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Friday, December 05, 2014

Books of November 2014

November included my birthday (I'm now "too old" to celebrate), a ladies brunch, a moderate amount of running, a friend trip to Pittsburgh, family time, and... books. I read an almost equal number of graphic novels and "real" books. At one point, I was in the middle of 7 books at the same time. I do not recommend this reading strategy. Anyway, let's get started:

Finished November 2, 2014 (Audiobook)
by Lemony Snicket 

Review: 4 / 5 
I stopped listening to audiobooks during October runs, so my library version expired a few weeks ago, but I was recently able to get it back to finish the story. 

These books are fun. I think they're edgy for kid's stories, but not totally gross or scary. And those clever Baudelaire children make great role models. I thought the setting and story was more entertaining than those in book one. And as with book one, I really enjoyed the narration (Tim Curry). I think I'll continue to check these out as the audiobooks become available. They are quick, smart, and bizarre.

Finished November 3, 2014
by Amy Poehler 

Review: 4.5 / 5 
You know what's great about this book? It is divided into logical chunks! Her essays about random things are interspersed into her life story and it works! My biggest pet peeve with funny lady memoirs (coughMindyKalingcough) is the non-linear assortment of random essays and personal history. Poehler and her editor did a fabulous job with the actual layout of the book (design) and the progression of story / random asides. Additionally, memoirs have a tendency to peter out as we get closer to present day. I loved the last essay "The Robots Will Kill Us All" (maybe because it's something I think about daily.) 

For a while I kept comparing her to Tina Fey, which is unfair. They have very different voices and lives. Poehler is "wild" to Fey's "straight" and because I personally identified with Fey, it doesn't make Poehler any less entertaining or inspirational. 

One stupid complaint: this book is SO heavy (weight). I couldn't lug it around on a recent work trip and when I walked to work while reading it, my wrists were so sore from keeping it open. What a strange issue! (It's due to the thicker pages that make the full-color photo spreads possible.) 

Read on November 6, 2014
by Michel Gagné

Review: 5 / 5 
Absolutely gorgeous illustrations. Most of this was in the Flight books and I swear I'd read them all in order once, but I did not recognize the intro text. I maybe recognized the pictures, but not the text. Unfortunately, this didn't start in Flight 1, so I can't check. (I only own 1, 6, and 8.)

Read on November 6, 2014
by Cory Doctorow, Jen Wang

Review: 4 / 5 
Very quick. Great art. And probably the nerdiest graphic novel I've read to date. (In a good way. But I won't be able to recommend it to everyone.)

Finished November 10, 2014
by Julie Schumacher

Review: 4 / 5 
The building landlord at work handed me this book a few weeks ago. He said he'd heard about it on NPR and it made him laugh. It took me awhile to start (out of town), but once I got past letter three or four, it went quickly. 

Silly me, it took just as many letters for me to realize they were all written by the same character. And even sillier, it took me a bit longer to realize they were mostly paper and pen. (I liked the online forms that cut him off every so often.) 

Anyway, an interesting read I'd only recommend to academics, English majors, or people entertained by that sector. 

I wish everyone listened to BBCs The Archers, because Jay reminded me of Jim Lloyd...

Finished November 12, 2014
by Mariko Tamaki, Jillian Tamaki 

Review: 4 / 5 
The art was pretty awesome for only using a few colors. The story made me a little sad, but I thought the authors did a great job capturing summer vacation and the transition from kid to young adult. I hope Rose grew to realize Dud was, in fact, a dud.

Finished November 13, 2014
by Veronica Roth

Review: 4 / 5 
I really enjoyed Four as a narrator and flew through these stories. (Still think it's stupid he started narrating in book three, but whatever.) Honestly, I preferred him to Tris. I see why VR decided to use Tris as the main character, but I found it more interesting to read about a different type of character (and not "dystopian teen girl, falling in love and discovery her bravery within").

Somewhat related: I saw the first movie and I don't remember a single scene. Four was probably ten years too old, but his essence was correct.

Read on November 15, 2014
by Tonya Olsen 

Review: 4 / 5 
I liked the idea of this book: there is a recipe to make each room in your home look great. Each featured room was organization into three parts: ingredients (the pieces in the room), recipe (ideas to make them work), and garnish (DIY projects). 

Unfortunately, minus one workspace, the rooms in this book were not my style, so my takeaway was limited. I'm not sure how to describe the rooms. Maybe "rustic contemporary?" The book featured a lot of rooms you'd see on Pinterest. Very nice looking and well laid out, but too cluttered for my taste. 

I'd like to see another iteration of this book either featuring a variety of decor styles or maybe turn this into a series of books featuring a new style in each edition.

Finished November 20, 2014
by Lena Dunham 

Review: 4 / 5 
I am fairly convinced "Lena Dunham" is a character. Sure, she probably is very self-involved (and aware of it) and she might be lax about hygiene and have a pile of neuroses, but I think all of that is amped up for the book. (And the show... and the movie...) 

From one NPR review: "And she never pretends to be a reliable narrator, cautioning us that her sister 'claims every memory we 'share' has been fabricated by me to impress a crowd.'" I have a friend (and sister- hahaha) like that, so I understand what makes a good storyteller. 

She's a great writer and it's interesting to read about her life growing up in NYC. I think this is one of the most well-organized memoirs I've read, even if some bits made me gag.

In the end, she gets into a number of cringeworthy situations and talks about being very lazy, but she obviously isn't a terrible person and she definitely gets things done. (Just read her biography at the end of the book.)

Finished November 24, 2014
by Norton Juster  

Review: 4 / 5 
I saw The Phantom Tollbooth mentioned or recommended several times over the past month. As I'd never read it in school, I figured I ought to give it a look, so I reserved it at the library. I was going to give this a three because it took me a while to get through for a youth novel, but I figure I probably would have liked this if I'd read it at a more appropriate age. I bet this would be an interesting audiobook, but I suppose the illustrations enhanced the story.

Finished November 29, 2014
by Kazu Kibuishi

Review: 4 / 5 
Two of the seven stories were kind of mediocre, while the rest were nice and quick with great story arcs. The art, as always, is fantastic. This didn't feel as young as Flight Explorer.

- - - - - - - -

For the most part, these reviews were ripped from my Goodreads. 

What did you read in November? 
What are you reading now? 

What I'm looking forward to: Finishing House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski. It's long, but amazing. I'm knee-deep and at the point where you have to rotate the book to read upside-down text, maintain three bookmarks, and comb through pages-long footnotes. 

As always, be my friend on Goodreads. 

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