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« June, 2021 »

California Dreamin': Cass Elliot Before the Mamas & the Papas   book icon  
by Penelope Bagieu (2017)

read: 29 June 2021
rating: [+]
categories: graphic novel, non-fiction

A great graphic novel about Cass Elliot’s life and times before The Mamas & the Papas really made it big. I had their albums growing up but never really knew too much about the band and this was really interesting. Elliot does not always come across as likeable but then again you understand what she’s about and how the Mamas and the Papas ticked more or less.

Death In A Strange Country   book icon  
by Donna Leon (2005)

read: 27 June 2021
rating: [+]
category: fiction

Another of the Commissario Guido books which was enjoyable. Where the Bruno Chief of Police books are about food and small town life, these are more about the interrelationship of various parts of Italy, and a lot of interpersonal relationship stuff. This story in particular takes us into the American military base which is nearby, and a crime that some people want to solve and others clearly do not. Good reading.

Flying Couch   book icon  
by Amy Kurzweil (2016)

read: 25 June 2021
rating: [+]
categories: graphic novel, non-fiction

Started this book at night but realized 1. it’s non-fiction (meaning it’s for daytime reading) 2. it’s about the Holocaust, in part. A story of three generations of women all somehow coping with the legacy of the concentration camps and what “family” means. A lot of stories gradually getting told. Wasn’t wild about the illustration style, but was going to put it down entirely and the story drew me back in.

High-Risers: Cabrini-Green and the Fate of American Public Housing   book icon  
by Ben Austen (2018)

read: 23 June 2021
rating: [+]
category: non-fiction

This is a great book for someone who could use a little help understanding that institutionalized racism is a real thing. This book looks at one housing project and how it was managed, and mismanaged, and how that unfolded over one long time in Chicago while families were born, lived & died in Cabrini-Green. Well-written, mostly from the voices of people who lived there. A lot of complicated stories.

The Searcher   book icon  
by Tana French (2020)

read: 22 June 2021
rating: [+]
category: fiction

I like most of French’s novels, haven’t liked a few. This one is exceptionally good especially after reading Dervla McTiernan’s books. A Chicago policeman moves to Ireland to (sort of) escape his past. Buys a fixer of a house. Meets the locals. Finds himself in the middle of a mystery. Does things his way, learns the ways of the locals.

The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August   book icon  
by Claire North (2014)

read: 17 June 2021
rating: [+]
category: fiction

Great spin on the time travel trope. What if you kept getting reborn as yourself, in the same timeline, but with memories intact? What could you do? What about the other people who were like you? What if you were hellbent on destruction? What if you wanted to stop that person? This is an interesting thriller which doesn’t get too into the “how?” aspects but tells a really good story that has time travel as one of its elements.

Spinning   book icon  
by Tillie Walden (2017)

read: 13 June 2021
rating: [+]
categories: graphic novel, non-fiction

This is a very good but also hard to read story about Walden’s younger years as a competitive figure and synchronized skater, while also experiencing being a lesbian in Texas with a not-particularly-supportive family. She gets comfort from unlikely places. Walden has said that she wanted this book to be more about a feeling than a specific history if this time in her life. I felt a lot of it was familiar (weird uncaring parents, peers who could be truly awful) in ways that weren’t always confortable but which felt really true and honest.

Quantico   book icon  
by Greg Bear (2007)

read: 11 June 2021
rating: [+]
category: fiction

This was a book I grabbed off my sister’s shelf because I left home for a few days and FORGOT TO BRING A BOOK. Bear is reliable and this was a book of his I hadn’t read, even though it’s over a decade old. It was a near-future bioterror thriller that was pretty interesting and lively with a lot of moving parts. I always appreciate Bear’s writing and I’ll pick up the sequel to this.

The End of Men   book icon  
by Christina Sweeney-Baird (2021)

read: 5 June 2021
rating: [+]
category: fiction

A book about a killer virus (that kills only men, but 90% of them) that was written before COVID but published during the pandemic, and before there was a vaccine. A really interesting look at the various ways this scenario could play out ranging from how dating apps have to adapt to what infrastructure looks like now. Women finally get bulletproof vests that fit them. Medicine works better for them. There is a lot going on and a lot of the people you know die, but this story, told in chapters from various women’s perspectives, doesn’t dwell on the horror aspects of all of it, though it’s not just a flat infrastructure examination either.

Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me   book icon  
by Mariko Tamaki (2019)

read: 5 June 2021
rating: [+]
categories: fiction, graphic novel

Another great graphic novel from First Second, this one about a complex world in which the person you are with isn’t maybe the person you should be with. We’ve all had these bad relationship situations and this one is told empathetically and honestly. It’s another great story by Tamaki, illustrated by Rosemary Valero-O’Connell, looking at a confusing and complicated teen romance and all the conflicting feelings you can have about things that aren’t really going your way. Some really solid friendships help round this out.

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