If Beale Street Could Talk, by James Baldwin

Five stars, read in October 2016. This was incredible. I’d read excerpts and quotes that were enough for me to tell James Baldwin was a writer I needed to know, but this is the first of his books I’ve read. I was taken aback almost every few pages by yet another piece of gorgeous text,…

Monstress, by Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda

Five stars, read in September 2016. Jesus. Where to start?? This book needs all the superlatives. The artwork and the characters themselves are so beautiful it’s extravagant. The story is suspenseful and spectacularly violent. The protagonist is the most powerful, hardcore badass I’ve read in a long time; like Hannah from Rat Queens, only less…

Shrill: Notes From a Loud Woman, by Lindy West

Five stars, read in August 2016. This was every bit as brilliant as I knew it would be. I kept track of so many quotes I wanted to share, and by quotes I mean chapters, basically. I should probably just link to “Hello, I Am Fat,” because every word of it is gold, and I…

The Sympathizer, by Viet Thanh Nguyen

Five stars, read in July 2016. This is a book about a Communist spy during the Vietnam War. That premise was intriguing enough for me to pick it up, but while it continued to be an engaging plot throughout the book, for me the plot became secondary to the smart, insightful narrative voice. We never learn the narrator’s…

A + E 4ever, by I. Merey

Five stars, read in July 2016. This book is gorgeous. I don’t have anything objective to say about it—I just want to gush feelings for a while. It’s so lovely, in fact, that I went and found a bigger-than-usual picture of the cover to use here, just so I could look at it. I read…

Out / Real World, by Natsuo Kirino

Out: Five stars, read in June 2016. Real World: Three stars, read in June 2016. I read Out first, and it was really fantastic. It’s cataloged as a mystery, which I suppose it is, but it isn’t the usual format: In this case you’re following along with the people who committed the crimes, and they’re certainly not…

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…

Top Books of 2016 So Far

It’s June, so it feels like we’re halfway through the year, but also it’s only the beginning of June, so really only five months have passed. If this post is any indication, I am going to have a hard time narrowing down my “best of” lists when January 2017 rolls around. Despite my falling into…

The Fever, by Wallace Shawn

Five stars, read in April 2016. After reading his interview with the Paris Review, I knew I wanted to start tracking down Wallace Shawn’s work. I was so surprised by the connection I felt with his ideas in that interview, and it was the same with The Fever. It was written as a kind of one-act play,…

Nimona, by Noelle Stevenson

Five stars, read in September 2015. I didn’t know anything about Noelle Stevenson before I picked up Nimona, but I was intrigued by the lovely cover. It was outstanding, getting much darker than I expected it to, and also way more awesome. The protagonists are supervillains, the antagonists are heroes, and at times you question whether either group…

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, by Cheryl Strayed

Five stars, read the first time in 2014, then again in 2015. This is a book I’m going to read several times in my life. It’s one of my favorites, and I realized that—although I mention it frequently on lists and in recommendations—I’ve never posted an actual review. So I’d like to remedy that. After finishing…

Vanessa and Her Sister, by Priya Parmar

Five stars, read in January 2015. The fictionalized life of Vanessa Bell and Virginia Woolf is such an excellent premise for a historical novel. I went through some ups and downs with the Stephen sisters, and I loved the chance to experience their lives. For the first 150 pages I just loved everything and soaked it all…

Furiously Happy / Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, by Jenny Lawson

Furiously Happy: Five stars, read in October 2015. Let’s Pretend This Never Happened: Three stars, read in October/November 2015. I really needed to know about Jenny Lawson a long time ago. She’s a blogger who became famous, partly because she’s insanely funny, partly because of the conversation she fosters about mental illness. Like her legions of followers, what…

Top Ten Tuesday: My Ten Most Recent Five-Star Reads

Check out Top Ten Tuesday at The Broke and the Bookish. I’m not always sure what makes me decide between four or five stars for a book. Sometimes I’m just caught up in the emotional impact of the ending—I’m an empathetic sponge—and at some point I’ll decide I should downgrade it to four. I read these ten…

Comics Round-Up

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Vol. 1: Squirrel Power, by Ryan North and Erica Henderson Four stars. This is by far the funniest Marvel comic I’ve read yet. Squirrel Girl is such an upbeat, confident character; she solves problems with ass-kicking, yes, but also empathy and creative thinking, and that is cool. The “screenshots” of tweets between…

Burial Rites, by Hannah Kent

Five stars, read in September 2014. It’s been almost a year and a half since I read this book, and I still think about it often, wishing I could find more media that I can feel the same way about. I still don’t know what words to use to describe it . . . Haunting, maybe. Atmospheric….

Ms. Marvel, by G. Willow Wilson

Five stars, first book read in June 2015. Have you read the Ms. Marvel series yet?? Kamala Kahn has exciting action and excellent stories, but I love her most for who she is: a girl balancing all the complicated aspects of life and knowing that only she gets to decide who and what she’ll be….

Harry Potter, by J.K. Rowling, Narrated by Jim Dale

Five stars, read (listened to) throughout the summer of 2012. I’ve read the Harry Potter series several times, but this was my first time listening to the audiobooks, and I’m so glad I finally heard them that way. Audio will never replace physical books for me, but I’ve discovered a particular love for them in the last few…

Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Five stars, read in November 2015. All I can do by way of reviewing this book is quote it extensively. I really don’t feel like I can say anything about it—a feeling which, to embark on a small rant, also applies to what I’ve seen others say about it—e.g. Ryan Holiday, the poor, dejected white…

Bandette, by Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover

Five stars, read in February 2015. Bandette is fabulous, funny, and French. She’s a master thief who looks like Audrey Hepburn and behaves like a court jester. That pretty much sums up this book, and I don’t think you can do any better. She’s such an excellent character. I find Lieutenant Price and Monsieur’s client—based…

The Watchmaker of Filigree Street, by Natasha Pulley

Five stars, read in October 2015.  The first several chapters were intriguing enough that I kept reading despite having a very hard time focusing on it, and I will say that it was a bit of a slow start. I got really into it after a while. I fell completely in love with the middle,…

Bird, by Crystal Chan

Five stars, read in June 2015. I immediately loved everything about this book, especially the protagonist. It’s not an easy book to read, in the sense that it’s full of sharp and overwhelming pain. But in the sense that I read the whole thing in less than 24 hours, and would gladly read hundreds more…

The Unbearable Lightness of Being, by Milan Kundera

Five stars, read in March 2013. I could never have predicted how much I was going to love this book. It’s one that’s been sort of vaguely on my to-read list for a long time, but without any urgency behind it. After I watched Chocolat, loved Juliette Binoche and Lena Olin, looked them up, and…

How to Be a Woman, by Caitlin Moran

Five stars, read in October 2012. Well, you’ve been wondering, and so I am not going to keep you in suspense: Yes. This book is amazing. Caitlin Moran is British, she’s a feminist, she’s a music journalist, and she’s hilarious. That is really all you need to know. What’s that? You want to be enticed?…

Memoirs of a Geisha, by Arthur Golden

Five stars, read and reviewed in November 2010. When this movie came out, I had some random preconceived notions about it and didn’t want to see it. So don’t ask me why I chose the book for the “Adapted to Movies” category of my 10/10/10 challenge—I really don’t know. But I am thrilled that I…

March, by John Robert Lewis

Five stars for the series, read in February 2015 (volume three in 2016 when it was released; review updated in 2017 to add relevant links). This series is a spectacular, detailed personal account of a brilliant period in our recent history. It’s the story of the civil rights movement as seen by Congressman John Lewis,…

Norwegian Wood, by Haruki Murakami

Five stars, read in April 2011. It’s hard to say, but I think I love this book even more than I loved After Dark. Haruki Murakami’s writing is like music to me, and I loved the characters and the setting and the feel of Norwegian Wood so much that I just wanted to stay in the book forever….

Cloud Atlas, by David Mitchell

Five stars, read in July 2014. I was really excited to win this through the Goodreads First Reads giveaway, because it’s one I’d been hearing about for a while. Even so, I wasn’t expecting what I got. I was completely caught up in reading it, and almost wished it didn’t have to end, even after…

The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak

Five stars, read September/November 2011. You miss a few things if you listen to this on audio, because I saw some illustrations and formatting when I picked up a hard copy—but the narrator is also fantastic and it’s a lot of fun hearing it read in a German accent, so you’ll have to just decide which…