Posted in Reading Challenge, Reviews

The Boy on the Bridge by M. R. Carey

A million years ago (ok, ok, earlier this year) I read The Girl with All the Gifts by M. R. Carey. The Boy on the Bridge is its prequel. Carey’s new spin on the zombie apocalypse is precipitated by the cortyceps fungus, making an army of mindless undead who know only hunger–that’s the premise established in the first book. Except that the boy, Stephen Greaves, has discovered a second generation of the fungus’s mutation, and these blood-drinkers are sentient… and children–that’s the stage set for this second book. In-fighting and politicking between scientists and the military land Stephen, our autistic genius main character, in a very dangerous mine field, trying to keep his new friends from killing or being killed by his race, humans 1.0. I listened to the audiobook for both volumes, so I should point out that the voice-acting as well as the writing are great.

The main complaint about this book seems to be that it isn’t as thrilling as its predecessor, and I will agree; but I’d argue that this sets out to be a different kind of book. Carey’s scope in Girl is macro, where we feel the weight of the fate of the world. In Boy, already knowing the fate of the world, the scope becomes micro: for this novel, the whole world is the 10-person crew on the bus, which expands to include the zombie children once Stephen learns of their existence (and narrows as characters are killed). The writing is certainly up to snuff. Again Carey brings us beautiful and insightful language. Who else comes up with her cropped white hair like exhaled smoke. Terrific stuff.

This book got a lot of people buzzing. NPR said that “Carey uses this larger crew and the slightly earlier timeline to explore the anxiety and desperation of living on the precipice of a breakdown.” The Verge compares Stephen to the main character of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, another book with an autistic boy as the main character, which isn’t an unfair comparison, if a bit limiting. As readers here, we get to experience all of Stephen’s emotional distress, anxiety, fear, and love from the inside, as well as the way he is treated and thought of by other characters.

The Verge complains that “From the beginning…its character dynamic is so strikingly similar…Once again, there’s an underage genius who’s underestimated by his travel companions, except for the nurturing mother-figure.” While it’s certainly true that Carey has created a formula that works and used it twice, he himself (in the narrative) states “all journeys are the same journey,” and it was only a few books ago that we heard Ann Patchett say the same, “just about any decent writer you can think of can be boiled down to one story. The trick, then, is to learn not to fight it, and to thrive within that thing you know deeply and care about most of all.”

Greaves goes about the rest of his waking up ritual, in spite of the fact that he hasn’t been asleep. It’s not just to forestall questions. He needs to do it because each day has a shape, and the waking up ritual is one of its lode-bearing components.

“Don’t be scared,” he slur. “It’s okay, it’s okay.” But they’re not. and it isn’t.

He wants to find who did this and teach them the going rate for eyes and teeth.

His hands are shaking. There is no sequence here. None of the things he is doing are on the long, long list of things he has done before.

Reading Challenges
Here we go for reading challenge updates:

Hashtags for the challenges that had them:
#popsugarreadingchallenge
#rockmytbr
#diversereads2017
#whatsinaname2017
#AnneReadAlong2017

October is zooming! How is it half over already??? Are you ready for nanowrimo.org???
Much Love,
Jobe

Posted in Reading Challenge, Reviews

Anne of Avonlea by L. M. Montgomery

Now that the secret is out of the bag and you all know I’ve committed to yet another reading challenge, I feel comfortable telling you I’ve just finished book 2 of the Anne series, Anne of Avonlea by Lucy Maud Montgomery. The Anne Read Along challenge is one that I heard about it from The Book Date, who heard about it from co-hosts Jackie at Death by Tsundoku and Jane at Greenish Bookshelf, the latter being its progenitor. The challenge suggests a book a month from May through December, so naturally I’m hopelessly behind and will likely experience some miraculous (read: obsessive) catch up toward the end.

If you’ve never read Anne of Green Gables you really ought to. It is an absolute classic, beautifully written, and a piece of history. Lucy Maud Montgomery was born in 1874 and published the first Anne book in 1908; this second volume was published in 1909. So if you’re looking for “a book 100 years or older,” these count, and since they’re public domain, you can also read them free via Project Gutenberg. If you’re around my age, you probably grew up on the Megan Follows movies. #meganfollowsismyanneshirley ❤

Anne of Green Gables is about a precocious orphan girl who gets adopted and learns what it is to have a home. Anne of Avonlea picks up the story as Anne has completed a teaching program and is now teaching the elementary school she once attended. She started the first book at age 11; this one opens with her at age 16. Her students, and readers, naturally, adore her. She and Marilla adopt a pair of twins, Davy and Dora. And Anne also makes friends with Miss Lavendar, Charlotta the Fourth, and little Stephen Irving. Anne’s life continues to be surrounded by the beautiful, provincial life of rural Prince Edward Island. And Anne continues to get into and out of several scrapes, though it’s clear that she has done and continues to do a lot of growing up.

Reading Challenges
Here we go for reading challenge updates:

Hashtags for the challenges that had them:
#popsugarreadingchallenge
#rockmytbr
#diversereads2017
#whatsinaname2017
#AnneReadAlong2017

So there’s book 2 of 8 completed for the Anne Read Along. How’s your reading going?
Love,
Jobe

Posted in Jobe Update, Reading Challenge

Reading Challenges Progress Report

[ // JANUARY // FEBRUARY // MARCH // APRIL // MAY // JUNE // JULY // AUGUST // ]

With August done our year is 2/3 finished with 1/3 to go. I’ve read 33 books so far.toptoptop

Challenge Completed Status
PopSugar 33 of 40 83% main
33 of 52 63% advanced
Audiobooks 1 100% bit level reached!
10 100% Byte level reached!
11 of 25 40% Megabyte
Pages 12,000 pages! 100% Bonsai level reached!
50% Shrub
Colors 9 of 9 colors! All 9 colors completed!
Reread 3 of 4 75% Déjà Vu
3 of 8 38% Feeling Nostalgic
Mount TBR 8 of 12 67% Pike’s Peak
8 of 24 33% Mount Blanc
Rock My TBR 8 of 12 67% completed
Diversity & Diversity 8 of 12 67% completed
Full House 23 of 25 92% completed
Books You Buy 12 of 41 29% Making Inroads
What’s in a Name  3 of 6 50% completed
Anne Read Along  1 of 8  13% completed

gayflagpennants#popsugarreadingchallenge #rockmytbr #diversereads2017
#whatsinaname2017 #AnneReadAlong2017

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Non Fiction –> Free Space: Kindling by Angel Blackwood On TBR for 2+ years: Divergent by Veronica Roth More than 500 pages: Allegiant by Veronica Roth Page Turner: The Girl with All the Gifts by M. R. Carey Middle Grade book: Ash by Malinda Lo
2017 published: Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore by Matthew Sullivan Published pre 2000: Autonomy and Rigid Character by David Shapiro UK/European author: Abarat: Days of Magic, Nights of War by Clive Barker Back List book from fav author: White Night by Jim Butcher, book 9 Dresden Files Book from a list: Cinder by Marissa Meyer
Award Winner: Abarat by Clive Barker Books about books: Lamb the Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore Size word in title: Small Favor by Jim Butcher, book 10 in the Dresden Files Two Word Title: Proven Guilty by Jim Butcher, book 8 Dresden Files Debut book: Tell The Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt
Food on cover or title: ????? Cozy Mystery: Dead Beat by Jim Butcher, book 7 in the Dresden Files Book from childhood: Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery Diversity book: Lost Girls by Alan Moore, illustrated by Melinda Gebbie Australian/NZ author: ?????
Western: The Dark Tower comic series by Stephen King USA/Canadian author: Insurgent by Veronica Roth Not really for you: The Destroyer #46 Next of Kin by Warren Murphy Attractive cover: Tithe by Holly Black Borrowed: The Brotherhood of the Rose by David Morrell

gayflagpennants

How’s your reading going???

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Posted in diversity, Reading Challenge, Reviews

If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo

 

If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo is the story of a transgirl written by a transwoman, and they even used a beautiful trans model for the book cover. The setting is high school, and any reader will recognize the familiar trappings—divorced parents who don’t see eye to eye, teens who are or are not included in “the popular kids,” feeling scared and uncertain of social situations. There are also several flashback scenes that give the reader a fuller sense of who the main character is, developing and enriching our reader experience at a pace that is masterfully parsed. The writing here is just so honest and so real. A lot of people say that reading the Diary of Anne Frank made them feel Jewish. This book will make you feel trans, in the best, most empathetic ways. Simply stated this book is vitally important and should be required high school reading nationwide. I don’t want to spoil anything so I’m afraid to say much more so let this suffice: I adore this book. If you read one book this year, make it this one.

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It made my heart surge to see this book translated into so many languages.

Reading Challenges
Here we go for reading challenge updates:

Hashtags for the challenges that had them:
#popsugarreadingchallenge
#rockmytbr
#diversereads2017
#whatsinaname2017
#AnneReadAlong2017

Love,
Jobe

Posted in Reading Challenge, Reviews

Ghost Story by Jim Butcher

 

 

Usually there is a year of downtime in the universe of the series before the characters get into a new adventure of mischief. Ghost Story, by contrast, follows Changes by only moments, in a grand continuation. The readers follow the Ghost of the story as he attempts to solve his own murder, and he entreats the help of all of our usual suspects. I kept wracking my brain, wondering if the ghost is “really dead” or if there would be some time magic hijinks to just rewind the world for an “and then he woke up” effect. And I’m typing this before I’ve reached the end, specifically so I couldn’t accidentally give anything away about the resolution of the story. In addition to the excellent writing you’ve come to expect, spooky book 13 of the Dresden Files departs from the regular Harry-saves-the-day story and shows a lot of the other characters in their own right and/or coming into their own.

There were two things that happened during my reading experience. First, the audiobook that I checked out from the library was narrated by someone other than James Marsters. WHAT?!?!?!? I just could not get over it and I could not get into it! This wasn’t my narrator! You can’t just have someone narrate TWELVE WHOLE BOOKS and then switch. It’s too jarring! Too traumatic! When I searched the web, I found I was not the only one who’d complained. In fact, poor audiobook performer John Glover, whose only crime was not being James Marsters, was the new most hated man on the internet since Jaqen H’gar changed faces on Season 2 of Game of Thrones. (Poor guy.) 30 MOST SHOCKING MOMENTS IN GAME OF THRONES 17. CHANGING FACE

Well I only made it through a disc and a half before I decided I just couldn’t do it, I signed up for a free trial of Audible and listened to it to completion on my phone. (I’ve also been tinkering with ebooks in my iPhone’s Kindle app, so maybe there’s hope for me yet.) The other thing that occurred during my read (and this figuratively never happens) is that I cried. Not gonna lie. The first time Harry and Molly talk, I just couldn’t take it. Now I don’t know if that’s because it was audio instead paper, whether it was because I had earphones in instead of car stereo. All I know is that that scene hit me hard.

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Reading Challenges
Here we go for reading challenge updates:

Hashtags for the challenges that had them:
#popsugarreadingchallenge
#rockmytbr
#diversereads2017
#whatsinaname2017
#AnneReadAlong2017

So there’s my August atm, how’s yours?
Love,
Jobe

Posted in Reading Challenge, Reviews

Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery

Okay, I didn’t want anyone to know I was reading Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery until I had at least the first one done. (I thought they would go much faster but alas!) The reason I didn’t want anyone to know is because… I might have just signed up for another book challenge. *covers face* I know, I know, that’s crazy talk, right?! But I just couldn’t help myself when I saw it, and I’ve had the series on my shelf since I got them at a used book store last summer. Anyway, the Anne Challenge. I heard about it from The Book Date, who heard about it from co-hosts Jackie at Death by Tsundoku and Jane at Greenish Bookshelf, the latter its progenitor. The challenge suggests a book a month from May through December, so by the end of August (if I can catch up) I should be finished with book 4 of 8. You know I’ll keep you posted!!!

If you’ve never read Anne of Green Gables before you really must. It is an absolute classic, beautifully written, and a piece of North America’s (Canada’s) history. Lucy Maud Montgomery was born in 1874 and published the first Anne book in 1908!!! So if you’re looking for “a book 100 years or older,” this one certainly counts, and since it’s public domain, you can also read it free via Project Gutenberg. If you’re around my age, you might’ve grown up on the books and the Megan Follows movies; a new movie was put out in 2016 and you can check out more about it online here thanks to PBS. And if you’re planning a vacation, why not visit Prince Edward Island, (complete with an Anne Museum) home to Montgomery’s lovable characters! Anne is a global phenomenon—I remember one of my host-sisters reading a translation of the first book while I was in Japan! But you don’t have to take my word for it. Just ask Margaret Atwood.

All hype aside, Anne of Green Gables is about a precocious, talkative orphan girl who has never been loved or had a home, but despite these setbacks, has a huge heart and an even bigger imagination. She gets adopted by accident—they wanted a boy—but is given the chance to thrive with Marilla and Mathew Cuthbert, an old pair of siblings who never married and now run the family home and farm together. Sharing this humble abode, Anne is raised with kindness, love, and patience (long-suffering), surrounded by beautiful landscape on all sides. Anne makes friends and enemies, goes to school, and gets into all kinds of trouble. Despite it all, she manages to come out on top, spirits never crushed for long, even in “the depths of despair.”

Reading Challenges
Here we go for reading challenge updates:

Hashtags for the challenges that had them:
#popsugarreadingchallenge
#rockmytbr
#diversereads2017
#whatsinaname2017
and the newest addition #AnneReadAlong2017

So there’s my big secret revealed, are you terribly cross with me?
Love,
Jobe

Posted in Reading Challenge, Reviews

Kindling by Angel Blackwood

 

 

I can’t think of many things more exciting than the privilege of reading the final product of a hard-working writer friend. Y’all remember how loud I was when it came to promoting books written by my friend Ellie Di Julio, and the cheerleading I did for Chase Night‘s debut novel Chicken. These days I’m writing book reviews (what!?) and I’m honored to get the chance to review this novel: Kindling by Angel Blackwood. I am also thrilled to be in the line up for beta reading the second installment. Pretty Hot and Awesome Gang featured posts about Kindling. Here’s what I said for my Goodreads and Amazon review:

Epic fantasy meets splatter punk for high gore adventures
The scope of this novel is wide, clearly intended for a series. Rather than a single main character, readers are treated to a cast of significant characters who end up traveling in various combinations. Good and evil are clear forces at work but there’s plenty of room for gray as the main characters struggle with themselves, each other, and in many cases the dark of their pasts. Bloodthirsty readers with be sated as legions meet excruciating ends. And an interesting paradigm shift at work here is the power of magic which places women in the strong, dominant roles and men as the weaker sex. Not to be missed, Kindling is clearly the start to a series which is not to be missed.

Woohoo! Are you excited yet?! I really loved how this book flipped the script on traditional gender roles, from a main male character of small stature—Zahir—to the impossibly strong magicks of the Matron herself. There is even a scenario where men can go mad (any woman might confirm how irritating it is to hear that all women are crazy). There are two main forces at work, one led by evil men in power and one led by evil women in power, but the primary force for good as far as deities go is the essential Mother goddess. The language in this book is evocative, and those who’ve grown up on comic book movies will have no trouble at all vividly seeing how the magic in this world works. I think my favorite male character is Zahir, while my favorite female character might be Dejanira, who is a baddie! Who are yours?

Reading Challenges
Here we go for reading challenge updates:

Hashtags for the challenges that had them:
#popsugarreadingchallenge
#rockmytbr
#diversereads2017
#whatsinaname2017

That’s my last read for July, stay tuned for my crazy August crash plan!

Jobe