Library Loot (March 3 to 9)

badge-4Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Sharlene from Real Life Reading that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries.

Happy Wednesday! And happy March! Can you believe we are already in March? I somehow ended up borrowing a LOT of ebooks this past week. 

Over at Instagram, it is Korean March. So I’ve got a couple of Korean writers listed here today. Also, the other day, I mentioned to the husband that a lot of current (and recently finished) reads are quite heavy ones. And he said, but why, shouldn’t reading be enjoyable? So looking over my ebooks, I decided that I did need some lighter fare and so added even more books!

 

Punching the Air – Ibi Zoboi and Yusef Salam

The story that I thought

was my life

didn’t start on the day

I was born

Amal Shahid has always been an artist and a poet. But even in a diverse art school, he’s seen as disruptive and unmotivated by a biased system. Then one fateful night, an altercation in a gentrifying neighborhood escalates into tragedy. “Boys just being boys” turns out to be true only when those boys are white.

The story that I think

will be my life

starts today

Suddenly, at just sixteen years old, Amal’s bright future is upended: he is convicted of a crime he didn’t commit and sent to prison. Despair and rage almost sink him until he turns to the refuge of his words, his art. This never should have been his story. But can he change it?

With spellbinding lyricism, award-winning author Ibi Zoboi and prison reform activist Yusef Salaam tell a moving and deeply profound story about how one boy is able to maintain his humanity and fight for the truth, in a system designed to strip him of both.

 

Traces of Love – Eileen Chang, translated from the Chinese by Eva Hung

Written by one of the most lauded Chinese writers of the twentieth century, this bijou story focuses around the relationship between Mr and Mrs Mi and compares their bond of love with the sense of care they feel for the elderly Mrs Yang. A subtle examination of the fragile ties that bind us to those whom we love and those for whom we find ourselves caring along the way.

What Doesn’t Kill You: A Life with Chronic Illness – Lessons from a Body in Revolt – Tessa Hadley

The riveting account of a young journalist’s awakening to chronic illness, weaving together personal story and reporting to shed light on living with an ailment forever.

Tessa Miller was an ambitious twentysomething writer in New York City when, on a random fall day, her stomach began to seize up. At first, she toughed it out through searing pain, taking sick days from work, unable to leave the bathroom or her bed. But when it became undeniable that something was seriously wrong, Miller gave in to family pressure and went to the hospital—beginning a yearslong nightmare of procedures, misdiagnoses, and life-threatening infections. Once she was finally correctly diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, Miller faced another battle: accepting that she will never get better.

Today, an astonishing three in five adults in the United States suffer from a chronic disease—a percentage expected to rise post-Covid. Whether the illness is arthritis, asthma, Crohn’s, diabetes, endometriosis, multiple sclerosis, ulcerative colitis, or any other incurable illness, and whether the sufferer is a colleague, a loved one, or you, these diseases have an impact on just about every one of us. Yet there remains an air of shame and isolation about the topic of chronic sickness. Millions must endure these disorders not only physically but also emotionally, balancing the stress of relationships and work amid the ever-present threat of health complications.

Miller segues seamlessly from her dramatic personal experiences into a frank look at the cultural realities (medical, occupational, social) inherent in receiving a lifetime diagnosis. She offers hard-earned wisdom, solidarity, and an ultimately surprising promise of joy for those trying to make sense of it all.

Our Happy Time by Gong JiYoung

Yu-Jung, beautiful, wealthy, and bright, is lying in her hospital bed, recovering from her third suicide attempt, when she receives a life-changing visit. Her no-nonsense aunt, a nun, appears by her side and suggests Yu-Jung accompany her on a charitable visit to death row. At her lowest ebb, Yu-Jung is resistant. But something compels her to go to the prison. There she meets Yun-Soo, a convicted murderer who will soon be put to death. Though she is repulsed by his crimes, something about the depth of his suffering strikes a chord in her. Shaken by their encounter, she returns to visit him the next week. And the next…

Through their weekly, hour-long meetings, Yu-Jung and Yun-Soo slowly reveal to each other the dark secrets of their pasts and the hidden traumas that have shaped their lives. In doing so they form a deep, unbreakable bond, helping one another overcome their demons. But Yun-Soo’s hands are always in cuffs, the prison officers are always in the background, and they can never lose sight of the fact that their happy time together is tragically brief.

A seductive, disorienting novel that manipulates the fragile line between dreams and reality, by South Korea’s leading contemporary writer

Untold Night and Day – Bae Suah

A startling and boundary-pushing novel, Untold Night and Day tells the story of a young woman’s journey through Seoul over the course of a night and a day. It’s 28-year-old Ayami’s final day at her box-office job in Seoul’s audio theater. Her night is spent walking the sweltering streets of the city with her former boss in search of Yeoni, their missing elderly friend, and her day is spent looking after a mysterious, visiting poet. Their conversations take in art, love, food, and the inaccessible country to the north.

Almost immediately, in the heat of Seoul at the height of the summer, order gives way to chaos as the edges of reality start to fray, with Ayami becoming an unwitting escort into a fever-dream of increasingly tangled threads, all the while images of the characters’ overlapping realities repeat, collide, change, and reassert themselves in this masterful work that upends the very structure of fiction and narrative storytelling and burns itself upon the soul of the reader.

By one of the boldest and most innovative voices in contemporary Korean literature, and brilliantly realized in English by International Man Booker­–winning translator Deborah Smith, Bae Suah’s hypnotic and wholly original novel asks whether more than one version of ourselves can exist at once, demonstrating the malleable nature of reality as we know it.

The Friend Zone – Abby Jimenez

Kristen Petersen doesn’t do drama, will fight to the death for her friends, and has no room in her life for guys who just don’t get her. She’s also keeping a big secret: facing a medically necessary procedure that will make it impossible for her to have children.

Planning her best friend’s wedding is bittersweet for Kristen—especially when she meets the best man, Josh Copeland. He’s funny, sexy, never offended by her mile-wide streak of sarcasm, and always one chicken enchilada ahead of her hangry. Even her dog, Stuntman Mike, adores him. The only catch: Josh wants a big family someday. Kristen knows he’d be better off with someone else, but as their attraction grows, it’s harder and harder to keep him at arm’s length.

The Princess and the Fangirl – Ashley Poston

The Prince and the Pauper gets a modern makeover in this adorable, witty, and heartwarming young adult novel set in the Geekerella universe by national bestselling author Ashley Poston.

Imogen Lovelace is an ordinary fangirl on an impossible mission: save her favorite character, Princess Amara, from being killed off from her favorite franchise, Starfield. The problem is, Jessica Stone—the actress who plays Princess Amara—wants nothing more than to leave the intense scrutiny of the fandom behind. If this year’s ExcelsiCon isn’t her last, she’ll consider her career derailed.

When a case of mistaken identity throws look-a-likes Imogen and Jess together, they quickly become enemies. But when the script for the Starfield sequel leaks, and all signs point to Jess, she and Imogen must trade places to find the person responsible. That’s easier said than done when the girls step into each other’s shoes and discover new romantic possibilities, as well as the other side of intense fandom. As these “princesses” race to find the script-leaker, they must rescue themselves from their own expectations, and redefine what it means to live happily ever after.

What did you get from your library this week?

 

Library Loot (February 24 to March 2)

badge-4Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Sharlene from Real Life Reading that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries.

Happy Wednesday! Claire has the link-up this week. 

Woman of the Ashes by Mia Couto, translated by David Brookshaw

The first in a trilogy about the last emperor of southern Mozambique by one of Africa’s most important writers

Southern Mozambique, 1894. Sergeant Germano de Melo is posted to the village of Nkokolani to oversee the Portuguese conquest of territory claimed by Ngungunyane, the last of the leaders of the state of Gaza, the second-largest empire led by an African. Ngungunyane has raised an army to resist colonial rule and with his warriors is slowly approaching the border village. Desperate for help, Germano enlists Imani, a fifteen-year-old girl, to act as his interpreter. She belongs to the VaChopi tribe, one of the few who dared side with the Portuguese. But while one of her brothers fights for the Crown of Portugal, the other has chosen the African emperor. Standing astride two kingdoms, Imani is drawn to Germano, just as he is drawn to her. But she knows that in a country haunted by violence, the only way out for a woman is to go unnoticed, as if made of shadows or ashes.

Alternating between the voices of Imani and Germano, Mia Couto’s Woman of the Ashes combines vivid folkloric prose with extensive historical research to give a spellbinding and unsettling account of war-torn Mozambique at the end of the nineteenth century.

The Promised Neverland Vol 1 – Kalu Shirai

Life at Grace Field House has been good for Emma and her fellow orphans. While the daily studying and exams they have to take are tough, their loving caretaker provides them with delicious foods and plenty of playtime. But perhaps not everything is as it seems…

Emma, Norman and Ray are the brightest kids at the Grace Field House orphanage. And under the care of the woman they refer to as “Mom,” all the kids have enjoyed a comfortable life. Good food, clean clothes and the perfect environment to learn—what more could an orphan ask for? One day, though, Emma and Norman uncover the dark truth of the outside world they are forbidden from seeing.

Admittedly I DNF Broder’s The Pisces but I’m going to give this one a try!

Milk Fed – Melissa Broder

A scathingly funny, wildly erotic, and fiercely imaginative story about food, sex, and god from the acclaimed author of The Pisces and So Sad Today.

Rachel is twenty-four, a lapsed Jew who has made calorie restriction her religion. By day, she maintains an illusion of existential control, by way of obsessive food rituals, while working as an underling at a Los Angeles talent management agency. At night, she pedals nowhere on the elliptical machine. Rachel is content to carry on subsisting—until her therapist encourages her to take a ninety-day communication detox from her mother, who raised her in the tradition of calorie counting.

Early in the detox, Rachel meets Miriam, a zaftig young Orthodox Jewish woman who works at her favorite frozen yogurt shop and is intent upon feeding her. Rachel is suddenly and powerfully entranced by Miriam—by her sundaes and her body, her faith and her family—and as the two grow closer, Rachel embarks on a journey marked by mirrors, mysticism, mothers, milk, and honey.

Pairing superlative emotional insight with unabashed vivid fantasy, Broder tells a tale of appetites: physical hunger, sexual desire, spiritual longing, and the ways that we as humans can compartmentalize these so often interdependent instincts. Milk Fed is a tender and riotously funny meditation on love, certitude, and the question of what we are all being fed, from one of our major writers on the psyche—both sacred and profane.

What did you get from your library this week?

Library Loot (February 17 to 23)

badge-4Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Sharlene from Real Life Reading that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries.

Happy Wednesday! Share your Library Loot in the link-up or comment below!

 

For the Read Harder Challenge -Read an SFF anthology edited by a person of color

A Thousand Beginnings and Endings – edited by Ellen Oh and Elsie Chapman

Star-crossed lovers, meddling immortals, feigned identities, battles of wits, and dire warnings. These are the stuff of fairy tale, myth, and folklore that have drawn us in for centuries.

Fifteen bestselling and acclaimed authors reimagine the folklore and mythology of East and South Asia in short stories that are by turns enchanting, heartbreaking, romantic, and passionate.

Compiled by We Need Diverse Books’s Ellen Oh and Elsie Chapman, the authors included in this exquisite collection are: Renee Ahdieh, Sona Charaipotra, Preeti Chhibber, Roshani Chokshi, Aliette de Bodard, Melissa de la Cruz, Julie Kagawa, Rahul Kanakia, Lori M. Lee, E. C. Myers, Cindy Pon, Aisha Saeed, Shveta Thakrar, and Alyssa Wong.

A mountain loses her heart. Two sisters transform into birds to escape captivity. A young man learns the true meaning of sacrifice. A young woman takes up her mother’s mantle and leads the dead to their final resting place. From fantasy to science fiction to contemporary, from romance to tales of revenge, these stories will beguile readers from start to finish. For fans of Neil Gaiman’s Unnatural Creatures and Ameriie’s New York Times–bestselling Because You Love to Hate Me.

For the Read Harder challenge – Read an own voices book about disability

Show Me a Sign – Ann Clare LeZotte

Deaf author and librarian Ann Clare LeZotte weaves an Own Voices story inspired by the true history of a thriving deaf community on Martha’s Vineyard in the early 19th century.
Mary Lambert has always felt safe and protected on her beloved island of Martha’s Vineyard. Her great-grandfather was an early English settler and the first deaf islander. Now, over a hundred years later, many people there – including Mary – are deaf, and nearly everyone can communicate in sign language. Mary has never felt isolated. She is proud of her lineage.

But recent events have delivered winds of change. Mary’s brother died, leaving her family shattered. Tensions over land disputes are mounting between English settlers and the Wampanoag people. And a cunning young scientist has arrived, hoping to discover the origin of the island’s prevalent deafness. His maniacal drive to find answers soon renders Mary a “live specimen” in a cruel experiment. Her struggle to save herself is at the core of this novel.

 

This one isn’t for any challenge but I happened to see it when browsing the Libby catalogue. 

Bone in the Throat – Anthony Bourdain

A wildly funny, irreverent tale of murder, mayhem, and the mob.

When up-and-coming chef Tommy Pagana settles for a less than glamorous stint at his uncle’s restaurant in Manhattan’s Little Italy, he unwittingly finds himself a partner in big-time crime. And when the mob decides to use the kitchen for a murder, nothing Tommy learned in cooking school has prepared him for what happens next. With the FBI on one side and his eccentric wise guy superiors on the other, Tommy has to struggle to do right by his conscience and avoid getting killed in the meantime…

Stuffed with charming characters and peppered with Bourdain’s wry humor, Bone in the Throat is one satisfying feast of a novel.

 

The kids’ loot:

DB5D235A-1BCA-4F46-AA1B-EA5043E299CE

What did you get from your library this week?

 

Library Loot (February 10 to 16)

badge-4Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Sharlene from Real Life Reading that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries.

Happy Library Loot day! Claire has the link-up this week.

I don’t read books set in Africa much so I’m always glad when reading challenges push me to expand my reading horizons. This is part of the #ReadTheWorld challenge on Instagram. The focus for February is eastern and southern Africa. Also, so far the books I’ve picked for this challenge have been by women writers.

Nervous Conditions by Tsitsi Dangarembga

A modern classic in the African literary canon and voted in the Top Ten Africa’s 100 Best Books of the 20th Century, this novel brings to the politics of decolonization theory the energy of women’s rights. An extraordinarily well-crafted work, this book is a work of vision. Through its deft negotiation of race, class, gender and cultural change, it dramatizes the ‘nervousness’ of the ‘postcolonial’ conditions that bedevil us still. In Tambu and the women of her family, we African women see ourselves, whether at home or displaced, doing daily battle with our changing world with a mixture of tenacity, bewilderment and grace.

The Shadow King – Maaza Mengiste

A gripping novel set during Mussolini’s 1935 invasion of Ethiopia, The Shadow King takes us back to the first real conflict of World War II, casting light on the women soldiers who were left out of the historical record.

With the threat of Mussolini’s army looming, recently orphaned Hirut struggles to adapt to her new life as a maid in Kidane and his wife Aster’s household. Kidane, an officer in Emperor Haile Selassie’s army, rushes to mobilize his strongest men before the Italians invade. His initial kindness to Hirut shifts into a flinty cruelty when she resists his advances, and Hirut finds herself tumbling into a new world of thefts and violations, of betrayals and overwhelming rage. Meanwhile, Mussolini’s technologically advanced army prepares for an easy victory. Hundreds of thousands of Italians—Jewish photographer Ettore among them—march on Ethiopia seeking adventure.

As the war begins in earnest, Hirut, Aster, and the other women long to do more than care for the wounded and bury the dead. When Emperor Haile Selassie goes into exile and Ethiopia quickly loses hope, it is Hirut who offers a plan to maintain morale. She helps disguise a gentle peasant as the emperor and soon becomes his guard, inspiring other women to take up arms against the Italians. But how could she have predicted her own personal war as a prisoner of one of Italy’s most vicious officers, who will force her to pose before Ettore’s camera?

What follows is a gorgeously crafted and unputdownable exploration of female power, with Hirut as the fierce, original, and brilliant voice at its heart. In incandescent, lyrical prose, Maaza Mengiste breathes life into complicated characters on both sides of the battle line, shaping a heartrending, indelible exploration of what it means to be a woman at war.

What did you get from your library this week?

Library Loot (February 3 to 9)

badge-4Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Sharlene from Real Life Reading that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries.

Happy Wednesday! And happy February to you! A new month means that I can borrow more comics on Hoopla. Hooray!

I just discovered that the Libby app has a whole lot of Noel Streatfeild ebooks, many of which I haven’t read. 

Judith by Noel Streatfeild

Passionately, as other children collect shells, stamps or bus tickets, Judith collected kind words and kind looks dropped by Mother.

Twelve-year-old Judith has been brought up in Europe by her mother, governess and highbrow uncles and aunts. She’s had her hand held all the way through life – even though that hand has often been cold and distant. Now she’s about to board a plane to England all alone to visit the father who abandoned her . . .

Although instead of despising her distant father, Judith finds she really likes him. He treats her as an adult, his side of the family seem to enjoy her company and she finally receives the appreciation she’s always craved from her mother. But is he really as wonderful as he seems?

Carnegie Medal winning author Noel Streatfield navigates through complicated family issues in this perceptive coming of age novel, Judith.

I’m reading this for the Read Harder challenge – read an LGBTQ+ history book

Queer: A Graphic History by Meg-John Barker

Activist-academic Meg-John Barker and cartoonist Julia Scheele illuminate the histories of queer thought and LGBTQ+ action in this groundbreaking non-fiction graphic novel.

From identity politics and gender roles to privilege and exclusion, Queer explores how we came to view sex, gender and sexuality in the ways that we do; how these ideas get tangled up with our culture and our understanding of biology, psychology and sexology; and how these views have been disputed and challenged.

Along the way we look at key landmarks which shift our perspective of what’s ‘normal’ – Alfred Kinsey’s view of sexuality as a spectrum, Judith Butler’s view of gendered behaviour as a performance, the play Wicked, or moments in Casino Royale when we’re invited to view James Bond with the kind of desiring gaze usually directed at female bodies in mainstream media.

Presented in a brilliantly engaging and witty style, this is a unique portrait of the universe of queer thinking.

All these are Hoopla titles

The Heart of the Beast – Dean Motter, Judith Dupre

Dynamite Entertainment celebrates the 20th Anniversary of this hauntingly evocative graphic novel, written by Dean Motter and Judith Dupre, and featuring lavishly painted artwork by superstar Sean Phillips (Fatale, Criminal). “Science transformed his body, artistry inspired his soul.” The Heart of the Beast explores the timeless themes of classic horror literature, set against the backdrop of New York City’s decadent art world in the Nineties. Sandra, a beautiful and young bartender, meets the enigmatic Victor, a man with strange scars and stranger secrets. A critically acclaimed tale of gothic love and modern horror, this digitally remastered hardcover edition features additional scrapbook material and commentary by the creators.

 

 

Luisa: Now and Then – Carole Maurel

At 32, Luisa encounters her 15-year-old self in this sensitive, bold story about self-acceptance and sexuality. Single, and having left behind her dream to become a renowned photographer, she is struggling to find out who she is and what she wants. In order to help and guide her younger self, she must finally face herself and her past. When Luisa finds herself attracted to a female neighbor, things become even more complicated… Insightful and funny, this is a feel-good coming-of-age story.

Rascal – Jean-Luc Deglin

Rascal is a cat. My cat. I didn’t ask for him, he just sort of… happened to me. But that’s just how it works sometimes, isn’t it?

When a mysterious mewling package arrives in the mail, one busy young woman’s life changes forever. Rascal lives up to his name, filling every day with wild adventures and long naps: brave expeditions into closets, fierce battles with curtains, and wrestling with slumbering giants… Sometimes she’s tempted to throw him out the window. He’s lucky he’s cute.

Over 128 pages, Jean-Luc Deglin paints a purring portrait of one unforgettable black cat, an elegant inky swirl in a world of striking blue tones. Hilarious and heartwarming, exasperating and enchanting, Rascal captures the full range of emotions that come with keeping God’s cutest killing machine as a pet.

If you love cats, or dream of having one, this book is dedicated to you. Once you bring Rascal into your life, you’ll wonder how you ever lived without him.

Billie Holiday – Carlos Sampayo

Born in Philadelphua in 1915, and dead too early in New York in 1959, Billie Holiday became a legendary jazz singer, even mythical. With her voice even now managing to touch so many people, we follow a reporter on the trail of the artist on behalf of a New York daily. Beyond the public scandals that marred the life of the star (alcohol, drugs, violence…), he seeks to restore the truth, revisiting the memory of Billie. Through this investigation, Muñoz and Sampayo trace, through the undertones of racism, and in the wake of the blues, the slow drift of a singer who expressed the deepest emotions in jazz. By internationally renowned Argentine artists, featuring Muñoz’ strikingly raw heavy blacks, this is not just a biography but a spell-binding art book tribute.

A Gift for a Ghost – Borja Gonzalez

In Borja González’s stunning graphic novel, two parallel stories reflect and intertwine in a tale of youthful dreams and desires. In 1856, Teresa, a young aristocrat, is more interested in writing avantgarde horror poetry than making a suitable marriage. In 2016, three teenage girls, Gloria, Laura, and Cristina, want to start a punk band called the Black Holes. They have everything they need: attitude, looks, instinct . . . and an alarming lack of musical talent. They’ve barely started rehearsing when strange things begin to happen. As their world and Teresa’s intersect, they’re haunted by the echo of something that happened 160 years ago.

 

The kids’ loot:

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What did you get from your library this week?

Library Loot (January 27 to February 2)

badge-4Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Sharlene from Real Life Reading that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries.

 

Happy Wednesday! Claire has the link-up this week

A mix of different types of reads this week, including some works that are not prose for a change!

Also on Instagram there’s a #readtheworld21 challenge, and in February the focus is on southern and Eastern Africa, and I’ve not read much African lit, so I want to try to read more. 

The First Wife – Paulina Chiziane

After twenty years of marriage, Rami discovers that her husband has been living a double–or rather, a quintuple–life. Tony, a senior police officer in Maputo, has apparently been supporting four other families for many years. Rami remains calm in the face of her husband’s duplicity and plots to make an honest man out of him. After Tony is forced to marry the four other women–as well as an additional lover–according to polygamist custom, the rival lovers join together to declare their voices and demand their rights. In this brilliantly funny and feverishly scathing critique, a major work from Mozambique’s first published female novelist, Paulina Chiziane explores her country’s traditional culture, its values and hypocrisy, and the subjection of women the world over.

 

Before the Ever After – Jacqueline Woodson

National Book Award winner Jacqueline Woodson’s stirring novel-in-verse explores how a family moves forward when their glory days have passed and the cost of professional sports on Black bodies.

For as long as ZJ can remember, his dad has been everyone’s hero. As a charming, talented pro football star, he’s as beloved to the neighborhood kids he plays with as he is to his millions of adoring sports fans. But lately life at ZJ’s house is anything but charming. His dad is having trouble remembering things and seems to be angry all the time. ZJ’s mom explains it’s because of all the head injuries his dad sustained during his career. ZJ can understand that–but it doesn’t make the sting any less real when his own father forgets his name. As ZJ contemplates his new reality, he has to figure out how to hold on tight to family traditions and recollections of the glory days, all the while wondering what their past amounts to if his father can’t remember it. And most importantly, can those happy feelings ever be reclaimed when they are all so busy aching for the past?

Rent a Boyfriend – Gloria Chao

Chloe Wang is nervous to introduce her parents to her boyfriend, because the truth is, she hasn’t met him yet either. She hired him from Rent for Your ’Rents, a company specializing in providing fake boyfriends trained to impress even the most traditional Asian parents.

Drew Chan’s passion is art, but after his parents cut him off for dropping out of college to pursue his dreams, he became a Rent for Your ’Rents employee to keep a roof over his head. Luckily, learning protocols like “Type C parents prefer quiet, kind, zero-PDA gestures” comes naturally to him.

When Chloe rents Drew, the mission is simple: convince her parents fake Drew is worthy of their approval so they’ll stop pressuring her to accept a proposal from Hongbo, the wealthiest (and slimiest) young bachelor in their tight-knit Asian American community.

But when Chloe starts to fall for the real Drew—who, unlike his fake persona, is definitely not ’rent-worthy—her carefully curated life begins to unravel. Can she figure out what she wants before she loses everything?

 

I’m going to try reading this for the Back to the Classics challenge 

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest – Ken Kesey

Boisterous, ribald, and ultimately shattering, this is the unforgettable story of a mental ward and its inhabitants, especially the tyrannical Big Nurse and Randle Patrick McMurphy, the brawling, life-loving new inmate who resolves to oppose her. We see the struggle through the eyes of Chief Bromden, the seemingly mute half-Indian patient, who witnesses and understands McMurphy’s heroic attempt to do battle with the awesome power of The Combine.

Citizen: an American Lyric – Claudia Rankine

Claudia Rankine’s bold new book recounts mounting racial aggressions in ongoing encounters in twenty-first-century daily life and in the media. Some of these encounters are slights, seeming slips of the tongue, and some are intentional offensives in the classroom, at the supermarket, at home, on the tennis court with Serena Williams and the soccer field with Zinedine Zidane, online, on TV-everywhere, all the time. The accumulative stresses come to bear on a person’s ability to speak, perform, and stay alive. Our addressability is tied to the state of our belonging, Rankine argues, as are our assumptions and expectations of citizenship. In essay, image, and poetry, Citizen is a powerful testament to the individual and collective effects of racism in our contemporary, often named “post-race” society.

I thought the first book by Lai, Pie in the Sky, was adorable!

Fly on the Wall – Remy Lai

Henry Khoo’s family treats him like a baby. He’s not allowed to go anywhere without his sister/chaperone/bodyguard. His (former) best friend knows to expect his family’s mafia-style interrogation when Henry’s actually allowed to hang out at her house. And he definitely CAN’T take a journey halfway around the world all by himself!

But that’s exactly his plan. After his family’s annual trip to visit his father in Singapore is cancelled, Henry decides he doesn’t want to be cooped up at home with his overprotective family and BFF turned NRFF (Not Really Friend Forever). Plus, he’s hiding a your-life-is-over-if-you’re-caught secret: he’s the creator of an anonymous gossip cartoon, and he’s on the verge of getting caught. Determined to prove his independence and avoid punishment for his crimes, Henry embarks on the greatest adventure everrr. . . hoping it won’t turn into the greatest disaster ever.

Remy Lai takes readers on an adventure filled with humor, heart, and hijinks that’s a sure bet for fans of Jerry Craft, Terri Libenson, and Shannon Hale!

This hold just came in! Hooray! I’ve been eyeing this ever since I spotted the cover. 

Grown – Tiffany D Jackson

Korey Fields is dead.

When Enchanted Jones wakes with blood on her hands and zero memory of the previous night, no one—the police and Korey’s fans included—has more questions than she does. All she really knows is that this isn’t how things are supposed to be. Korey was Enchanted’s ticket to stardom.

Before there was a dead body, Enchanted was an aspiring singer, struggling with her tight knit family’s recent move to the suburbs while trying to find her place as the lone Black girl in high school. But then legendary R&B artist Korey Fields spots her at an audition. And suddenly her dream of being a professional singer takes flight.

Enchanted is dazzled by Korey’s luxurious life but soon her dream turns into a nightmare. Behind Korey’s charm and star power hides a dark side, one that wants to control her every move, with rage and consequences. Except now he’s dead and the police are at the door. Who killed Korey Fields?

All signs point to Enchanted.

 

What did you get from your library this week?

Library Loot (January 20 to 26)

badge-4Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Sharlene from Real Life Reading that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries.

Happy Library Loot day! Let us know what you borrowed from your library this week. Here’s the link-up or leave a comment.

 

 

Specifically borrowed for the Reading Women challenge – Longlisted for the JCB Prize. This book was on the 2018 short list.

Latitudes of Longing – Shubhangi Swarup

A sweeping, lyrical debut about the love and longing between humanity and the earth itself, by a major new literary talent from India

A spellbinding work of literature, Latitudes of Longing follows the interconnected lives of characters searching for true intimacy. The novel sweeps across India, from an island, to a valley, a city, and a snow desert to tell a love story of epic proportions. We follow a scientist who studies trees and a clairvoyant who speaks to them; a geologist working to end futile wars over a glacier; octogenarian lovers; a mother struggling to free her revolutionary son; a yeti who seeks human companionship; a turtle who transforms first into a boat and then a woman; and the ghost of an evaporated ocean as restless as the continents. Binding them all together is a vision of life as vast as the universe itself.

A young writer awarded one of the most prestigious prizes in India for this novel, Shubhangi Swarup is a storyteller of extraordinary talent and insight. Richly imaginative and wryly perceptive, Latitudes of Longing offers a soaring view of humanity: our beauty and ugliness, our capacity to harm and love each other, and our mysterious and sacred relationship with nature.

 

Cat Town – Sakutarō Hagiwara

Modernist poet Sakutarō Hagiwara’s first published book, Howling at the Moon, shattered conventional verse forms and transformed the poetic landscape of Japan. Two of its poems were removed on order of the Ministry of the Interior for “disturbing social customs.” Along with the entirety of Howling, this volume includes all of Blue Cat, Hagiwara’s second major collection, together with Cat Town, a prose-poem novella, and a substantial selection of verse from the rest of his books, giving readers the full breadth and depth of this pioneering poet’s extraordinary work.

The graphic novel version of the YA book. Although I have no idea now why I decided to borrow this one instead of the novel. 

Juliet Takes a Breath: The Graphic Novel – Gabby Rivera, illustrated by Celia Moscote

Juliet Milagros Palante is leaving the Bronx and headed to Portland, Oregon. She just came out to her family and isn’t sure if her mom will ever speak to her again. But don’t worry, Juliet has something kinda resembling a plan that’ll help her figure out what it means to be Puerto Rican, lesbian and out. See, she’s going to intern with Harlowe Brisbane – her favorite feminist author, someone’s who’s the last work on feminism, self-love and lots of of ther things that will help Juliet find her ever elusive epiphany. There’s just one problem – Harlowe’s white, not from the Bronx and doesn’t have the answers. Okay, maybe that’s more than one problem but Juliet never said it was a perfect plan… Critically-acclaimed writer Gabby Rivera adapts her bestselling novel alongside artist Celia Moscote in an unforgettable queer coming-of-age story exploring race, idenrity and what it means to be true to your amazing self. even when the rest of the world doesn’t understand.

How to Love a Jamaican – Alexia Arthurs

Tenderness and cruelty, loyalty and betrayal, ambition and regret—Alexia Arthurs navigates these tensions to extraordinary effect in her debut collection about Jamaican immigrants and their families back home. Sweeping from close-knit island communities to the streets of New York City and midwestern university towns, these eleven stories form a portrait of a nation, a people, and a way of life.

In “Light Skinned Girls and Kelly Rowlands,” an NYU student befriends a fellow Jamaican whose privileged West Coast upbringing has blinded her to the hard realities of race. In “Mash Up Love,” a twin’s chance sighting of his estranged brother—the prodigal son of the family—stirs up unresolved feelings of resentment. In “Bad Behavior,” a mother and father leave their wild teenage daughter with her grandmother in Jamaica, hoping the old ways will straighten her out. In “Mermaid River,” a Jamaican teenage boy is reunited with his mother in New York after eight years apart. In “The Ghost of Jia Yi,” a recently murdered international student haunts a despairing Jamaican athlete recruited to an Iowa college. And in “Shirley from a Small Place,” a world-famous pop star retreats to her mother’s big new house in Jamaica, which still holds the power to restore something vital.

The winner of The Paris Review’s Plimpton Prize for “Bad Behavior,” Alexia Arthurs emerges in this vibrant, lyrical, intimate collection as one of fiction’s most dynamic and essential young authors.

 

What did you get from your library this week?

 

Library Loot (January 13 to 19)

badge-4Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Sharlene from Real Life Reading that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries.

Happy Wednesday! Some comics and some Japanese lit for this week. How about you?

Let us know in the link-up (it’s over at Captive Reader this week).

The Invisible Kingdom Vol 2 – G Willow Wilson, Christian Ward (illustrator)

The explosive aftermath of their shocking discovery has pushed captain Grix and acolyte Vess to the furthest reaches of their solar system.

Once unknowing pawns of the most ubiquitous religion and pervasive mega-corporation, the now-renegade team is alone after revealing to the world that these “enemy” groups are in cahoots–but not for long. And when their crew encounters a group of ruthless spacefaring privateers, they might not be safe for long either.

Volume two of the sweeping sci-fi saga is beautifully crafted by Hugo Award winner G. Willow Wilson (Wonder Woman, Ms. Marvel, acclaimed novelist of The Bird King and Alif the Unseen), and realized through the bold and singular art of Eisner winner Christian Ward (Black Bolt).

Henshin – J.M. Ken Niimura

I Kill Giants co-creator Ken Nimura (International Manga Award winner and Eisner nominee) brings a unique vision of life in Japan to the page in Henshin. The lives of a kid with peculiar superpowers, a lonely girl discovering herself in the big city, and a businessman on a long night out are some of the short stories included in this collection that will make you laugh, and even maybe shed a tear. Explore Tokyo as you’ve never seen it before under Nimura’s masterful and imaginative storytelling, printed here for the first time in English.

Felix Ever After – Kacen Callender

Felix Love has never been in love—and, yes, he’s painfully aware of the irony. He desperately wants to know what it’s like and why it seems so easy for everyone but him to find someone. What’s worse is that, even though he is proud of his identity, Felix also secretly fears that he’s one marginalization too many—Black, queer, and transgender—to ever get his own happily-ever-after.

When an anonymous student begins sending him transphobic messages—after publicly posting Felix’s deadname alongside images of him before he transitioned—Felix comes up with a plan for revenge. What he didn’t count on: his catfish scenario landing him in a quasi–love triangle….

But as he navigates his complicated feelings, Felix begins a journey of questioning and self-discovery that helps redefine his most important relationship: how he feels about himself.

Felix Ever After is an honest and layered story about identity, falling in love, and recognizing the love you deserve.

Schoolgirl – Osamu Dazai

‘Schoolgirl’ is the novella that first established Dazai as a member of Japan’s literary elite. Essentially the start of Dazai’s career, the 1933 work gained notoriety for its ironic and inventive use of language, and how it illuminated the prevalent social structures of a lost time.

Parade – Shuichi Yoshida

In a crowded two-bedroom apartment in Tokyo, four Japanese twenty-somethings are waiting for their lives to begin. They have come from all over Japan, bringing with them dreams of success and romance, but life isn’t exactly going as planned. Kotomi waits by the phone for a boyfriend who never calls, Ryosuke is sleeping with his best friend’s girlfriend, and Mirai’s drinking has become a serious problem. Only Naoki, an aspiring filmmaker and the glue that keeps them all together, seems to be on the right track. Meanwhile, their next door neighbors are up to something suspicious, and a mysterious attacker is terrorizing the neighborhood.

When a homeless teenager suddenly appears, his arrival sets off a chain of events that will bring to light dark secrets the tenants of Apt. 401 have kept from one another—and from themselves.

The Gun – Fuminori Nakamura

On a nighttime walk along a Tokyo riverbank, a young man named Nishikawa stumbles on a dead body, beside which lies a gun. From the moment Nishikawa decides to take the gun, the world around him blurs. Knowing he possesses the weapon brings an intoxicating sense of purpose to his dull university life.

But soon Nishikawa’s personal entanglements become unexpectedly complicated: he finds himself romantically involved with two women while his biological father, whom he’s never met, lies dying in a hospital. Through it all, he can’t stop thinking about the gun—and the four bullets loaded in its chamber. As he spirals into obsession, his focus is consumed by one idea: that possessing the gun is no longer enough—he must fire it.

What did you get from your library this week?

Library Loot (January 6 to 12, 2021)

badge-4Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Sharlene from Real Life Reading that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries.

Happy Library Loot day! Add your link below or drop a comment with your latest library haul.

As with the start of every new year, I love to promise myself that I’ll read more classic lit. Also more non-fiction and books in translation (I did do a pretty good job with that last one, reading 26 translated books. See more stats in this post!). Also, a new month means I can borrow more Hoopla comics! 

 

thestranger

The Stranger – Albert Camus

Through the story of an ordinary man unwittingly drawn into a senseless murder on an Algerian beach, Camus explored what he termed “the nakedness of man faced with the absurd.” First published in English in 1946; now in a new translation by Matthew Ward.

onetowatch

My friend E recommended this one. 

One to Watch – Kate Stayman-London

Bea Schumacher is a devastatingly stylish plus-size fashion blogger who has amazing friends, a devoted family, legions of Insta followers–and a massively broken heart. Like the rest of America, Bea indulges in her weekly obsession: the hit reality show Main Squeeze. The fantasy dates! The kiss-off rejections! The surprising amount of guys named Chad! But Bea is sick and tired of the lack of body diversity on the show. Since when is being a size zero a prerequisite for getting engaged on television?

Just when Bea has sworn off dating altogether, she gets an intriguing call: Main Squeeze wants her to be its next star, surrounded by men vying for her affections. Bea agrees, on one condition–under no circumstances will she actually fall in love. She’s in this to supercharge her career, subvert harmful anti-fat beauty standards, inspire women across America, and get a free hot air balloon ride. That’s it.

But when the cameras start rolling, Bea realizes things are more complicated than she anticipated. She’s in a whirlwind of sumptuous couture, Internet culture wars, sexy suitors, and an opportunity (or two, or five) to find messy, real-life love in the midst of a made-for-TV fairy tale.

Sentient – Jeff Lemire and Gabriel Walta

When an attack kills the adults on a colony ship, the on-board A.I. VALERIE must help the ship’s children survive the perils of space. Can Valerie rise to the task?

Family Tree Vol 1 and 2 – Jeff Lemire and Phil Hester

When an eight-year-old girl literally begins to transform into a tree, her single Mom, troubled brother and possibly insane Grandfather embark on a bizarre, and heart-wrenching odyssey across the back roads of America desperately searching for a way to cure her horrifying transformation before it’s too late.
But the further they get from home, and the closer the girl gets to completely losing her humanity, the more external forces threaten to tear the family apart as fanatical cults, mercenaries and tabloid Paparazzi close in. determined to destroy the girl or use her for themselves.
A new genre-defying ongoing series FAMILY TREE will combine mystery, action and Cronenbergian body horror into an epic story about the lengths a mother will go to keep her children safe in the face of an increasingly unstable world and unspeakable horrors.

The kids’ loot:

Again, some of the books are part of the random books the librarian pops into the bag

librarybooks

What did you get from your library this week?

 

Library Loot (December 30 to January 5, 2021)

badge-4Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Sharlene from Real Life Reading that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries.

Oh boy, it’s almost 2021 (or maybe if you’re not reading this on Wednesday or Thursday, this is already 2021). Are you one for resolutions? In terms of reading, I want to continue reading diversely, across a variety of genres, more translated works, more international writers, more writers of colour. And to try to finish some of these challenges. And also continue to borrow from my library.

Claire has the link-up this week. 

A couple of holds came in for me. And the others are random books I picked up while browsing.

Girl Gone Viral – Alisha Rai

In Alisha Rai’s second novel in her Modern Love series, a live-tweet event goes viral for a camera-shy ex-model, shoving her into the spotlight—and into the arms of the bodyguard she’d been pining for.

OMG! Wouldn’t it be adorable if he’s her soulmate???

I don’t see any wedding rings [eyes emoji]

Breaking: #CafeBae and #CuteCafeGirl went to the bathroom AT THE SAME TIME!!!

One minute, Katrina King’s enjoying an innocent conversation with a hot guy at a coffee shop; the next, a stranger has live-tweeted the entire episode with a romantic meet-cute spin and #CafeBae is the new hashtag-du-jour. The problem? Katrina craves a low-profile life, and going viral threatens the peaceful world she’s painstakingly built. Besides, #CafeBae isn’t the man she’s hungry for…

He’s got a [peach emoji] to die for.

With the internet on the hunt for the identity of #CuteCafeGirl, Jas Singh, bodyguard, friend, and possessor of the most beautiful eyebrows Katrina’s ever seen, comes to the rescue and whisks her away to his family’s home. Alone in a remote setting with the object of her affections? It’s a recipe for romance. But after a long dating dry spell, Katrina isn’t sure she can trust her instincts when it comes to love—even if Jas’ every look says he wants to be more than just her bodyguard…

Earthlings – Sayaka Murata

Natsuki isn’t like the other girls. She has a wand and a transformation mirror. She might be a witch, or an alien from another planet. Together with her cousin Yuu, Natsuki spends her summers in the wild mountains of Nagano, dreaming of other worlds. When a terrible sequence of events threatens to part the two children forever, they make a promise: survive, no matter what.

Now Natsuki is grown. She lives a quiet life with her asexual husband, surviving as best she can by pretending to be normal. But the demands of Natsuki’s family are increasing, her friends wonder why she’s still not pregnant, and dark shadows from Natsuki’s childhood are pursuing her. Fleeing the suburbs for the mountains of her childhood, Natsuki prepares herself with a reunion with Yuu. Will he still remember their promise? And will he help her keep it?

I watched the movie version on Netflix – it’s called Midnight Sky and stars George Clooney and Felicity Jones. It’s an interesting movie although I had some issues with it (won’t say more in case you plan on watching it). But it’s originally a book! So of course I had to go borrow it.

Good Morning, Midnight – Lily Brooks-Dalton

Augustine, a brilliant, aging astronomer, is consumed by the stars. For years he has lived in remote outposts, studying the sky for evidence of how the universe began. At his latest posting, in a research center in the Arctic, news of a catastrophic event arrives. The scientists are forced to evacuate, but Augustine stubbornly refuses to abandon his work. Shortly after the others have gone, Augustine discovers a mysterious child, Iris, and realizes the airwaves have gone silent. They are alone.

At the same time, Mission Specialist Sullivan is aboard the Aether on its return flight from Jupiter. The astronauts are the first human beings to delve this deep into space, and Sully has made peace with the sacrifices required of her: a daughter left behind, a marriage ended. So far the journey has been a success, but when Mission Control falls inexplicably silent, Sully and her crew mates are forced to wonder if they will ever get home.

As Augustine and Sully each face an uncertain future against forbidding yet beautiful landscapes, their stories gradually intertwine in a profound and unexpected conclusion. In crystalline prose, Good Morning, Midnight poses the most important questions: What endures at the end of the world? How do we make sense of our lives?

Invisible Kingdom Vol 1 – G. Willow Wilson, Christian Ward

Hugo and World Fantasy Award-winning author G. Willow Wilson (Ms. Marvel, Wonder Woman) and Eisner winning artist Christian Ward (Black Bolt) team up for this epic new sci-fi saga!

In a distant galaxy, two women discover an inconceivable conspiracy between the world’s most dominant religion and an all-powerful mega corporation.

Suddenly the prey in a desperate interstellar chase, they’re faced with a life-or-death decision: reveal the truth or risk plunging their worlds into anarchy.

Lumberjanes Vol 14 – Shannon Watters, Kat Leyh

The Lumberjanes find a treasure map that leads to them to a buried prize…which comes to life and threatens to drain all the magic from the woods around them. That definitely sounds like the opposite of what they wanted!

X MARKS THE SPOT…FOR TROUBLE!

Ripley found a treasure map! The Roanoke scouts are eager to hunt down what they hope might be some kind of mystical hoard of gems and jewels, rad dinosaur bones, or maybe even more treasure maps (that you have to piece together to find an EVEN BIGGER prize, obviously)! What they end up finding is scattered pieces of an ancient Greek statue of a woman, who, when assembled, comes back to life as a vindictive ex-goddess!n. And she’s looking to satisfy her hunger after thousands of years frozen in stone by draining any nearby magical resource…starting with the ‘Janes!

What did you get from your library this week?