Reading For The Heck Of It

Gosh, I love books. I love the way they feel in my hand, the way they smell, the way they look piling up all around me as I drown amongst their pages...I really, REALLY like books.


Favorite genres: nonfiction (especially science), sci-fi/fantasy, classics, and children's literature.


Unread/unloved genres: romance and seafaring odysseys.

Elfquest Archives Part 3 of 3

Elfquest Archives, Vol. 3 - Wendy Pini, Richard Pini

And then came along Volume 3 where Cutter and his best friend (and possibly lover if you read between the lines) Skywise (my favorite character) are on a quest to find the rest of their Elvin kinfolk and the home of the High Ones (if such a place exists). Their quest leads them to foreign lands where they are met by humans who view them as gods instead of enemies and who speak of others who look as they do with pointy ears (but much taller). When they finally locate those that call themselves the High Ones (and who ride on giant birds) they are not welcomed with open arms but with scorn, distrust, and outright hatred. The group's elder wishes for them to stay but his adviser (and the power behind the throne) has other plans in mind. Winnowill possess the opposite of Leetah's gifts (Leetah is Cutter's mate) which means she has the power to hurt and even to kill so her threats are anything but empty. #dangeraplenty


This series looks in depth at these characters and examines their relationships, philosophies, and general way of life. We learn that appearances are deceiving because these so-called warriors are at their core simply a resilient little family just trying to find their place in the world. Full of romance, bloodshed, redemption, and definitely suspense I was shocked at how quickly Elfquest worked its spell on me. 10/10 and can hardly wait for Volume 4.


On with the Quest!!


What's Up Next: Strange Magic: An Essex Witch Museum Mystery by Syd Moore


What I'm Currently Reading: The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield



Elfquest Archives Part 2 of 3

Elfquest Archives, Vol. 2 - Wendy Pini, Richard Pini

Right off the bat, I was blown away by Wendy Pini who is an absolutely phenomenal artist. The entire thing is rich with color and a distinctive flair that I came to appreciate as Wendy's signature style. Another reviewer said that this series is born more of the heart than of the mind and I totally agree with them. [A/N: If you're looking for a cerebral sci-fi then you have made a wrong turn and need to look at your directions a little more closely.] Pini has created a true fantasy epic that is about the people just as much (maybe more so) than the journey they undertake.


Volume 2 introduces us to a new clan of elves by the name of the Sunfolk who live (predictably perhaps) in the oasis of a barren desert and who are very different from their Wolfrider kin. Not only are they brown skinned (The Wolfriders are quite pale as they dwelt among the canopies of trees and hunted by night.) but they are peaceful, spiritual, and live much longer lives. (Possibly due to the peacefulness of their people or something else? Yes, this is explored later.) They also possess different gifts from the Wolfriders and have among them a spiritual leader who resembles the mythologized High Ones. These two clans clash immediately and explosively as Cutter finds himself entranced by their leader's daughter who has a relationship with a male of her own clan. #drama


Cutter in all his glory.


Did I mention they can communicate telepathically?


On the left is Skywise, Cutter, and Leetah holding a skull (with Wolfriders in the background)



Elfquest Archives Part 1 of 3

Elfquest Archives, Vol. 1 - Wendy Pini, Richard Pini

Right off the bat, I was blown away by Wendy Pini who is an absolutely phenomenal artist. The entire thing is rich with color and a distinctive flair that I came to appreciate as Wendy's signature style. Another reviewer said that this series is born more of the heart than of the mind and I totally agree with them. [A/N: If you're looking for a cerebral sci-fi then you have made a wrong turn and need to look at your directions a little more closely.] Pini has created a true fantasy epic that is about the people just as much (maybe more so) than the journey they undertake.


Volume 1 introduces us to the Wolfriders, a tribe of forest elves, who are led by their young chief, Cutter, who is brave, strong, and dedicated to his people. At the start of the first volume (after we're introduced to quite a few of the Wolfriders and their wolf allies (actual wolves that they ride)) we discover that there has been a longstanding rivalry (and much bloodshed) between the elves and the humans that live nearby. This is partially why they've developed such a close relationship with the wolves and why they've developed into such powerful warriors. A determined human decides that the only way to win against their fierce adversaries is to burn down their forest home...and as a result the Wolfriders begin their quest to find a new home in lands unknown. #backstory


Sap candy sounds like something a bully would yell at me

Warren the 13th and the Whispering Woods - Will Staehle, Tania del Rio

And thus continues what is possibly the slowest reading year I've experienced in a verrrrry long time. Since I really enjoyed the first book in the Warren the 13th series (and reviewed it a few weeks ago) I thought I'd be safe reading its sequel Warren the 13th and the Whispering Woods by Tania del Rio & Will Staehle. I was totally right. (Thank goodness for middle grade fiction when you're in a bit of a reading slump, ya'll.) After the events of the previous book, the hotel has become wildly popular as the world's only traveling hotel. However, trouble is brewing right around the corner in the Malwoods where the Witch Queen Calvina has decreed that she must have the hotel and its occupant Beatrice (remember she vanquishes witches). While Warren and his friends are unaware of the trouble brewing in their mists, Warren has set out on his own quest to find something to repair the hotel's control panel and lands himself in one mischief after another. (Ever heard of a snake oil salesman? How about one that literally sells snake oils that he procures himself?) Unforeseen dangers, new allies, scarier enemies (in larger numbers), and the resilience of a hotel manager pack the pages of this fun little book. Once again, I need to note that this book has amazing illustrations that I'd be more than happy to frame and put on the walls of my apartment. This is a really great series to use as a bedtime readaloud with a slightly older child because reading aloud isn't something you should stop once your child can read to themselves. #librarianrant2k19 10/10 for this sequel and I'm excited to continue with the third book Warren the 13th and the 13-Year Curse which is due out on March 26th of this year. 


In the Black Cauldron with Witch Queen Calvina.                [Source: Entertainment Weekly]


What's Up Next: Elfquest Archives: Volumes1-3 by Wendy & Richard Pini


What I'm Currently Reading: Strange Magic: An Essex Witch Museum Mystery by Syd Moore


A love letter to libraries

The Library Book - Susan Orlean

Right after I joined the library where I'm currently working the (now retired) Library Manager gave me an ARC (Advanced Reader's Copy) of a book that he said I'd "really like". Since we had known each other less than a week I took it at face value and slipped it into my desk drawer. Three months later and this book (now in published form) was returned by a patron who told me that it was one I just had to read. This recommendation coupled with the fact that the book still has several hundred people waiting on hold to read it made me dig back in my drawer for my copy. Almost immediately I started drafting an apology letter to the man who saw me coming from a mile away.


The Library Book by Susan Orlean is a love letter to literature, librarians, and most especially to libraries. The book begins with a brief glimpse of what happened on April 29, 1986 and one of the (alleged) main characters. This is a bit of a teaser to the mystery explored in the book but in my opinion the next chapter is the real heart of the book. Orlean takes us back to when she was a young library patron who had a special routine of visiting her local library with her mom and the visceral reaction she had many years later when entering the Los Angeles Central Library with her own son for the first time. During a tour of the historic building, she learned of the devastating fire that occurred there on April 29, 1986 and how the man accused was never charged. Hundreds of thousands of materials were either outright destroyed by the blaze or damaged by the smoke or water used to douse the flames. The cost to repair and replace these items (as well as repair the building) was in the millions and it still holds the record for the largest library fire in U.S. history. Orlean was intrigued by the crime and why no one was brought to justice. She spent 4 years tracing back through the history of the public library in Los Angeles (including all of the City Librarians) before she fully delved into the one and only suspect, Harry Peak, an aspiring actor who boasted to friends that he had been there on the day of the fire and more importantly that he was the one that set it off. 


If you're not particularly interested in the fire or the whoddunit aspect there's plenty more here to sink your teeth into because Orlean goes behind the scenes of the library to talk about its various departments, infrastructure, and ultimately what it's really like to work in a public library. She covers such topics as holds fulfillment, collection development (like what to do with hundreds of maps), working with the homeless, and working within a tight budget to bring programs to the masses. I took copious notes after reading this book but looking back I realize how the majority of them would completely spoil this book for you. As I went in totally blind (and loved every moment of it) I think you guys would benefit by doing the same. Try and get your hands on this one but be aware that you'll probably be waiting for a while to get it from your local library.


I slept for 12 hours and I'm still tired: A Librarian Story

Warren the 13th and The All-Seeing Eye: A Novel - Will Staehle, Tania del Rio

Warren the 13th and the All-Seeing Eye by Tania del Rio & Will Staehle is the first in a series about a little boy named Warren (the 13th Warren in his family) who has inherited his family's hotel which has seen better days. Warren is not only the inheritor but the sole bellhop, maintenance man, and everything in between. Our little hero is described (and brilliantly illustrated) as an ugly little toad of a boy but what he lacks in good looks he makes up for with a great character and lots of heart. His uncle who has taken over management until Warren is of age has little interest in the running of a hotel and has allowed the grounds and building to fall into disrepair but worst of all he has married a woman who treats Warren horribly. (And then we discover she's a witch with designs on the fabled All-Seeing Eye which has been a myth passed down through the generations of Warrens.) This book is saturated with fantastic illustrations with a really cool color palette (mostly red, grey, and black) and it's those well-executed illustrations which elevated the narrative and turned this book into a winner for me. I just picked up the sequel Warren the 13th and the Whispering Woods so we'll see if that holds true for the rest but for this one it's going to be a 10/10 from me.


            Warren serving up dinner. [Source: Warrenthe13th]


What's Up Next: ???


What I'm Currently Reading: The Library Book by Susan Orlean


My cat kept interrupting this post

My Side of the Mountain - Jean Craighead George

I really needed a win after starting (and giving up on) 3 separate books so when I picked up My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George I felt pretty confident considering it was a Newberry Honor winner. The introduction made me laugh because it was all about the author's experience running away from home and coming back very shortly afterward. (I was gone such a short amount of time when I was a kid that my mom didn't even know that I'd left.) This book gave me strong Hatchet vibes from the outset. Our main character, Sam Gribley, doesn't so much as run away as inform his family that he is going to leave and live off the ancestral family land in the Catskills. Like most parents, they think he's bluffing and that he'll be back shortly...but he doesn't come back. He actually makes it to the Catskills and proceeds to become self-sufficient. He learns how to strike flint for fire, smoke out a tree to make a warm home, train a falcon to hunt wild game, sew a deerskin outfit, and develop varied (and tasty) recipes. This is a story of survival, independence, and the beauty of nature. It turned out to be exactly what I needed to get past the duds I'd recently picked. If you (or a reader in your life) enjoy fast paced adventure stories that are heavily descriptive (with intermittent pencil illustrations) My Side of the Mountain is for you. 8/10


What's Up Next: Warren the 13th and the All-Seeing Eye by Tania del Rio & Will Staehle


What I'm Currently Reading: The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova (reread) and The Library Book by Susan Orlean


I'm still glad I was an only child

Dear Sister - Alison McGhee, Joe Bluhm

Dear Sister by Alison McGhee (with illustrations by Joe Bluhm) was a happy accident. It happened to be returned while I was working at circulation and when I flipped through it I was intrigued enough to check it out for myself. The book is written in a series of letters and drawings from a boy who has just been saddled  blessed with a baby sister. His parents want him to write to her so they can put it in her baby book but he has his own ideas of what to write. From the start, his letters and drawings are quite hostile and he makes a point of saying that the 'wardens' have forced him into contributing. Their relationship is typical of an older sibling who has no interest in catering to an annoying, screaming infant/toddler/preschooler. Their age difference is about 8 years which explains a lot of the animosity. He always refers to her as 'sister' because the name he had picked out for her (and which wasn't used) was so good that he'd hate to slip up and call her that because then she'd be sad that it wasn't her name. This is one of those perfect little books that shock you when you realize they're not more in demand. It felt totally authentic and the illustrations were absolutely fantastic. They were a mix of childlike drawings which aged up with the character and a few realistic looking pencil drawings from a third person standpoint. The whole story is heartwarming and the ending was so sweet that I actually cried. What a great little book! 10/10


A/N: I discovered that Joe Bluhm illustrated one of my favorite William Joyce books The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore and now I'm on a mission to find more of his work. No wonder I liked the drawings in this so much! XD






What's Up Next: I'm waiting on another volume of the Elfquest Archives so that I can hopefully do my reviews in one post. We shall see...


What I'm Currently Reading: The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova (reread)


Outdated Part 2 (DNF)

The Future Factor: The Five Forces Transforming Our Lives and Shaping Human Destiny - Michael G. Zey

The Future Factor: The Five Forces Transforming our Lives and Shaping Human Destiny by Michael G. Zey talks about the advent of social, economic, and technological innovations which have shaped us as a species and how these and others will continue to help us evolve.The problem was that it is so outdated that there was little point in me reading beyond page 20. This book was written in 2000 but from the first page made reference to events and situations which considering how fast technology changes made this book (and its many references) obsolete. That's the problem with books about the future...once you reach a certain point they hold no relevance or accuracy beyond a certain window of time.


Outdated Part 1 (DNF)

Computers Of Star Trek - Lois H. Gresh, Robert E. Weinberg

Computers of Star Trek by Lois H. Gresh & Robert E. Weinberg is exactly what it states to be in its title. It examines the various pieces of technology used in the different iterations of Star Trek through the years and compares it to the reality (and future of) technology.The problem was that it  is so outdated that there was little point in me reading beyond page 20. Computers of Star Trek was written in 1999 and re-published in 2001 which predates the beginning of Star Trek: Enterprise not to mention the reboot movies or Discovery. It was also written before the first iPod (end of 2001) or the first smartphone that didn't rely on a stylus (2007).


Not to my liking (DNF)

The Sellout: A Novel - Paul Beatty

Besides being on the bestseller list, it came highly recommended to me by a patron at my branch who felt so strongly about it that she went to the shelf, brought it to me at circulation, and insisted I check it out immediately. I hadn't heard anything about this book before she placed it in my hands despite the praise it had received from the literati of the world. This book is a conundrum to me. It has been touted as an uproariously hilarious satirical take on race and culture in America. I'll agree with the latter part of that statement but I didn't find it funny in the least. In fact, I found that the 'jokes' were not at all to my taste. This is probably due to the amount of books on race and culture I've read over the last year but I just couldn't read this book without feeling thoroughly depressed at what felt almost hyper realistic. Now I made it halfway through this book so I feel like I got the overall gist and flavor of the thing. The narrator (name not revealed beyond the nickname BonBon) lives on a farm in the middle of a Californian ghetto called Dickens where you're more likely to see cows on the side of the road than a white person walking their dog. The book starts with him being called before the Supreme Court on an issue of dragging black people's progress back to the time of slavery...because he has a slave of his own. I don't know what this book was but I do know that I didn't like it and I have no intention of finishing it in the future. Progress: 145 out of 289 pages.


What a weighty tome! (DNF)

Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies - Jared Diamond

This is a weighty book, ya'll. Jared Diamond's book had been on my list for ages because once upon a time it had been on one of my recommended reading lists for an undergraduate Anthropology class (I majored in that field). I didn't have the time to read it then (it is 425 pages after all) but the topic still intrigued me. Much like the book above I was interested in the subject matter and found no fault with the writing style (other than it being more like a textbook than casual, recreational reading) but it was so dense that I didn't always feel compelled to pick it up in a spare moment. (I also kept falling asleep for some reason.) Progress: I made it to page 290 before I had to concede defeat (and ship it to the next person waiting to read it).


Might possibly revisit in the future (DNF)

How to Stop Time - Matt Haig

This book was recommended to my by my bestie who probably knows better than most what my taste in literature is and she wasn't wrong with this one. However, I'm a fickle mood reader and when I picked up this book I just wasn't particularly interested in reading about the lives of these characters. The story follows a man named Tom who has a rare ability: he ages at an incredibly slow rate. The reader follows him from his birth up to the present where he is struggling with his centuries old existence and having to keep his secret (while trying to locate his estranged daughter). There's a secret society of those like him that are ruled over by a man who will do everything in his seemingly unlimited powers to keep their secret from being leaked. The issue I had wasn't that I didn't enjoy the narrative or its delivery but that once I put it down I didn't actively seek to pick it back up. (It was also on hold at the library so I didn't have long to languish over it.) I took that as a sign that this was one I'd have to revisit some time in the future. (haha time reference) Progress: I made it to page 127 out of 325.


More people should be reading Shaun Tan

Tales from the Inner City - Shaun Tan

Tales from the Inner City by Shaun Tan reminds me why I'm always telling everyone that Shaun Tan is my favorite illustrator. His illustrations are beautiful and his prose is wonderfully written. Organized by different animals, the chapters explore various aspects of humanity with short essays (and in some cases poems) accompanied by full page color illustrations. I broke down a few of the stories to my mom who thought they were rather dark and bleak but I explained this is how Tan gets his meaning across. This book looks at life in the inner city through the eyes of animals as a way to explore humanity both its cruel, despairing underbelly and its hopeful, optimistic fur (this analogy got away from me). For example, one story features a secretary who walks into the boardroom of the company she works for only to find that all the members of the board have inexplicably turned into frogs. She goes panics (including going back to her desk to play a few hands of computer solitaire) and worries she will be blamed and possibly fired before deciding the best course is to take these frogs home and care for them as if they were her pets. It turns out that this suits both herself and the frogs equally well because they were tired of being burdened with the troubles of being human. And here we thought all frogs wanted to be turned into handsome princes!


Tan shines a light on the darker aspects of humanity like cruelty, thoughtlessness, divisiveness, and greed because he wants to show that this isn't all that we are and we can strive for so much more. His work is considered sci-fi/fantasy because the scenarios themselves are 'unrealistic' like men turning into frogs or pigs that can survive even if you're hacking into them piece by piece over several weeks. But haven't you thought about what it would be like to walk away from all of your responsibilities and have someone else take care of you without any design or nefarious intention? What if you lived in a place where almost everything was industrialized and you were simply a cog in a giant machine slogging away in a factory hating your day to day? And what if the only bright point in your life happened at the end of your shift when you and your fellow employees climbed onto the back of the last surviving (ginormous) yak?  That seemed pretty believable up until that very last line didn't it? That's because there's a touch of reality mixed in with the absurd making this one of the loveliest things I've read in quite a while. If you've never read Tan before pick up Tales from the Inner City and then pick up everything else he's ever written because you'll be hooked. 10/10


The corporate frogs. [Source 3x3 Magazine]

Source: 3x3 Magazine


Source: BookTrust



What's Up Next: Dear Sister by Alison McGhee & illustrated by Joe Bluhm


What I'm Currently Reading: ???


2018 Book Roundup

Another year has gone by and it's now time to compile the list of books that I read in 2018. Like last year, some of these books haven't been reviewed yet so you'll need to keep an eye on the blog to see what I thought of them. I'm including rereads in my count once again because I want to be able to keep a running record (digitally) of everything I've read in a given year. Here we go!


  1. Einstein's Dreams
  2. The Killings at Badger's Drift
  3. Smoke Gets in Your Eyes
  4. The Portable Nineteenth-Century African American Women Writers (longest read of the year)
  5. Quackery
  6. HiLo 4: Waking the Monsters
  7. Norse Mythology
  8. Rest in Pieces (one of my faves of 2018)
  9. I've Got This Round
  10. The Last Black Unicorn
  11. Gorillas in the Mist
  12. Citizen: An American Lyric
  13. From Here to Eternity
  14. Ghostland
  15. Fly on the Wall
  16. How to Love the Empty Air (one of my faves of 2018)
  17. The Murderer's Ape
  18. Golda Meir: A Strong, Determined Leader
  19. Yes Please (one of my faves of 2018 and best audiobook I've ever read)
  20. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine (one of my faves of 2018)
  21. Grace & Style 
  22. Death of a Hollow Man
  23. Ghostbusters (movie tie-in)
  24. The World According to Mister Rogers
  25. Tiny Beautiful Things
  26. The American Way of Death Revisited (loved it so much I bought my own copy)
  27. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (one of my faves of 2018)
  28. Short
  29. The Royal Rabbits of London
  30. Nnewts
  31. Graveyeard Shakes
  32. The Intuitionist (one of my faves of 2018 - Great American Read list)
  33. The Bad Guys
  34. The Read-Aloud Handbook (necessity for Children's Librarians)
  35. The House with a Clock in Its Walls
  36. The Outsider 
  37. The Figure in the Shadows
  38. The Letter, the Witch, and the Ring
  39. One Step at a Time (picture book)
  40. Invisible Man
  41. Comics Squad: Recess
  42. CatStronauts: Space Station Situation
  43. Dear Madam President
  44. Condoleezza Rice: A Memoir of My Extraordinary Ordinary Family
  45. Recovery: Freedom from Addictions (one of my faves of 2018)
  46. The Recovering: Intoxication and its Aftermath
  47. Unruly Places
  48. When Breath Becomes Air
  49. Being Mortal
  50. The Science of Superheroes
  51. Only Human
  52. Founding Mothers
  53. Mary B. (one of my faves of 2018)
  54. The Ghost in the Mirror
  55. So Close to Being the Sh*t, Ya'll Don't Even Know
  56. CatStronauts: Robot Rescue (for some reason I didn't review this?!)
  57. El Deafo
  58. Cici's Journal: The Adventures of a Writer-In-Training
  59. Sunny Side Up
  60. 5 Worlds Book 1: The Sand Warrior
  61. Tucker Grizzwell's Worst Week Ever
  62. Peanuts: Volume Nine
  63. Star Trek Destiny #1: Gods of Night
  64. Robot Dreams
  65. The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Vol. 1
  66. Star Trek Destiny #2: Mere Mortals
  67. The Fourth Age: Smart Robots, Conscious Computers, and the Future of Humanity
  68. 5 Worlds Book 2: The Cobalt Prince
  69. Afterlife With Archie Vol. 1 
  70. Star Trek Destiny #3: Lost Souls
  71. Calypso
  72. An Absolutely Remarkable Thing 
  73. The Bear and the Nightingale
  74. ElfQuest Archives: Volume One (review for this coming in 2019)
  75. The Compleet Molesworth 
  76. Space Dumplins
  77. Sanity & Tallulah
  78. The Bright Hour: A Memoir of Living and Dying
  79. The Science of Supervillains
  80. ElfQuest Archives: Volume Two (review for this coming in 2019)
  81. Tales from the Inner City
  82. Dear Sister


And the reread books:

  1. The Neverending Story (every year)
  2. Pride & Prejudice (every year)


That brings our total count to: 84 books.


I decided to include the review links again (not sure why I keep torturing myself) for each of the titles but you can always use the search feature to look up any genre, subject, etc. to find your next book to kick off 2019. :-) Happy New Year!!


I'm watching Justice League for the 10th time

The Science of Supervillains - Robert E. Weinberg, Lois H. Gresh

The Science of Supervillains by Lois H. Gresh & Robert Weinberg was just as much fun as The Science of Superheroes which I read earlier this year. This volume discusses the possibility (or impossibility) of the various powers and abilities that supervillains from comic lore possess. They cover such classic villains as Poison Ivy, Lex Luthor, Doc Ock, and Magneto to name just a few. One of the more fascinating sections examined a comic titled "Crisis on Infinite Earths" where infinite realities, galaxies, and universes were destroyed. Gresh determined that within these infinite galaxies and universes would be still more infinite galaxies which would take infinite power and infinite time to destroy...which is impossible. (If you're a huge science nerd then this is the kind of stuff that makes your brain hum with happiness.) Included at the back of the book was an excellent notes section as well as a Q&A with various comic writers and reviewers. The only con I could see was that it was quite a bit shorter than its predecessor which bummed me out as I enjoyed it so much. (In fact, I'm ordering another book by Gresh about the computers of Star Trek which I'm super pumped to read.) Well researched, well written, and well executed...can't ask for more than that! 10/10


What's Up Next: Tales from the Inner City by Shaun Tan


What I'm Currently Reading: The Sellout by Paul Beatty


Currently reading

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
Strange Magic by Syd Moore
Star Trek: The Classic Episodes by James Blish