Category: book review

Favorite series of 2016

Over the next few weeks I thought I would do a few posts about my favorite books that I’ve read this year. Since it’s nearly impossible to choose just 10 (or 16, or even 20) of my faves from this year, considering that I’ve read around 150 at the time of me writing this, I decided to cheat come up with some categories and then pick my faves from those.

These categories may include (because let’s be honest, this is a lot of writing and I may get lazy):

  • Fave series read in 2016
  • Literary fiction
  • Fantasy
  • Young adult
  • 2016 releases
  • Fave books read in 2016

I’ll try not to have any overlap in these categories, but… you never know. The last category probably will have at least a few repeats, if not all repeats based on the other lists.

First up: favorite series I’ve read in 2016. I’ve based this on what I’ve read this year, not what was released this year, and a couple of them aren’t complete yet (but I’ve read all the books that are out). This is fairly long, but it’s hard to talk about my faves without getting verbose. I also forgot to put the cover for Six of Crows in this picture, which pisses me off, but I’m not redoing it.

fave-series

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The Sellout – Paul Beatty

I began writing this post back when I first read The Sellout the first week of August, and somehow never finished it? So it may seem like I’m a little late to the party, but… here it is.

This may be hard to believe, coming from a black man, but I’ve never stolen anything.

Paul Beatty’s The Sellout starts with a bang, and rarely lets up.

That autonomic eager-to-please response that’s triggered anytime you’re approached in a store and asked, “Do you work here?” The face worn every moment you’re on the job and not in the bathroom stall, the face flashed to the white person who saunters by and patronizingly pats you on the shoulder and says, “You’re doing a find job. Keep up the good work.” The face that feigns acknowledgement that the better man got the promotion, even though deep down you and they both know that you really are the better man and the best man is the woman on the second floor.”

It’s difficult to describe the plot of this book, but it focuses on a man who wants to put his city of Dickens back on the map after it has been subsumed by surrounding areas, its existence and residents forgotten, erased in the most literal sense of the word.

From the “Wiki” page for the city:

Dickens is in an unincorporated city in southwest Los Angeles County. Used to be all black, now there’s hella Mexicans. Once known as the murder capital of the world, shit ain’t as bad as it used to be, but don’t trip.

Some ridiculous things happen in this book and the narrator ends up (unwillingly) with a slave and promoting segregation, for which the narrator winds up in court. That isn’t really the focus of the book, however; it’s more about the social tension. In fact, the plot sometimes goes weird places and almost disappears entirely (a couple months after reading it and I couldn’t tell you how the court case turns out – it wasn’t the point).

This book was provocative and hilarious, but it’s more the laugh you give when you feel like you’re in collusion with the writer, you see the intelligence at work and despite your best efforts, have to recognize and laugh at the ridiculousness of these situations that aren’t so far from the truth. I’m sure there was a lot more going on in this book than I understood.

I was rooting for either it or Do Not Say We Have Nothing to win the Man Booker Prize, so I was pleased. I had a feeling this one would win out because of the timeliness, though it was also one of the smartest of all the books on the longlist (of which I read 10). I’d be interested to read whatever else Beatty writes in the future.

Character development: 4.5/5
Plot: 3/5
Prose: 5/5
Overall rating: 8/10

Eileen – Ottessa Moshfegh

…like all young women, I hid my shameful perversions under a façade of prudishness. Of course I did. It’s easy to tell the dirtiest minds – look for the cleanest fingernails.

Thus is the life of the titular character of this Man Booker Prize long listed novel – a quiet, painfully thin, small woman, made smaller by her drunk, abusive father, co-workers who make fun of her, and the man she lusts after who barely acknowledges her existence.

Eileen

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The Glorious Heresies – Lisa McInerney

So this is the first dedicated review of a book that I have written since January. Whoops. Of course all I do here is write about books, but finishing grad school reduced me to blurbs. It might take me a while to get back into the swing of things, reviewing-wise.

This summer I read several books on the shortlist for the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction: Ruby by Cynthia Bond, The Portable Veblen by Elizabeth Mckenzie, The Improbability of Love by Rothschild, The Green Road by Anne Enright, and The Glorious Heresies by Lisa McInerney. I also read a few from the longlist, which were My Name Is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout and Girl at War by Sara Novic. I own a few more, which makes me eager to get to them.

However, as there can be only one, The Glorious Heresies by Lisa McInerney won, and I was lucky to get an advanced copy of it to read this week.

glorious heresies
I think this is the U.K. cover, but it’s prettier than the U.S. one, so there’s that.

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Well, I made it. Almost.

I didn’t intend to take such a long break since my last post, but given the nature of the topic, I think it’s understandable. This is finals week at my university and so I’m nearly there!

I have two great pieces of news – the first is that I successfully defended my MA thesis earlier this week. I have revisions to complete, which, while expected, also makes me want to cry a bit. But that’s one more step closer to really being done. And I have a month and a half to make those revisions. I can handle that.

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What I’ve Read – February 2016

First off, where did February go?! This past month I decided (too late in the month) that I would try to read more books by ethnically and racially diverse authors. Reading diversely is something I always try to do; according to my reading spreadsheet for this year so far I’m at 62% female authors so far this year, and that’s without really trying. But my reading of POC authors is a bit low, so I will slowly rectify that situation.

In February I read:

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January reading recap

Time to look back on everything I read in January! I’ve already talked about most of these books in previous posts, but total I read 20 books. My count will go way down now that the semester is back in full swing, but I plan on keeping up a decent pace. Here are the ones I haven’t discussed yet:

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