Books read in November 2014

This month’s theme:  books that did not tidy up the story before ending, thus leaving me grumpily anticipating the sequel.

Winners this month:
Picture.  Nothing wowed me.
Middle Readers:  Greenglass House, Ambassador
YA: Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future, Girls Like Us, Vango, 100 Sideways Miles, Hold Me Closer Necromancer, Necromancing the Stone.  (And yes, I just listed every single YA book I read this month as recommended.  Because they were all awesome.  It was a very good YA month.  If you are going to just pick one I would go with either Glory O’Brien, or 100 Sideways Miles)
YA nonfiction:  Dreaming in Indian
Grownup nonfiction: Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher.

Picture
Have you heard the nesting bird
Gray/Pak
Read for librarian book group
This is your book if you ever want to read a lot of bird calls out loud.

The Princess in Black
Hale, Hale & Pham
Read for librarian book group
Beginning chapter book for princesses who sometimes like to wear black and save the day.

Middle Readers
Greenglass House
Kate Milford
Read for librarian book group
Very thick, which bugged because it was in the company of other very long middle readers on the reading list.  However, unlike many of its contemporaries, this one was good.  Great for anyone who likes to imagine the fun they would have if their family owned a hotel so remote it needs a funicular to get to.  Mysterious visitors appear, stories are told, things happen.  It reminded me of a favorite from my youth, The Westing Game.  Very well done.

Ambassador
William Alexander
Read for librarian book group
Yeah, so this was an excellent half of a book.  I was all in for the whole thing, which is only part of the story.  My number one rule of writing a series?  Each book must stand on its own, with the successor being a nice surprise.  You can’t just leave major plot lines dangling and call it good.

When he publishes the rest of the story, I will be interested to see how our main character balances being the Earth’s ambassador to the universe’s diplomatic corps and see what happens with his mother and father and their impending deportation for being illegal aliens.

Get it?  Aliens/Aliens?  Very clever, that Mr. Alexander.  If only he had finished his book.

Young Adult
Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future
A.S. King
Read for Mock Printz
Super fabulous feminist-forward novel of a girl just graduating from high school.  She’s struggling with a lot of things: the continuing ramifications of her mother’s suicide when she was four, her best friend’s distraction by a relationship, her father’s ongoing depression.  Oh, and thanks to drinking the remains of a bat (long story) she can see the future.

I was underwhelmed by King’s previous novel Ask the Passengers, and was ready to be similarly underwhelmed by this.  But I loved it, from the strong main character, the conundrum of what to do with her life, and the expert weaving of all the future sci-fi stuff.  Recommended.

Also?  Great title, no?

Girls Like Us
Gail Giles
Read for librarian book group
Were this not on my reading list, I would not have read it, being one of those assholes who isn’t interested in the lives of Special Education students.  And that’s why reading lists are great.  This was a quick read featuring memorable characters and a very solid story. Recommended.

Vango
Timothee De Fombelle
Read for librarian book group
Translated from the French, so I’m not sure if it’s a French thing to not really wrap up the book.  Although William Alexander didn’t bother to do so in Ambassador, so maybe it’s this year’s new thing.

Anyway!  Until the end, which seems to be more of a pause, this was a classic rip-roaring adventure story with our young hero a boy with a mysterious past, people chasing him, a love interest with a love of fast cars, cool 1930s things like Zeppelins,  chase and fight scenes, and shadowy figures.  I really liked it a lot.

100 Sideways Miles
Andrew Smith
Read for librarian book group
Packed full of the hilarious teenage boy humor that I’ve come to love in Andrew Smith’s work and was a great read.  It was good enough that part of it was read aloud to the boyfriend, who laughed gleefully. Great boy friendship, great differing readiness for sexual activity, great story in general.

Hold me Closer, Necromancer
Lish McBride
Set in Seattle, the story of a college dropout who discovers he just happens to have powers to bring things dead things to life.  This is troublesome, and not only because who wants to reanimate the dead?  There’s this already established necromancer, who isn’t too thrilled to discover someone with the same powers.  Luckily, our hero has an excellent group of friends to help him with all this new-found stuff.  Great fun.

Necromancing the Stone
Lish McBride
I had this book on hold before I was done with its predecessor.  Because Lish McBride can write.  More necromancing powers, more friends, more trouble.  Just as much fun as the first.

Young Adult Nonfiction
Dreaming in Indian
Charleyboy/Leaterdale
Read for librarian book group
Contemporary Native American Indian youth talk about what it is to be a contemporary Indian youth.  Uneven in tone, but I liked it for that.

Tomboy
Liz Prince
Read for librarian book group
Graphic novel memoir about a girl who only wants to dress like a boy.  And people have a lot of problems with that.

Grownup Fiction
Hmmm.  Apparently none.

Grownup Nonfiction
Stieglitz: Camera Work
Taschen
This book wasn’t exactly what I thought I was getting, being a compiling of the photography magazine Alfred Stieglitz produced in the early 20th century.  Thus, it featured many different photographers, not just Stieglitz.  There was also a very wordy essay (published in three different languages!) to read.  It did give me the names of a few more photographers to investigate, so that was good.

Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher
Timothy Egan
Read for Kenton Library Book Group.
A long and engrossing book about the dude who took pretty much every Native American Indian portrait we think of as classic.  For instance, the image of Chief Joseph I grew up with?  That was an Edward  Curtis.  Egan’s not overly (or at all) critical of Curtis asking the Indians to pose in traditional gear, which I know a lot of people have a problem with.  Instead, he focuses on Curtis’s dedication/obsession with trying to record as much of native culture and customs as he possibly could, before they became extinct.  In doing so he paints a portrait of a talented man never appreciated in his time.

Overall, a pretty depressing book, but well written and a good read.

2 thoughts on “Books read in November 2014”

  1. Well, you already turned me on to Lish McBride. I'll add 100 Sideways Miles as well. I'm always looking for YA fiction with a male lead. It's surprising how much of it is written by women and has a female lead.

  2. I better add a couple more of those to my list! I am just 2 books shy of my 100 goal for the year. Looking for Alaska will finish up and then what?

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