The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
Percy Jackson and the Olympians book 1 of 5
First, a moment of silence for the lost art of chapter titles. I reread this as a Buddy Read on StoryGraph, which I highly recommend. It’s super fun if you want to read with a group of people, but don’t want to do the traditional bookclub thing. You’re able to make comments about certain points in the book and then when your buddies have reached that point, they can unlock your comments, which is super fun and motivating. Now back to the book. I love this book. It’s so good. I forgot how good this series is. I loved revisiting where it all started and being reminded how far Percy, Grover, and Annabeth have come since this first book.
5/5 magic flying shoes
The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan***
Percy Jackson and the Olympians book 2 of 5
Another great installment in the series. This book introduces Tyson, Percy’s cyclopes half brother. This isn’t something I picked up on the first time I read this book, but I think it actually does a really good job handling disability. Tyson has a cognitive disability, or at least in the novel he stands in for a disabled character (he is othered by his peers in the same way a child with Down’s syndrome might be). And Uncle Rick doesn’t put him in for tokenism and he doesn’t rely on any disabled tropes or stereotypes (i.e. Tiny Tim is in the story to make Scrooge a better person, and disabled/deformed villains are disabled/deformed to signal to the audience that their disability represents a moral failing as well). Tyson is a rounded character with thoughts and motivations and interests and talents that are separate from his disability. The whole disabled-person-as-monster metaphor is a little on the nose, but at least he’s using it to prove that disabled people AREN’T monsters (a la Frankenstein). I also love how Percy is written in relation to Tyson. Percy’s and Tyson’s relationship is complicated with all of Percy’s worries about what his peers will think, and I think that’s a really real reaction that kids with disabled siblings have. At first Percy feels pity for Tyson when they’re at school together, then shame when he finds out they’re brothers, then love, appreciation, and acceptance. He underestimated Tyson and then revises his opinion and I love it so much.
New Books Read
Vespertine by Margaret Rogerson***
Vespertine book 1
We love that ace representation. This book was cool. I liked the magic system. I liked Artemisia a lot, who read to me as both ace and autistic. I also liked the revenant who also read as ace to me, though he’s a non-corporeal spirit so I’m not sure it counts. I loved seeing Artemisia’s friendships develop. I’m excited to see what the rest of the series looks like.
Greywaren by Maggie Stiefvater***
**Book Hangover Alert
Dreamer Trilogy book 3 of 3
Stunning. Gorgeous. I adored it. Hennessey was a bit annoying in this one, but it’s part of her journey and she works through it. I love that for her. The ending was such a lovely note to leave this world and these characters on.
10/5 homemade sweetmetals
Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner***
CW: death of a parent, illness
I don’t always read memoirs, but when I do, for some reason they’re about women whose mothers have died. Okay that’s an exaggeration, but one of the most memorable memoirs I’ve ever read was also about this subject. I enjoyed Zauner’s memoir. Maybe enjoyed isn’t the right word. It was of course very sad. I loved how she used food to explore her relationship with her mother and also her relationship with Korean-ness. Hers is a journey that many mixed-race and immigrant children will relate to. I liked that Zauner didn’t shy from examining her complicated relationships with both her parents and her culture.
3/5 delicious Korean foods
Other Birds by Sarah Addison Allen
CW: child abuse, mental illness
This was my September Book of the Month. I enjoyed it. It was very readable, and I liked how all the threads tied up at the end. I did think it was a bit unrealistic that literally every character had terrible parents. And I didn’t love that Charlotte, a white girl, made a living doing henna for other white people. There’s a brief mention about how all the symbols in henna mean something, but it isn’t explored or really acknowledged that this is a very important cultural and traditional practice in India with a long history. It was used more as a way to make Charlotte seem arty and like a hippie. But I liked that everyone was happy and became friends at the end.
3.5/5 invisible birds
Loveless by Alice Oseman
This month was all about ace rep! I enjoyed this book a lot. I did wish that Georgia wasn’t so obsessed with wanting a relationship, but I guess it’s just because I don’t really want a romantic relationship, and I want this book to reflect my exact experience. I loved the Shakespeare references and all the characters. I loved that we get to celebrate friendship as much as romantic relationships.
4/5 thirsty plants
Small Gods by Terry Pratchett
Discworld book 13 of 41
We love a good Terry Pratchett Discworld novel. This one satirized religion and it’s very funny and insightful. I loved how Brutha was characterized as kind of slow at the beginning of the book, but developed into a thoughtful and powerful character. I would have liked to see a single female character somewhere in the book, but some of the older fantasy novels are pretty lacking in female representation. Pratchett does have good rep in some of the other Discworld novels, just not this one.
Bravely by Maggie Stiefvater
This book is a novel companion to the movie Brave. It takes place a few years after the movie, and explores Merida’s quest to save her family and her kingdom. It was very enjoyable. I didn’t like it as much Maggie’s other books (some of my favorite books of all time), but I still liked it. I liked that we got to see Merida’s brothers get a little older and develop unique personalities. Read on for a spoiler.
One thing I didn’t love was that Merida has to fall in love and break her heart to change. The movie establishes that Merida has no interest in love, and in my opinion she is an ace queen and I don’t want her fall in love or have a relationship. Other than that I really liked it.
3.5/5 bears (although there could have been more bears in this book)
The Mystery of Alice by Lee Bacon
This was another of those free Audible books. It was enjoyable. I liked the sort of dark academia vibe. It was kind of a child safe version of The Secret History. I don’t know that it was super believable, but I still enjoyed it. I wish Emily would have made a real, actually good friend. I would like to argue that Nathan was still not a good friend, even though it’s proven (spoiler alert) that he isn’t the bad guy. He’s still a stalker with anger issues who was never a good friend to Emily.
3/5 spy necklaces
The Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles
CW: anti-black racism
Not to be a snob, but both this book and Crying in H Mart were on Obama’s favorite books of the year in 2021, and though both were good, I don’t think either will make it on my favorite books of this year. In fact none of the books I’ve read on his 2021 list made my list the year I read it. I guess we just have different tastes. I liked this book. It was interesting and very readable. The characters were interesting and distinct. I did think Billy didn’t read much like an 8 year old; he acted and spoke like a much older child, apart from his naïveté. I thought Duchess was a really interesting, well-done morally gray character. I didn’t love the ending. It felt kind of callous. I also felt like Towles wrote this book and then his editor was like “there is not a single female character in this book.” And so Towles went back and added Sally’s chapters (Sarah doesn’t count because she’s basically a non-character). But Sally seemed really unnecessary to the plot.
The World We Make by N. K. Jemisin***
**Book Hangover Alert
Great cities book 2 of 2
CW: racism, ICE
I love these books so much. I adored The City We Became and I loved this one too. I do wish there could be more books, but I also respect Jemisin’s reasons for not writing more. As a writer, I don’t even know how she managed these two books. I still love all the characters, especially Padmini. I liked seeing Aislyn’s development. I would have loved to see a little more Neek and Manny, but I am still satisfied with the ending.
5/5 boroughs of New York
**Book Hangover Alert indicates the kind of book that will leave you full up on love. Satisfied, but wishing the book never had to end. You’ll be laying on the floor with no idea what to do with yourself (other friends have called this feeling Good Book Depression or say that certain books necessitate Floor Time). This is the kind of book that gets its teeth in you and won’t let go easily. After the last page you’ll be thinking about this book for a long time. You’ll bother all your friends trying to get them to read it so that you won’t be alone in your Hangover.
***This book is part of my Books for a Social Conscience series! Read The Sea of Monsters for disability in fantasy rep. Read Vespertine for LGBTQIA+ rep in fantasy. Read Greywaren for LGBTQIA+ rep in fantasy. Read Loveless for LGBTQIA+ rep in romance. Read The World We Make for diversity and LGBTQIA+ rep in sci-fi.
Reads marked as part of the Books for a Social Conscience series will regularly address topics like race and racism, colonialism and post-colonialism, LGBTQIA+ experience, feminism, BIPOC experience, social and political issues, history, identity, class, disability experience, immigration, gun violence, poverty, colorism, environmentalism, and more! The goal of these books is to diversify the stories we’re reading, grow our empathy for those who are different from us, and amplify voices who are often silenced.
(I stopped being able to change text color. I don’t know why.)