Friday, February 26, 2016

#lisareads2016 - February Book Review!

I am on a reading kick! So many books in my bag, and in my bed and in my queue. And I love it! I am sensing a "theme" with some of my more recent finds, and I talk a little bit about that in my reviews below.

Guys, book reviews are hard. I mean, ugh! I read all these books and now I'm going to talk about them too?! With words, and typing, and (hopefully) coherent thoughts?!

These are by no means all the books I have read in the past month or so, but they are the ones that I enjoyed and recommend. Or whatever. Ugh! So hard!

Yes Please by Amy Poehler. I was very hesitant to pick up this book. Remember how I am not a fan of memoirs/biographies? Also, this book tends to get recommended if you like Cait Moran's work, and I DO NOT! Ugh, no thanks. But I am happy to say that I was pleasantly surprised. Amy was something of a trailblazer for women in comedy, and she continues to be. And also she's flipping hilarious, and it shows up so well in her writing. She covers a lot of ground in this book, writing about many things women struggle with in general - being a mom (not being a mom), aging, parents, being a women in a man's world (in general, and in comedy specifically) - and I was definitely nodding along with a lot of her anecdotes.

Can We Talk About Something More Pleasant? by Roz Chast. Recommended to me by a very lovely lady, this is a graphic novel memoir that relates the author's changing relationship with her aging parents as they reach the ends of their lives, and she has to "deal with it". The author spoke a lot about how her identity as it relates to her parents and to her changing life and circumstances, and it really impacted me and how I see myself as a daughter and an adult. I am not in the same situation with my parents yet, but I can already see these conversations and feelings seeping into my current reality.

Astray by Emma Donahue. Another book I am reluctant to read is Room by the same author. Something about all the hype-hype-hype it's been getting. I am not into hype #itsnotmyjam. But I like short stories, and I like lady authors, so this was an easy pick for me. This book delves into the identity of "traveler", and all the ways that can manifest itself. And I remember zero things about the stories in this book. But I know I liked it. Told you book reviews are hard. [Trigger warning for rape as a war crime]

The Island of Excess Love by Francesca Lia Block. This is book #2 in a YA fantasy trilogy, and I thoroughly enjoyed book #1. The author has crafted a beautifully imaginative, and cruel future, taking hints from classic mythology (OdysseyAeineid) to populate it. There are five main characters who traverse this world: a bisexual girl, a trans boy, two gay cis boys (one of whom has suffered sexual abuse, one of whom has lost his twin brother), and the girl's brother. I didn't enjoy this book as much as the first one in the trilogy. It seemed even more jolting. Like, something would end abruptly with no rhyme or reason. I like foreshadowing more than I thought apparently. But I continue to gravitate towards unique perspectives and diverse characters, and this book definitely hit on that.

The Water Knife by Paolo Baciglupi. You know, I really thought I was going to love this book. Dystopian that is based on events happening right now. I did not have to suspend my disbelief very much to see how today could turn into this book in a generation or so. Essentially, it follows three individuals who live in the southwest US that has been plaqued with drought for decades. States are emptying out, separating from the country, and fighting over what remains of the lakes and rivers. Texans are hated refugees (liked that little piece of irony), the poor live in camps where the UN doles out daily rations of water, and the rich live in massive Arcologies. There are major players that are playing each other, cutting off each other's water by blowing up damns and water treatment plants, and using lawyers and paperwork to prove they own the oldest water rights. There is a journalist living in Phoenix, which is on the brink of collapse, a young refugee who is leaving behind the optimism that doomed her family, and "The Water Knife", a hired gun essentially who does the dirty work of Vegas' water queen. Sounds so interesting doesn't it?! But for whatever reason, it just wasn't my thing. Can't quite put my finger on why. But if you like dystopian fiction, I recommend picking this book least at the library! [Trigger warnings for violence causing bodily harm, torture]

That's it for the review portion of this post. Let's move to the "future reading" portion.

On My TBR Pile...
Lucky Girls by Nell Freudenberger | Because it had a "short stories" sticker on it, and it has a lady author...#itsmyjam (note: I finished this book before posting this, and it turns out #itsnotmyjam.)
The Family Album by Kerry Kelly | Because see above PLUS the author is Canadian #itstotesmyjam
Fire Season by Phillip Connors | Because this is one of BFF's dream jobs and I like finding things out in the world that remind me of him
Seconds by Bryan Lee O'Malley | A graphic novel palette cleanser
The Plague of Doves by Louise Erdich | For a book club I may or may not attend, because gosh darnit I want to be in a book club!
As If! The Oral History of Clueless | because it remains one of the Best Movies AND Best Movie Adaptation of a Jane Austen novel, like, ever.
How To Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie | Recommended by a book-reviewer on the autistic spectrum for being an excellent book for learning how to converse with humans
The Invaders by Karolina Waclawiak | Featured on "All The Books"

I have been listening to old recordings of "All the Books" so I have a hope in hell of finding their new releases (from last year) on the library shelves. I haven't totally given up on listening to their current shows, but those books are either all "on order" or have holds lists a kilometre long!

I have also retained my focus on reading books by diverse authors. These stories speak to me, and are way more interesting and varied than your standard cis straight white male authors, and I will never apologize for thinking that.

Oh man...I got a little carried away with my "Placing Holds" and "Randomly Pulling Books Off Shelves" behaviour this month. That's cool. No pressure. What's that? Another email from EPL telling me I have another hold to pick up? hahahahahahahhahahajustshootme

Speaking of a kilometre long, before this post gets fully away from me, I will sign off.

How do you find books to read and to love? How do they find you?

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