Notes of a Crocodile, by Qiu Miaojin

Two stars, read in December 2017 Bewildering, to be honest. Interpersonal relationships are difficult to package in words, especially when nothing much happens, it’s all just conversations and body language and internal struggles. But this seemed deliberately opaque and kept me on the outside, unable to get a connection with any of the characters. Words…

A Man Called Ove, by Fredrik Backman

Two stars. Read in February 2019. I don’t like Ove very much—the character or the book. Rather, I don’t understand the near-universal insistence that this type of character is loveable. Because Ove is definitely a type, and while there’s no such thing as an unloveable person, that is an entirely separate issue from our indefatigable…

The White Castle, by Orhan Pamuk

Two stars, read in September 2018. I planned on two stars throughout the book and then was tempted to do more based on the last few pages—two and a half stars if not three—but for now, I can’t bring myself to rate it any higher. It’s only 145 pages but took forever to read, because…

Thor, Vol. 2: Who Holds the Hammer?, by Jason Aaron

Two and maybe a half stars, read in 2016. I gave the first volume four stars, but this one is disappointing. She’s barely even in it, and it’s not even a full five issues like trades usually are. There are only three issues of actual current story, followed by one about Thor’s friends making her…

The Savage Detectives, by Roberto Bolaño

Two or three stars, read in August 2017. I was really annoyed about this book. I really wanted to like it, which was probably part of the problem. It took me forever and I pressured myself to finish it, which was certainly part of the problem. I can’t say why exactly, but this book just…

Neverwhere, by Neil Gaiman

Two and a half stars, read in October 2017. Eh. This book has a great premise, and Gaiman is surprisingly good at narrating his own book, though I can’t figure out how he sounds exactly the same whether I’m listening at regular speed, 1.2x times it, or even 1.4x. (Have to admit, I ended up…

Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy

Two stars, read in September 2017. Will possibly downgrade to one star after I think more about it. This was not an enjoyable experience and upon finishing, I felt like I should apologize to myself for forcing me through the whole thing. One thousand pages of farming, 19th-century Russian politics, and petty, jealous, self-absorbed characters…

A Murder in Time, by Julie McElwain

Two and a half stars, read in June 2017. I was a little disappointed by the execution of what was a really intriguing, exciting premise. A twenty-first-century FBI agent hunting a nineteenth-century serial killer—it’s time travel plus historical fiction plus mystery with a smart, strong female protagonist, and since I always feel like I should try…

Mini Reviews: Comics and Manga

Everything I’ve read so far in January and February 2017, because apparently I haven’t reviewed any of them yet! Ōoku: The Inner Chambers, Vol. 1, by Fumi Yoshinaga. Four stars. What an absolutely fascinating combination of ideas at play in this book. A sort of dystopian premise with a historical setting, a matriarchal society that still…

Empress, by Shan Sa

Two and a half stars, read in December 2016. Translated from French. This was a little dry; at times it felt like reading a catalog. A thousand horses in the parade, a thousand ministers, a thousand concubines, a thousand drums, and so on, sometimes for two or three pages. It made for easy skimming, though, which…

Rocket Girl, Vol. 1, by Brandon Montclare and Amy Reeder

Two stars, read in July 2016. This is a great premise, but it wasn’t carried out well. The dialogue is lame and the story is very unclear: teenage police officer leaves the year 2013—”the past”—to go back in time to 1986—”the present”—to stop a company from developing the technology that created her world, which she…

Ms. Marvel, Vol. 5: Super Famous, by G. Willow Wilson

Two stars, read in October 2016. This was my least favorite Ms. Marvel, very disappointing after how completely fabulous the previous four have been. I just felt stressed the whole time as she piled fuckup on fuckup, and then I was unsatisfied by the ending. There was a lot of moralizing, but where I usually…

In Which I Finally Read My Free Comic Book Day Haul

Yeah, it took me this long. Mike and I got our free comic books together, and we each bought one or two at the same time, which I also did not read until today. How can it take me several months to read a 25-page comic, you ask? This is a good and unanswerable question….

Speed Reviews (Catching Up)

I haven’t been exactly sure what’s going on here lately. I’ve been through some reading slumps and revivals and slumps again, and I think the same is true of my blogging. But in the past couple months, a lot of really great books have come through for me.   The Vegetarian, by Han Kang Five…

The Astronaut Wives Club, by Lily Koppel

Two and a half stars, read in June 2014. A very interesting book that was also incredibly irritating for me to read. That time period is just . . . my nightmare: The facades of perfection, the “good housewife” image, the pretending you don’t know your husband is cheating on you because NASA wouldn’t let him fly…

Comics Round-Up

This past weekend was a long one for me, and I spent two of the three days off work putting a sizable dent in my graphic novel TBR stack (with mostly excellent results). Beautiful Darkness, by Fabien Vehlmann and  Kerascoët : four stars. This book basically just revels in how horrible people are. The characters aren’t particularly…

Lolita, by Vladimir Nabokov

Two stars, read in March 2015. I almost don’t want to try and sort out exactly how I feel about this book, because I don’t want to give it that degree of attention now that I’ve finished. If the book is hard for me to process, the reviews of it are maybe even worse. Yes,…

The Interruption of Everything, by Terry McMillan

Two stars, read in January/February 2016. So . . . I enjoyed this, until the end. I liked Marilyn, but I feel annoyed with how it turned out, and I am going to tell you about it with spoilers. The ending was a pretty big let-down. Marilyn’s children are in college, and with this new…

Time and the Tapestry, by John Plotz

Two stars, read in October 2014. I’m trying to decide whether this book was good-ish, but with major flaws, or crappy with some redeeming moments. Pro: I like the premise a lot—two kids go back in time by falling through a tapestry in the house that their grandmother is about to lose—which is of course…

Modern Romance, by Aziz Ansari

Two and a half stars, read in 2015. I think the existence of this book is almost more interesting than any of the information inside it, which is interesting, but most of which I somehow already knew or suspected (except the actual data, obviously). It’s not a humor book, although it’s written in a funny way because…

A Game of Thrones, by George R.R. Martin

Two stars, read in June 2012. Before we go any further, I must address the fact that, yes, I purchased the tie-in cover. Usually I would never, but there weren’t many other options at the Wal-Mart in Childress, Texas—one of many small, small towns on the road trip from Dallas to Salt Lake City—and I didn’t care…

Once Upon a Quinceanera, by Julia Alvarez

Two and a half stars, read July/August 2014. Once Upon a Quinceanera was a mixed bag for me: interesting but slightly disappointing, until I got to the end, which pissed me off. The concept is great; there’s so much material for discussion, and the tradition is an intriguing one to learn about. I enjoyed the…

Alice I Have Been, by Melanie Benjamin

Two stars, read December 2011 to January 2012. Overall, this was a pretty disappointing endeavor. I loved the first several discs, the part about Alice’s childhood at Oxford. She was a bright, interesting girl with a lovely curiosity and a kind heart. I really enjoyed the image of her early life and her family’s relationship…

Bad Feminist, by Roxane Gay

Two and a half stars, read in May 2015. Gay has a lot of interesting things to say, particularly about media and pop culture, but I ended up being mostly annoyed with how much she harped on the “bad feminist” thing. She talks about how wrong it is for people to claim that there’s some kind of…

First Frost, by Sarah Addison Allen

Two stars, read February 2015. This is the sixth of Sarah Addison Allen’s books that I’ve read. I loved three of the others and liked two well enough. She’s one of my anything-with-her-name-on-it authors; if she releases something new, I’m going to read it, and it will take me just a few hours and be…

Now I’ll Tell You Everything, by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

Two stars, read in October 2013 (but four stars for the whole Alice series). I was really disappointed with this book, the last in the series. If you were an active fan all along—like, keeping up with the author’s website and writing in your suggestions for the series—you may have been less surprised than I was…