Wednesday, January 2, 2013

A Year in (Selected) Books

Well now. Two years of persistent neglect have left me to chastize myself and make a valiant attempt to revive this blog.

I have, in this time, undergone several Big Events including, but not limited to, writing a thesis, graduating from college with my Comparative Literature degree, moving from Big City (Philly) to small hometown to Medium City with partner (with no job and limited funds), and finding a job in the Medium City. I have laughed, cried, cooked, read, traveled, and even won some hard-fought battles along the way. I have learned that "being an independent adult" is more restrictive than I had imagined.

I have taken up a 5-year journal and have even managed to stick with it for a couple months. I find that a couple sentences a day with a specific question for each day keep my mind from falling into a rut.

In addition to that journal, I've read a number of books that I quite enjoyed. (I also settled in with old favorites on occasion.) My most-enjoyed books/series of this year are as follows:

Percy Jackson & the Olympians (series) by Rick Riordan: The ancient Greek gods are real and active! Earned my love for offering an updated take on old myths (the gods live on the 600th floor of the Empire State Building) – and not glossing over the less pleasant bits. And Riordan has done his homework, doing a good job of sticking to the pre-existing mythology.

The Heroes of Olympus (unfinished series) by Rick Riordan: The Greek kids meet the Roman kids as part of an unwitting – and unwilling – exchange program of sorts. This continuation of Percy Jackson & the Olympians delves into the differences between Greek and Roman mythology, leaving the gods with splitting headaches.

Ghostwritten by David Mitchell: Intertwining stories for the win! Unquestionably, the best part of this is looking for the way all the characters' lives touch each other. Occasionally it's confusing, but I was never bored reading it.

Stormdancer (Lotus War series) by Jay Kristoff: Japanese steampunk with a strong female main character and mythological creatures and evil corporations and basically all the things I like best in the world wrapped into one beautiful package of a book. I'm looking forward to the next installment of this series.

Mothership (Ever-Expanding Universe) by Martin Leicht & Isla Neal: Another first-in-series, this one is teen pregnancy in space and all awkward, complicated, messy problems attached to it. With science fiction and aliens and invaders of the aforementioned mothership! It's fun and more importantly, it's not reductive.

The Alloy of Law (a Mistborn novel) by Brandon Sanderson: Set a long time after the original Mistborn novels (so I'm told), I enjoyed this. If you haven't read the original Mistborn series, don't let that stop you! I haven't read it either, but I followed what was going on just fine. My mind wasn't blown, but it was a fun ride and good enough that I'm going to have to check out the series from my local library.

A Long, Long Sleep by Anna Sheehan: Ooooh, futuristic fairytale remake! This is the story of what happens when Sleeping-Beauty-in-the-Future wakes up. The world has changed, her parents have died, she's now the heiress to their business empire, and someone is trying to kill her. The novel attempts explores the difficulties of being dropped into a world one ought to know – but doesn't – as Rose deals both with her past and her future.

What I've Recommended:

The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selzwick: I love recommending this book now for the same reasons I loved recommending it when it was first published. It is fantastic for kids who aren't "big readers" but feel left behind by their classes and classmates. It's thick enough to look impressive and easy enough (and illustrated enough) to be accessible to kids who struggle with or don't like reading. At the same time, it's a good enough read that older kids will like it too.

Pride of Baghdad by Brian Vaughn & Niko Henrichon: Recommended to a co-worker for her kids. They were assigned non-fiction reading and this graphic novel is a) a great introduction to the medium, b) based on a non-fiction story, c) a great parable for war on a larger scale, and d) contains lions. (Apparently lions are a Thing for her daughter.)

Circle of Magic by Tamora Pierce: Recommended to the above-mentioned co-worker for her daughters. I think the series is more likely to be parent-approved than her world of Tortall and there are girl characters and boy characters and they manage to interact without ~*~cooties~*~ OR ~*~kissing~*~ which I find to be a refreshing change.