Audiobook: Bookish People

by Susan Coll
Read by Alexa Morden
Support your local independent bookstore: buy it there!
Or listen at Libro.fm
Content: There is some mild swearing and a couple of f-bombs. There is also mention of suicide. It’s in the Adult Fiction section of the bookstore.

A co-worker – the current Children’s Coordinator at the bookstore – turned me on to this one, saying: It’s super accurate, including down to the vacuum cleaner that won’t work. That was enough for me.

The basic plot: it’s one week at an independent bookstore in Washington, DC (not Politics and Prose, though) where everything seems to go wrong. The owner, Sophie, is having second and third thoughts about running a bookstore and just wants to hide away in the hidden room behind the sports section (I think?). Clemi, the event coordinator, has booked Raymond Chaucer, a notorious poet who is basically known because his wife killed herself. Clemi, however, thinks Chaucer is her real father. In between all that is a lot of rain, some pretty weird and funny customers, and a vacuum cleaner that just won’t work.

it’s particularly silly and fluffy; there’s really not much depth or growth here But the author must have some experience with working at a bookstore; there was a lot of insider baseball from Shelf Awareness (which is more like an industry newsletter, not a blog) to receiving and stocking books (though they order a LOT of books) to those weird customers who show up at author events. In fact, it was the author event, where one attendee just started rambling about spotted owls, that had me howling in laughter. I know those people; I have had those people at events I have run.

The narrator was particularly delightful and engaging, doing voices (I particularly liked her voice for Summer), and basically keeping me engrossed in an increasingly silly plot.

So, not a deep or moving book, but it was good for a few laughs, which I enjoyed.

A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking

by T. Kingfisher
First sentence: “There was a dead girl in my aunt’s bakery.”
Support your local independent bookstore: buy it there!
Content: there is some death by murdering and mild swearing. It’s in the Science Fiction/Fantasy section of the bookstore.

Mona doesn’t consider herself a wizard. After all, all she does is small magic – like make bread rise or gingerbread men dance. But when a girl turns up dead in her the kitchen of her aunt’s bakery, she soon discovers that someone is out to get her (and all the other people who do magic in her town). And, since now of the adults in Mona’s life seem to be doing anything, she and her friend (the brother of the dead girl) soon decide to challenge the powers that be and make someone listen.

People have been recommending this to me for a while now, and I guess I just felt that Now was the time to read it. I mean, who doesn’t love a possibly sentient sourdough starter named Bob? But it was also more than that: it was about inclusiveness, about finding one’s power, even if you think it’s small, and about making and keeping friends. It’s very sweet I get why Kingfisher self-published it: it’s not really an adult book, but it’s not really a YA one either. it sits in that publishing no person’s land, where if you like the sort of thing – baking, slight mysteries, magic, etc – you’ll probably love this book.

I fell on the love it side, and I don’t regret that at all.

The Agathas

by Kathleen Glasgow and Liz Lawson
First sentence: “Alice Ogilvie is crazy.”
Support your local independent bookstore: buy it there.
Content: There is some swearing, including 3 F-bombs, some mention of teenage drinking, drug use, and sexual activity.

Alice Ogilvie is persona non grata in Castle Cove: last summer, she disappeared for five days. Everyone in town panicked and sent out searches for her. And then she reappeared, much to everyone’s chagrin, and refused to talk about her summer. She’s trying to get back into school – after being on house arrest for two months – and is failing at it.

Iris is trying to get her and her mother away from her abusive dad. This means she needs money. So, when the school counselor hirs her to be a tutor to Alice, she’s a little wary, but needs the $3,000 enough to take it on. But when Alice’s former best friend, Brooke, goes missing and then turns up dead, Alise is determined to get to the bottom of it. Iris is just along for the ride, and for the reward money. The question is: can two teenage girls figure out the mystery?

If you can’t tell from the title: this is really a straight-up murder mystery, the kind Agatha Christie used to write. It hits all the mystery beats: a dead body, a falsely accused person, and so on. And it did it all really well. I liked the voices of Alice and Iris, and the way the story was told through both of their eyes. I liked that the mystery was just high enugh stakes that I woudl fl a sense of danger when Alice and Iris get into questionable situatons It’s a strong story ad a fun one. Definitely recommended.

Monthly Round-Up: July 2022

I read a few things. I don’t know why I didn’t read more. no rime? just not in the mood? I don’t know. Maybe I just need to accept that I don’t read as much as I used to anymore and move on. At least I’m still reading, right? My favorite this month was an old favorite, a comfort read:

Wee Fee Men (old review)

As for the rest:

YA:

A Hat Full of Sky (old review)

Graphic Novel:

Realm of the Blue Mist

Non-fiction:

Mother Brain
Radical Love (audiobook)

Adult Fiction:

Counterfeit (audiobook)
Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow (audiobook)

What was your favorite this month?

Realm of the Blue Mist

by Amy Kim Kibuishi
Support your local independent bookstore: buy it there!
Content: There are some disturbing images and some violence. it’s in the middle grade graphic novel section of the bookstore.

Tabby’s father was obsessed with a tree in their town, a tree where mist comes out. And where he died, his body having been mysteriously aged 200 years. Tabby has become obsessed with her father’s death and hangs out at the tree even though her mother has forbidden it. It’s there aht she sees Philip, a Keeper from the world Rema. She follows him through the portal in the tree and discovers a world where there are people with powers who are ostrcsed, and nothing is quite what it seems.

It’s very much a set-up book, introducing Tabby to the world and us to TAbby and Philip. there is a slight friendship? Romance? between them that doesn’t quite feel justified (i mean he’s cute, but that’s it, really). I wasn’t sure that I was going to like this initially, but as it went on git got more interesting. So, I am quite possibly invested in where this series is going to go. We’ll see. For now, I’ll call this a tentiteively good start.

Audiobook: Radical Love

by Zachary Levi
Read by the author
Support your local independent bookstore: Buy it there!
Or listen at Libro.fm
Content: There is a lot of swearing, plus instances of verbal and emotional abuse. it’s in the Self-Help section of the bookstore, but it really could have been put in Biography or Thought/Religion.

I have a fondness (call it guilty pleasure) for celebrity memories, especially when read by the author. I adore them. I want to sit and listen to them tell their story. So, when I saw that Zachary Levi had one out, I jumped on it. I like him well enough though I know him best from his Operation Smile NerdHQ he used to do at Comic Con (back when i was obsessively watching that kind of stuff), though my kids loved him as Flynn Rider in Tangled (as did I).

What I expected – Zachary Levi seems like a pretty cheerful guy – was not what I got. He’s had a rough life, and the purpose behind this memoir is to be open about his struggles with mental illness and the in order to hopefully make discussing mental illness more mainstream. I did enjoy hearing his take on things – from living with a bipolar, narcissistic mother to acting to his failed marriage and his breakdown – especially since he’s a lot more spiritual than I expected (I don’t know why it surprised me when actors talk about God, but it does. It shouldn’t: they are people with beliefs too!). I liked that he was candid about everything, from having suicidal thoughts to how hard maintaining a healthy mental state is. He’s honest and candid and it is good that there is someone like him (pick one: white, male, famous)honesttalking about mental illness and the importance of mental health. The biggest disconnect was hearing this cheerful voice talk about non-cheerful things. But he was even honest in his reading, choking up a couple times.

So, while it wasn’t what I expected, I liked what I got.

Audiobook: Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow

by Gabrielle Zevin
Read by Jennifer Kim and Julian Cihi
Support your local independent bookstore: buy it there!
Or listen at Libro.fm
Content: there is swearing, including multiple f-bombs, on-screen instances of some pretty unhealthy BDSM, and some violence. It’s in the Fiction section of the bookstore.

For reference about the title.

It’s really kind of hard to sum this on eup. There is a plot: Sadie and Sam are friends as children, they fall out and meet again as students at MIT And Harvard respectively, and end up making video games togethre with Sams roommate, Marx. But that doesn’t really do this novel justice. It’s really about friendships and all different types of love, and the relationships we make and break and make again. It covers about 40 years, and all the ups and downs in Sadie’s and Sam’s life, set against the backdrop of the games that they have made together over the years.

It didn’t always work for me; I found it to drag sometimes, and at other times I was bored with where the story was going. But in the end, I found it to be sweet and touching, and quite insistent that romantic love, at least as we all think about it, is not the Best Thing Ever, that people can live and thrive with other relationships in their life. It was definitely refreshing in that sense.

And the narration was quite good. She didn’t always do the voices, but I was able to follow the story.

And the narration was lovely. She didn’t do all the voices, but the writing was good enough that I could usually tell who was talking no matter what.

I didn’t absolutely love it, but I really liked it.

Mother Brain

by Chelsea Conaboy
First sentence: “What does it mean to become a mother?”
Support your local independent bookstore: buy it there!
Release date: September 13, 2022
Review copy provided by the publisher
Content: It’s very science-y and gets in the weeds with the science sometimes. It will be in the Science section of the bookstore.

I picked this up because my boss pulled it off the ARC shelves at work, and asked if I would be willing to give it a look-over and maybe nominate it for IndieNext. I figured I’d just read a few pages and give it a look, but I soon found myself engrossed in it.

The basic premise of the book is Conaboy’s experience being a pregnant person. She didn’t have the “ideal” and “expected” experience with pregnancy and mothrehood, and that lead her to look into the science of it. She’s not a scientist but rather a journalist who covers health and science, which gives her an interseting angle into the subject.

learned so much, and felt so validated with my own experience being a pregnant person. There were a lot of times that I underlined and dog-eared the pages because what she wrote resonated with me. It was so validating to know that the science – as little as there is – validated what I was feeling, that there isn’t one way to be preganant and a new parent.

I’d put this up there with Invisible Women as an important science book that just proves the need for science to include non-cishet men in their studies, in order to get broader picture of what it means to be human.

Highly recommended.

Audiobook: Counterfeit

by Kirstin Chen
Read by Catherine Ho
Support your local independent bookstore: buy it there!
Or listen at Libro.fm
Content: There was some swearing. It’s in the adult fiction section of the bookstore.

Ava Wong has lived a safe life: the daughter of Chinese immigrants, she chose the safe occupation (lawyer), married well (he’s a doctor) and has a child (he’s two), and is living a “good” life. Except, she’s supremely unhappy. Enter Winnie Fang, Ava’s former roommate at Stanford. She is a woman of the world and has developed a counterfeit scheme where she buys knock-off designer bags from China, purchases the same designer bag and returns the counterfeit to the store, selling the original on eBay for a discounted price. It’s made her, well if not millions, then at least a good living. She sees Ava’s unhappiness, and invites her into her world. The whole book is framed as Ava’s confession to a dective, having been caught out in the scheme, and is taking the fall. Except: is she?

To be honest: I wasn’t all that invested in Ava or Winnie’s story. I liked parts of it, and Ho kept me entertained, but I didn’t really feel connected to the story. It’s not that it wasn’t enjoyable (stick around: part 2 makes part 1 worth it), but in may ways, I felt like it was Rich People Problems, which are very uninspiring right now. . So while it wasn’t bad, it wasn’t all that great either. At least it helped fill the hours at work.

Monthly Round-Up: June 2022

Another month not reading a ton, another month when my TBR pile grows larger (though I een did a purge this month) and I think about all the things I’m not reading.

My favorite this month:

Seriously: we need more Ionas in this world.

And the rest:

YA:

The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea

Adult:

Yerba Buena (audiobook)
Spear
Flying Solo (audiobook)
Finlay Donovan is Killing It

Non-fiction:

Easy Beauty (audiobook)
This is Not a Book About Benedict Cumberbatch

We’ll see what next month brings, won’t we?