To be honest, I have been behind the times in my reading list; maybe it’s a demanding work schedule, maybe it’s the temptation to sleep all day, I dunno. But! My resolution is to exercise my brain and get myself caught up on all the works I’ve missed in the past year!
My taste for January? Varied, but I’m sticking to gritty fantasy, comedic creative non-fiction, and graphic novels, which holds true for my January 2017 TBR, with a few twists this time. Sometimes, shopping for Grandma leads to unexpected surprises, as you’ll notice.
Six of Crows, Leigh Bardugo
Synopsis: Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price—and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can’t pull it off alone…
A convict with a thirst for revenge
A sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager
A runaway with a privileged past
A spy known as the Wraith
A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums
A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes
Kaz’s crew are the only ones who might stand between the world and destruction—if they don’t kill each other first.”
Thoughts: I’ve heard great things about Bardugo’s writing since her Grisha Trilogy–which may be on a future TBR list. Six of Crows is a heist novel, led by Kaz Brekker and his gang, the Dregs. There’s twisty plots, kidnapping, a fantasy-Amsterdam, and much praise for Bardugo’s ability to write from six different points of view in the duology (Six of Crows’ sequel is Crooked Kingdom). Characters are on point, and the world-building that Bardugo has done sounds straight-up fascinating. I am fully onboard with this set!
Snow White: A Graphic Novel, Matt Phelan
Synopsis: The scene: New York City, 1928. The dazzling lights cast shadows that grow ever darker as the glitzy prosperity of the Roaring Twenties screeches to a halt. Enter a cast of familiar characters: a young girl, Samantha White, returning after being sent away by her cruel stepmother, the Queen of the Follies, years earlier; her father, the King of Wall Street, who survives the stock market crash only to suffer a strange and sudden death; seven street urchins, brave protectors for a girl as pure as snow; and a mysterious stock ticker that holds the stepmother in its thrall, churning out ticker tape imprinted with the wicked words “Another . . . More Beautiful . . . KILL.” In a moody, cinematic new telling of a beloved fairy tale, extraordinary graphic novelist Matt Phelan captures the essence of classic film noir on the page—and draws a striking distinction between good and evil.”
Thoughts: Matt Phelan is an award-winning children’s illustrator, and I first encountered him in the kindergarten classroom I work in; his painting are whimsical watercolors that are expressive and gentle, but having never read his work in a more adult, graphic novel, I’m intrigued. Admittedly obsessed with Snow White’s tale these days, I am eager to see Phelan succeed in retelling this classic tale in a new, moody format.
Bad Feminist: Essays, Roxane Gay
Synopsis: In these funny and insightful essays, Roxane Gay takes us through the journey of her evolution as a woman of color while also taking readers on a ride through culture of the last few years and commenting on the state of feminism today. The portrait that emerges is not only one of an incredibly insightful woman continually growing to understand herself and our society, but also one of our culture.
Bad Feminist is a sharp, funny, and spot-on look at the ways in which the culture we consume becomes who we are, and an inspiring call-to-arms of all the ways we still need to do better.”
Thoughts: Okay, okay, I know that this book was all the rage last year, but I am chronically behind the times and have been since birth. It’s my curse. But seriously, who doesn’t feel the pressure to be the best kind of feminist/activist/whatever-ist you are? I am looking forward to Gay’s wit and wisdom for self-improvement.
All The Light We Cannot See, Anthony Doerr
Synopsis: Marie-Laure lives with her father in Paris near the Museum of Natural History, where he works as the master of its thousands of locks. When she is six, Marie-Laure goes blind and her father builds a perfect miniature of their neighborhood so she can memorize it by touch and navigate her way home. When she is twelve, the Nazis occupy Paris and father and daughter flee to the walled citadel of Saint-Malo, where Marie-Laure’s reclusive great-uncle lives in a tall house by the sea. With them, they carry what might be the museum’s most valuable and dangerous jewel.
In a mining town in Germany, the orphan Werner grows up with his younger sister, enchanted by a crude radio they find. Werner becomes an expert at building and fixing these crucial new instruments, a talent that wins him a place at a brutal academy for Hitler Youth, then a special assignment to track the resistance. More and more aware of the human cost of his intelligence, Werner travels through the heart of the war and, finally, into Saint-Malo, where his story and Marie-Laure’s converge.
Thoughts: Yes, another from last year that I still haven’t gotten around to! Admittedly, I stumbled upon this while I was searching for a Christmas gift for my grandmother last year, but never ended up wrapping it up to give to her. Admittedly, this is outside my usual tastes–it’s rare for me to read historical war fiction. Admittedly, this sounds incredible; dangerous jewels, the village of Saint-Malo (near and dear to my heart), and smart and rebellious Hitler Youth à la Rudy Steiner from The Book Thief? You got me. Admittedly, I need to sit down and soak in last year’s Pulitzer winner.
The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage: The (Mostly) True Story of the First Computer, Sydney Padua
Synopsis: Meet Victorian London’s most dynamic duo: Charles Babbage, the unrealized inventor of the computer, and his accomplice, Ada, Countess of Lovelace, the peculiar protoprogrammer and daughter of Lord Byron. When Lovelace translated a description of Babbage’s plans for an enormous mechanical calculating machine in 1842, she added annotations three times longer than the original work. Her footnotes contained the first appearance of the general computing theory, a hundred years before an actual computer was built. Sadly, Lovelace died of cancer a decade after publishing the paper, and Babbage never built any of his machines.
But do not despair! The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage presents a rollicking alternate reality in which Lovelace and Babbage do build the Difference Engine and then use it to build runaway economic models, battle the scourge of spelling errors, explore the wilder realms of mathematics, and, of course, fight crime—for the sake of both London and science. Complete with extensive footnotes that rival those penned by Lovelace herself, historical curiosities, and never-before-seen diagrams of Babbage’s mechanical, steam-powered computer, The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage is wonderfully whimsical, utterly unusual, and, above all, entirely irresistible.”
Thoughts: This has been at the bottom of my pile for a while, and it’s time. Not for the first time, this beautiful peacock-blue cover struck me at a Barnes & Noble, and the second I saw Lovelace’s name in the title, I’ve been hooked. Since a class on Romantic Lit, Lord Byron’s daughter has been an enigma and fascination in my life, and Sydney Padua’s cartoony, Bill Waterson-esque illustrations look charming and fun. I can’t wait to not want to put this down!
Norse Mythology, Neil Gaiman
Synopsis: Neil Gaiman has long been inspired by ancient mythology in creating the fantastical realms of his fiction. Now he turns his attention back to the source, presenting a bravura rendition of the great northern tales.
In Norse Mythology, Gaiman stays true to the myths in envisioning the major Norse pantheon: Odin, the highest of the high, wise, daring, and cunning; Thor, Odin’s son, incredibly strong yet not the wisest of gods; and Loki, son of a giant, blood brother to Odin and a trickster and unsurpassable manipulator . . . Through Gaiman’s deft and witty prose emerge these gods with their fiercely competitive natures, their susceptibility to being duped and to duping others, and their tendency to let passion ignite their actions, making these long-ago myths breathe pungent life again.”
Thoughts: I mean, it’s Neil Gaiman, need I say more?
Have you read any of the books on this list?!
Tell us which books you’re most looking forward to reading in the comments below!
Be sure to keep up with the Paperback Paris Team’s monthly TBRs!