Monday, May 13, 2019

Book-A-Day May

I had this brilliant idea, because I finished two books in the first five days of May.  News flash: the math does not work out.

BUT! But I love the way it sounds, so I'm going to dream for the next couple of weeks. I figure if I keep plugging away I might get halfway there, which a) will still be an amazing reading month for me, and b) will set me up to make this A Thing and maybe really read 30 books in a month next May! (Or are there 31 days in May?)

This just might work because anything counts. I've read graphic novels and novellas. I counted a Kindle single. I'm counting books I started in April and finished in May. It's about courting success! I'm only not counting the picture book I read, because that would be just too easy; I could be done in a day.

And we're doing it by averages. I don't have to actually finish one book a day--three one day offsets a couple of days plugging through something longer.

So, without further ado: Book-A-Day May so far!

 1) Ragged Alice, by Gareth L. Powell. A novella and an ARC I received; full review to come, but generally a neat little mystery with touches of horro.

2) In the Thrill of the Night, by Candice Hern. The anachronistic pun title alone brought me out, along with what I assume was a good review on SBTB, because I live there now and read all the romance and I'm not sorry. I liked the romance in this story very much, but I was very grossed out by a lot of the hero's behavior when he got jealous. There was a lot of lying in this book, and he thinks he's doing it for a good reason but it turned me off of him entirely for a chunk. I forgave him, but I wish there'd been more comeuppance. Still, charming.

3) I'm a Therapist and my Patient is Going to be the Next School Shooter, by Dr. Harper. This is on Amazon as an ebook so I'm counting it, though I read it on the author's website. Don't be fooled; it's not even pretending to be an account of therapy; I'd love to read a fictional account of good therapy. It's a kind of horror/thriller in which a horrible therapist does a bunch of things that I think I'm supposed to find heroic but maybe not? And a bunch of weird stuff happens and it doesn't make much sense. It's all conspiracy and terrible therapy, and by the end I think that the author knows this and is kind of critiquing the main character, but mostly not. Mostly it's salacious stuff that I wouldn't believe on an episode of Criminal Minds.

4) Good Talk: A Memoir in Conversations, by Mira Jacob. Indian American author Mira Jacob addresses what it's like to be a daughter of immigrants and a brown woman in the U.S. The framework is trying to explain things to her son--a boy who looks like his Southeast Asian mother more than his White Jewish father--in the time leading up to the election in 2016. The true and nuanced answers she and her husband try to give to the boy's difficult questions just felt so important and relatable to me. How can you explain to your child how messed up and awful the world is without scaring him too much or letting him be callous about it? How do you address his real fears about who the good guys and bad guys are?

And the parts about her relationship with her in laws--who have been lovely and welcoming for years, but who are still Republicans--and with her husband--who is entirely on her side but still moves through the world as a White man--are just so moving and complicated. Basically, this story takes some incredibly complicated, messy issues and lays them out in such personal, honest, and nuanced ways.  I want everyone to go out and read this book.

5) Penric's Mission, by Lois McMaster Bujold. How have I not finished the Penric novellas yet? Dopn't worry, I'll be done with the rest by the end of May. As always, this one is delightful and charming and I loved it.  Penric is clever and humble and Desdemona is brilliant and sassy and they have dangerous adventures and are incredibly competent and meet a lovely woman.  Five stars, will read more ASAP.

6) Permafrost, by Alastair Reynolds. Another original and my first Alastair Reynolds book. This was great. It's a time travel story, and the mechanisms and rules behind the time travel are, I think particularly well thought out and explained.  It's about paradoxes and saving the world (naturally), or at least about giving the world a sliver of hope.  What I found especially interesting was how the narrative dealt with changes to the narrator's memories. It seems like it shouldn't have worked with such a straightforward first person laying out of changes, but it really did.

I found that parts of the revelation were kind of glossed over, or rather infodumped near the end, but before that I had been admiring how well the story dealt with imperfect knowledge and the fact that we know that history might be changing, that a lot of the things we're finding out are secondhand, and that Valentina does not have perfect knowledge of the situation at the times when she has to make choices.  In the end, we learn all the things she didn't know so that we can evaluate everything from a distance, but I rather liked how she pushed through in the thick of it, trusting who she trusted and believing in the mission.

7) By Night, Volume 1, by John Allison, Christine Larsen, & Sarah Stern. I picked this up because John Allison writes Giant Days, which is the best thing in the world. This has the same flavor in dialogue as Giant Days, but it hasn't quite found itself yet. The premise involves two former best friends living in a down-and-out town exploring an abandoned industrial complex and finding a portal to another world.  They decide to make a documentary about it; Heather's coworker and Jane's dad join them on the adventure.

There's a lot of charm here and the dialogue is snappy, but I don't fully get the characters yet. I feel like Heather's irritation and Jane's urgency don't always make sense. I do love their green horned tour guide, though, and I'm really looking forward to seeing where it goes. It'll be interesting to see how John Allison's plotting skills are; Giant Days is very character-driven, which he clearly does well, but this promises to be a big adventure, and it'll be interesting to see how that works.

So, that's May so far! Aren't you proud of me? Aren't I accomplished? If I squish in a bunch of comics and a couple more novellas, I might just make a good showing in Book-A-Day May!

Read Good Talk. Seriously.