What I’m Listening to Now: What if it’s Us by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera

I have this audiobook courtesy of one of my local libraries. Huzzah! This is the pick for this month’s teen book group at the local Barnes and Noble (that is attended entirely by adults, many of whom are either employees or former employees, so the discussions are excellent). The meeting is next week, so I have to get a wiggle on with this one. (Which is both exciting and annoying because I’m really into Pachinko right now.)

Quick Review: Lethal White by Robert Galbraith

Lethal White is the fourth Cormoran Strike novel and it begins with Cormoran being visited by a mentally ill young man named Billy who tells him about a murder he believes he witnessed as a child. Before Strike can get into the specifics, Billy flees the office and sends Strike, and his partner Robin Ellacott, on a mission to satisfy his own need to make sure that Billy is okay and that no one is getting away with murder. The tale weaves in and out of London. It ends up at protests (it is set before the London Olympics) and in the Houses of Parliament. It reintroduces characters from Strike’s past. The mystery, in the end, felt a little forced. Or, maybe that Strike just can’t let some things go felt forces. I don’t know. I didn’t love this. In fact, now that it has tied up some story lines relating to Robin and her partner Matthew, I may be done with this book series. We’ll see. I do still very much like both Robin and Cormoran. If you really loved the previous books, I say give this one a go, but if you were only so-so on them, I’d say pick something up you are more interested in.

Review: The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

This was an impulse grab that I picked up at the library wayyyy back in January for 24 in 48. I’d read Junot Díaz before, but this is the book that he seems to be known for so I figured it was time that I read it. It tells the story of Oscar de León, nicknamed Oscar Wao, and his family in the Dominican Republic under Rafael Trujillo. The novel is really interesting, the narrative is given by two narrators, Yunior is the main narrator and there are some first-person interjections from Lola, Oscar’s sister. I had to look up a little background, I know very little about the Caribbean (or the US’s interventions in the Caribbean…) but I don’t think you necessarily need to do that in order to appreciate the novel. There is a lot of code-switching into Spanish, which I felt really helped you keep a sense of place in the narrative. And, Oscar is so. very. nerdy. So nerdy. There are geeky references aplenty in the story. I really enjoyed that. There was a little misogyny in the narrative that rubbed me the wrong way (but that’s not a problem of the novel but a wider problem. I was particularly troubled by it in the geeky references…but again, I’m particularly bothered by it in geek culture in general.)

I really enjoyed The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. I’m really happy that I read it.

Review: Chronicles of a Radical Hag (With Recipes) by Lorna Landvik

This is the story of Haze Evans, a columnist at a local paper, who suffers a sudden stroke. Saddened by this tragic event happening to their friend, and unsure about what to do with her column at the paper, the staff decide to go back to the archives and run Haze’s columns (and some of the responses) from when she first started writing for the paper. This novel was a touching look into the town of Granite Rock, Minnesota.

The novel was a little slower than I would have liked. But, the only thing that I have to compare it to recently is Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend, and it was definitely faster paced than that. Also, the writing was much tighter, which I appreciated. I really enjoyed meeting all of the characters and watching the different relationships grow and be illuminated. I’m a soppy, kind of water-works sort of person, so I did cry a few times reading this. I think the best part of the story, though, is Sam’s growth through the novel. Sam is an intern (and the son of the editor) who comes to work for the summer and is assigned the task of helping to sort through the columns and responses. Because the columns start in the ’60s and come forward in time to 2016, a lot of ground is covered and a lot of touchy subjects in American history also make an appearance. I felt like the novel treated the subjects it raised humanely and with dignity and that it really touching to read.

If you like stories that take you through a town, then this is a novel for you. It was touching, well-written, and enjoyable.

I got this book as an ARC from edelweiss.

Quick Review: Early Riser by Jasper Fforde

This is an interesting piece of speculative fiction in which humans hibernate in winter. Set in Wales, it follows Charlie Worthing as he joins the Winter Consuls, a group of folks who elect to change their hibernation period so that they can be up during winter to look after the people regularly hibernating. In this world, a company has patented a drug that allows people to hibernate without dreams, which has helped people make it through the hibernation period in greater numbers, which has been great for society. The downside is, a small number of people wake up from hibernation with the drug as nightwalkers, essentially brain dead (and often violent) but sometimes with enough function to be trained to do odd jobs. Charlie has to survive his first winter solving a mystery, facing villains, and avoiding fairy tale WinterVolk.

This was really entertaining. I enjoyed the world that it was set in (and, I’m always here for books set in Wales that implies that all of the community is primarily Welsh speaking). I liked the exploration of what it would be like if humans hibernated. That was really interesting. There were a few conceits that did not work for me, but in general this book was an excellent escape from reality.

Late in game 24 in 48 update

So, I wasn’t sure that I would make it to 18 hours. I am pretty pleased that I will definitely make it to 18 hours. I won’t make it to 24, though. That’s okay.

Here’s what I’ve been reading:

1. Seared by Suleikha Snyder. I finished this earlier today.

2. Circe by Madeline Miller. I finished this yesterday. Oh, god. It’s so good.

3. The Kalevala by Elias Lönnrot and Keith Bosley (translator). This epic oral tale has been so enjoyable. I’ve been listening to it first thing in the morning. I think I’m now about halfway done.

4. King’s Cage by Victoria Aveyard. I’m two chapters away from finishing this one! Woo!

5. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz. I’m only two chapters into this but I’m very curious to see where it goes.

There’s a chapter of a stats book I’m hoping to also polish off this weekend. I’m pretty happy with this weekend! And, even happier with the new books I’ve added to my tbr from recs from twitter, litsy, and instagram.

Review: Dashing Through the Snow by Debbie Macomber

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Here is the description from amazon:

Ashley Davison, a graduate student in California, desperately wants to spend the holidays with her family in Seattle. Dashiell Sutherland, a former army intelligence officer, has a job interview in Seattle and must arrive by December 23. Though frantic to book a last-minute flight out of San Francisco, both are out of luck: Every flight is full, and there’s only one rental car available. Ashley and Dash reluctantly decide to share the car, but neither anticipates the wild ride ahead.

At first they drive in silence, but forced into close quarters Ashley and Dash can’t help but open up. Not only do they find they have a lot in common, but there’s even a spark of romance in the air. Their feelings catch them off guard—never before has either been so excited about a first meeting. But the two are in for more twists and turns along the way as they rescue a lost puppy, run into petty thieves, and even get caught up in a case of mistaken identity. Though Ashley and Dash may never reach Seattle in time for Christmas, the season is still full of surprises—and their greatest wishes may yet come true.

 

This book was terrible. So terrible I almost didn’t review it. The whole premise of the plot is that Ashley Davison has the same name as someone on the FBI’s most wanted list and the no-fly list and that’s a huge roadblock to her getting home for Christmas.  This premise seems in poor taste, at the very least, because it does happen and hurts people, most often people who are racial and/or religious minorities in this country. I decided, for the sake of a quick Christmas read that I’d read it anyway.

I should have gone with my first instincts.

Ashley and Dash have sparks? I guess? But, It seems more like he’s the grown up looking after a well-meaning and slightly-irresponsible younger person. (And, for possibly obvious reasons, I really resent any characterization of a graduate student that way.) The FBI agents who follow them are ham-fisted and stubborn-to-a-fault. It is not a very flattering caricature. They also don’t seem good at their jobs? I feel like there were other clues that could have gotten them to Dash and Ashley faster, and while this would have made for a less exciting novel it also would have made for a shorter one and I would have been cool with that?

Oh, and they adopt a puppy at some point on their rental car road trip. This seems slightly irresponsible but big-hearted. Guess who’s idea it is.

The puppy is great. Not great enough that you should read it for the dog, though.

Ugh. this book. It was just terrible. I was hoping for something light and fun with a cute happily ever after and that’s not what this was. The nicest things I can say about this are that there was a dog and that it was a quick read.