Friday, July 31, 2015

Summer Reading, Part 2

In which my time was just not my own this month....

1.  The Martian, Andy Weir - I first heard about the Martian (not surprisingly) on Books on the Nightstand, but it wasn't long before it was getting major buzz from just about every book source I am aware of.  On Father's Day our family went to see Jurassic World, and were treated to the trailer for the upcoming movie adaptation.  My oldest leaned to me and told me she really wanted to see it.  I told her that it was originally a book, and that I'd heard lots of good things about it.  Would she want to read the book first and then see the movie together?  YES!  It's a really fun book, and I have to say that it's one of the few book to movie adaptations that I'm truly excited about.  Weir has written a math and science heavy love letter to the human spirit and to the power of creativity and problem solving.  I couldn't put it down!  (I was interested in the accuracy of the math and science, and to my delight there's info in the back of the book about that.  This guy is no slouch.)  The story about how this book came into being is just as awesome.  Can't wait to talk about it with my girl.  (She devoured it in less than three days at the end of the month!)

2.  Uprooted, Naomi Novik (audio) - Interestingly enough, this was a very recent BOTNS audiobook of the week recommendation.  They don't tend to talk about fantasy that often, so it made my ears perk up.  I immediately went to my library's app, and to my delight it was available.  I now want to read everything Novik has ever written.  It was amazing...a grown-up sort of fairy tale based on Eastern European folk traditions.  The audio took a bit of time to get into because the reader had an accent that my untrained ears want to place as Polish/Slovakian of sorts, but once I adjusted I found that it added a lot to the authenticity of the story.  It was original, it was well-written, and it was immensely satisfying!  (I bought a hardback copy to keep!)

3.  The Bone Doll's Twin, Lynn Flewelling - Flewelling was perhaps my last great bookstore find before I switched to ebooks.  (I used to have a knack for finding new authors....to my disappointment, the current cover art trends are so offputting to me that I have trouble now...)  I adore her, and this particular trilogy is one of my all-time favorite series.  The first time around, though, I started reading before the series was completed, and had to wait for a ridiculously long time for the last book.  In deciding what to read next, and in looking through old favorites, it was clear that not only did I want to reread these beloved books, but that I also really wanted the opportunity to read them straight through.  And so I started....I cannot even begin to say how much I love this book!

4.  The Awakened Mage, Karen Miller (audio) - And having made it through the awful final chapter of The Innocent Mage, it was time to face this book.  I had forgotten that I'd actually read a little bit into it.  Truth?  I couldn't finish, and I just can't quite put my finger on what the problem is.  I was way into listening, but I hit a point where I wanted to suddenly stop and skim ahead through the book.  I did, and none of it surprised me, and I never went back to the audio.  The best answer I have as to why these books aren't working is that there is a certain joylessness to them.  or maybe a lack of humor?  or maybe they're just too darn depressing.  This is not to say that fantasy books should always have happy endings or be light and sweet....I read plenty of fantasy that is dark and has lots of horrible things in it...but this is something else entirely.  Sigh.   I think trying twice is enough.

5.  Tattoos On The Heart, Father Gregory Boyle - I'd been meaning to read this for quite some time, and finally checked it out from the library.   (I prefer to borrow nonfiction from the library as I usually won't reread it.)  Father Boyle has been credited for helping to reduce significantly gang violence in Los Angeles through his work with Homeboy Industries.  I sobbed my way through the book, which is part memoir and part a lesson on what Christianity should be.  (Just a taste - Christianity is messy, and it should be about love and compassion - and not about judgement.)  Father Boyle is someone who's made a huge difference in this world by living his faith fully, and he's very much someone I admire deeply.  Imagine what a different world we would live in if more of us followed his example.  I'll be buying a copy for myself, and I imagine I will reference it often.

6.  Armada, Ernest Cline (Audio) - This is the newest release from the author of Ready Player One, which is a book that I forced my husband to read because I knew he would love it as much as I did - if not more because he would actually get the pop culture references.  Truth be told, I'm not sure why I like these books so much.  I've never been a gamer, nor have I been the sort of pop culture nerd that Cline is writing for, so you would think I'd have a hard time relating.  Nevertheless, I do enjoy them.  (Might have something to do with the fact that I'm married to a gamer nerd.)  Armada is not quite as good as Ready Player One, but it was still a lot of fun...if sometimes highly predictable.  Of course, part of my enjoyment is due to the fact that Will Wheaten provides the audio narration.  No, he's not the best reader in the world....but he is pretty much the most perfect reader for these specific books, bringing a refreshing enthusiasm and a natural enjoyment of the work to them.

7.  Shades in Shadow: An Inheritance Triptych, N.K. Jemisin - I love Jemisin's Inheritance trilogy, and was delighted to find this collection of short stories based on that world.  Such a beautiful collection.  It's a nice way to tide me over until Jemisin's next book is released. 

8.  Points of Departure: Liavek Stories, Patricia C. Wrede and Pamela Dean - I adore both of these women and their wonderful writing, and had preordered this book without really knowing what it was about.  I was a tad bummed to find that it was short stories (I'm usually smarter than this...) but then was delighted when I started reading the stories.  It turns out that Liavek is a world that was created by a group of writing friends as a place to play in, and Wrede and Dean decided to publish their works from this world together in this book.  I absolutely loved it!  The stories very much remind me of Greek mythology, although they truly aren't.  I may have to track down more Liavek stories. 

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