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pages that pagelady read in 2018

I’ll probably finish up a few more of the books I’m currently reading before 2018 is officially over, but here is a rundown of what I’ve read so far and what I liked the most this year.

screenshot of pagelady's reading stats for 2018 from goodreads. "I read 30,733 pages across 85 books. Shortest book 38 pages Opal by Maggie Stiefvater longest book 880 pages Seveneves by Neal Stephenson"

Obligatory goodreads-generated graphic

My favorite new YA book was definitely Seafire by Natalie Parker; I’ve been pushing this one on all my friends and the ONLY bad thing about it is that I have to wait to read the rest of the trilogy because it’s not published yet. But, I look forward to re-reading the exploits of this sisterhood of pirates in preparation for the second book, which I think is coming out in 2019 but I haven’t seen a date or title announcement yet. My eyes will remain peeled, scanning the horizon…

cover of Seafire, blue background with compass covered in orange blooms

do you like adventure stories featuring young women with their own pirate ship, having plenty of interpersonal drama but working together to survive their harsh world and not competing with each other over boys? you need to read this book!

Another new fave in YA for me this year was Night of Cake and Puppets by Laini Taylor; this little novella is a delightful companion to the Daughter of Smoke and Bone series, featuring Karou’s human friend Zuzana and how she got together with Mik. It is. SO. CUTE! I would have loved it anyway but I especially love the way it was recommended to me by a fellow book-lover and fan of the series:

Speaking of Laini Taylor, I also read her new duology this year, Strange the Dreamer and Muse of Nightmares and I totally fell in love–it’s not at all related to Daughter of Smoke and Bone except that it is set in the same universe and there is magic and tragedy and love and it is SO GOOD! Other series that I enjoyed were Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan (I recommend the audiobooks) and the Broken Earth series by N.K. Jemisin, which I was introduced to when my Sci-Fi bookclub read The Fifth Season this summer, so shout-out to bookclubs.

As far as re-reads in 2018, I did make it through the whole Harry Potter canon again (by which I mean the seven original books ONLY, I do not accept Cursed Child or the Fantastic Beasts screenplays as canon and I will fight anyone who says they are), but my favorite re-read was Dietland by Sarai Walker. I watched the tv show adaptation but I wasn’t into it and I will not mourn it’s cancellation. The show felt like it watered down and de-fanged too much of the book’s dark ugliness necessary to really critique the harm patriarchal society inflicts, and also the show insisted on adding all these superfluous men or making the existing male roles bigger than they were in the book at the expense of characters I would have liked to see more of, especially some of the other women in Calliope house. Everybody should just read the book instead of watching the show, it’s already perfect.

While I am on my everybody-should-read-this soapbox let me also add The Power by Naomi Alderman; it was amazing and I will undoubtedly be re-reading it in years to come. I listened to it on audiobook and happened to be in the middle of it when I discovered some new walking trails, so now every time I go walking or running on those trails I think about power dynamics and gender and the way humans try to manipulate each other and the way power corrupts. And…what if I could protect myself by shocking a high voltage out of my own hands, and I could go on the trail at any time of day without being paranoid about whether it was safe?

In non-fiction this year, I mainly read about the Salem Witch Trials and I would say that my favorite of the three books on that subject was A Storm of Witchcraft by Emerson W. Baker. I felt like it did a good job of contextualizing the accusations and trials, and I found the argument that conversion disorder/mass psychogenic illness as the most likely explanation for the afflicted persuasive.

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pages pagelady read in 2017

i read so many good books this year! probably partly due to the fact that i also read in greater volume than previous years (for reasons) and also because i joined a second book club this year, and maybe also because my good-book discerning skills keep leveling up with my age. check out my goodreads for a complete list of my 2017 reads; highlights are below.

favorite Young Adult reads

definitely my favorite new reads this year was Tessa Gratton’s Gods of New Asgard series It’s a trilogy but there are also three novellas that you can buy separately or in a collected volume called “The Weight of The Stars”; they each feature a different side character that shows up in one or more of the main books. you HAVE to read these books in order though, because the plots are like concentric circles so they share a lot of the same people and overlap events but if you don’t read them in order you won’t get the context in the same way. the world-building in this series is fantastic; it’s set in the United States of Asgard, like the U.S. but with the majority of people worshipping Norse gods and the culture at large being saturated with Asgardian references instead of Christian ones. oh yeah, and the gods are real and some of them interact with the mortals in these stories. what i like about the setting, besides the fact it is so well thought-out and richly described, is that it can help you think about your current real-world context in a more critical way, when you read all these little details that are different, and think, oh yeah, why DO we do that this way or why DOES everyone assume this other thing? Because in the U.S. of Asgard it’s this other way, because of Thor or because of Odin or because of Freya, so what is the invisible, assumed “because of” for us? ALSO THE PLOT IS THRILLING AND THE CHARACTERS ARE EXTREMELY LOVEABLE.

anyway, i like all three books but i think i would say “The Strange Maid” is my favorite because it features a girl who is, or is trying to be, a Valkyrie (!) and she is hunting a troll so she can cut its heart out for prophecy reasons (!) and she often prays by free-writing poetry all over things, sometimes even painting it on her own skin, and i just think that is really cool. but you have to read ‘The Lost Sun” first! it’s very good too, i promise. i have been pestering lots of my friends to read these ever since i discovered them and now i am pestering you, my blog audience. but they’re so good!

gods of new asgard covers

There’ s another version of the cover to book one but this one is way better because it’s Soren; the other version has a blonde white boy on it so I guess it’s supposed to be the missing god Baldur? but Soren is definitely the main character and AAAAH, I LOVE HIM SO MUCH! he has that tattoo on his face to warn people that he is a Berserker, with a destructive fury inside him.

favorite Sci-Fi reads

this year i subscribed to a new literary magazine called FIYAH that publishes speculative fiction by black authors, and there were fantastic short stories in each episode. You can get back-issues from their website and/or subscribe for the upcoming year or years, which i would recommend. my favorite story in FIYAH this year was “Chesirah” by L.D. Lewis, which appeared in Issue 1; the title character is a Fenox, a person who every so often spontaneously combusts into flame and later wakes up reformed from the ashes of her burned body…as long as nothing happens to her ashes before she reforms, which definitely makes trying to break free of her enforced captivity a bit…complicated. my second favorite story was “Cracks” by Xen in Issue 3; a boy spends his nights patrolling the neighborhood to look for, and seal up when necessary, the “cracks” between his reality and the “other”, which isn’t so hard, it’s just his job. Until one day he finds a crack that isn’t so easy to close, because on the other side of it he can see…himself, but in circumstances that he only wishes that he had in his own reality.

fiyah cover 4

i bought a print of this cover from Issue 4 whose theme was “Roots”; (you can get one of this or any other cover here) and now it’s hanging on my wall. Art by Geneva Benton.

favorite bookclub reads

from my speculative fiction bookclub: “Akata Witch” by Nnedi Okorafor. it’s like the wizarding world, but in Nigeria instead of Hogwarts! and also definitely without the ‘chosen one’ thing! the teachers in this book repeatedly tell the kids that yes, they very well might die on any one of their lessons or mission attempts, and that would be too bad but it would just mean that somebody else would have to try to fight the great evil next. it’s such a different attitude from almost every other fantasy/adventure book i’ve ever read! i like it.

from my YA bookclub: “Orleans” by Sherri L. Smith. Set in what used to be the gulf coast states, now a walled-off swampland quarantined from the “outer states” due to the incurable “delta fever”, this dystopia is surprisingly full of hope. that even in a place the rest of the world has given up on, that appears to have been destroyed beyond repair, humanity survives and nature adapts.

favorite non-fiction reads

“Priestdaddy” by Patricia Lockwood–nothing i could write about it will be even a fraction as good as the writing in this memoir. also if you can go to one of her signings she will draw an animal inside the front cover, so now my copy has a cat wearing a pantsuit and it’s awesome.

also, i really enjoyed “The Woman Who Would Be King: Hatshepsut’s Rise to Power in Ancient Egypt” by Kara Cooney. i had never heard of Hatshepsut before reading this book! i added it to my tbr pile after seeing it recommended by someone on twitter, but now i can’t remember who. anyway i learned so much and also it was FOR SOME REASON especially soothing, empowering, (and a little bit heartbreaking) to read about this amazing woman capably wielding national power thousands of years ago, in the year 2017. the author did a really good job of including daily-life details and insights that made Hatshepsut come to life more too, even though much of it is historical guesswork.



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the pages that pagelady read in 2013

Well, 2013 was not the best blogging year for me on here, was it? I’m way behind in writing up posts on the books I’ve read, but it’s a new year now so I have a fresh chance to do better in 2014.  Here’s a summary of the books I read last year and a brief reaction to them.  I still hope to post a full reaction to Allegiant soon, and a book-versus-movie comparison of The Book Thief.

In case you don’t want to read all my sub-cateogires, I’ll put my favorites first:

Favorite New Reads of 2013:

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.  So overwhelmingly, heart-breakingly beautiful.

The 5th Wave by Rick Yancy.  I read this book one Saturday while home alone and the first half of it scared me to death; it seemed like a pretty realistic possible scenario if an alien invasion was to happen on Earth.  The latter half of the book got more cliche and predictable, but I like Cassie, the protagonists, and I’m still interested to see what happens next, although I’m not sure when the sequel is scheduled to be published.

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell.  As a shy fangirl who is more outgoing online than in real-life social situations, this book’s protagonist was totally relatable to me.  I’ve never really been into fanfic much but I am in multiple fandoms, I know these terms, I understand and partake in these obsessions. Plus, the Nebraska college-town setting was very similar to some of my own experiences in Kansas.

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell.  Read this one because I loved Fangirl so much, and it did not disappoint.  From my review:

and i think that maybe it’s partly best explained by the answer Park gives in english class about the longevity of the story of Romeo & Juliet: “because people want to remember what it’s like to be young? and in love,” but this version is maybe a lot more relateable to an audience that isn’t part of a wealthy feuding italian family centuries ago, and to anybody that feels like kind of a misfit.

Rainbow Rowell is officially my new favorite author, not only because of her books but because of her twitter and tumblr which just made me instantly feel like “ah, yes, she’s one of us!“, which is too bad for David Iserson (author of Firecracker), because until I discovered Rainbow Rowell in the last weeks of December he would have been my choice for “favorite new YA author that I started twitter-following in 2013”.  He’s snarky and witty and I did love his book but I feel like I could spazz out about Rowell’s books in real life in front of her and she would be like “I know, me too!” but if I did that about Firecracker in front of Iserson he might just be like “wow, ok…” or say something cynical.

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