What I Read: January/February 2020

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Ghost Wall by Sarah Moss

Rating: 5/5

A weird and wonderful novella about a teenager forced to go on an archaeological experience with her bus driver father, her timid mother, an aging professor and a group of impressionable college students.

Scratched that The Secret History itch in a way nothing else has been able to!

 

 

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Body Love Every Day by Kelly Leveque

Rating: 4/5

I really enjoyed her first book, Body Love, and was pleasantly surprised by the cookbook version of it. Great if you want to grab some healthy recipes without the judgement.

 

 

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Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward

Rating: 5/5

Ward is one of the greatest living writers. Her prose is beautiful and heart-wrenching. In Salvage the Bones she manages to tell the story of a family in the days leading up to Katrina without making it all about the storm. Hauntingly wonderful.

 

 

 

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Wake, Siren: Ovid Resung by Nina MacLaughlin

Rating: 5/5

An irreverent, feminist reimagining of Ovid’s Metamorphoses. MacLaughlin gives voice to characters who were silenced and retells stories in a way that will help a modern audience connect. Her stories are infused with the righteous anger of the #metoo movement and I am here.for.it.

 

 

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Darius the Great is Not Okay by Adib Khorram

Rating: 5/5

It’s not often you find a smart, sensitive, geeky boy on the YA page! I appreciated the internal monologue of Darius and the ways he interacts with the adult males in his life. Perfect for teenage boys who feel like the only representations on the page are of toxic masculinity.

 

 

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If I Never Met You by Mhairi McFarlane

Rating: 4/5

A sweet office romance in the vein of Jasmine Guillory. A fun romp!

 

 

 

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Come Tumbling Down by Seanan McGuire

Rating: 4/5

The latest in the Wayward Children Series. Not my favorite installment, but a wonderful continuation of a very cool story. Check out previous reviews of this series here.

 

 

 

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A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare

Rating: 4/5

Teaching this to my 9th graders right now so it was time for a re-read. I have to say that I enjoyed it far more this time than I have in previous versions. This might be down to the version I watched on Amazon Prime, David Kerr’s 2016 version.

 

 

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Boys & Sex by Peggy Orenstein

Rating: 4/5

Orenstein released Girls and Sex a few years ago and shortly thereafter visited my school. Her work created an amazing opportunity for conversation about consent, pleasure and power dynamics. Boys & Sex is the follow up, focusing on conversations she had with 100+ college-aged boys. As always, she provides a glimpse into a culture that most adults never get to see. A note that she doesn’t provide much for trans or gay boys.

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Lavinia by Ursula LeGuin

Rating: 4/5

A retelling of Virgil’s Aeneid from the perspective of his second wife, Lavinia. LeGuin’s book opens the door for a conversation about whether those who have been silenced on the page have life outside of it. Lavinia meets the poet (Virgil) in a grove several times and it shapes her life. This book would be great to read with a classics class to talk about who tells stories and what power the teller has.

 

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A House in Fez by Suzanna Clarke

Rating: 3/5

A memoir about a couple from New Zealand restoring a house in Fez. I try to read a few books about a place before I take a trip and this was the first of the one’s I read about Morocco. An interesting memoir and travelogue, good for fans of A Year in Provence.

 

 

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One Dance with a Duke  and Twice Tempted by a Rogue by Tessa Dare

Rating: 5/5 and 4/5

Tessa Dare is probably the best in the business when it comes to historical romance. Her characters are fun and her stories are feminist despite the genre.

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Finish: Give Yourself the Gift of Done by Jon Acuff

Rating: 4/5

A good project management book about the key things that stand in the way of projects getting done. Recommended for those who have big projects on the horizon!

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The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzi Lee

Rating: 4/5

A fun YA romp through past with a female wannabe doctor, a pirate princess and the daughter of a naturalist. The Lady’s Guide is the sequel to The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue. I highly recommend the whole series!

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Halsey Street by Naima Coster

Rating: 3/5

A daughter re-examines the relationship with her parents after their divorce. Coster does a remarkable job of making the relationships between parent and child feel real.  Read for a student book club that I run. 

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The Caliph’s House by Tahir Shah

Rating: 4/5

Another memoir about renovating a house in Morocco! This one felt more appreciative of the culture than A House in Fez and included funnier anecdotes.

 

 

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