July Book Club Favorites

This month the Ladies Reading Speculative Fiction book club read Redwood and Wildfire by Andrea Hairston. We haven’t picked our August book yet so stay tuned!

Here’s what some of us enjoyed this month outside of our book club read.

Roses and Rot by Kat Howard. This hit all the right buttons for me: an artists’ colony on the edge of Faerie? Where do I sign up? Although, like any “true” tale of the Fae, that attractive idea is more of a snare than a treat. The voice of the novel manages to feel real and contemporary while weaving in all the peril and beauty of fairy tales. Excerpts of the main character’s own writing project insightfully explore the themes of those evergreen stories. Echoes of Tam Lin foreshadow the climactic struggle of artists from all disciplines competing to be good enough for the Fae. Anyone who has asked themselves why they work so hard to “make it” in the arts will understand the stakes. Add to the mix a “stage mom” worse than any stepmother, and a sister-love better than Anna and Elsa – Roses and Rot kept me enthralled. One of my top reads this year. –Juniper


Watership Down by Richard Adams. There’s a Seanan McGuire quote about Watership Down, which is roughly that it takes an extraordinary book and an extraordinary writer for a book about rabbits to be more reflective of the human condition than most books about humanity, and it’s completely spot-on. I’ve read this book so many times that I can’t even begin to count them all, and each time has been equally precious and important to me. There’s a tendency for people to look at Watership Down and think, “ah, a kids’ book about rabbits, this won’t be that rewarding,” and that tendency is incredibly unfortunate. Watership is one of the most rewarding books I’ve ever read, which is why I  keep coming back to it. It’s about rabbits, yes, and you can absolutely read it to your children. However, its success lies in things that appeal to ten-year-olds and fifty-year-olds alike: This is a story about danger, war, camaraderie, loyalty, death, and need. It’s about refugees setting up in new territory, being welcomed and rejected in turn, and figuring out how it is that they must live their lives in their new home. It leans heavily on the loyalty and love between those who leave home together and fight together to find a new place in the world, and it always returns to hope, joy in the smallest things in life, and the bonds between us. -Anie

As for me. I thoroughly enjoyed Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi. It was a heartbreaking story told in 300 years of one family from Ghana. I loved the changing POVs as it moved from one generation to the next. You get a sense of how each character saw themselves and how then they were perceived by their descendants as well as how their choices (and in some cases their lack of freedom to make choices) affect the next generation.

What were your favorite books of the month?

WWW Wednesdays 7/27

WWW Wednesday is a book meme run by Taking on a World of Words.

Every week I’m going to jump on here and talk about the week’s books. So let’s get to it shall we?

What are you currently reading? It’s been a crazy week so due to lack of time I’m just going to name off my current reads. I’m not really far enough into any of them yet to give a lot of commentary. Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity by Julia Serano. Before the Fall by Noah Fawley. The Truth About Him by M. O’Keefe. Supergirls: Fashion, Feminism, Fantasy, and the History of Comic Book Heroine by Mike Madrid.

What did you recently finish reading? Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi is pretty much one of my top books of 2016. It was heartbreaking, but fantastic. I also read Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town by Jon Krakauer which was another hard read, but an important conversation we need to have with our society. I also listened to The Nordic Theory of Everything: In Search of a Better Life by Anu Partanen with my husband. It was enough to make me want to move to Finland, cold be damned (especially with the upcoming election).

What do you think you’ll read next? I have The Veins of the Ocean by Patricia Engel and Shrill:Notes from a Loud Woman by Linda West from Book of the Month. I picked up Paper Menagerie and Other Stories by Ken Lui since Lui will be at Book Riot Live so I was excited to see his writing.

What does your book life look like this week?

WWW Wednesdays 7/20

WWW Wednesday is a book meme run by Taking on a World of Words.

Every week I’m going to jump on here and talk about the week’s books. So let’s get to it shall we?

What are you currently reading? I am in the beginning of Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi. I’m stunned by the writing. It’s everything everyone’s been talking about. It’s so good I’m having a hard time stopping to read my nonfiction pick Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town by Jon Krakauer. I’m also listening to The Nordic Theory of Everything: In Search of a Better Life by Anu Partanen with my hubby, but now that we aren’t traveling it’s hard to synch up. I’m probably just going to have to swap to either ebook or print to finish it up, unless I decide to do some gaming.

What did you recently finish reading? I just read Redwood and Wildfire by Andrea Hairston for the Ladies Read Spec Fic book club. I’m a little sad I put it off so long because it was so great. It was heartbreaking in the best way possible.  The Gilded Years by Karin Tanabe was one I’ve been meaning to get to. Derek Attig from Book Riot has been singing its praises with good reason! I said it on my Litsy review and I’ll say it again, it took me until my thirties to appreciate characters who don’t have their shit together and Tess, the protagonist in Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler, absolutely does not have her shit together. Finishing up my awesome few weeks of reading is Heroine Complex by Sarah Kuhn. This was such a fun book. I haven’t had this much fun since A Long Way to A Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers. I’m looking forward to the next one and you should too!

What do you think you’ll read next? Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity by Julia Serano. You know I love me some feminist awesomeness so I’m looking forward to sitting down with this. Before the Fall by Noah Fawley was recommended by Miss Liberty through the Book of the Month Club so you know I had to pick it up.

What does your book life look like this week?

WWW Wednesdays 6/29

WWW Wednesday is a book meme run by Taking on a World of Words.

Every week I’m going to jump on here and talk about the week’s books. So let’s get to it shall we?

What are you currently reading? I’m one of the people who received a settlement in the Apple/Amazon lawsuit and…I might have gone a little crazy. I’m going to be out of town this coming weekend so I’m probably going to be sticking pretty closely to my digital bookshelf this week. I’ll be reading The Bourbon Thief by  Tiffany Reisz. I adored her Original Sinners series and even though this won’t be erotica, I know her writing to be amazing so I’m looking forward to starting this tomorrow. I’m actually going to be visiting Emily Foster’s How Not to Fall for my erotica. Emily Foster is the pseudonym of Emily Nagoski who wrote Come As You Are (go get it, now!!).

What did you recently finish reading? The Geek Feminist Revolution  by Kameron Hurley was so great! It was slow starting for me, but pretty quickly I was reminded of Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay which I am a big fan of. I also finished The Fifth Avenue Artists Society by Joy Calloway which was pretty interesting. I also finished The City of the Lost by Kelley Armstrong. I’ve been a fan of Armstrong since her Women of the Otherworld series and she doesn’t disappoint here.

What do you think you’ll read next? Our book club meeting is being rescheduled and I still need to start Redwood and Wildfire by Andrea Hairston for my book club pick. After that I’m not 100% where I’m going.

What does your book life look like this week?

WWW Wednesdays 6/22

WWW Wednesday is a book meme run by Taking on a World of Words.

Every week I’m going to jump on here and talk about the week’s books. So let’s get to it shall we?

What are you currently reading? I just started The Geek Feminist Revolution  by Kameron Hurley which so far is pretty interesting. Remember, I love books about the arts so it should be no surprise I’m also into The Fifth Avenue Artists Society by Joy Calloway.

What did you recently finish reading? Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge by Paul Krueger was great. I have been a fan of urban fantasy for years and this was a great new addition to the genre. I had a lot of fun reading it and can’t wait to see where the series goes. I also finished We Were Feminists Once: From Riot Grrl to Covergirl, the Buying and Selling of a Political Movement by  Andi Heisler, which was enlightening. I think it is a must read for any feminist. Roses and Rot by Kat Howard rounds out my reads for this week. I haven’t been so pleased by a book in a long time. Howard’s prose was lovely and the story was engaging. It’s been a long time since I’ve read so many great books in a row. Hopefully it continues.

What do you think you’ll read next? I’m looking forward to reading Sweet bitter  by Stephanie Danler. I really love books about cooking and restaurants. I also need to start Redwood and Wildfire by Andrea Hairston for my book club pick.

What does your book life look like this week?

WWW Wednesdays 6/15

WWW Wednesday is a book meme run by Taking on a World of Words.

Every week I’m going to jump on here and talk about the week’s books. So let’s get to it shall we?

What are you currently reading? I’m currently reading The Crown’s Game by Evelyn Skye. I’m not loving it, but I’m not hating it. I admit to being a bit biased since the concept of the book is two magicians competing using their magic. Sounds a bit like The Night Circus and in my opinion, the latter did it with more imagery and heart. So far, I’m not feeling very interested in any of the characters. I’m disappointed because I wanted to love it. I’m also reading Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge by Paul Krueger. I’m only a few chapters in, but I’m really loving it. A Chinese-American protagonist, alcohol created superpowers, creepy things in the night? What’s not to love?

What did you recently finish reading? I finished a few recently. The Great 2016 Challenge has been working pretty well for me. The most recently finished was The Star-Touched Queen by Roshabi Chokshi, which I found to be really well written with lovely imagery and an engaging plot. I also read two sad books, What Lies Between Us by Naomi Munaweera and  An Unrestored Woman by Shobhaa Rao respectively. I expecting a sad read, but the content of that sadness was something I wasn’t ready for. I don’t want to give things away, just that these normally would be books I avoid. They were wonderfully written so I don’t want to dissuade anyone from reading it. It was just the subject matter. I have to say especially for An Unrestored Woman, I loved the way it was written as paired short stories. My main complaint with short stories is that I want more, this fulfilled that need. I also finished a nonfiction with Pistols and Petticoats: 175 Years of Lady Detectives in Fact and Fiction by Erika Janik. On the whole it was filled with a lot of cool facts and references, but it could have been so much better. It seemed to focus mostly on white ladies only and I think the author would have benefited from looking at comics as well for her examples of lady detectives. Especially to show the difference between the roles of the lady detectives in the beginning with the ones in modern times. Jessica Jones in comparison to Nancy Drew? Lots of food for thought there.

What do you think you’ll read next? Technically I’m kinda reading We Were Feminists Once: From Riot Grrl to Covergirl, the Buying and Selling of a Political Movement by  Andi Zeisler already, if you count I’ve read the introduction. I’m really interested to read the points about commercializing feminism. I love books about art in all of its forms so Roses and Rot by Kat Howard sounds like it’s totally in my wheelhouse.

What does your book life look like this week?

WWW Wednesdays 6/8

WWW Wednesday is a book meme run by Taking on a World of Words.

Every week I’m going to jump on here and talk about the week’s books. So let’s get to it shall we?

What are you currently reading? I’m continuing the great 2016 Hardback Challenge with What Lies Between Us by Naomi Munaweera and Pistols and Petticoats: 175 Years of Lady Detectives in Fact and Fiction by Erika Janik.

What did you recently finish reading? I just finished First Women: The Grace and Power of America’s Modern First Ladies by Kate Andersen Brower. I wasn’t overly thrilled with it. It came off super gossipy and sort of catty. Brower used a lot of anonymous sources saying one first lady said awful things about another first lady. The cattiness seemed to take up most of the book instead of really focus on the women themselves and their lives. Or she would use one First Lady’s faults to bump up another which is a serious no-no in my book. I also finished Before We Visit the Goddess, the latest by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni. I adored Mistress of Spices, Queen of Dreams, and Leaving Yuba City: Poems. When I reviewed it for Litsy, I kept going between Pick or So-So. It just felt a little underdeveloped for me, but on the whole I did enjoy it. I’m a big fan of mother/daughter stories.

What do you think you’ll read next? An Unrestored Woman, a debut novel by Shobha Rao that I picked up at the Bay Area Book Fest last weekend. The bookseller promised me a tragic story and it feels like I’m ready for one right now. Also for my fantasy needs, I’m going to read The Star-Touched Queen by Roshabi Chokshi. I have heard such wonderful things.

What does your book life look like this week?

May Book Club Favorites

This month the Ladies Reading Speculative Fiction book club read Ancient, Ancient by Kiini Ibura Salaam. Our next pick is Redwood and Wildfire by Andrea Hairston.

Here’s what the ladies enjoyed this month outside of our book club read.

Come as You Are: The Surprising Science That Will Transform Your Sex Life by Emily Nagoski. I can say that the subtitle is entirely apt. It sounds like a self-help book, but it’s more like a self-acceptance book – and that REALLY HELPS! We all tend to think we’re at least a little bit broken, so…just read this. And then gush about it to your partner. –Juniper



Fable” by Charles Yu. A few years ago I picked up Yu’s How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe on the recommendation of my friend Oliver. I’ve read a lot of science fiction and it’s rare that I read something truly surprising, but Yu’s novel was rich, complex, innovative, and heartfelt. So when I heard this week that Yu had a story in the New Yorker, I immediately went to check it out. “Fable” took my breath away. Yu deconstructs allegory in his stories. Instead of disguising the true content of his narratives, he presses the edges of them by meticulously unwinding the metaphorical veneer surrounding them, stitch by stitch. “Fable” is simultaneously a surreal and true-to-life tale about the nature of love, heartbreak, and family and how we work our way through it. He wields a plain, seemingly simplistic writing style defiantly, revealing the deeply moving story underneath. It’s well worth a read. –Clara

 


As for me. Binti by Nnedi Okorafor. I knew I loved Nnedi’s books after reading Who Fears Death and The Book of Phoenix, but Binti just made it even more so. I got to dish about it a lot during Bout of Books and was thrilled when someone read it on my recommendation and loved it. It’s a wonderful feeling. She’s also a favorite of the book club (we got to meet her when she came to speak at UCSC a couple months ago). Nnedi’s worldbuilding is so intricate, even in a less than 100 page novella. I can’t wait until January for book 2.

What were your favorite books of the month?

WWW Wednesdays 6/1

WWW Wednesday is a book meme run by Taking on a World of Words.

Every week I’m going to jump on here and talk about the week’s books. So let’s get to it shall we?

What are you currently reading? Surprisingly enough I didn’t get any reading done during the holiday weekend! I kind of started Jane Steele by Lyndsey Faye which has been raved about by some of my closest book nerds. I also have been enjoying the Maiden series by Elizabeth Hoyt. Right now I’m on Thief of Shadows. It feels a bit different from some of the other romance novels I’ve read, mostly because they have been following more commoners around than the nobility and it’s a bit refreshing.

What did you recently finish reading? I finished Girls & Sex: Navigating the Complicated New Landscape by Peggy Ornstein. I was, unfortunately, not very surprised by the information that Ornstein revealed, which is a sad state of what’s going on with our youth and their sex education. The book provides a great deal of food for thought to get the conversation started.

What do you think you’ll read next? I probably will pick up Redwood and Wildfire by Andrea Hairston for my book club. My next non fiction looks like The Grace and Power of America’s Modern First Ladies by Kate Andersen Brower, which was pretty much inspired by me listening to Hamilton, even though Eliza never got to be First Lady.

 

What does your book life look like this week?

WWW Wednesdays 5/25

WWW Wednesday is a book meme run by Taking on a World of Words.

Every week I’m going to jump on here and talk about the week’s books. So let’s get to it shall we?

What are you currently reading? I’m reading The Children’s Home by Charles Lambert in a probably doomed attempt to read all my 2016 hardbacks before they go to paperback. So far, I’m into it.

What did you recently finish reading? Just finished Ancient, Ancient by Kiini Ibura Salaam for the book club.Wasn’t overly fond of it. I also finally finished All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders. I’m putting it solidly in the so-so category. I didn’t hate it, but it also didn’t blow my socks off. The characters all felt particularly overwrought. I know there was some crazy environmental stuff going on, but wow.  Also right before publishing this post I read The Earl Next Door by Charis Michaels. I love renovation romances, but I was disappointed there wasn’t more of the renovation in this one. The overall plot was pretty good though so I’ll forgive it this time.

What do you think you’ll read next? I’m gonna try to pick up Girls & Sex: Navigating the Complicated New Landscape by Peggy Orenstein again. I got kicked out of a nonfiction mood the last time I tried reading it. I’m okay now.

 

What does your book life look like this week?