Book Chat

Reading Log: April 2013

This month really seemed to fly by, and May has stealthily crept upon me.  I thought 2013 just got started, and here we are in the second quarter already!  There were lots of beautiful days this month, but I also felt a little scattered.  My reading usually reflects my general outlook on life – and sure enough, in my reading life I jumped around a lot, started new books while I was still in the middle of reading others, and picked up another book again after months of neglect.

So here’s my Reading Log for April 2013, with my thoughts about each book to help me remember what I read.  I’ve included all the books that I’ve read or finished during the month (even if I started some of them outside of the month).  And of course I keep track of my rating on the grade system, the binding, genre, etc… just for fun!

April 2013

HB = Hardback, PB = Paperback, AB = Audio book, K = Kindle.
F = Fiction, HF = Historical Fiction, NF = NonFiction, YA = Young Adult,
CL = Children’s Lit, B/M = Bio/Memoir, SF = Sci-Fi/Fantasy, C = Craft

Title Start Finish Grade/
Format
Genre
The Casual Vacancy,
by JK Rowling
10/5/12 Still Reading

TBD
HB

F

Leviathan Wakes,
by James S.A. Corey
3/17/13 Abandoned

N/A
AB

SF

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making,
by Catherynne M. Valente
3/29/13 Still Reading

TBD
PB

CL

Hattie Ever After,
by Kirby Larsen
4/1/13 4/5/13

B+
K

CL

The Family Fang,
by Kevin Wilson
4/5/13 4/16/13

A
K

F

How to Be a Woman,
by Caitlin Moran
4/17/13 4/29/13

A-
K

B/M

On Being an Angry Mom,
by Kim Foster
4/22/13 4/22/13

C+
K

B/M

Sharp Knives and Boiling Oil: My Year of Dangerous Cooking with Four Year Olds,
by Kim Foster
4/22/13 4/25/13

A
K

B/M

Wolf Hall,
by Hilary Mantel
4/29/13 Still Reading

TBD
K

HF

Thoughts:

The Casual Vacancy, by JK Rowling – TBD

The Amateur Librarian // April 2013 Reading Log

I’m adding this book back to this month’s Reading Log because I’ve actually started reading it again!  I started it way back when it first came out last September, but my interest just kept waning until I dropped it completely.  But I’m determined to power through and finish, so I’ve started reading it again on the weekends.  The plot and characters are fine, it’s just that there are so many, many, many pages that cover minute increments of time.  The entire story revolves around one guy dying, which he does in the first chapter, but after one hundred fifty pages the funeral still hadn’t happened!  I’m finally past the funeral, and the consequences of the guy’s death are finally starting to unfurl – it’s all about small-town politics and class warfare.  Which can be interesting stuff, so I’m (almost positive) it’ll be worth it in the end to persevere to the last page.  Only 300 more pages to go…

Leviathan Wakes, by James S.A. Corey – TBD

The Amateur Librarian // March 2013 Reading Log

Sam and I decided to start listening to audiobooks together, but this first pick has been officially abandoned.  We listened to maybe a third of the book, but we kept getting the characters confused and couldn’t really remember what was happening between breaks.  I think it helps if you have a very regular time to listen to audio books – like a work commute, or at the gym, or every time you wash dishes, or right before bed every night, or something like that.  And then it was just too easy to stop making time to listen to it.  It pains me to leave books unfinished, but the joint effort was too much.  So now the hunt has begun for a new audio book…

 …

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, by Catherynne M. Valente – TBD

The Amateur Librarian // March 2013 Reading Log

Like I said last week, I started this on a whim a couple weeks ago.  The writing is whimsical but with the bite of a classic fairy tale.  I’m still reading, but I need to find a nice rainy afternoon to enjoy it.

 …

Hattie Ever After, by Kirby Larsen – B+

The Amateur Librarian // April 2013 Reading Log

Sequel to Hattie Big Sky – after Hattie leaves Montana, she travels to San Francisco and attempts to start a career as a newspaper reporter.  Well-researched historical fiction again, and an interesting look at newspaper life in the early 20th century.  There were a few aspects that felt flat to me – the mystery was very easy to figure out, and Hattie was equal parts naïve and duplicitous, which was a weird combination that didn’t ring true.  I thought there would be more of San Francisco, somehow, although I did enjoy the two post cards that were added.  The fog was mentioned a time or two, but when the balmy August weather was mentioned – hah!  The summer months are the coldest time of the year, and it only warms up for a few months during fall; I’m not trying to be a snob about it, but the weather is unique enough that it’s at least worth getting correct.  Still an entertaining story with a sweet ending, with several admirable female characters, but not quite as strong as the first book.

 …

The Family Fang, by Kevin Wilson – A

The Amateur Librarian // April 2013 Reading Log

Book club pick for April.  Two performance artists raise their children to participate in their “art pieces” – creating chaos in a public place and recording the ensuing pandemonium.  I guess every twenty-something blames their parents for what goes wrong in life… but in this book, the grown children have definitely been warped to the point that they can’t lead normal lives or form normal relationships.  Annie and Buster (Child A & B) have become equal parts angry, scared, and incompetent when it comes to real life situations… and when their lives start falling apart, they’re forced to return home.  What comes next… is not what I expected.  A strange and bizarre story, for sure, but also funny and certainly intriguing.  There were enough zany plot twists to keep me interested the entire time, right up to the last page.  Fun story, which raises interesting questions about what constitutes art and family.

 …

How to Be a Woman, by Caitlin Moran – A-

The Amateur Librarian // April 2013 Reading Log

All I knew about this book before reading is that it’s about feminism and it’s controversial.  My verdict: I liked it just fine, but I didn’t love or hate it.  At first, I didn’t quite get it.  The set-up was a bit stilted – both a very personal memoir and mock “how-to” for feminism, but told in a confusing point of view – I never knew if she was speaking as her fifteen-year-old self or as her current thirty-five-year-old self looking back on herself.  I actually put this book down to read another book in the middle – it just wasn’t grabbing me.  But when I picked up where I left off, and as the book went on, the rants became much more personal – and for me, that’s when it got a lot more enjoyable to read.  Sometimes I laughed out loud and sometimes I didn’t find her brand of humor actually funny, but I did connect to her more heartfelt experiences.  And by the end I liked the author a lot, which always makes a memoir better, and made up for the shaky beginning.

 …

On Being an Angry Mom, by Kim Foster – C+

The Amateur Librarian // April 2013 Reading Log

I found this eBook when I was looking for another title written by the same author, and when I saw that this one was short and only 99 cents, I snapped it up along with the other.  (I think they’re both self-published ebooks, but I could be wrong.)  This short story (memoir?  novella?  essay?) presents a series of glimpses into the author’s struggle to control her anger when parenting her two young daughters.  I can relate, somewhat.  I’m not a mother, but I can recognize the mental leap from irritated to resentful to sudden rage.  It’s not pleasant, and I always regret it almost instantly, but it still happens.  So I get that part.  And I get that adding children ups the ante immediately, and I’ve done some time in close quarters with young children, but they were never my own and it was never 24 hours a day, so of course I’ve never been in exactly a mother’s shoes.  I feel icky when I read about people judging other people’s parenting, so I will try really hard not to go into that territory.  Because at the end of the day if everyone is still alive and safe, then there’s no point in harping on differences of opinion, right?  Everyone is just trying to do their best.  But there were definitely moments when it seemed like her examples of “good parenting” – letting the girls pull the stickers off avocados in the grocery store and stick them all over, encouraging them to pull off the netting from cantaloupes and wear them as hats in the store, describing herself as their best friend in those moments—seemed like more of a lack of boundaries.  It made me a bit uncomfortable, and it made the moments of chaos devolving into anger seem more inevitable.  But I can still appreciate her honesty, especially because airing out the not-so-shining moments of parenting that everyone experiences must be an incredibly vulnerable act.  But still.  When did consequences become infringement on a child’s spirit?  Maybe I didn’t get it after all.

 …

Sharp Knives and Boiling Oil: My Year of Dangerous Cooking with Four Year Olds, by Kim Foster – A

The Amateur Librarian // April 2013 Reading Log

I wish I hadn’t read Foster’s other book first – it gave me a negative impression of her which quickly dissipated when I started getting into this one.  I’ve never heard of Kim Foster before, but apparently she’s a food blogger and this is the published version of her blogged adventures teaching her daughter’s pre-school class how to cook.  I have mixed feelings about books published by bloggers – I know as a blogger it’s supposed to be my dream to get a book deal, but honestly I just don’t think the translation works well every time.  Even though the format has changed from short daily entries to a longer narrative as a book, it seems like they reuse a lot of the same material that’s already been blogged and repeat themselves a lot. On the one hand, that’s fine because I’m probably not going to read all their archives, but it irks me when they repeat themselves and it seems like they just copied and pasted instead of actually writing a book from scratch.  So, I had the same mixed feelings per usual, but since I had never heard of this blog before reading the book, I didn’t have any preconceptions.  The premise appeals to me tremendously, the writing was good, and for me it’s hard to fail when a whole bunch of my favorite topics are combined – parenting, cooking, kids, public school, etc.  And as expected, I liked it a lot.

 …

Wolf Hall, by Hilary Mantel – TBD

The Amateur Librarian // April 2013 Reading Log

Book Club pick for May.  I’ve had this on my Eventual To Read Lis for a long timet, so I’m excited that I’m actually getting around to it now that someone in book club suggested it.  It’s all about Thomas Cromwell around the time that King Henry VIII created the Church of England in order to divorce one wife and begin his string of new wives.  I’ve been cautioned that it’s dense and there are enough Thomases to get confusing, so hopefully I’m starting early enough to finish before our next meeting.

So that’s what I’ve been reading during the month of April.  Anyone reading a good book?

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2 thoughts on “Reading Log: April 2013

  1. Hi Katie!

    Thanks so much for writing about both of my books. Your reviews were really thoughtful and honest, and I really appreciate that.

    “Sharp Knives” is also my favorite of the two. It’s not a “single” and is a real, fully-formed memoir. One quick little comment – I’ve written a few kids cooking posts on my old blog (I have a different blog now) but the book was never based on the blog. (Although I get why you might assume that) In fact, the reason I wrote “Sharp Knives” is because I wanted to really illuminate how full-on and crazy it is to cook with little kids in a classroom setting and I didn’t feel I had come anywhere close to that on the blog.

    Anyway, thank you again for reading and reviewing. I really appreciate it – the world is always a little better when there are thoughtful people like you reading and writing about books.

    Kim

    Like

    1. Wow, thanks for your response! I will certainly seek out your new blog to read more about your experiences. I really enjoyed your point of view and willingness to be vulnerable. Thank you for writing!

      Like

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