Thursday, March 1, 2018

February, or how to wreck all your TBR plans


It was a short month.

I went on vacation.

I was unsupervised in multiple bookstores.

What happens in Boston stays in Boston?


What I'm saying is that this month was not great for my resolution to #readmyowndamnbooks or any of my other challenges. I made it, and I am still at a net loss on my TBR for the year, but IT WAS SO HARD. 

I know. I deserve all the sighs and disappointment. 

February will forever be the worst of times (Dwight's been gone an entire year and I feel about four thousand years older), but it helped that my favorite holiday was also this month. Definitely not Valentine's Day because that is boring, but Geek Bowl, an annual trivia competition run by Geeks Who Drink. This year it was held in Boston, so off I went. We were nowhere near placing, but 49th out of 232 teams from across the nation (and Canada!) is really not all that bad. We have had much, much worse showings. Also I saw snow, which is always a novelty when you're from Texas.

Anyway, being in Boston meant a trip to Brattle Book Shop, a used bookstore that includes two floors of used books, an entire floor of rare and antiquarian books, and an outdoor sale lot. I walked out with three more books, so I do have some amount of will power. By will power, I mean claustrophobia because there are so many books and people that it's hard to move around. I took home Dorothy Parker's Not So Deep as a Well, Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, and Lily King's Euphoria. I've read the last one, but I borrowed it from the library originally and it's too good not to have. Also, I climbed ladders in here to reach the top shelves and it was terrifying BUT WORTH IT.

Then I ended up on Newbury Street, home to Trident Booksellers and Cafe. I had no intention of buying anything because they're new books, which means that I could literally buy them anywhere else, but then I found Roxane Gay's Bad Feminist in the wrong place and it was the Harper Perennial Olive Edition that I wanted so badly. And then I gave up and also got Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar, too.

All this to say that my vacations are super cool. 

And if you're in Boston and like yarn, you should hit up gather here and New England Farm to Fiber.

Now back to your regularly scheduled round-up.

Challenge Reads:

Code Girls by Liza Mundy:
I got this book for Christmas from my Dad as part of our family's book exchange. I had heard good things about it a few weeks before, so I was looking forward to this and hoping for the best. While I will say it was a little slow, I was really fascinated by the work that many women signed up for primarily during World War II, but also during World War I. Not so surprised by the rivalry between the Army and Navy's code breaking divisions and how working together would have been smarter but clearly was just not the way to do things (eye rolls abound). Most of the women didn't even realize that they were doing the exact same things because they never talked about it. These women broke the codes that saved so many lives while worrying about the men they loved overseas and knowing that unbroken codes meant death. Then they were basically told to go back home and to pretend that they weren't incredibly important people.

The Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare:
So I have *feelings* about this one. Why was Kate so angry? Did anyone ask? Because after all her interactions with the men in this I'm like, yes, I would also be angry.

Although these lines are great:
"Why sir, I trust I may have leave to speak,
And speak I will; I am no child, no babe.
Your betters have endured me say my mind,
And if you cannot, best you stop your ears.
My tongue will tell the anger of my heart,
Or else my heart, concealing it, will break,
And rather than it shall, I will be free,
Even to the uttermost, as I please, in words."
-Act IV, Scene III

But then Petruchio is all, I know best and I'm going to be super annoying until you stop complaining. Classics are clearly going to continue being a challenge for me, especially since all the men are tedious.

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell:
I originally read this four years ago and apparently I like it more now than I did then according to Goodreads. Cather writes Simon Snow (basically Harry Potter) fanfiction and is one of the most popular writers. It's also a great distraction from her real life; her father has manic episodes, her mother left when she was eight, and her twin sister has decided that they need time apart and separate dorms at college. It's a ton of change for her to be alone, but she always has Simon and Baz. Instead of trying to make the most of college, Cath throws herself into finishing her version of book eight before the author publishes hers. Rowell captures some of the growing pains of college very well, though her version of an ending annoyed me yet again. Fair warning, after more than 400 pages it just sort of ends.

The Best of the Rest:

One Hundred Nights of Hero by Isabel Greenberg:
A man is very proud of his faithful virgin wife, so he lets his gross friend try to seduce her over the course of one hundred nights. However, every night her lady's maid/love tells a little bit more of a story, stretching it out over the course of the entire hundred days. The stories are of sisters and magic and moons who were once women, all beautifully illustrated and told. They're sad, but also funny and true. In one, reading amounts to witchcraft (I would be very dead in this world). I absolutely loved it.

the witch doesn't burn in this one by amanda lovelace:
Release date is March 6, 2018. This title isn't out for a few days, but I was lucky enough to read a review copy. I really loved her previous work the princess saves herself in this one, but this one really captured something raw and angry that I understand too well. The phrase witch hunt is thrown around like it doesn't hold the weight of too many unjustified deaths. It's this kind of anger that flows through the poetry. Did you burn all the witches or did you burn women who inspired others to become witches? I'm already excited to read this again.

Everyone's a Aliebn When Ur a Aliebn too by Jomny Sun:
This one is cheerier, mostly. A aliebn comes to study humans, but ends up studying everything else. He makes friends with trees and frogs and bees to the point that this is overwhelmingly sweet despite life carrying on. It's so simply drawn and told that it's almost like reading a very poignant children's book.

The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman:
A prequel to Practical Magic, this tells the story of the aunts Franny, the sturdy and reliable one, and Jet, the beauty who once drove boys to their deaths before Sally and Gillian arrived. It's also the story of Vincent, their warlock brother, and April, their rebellious cousin and how all their lives intertwined for a summer that would pull them back together forever. I loved going back to this witchy world, especially during the 1960s and 1970s. The family curse that kills anyone who dares to love an Owens is alive and well during this, but the reason it came to be is finally revealed.

The Cruel Prince by Holly Black:
Holly Black might as well be the queen of the faeries. I love this dark and twisty tale of human twin sisters Jude and Taryn taken underground by their half-sister Vivi's faerie father after he murdered their parents. Taryn has since taken the easy route of trying to fit in, but Jude, the main character, wants to stand out and earn her place at court as the next king's guard. She is brave and a bit foolish, standing up to the Cruel Prince Cardan and his friends, to her own detriment. As the coronation of the next king nears, Jude is pulled into court drama as a spy for one of the princes and a romance with one of Cardan's friends. Holly Black beautifully blows everything up, starts to put it back together and now I have to wait for the next book in this planned trilogy.

Even though I didn't read quite as much as I did last month, February was a really great month for books. Plus, I'm down seven books this month bringing my grand total TBR loss to 15. I might need a spring break readathon to keep this up, though. Til then!