What I Read: December 2015

I read 12 books in December – 1 was non-fiction, the rest were fiction. 5 were in print, 6 on Kindle, 1 was an audiobook. 6 were by writers of color.

I Lived on Butterfly Hill by Marjorie Agosin (2015).

Celeste Marconi flees her home in Valparaiso, Chile after a brutal dictator seizes control. A really great middle grades read about life under/around a dictatorship through the eyes of a child.

13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson (2005).

I’ve followed Maureen Johnson on Twitter for a while (she’s funny!) and thought I should actually read one of her books. This was a fun book about scavenger hunt of sorts/travel adventure that a teenager is sent on around Europe by her now-dead aunt. I listened to this on audiobook and thoroughly enjoyed it and can tell you Right Now that I would have been ALL about this as a teenager.

One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia (2010).

Delphine and her two little sisters travel from Brooklyn to Oakland, CA in the summer of 1968 to spend time with their mother who abandoned the family when the youngest was a baby. Their “crazy summer” include Black Panther summer camp and a mother who wants little to do with them. This Newbery Honor book is a lovely mix of a historic moment in time and normal childhood. It’s the first in a trilogy and and I can’t want to read the rest.

Spinster: Making a Life of One’s Own by Kate Bolick (2015).

I got this book as a LibraryThing Early Reviewer, and it definitely felt a like a work in progress, befitting it’s Advance Reader’s status. Still I enjoyed meeting or getting to know better the women that Bolick viewed as her “awakeners”, women who taught her things through the ages. I think this is less a book about being single and more a book about being complete in yourself as a woman, something that can be hard to achieve. Worth reading.

Blanche Cleans Up by Barbara Neely (1998).

The third book in the Blanche White mystery series – this one about a murder related in some way to the political family Blanche is working for in Massachusetts. Good addition to the series that mixes race, feminism and old fashioned crime solving.

The best of it: new and selected poems by Kay Ryan (2010).

I read this for the 2015 Book Riot Read Harder challenge, and I didn’t love it. Poetry is not usually my thing. I am a plot-driven reader and poetry is often short on plot. Beautiful writing alone is rarely enough to engage me. Ryan is definitely a skillful poet, but her poems seem oddly impersonal. They were mostly descriptions of objects – paintings, animals, trees, etc. The few poems that I really enjoyed came at the very end of the book and were about aging. Those, for me, went beyond pretty words on a page to something that resonated.

If You Could Be Mine by Sara Farizan (2014).

A YA lesbian (romance?) novel set in Iran. I am continually amazed by how different to publishing landscape is for teens coming out these days than it was when I was growing up. It’s lovely and this book is a good addition to the lesbian YA offerings!

The Luck Uglies #2: Fork-Tongue Charmers by Paul Durham (2015).

I love this middle grades fantasy series about Rye O’Chanter and the village of Drowning. This one focuses on the conflict between the outlas/hero Luck Uglies and a splinter group, the Fork-Tongue charmers. If MG fantasy is your thing, you should definitely pick up this series!

Moving Target by Christina Diaz Gonzalez (2015).

Middle school student, Cassie Arroyo, is at school in Rome as her art historian father does research. All of a sudden her world is shaken when her father picks her up unexpectedly from school, is shot in an attempted escape, and sends her to see a Monk, while warning her against a secret group – the Hastati. A middle grades Da Vinci Code.

The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters (2014).

Sarah Waters is one of our best living lesbian writers (although don’t worry, Jeannette Winterson, I’ll always love you best), but I so often wish her books were happier. In 1920s London, Frances Wray and her mother are forced to take in boarders to help pay for house expenses. Sexy times between Frances and the wife in the boarding couple ensue, then bad shit happens. (I don’t want to give anything away).

The Job by Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg (2014).

The third Fox and O’Hare novel – another FBI agent/suave master thief match-up perfect for all your escapist reading needs.

Re Jane: A Novel by Patricia Park (2015).

A reimagining of Jane Eyre focused on Jane Re, half-Korean, half-White orphan raised by her uncle and aunt in Queens, who becomes a nanny for the adopted Chinese daughter of a white academic couple in Brooklyn. Quite enjoyable.

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What I Read: December 2015

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