Recently Read Books!

This is a list of the books I've read in 2015, with a few of my thoughts on each.

Go here for last year's list!
Go here for the jump-off point of all the years I've been recording my reading list, separated by year!

12/22/15 Roald Dahl
George's Marvelous Medicine
Don't like your grandma? Poison her! That'll fix everything. WTF
12/18/15 Francesca Lia Block
Beyond the Pale Motel
This is a story of an alcoholic whose husband leaves her, and she spends the rest of the book lusting after men, hating herself, making herself sick with fear over a serial killer, and being desperate to have a child. I had a hard time reading this one because the protagonist was so exhaustingly needy.
12/7/15 Bryan Konietzko & Michael DiMartino
Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Search, Part 1
WHAT, WE FINALLY GET TO KNOW SOME STUFF ABOUT URSA? Get outta town. It irritates me that Zuko's so easily manipulated over the whole honor thing, but it makes sense that he doesn't have the foundation others do due to his upbringing. Interesting, fully felt family dynamics in this one.
12/2/15 Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, Shannon Watters, & Brooke Allen
Lumberjanes, Volume 1
Offbeat story of some female campers whose supernatural adventures require the special skills of their five-girl team. There were bits I really liked but overall it wasn't my thing, so I was kinda disappointed, and I felt like I didn't get a chance to understand the characters well enough to like them.
11/28/15 Joseph Fink & Jeffrey Cranor
Welcome to Night Vale
Lovely story set in Night Vale, the town where my favorite podcast is set. We get to learn more about Jackie and Diane, follow their weird adventures, and be subjected to moments both hilarious and heartbreaking. I had a great time reading it, though the pacing was a tad slow.
11/18/15 Randy Wayne White
Tampa Burn
The book club had me reading this book in a series and it was really complicated, with weird pacing, though I kinda liked it? It just had so much stuff going on that I had trouble getting really invested.
11/6/15 Shannon Hale
Princess Academy: The Forgotten Sisters
Miri's final chapter! She has to go train some princesses in a swamp and does her usual personal revolution before she finally gets to go home. Shannon Hale is always such a treat to read.
10/15/15 Rebecca Sugar
Guide to the Crystal Gems
CRYSTAL GEMS FOREVER! I love the television show for Steven Universe, so I was thrilled about this cute little full-color guidebook to some of my favorite characters. It didn't disappoint, and I loved reading Steven's perspective on his loved ones.
10/12/15 Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
The Hound of the Baskervilles
This book was a good example of exactly why I don't read mysteries very often, but it was certainly readable, though I won't say entertaining. I just didn't care about the characters. Just not into Holmes I guess. I read it for book club.
10/5/15 Rebecca Sugar, Jeremy Sorese, & Coleman Engle
Steven Universe: Volume One
I already had the single issues of this comic, but I bought the trade as well. It had the pleasant surprise of variant covers at the end and an extra comic by Rebecca Sugar. It's great fun but probably only interesting to fans of the show, not new readers.
10/2/15 Asexuality Archive
Asexuality: A Brief Introduction
I got this book at the asexuality conference when I met the author, and I finally got to read the finished product of the book I'd read most of on the author's website. It was a fun read full of personal anecdotes and informative perspectives, though the repetition and the focus on sex and masturbation kind of tired me out at the end.
9/11/15 Andy Weir
The Martian
Wow, this SF novel about getting marooned on Mars was fantastic! It had a bunch of technical details but you could still understand it even if you're not a math or physics nerd. The protagonist narrates in a log about everything that goes wrong and how he keeps fixing it, trying to stay alive until a plan can be made to rescue him or get him some more food. It was refreshing to have a male protagonist who wasn't always ruminating sorrowfully over missing a woman, too. Great book.
9/4/15 Steve Purcell
Sam & Max: Surfin' the Highway
Flashing back to my high school years reading old comics. Good old Sam and Max. I love that neither one of them is the straight man and they don't actually seem to solve mysteries so much as just punch people and be weird.
8/21/15 Aya Nakahara
Lovely Complex #3
I really enjoy the way they handle the characters in this manga--with a tall girl and a short boy trying to come to terms with liking each other amidst all the reasons they supposedly shouldn't.
8/15/15 Rainbow Rowell
First adult book I've read by this author and I loved it just as much as I loved her YA. Gorgeous story about a married couple spending Christmas apart and working through priorities, with the main character mysteriously finding a way to call her husband in the past.
8/6/15 Eoin Colfer
Benny and Omar
This was about a kid who had to move from Ireland to Tunisia because of his dad's job, and about the friend he made in a place where he had nothing in common with anyone. It was engaging and readable but had a few bits in it that I thought were difficult to believe in.
8/1/15 Shannon, Dean, & Nathan Hale
Calamity Jack
This was the sequel to Rapunzel's Revenge: another graphic novel about Wild West steampunk fairy tale characters, this time focusing on Jack. We got some history and then plowed on with the story, featuring more action and less talking this time, and some deepening of relationships and clearer handling of the text. A visually interesting story, if a little predictable.
7/23/15 Richard Peck
A Long Way from Chicago
I had no knowledge at all of what this book was about when I picked it up and I'm so glad I didn't, because I was pleasantly surprised that it was a series of individual adventures featuring Joey and Mary Alice visiting their grandmother over the course of their summers growing up. It's one of those rare perfect books that drops you into the scenes flawlessly and is much more about the focal character--Grandma--than it is about its protagonist, but it doesn't forget that the protagonist exists and does include character development for him too. The old-timey references, the experience of the country, and the immense character of the grandmother were just such fun and such a joy to read. I breezed through it all at once.
7/17/15 David Reddish
The Passion of Sergius and Bacchus
I met the author at the Lambdas and we had some conversation at the after-party so I bought his book and read it. It kinda wasn't my bag and I was irritated by the typos, but it's refreshing to see a story about two men in love that takes place in such an atypical setting (while at war in ancient Rome!).
7/3/15 Arin Andrews
Some Assembly Required
Easy-to-read autobio of a trans guy; just great straightforward non-posturing presentation of his life and transition.
6/22/15 Rita Mae Brown
Rubyfruit Jungle
This is about a confident young lesbian learning hard lessons and trying to find her footing in a hostile world, and the only plot is just her living her life, but it's really quite refreshing to read a story about a lesbian who doesn't seem to have much (if any) internalized shame about her orientation all the way back in less progressive times. I found the character compelling and the storytelling quite readable. There were a few uncomfortable messages about men and heterosexual people made as blanket statements, along with some body shaming, but it mostly made sense in context from this character. I enjoyed it a lot.
6/18/15 Justin Sayre
Plot escaped this book. It's basically about a slightly weird angsty kid trying to figure out his friendships and family relationships, and he's not really doing much but having an internal monologue the whole book. I liked some parts of it but overall didn't find it very entertaining.
6/9/15 Tony Abbott
Simplistic and honest story about a schoolboy being kind to an intriguing new girl who happens to be a burn victim. I read it in one sitting, but didn't fall in love with it.
6/6/15 Linda J. Beam
What Not to Say!
Sort of fun to read for grammar dorks like me, but there were actually mistakes in it that irritated me, and I thought some of the choices of how to describe why certain mistakes were mistakes were ineffective. Still, I enjoyed seeing lists of things that annoy me in writing and occasionally seeing an issue corrected that I didn't even know was an error people sometimes make.
5/29/15 Warren Ellis
Sometimes this was funny or said something I agreed with, but a lot of the time it felt like it was about edginess and shock value for me, and the focus on "tortured genius just doesn't want the unwashed masses to interrupt his superiority with their attention, which he just can't help but get every single time he says anything because he's just so damn brilliant" really got kinda tiring for me.
5/22/15 Jhonen Vasquez
The Collected Works of Filler Bunny
Disgusting. Loved it.
5/14/15 Alison Bechdel
Fun Home
Incredible autobiographical graphic novel about the author's childhood and coming of age as part of a family with some quirks and peculiarities--primarily focused on her relationship with her father. It was powerful and authentic and utterly relatable.
5/9/15 Janet Mock
Redefining Realness
This was a really authentic and vulnerable autobiography of a trans woman I admire. She did a fantastic job showing how complicated her life was and how some of her intersectional identities and certain advantages led to who she is now. I also related to a lot of the points she made as a spokesperson because I deal with some of the same stuff as an asexuality activist.
5/1/15 Bryan Konietzko & Michael DiMartino
Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Promise, Part 3
And we have the conclusion to the "promise" trilogy, which has everything from battlefield action to the tackling of cultural appropriation. Zuko was awesome and I like the complex messages that Aang had to incorporate into his world view. It's got a great message about diversity and tolerance while not parroting nonsense about color-blind narratives.
4/22/15 John Grisham
The Appeal
My first John Grisham, for book club. And I liked it! The ending was depressing and disappointingly realistic, and though I wasn't a huge fan of the lack of character development at the expense of the overall plot, I did like said plot and appreciated some of the shades of gray in how religion was handled in the book.
4/13/15 Lois Lowry
Anastasia at Your Service
The Anastasia books are a favorite thing from my childhood, and I decided to pick up the ones I'd never read. This is one of them and I love the characters' witty banter and realistic-feeling lives.
4/9/15 J.C. Fann
A Kingdom Apart
Ahh what a relief to read about characters I care about having complex and realistic relationships, even though a good number of them end up rolling around in their own blood at least once during the book. This series is great.
4/2/15 Louis L'amour
The Haunted Mesa
Assigned for book club, and boy did I regret it. I thought the book was a hot mess, with its repetitive narration and unclear motivations for all the characters.
3/24/15 Shannon, Dean, & Nathan Hale
Rapunzel's Revenge
Cute graphic novel version of Rapunzel as a sort of Old West fairy tale. Its goofy little quests and wisecracking characters were quite entertaining.
3/19/15 Francesca Lia Block
The Elementals
Refreshingly good New Adult book about a girl grieving for her best friend and ending up charmed into a dangerous cult-like group of older students who "need" her as their fourth in an elemental quartet. The grief and the wanting to belong and the loneliness and the obligation and the dealing with parental illness and the attraction to magic balanced with notions of reality was all very bewitching and satisfying.
3/11/15 Riichiro Inagaki & Yusuke Murata
Eyeshield 21: Volume 25
Great chapter in the manga, as usual. Seeing Sena on the field against his arch rival is maddening after how much both of them have been built up over the series, and I love how it makes you feel hopeless and hopeful at the same time about the Devilbats' chances, and being able to feel for the other team is what makes this especially satisfying to read.
3/5/15 Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings
The Yearling
I'd heard of this all my life but never read it, and then it was assigned for book club, so I read it and really liked it! Even though I relate to the main character pretty much not at all--having had no similar experiences and none of the same interests--but I had a similar feeling while reading it that I did when reading Where the Red Fern Grows, one of my favorite books. Really interesting to see how the family lived off the land and farmed their difficult patch of land and went hunting and all that, too--eye-opening. The only thing I didn't like was how weird the protagonist was about women and girls--the narrative was frequently insulting, condescending, or nasty in its depiction of women.
2/26/15 Gabrielle Lissauer
The Tropes of Fantasy Fiction
My online friend kippurbird wrote this and I wanted to read it--and wasn't disappointed. It's all about the tropes of fantasy and it outlines and gives extensive examples for various fantasy-specific stuff. Fun to read.
2/11/15 Mallory Ortberg
Texts From Jane Eyre
Awesome book that explores what would happen if various literary characters could text. What would they say? Mallory knows.
2/5/15 Gail Nall
Breaking the Ice
I met Gail through Pitch Wars and decided I should read her book. It was a really cute kids' book with an ice-skating protagonist. I liked it and thought it was really fun--and I think a lot of kids would relate to the main character.
1/29/15 J.C. Fann
Of Goddess Born
The sequel to The Queenschair! By my friend and critique partner! I enjoyed following these folks along in their lives and finding out what had become of the missing King and what those nutty girls fighting over him ended up doing in his absence. Also, I love Tibby. The end.
1/22/15 Julie Anne Peters
Love Me, Love My Broccoli
I usually like this author a lot so this book disappointed me. It's about a vegetarian animal activist dating a guy who doesn't support her interests and tries to change her, but she's so caught up in how sexy he is that she doesn't realize she's letting him. What's upsetting is that I share many of the character's politics and yet I found her shrill and unlikable, and of course her boyfriend was even more so. Nobody really seemed to have magnetism, everyone was a caricature, the grandmother's dementia was played for laughs and presented unrealistically, and the plot really had no natural urgency--just some manufactured conflict at the end.
1/15/15 Rainbow Rowell
This story of a fanfic writer and her twin sister's first year of college was incredible. It has everything: romance, family drama, mental health hiccups, loyalty, character growth, rites of passage, and satisfying, sensitive writing to carry it all. I loved it so much!
1/10/15 Riichiro Inagaki & Yusuke Murata
Eyeshield 21: Volume 24
Now Deimon has to play Oujou, and they're both different teams from the last time they faced each other. It's Shin vs. Sena. It's Hiruma vs. Takami. It's Kurita vs. Ootawara. It's Monta vs. Sakuraba. And, weirdly, it's Juumonji vs. Ikari . . . very interesting matchup. I love how going through so much with these characters really makes you feel like their rivalries make sense, and you can feel as weirdly surprised and proud of our heroes as their loved ones probably are. This manga's so great.
1/10/15 Riichiro Inagaki & Yusuke Murata
Eyeshield 21: Volume 23
Detailing the final moments of the Shinryuuji game, this manga showed us what happens if you're Agon Kongo and you're a jackass who underestimates your opponents. I love Hiruma's tricksiness and Sena's determination, and the way they built up to what the competition was going to look like. And of course even though Shin kind of pisses me off sometimes, I like his morals.
1/3/15 Tim Dorsey
Hurricane Punch
This was assigned as a book club book and I didn't care for it at all. It seemed like a bunch of caricature people being puppeted so the antihero could say something mildly amusing or offensive, and he did all kinds of ridiculous things because he's just so craaaaazy. The exposition was pointless, the characters were unrealistic joke machines and support for joke machines, the plot had no substance, and women only existed to wet themselves at the thought of having sex with the supposedly charismatic focal character who was more obnoxious than interesting. Disappointing.

See the list of books I read last year!

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