Thumbs up for A Whole New World by Liz Braswell. Young adult fantasy.
I am among the minority of people who thought this book was great. Aladdin is one of my favorite movies (and I’m not a Disney buff in general) so I was curious to see how it could be twisted. This retelling begins at the same place, but skews into alternate-universe ground a few chapters in when Jafar, not Aladdin, is the one who summons the genie.… >> Read more
Thumbs up for Essays on Russian Novelists by William Lyon Phelps. Literary criticism.
After I finish this *grrr* book I’m writing, my reward is going to be delving into Russian literature. (If you’re shocked that I consider this a reward—hi, I’m Emma! We clearly haven’t met.) It seemed like a good idea to do a little preparatory reading around the subject so I could know firstly, what to read, and secondly, what works are supposed to be satire, because it can sometimes be hard to judge that without context.… >> Read more
Thumbs up for Flaneuse: Women Walk the City in Paris, New York, Tokyo, Venice and London by Lauren Elkin. Sociology/Memoir.
A mishmash that works surprisingly well together: the history of women who walk in cities (flaneuses, to match the male term flaneurs); biography of some female writers like Jean Rhys, George Sand, and Martha Gellhorn; academic discussions on the social meaning of the suburb; the history of Paris; the plot of an art film; fragments of memoir from the author, which serve to keep it from being too academic.… >> Read more
Thumbs up for Benjamin the True by Claudia Paley. Children’s fantasy.
Benjamin discovers a witch, Ellenwan, in a cellar in his otherwise ordinary town. She teaches him witchcraft. There aren’t many books that really make you believe in magic while you’re reading them. This is one of them.
“I am not leaving you behind because I think you are afraid, or because there is nothing for you to do.
… >> Read more
Neither thumbs up nor thumbs down for Jennifer, Hecate, Macbeth, William McKinley and Me, Elizabeth by E. L. Konigsburg. Children’s.
Hmm. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy reading it, it just seemed a bit pointless at the end. There are better books about magic, about imagination, about friendship, about school in the 1960’s, and there are better books by E. L.… >> Read more
Thumbs up for A Thousand Naked Strangers: A Paramedic’s Wild Ride to the Edge and Back by Kevin Hazzard. Nonfiction/Memoir.
Obviously, you shouldn’t read this if you are easily grossed out, or are offended by the mundanity of death. Before you think my reading tastes are horrifying, let me tell you: you have no idea. I know people whose reading tastes make even me—a novelist—want to back away slowly.… >> Read more
Thumbs up for Daytripper by Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba. Graphic novel.
A series of important days scattered throughout the life and (possible) deaths of obituary writer-cum-novelist Brás. Beautiful in both an artistic and metaphysical sense. Highly recommended. If you’ve never read a graphic novel, this would be a good place to start.… >> Read more
Thumbs up for Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons. Literature/Humor/Science Fiction (sneakily—watch for it).
It’s always a dangerous business when you search out whichever classic it is that has almost the same plot as what you’re writing. Some authors refuse to read That Book (whatever it is for them), and I’ve sometimes fallen into that camp. This time, though, I don’t really care.… >> Read more