That's right--yesterday was my birthday :) Growing up, we always made a pretty big deal out of holidays, with Christmas being the mother of all celebrations and birthdays being next on the list. My little sister was born five years and three days after me, so we had we had a whole birthday week, really. So this year it was really nice to go a little bit old-school and have my mom and step-dad visit with a birthday cake and presents (well, actually, they took us out shopping for our present--a really nice bookshelf that we will hopefully be picking up next weekend! My biggest bookshelf didn't make it through the move so I was short anyway, but this one is like a nice adult bookshelf that's not made of cardboard. I figured you all would appreciate how cool that is!)
|And yes, my cake was pink, at least on the inside! I always asked for a strawberry cake when I was little and saw no reason to change now! (Image Source)|
Once again, I just have two book reviews today. I spent most of this week stuck in a book that I wanted to like but it just wasn't grabbing me. It was historical fiction, so I was interested, but the voice felt a little too historical and there just wasn't much going on. It has decent reviews on Goodreads but after three or four days I was maybe 20% finished reading because it just wasn't working for me. I eventually had to remember what I always told my students--life is too short to read a book you're not enjoying! So then I picked up Diverse Energies and was into it enough that I did not immediately pitch it over my shoulder when my copy of The Raven Boys arrived (signed and doodled and bookplated! You guys, it's so beautiful.) Anyway, that's pretty high praise. I might be taking tomorrow off from everything to read The Raven Boys. We'll see.
What I Read This Week:
Time Between Us by Tamara Ireland Stone
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I was honestly a little nervous going into this book because of the extent to which time travel romances (The Time Traveler's Wife, Doctor Who episodes like "The Girl In The Fireplace") sometimes completely wreck me. So, without explaining how or why, I will let you know upfront that I only cried a little at the end of this book, and it was more the kind of crying where a story was so good and so emotional and so brilliantly paced that you have to take a minute at the end and just feel all the feelings.
Anna and Bennett were never supposed to meet. But when his time traveling goes wrong, he settles briefly in 1995 Chicago instead of the 2012 San Francisco where he belongs. Anna challenges all of his rules and ideas about time travel, and he changes her life--literally, tangibly--forever. Really, though, this is a book about how we make choices for ourselves, and whether it's ever ok to make choices for the people we love. It's about choosing to live life as a "daring adventure". Do note that the story takes a little while to get set up, but then it takes off like a rocket: hang in there. The setup makes the rest of it so much better. If you love YA romances with great families, minorly unlikable but majorly lovable best friends, and a little something different, you'll love Time Between Us.
I received a free advance e-book in exchange for an honest review.
Diverse Energies by Tobias S. Buckell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I've mentioned before that I'm not usually crazy about short-story collections, but this is a really great one. These stories represent a wide variety of dystopian/post-apocalyptic/just plain creepy or messed up settings, with characters that are similarly varied. The editors' goal was to take some of the frustration of many writers with the sameness of protagonists (in speculative fiction especially, but this is not a phenomenon unique to genre fiction) and turn it in a productive direction. The result was a really excellent anthology of stories with protagonists who were something other than straight white kids from Western countries. And I have to say, the collection succeeds in making it seem really ridiculous that so many of the other stories that get published are about kids who look pretty much the same. Maybe this is just because I spent my days for the last three years with young people from 20+ different countries with a range of skin tones, hair styles, attitudes, favorite foods, religions, favorite subjects, sexual preferences, living arrangements, family makeups, languages, etc, but reading this book felt normal. It made me mentally flip through the last hundred books I read and suddenly that was the collection that felt sort of false. I mean, that's not to say that everyone should stop writing about straight white kids from Western countries. But it's weird that those stories get published so disproportionately.
And lest you think this book serves only as a Good Example or something, let me give you an idea of some of the stories you'll find inside. There's a police report narrated by a frozen-yogurt worker (with killer dude-voice and a completely twisted streak of dark humor) about the day the first robot lost it. There's the story of a boy living safely within the walls of his school who longs to know more about the world outside, and an explanation from the school's founder of why the boy and his friends weren't allowed to that will make you question every dystopian setting you've ever read (at least for a second.) And there's a severely creepy story that's set in unmistakably future Earth, where the rich have all forsaken the real world in favor of a 24/7 virtual world and the poor have started squatting in their (too-often bedbug infested) homes right under their oblivious noses. Those were just a few that stood out to me, but you may have other favorites (like the excellent contributions from Paolo Baciogalupi, Malinda Lo, or Ursula LeGuin.) If you're a fan of dystopian stories, you must give this book a read.
I received a free advance e-book copy in exchange for an honest review.
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