Friday, February 27, 2015

Friday Reads & Links - 2/27/2015

While I'm waiting for Kyle to finish working so we can watch "House of Cards," I'll be reading "Boy, Snow, Bird" for DC Book Club & brushing up on "The Interestings" for NYC Book Club. I've also started "The Miniaturist" on audio, though it hasn't hooked me yet.

Some literary links in case you also need to waste some time before you can start "House of Cards:"
  • The nominees for the Nebula award were announced this week. I've read "The Goblin Emperor" and "Annihilation," and they both disappointed. Here's hoping the rest of the list is better!
  • Vulture rounds up the best entries from Haruki Murakami's advice column.
  • Borderlands will stay open!
  • CityLab writes about how some jerks try to ban Little Free Libraries. Book Riot's sticking up for the libraries, though.
  • Speaking of Book Riot, they also covered 12 cool bookish advertisements, and the discovery of a new Sherlock Holmes story (that may not be real).
  • The Huffington Post collects six women authors to add to your TBR - I'm already on the holds list at NYPL for the Kelly Link & the Laura van den Berg.
  • Completely non-literary, but what color do you think this dress is? You can kill some serious time trying to make it switch.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

February Reviews at the Morningside Muckraker

This is a day late, since I fell asleep before the latest issue of the Morningside Muckraker launched yesterday! This month I have an extra large set of reviews to make up for the long winter break. Check out what I've been reading while stuck inside after all this snow, here.

This month, I review: "The Secret Wisdom of the Earth" by Christopher Scotton; "Yes Please" by Amy Poehler; "Just Mercy" by Bryan Stevenson; "Almost Famous Women" by Megan Mayhew Bergman; "Not My Father's Son" by Alan Cumming; and "Lost & Found" by Brooke Davis.

Anything catch your eye?

Friday, February 20, 2015

Friday Reads & Links - 2/20/2015

I'm traveling this weekend, so I have lots of reading opportunities! I'm reading "The Girl on the Train" by Paula Hawkins in ebook, and loving it so far; listening to "The Spindlers" by Lauren Oliver as a short read to tide me over until some of my library audiobook holds come in next week; and reading "Boy, Snow, Bird" in print for my DC book club. Great picks all around!

Some literary links to keep you warm this frigid weekend:

  • I love seeing alternate covers & hearing about the design process. The Huffington Post has a feature on rejected covers for the newly-released "Find Me" by Laura Van Den Berg. 
  • New (to English-readers) Murakami story!
  • If your tastes are similarly whimsical but tend toward kid-lit, a new Dr. Seuss book is on the way.
  • George R.R. Martin warns ASoIaF readers of new, extra deaths in season five of Game of Thrones.
  • While I don't read a ton of self-published fiction, this novelist who has made an award list with her kick-started book has me intrigued.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

"The Name of the Wind" by Patrick Rothfuss

Though a self-proclaimed fantasy fan, aside from A Song of Ice and Fire, I haven't kept up with the new epics that have been published in the past decade or so, despite owning a handful of fantasy bricks that met critical acclaim. Over a year ago, I read a story online of a couple who, facing a power outage, read "The Name of the Wind" aloud together by candlelight, alternating by chapter. I decided to try this with Kyle, absent the power outage, over winter break. It was the perfect novel to share, ripe with intrigue, twists, gasp-worthy moments, and bits of foreshadowing ripe for speculation and discussion.

In a quiet town, and innkeeper mostly keeps to himself as he waits to die. The world around him seems to be struggling with hints of dark times and darker beings lurking in the future. When a scribe passes through, he implores the innkeeper to share his life story, suspecting the simple innkeeper is more than meets the eye. Kvothe agrees, setting the stage for an epic story within the tale of their meeting at the inn.

Kvothe is the son of traveling performers, and he lived happily on the road with his family's troupe, learning quickly and voraciously until tragedy befalls his family. He is left alone to survive, eventually making his way to a university of magic. There, survival is as precarious, if not more so, than when he lived on the streets. Above all else, he is driven to uncover what killed his parents, and why.

Kvothe's tale is filled with adventure, mystery, and a lovely bit of romance waiting to be further developed in later books. It's also a great book for reading aloud, with simple, clear prose that still has a few clever and charming turns of phrase. Rothfuss has committed himself to three, and only three, books for the series, though there's already an extra novella. I am now a firmly committed fan, and can't wait to start "The Wise Man's Fear."

Verdict: Affirmed, for fans of fantasy, epic fantasy specifically, or anyone looking for a long book on a cold night.

"The Name of the Wind" by Patrick Rothfuss, originally published March 27, 2007 by DAW Hardcover.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Friday Reads & Links - 2/13/2015

A day late, oops! Kyle's visiting so we're starting "The Wise Man's Fear" by Patrick Rothfuss together today. I'm also listening to "Seraphina" by Rachel Hartman and loving it!

A few bookish links for this holiday weekend:
  • Oyster rounds up books for people who love books, including one of my favorites. [via Book Riot]
  • Someone compiled all of Snape's scenes from the Harry Potter films in chronological order, and it makes a touching film on its own.
  • A friend sent me this great instagram account - Hot Dudes Reading.
  • Another friend sent me this list of books to read in 2015 - I've read some of them, which bodes well for the others one the list!
  • In honor of President's Day, a list of the favorite books of all 44 Presidents of the United States (with some speculation).

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

"Feathers" by Jacqueline Woodson

Guys. I was having the worst reading slump. I kept starting books and couldn't get into anything. Wandering around my branch of the New York Public Library, I found this slim little volume in the recently returned section. You might remember that I'm a huge fan of "Brown Girl Dreaming," so I brought this home. It was just what I needed to break my slump!

Frannie is an 11-year-old girl living in a racially segregated area in the early 1970's. She knows what it's like to be the new kid from her own experience, and knows what it's like being stared at thanks to her deaf older brother. When a new, apparently white kid arrives in her all-black school, she is both fascinated and sympathetic to his difficult situation, particularly after her classmates name him Jesus Boy. As she grapples with her own reaction to his arrival, and those of her classmates, Frannie ponders the meaning of hope, inspired by an Emily Dickinson poem.

In a mere 118 pages, Woodson addresses faith, difference, adversity, and, above all, hope. For a book, never mind a children's book, I was impressed with both how much it covers thematically, and how much was left open to the reader's interpretation. She examines how religion can mean different things to different people, how children (and all people, really) handle differences among themselves, and what it means to face down adversity. As Frannie figures out what hope means to her, the reader is encouraged to think on the topic for themselves, without being at all heavy-handed. The themes are deftly interwoven in the way that faith, hope, adversity, and difference often intermingle in real life.

Verdict: Affirmed. This tiny children's novel had me thinking more deeply than much of the literary fiction I've been picking up. It's all the more skillful for doing so effortlessly through beautiful prose.

"Feathers" by Jacqueline Woodson, published on March 1st, 2007 by Putnam Juvenile.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Friday Reads & Links - 2/6/2015

I've been in a bit of reading slump lately, since my library loans of "Landline" and "Liar, Tempress, Soldier, Spy" both expired before I was able to finish them. Luckily, I broke it last night with Jacqueline Woodson's "Feathers" and Mallory Ortberg's "Texts from Jane Eyre." I'm also listening to "The American Heiress" by Daisy Goodwin for a light change of pace.

Only three big stories caught my attention this week, but I promise they'll have you clicking around the internet for more opinions:

  • Borderlands bookstore in San Francisco announced it will have to close by the end of March. Many in the SFF community are sad to see it go, such as Sword & Laser's Veronica Belmont.
  • Harper Lee is publishing a new book titled "Go Set a Watchman," but many fear the famously reclusive aging author is not in a suitable mental state to acquiesce to such a decision.
  • Waterstones, a British book store, has released a three-page plan for "Game of Thrones" from 1993. Westeros fans are feverishly comparing what could have been to what is, and wondering what is in that blacked-out paragraph at the end. (Spoilers if you haven't read all the books out so far, though things have changed so dramatically, it's questionable how much is really spoiled beyond the first three or four).

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

“Joss Whedon: The Biography” by Amy Pascale

I’ve been a Joss Whedon fan since high school, a little late to the game compared with diehard Buffy fans, but well ahead of the Avengers curve. As someone who has been championing his work to my friends since I first discovered the Buffy DVDs in my local library, it’s been great to see how his recent mainstream success is attracting new followers to his older work.

Pascale’s biography capitalizes on his recent accolades to bring his entire story and body of work into the mainstream. The book is thoroughly-researched, and presents Whedon’s life story to date in a concise, clear narrative – not easy to do for a man who was frequently working on three different, massive projects at once. She explains his importance as a feminist and atheist advocate in American pop culture, and the personal connections these identities have on his work.

There’s not a ton of new information here for longtime fans, but Pascale’s book still shines for its countless interviews with Whedon’s friends and co-workers. Nathan Fillion’s introduction kicks off a smorgasbord of praise and exaltation from those who have worked over, under, or alongside him over the years. It provides a well of behind-the-scenes stories and paints a clear picture of an artist whose talent is recognized by all with whom he works and inspires devotion from his friends and fans alike.

Verdict: Affirmed – for fans old and new, Pascale’s biography provides a glimpse into the life and work of a creative genius who is hopefully far from the end of his career.

"Joss Whedon: The Biography" by Amy Pascale, published by Chicago Review Press on August 1, 2014.