Showing posts from May, 2016

Sorcerer to the Crown

Sorcerer to the Crown Zen Cho, 2015 Challenge Book! Book Riot Read Harder Challenge 2016 - Read a book that is by an author from Southeast Asia Premise: Prunella Gentleman has always been skilled in magic, but teaching young ladies to do advanced thaumaturgy is simply not done. Sorcerer Royal Zacharias Wythe has his own problems to deal with, as there is a problem with England’s magic and none of the (white) magicians believe that he can solve it. I felt a bit like I was cheating on the Read Harder Challenge once I started to read this. A historical fantasy set in England isn’t exactly stretching out of my comfort zone. However, author Zen Cho is writing from her experience, as a Malaysian-born woman who currently lives in England. The main characters, Prunella and Zacharias, are potentially powerful in different ways, and they both navigate the line of walking in upper-class circles while being of obviously non-white heritage in Regency London. Zacharias is African; h

The Bell Jar

The Bell Jar Sylvia Plath, 1963 Challenge Book! Book Riot Read Harder Challenge 2016 - Read a book with a main character that has a mental illness Premise: Esther seems to have everything: talent, ambition, a prestigious summer internship in New York. But her brain is a jerk, as we might say today, and will drag her down. Similar to Wintergirls , this is a book I recommend, but with reservations. I knew it was about depression, and realized quickly that it is a lightly fictionalized story of Plath’s own experiences with mental health treatment. I knew The Bell Jar is highly regarded. I didn’t know how vivid, evocative, and painful a picture of depression it paints. I felt like I was walking in a fog for hours after I finished it. It’s not just about severe clinical depression, but that particularly female intertwining of internal malaise with experiences of systemic and personal sexism. It’s no coincidence that The Bell Jar was first published the same year as The Fe

Speaker for the Dead

Speaker for the Dead Orson Scott Card, 1986 Hugo Winner - 1987 Premise: Follows Ender’s Game . Ender and Valentine have traveled the galaxy, time has passed, and now no one knows their connection to history. But a new colony has begun on a planet with an unknown intelligent species, and tragedy will draw Ender there to meet them. Many celebrated authors have won more than one Hugo Award. But to date, the only other person to win the Best Novel award twice back-to-back is Lois McMaster Bujold (whose work I adore completely). I addressed in my review of Ender’s Game the difficulty in returning to these books now, in 2016. It gets even harder here. Because I loved this book. I think it’s much better than Ender’s Game , although it needs that story as its prequel. It touches on more interesting issues, such as the nature of sentience, understanding across seemingly impossible barriers,and the individual perception of time and how it affects how beings relate to each oth

Lumberjanes: Volume Three: A Terrible Plan

Lumberjanes: Volume Three: A Terrible Plan Noelle Stevenson, Shannon Watters, Carolyn Nowak, Maarta Laiho, et. al., 2016 Premise: Follows Friendship to the Max . Collects Lumberjanes #9-12. The major mystery of the summer is solved, so the girls get down to the real business of camp: telling scary stories, earning merit badges, and...getting trapped in alternate dimensions? This volume is plenty of fun, although it feels like a breather after the climax of issue #8. Regular series artist Brooke Allen must have had other projects, as 10-12 are drawn by a new team, and 9 has a whole passel of guest artists. Issue 9 finds the girls telling scary stories. Each story is done in a different style, and both the story and the style each say something about the teller. I think the art for the framing panels is a smidge feminine for Lumberjanes, but this is a solid, enjoyable issue. Issues 10-12 follow two plots over the course of one day: Jo, April and Ripley try to earn a bunch

How English Became English

How English Became English Simon Horobin, 2016 New release! I received a copy of this book from Netgalley for review. Premise: A layman-friendly history of the English language: the roots of its complexity, the source of its foibles, the ways people have sought to define or legislate it, and the ways it is continuing to grow and change. What a joy for a word-lover like me! This book lays out English in all its glory. I loved learning about the languages that came together to make Old English and all the reasons that other languages and words were folded in later. It was especially interesting to get examples of how the long-ago mashing together of people and language created specific inconsistencies and quirks that carry through to the modern language. The book has a humorous, modern tone, which I enjoyed, and the author clearly has little sympathy for prescriptivists who would put the language in a box and freeze “correct” English in place. There’s a good deal of com