What I’m Reading, July 2017

Another month, another set of book reviews. This month marked a definite change in my reading habits because I started a full-time job mid-month–a job that involves putting on pants and going to an office! Thank goodness I passed my reading goal before starting that new job. To give you an idea of how much this new job (and occasional freelance work) is wrecking my reading time, I’ve read only one full print book since starting that job. For comparison, I’ve listened to multiple books, which makes me curse my inability to listen to fiction.

Onward to the reviews!

Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater: This is the third book in the Raven Cycle series, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading this one. It’s a good thing I had the fourth book already checked out because by the time I finished the third book (which didn’t end on a major cliffhanger!), I was so ready for the last book. (4 out of 5 blue lilies)

The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater: This is the last book in the Raven Cycle series. I’ve enjoyed reading them all, and the finale is no exception. I was a little disappointed in the way Stiefvater treated the whole dying part, but all in all, a good end to a good series. (4 out of 5 true loves)

A List of Cages by Robin Roe: Note/spoiler: this book contains depictions of child abuse. With that out of the way, this book tells the story of Adam getting reunited with his former foster brother Julian. I liked the brotherly friendship the two of them have, something that’s not easy to find in contemporary YA lit. However, the first half of the story went really slowly, and Adam has a lot of friends, making for a lot of characters that are hard to tell apart. This book can be hard to read, especially in the second half when things get heavy. (Fun fact, I was reading this book on my front porch while waiting on my ride, and they showed up at the end of a chapter where the sad and horrific factor was up to eleven. Yeah, I could use something else to think about for awhile.) (3 out of 5 Elians)

The Princess Saves Herself in This One by Amanda Lovelace: This is a poetry collection I had been meaning to check out for awhile. Even though I don’t read much poetry, I enjoyed and appreciated this little collection, which consisted of lots of free verse poems about the author’s own experiences. The collection is divided into sections centered around themes that build upon each other, with the last section addressed to you, the reader. (4 out of 5 free verses)

The Crisis of the Middle-Class Constitution: Why Economic Inequality Threatens Our Republic by Ganesh Sitaraman: I listened to this book, which makes the argument that compared to older countries, America was more economically equal when it was created and that the government created as a result relied on relative economic equality. Fast forward a couple of hundred years, and we just need to look around to see the economic inequality in this country. The author’s premise is that political inequality follows from economic inequality, so as the middle class dwindles and more money goes to the very wealthy, the people in power will consist of those with money. The author defends this argument well while weaving in some historical context; it was really interesting to hear about trends in policy for business and for the middle class over the years. (4 out of 5 rich families in power)

A Most Curious Murder by Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli: There really is a cozy mystery series for everything, I thought when discovering this book. As far as cozy mysteries go, this one is eh. Newly divorced Jenny returns to the tiny Michigan town she grew up in, and then her mom’s little library gets destroyed… and then the murders start. While I liked the character interactions, the plot seemed to lag and moved really slowly. I’ll probably skip the rest of these little library mysteries. (3 out of 5 little libraries)

Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt by Michael Lewis: I listened to this book, which was written by the same guy who wrote Moneyball and The Undoing Project, both of which I really liked. This book… eh. The book is supposed to be about high frequency trading and the people behind it, but this book was way heavy on the people at the expense of explaining the topics surrounding HFT. Which is fine in a book where the target audience is assumed to know at least about the topic. However, Lewis’s books are targeted toward a general audience, so this kind of thing doesn’t fly as well. I found myself confused throughout a lot of the book and not coming away with much more understanding of HFT than the none I started out with. (3 out of 5 programs)

Daring to Drive: A Saudi Woman’s Awakening by Manal al-Sharif: I listened to this book. Damn. Go read this. Okay, the real review: this book is about Manal al-Sharif, a female Saudi activist who grew up by modest means, formerly embraced fundamentalist Muslim culture, and despite being smart and educated, faced obstacles that make American women’s issues look like small play. The entire book was truly eye-opening, especially since it takes place relatively recently instead of the hundreds of years ago that one might expect. (5 out of 5 automobiles)

Cannibalism: A Perfectly Natural History by Bill Schutt: I listened to this book. Raise your hand if you’re surprised I read this. *looks around, sees no hands up* Yeah, me either. How could I resist such a delicious topic? While this book took awhile to really get going, the going got really interesting a few chapters in. One thing I found really interesting about this book was the studies across a variety of cultures and not just using one part of the world for all of cannibalism’s history. I definitely want to learn more about cannibalism now. (4 out of 5 friends-not-food)

The Dark Net: Inside the Digital Underworld by Jamie Bartlett: I listened to this book. The title had me hoping for tales of the Silk Road and its variants and all the other stuff you can find in the underbelly of Tor. While some of this content was there, the book concentrated a lot more on topics like camming and 4chan. If you only stick to cute cat photos online (and I don’t blame you), you might learn something new from this book. But for someone as jaded about online culture as I am, this book did not live up to the description. (3 out of 5 trolls)

The Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi: This was my library book club’s selection for July (which I didn’t attend this month because I hadn’t finished the book and because of the new job mentioned earlier in the post). It turned out that I shelved this book on Goodreads awhile ago. As fascinating as the premise was, I didn’t like it as much as I thought. I’m not sure why, but I found it hard to keep track of everything that was going on. Granted, this may be due to reading it in occasional 20-page bursts over the span of two weeks. I’d still read something else this author writes in the future, but this book wasn’t for me. (3 out of 5 water sources)

Word by Word: The Secret Life of Dictionaries by Kory Stamper: I listened to this book, and now I want to learn everything about dictionaries ever. This book discusses topics like how definitions get written, how those definitions can change over time, and how dictionaries and their contents have shaped society. Lines like “It depends on what the definition of ‘is’ is” come to mind here (and yes, this line was mentioned in the book). There was just enough memoir to answer questions like “How does one become a lexicographer anyway?” but not so much that it detracts from the words. If you’re a word nerd like me (and let’s face it, there’s a pretty good chance you are), go read this book. (5 out of 5 definitions)

What’s next? I started reading Into the Water by Paula Hawkins yesterday and started listening to It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens by danah boyd today. I anticipate these posts becoming far shorter in the coming months. If only there were a way I could read instead of sleep. Come on, modern technology, get on this!

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