"