Books Read in May

  1. Singularity Sunrise 1: Edenet: A Post-Cyberpunk Espionage Thriller
    by Kit Sun Cheah, an author from Singapore, nominated for both Hugo and Dragon awards. This is sci-fi, cyberpunk, martial arts, cyborgs, AI, astral projection, clear head nod to the Lensmen series, space opera within a world of psychic warriors. Not my personal cuppa, but he does it well.
  2. Other Words for Home, by Jasmine Warga, message fiction, and the message drives the plot, the story,the whole reason the book exists. Sometimes the elements of the plot ddriven by the message feel very forced and contrived. Jude is a muslim immigrant from Syria, a high school girl who misses her brother and father back home and wants to be in the school play in America. Written in the first person in free verse, which is increasingly popular in today’s YA, but I wish it wasn’t.
  3. The Hostage Prince (The Seelie Wars, #1) by Jane Yolen, fantasy series, fun stuff, set in the fairy world where battle is brewing between the Seelies (the world of elves, brownies, trolls, etc, and the Unseelies, with human changlings in between. There are a couple messages- war is hell, class divisions are stupid, court etiquette is silly, stealing human babies is wrong, slavery is bad), but the message doesn’t drive the story, and are not allowed to get in the way of the story.
  4. The Singing Bowls, by Jamila Gavin- written in the sixties or seventies- 16 y.o. Ronnie, the child of a caucasian Brit mum and a dad who is half Indian, goes to India to search for his dad, who disappeared without a word when he was a small boy. I am going to spoil the plot here- he finds his dad, and leaves him again and the r waeader never really gets to meet the man. Dad left to become an guru, an eastern mystic, and it’s cool because that’s his purpose. Dad is joined by a traveling companion Ronnie met on the way, an American who also deserted his family and has been addicted to drugs because he was seeking a shortcut to enlightenment, but he gets off the drugs and becomes a disciple to Ronnie’s dad. I was so disappointed in this book because it was highly recommended to me by somebody whose book recs I won’t be listening to again.
  5. The Nebula Secret (Explorer Academy, #1)
    by Trudi Trueit * Light, fun, if a bit weak since we must check the diversity boxes in order to tell a story. Lead character is half white, half hispanic who has grown up in Hawaii and now has been accepted into a unique science program. Other kids in the program are from around the world and smart as whips. There is a mystery, a pretty serious one, that is solved with riak to life and limb. National Geographic is involved in this series, and the end includes a glossary and some info about which of the science bits in the story are true, which might be in development, and which are pure sciefi. It’s a fun, light way your kids could incorporate some geography and science learning. Good literature it isn’t, but I thought it better written than the Treehouse mystery series.
  6. The Passion of the Holy Martyrs Perpetua and Felicity
    by Tertullian, probably the best thing I read this month besides the New TEstament.
  7. Zet and the Egyptian Amulet Mystery (Zet Series Book 2)
    by Scott Peters, fun for young readers. Lightweight, some of the environment and terrain of ancient Egypt but the characters do not feel historically accurate.
  8. Conrad’s Fate (Chrestomanci, #5)
    by Diana Wynne Jones, fantasy, some of which was hit or miss for me. This was enjoyable.
  9. Gregor and the Curse of the Warmbloods (Underland Chronicles, #3)
    by Suzanne Collins, I like this series. If you want diversity in your kid fiction, you might like to know that if read closely, it’s clear in the first book that you are supposed to see Gregor as a person of colour, probably black.
  10. The Chronicles of Chrestomanci, Vol. 2 (Chrestomanci #3-4)
    by Diana Wynne Jones, fun stuff.
  11. The Lives of Christopher Chant (Chrestomanci, #2)
    by Diana Wynne Jones
  12. Charmed Life (Chrestomanci, #1)
    by Diana Wynne Jones
  13. Race to Witch Mountain: The Junior Novel
    by James Ponti – Meh.
  14. City Spies (City Spies, #1)
    by James Ponti – Okay. Kind of fun. Not riveting. Not living. But light fun.
  15. All the Days Past, All the Days to Come
    by Mildred D. Taylor, for teens and up, IMO. Mildred Taylor always delivers with her Logan family books. This is Cassie, all grown up. Falling in love, crazy, passionate, oddly in love. Miscarrage. Widowhood. Civil Rights Movement.
  16. Lily Quench and the Treasure of Mote Ely (Lily Quench, #3)
    Lily Quench and the Black Mountains (Lily Quench, #2) I have also read the first one. Good for young readers just working on chapter books, or comfortable but still needing some handholding. Fun stuff. Well written. The church and its preacher are an important, and natural, parts of the community. I liked that.
  17. The Serpent and the Stallion
    by Becky Rodgers Boyette, fantasy, sci-fi, mostly fantasy. I found it draggy in parts and I was dissatisfied by the ending, but I’m not the target audience. Horses who communicate telepathically with their riders, who bond with them from youth. This has been used in other stories, usualy with dragons.
  18. The Unteachables
    by Gordon Korman, I don’t know how Korman is as prolific as he is while also producing solid reads squarely in the good department. He doesn’t really ever rise to living books, but he doesn’t seem to phone it in, either, and that’s a gift.
  19. Mystery of the Egyptian Scroll (Zet and the Egyptian Mystery Cases #1)
    by Scott Peters Kids mystery series set in Ancient Egypt. Not so scientific as Encyclopedia Brown but probably around that level.
  20. A Most Beautiful Thing
    by Arshay Cooper, Memoir about the first all black boys rowing team in a high school in America. Also about how the boys bonded, used rowing and the things it taught them to get out of the dead end story fated for black boys from the hood. Motivational. Rough around some edges, some swearing, some boy/girl stuff. I enjoyed this story. There’s a documentary, too, but I haven’t seen it yet.
  21. 12 Brown Boys
    by Omar Tyree- disappointing. 12 morality tales for middle readers. I don’t love morality tales. These are competently written morality tales of the sort that used to be part of Sunday School take home papers.
  22. Tilly and the Bookwanderers (Pages & Co. #1)ATilly and the Bookwanderers (Pages & Co. #1)
    by Anna James Fun read. Book references were fun. Some people can travel in books under special circumstances. Tilly is one of them. Her best friend, the neighbourhood baker’s son, might also be able to do this, but he is clearly only in this book for the sake of diversity. He says and does very little of importance except to be Tilly’s black friend (or Indian, it wasn’t clear). Maybe this is better in the later books.
  23. The Midnight Folk (Kay Harker, #1)
    by John Masefield, yes, that Masefield, the longlived poet. He wrote two books about Kay Harker. This is one of them. Fantasy, slightly scary, fun and very erudite Victorian adventure tale. I wish I know Latin.
  24. The Adventures of Obi and Titi: The Hidden Temple of Ogiso (Book1)
    by Oyehmi Begho Early chapter book for grade school readers. Set in Ancient Africa. I found it disappointing.
  25. Facing the Lion: Growing Up Maasai on the African Savanna
    by Joseph Lemasolai Lekuton, I loved this. Bio/memoir
  26. The Soul Brothers and Sister Lou
    by Kristin Hunter Lattany, written and set in the seventies. Hard stuff about police brutality and one of the hardest things is reading about it as it was back then and knowing how some things have not changed or have only gotten worse. I liked the book a lot, but I would read it with my middle grade or older child to discuss. There is an attempted rape, and the female victim blames herself, efuses to tell anybody, and lets him off, even trying to find other ways to build him up and make him feel better about himself.
  27. Mythos: The Greek Myths Retold (Stephen Fry’s Great Mythology, #1)
    by Stephen Fry, I listened via Audio. This is good, funny, rich, you will learn so much and it’s a great retelling. It’s also gory, at times vulgar, Fry really wants you to know how comfortable the Greeks were with homosexuality (he kind of glides over man-boy love), and the description of Chronos castrating is father nearly made me puke. It was lunch time and I was on my way to pick up some french fries and ketchup, which I decided to forego. But I still love it.
  28. Crown of Thunder, also Beasts of Night, by by Tochi Onyebuchi. A fantasy world set in a place much like ancient Nigeria or some other Caliphate territory. You can expiate your sins by having a mage calle a sin-eater. Your sins take on forms like shadow beasts, which the sin-eater will fight until they dissolve into a kind of inky, liquid shadow which the sin-eater swallows. He thing gets the mark of your sin in the form of a tattoo of the best on his body. Sin=eaters are badly paid, low caste, and they die young, when they can no longer bear the weight of the guilt of other people’s sins. I thought it was interesting, and I was intrigud by the world building. Then in the second book we had a secondary storyline of a lesbian couple and I lost interest. They didn’t feel real, just obligatory.
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