Friday, February 14, 2020

Review: Interior Chinatown

Interior Chinatown Interior Chinatown by Charles Yu
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This novel fits right into the online discussions lately about the lack of diversity at award events like the Oscars, Grammys and Emmys. Lots of allegory going on (almost too much for me) as the Asian American actor dreams of making it to the top of the dream roles for Asian actors--the Kung Fu guy who doesn't get killed off at the end of the scene (like what always happens in the cop show Black & White). Whole book is full of parody and satire, but the repetitive theme is the glass ceiling for Asian male actors.

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Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Review: Stateway's Garden: Stories

Stateway's Garden: Stories Stateway's Garden: Stories by Jasmon Drain
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow. This is one of those subtle short story collections with beautiful writing that really sneaks up on you and makes you think. On the surface, it's a collection loosely connected by place--Stateway Gardens--the projects on the south side of Chicago by the White Sox Stadium. I don't remember driving by these when they were still standing, though I must have since I know that stretch of the Dan Ryan well. These stories also are mostly about two brothers (and the girls in their lives), and it's difficult to tell you exactly what these stories are about. They are just good and I feel like I KNOW the characters and the place. I love how poetic some of the sentences are--while listening to the audio I smiled at parts that were actually quite dark, but the word choices were freaking amazing.

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Review: Gender Queer

Gender Queer Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the kind of graphic novel I wish I could make everyone in education read. Rural Midwest here, so there aren't too many discussions about gender happening at our college. We just got our first gender neutral bathroom in 2019. I love how this describes the coming out process as continual, especially since Maia takes awhile to figure out emself. It seems like the lucky ones are those of us who can declare, "Yep, I am hetero or cis or queer or whatever" and that doesn't change for us the rest of our lives. But gender and sexuality aren't that solid for some people. This helped me understand more about gender and sexuality, which is a good thing.

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Friday, February 7, 2020

Review: Spy

Spy Spy by Danielle Steel
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Danielle Steel can still whip out a good read. Nothing earth shattering here, and sometimes it reads like she's spitting facts at readers straight from the history books, but she gets the job done and readers come away satisfied. I am always fascinated by the women who served as spies for the SOE during WWII, which is why I wanted to read this novel. Alex is a bored rich girl who learned several languages so spying comes easily to her. There were odd parts that were very glossed over--no depth to the plot, but just go along for the ride and it's okay.

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Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Review: The Paris Library

The Paris Library The Paris Library by Janet Skeslien Charles
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I received a free ARC from Edelweiss.

I feel like I read a different ARC than everyone else? This is yet another libraries-are-awesome and WWII women-are-heroes novel, and I think I'm just burned out on them. They all start reading the same when you've read a lot of them. I did enjoy Odile's character, but I could have done without the modern day Montana plot line--I didn't think it added any depth. And I didn't understand the odd chapter POV from Miss Reeder when most of the book is from Odile or Lily's POV. This book is complete fodder for librarians who want to hear about how great they are and the depths they will go to in order to help patrons and save the books from bad guys. Lots of quotes in this ARC that librarians will copy and paste all over:

"I was skeptical about soul mates, but could believe in bookmates, two beings bound by a passion for reading." and "Of course, he knew something was wrong, he was a librarian--part psychologicist, bartender, bouncer, and detective."

I guess I'm becoming a cynical librarian in middle age. I wanted tighter editing, too, because it took me a long time to read this book. I kept watching Netflix and the DVR instead, which tells me something. I'm sure public library book clubs will love this title and some librarians will sing its praises. But it's nothing special to me.

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Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Review: The Perfect Mother

The Perfect Mother The Perfect Mother by Caroline Mitchell
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was a bit too predictable for me, and by the time the plot got to "Who is the dad?" I really didn't care. I did love the juicy story of a celebrity couple enticing a young pregnant woman from Ireland to come to the U.S. to have her baby, but I felt like there were too many unbelievable plot lines that never would have happened. I guess I like my psychological thrillers more believable?

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