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Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Books of February 2015

It's March! Sure, it's currently raining ice pellets and there are several inches of snow-slush on the ground, but spring is upon us. February went quickly (as it generally does) and I don't remember much. There were work dinners and client meetings, a few friend outings, and another trail 10k (feels like a billion years ago). I went through a puzzle phase and did two in rapid succession. I would have kept going, but had to reign it in. I ran in the snow, sat around a lot, and started some overdue house projects... 

Reading-wise, I didn't do so well. Yeah, I have an admirable number, but they're mostly comic books. (I went through a bit of a Raina Telgemeier phase.) I did enjoy the "real" books I read, but I wish there were more. Let's see what I did get through.  

Finished February 12, 2015
by Andy Weir

Review: 4 / 5 
The end was intense! My heart rate's still up. I felt like the story alternated between nerve-wracking sequences and hum-drum Mr. Wizard-style science explanations. 

I think this will be an amazing movie if they get it right. I also believe this would be better on audiobook. The author is obviously very intelligent and had a great story to tell, but at times this read like a bad Dan Brown novel. I learned a ton (in case I'm ever stranded on Mars), but occasionally Mark's logs felt like reading a recipe or instruction manual with a few jokes mixed in. That's really my only complaint. In an seasoned writer's hands this would have been 5 stars for me. 

I was very pleased by the diverse cast of characters. I looked at the movie cast list and there seem to be gaps (and made up characters?), but I'm hoping they do not compromise on the diversity. 

Paperback note: I loved the quick interview with the author at the end of the book. I highly recommend it!

Finished February 26, 2015
by Roxane Gay

Review: 4 / 5 
A great collection of essays. Gay's writing style is conversational, but still very smart. It took me a while to get through because I would get depressed and angry, but ultimately I was inspired. Gay is the perfect feminist in my mind: reasonable, flawed, and able to see things from many perspectives. 

I'd give this a 5, but for two things: as with many essay collections, the cultural references will probably feel dated in a few years. They already felt a bit stale. Second, the author's affinity for hard breaks in several successive essays ("And yet." "But."). It's a nice style trick, but got a bit repetitive. 

Final note: Gay wrote one of my favorite (fiction) short stories last year. She's a very talented and versatile writer and I will continue to make my way through her body of work. 

Finished February 03, 2015
by Stephanie Perkins

Review: 4 / 5 
That title is atrocious and I never would have read this if it weren't for positive Goodreads reviews. I can't really pin down why I liked this so much, but I couldn't put it down. I read it over the course of two nights (and would have read it in one if I didn't have someone sleeping next to me). 

Anna is a good lead character with only a few clumsy moments. St. Clair is a fun male lead and reminded me of a few of my high school boyfriends/crushes. Oh, the confusion and flirting!

Finished February 2, 2015
by Raina Telgemeier

Review: 5 / 5 
What a great story. I'm sensitive about teeth and thought I might barf during her accident. (It was also difficult to block out memories of the pain of braces and headgear.) But the way she wove in tooth tails with the overall story of middle school, friends, and crushes was fantastic. 

I read so many YA novels with narrators that are almost relatable, but then they have perfect skin, the perfect body, or the perfect level of aloofness. (They are never goofy.) Raina was completely relatable and made an interesting narrator. 

I'll read the sequel, but I'm not sure I'll enjoy the premise as much as this.

Finished February 4, 2015
by Raina Telgemeier

Review: 4 / 5 
I finished Raina Telgemeier's Smile the other day so I thought I'd check out her BSC revamp. While it was nice to go back to a familiar story, by the end I realized I probably won't keep reading these. I already know what happens and I'm too old. ;)

Finished February 9, 2015
by Liz Climo

Review: 4 / 5 
These comics are cute. I've seen about a third of them on tumblr, but it's nice to see them again. The author said she loved The Far Side growing up and I think it shows. Her work would be perfect in daily doses. I wonder if she's made a page-a-day calendar....

Finished February 25, 2015
by Raina Telgemeier

Review: 4 / 5 
I was going to give this a three because it was kind of ho-hum compared to SmileThis is a story set in the school theater program. Callie was a fine lead character, but I found myself missing Smile. Callie was dense about her potential suitors, but who isn't at that age? Some scenes moved too quickly, but through it all, the art was cute. 

A comment on the controversy (there are gay characters in this book): There are great Goodreads reviews detailing awkward moments between parents and children as they read together and reached "that part," but it was refreshing to see many of the young kids didn't care if the characters were gay or not. I didn't know it was such a controversial middle school book when I picked it up! I think it would have been nice to read something like this when I was younger because I didn't really get what gay meant until I was well into my preteen years. Once I figured it out, I understood some of my friends and classmates better! And you know what? I didn't care who they liked. I can always remember feeling that way and hope the kids of today are eating up the so called "gay agenda" some reviewers are hollering about. Wouldn't it be lovely if the next generation didn't a care who was gay and who was straight?

- - - - - - - -

As always, these reviews were ripped from my Goodreads

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

What I'm looking forward to:  Finishing Cheryl Strayed's Wild and getting back into reading "real" books. My mom is already 8 books ahead of me this year. Yeah, she had a bunch of snow days, but still. I slacked off in February. She also wanted to read Charlotte Bronte's Villette together, but I'm not sure I'm ready for a gigantic book. Baby steps! 

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