THE BAD BEGINNING AND THE REPTILE ROOM by Lemony Snicket
Series #: A Series of Unfortunate Events, #1&2
Genre: Fiction, Adventure, Middle Grades, Mystery
Original Publication Date: 1999
Read: 22 – 25 Jan & 2-22 Feb 2017
Summary: The three Baudelaire children are enjoying their day at the beach when they’re brought terrible news: their parents have died in a tragic fire that consumed their house. With that the first in a series of unfortunate events, the Baudelaire orphans find themselves under the care of the dreadful and terrifying Count Olaf. They soon realize, it’s not just his personality that’s dreadful: his schemes are, too. As he makes plan after plan to wrest the Baudelaire fortune from the orphans before the oldest, Violet, comes of age, the siblings must deal with changing guardians and Olaf’s schemes and disguises.
Review: I first read these books when I was in middle school, so when I heard there was a new Netflix series coming out, I decided it was time to reread them. I also reread them in high school when the last book and the movie were coming out, but I mainly remember the first ones. I still like the way Snicket narrates to his audience, explaining things to young readers without talking down to them. I look forward to getting to the ones I don’t remember as well as the first ones.
Recommendation: I recommend these books to people who like junior novels that don’t follow the standard narrative tropes. And, of course, to middle schoolers.
Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
THE LIFE-CHANGING MAGIC OF TIDYING UP by Marie Kondo
Genre: Nonfiction, Lifestyle
Original Publication Date: 2010
Read: 15 – 21 Jan 2017
Summary: A worldwide sensation, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up details the KonMari method that Marie Kondo developed to teach her clients how to live clutter-free. She explains the reasoning and history behind the tidying best practices that she has use to make herself and her clients successful in junk-free lives.
Review: I first became aware of the KonMari method when NPR did a livestream of Kondo teaching how to properly fold socks. Since I have tons of socks, it was the perfect introduction. Now, as I’m cleaning out my childhood bedroom in preparation of being an adult, I wanted some tips and tricks on how best to cut back on Things. After all, I’ll need to move out of my parent’s house eventually. The method detailed made perfect sense and helped me get rid of childhood trinkets that have been collecting dust in my closet since I went away to college – the first time. Hopefully, my mom will read this book and we can clean out the rest of the house together!
Recommendation: If you want to re-evaluate the things in your life that have accumulated and live a neater, tidier life, I highly recommend this book.
Publisher: Ten Speed Press
Edition Publication Date: 2013
A STUDY IN SCARLET WOMEN by Sherry Thomas
Series #: Lady Sherlock, #1
Genre: Fiction, Romance, Mystery, History, Adventure
Original Publication Date: 2016
Read: 28 Dec 2016 – 04 Jan 2017
Summary: Charlotte Holmes is tired of the constraints of a female in society; it’s a waste of her mind and her life. So she ruins her reputation to get out from under her family and society and live as a free woman. Unfortunately, Charlotte learns it’s hard to live as a woman cast from society, luckily she has her consulting detective alter ego to fall back on: “Sherlock Holmes”. Already consulting with the police as Sherlock, Charlotte sends a letter to Inspector Lestrade containing a suggestion that can’t be taken back and launching an inspection that can’t be stopped. As Charlotte finds her way as an independent woman, she must also find a way as the consulting detective.
Review: At first, it started a little slowly, but that’s true of the original Sherlock books and stories. I loved the way the hardships of being an overly clever woman in the era are depicted as being vastly different than those of being an overly clever man. After all, Charlotte finds it’s easier to be taken seriously by society as the genius detective Sherlock than the genius society-woman Charlotte. The characters were great adaptations of their originals, but I especially liked the changes that were made. Thomas made a few changes to every character without losing sight of their inspiration. So far, there’s no information about the sequel, but I’m looking forward to it.
Recommendation: If you like unruly women in a realist Victorian era and mysteries and intrigue, I highly recommend this book. I first read about it in an NPR article, which I also recommend.
Edition ISBN: 9780425281406
JADE STREET PROTECTION SERVICES by Katy Rex & Fabian Lelay
Series #: Jade Street Protection Services, #3 & #4
Genre: Fiction, Comics, Adventure, Fantasy, Favorites
Original Publication Date: 2016 & 2017
Read: 30 Dec 2016
Summary: Everyone’s favorite magical girls are back, this time they’re determined to figure out who’s doing the bad things to girls like them. Now that they’re free of their stifling boarding school, they discover just what it feels like to be able to make their own choices, whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing. It’s a lot to take in, this new freedom, from crushes to fights to magic intrigue, what will happen to these girls (my favorite magical girls) now that they have power beyond magic. How will they solve the mystery and what will they do to stop the bad guys?
Review: After seeing my review for JSPS #2 & #3, Katy Rex sent me #3 & #4 as review PDFs and I have to say, I’m so glad I didn’t have to wait!! My comic dealer… I mean comic shop *ahem* hadn’t gotten my #3 in yet and #4 isn’t out until January, so I was super stoked to get to read the end of this series early. I was so excited I bounced around the comic shop and even ended up making this review 2016’s 50th review, even though I finished Snow Crash a few days ago. I keep recommending Jade Street Protection Services to my friends who also like magical girls and I can’t wait to see my friend Gage again so I can put them in his hands!! Provided he sends them back, of course, otherwise I won’t be able to share them with anyone else!! I am super sad that this is the end, but golly gosh was it a good one!
Recommendation: If you like magical girls and fantastic art, definitely check out Jade Street Protection Services, it’s easily one of my favorite reads of 2016 (and according to Goodreads I’ve read 68 things in 2016).
Publisher: Black Mask Studios
Edition Publication Date: 2016 Preview PDFs
SNOW CRASH by Neal Stephenson
Genre: Fiction, Cyberpunk, Science Fiction, Adventure, Mystery
Original Publication Date: 1992
Read: 30 Nov – 27 Dec 2016
Summary: One part digital, one part real world, with changing view points, Snow Crash is a fantastic foray into the future of technology, or at least the way Neal Stephenson sees it. When a deadly virus attacks Hiro Protagonist’s friend in the Metaverse that seems to also affect him in reality, Hiro finds himself in the midst of an adventure. Through a series of circumstances, he ends up teaming up with Y.T., a 15-year old Courier who also finds herself in the middle of an adventure, although hers ends up taking different turns than Hiro’s. As they race to find the source of the virus and its corresponding drug, Hiro and Y.T. learn a lot more about the universe and even linguistics and religion as they go.
Review: Once again, I’m very impressed with Neal Stephenson’s work, and even more convinced that my friend L.S. is a librimatical genius. It took me a while to get through the book since it’s so dense, but it’s a good density! I wanted to have a few days to reflect on the book before I started reading again, plus Christmas was there in the middle and I had gifts to make. I really enjoyed the book, even if I thought Y.T. fell victim to what I call “Actual 15-Year Old Riri Williams” where 15-year old girls don’t look or act like actual teenagers, but rather like simpler adult women. I still liked her, but imagined her to be more 18 or 19 than 15.
Recommendation: I recommend this if you like cyberpunk and other non-dystopia science fiction.
Publisher: Bantam Books
Edition ISBN: 9780553088533
COMPROMISED by Kate Noble
Genre: Fiction, History, Trashy Romance
Original Publication Date: 2008
Read: 29 Nov 2016
Summary: Gail Alton is used to moving around the continent and traveling the world with her family, but when her father remarries and decides it’s time to move back to London so Gail and her sister, Evangeline, can have a proper season, Gail finds she has a lot more than a step-mother to get accustomed to. One of the first things she has to get accustomed to is a “too-handsome-by-far” gentleman who rides her and her mare into the lake, and then ends up in a compromising position with her sister. Now she has to deal with him being around and courting her sister. Unfortunately for both of them, the sparks seem to fly more readily between the mismatched pair than the gentleman and his betrothed. Will both sisters be able to reconcile the sparks they have for the wrong man and their duty to do the right thing in society?
Review: I’m going to start this by saying, worry not, Evangeline isn’t left out to dry and isn’t a wicked sister. In fact, it was very refreshing to read about the two women supporting each other, very reminiscent of the relationship between Elizabeth and Jane in Pride and Prejudice. Gail and Evangeline are beautiful young women who meet beautiful young men, but they happen to fall in love with the “wrong” one. I loved the way the conflict centered around the girls struggling against society instead of struggling against each other and, in the end, even the step-mother turns out to be not-so-wicked after all. I absolutely love Kate Noble’s writing and can’t wait to pick up another of her books!
Recommendation: I highly recommend this book to romance lovers, especially those who like period romances.
Edition ISBN: 9780425219645
WELCOME TO NIGHT VALE by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor
Series #: Welcome to Night Vale, Novel #1
Genre: Fiction, Adventure, Mystery, Fantasy
Original Publication Date: 2015
Read: 29 Oct – 08 Nov 2016
Summary: In a strange little town in a strange vast desert an adventure awaits. Jackie Fierro, local pawnshop owner, receives an item that, for once in her normal life, unsettles her. A piece of paper that reads “King City” and cannot be set down or destroyed leads her to Diane Crayton, who she definitely wants to avoid. Now, to solve their individual mysteries, they must make a dangerous visit to the library, find a way to get to a town that is impossible to reach, figure out who the man in the tan jacket is and why no one can remember him, and save their town. Will they be able to? In Night Vale, anything is impossible.
Review: I first tried to just read the book, but it was a little hard to envision the town of Night Vale without Cecil Baldwin’s voice guiding me gently through this hazardous town. Luckily, he narrates the audiobook, so I went ahead and bought the audiobook, which greatly improved my reading experience. I liked the story of Jackie and Diane’s adventure, although some points definitely dragged on a little too long. The best parts of the story were when Jackie and Diane were working together to figure out what was happening to them and in their town. I really enjoyed this side step of the podcast.
Recommendation: If you’re a fan of wacky and weird, definitely check this book out.
Publisher: Harper Perennial
Edition ISBN: 9780062351425
CLOUD ATLAS by David Mitchell
Genre: Fiction, Adventure, Fantasy, Mystery, Science Fiction
Original Publication Date: 2004
Read: 10 – 27 Sep 2016
Summary: Six people in separate time periods, mediums, and lives find each other through the ages. Whether it’s half a published journal or half a video, they get drawn together through storytelling. A tale of human bravery, fear, and love, Cloud Atlas takes six people whose lives would normally never intertwine and brings them together with multiple frame stories.
Review: The first time I read this book, it was terrible. But then I read an article about how the US version and the UK version were vastly different, due to the UK version benefiting from extra editing. Since my original qualm was the editing, I borrowed the UK version from a friend before I left Ireland and found a much better book. I’m not sure if it’s how much I’ve changed since I first read the book or if the differences in the text are really that vast, but I loved the UK text. One thing that I loved more than the movie was the frame narrative. Each narrator finds the first half of their story predecessor’s tale and, as we move through the story, they tell their half before the next narrator starts their tale. The interweaving of the stories is so well done.
Recommendation: I highly recommend this book if you’re a fan of David Mitchell, I especially enjoyed this book more after reading The Bone Clocks.
Edition Publication Date: 2014
Edition ISBN: 9780340822784
THE HUNT #1 by Colin Lorimer, Joana Lafuente
Series #: The Hunt, #1
Genre: Fiction, Comics, Graphic Novels, Fantasy, Horror
Original Publication Date: 2016
Read: 26 Sep 2016
Summary: Orla Roche is haunted by creatures, but she’s been told they’re just dreams”. Unfortunately, the dreams have started to be more realistic as time has passed and now he has to decide how to handle the revelations these creatures bring. Irish mythology comes to life in THE HUNT, how will Orla handle it?
Review: This was one of the last things I read while I was living in Ireland and it was very good, but I felt like I was missing the background information on the creatures. They weren’t familiar to me because I’m not Irish and didn’t grow up learning about them. I’m also not very big on horror, so I’ll probably not read the rest of them, but I did enjoy it all the same.
Recommendation: If you like mythology brought into the modern world and horror, this is a great book for you.
Publisher: Image Comics
KIM & KIM #1 by Magdalene Visaggio, Eva Cabrera (Illustrator), Claudia Aguirre (Illustrator)
Series #: Kim & Kim, #1
Genre: Fiction, Science Fiction, Adventure, LGBTQ+, Comics, Graphic Novels
Original Publication Date: 2016
Read: 26 Sep 2016
Summary: Kim & Kim work together as “interdimesional cowboy law enforcement”, but when they take a job and get in over their heads, they have to deal with the consequences. Action-packed, snarky, and bright, Kim & Kim is a great story to read when you just need a good fck you story. A fast-paced, beautifully drawn action-adventure, space-travel story, Kim & Kim also has LGBTQ+ stories, without making the struggle of LGBTQ+ the only facet of the adventure.
Review: The official description ends with: “Kim & Kim is a bright, happy, punk rock sci-fi adventure that is queer as shit.” and to me, that’s a resounding endorsement. I loved the way it wasn’t about the queer identities, but rather about the girls’ adventures with a very large splash of queer. It wasn’t pandering or “this comic is LGBTQ+ focused”, it normalized LGBTQ+ within the adventure story very well.
Recommendation: If you like bad*ss ladies, sci-fi adventure, and bright 80s pop, definitely check this book out!
Publisher: Black Mask Studios