What I’ve been reading, July 2017 travel edition

I had planned to write extensive reviews of the various things I’ve been reading, but the fact is that I’m not great at writing extensive reviews. At least not on demand, and not while traveling, especially not while traveling for work. So instead, here’s what I’ve been reading with a few short thoughts.

Acquired at ALA:

  • Disappeared by Francisco X. Stork. This is a bit of a departure from Stork’s previous work, as it’s a thriller (though still written for the young adult market). At the same time all the elements that I love about his writing – a fundamental kindness towards humanity, the struggle with the “real world,” an underlying attention to issues of spirituality – are in it. I’m not objective about Stork’s work as (like Cashore) he’s one of my favorite authors, but I thought this was a fantastic read (and possibly one of my favorites of his). It’s due out in September 2017.
  • Leona: the Die is Cast by Jenny Rogneby. Swedish thriller (the Swedish version was published a few years ago; the version I got is the English translation, the paperback of which is due out on August 1, 2017). This one wasn’t for me.
  • Murder in Saint-Germain by Cara Black. Mystery, part of a series about Parisian PI Aimée Leduc. Again, not for me.
  • White Chrysanthemum by Mary Lynn Bracht. This is the story of a young Korean woman kidnapped and forced to work as a Japanese “comfort woman” during World War II. I read it while sitting at a cafe waiting for my short-term apartment to become available and cried myself into a pulp – and this despite some unbelievable elements. Maybe not the best choice for reading in public, but definitely moving! It’s due out in January 2018.
  • Minik: the New York Eskimo by Kenn Harper. This biography of Minik, one of six Polar Inuit brought to New York by Robert Peary, is another heartbreaker. Minik was seven when he arrived in New York, and four of his traveling companions (including his father) died within months of their arrival. The fifth returned to Greenland, but Minik remained in New York. While I’ve long known the story of the Inuit group in New York (it’s one of the more shameful chapters in American anthropological history), Mink’s story after that first year was new to me. The back cover copy reads “…Minik never surrendered the home of going ‘home,’ never stopped fighting for the dignity of his father’s memory, and never gave up his belief that people would come to his aid if only he could get them to understand” and this is a fair summary of the book, I think. The are passages from Minik’s own writings included in the biography, and these I found especially compelling. This revised and updated edition of Give Me My Father’s Body is due out in September 2017.

Other:

  • Want by Cindy Pon. This is another author about whom I’m not objective, and it’s also a departure from her previous work. Want is young adult science fiction, set in a near-future Taiwan, rather than fantasy. It has an interesting combination of political, heist, and romance elements, making for a fun and page-turning read. Others agree with me: Want has been recommended in the LA Times and the New York Times. Out now.
  • The Waking Land by Callie Bates. I have to admit I picked up this beautiful adult fantasy because I liked the cover so much…but I’m glad I did. The magic in this book is what really drew me in, but there are many other things to like: heroine fighting against the odds, interesting world, etc. Out now.
  • Fire by Kristin Cashore. A re-read of an old favorite.

The ALA 2017 exhibits experience and THE GLASS SENTENCE

Every few years, I get to attend the American Libraries Association (ALA) conference, courtesy of my partner (who is a librarian). I tag along to whatever cool location in which the meeting is being held and get an exhibits-only pass. Why bother getting a pass? One simple reason: ALA exhibits are *awesome*.

They have robots. Author talks. Publisher displays, from publishers large and small, with recently published and forthcoming books. Sometimes they give some of those books away. In fact for me the most difficult aspect of going to ALA exhibits, aside from the general overstimulating nature of it all, is not picking up too many books.

The ALA 2017 exhibits hall (at the end of the conference – the exhibits are in the process of being deconstructed by a crane in this picture!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(There are lots of other things in the ALA exhibits as well as books and book-related booths, like displays on library automation software and databases. I like those too.)

This year ALA was in Chicago. Not only did I wind up with a number of exciting-looking books (most of which I knew nothing about prior to the conference)…

I watched a cooking demo by Joshua McFadden

I didn’t get a picture of the demo, unfortunately, so here’s a picture of his new book, SIX SEASONS.

I got an advance copy of Jane Unlimited by Kristin Cashore

Waiting in line for Kristin Cashore's JANE UNLIMITED
Waiting in line for Kristin Cashore’s JANE UNLIMITED

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

and I met up with the fantastic Cindy Pon!

Cindy Pon signing copies of WANT
Here is Cindy signing copies of her new book, WANT

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To top that all off I spent some time exploring Chicago, including eating pierogis at Tryzub, a Ukranian restaurant; experiencing the Purple Pig; and exploring Read It & Eat, a cookbook-focused bookstore.

Yes, I spent all my time reading, eating, and talking with other people about reading and eating. And if that doesn’t sound totally worth the price of admission to you, well, probably you don’t read this blog.

(I did also attend the Chicago – Orlando MLS game, but I ate and drank while there so technically this is in the “eating” category. I didn’t read at the game, but it was still super-fun.)

In the midst of all this activity I also finished The Glass Sentence by S.E. Grove, a book I’ve been meaning to read since it came out. I definitely enjoyed it – it has great world-building and does interesting things with the concept of time. As this review points out it’s in the tradition of Philip Pullman‘s His Dark Materials trilogy, but (maybe because of the American setting) to me it had a very different feel. I’m still mulling over my reaction beyond “I liked it,” though. I suspect I won’t really know until I’ve read the other two in the series.

However, those other two books will have to wait, much as I enjoyed The Glass Sentence. My reading for the next few weeks will focus on the Advance Reader Copies/other books I picked up at ALA, so stay tuned for some thoughts on those!

Things I read and liked in 2015

Holidays are when I catch up on my pleasure reading. I have a big stack of things to read over the next two weeks (and can’t wait to do so). But here are a few of the books I read and enjoyed earlier this year, in no particular order.

Warning: this list is almost certainly incomplete. I should probably start doing periodic lists of stuff I’ve recently enjoyed, if only to keep track of what I’ve been reading for myself….

  • Tales from Rugosa Coven, by Sarah Avery – This book consists of three connected novellas about a group of early 21st century Wiccans in New Jersey, and it is awesome.
  • Last Song Before Night, by Ilana C. Meyer – This is the kind of fantasy that normally would be a little “high” for me, but the world and music sucked me right in.
  • Uprooted, by Naomi Novik – I read this in Warsaw, appropriately enough; it’s got a gorgeous Polish-inspired setting.
  • Serpentine, by Cindy Pon – a beautiful Chinese-inspired tale with female friendship at its core.
  • The Snow Globe, by Jenna Nelson – a young woman from an alternate Victorian London finds herself in a snow globe. Fun fantasy (and dare I say, perfect for the holidays?)
  • The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins (see also the Q&A with Scott, here) – I wrote about this when I first read it back in July, so here I’ll just say I’m a sucker for evil librarian stories.
  • Our Lady of the Ice, by Cassandra Rose Clarke – recently finished this one too. A PI takes on a gangster in an alternate-history Antarctic enclosed world.
  • Trouble is a Friend of Mine, by Stephanie Tromly – Veronica Mars-style caper in the oh-so-aptly named town of River Heights, NY. The whole book is full of nods to those of us who grew up on teenage sleuths – and it is super-fun to boot!
  • Blue Birds, by Caroline Starr Rose – Novel in verse about the Lost Colony. Rose was prescient, it turns out, given recent archaeological news about the Lost Colony
  • A Daughter of No Nation, by A.M. Dellamonica – I loved Child of a Hidden Sea; this is a sequel, and though normally I am not a big fan of sequels I loved this book as much as the first.