Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Time to Move Along

It's been a pleasure to blog here on Blogger, but the time has come for me to try other platforms.

I hope that those of you that have come to follow me will continue to do so at my new blog, still titled The Hermit Librarian, now hosted over at Word Press.

Thank you again for following and watching as I've learned how to format reviews and participated in various memes. I look forward to continuing to review and continuing to improve in the future!

Please see my new blog for future new entries: The Hermit Librarian

Monday, January 9, 2017

Review: Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing, will be compromised.

With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon’s junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met.

Rating: 4 Stars

I've been told to read this for so long and thank the Oreo Gods that I finally read it! My husband actually read it ahead of me and liked to tease me as I gasped and reacted to various scenes throughout the book.

I loved all of the nerdy references that Becky Albertalli weaved into her story. They didn't feel superfluous, which can be such a pain in the rear. If they're shoehorned in, then if feels like I'm being patronized and I hate that.

The cast of characters were wide and varied. Some I loved and some I wanted to flick off the page like a stray piece of confetti.

Martin wasn't exactly a villain, but I certainly disliked him a whole lot, especially with the crap that he pulled. The obvious thing is the blackmail that is alluded to in the summary, but there's more and I tell you, I wanted to throttle this kid. I don't know that I ever really understood him. He was blackmailing Simon for a date with some girl he barely knew. What has to be wrong with you to make you think that blackmailing someone is the answer to anything? Plus he got overly defensive at one point in the book even when the girl he supposedly had a crush on told him that it was alright. He seemed to be the type of kid that has a white knight image of himself, but that image never holds up as he well finds out.

Alice, Simon's older sister, was a great girl, but her story line was minimal and felt forced, like we were supposed to think there was something more to it than there ended up being.

I'll admit that I was trying to guess Blue's identity for a good portion of the book because why not? There were some false leads but by golly I did it and I was so happy that it turned out to be who I thought it was. I know very much want to see this book as a film just so we can see this hidden romance blossom. Would it convey well on the screen? Would people who had never read the book see it coming?

And three cheers to Blue for braving the Tilt a Whirl for Simon. That's on the same level as a roller coaster for me and believe me, sir, I get it! 😲

The pacing in the first half of the book was a bit slow, but things picked up as the play that Simon was involved with began picking up speed, as he began exchanging more emails with Blue, etc. I listened to the first half on Audible and I commend Michael Crouch for embodying the characters pretty well.

There were scenes that I loved and I will admit that I squealed aloud a couple of times. I loved when Abby and Nick took Simon to the bar and he accidentally picked up a college kid. I loved when he was talking to Nick and the other soccer kids (because REASONS!). I loved the moments that he and Blue have after they officially meet/start dating. Each moment is precious and you can see it like they're delicate moments hanging in the air, memories that slowly solidify into a hug, a kiss,

The only thing keeping this book from a full five stars is the pacing in the beginning because it made me doubt whether I wanted to finish the book. I'm glad I finished it, though. It was a great book about Simon's LGBT+ experience and I was thankful to read it because it felt authentic and not overly dramatic or rose tinted. I look forward to more books from Becky Albertalli because she had a good feel for the voices of her characters and gave to us, instead of strokes of keyboard, fully fleshed people that we can visualize as living breathing people standing before us and living.

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Thursday, January 5, 2017

Review: George by Alex Gino

BE WHO YOU ARE. When people look at George, they think they see a boy. But she knows she's not....

Rating: 5 Stars

I'm glad that I could start the year off with a 5 star read. I think that bodes well!

George tells the story of a young girl who knows she's a girl, but lives with the fact that those around her see her as George, a bright boy but a boy nonetheless. She knows who she is, so why does no one else? The chance to show them comes when her class is to put on the play Charlotte's Web.

This book has been on my list for awhile now. I've wanted to read more LGBT+ books, particularly ones that deal with younger subjects because that seems to be a age group that I don't see represented much in fiction; it's mostly teen subjects, which is fine, but reading this book about a 10 year old realizing her identity and going through the beginning steps of transitioning offers a perspective I haven't seen yet.

I loved how Alex Gino presented George with George's proper pronouns even before George comes out to anyone. It legitimizes her identity when no one else seems to.

Kelly, George's best friend, is a very good friend. I am not sure how realistic she is, but I think that for the sake of this story she was very necessary. It's never mentioned, but I wonder if she had any experience with being teased or bullied for who she was because she's mixed race? That's how I saw her from context clues, at least. Anyway, she is good for George because she accepts her for who she is and doesn't question it once George states it. It's explained and she accepts it.

I loved this and also want to use it as an example for a lot of arguments in the future. If children can figure this out, how the heck are adults having such a hard time with it?

George's family was a mix of support and fear, which I think was more on the realistic side. I understood this, even if I wasn't happy about how some of those characters were acting. It was understandable and real, so again, a big thanks to Alex Gino. They didn't seek to sugar coat George's experience, which I appreciated.

The ending was wonderfully written because while there were good moments, there were loose ends tied up, not everything was resolved, not really. This isn't really an end for George, who chooses to be called Melissa before the end, it is just the beginning. There is an experience at the end that shows just how much joy she has ahead of her and while the road will be tough, I hope Melissa holds that moment in her heart and remembers that she has friends and family around her as she grows into a kind and generous young woman.

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Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Top 10 Tuesdays: Top "Ten" 5 Star Reads Of 2016

Top 10 Tuesday is a weekly meme that is brought to us by The Broke & the Bookish. Check out the topic list here.

I set out to write this post about the top ten 5 star reads I had read this year and when I was going over my Goodreads challenge for the year, I realized that I had not actually read all that many 5 star reads this year.

Wow, how did that happen! There were a lot of 4 star reads, so it isn't like there weren't a ton of great books. There were only 9 titles, though, that blew me away either with the story or the art, and those are the titles I'm sharing with you today.

xxxHolic, Volumes 1-3 by CLAMP

Girl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow

The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge

Dear Baobab by Cheryl Foggo

 by Christy Colon Hasegawa

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Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Review: Maresi by Maria Turtschaninoff

Only women and girls are allowed in the Red Abbey, a haven from abuse and oppression. Maresi, a thirteen-year-old novice there, arrived in the hunger winter and now lives a happy life in the Abbey, protected by the Mother and reveling in the vast library in the House of Knowledge, her favorite place. Into this idyllic existence comes Jai, a girl with a dark past. She has escaped her home after witnessing the killing of her beloved sister. Soon the dangers of the outside world follow Jai into the sacred space of the Abbey, and Maresi can no longer hide in books and words but must become one who acts.

Rating: 3 Stars

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Maresi was a novel that I went into without knowing much about. I don't do this nearly enough as the few times that I have done it this year I have found myself pleasantly surprised and enjoying the books rather more than I thought I would.

The circumstances of the women in this book are both tragic and empowering. They are treated as second class citizens in the world at large, but have managed to found a haven for themselves called the Red Abbey. The island itself might, if this were a film portrayal, have a bit of a creepy vibe to it as there is not a single male person on this island. Everyone is female, having fled from the world due to one situation or another. The vibe itself lent a somewhat eerie feel to the narrative that I felt was just on this side of good and didn't tip over into the overdone realm.

Maresi was a bit stiff, at first, as the main character, which I think had more to do with her as a person who has not yet found her place among these women. She does know her way around, how things work, etc., but not what her defining role is or will be. Once she meets Jai, a newcomer, however, I felt like she loosened up a bit because we got to see a kind side to her as she guided this girl around and introduced her to things.

The story has some fantastical elements, which I appreciated, particularly the earth goddess divinity. The pacing was good, if a bit on the slow side. Maresi had this odd quality of being a rather short book so it didn't actually take long to read, but the writing made things feel as if they were happening slower than they really were. As this is only the first book in the series, I'm curious to see if the pace will pick up in the next book(s) or if they will all be similarly short page wise but slow pace wise.

My recommendation: This book could definitely earn a spot on your TBR if you're interested in female dominated societies and don't mind the vaguely awkward pacing. I wouldn't say it's a must-read at the moment, but with more books to come, perhaps that will change.

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Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Top 5 Wednesday: Books I Want to Finally Read in 2017

Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Thoughts on Tomes. Check out the Goodreads group here.

My to-be-read pile is enormous, like monstrous enormous.

It feels like my own Black Books and I wouldn't have it any other way. With so many good books coming out all the time, it stands to reason that I would eventually buy more than I could keep up with in the reading. I tend to buy books as I see them if I have the money because I have this weird fear that if I don't, I might never find it again or I won't be able to read it when I want to. So, I buy it, I have it, I'll read it eventually.

This means my TBR spans the shelves and I have several books on it from years past that I really want to read, but this year was really the year of rereads. This week's theme got me to think about the five that I wanted to read the most that have been neglected for one reason or another.

The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher

These are the first books I put on my Goodreads TBR and I've only read the first two books and the fourth. As there are soon to be seventeen books in the series, I really need to play catch-up, so this entry is a catchall for the series rather than just one volume.

The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

I've tried to start this book a couple of times, mostly because the main character is a librarian. Any book that is about books, bookstores, libraries, librarians, etc., go on my list simply because they're about something I love. I want to read this and then watch the movie, something else I've been meaning to watch since it came out.

From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg

This sounds like the kind of book that I would have loved when I was the age of the kids in the book. I can easily imagine having a dream about running away to a museum, though I would have chosen the Natural History Museum rather than the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black

I got this for my husband when it first came out. We're big Holly Black fans in this family, but for some reason I never got around to reading it at the time. However, I did see the book trailer and thought it was really creepy. My husband said yes, it was, and that it perfectly matches the tone of the book. If that's true, I'm really interested in reading it for myself.

A Gentle Madness: Bibliophiles, Bibliomanes, and the Eternal Passion for Books by Nicholas Basbanes

This was a Christmas gift years ago and I feel a slight sense of shame at not having read it yet. From what I remember, Nicholas Basbanes wrote a few books that are essential reading on the subject of reading and readers. It's non-fiction, so maybe that's what kept me from picking it up and reading it straight through? I hope I can make it through in 2017 because I'm pretty sure this was on a list for 2016 and I forgot.

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Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Top 10 Tuesday: Top Ten New-To-Me Authors I Read For The First Time In 2016

Top 10 Tuesday is a weekly meme that is brought to us by The Broke & the Bookish. Check out the topic list here.

2016 has been a rough year, what with all of the tragic events that have happened (deaths, political events, etc.) and when things get tough, instead of reading something new I tend to turn to old friends in books. Rereading is something that has gotten me through a lot of hard times, especially Harry Potter.

This week, however, is time to take a look back at the authors that I read for the first time this year. While there are more to the list than these ten, these are the ten authors new to me this year that I am actively looking forward to reading more from, hopefully in 2017.

The Lie Tree (5 Stars)

Girl in Pieces (5 Stars)

5. Sam Maggs

Wonder Women (4 Stars)

Blackbird Fly (4 Stars)

Nora & Kettle (4 Stars)

9. Joshua Khan

Shadow Magic (4 Stars)

All pictures, quotes, and videos belong to their respective owners. I use them here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.