Saturday, February 20, 2016

Monthly Wrap Up: January 2016

The other day it occurred to me that I hadn't posted my monthly reading wrap up for January.  While I didn't read as much as I would have liked in January (a constant state of affairs if you work full-time and blog about books on the side!), what I did read was eclectic enough to appeal to appeal to most readers.  So, here are the reads I made my way through last month:

|1| The Girl in the Polka Dot Dress by Beryl Bainbridge
I read this one on audiobook on a whim: it was short and I had wanted to give Bainbridge, an author I have heard about but had never read, a shot.  In retrospect, I probably should not have begun my foray into Bainbridge with the book she was working on at the time of her death . . . and never finished.  The novel is about an English woman named Rose and a man she believes to be called "Washington Harold" as they take a cross-country journey in search of a man named Dr. Wheeler.  Their journey coincides with the race for the 1968 Democratic presidential nomination.  Perhaps if Bainbridge had finished the novel the book would have been more gripping, or even more interesting.  As it stands, I only gave the book a two out of five stars on GoodReads.

|2| Let's Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir by Jenny Lawson
Last year I read Lawson's newer memoir, Furiously Happy and, I have to say, I preferred Furiously Happy to Let's Pretend This Never Happened. What unnerved me about Lawson's first collect of essays were the casual references to animal cruelty that pepper the text.  There were at least two essays that I had to quickly skip past because I found their content too triggering.  Where Lawson excels is in her discussions of the challenges of living with mental health and chronic illness; when she strays from these topics, her work lack engagement and becomes, well . . . uncomfortable.  For the strength of her essays on mental health and chronic illness, I gave this book three out of four stars on GoodReads.

|3| Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie
I listed to this book on audio book as well and I really enjoyed it.  The text was narrated beautifully by B.D. Wong, formerly of Law and Order: SVU and was worth a listen just for Wong's performance alone.  In addition to it's artful presentation, the story was lovely as well.  Balzac is about a pair of friends sent to rural western China as part of the Cultural Revolution who befriend a seamstress with the help of banned western literature.  If you haven't read this slim novel, I heartily recommend it, and its audio book even more.  I gave the book a four out of five on GoodReads.

|4| Death Note, Vol. 3
In January I also read the third book in the Death Note series.  At this point in the series L is annoying me and I am hopeful that Light will learn his name . . . no such lunch in volume 3, folks!  None the less I will preserver with the series.  I gave this one a three out five on GoodReads; it's was good . . . but not life changing.

|5| Nimona by Noelle Stevenson
I think I was one of the last people in the blogosphere who read Nimona.  It's as good as it has been made out to be.  Simply put, the book is about a young woman who ingratiates her way into being the sidekick to her Kingdom's resident bad guy.  Soon, however, it becomes apparent that Nimona has magical shape-shifting powers that makes her an asset to her boss and a dangerous, lose cannon.  The book explores themes such as mental health, trauma, love, and friendship in nuanced ways that are usually missing from graphic novels.  Let's just be honest, Noelle Steveson has won graphic novels.  Duh, I gave this one a five out of five stars on GoodReads.

What have you read so far this year?  Let me know on Twitter @thelexicondev.

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