Showing posts from March, 2017

Ancillary Mercy

Ancillary Mercy Ann Leckie, 2015 Premise: Sequel to Ancillary Sword . Breq has taken on responsibility for more than just her crew, but she doesn't have the standing to solve all the problems on Athoek Station. A stranger who doesn't appear to have a past and a representative from an alien power complicate matters as the empire's civil war grows. I love this series. I might go back and read the whole thing back-to-back-to-back soon and see how the experience differs. As it was, it had been long enough that it took me a few chapters to remember what the heck was going on and who the various characters were. The series continued to deal with issues of identity and self-determination in the ways that only science fiction can. Once I was back on track, I flew through this book. I loved that although a potentially galaxy-changing war could appear on their doorstep any day, the characters still had to deal with obstinate bureaucracy, diplomacy, fallout from the previ

Two Tales of the Woods

Almost Somewhere: Twenty-Eight Days on the John Muir Trail , Suzanne Roberts, 2012 Girl in the Woods: A Memoir , Aspen Matis, 2015 A few years back, I read an intriguing excerpt from a book that was just then coming out, a memoir about a woman hiking alone. I picked it up from the New York Public Library, almost on a whim, and adored it. That book was Wild by Cheryl Strayed and at this point, I've read it twice and seen the movie. It lead me to occasionally seek out other memoirs on similar themes, although until now, I haven't written about any of them here. Neither of these books was as brilliant as Wild , but they were both good. Both have themes of female empowerment and the grounded, centered feeling that can come from self-reliance in the wilderness. Almost Somewhere is the simpler and less emotionally impactful of the two. It is based on the diary and memory of the author, who hiked the John Muir Trail with two friends after college. The three young women b

Between the World and Me

Between the World and Me Ta-Nehisi Coates, 2015 Premise: This blend of memoir, academic treatise, and cultural theory takes the form of a letter from Ta-Nehisi Coates to his teenage son. Read this book. It's not very long, but it might take you a while. If you, like me, stop to savor the language, to let the ideas sink in, to sit with the truths and the history, it might take you a while. Coates recounts his personal history of striving to understand and survive being black in America: from the fear behind teenage street-corner bluster to his discovery of great voices to follow to learning the breadth of black experience at Howard University to becoming a parent. Around every corner he finds a new nuance, and every page is full of the kind of wisdom that comes from a combination of alert observation of lived experience and directed, intelligent study. It's both emotional and academic, unflinching in criticism of the racist systems and attitudes that maintain Amer

If I Was Your Girl

If I Was Your Girl Meredith Russo, 2016 Premise: Amanda is starting a new school year in a new town. She can't live with her mom safely anymore, not around kids who knew her before. She only hopes that she'll be able to get through high school without her new friends finding out her secret. This novel got a lot of love last year, and it deserves it. Amanda's story is both a touching, puppy-love, YA romance and a story of depression, attempted self-harm and assault, as well as about the love of both family and found family. It's compelling and an easy read. I think I flew through it in under a day. Amanda's pain and paranoia, followed by hope and tentative trust only to have the rug cruelly pulled out from under her -- it's easy to be swept up in this tale. The supporting characters are a wide range of small-town types, very few of whom are who they first appear to be. Everyone has secrets, but not everyone is in danger when their secrets are told