*All links are to amazon and should open in a new window. Full reviews of most books can be found under the “Book Reviews” category. See the bottom of this post for detailed goals.
COMPLETED TOTALS: TBR = 10, Classic = 2, AP = 3
A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab
Pages: 512 Genre: Fantasy / Magic / Historical Fiction
Rating: 4 of 5 Red Star Coins Average Goodreads Rating: 4.52 of 5 stars
Form Read: kindle ebook Purchased or Borrowed: Purchased
This was one of the most highly anticipated fantasy books of this year and is the sequel to “A Darker Shade of Magic,” which was one of my favorite reads of 2015. Gathering picks up a few months after the end of the first book, and expands the world of multiple Londons, as well as the rules and relevance of magic. Definitely a middle book, with lots of world and character building, but still great. The premise of the magic tournament was a little over emphasized in the synopsis, as you really only see a couple of battles but I’ll still pick up the next book in this series the moment it’s released.
Headstrong: 52 women who changed science and the world by Rachel Swaby Pages: 288 Genre: Nonfiction / History / Biography
My Rating: 2 of 5 Broken Beakers
Average Goodreads Rating: 4.01 of 5 stars
Form Read: kindle ebook Purchased or Borrowed: Library Copy
I wanted so desperately to love this book. As a woman in science I thought this would be a good introduction to the lives of women in many different fields, but the lack of fact checking and middle grade writing style left me disappointed. [TBR]
The life changing magic of tiding up by Marie Kondo; Pages: 226
Genre: Nonfiction / Selfhelp / Organization / Lifestyle
Rating: 3 of 5 swiffer dusters Average Goodreads Rating: 3.79 of 5 stars
Form Read: kindle ebook
This book had some bright points and tips on keeping your life in order, but it also had several WTF moments… Like talking to your socks and praying to your house. I’m all for an organized life, and see how many of these tips can help that become a reality, but I’m not going to lose sleep over the fact that I fold the tops of my socks over to keep the pairs together. [TBR]
Rook by Sharon Cameron; pages:469; genre: YA / Dystopian / Science fiction, Rating: 1 of 5 feathers
This book follows the story of Sophie Bellamy, an 18 year old locked in an arranged marriage to save her now debt crippled family. At the same time, authorities are on the hunt for the Red Rook. A local vigilante who frees people wrongly imprisoned for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, or having something someone else of power desires. Sophie and her intended, René Hasard aren’t what they seem and the dystopian setting of a future Paris is perfect for a revolution. [TBR]
Deep South: Four seasons on the back roads by Paul Theroux; pages:464; genre: Travel/ Regional Nonfiction, Rating: 3 of 5 Fried Pies
This book chronicles the travels of a man from Massachusetts as he travels through the rural deep south, where I grew up. Theroux has, as a travel writer, spent time in various countries all around the world. He brings an outsiders eyes and perspective to a culture that is often misunderstood. He also shines a light on rampant poverty and separatist views many still hold. Theroux also does a great job explaining why many people value the things they value, and how southern hospitality takes root when you’re poor and everyone around you is just as poor you survive together or not at all. [TBR, AP] My complete review can be found HERE.
The Nerdist Way: How to Make it to the Next Level (In Real Life) by Chris Hardwick; pages:304; genre: Humor/ Self-help, Rating: 4 of 5 Chess Trophies
Hardwick is the host of the popular TV show titled “The Nerdist” and hosts the popular podcast by the same name. This is a mixture of nerd related references and self help, mixed with Hardwick’s own stories of failure and growth all with a healthy dose of sarcasm and humor. Some portions of the book are better than others. See my complete review HERE. [TBR]
Nerd Do Well: A small boy’s journey to becoming a big kid by Simon Pegg; pages:356; genre: Humor/ Autobiography; Rating: 2 of 5 Star Trek Figurines
This is the autobiography of the British comedian Simon Pegg, who brought us Hot Fuzz and Shawn of the Dead, two of my favorite comedies. Pegg openly admits he’s not really excited about writing this book, but he’s been asked enough times that he decided he must. He weaves in an alternative story of himself as a futuristic batman and his robot butler, so this is most definitely not like any other biography I’ve read to date. He also plays the iconic Scotty from the newly rebooted Star Trek series (which is perfect casting). His subtle humor and perfect timing make me spew things from my nose any time I watch one of his movies, but I’m not completely sure it translates to print. For full review, click HERE.
The Fold by Peter Clines; pages:384; genre: Science Fiction/ Thriller; Rating: 5 of 5 Alternative Dimensions
This book follows an underachieving “Sherlock” type main character enlisted by his childhood best friend to investigate a secret military research project that allows people to step through a portal and end up anywhere in the universe (like stargate). They repeat multiple times how it is NOT like Stargate but is something else all together (it’s totally like Stargate). He gives an excellent reason as to why he choose an ordinary life over the exceptional life his mental gifts could afford him. Several science-y sections that were a little more detailed than the story really required, but was fast paced and an easy read with interesting characters. This is expected to be the first in a series. If you like the X-files or Doctor Who (or any of the Stargate spinoffs), this is a good book to try out. [TBR]
What If?: Serious scientific answers to absurd hypothetical questions by Randall Munroe; pages:320; genre: Humor/ Science; Rating: 2 of 5 Theoretical Monsters
This book is by the same person who brings us the hilarious XKCD webcomic. I’m a huge fan of the comic and this book has been in my TBR since it was slated to be published. Parts were funny, but I read the ebook version on my tablet and the formatting had horrible issues. Every few pages within in every chapter slowly shifted the text to where I couldn’t read the right side of the page. The content was pretty funny, but I’d recommend the physical book on this one. [TBR]
Orlando by Virginia Woolf; pages:333; genre: Historical Fiction/ Gender Issues, Rating: 3 of 5 Swashbuckling Pirates
This book is a historical piece that starts with a youth of noble birth and his experience with love and loss. He experiences life and attempts his hand at running his estate and writing. He has an unusually long life and due to an unspecified illness awakes as a woman (not a spoiler, it’s on the backcover). She then views the same world through the eyes of a noble woman and what this means for her estate now that she’s no longer male and how she’s treated by others. This was a great book. It’s well written, if a bit long-winded and confusing at times. Having some time to reflect on the story after completing it makes me like this novel even more. [classic]
The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah; pages:440; genre: Historical Fiction/ Military Fiction; Rating: 5 of 5 handkerchiefs (because you’re going to need them)
This starts in occupied France during the time just before France declared war on Germany. The majority of the story takes place during the war, in a small village in France. I’m actually very impressed so far. The author does a great job bringing weaving the idea that both sides were young and wanted to return to their families. It deals with the stress the Great War put on families and how that transformed the way this country dealt with the German threat. I’m drawn to books from this period in time, but I’ve never read anything from the French perspective. I also wanted to read this specific book because one of my best friends is from the region mentioned in the book and I’ve visited her family there a few times now. This book was great and I highly recommend it! [AP and TBR]
The Last Colony (Old Man’s War #3) by John Scalzi; pages:320; genre: Science Fiction/ Space Opera; Rating: 4 of 5 Modified Humans
This is the third book in a military based space opera. A government unit from Earth keeps it’s home planet safe through lack of knowledge, but needs soldiers to do so. It offers everyone over the age of 65 a trade, an unknown way to make them young again, with the knowledge they can never go back to earth. This book focuses on two main characters from the previous books and a new colony. Political drama, check. Military battles, check. Space explosions, check. Modified humans and space aliens, check. [counts to TBR]
Ulysses by James Joyce: ; pages:820; genre: Classics/ Literature; Rating: 2 of 5, Kidneys
Started off pretty good, but fizzled near the end. Some chapters are easier to get through than others and his description of the world around him is one of the oddest I’ve read. For me, the stream of consciousness style writing and strange way of describing things just got to be too much. Snot green sea, breakfast is smells of urine, and women are described as having swaying utters. [counts to TBR and Classic]
Completed GRAPHIC NOVELS:
I want to read all of Deadpool’s backstory before I see the movie in Feb, so there is a lot of Deadpool on this list. Don’t start with the “Complete” series like I did, instead start with the volumes that come directly after that, or the “Classic” if you want to go all the way back to the beginning.
Deadpool Complete Volume 1: this was my favorite in the series so far. The end concludes w/ a summary of his creation and life prior to becoming Deadpool. DON’T START WITH THIS ONE. This isn’t the actual start of the comic.. something that would have been nice to know prior to completing all FOUR in this series.. grr.
Deadpool Complete Volume 2: I didn’t care for the whole “Deadpool the pirate” storyline, but other than that it was okay. I think volume 1 was better.
Deadpool Complete Volume 3: This had several good stories in it, and a few I didn’t care for too. I loved the Deadpool versus basically everyone plot.
Deadpool Complete Volume 4: The end wasn’t really satisfying and there is a lot of the story referenced but not covered. If something is marked as “complete” I expect that it actually IS the complete storyline. I’m going to check out some of the series I’ve missed after this (which is the last in this series so far).
Deadpool Volume 1: This series is by Posehn and is where I would have liked to start had I not found the mislabeled “complete” series first. Starts off kind of simplistic and a little more juvenile than the later deadpool, but I think the overall story was much better.
BACKGROUND: I always try and set a reading goal of some sort for the start of every year. This was extremely difficult to keep up with through both ventures into and then out of the black hole that is graduate school. This year I want to focus on books that are on my to-be-read (TBR) list. TOTAL BOOKS: 60 books in the year. TBR LIST GOAL: 30 books from my Dec 2015 and prior TBR list (labeled TBR). FOCUS: 10 of these books to be alternative perspectives (labeled AP), in that I’m trying to read about the same events from different points of view. I also want 10 books to be classics that I should have read in high school or college, but I never did (labeled classics).This will be updated regularly, so check back!