What I’m Reading, December 2015-January 2016

I definitely exceeded my original goal of reading sixty books in 2015. So much, in fact, that another BSC book binge put me at 202 books read in 2015.

Now we’re several weeks into 2016, and my goal for the year is to read 250 books. I’m counting the remaining 150 BSC books as part of the big yearly goal so I can finish the series this year.

I’m not going to review each BSC book because let’s be honest: a lot of those plots are ridiculous, especially as the series goes on. But I will mention my progress in these review posts so you can know how far along I am (and maybe read along with me? A Sushi can dream). Current status: 80 BSC books (including mysteries and super specials), 66 Little Sister books, 146 total remaining.

Here goes!

Mosquitoland by David Arnold: I went to his PG-13 panel at the Decatur Book Festival this year, which prompted me to check out his book. Well, I finally got around to reading it, and it’s pretty good. Mim’s bus trip gone terribly wrong leads to an adventure featuring interesting characters and a plot with a clear objective (or Objective, as Mim puts it). The characters and plot work well together, and while there were a few things that didn’t make sense, I enjoyed this book and would read more from this author. (4 out of 5 tubes of lipstick)

Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell: I wasn’t a big fan of Blink but decided to try this book out for some reason. There’s one thing Gladwell doesn’t seem to get: correlation is not causation. He seeks out only the stories that fit his hypothesis while ignoring the ones that don’t. My reactions ranged from “Well, duh” to “Have you considered doing more than cherrypicking stories?” I know he’s not a psychologist, despite his books dealing with some psychological concepts, but ergh. (3 out of 5 opportunities at the right time)

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han: I wanted to like this book. I really did. Come on, the main character is half Korean like me! But the entire plot felt contrived and some things just did not make sense at all. That said, I did like Lara Jean’s close relationship with her father and sisters. That’s not something you see a lot of in contemporary YA, and those relationships are portrayed well. (3 out of 5 love letters)

Grave Peril by Jim Butcher: This is the third book in the Dresden Files series, around the point where my friends told me the books really start getting good, and it didn’t disappoint. I found myself reading almost the entire book on Christmas Eve, sitting on the porch of my brother’s house and enjoying the weirdly warm weather, and kept telling myself “One more chapter…” and wanting to know what happened next. Solid read, and I’m now more motivated to read through this series faster. (4 out of 5 ghosts)

I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson: Wow. This book got off to a slow start, but the prose is so gorram beautiful that I didn’t mind. Teenage me used to write lots of blog entries and journal entries based on book quotes, and if this book were around back then, it probably would have been a favorite of mine. I’ll probably have to go back to my teenage roots of using book lines to inspire my writing. If you’re a contemporary YA fan, you owe it to yourself to read this book. (5 out of 5 sand sculptures)

The Paper Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg: I tried so hard to like this book. The magic system of folding paper was fascinating, but I found the story itself to be lacking. The main character wasn’t very interesting, and the plot itself was simple but confusing at times, not to mention a lot of the plot elements weren’t believable. I hear the rest of the trilogy is better, but I’ll pass. (2 out of 5 folds)

None of the Above by I. W. Gregorio: I really enjoyed this book. The story of a teenage girl discovering that she’s intersex could have gone terribly. The author tells the story well, with realistic characters that made me actually feel for some of the people in the popular crowd the main character hangs out with. (Can you tell I wasn’t popular?) I’m glad this and other GLBTQI+ stories exist because they not only help people find themselves in fiction, but they also expose everyone to stories that aren’t our own, showing that human experiences are wider than we can ever experience. (4 out of 5 checkboxes)

Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls by David Sedaris: I wanted to like this essay collection (or as the book itself says, Essays, Etc.). Sedaris is a talented and funny author, but this collection falls short. While some of the stories were right on point and I loved a few of them, some of the others fell flat. The random bits of stuff at the end of the book didn’t add much to the overall collection, either, and neither did the last couple of essays. This is my biggest mixed feeling about essay collections in general: the essays didn’t really have anything tying them together. (3 out of 5 owls)

Food: A Love Story by Jim Gaffigan: I listened to this book, and let me tell you, I love food. This should be unsurprising since I go by a food name. Anyway. This book was moderately funny, but not as funny as I expected considering it was written by a comedian. While some of the observations were spot-on (cakes are for happy occasions, pies are for funerals, for instance), a lot of the book was just making the same point over and over. And while I’m sure the fast food obsession is slightly exaggerated, it got old after awhile. (3 out of 5 cheeseburgers)

A Desperate Fortune by Susanna Kearsley: I wanted to like this book because come on: code breaking a story in 18th century France. That’s my jam. But in the end, not much really happened. The story alternates between an amateur codebreaker in modern-day France and an 18th century young woman, and half of the modern day stuff consisted of summarizing what happened in the diary that the main character is deciphering. The story took forever to get going, and by the time things did start happening, I had already lost a lot of interest. Honestly, I would read a whole book on the modern day characters without the diary aspect of the story, but all the going back and forth with the name changes in the historical parts were confusing and dull. (2 out of 5 ciphers)

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion: Don is a genetics professor with many Asperger’s traits, and he’s on the hunt for the perfect wife. Rosie is on the hunt for her real father and hopes Don can help. While this story definitely isn’t perfect, I did find myself simultaneously laughing and groaning at some of Don’s actions (especially with his attempts at romance). Despite figurative facepalming at some of Don’s thought processes, I still enjoyed reading this story and have made a note to check out the second book in the series at some point. (4 out of 5 DNA samples)

Orange Is the New Black by Piper Kerman: First, no, I haven’t watched the TV show. But this book still grabbed my interest, and I found myself listening to the book when looking for something to occupy my time while showering or doing chores or running or whatever else I do where I can listen at the same time. The audiobook was well done, from day one to the final release, and I particularly getting to know the other characters and their stories. Even though there’s a some whinging on how a “girl like her” (code for white, educated, middle-class, strong support network) could wind up in prison, the book was overall well written with cohesive storylines and yes, some humor. (4 out of 5 months in prison)

What’s next? I’m in the process of finishing the last 200 pages of Alexander Hamilton (Yes, the biography that inspired the musical) and listening to the last hour or so of Why Not Me?. After that, all those holds I suspended while tackling the 800-page biography will start to come in. Who knows what I’ll read next?

One reply on “What I’m Reading, December 2015-January 2016”

If you can get your hands on them, try “Moonfall”, “Heart of the Comet”, and “The Shores of Time”. In the more ancient category, shoot for “There Will Be Time”.

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