September 5, 2016

Recent Reads

131. Brown Girl Dreaming
This book won several awards including the National Book Award for Young People's Literature (2014). A novel in verse for kids you say? I was intrigued.

I listened to the audiobook which was well narrated by the author.

I'm not sure that novel is an accurate label for this one. I'd go with memoir. I don't think I've ever read anything quite like it before, and it took a little while to understand that this was really a memoir told in short, very short, poems. Once I settled into the groove of the narration, I enjoyed the ride.

This coming of age memoir reflects the personal, familial, societal, and political waypoints of a young African American girl growing up in the 1960s and 70s. We still live in a world where the color of one's skin matters, and I really liked how the author explores the concept of home in a world that tells you that you don't belong. I was especially delighted with all the vignettes that highlighted her relationship with her grandparents.

The language is lovely, and the author evokes her childhood with such clarity that I questioned how it was possible for her to "remember" events that happened when she was so young. Memory is a strange thing, and in the afterword, the author outlines her sources.

This book would be a wonderful way to introduce middle grade readers to the themes covered here. A quick and lovely read. Rating: 4 stars.

132. Lonely Planet Washington, DC (Travel Guide)
Lonely Planet is one of my go-to travel guides, and this one was exactly what I expected. Easy to use, clearly laid out, and I especially liked the updated information section. Came in very handy on a recent trip. Rating: 3 stars.

133. Saga, Volume 6
This volume collects issues #31-36.

“Anyone who thinks one book has all the answers hasn’t read enough books.”

I do the happy dance every time I get one of these volumes in my hands. This graphic novel series continues to be smart and funny and inclusive and all around lovely. The art is really great, and Hazel is growing up so fast. There are scenes in this one that actually left me with my mouth open in disbelief. Such a fun series, and if you are not reading along, whatever are you waiting for? Rating: 4 stars.

134. Our Souls at Night
This is the first book I've read by the author, and based on all the rave reviews this book has garnered, I was sure I'd love it. Alas, no.

The premise is an interesting one. A lonely widow, aged 70, decides to ask her neighbor, an elderly widower, if he would consider sleeping together. Not for sex, mind you, but rather like a sleepover, for companionship. Such a wonderful premise right?

What I really liked about this novella is that the story is based on a relationship between two elderly people - not something that is usually given its due. I also really liked that Addie, the woman, is the instigator of this arrangement. This is a simple, quiet story about two ordinary people, living ordinary lives, and there is a beauty to that.

However, I found the writing itself to be rather pedestrian, and there was too much telling and not enough showing. They did this, then did that, then did this. That did not work for me at all, and I found it a really distracting style of story telling. Without going into details, so as to not spoil the story for those who have not read it, I found certain details implausible and I could not suspend my disbelief enough to really go along for the ride.

It seems that everyone I know loves this author, and this book in particular. It works well as a stand alone, and I'll be curious to read his earlier beloved works to see if they work better for me. This one gets a 2.5 stars, and I'll round up to 3 because of Addie. Rating: 3 stars.

135. Rat Queens, Vol. 3: Demons
This volume collects Issues #11-15.

This installment, while fun, is not as engaging as the first two. The one focuses mainly on Hannah, and fleshes out more of her back story. The other Queens basically sit around while all this is going on. The art is really good, but in this installment everyone seems to have had some plastic surgery to enhance the usual areas. Why is it that we can't have kick ass women that don't look like porn stars? Sigh. Rating: 3 stars.

No comments: