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A little background... )

One word of warning! Some of my reviews contain spoilers. I used cut tags, but if you're clicking the links in the summary table, the cuts will be ignored!

An explanation of table columns in the summaries: Read more... )

I think that's everything! I'm keeping this mostly for my own review, but comments are welcome!
kareila: hidden between stacks of books (books)
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This is exactly what I hoped it would be, which is a comprehensive backstory of the MCU version of Thanos, from childhood until he begins to acquire the Infinity Stones. Moreover, it paints him as a sympathetic, emotionally wounded protagonist who believes he is doing the right thing, and whose lack of empathy is attributed to an absent mother, a brilliant but distant father, and a society that treats him as an outcast from birth. I would like to know if I can expect more of these original MCU tie-in novels, similar to what Disney has done with the Star Wars universe in recent years.
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Another fun adventure in Lumberjane-land. Ripley finds a nest of large golden eggs, and shares her discovery with Barney, who shows her how to hone her powers of observation and deduction. Those skills come in handy when the smallest egg goes missing and must be rescued. Also, there are thespians.
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Eric Idle always struck me as the odd Python out. Chapman & Cleese were a pair, Jones & Palin were a pair, and Gilliam was off doing his own thing in the corner. Reading this book, you'd think Idle was the lynchpin holding the troupe together, and maybe he was.

The book can be divided roughly into thirds. First, his childhood and early career, which comes off as charming and humble. Second, a catalog of ridiculous celebrity antics following Monty Python's massive success, which I'm sure is all mostly true but still comes off as pretentious. To be fair, I don't think it's possible to write about becoming bestest friends with one of the Beatles without sounding at least somewhat pretentious, and if it hadn't been for George Harrison mortgaging his house to finance a film company, Life of Brian would never have been made, so we should be thankful. The final third of the book concerns the later stages of Idle's life and career after moving from England to California in 1994. Overall, I enjoyed the bits concerning Idle's personal life and work but found that his relentless catalog of celebrity friends grew increasingly tiresome.
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You know you're in for a long game when the prologue to the first book of a series has the hero attacked by villains that don't even appear again for the rest of the story.

October Daye - Toby to her friends - is a likable character, prickly by nature and traumatized by her upbringing, but a decent person at heart. She is a changeling, half fae and half human, not entirely at home in either world. For reasons that are not explained in this book, she is a knight in the service of a kindly Duke of Faerie named Sylvester. She is also a private investigator in the mortal world, with a boyfriend and daughter of her own, from whom she hides her true nature.

As a half-blooded changeling, Toby can expect to live for centuries. Still, she's understandably distressed when she wakes from a curse and discovers that she has been missing for 14 years. Afraid to face Sylvester with her failure and unable to reconcile with her mortal family, she passes her days in a fog of pain and denial, until the death of one of her fae friends compels her to reenter the world she left behind in order to solve the murder.

The world and its characters remind me inescapably of the Dresden Files, at least the parts of that world that concern Faerie. Toby Daye and Harry Dresden are both PIs who drive VW Beetles and have a measure of magic that they wield to solve mysteries, often facing down entities much more powerful than themselves.
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With this installment, the author discards the Training Planet of the Month format that was followed for the first three volumes and puts the young heroes in charge of the fate of the universe. Jasper returns from the Rift to discover that a year has passed, and all the Bounders have been promoted to the upper ranks of Earth Force... all the ones that stayed, that is. Many were so distraught by Jasper's sacrifice and the pro-war propaganda that followed that they joined the Resistance instead. Jasper's team is split: Cole and Lucy are high ranking Earth Force officers, while Marco and Addy are captains of the Resistance. As for Mira, she agreed to join the alien Youli in exchange for freeing Jasper and the other lost aeronauts from the Rift. It's up to Jasper to navigate his sudden celebrity and determine where his loyalties lie in time to prevent more bloodshed.
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I stumbled across this anthology of YA short stories and wanted to highly recommend it, although I don't have as much time to spend with it as I would like before returning it to the library. It's a diverse feminist collection of tales covering a wide spectrum of witchcraft, from astrology to butchery and everything in between. No high fantasy here, just women through the ages with various types and degrees of supernatural power. I have never heard of any of the authors here; I think the reason I picked it up (and I just realized this) is that the cover looks like it was illustrated by the same artist who did the covers for the Athena Club series by Theodora Goss, which I also loved.
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Starts out with a cute standalone issue that confirms Barney and Diane as new permanent members of the Zodiac cabin, followed by a three issue story where Mal teaches the other campers how to play roller derby in order to settle a turf dispute between the yetis and the sasquatches. Like you do.
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This is a lovely graphic novel that focuses on Molly and her anxieties. A casual reference to "wayward mermaids" sets the story firmly after the events of Volume 5 of the collected comics, but it stands entirely on its own. The plot is predictably frivolous, involving a cursed compass and a gang of well-mannered automaton butlers, but the art style of "Polterink" is distinctive, all pencil grays with occasional splashes of green.

... Which makes it all the more jarring to discover that the last third of the print edition is a full color reprinting of the first issue of the Lumberjanes comic. I doubt very many people are going to pick up this book who haven't already read that, and even if they haven't, that one issue doesn't explain anything.
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When we last saw Murderbot, it was taking the midnight train going anywhere hitching rides on unmanned cargo transports. Turns out unmanned doesn't mean non-sentient, as it unwittingly ends up aboard a ship with a brain the size of a planet, as it were. The ship, which gets dubbed ART (for Asshole Research Transport), turns out to be a good friend to have when Murderbot decides to figure out what really happened during the incident four years ago that caused it to unwittingly kill dozens of humans.

It becomes obvious that audiovisual media isn't just a distraction for Murderbot; it's a lens for understanding human behavior, a tool for self-soothing, and an opportunity for bonding when shared with other sentient beings. I particularly liked how Murderbot and ART's different show preferences revealed different aspects of their personalities. It's increasingly clear that Murderbot doesn't hate humans; rather, it wants to protect the ones worth protecting, and to be treated with respect.
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Yay, Molly finally gets more story time in this one as she bonds with Diane over how terrible their families are.

That's right, Diane is back, sent on some sort of quest by Zeus to find a rogue gorgon near the Lumberjanes camp. Unfortunately the other members of the Zodiac cabin have already been turned to stone, so it's up to the Roanokes to help save the day! And at this point even Jen is like... yes, okay, fine, more supernatural danger, whatever, let's do this.
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As I expected, whatever is going on with Molly was left on the backburner, but we did get some new developments! Barney returns, Ripley's magic kittens return, a Zodiac camper named Hes articulates her cabin's resentment that the Roanokes got rid of Diane, and... speaking of Diane, maybe she's not gone after all?? All by way of a plot that has Jen mounting an expedition to rescue Rosie and the other senior "Grand Lodge" Lumberjanes from the clutches of a giant bird.
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Gail Carson Levine excels at writing juvenile fairy tales with female protagonists, most notably Ella Enchanted. I found this one at a library book sale years ago, and finally got around to reading it.

The story is told from the point of view of Adelina, a princess who is anxious, easily frightened, and devoted to her braver sister, Meryl. Meryl wants nothing more than to live a life of adventure, but when Meryl gets sick, it is Addie who must search the kingdom for a cure. Encounters with ogres, phantoms, gryphons, and dragons give Addie cause to be braver than she ever knew she could be. There's a cute romance with a charming sorcerer, but it's the relationship of the two sisters that is the real heart of the story.
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More running around and fighting things. Read more... )

This book was an improvement for me over the previous one - we get to revisit all of the main characters from The Lost Hero, and also spend time with Grover for the first time since The Last Olympian, now that he has come into his own as the heir to Pan. We also see Meg continuing to mature and grow in power, and Apollo continuing to gain wisdom from his experiences as a mortal. I'm looking forward to the next book, which will bring Apollo and Meg to Camp Jupiter to visit Frank, Hazel, Reyna, and the fourth Oracle.
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I enjoyed this story very much - the girls unite to help a new counselor, Seafarin' Karen, whose ship has been stolen by selkies who think Karen took one of their pelts. While April, Jo, and Mal focus on helping Karen recover her ship, Molly and Ripley find the Bear Woman and take another trip to the alternate dimension that Mal and Molly visited in Volume 3. There are significant indications that there is something serious going on with Molly, who has been largely forgotten in the past several issues, so I'm curious to see how that develops. Hopefully I won't have to wait three more volumes to find out.
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Since the topic of encouraging people to read more diverse authors always seems to come around this time of year, I thought I would also tabulate my reading habits for the year (not counting re-reads or multiple books by the same author) and see where I fall on that spectrum -

White men: 16
White women: 19
PoC: 7

When I looked closer, I realized that fully half of the white men on my list were comic book authors, writing female or non-human protagonists. Interesting.

1 Rick RiordanThe Ship of the Dead4Magnus Chase #3
2 Claudia GrayLeia: Princess of Alderaan4
3XAnn LeckieAncillary Mercy4Imperial Radch #3
4 Saladin Ahmed et alStar Wars: Canto Bight3
5 Mike MassiminoSpaceman5
6 Marie LuBatman: Nightwalker4DC Icons #2
7 Leigh BardugoThe Language of Thorns5
8XOctavia ButlerParable of the Sower4Earthseed #1
9 Angie ThomasThe Hate U Give5
10 Sarah CannonOddity4
11 Zoe QuinnCrash Override4
12 Rick RiordanThe Dark Prophecy3Trials of Apollo #2
13 Marissa MeyerWires and Nerve Vol. 23Lunar Chronicles #6.2
14 Shannon & Dean HaleThe Unbeatable Squirrel Girl: 2 Fuzzy, 2 Furious4UBSG JF #2
15 Rowenna MillerTorn4Unraveled Kingdom #1
16 Catherynne M. ValenteSpace Opera4
17XKenneth GrahameThe Wind in the Willows3
18 Rachel HartmanTess of the Road4Seraphina #3
19 Jeremy WhitleyThe Unstoppable Wasp4Unstoppable Wasp #1-2
20XRay BradburyFahrenheit 4514
21 Sarah Rees BrennanIn Other Lands4
22 Daniel José OlderStar Wars: Last Shot3
23 Anthony MarraA Constellation of Vital Phenomena3
24 Maryrose WoodThe Long-Lost Home4The Incorrigible Children Of Ashton Place #6
25 Theodora GossEuropean Travel for the Monstrous Gentlewoman4Athena Club #2
26 Michael Leinbach & Jonathan WardBringing Columbia Home3
27 Jane Yolen & Adam StempleThe Seelie King's War3Seelie Wars #3
28 Noelle Stevenson et alA Terrible Plan3Lumberjanes #3
29 Noelle Stevenson et alOut of Time4Lumberjanes #4
30 Tim PeakeAsk An Astronaut: My Guide to Life in Space4
31 Mariko TamakiUnicorn Power!3Lumberjanes JF #1
32 Mariko TamakiThe Moon Is Up3Lumberjanes JF #2
33 Monica TeslerThe Tundra Trials3Bounders #2
34 Mary Robinette KowalThe Calculating Stars5Lady Astronaut #1
35 Monica TeslerThe Forgotten Shrine3Bounders #3
36 Rick Riordan9 From The Nine Worlds3Magnus Chase #3.1
37XDiana Wynne JonesHouse of Many Ways3Howl #3
38 Noelle Stevenson et alBand Together4Lumberjanes #5
39 Dava SobelThe Glass Universe4
40 Mike MaihackTarget Practice3Cleopatra in Space #1
41 Mike MaihackThe Thief and the Sword3Cleopatra in Space #2
42 Mike MaihackSecret of the Time Tablets3Cleopatra in Space #3
43 Brandon MontclareMoon Girl & Devil Dinosaur #4: Girl-Moon3Lunella Lafayette #4
44 Brian Michael BendisSpider-Woman: Origin3
45 Matthew RosenbergRocket Raccoon: Grounded3
46 Ryan NorthThe Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Vol. 14UBSG 2015A #1
47 Ryan NorthThe Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Vol. 24UBSG 2015A #2
48 Lin-Manuel MirandaHamilton: The Revolution4
49 Brennan Lee MulliganStrong Female Protagonist, Book One4SFP #1
50 Simon SpurrierJim Henson's The Power of the Dark Crystal, Vol. 13JH PDC #1
51 Simon SpurrierJim Henson's The Power of the Dark Crystal, Vol. 23JH PDC #2
52 Simon SpurrierJim Henson's The Power of the Dark Crystal, Vol. 33JH PDC #3
53 Peter de SmetThe Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen, 83¼ Years Old3Hendrik Groen #1
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I found this to be an engrossing and educational book about the history of astronomy told through the achievements of the employees and associates of the Harvard College Observatory, later retitled the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. Over the course of roughly 75 years (1880-1955) many exciting discoveries about the nature of the universe were made using the stellar photographs captured on glass plates using the telescopes of the main observatory in Massachusetts and a second associated observatory in the Southern Hemisphere. Although other astronomers at other sites made similar observations, no star catalogue was nearly as comprehensive as the one at Harvard. The book pairs as an excellent companion to American Eclipse, which establishes the founding era of American astronomy and introduces Henry and Anna Draper, for whom the Draper Catalogue is named.

Although the subtitle "How The Ladies of the Harvard Observatory Took the Measure of the Stars" might understandably lead one to surmise that this is a Hidden Figures type of story, the social history aspect of the book takes a definite backseat to the scientific aspect. The unusual employment by the observatory of so many women as "computers" during that era seems to have been a happy accident, perpetuated by various benefactors keen on preserving and expanding those opportunities for future generations. The true and pleasant surprise is that the observatory's directors during that time, Pickering and Shapley, were so quick to recognize and publicize the ladies' contributions, and to provide new avenues of career advancement.
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Another short fluffy story arc about merpeople who live in the lake near the camp and play indie rock music. April wants to help them resolve their differences, which leads to her being forced to confront and atone for her obsessive tendencies. But we also get a prequel that shows us the girls' first day at camp, how April befriended Ripley with snacks and a makeover, and how Molly came to adopt Bubbles the raccoon. We see enough of Ripley's large family to realize that her parents named all of their children after famous sci-fi movie characters: she has siblings named Deckard and Leeloo, which cracked me up.
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I finally finished reading this with my younger son, after re-reading the first two Howl books with him. Charmain, the protagonist, is both annoying and sympathetic: her parents haven't taught her any useful skills, and she just wants to sit around reading books all day. When she is asked to look after the Wizard Norland's house while he recovers from an illness, she is thrilled to be out on her own, but quickly discovers she is in over her head, as she encounters magic in various strengths and forms. Eventually she finds herself aiding Sophie and friends as they try to unravel a plot to destroy the royal family of High Norland.

This story takes place perhaps two years after the events of Castle in the Air. Morgan is now a toddler. Princess Hilda, one of the rescued princesses from Castle in the Air, lives with her elderly father the King of High Norland, and their royal cook is Jamal, he of the ill-tempered dog and smelly squid snacks. Apart from the recurring characters, though, the events of the book stand entirely on their own.

I still find myself wishing that Jones had written another story with Sophie as the main character, instead of having her merely pop up to help other protagonists in other books. But I'm glad we do get at least a glimpse of what her life was like with Howl.
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This is a set of nine VERY short stories, each taking place in one of the different nine realms of Norse mythology and featuring a different protagonist from amongst the various friends and allies of Magnus Chase - but not Magnus himself, who is conveniently off visiting his cousin Annabeth. Still, some of the other story references make it clear that these tales are all happening at more or less the same time, at some point not too long after the events of The Ship of the Dead.

If you've read the other books and enjoyed the characters, as I have, then this will be a pleasant diversion, complete with lovely full-color illustrations of the protagonists and various realms. If not, you'll find this short volume to be slim pickings.
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This installment focuses on the secretive Alkalinians, another alien race whose invitation to use their planet for Earth Force training seems decidedly suspicious to our young heroes. There is a creepy sequence where Jasper and his friends gradually realize the aliens are drugging them for nefarious purposes, and it's up to them to save everyone from a surprise Youli attack. The story ends with a cliffhanger, separating Jasper and Mira from the other members of Earth Force and leaving them in need of rescue.

The other focus of the book is Jasper's sister, Addy, who is old enough to begin Earth Force training. She is just as determined as Jasper to find out what is really happening, but her introduction to the team causes friction when she and Marco find themselves immediately attracted to each other. Meanwhile Jasper is increasingly aware of his developing feelings for Mira, although he's endearingly clueless when it comes to acting on them.


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