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Lydia's Page

I like reading books about war dogs, shipwrecks, and lady aviators.

Currently reading

The Rainbow Comes and Goes: A Mother and Son On Life, Love, and Loss
Gloria Vanderbilt, Anderson Cooper
One Summer: America, 1927 - Bill Bryson

Bill Bryson always does a great job of weaving little oddities into larger, often rambling tales. I really liked these interesting glimpses into such a fascinating few months of American history... and it's a good reminder that every time and place is rich with stories, if only we look for them.

The Princess Diaries - Meg Cabot

I've written pretty frequently about not being thrilled by YA anymore... but, god, am I sucker for Meg Cabot. The Princess Diaries is delightful. I love Mia's dramatic, oblivious, hilarious voice. I like the epistolary conceit. I like the ridiculous plot, and love the way Mia brings it to life. What a treasure.

Water for Elephants - Sara Gruen

I've been on a bit of a "finally getting around to reading it!" streak lately. So, I finally got around to reading Water for Elephants. I thought it was perfectly fine. It didn't move me one way or another. But maybe now I'll finally get around to watching the movie, as well.

Pretty in Ink: North American Women Cartoonists, 1896-2013 - Trina Robbins

I learned so much from this history of women in comics! Once again, I'm reminded that women have been doing amazing things forever, without credit most of the time.

Ender's Game - Orson Scott Card

Well. Now I can finally say I've read it!

The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream - Barack Obama

While certainly not as autobiographical or as interesting as Dreams From My Father, Obama is clearly a gifted storyteller and orator. This one's worth a listen if you want to jump back 10 years, to hear the political stances of a man not yet elected.

Saga, Volume 6 - Brian K. Vaughan, Fiona Staples

I haven't read many graphic novels, and I've never read a series as it's being published. Saga is worth the wait. It's unlike anything I'd typically read (science fiction creatures to the max) and at the same time, it's exactly like the things I love to read (social commentary and adventure). 


This installment uses a time jump to its full advantage, bouncing us forward to maintain the momentum and excitement of the series. I liked seeing how all the characters had adjusted to their circumstances. And now I'm settling in to wait for the Volume 7.

Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance - Barack Obama

I'm embarrassed it took me this long to pick up Barack Obama's first book. I learned so much, especially from listening to the audiobook which is read by the author. It brought Obama's early life into sharp relief, illustrating his path and the development of his values, ethics, and morals. Most of all, it reminded me of how much I'll miss having him as our president in a few months. What a guy.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks - Rebecca Skloot

This is such a fascinating read. It strikes a good balance of medical history and colorful narrative, bringing to life the story of a poor black woman with remarkable, regenerating cells, and her family forgotten and uncompensated by science. 

All the Bright Places - Jennifer Niven

I don't read much YA these days; my sister and I have been discussing the possibility that we've "outgrown" the genre, but I don't want to contribute to the argument that YA shouldn't be read by adults. I just haven't found myself interested lately.


I needed an audiobook for a road trip and this popped up on Overdrive. I was surprised by how much I liked it. The audiobook was sometimes difficult to follow, as there wasn't a good way to differentiate between external and internal thoughts. I had a hard time deciphering what was being said aloud and what was being thought internally by the characters. 


I think this book is best read generously: like a lot of YA, the characters and their circumstances aren't always believable, but the core is solid. Having experienced severe depression and suicidal tendencies as a teenager, I felt that the depiction of these characters and their mental states were more accurate than any other YA "issue" book I've read. Actually, this book didn't feel like an "issue" book, and I think that's why I liked it so much.

Shades of Earl Grey - Laura Childs

This series came highly recommended to me, and I scooped up a few from a used bookstore. How I regret that purchase! I cannot stand this series. It's positively grating. All the characters and their endeavors are utterly perfect, to the point that nothing feels real. There are no flaws, nothing ever goes wrong, and that makes these stories impossible to relate to... and not very fun to read. On top of all that, the mysteries themselves are dull and poorly plotted. They're not gripping or intriguing or spook-inducing in any way.


UGH! I'm so disappointed! I love a good cozy mystery, but these take cozy all the way through the roof to full-on irritating. Sigh. I might skim through the copies I purchased, but I might send them straight back to the bookstore. Bummer!

A Man Called Ove - Fredrik Backman

It took me awhile to get into this, but in the end I really did like it. It's a sweet little story about finding yourself while growing old.

Then Come Back: The Lost Neruda - Forrest Gander, Pablo Neruda

Pablo Neruda's poetry is among my favorite. This edition was particularly wonderful as its a collection of previously unpublished works unearthed after Neruda's death. The english versions were translated by Forest Gander, but the real beauty is in the back half of the book, where the original Spanish lives. I'm not fluent in Spanish, but I know enough to be utterly swept away by the enormous beauty of Spanish poetry.

Don't You Cry - Mary Kubica

Mary Kubica's third turn is just as psychologically thrilling and baffling as the first two.


This is the story of a roommate gone missing, and is (as Kubica's other books are) narrated by two different characters. The first is Quinn, missing Esther's roommate in Chicago, struggling to piece together what has happened to her roommate and whether she ever really knew the girl at all. The second is Alex, a recent high school graduate, who has turned down his college scholarship to bus tables and care for his alcoholic father.


I felt the ending and big reveal were way too rushed, but I didn't guess the twist, which earns this book high ratings from me.


Sex Object - Jessica Valenti

Don't you love the way a holiday weekend beckons you to read and read and read?


I plowed through this one and am already recommending it to others. That's kind of funny, because I honestly don't know how I feel about it.


On one hand, it's a brutally vulnerable and honest look at imperfections and complications and all the experiences that make up who we are.


On the other, it has a narrative arc that doesn't quite come together; disjointed stories sprinkled into the same essay that you have to reach to find a reasonable connection. The tense shifts from past to present sentence by sentence. 


I found myself simultaneously elated that it had been written and shared, and confused as to what its purpose is or who the intended audience is. Maybe that's why I'm recommending it now; I'm waiting to hear other thoughts to help make sense of my own discombobulation. 

The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches - Alan Bradley

This was my favorite Flavia book to date. Without losing any of the charm and imagination, this installment seriously leveled up the intrigue. Bradley's handling of Flavia's steady ascent into young adulthood is spot on. The interweaving mysteries and reveals in this story are compelling without becoming unbelievable. 


Without giving anything away, I must say I was hoping for a different resolution to the end of the previous book's cliffhanger. But the way it actually played out was the way it needed to, and I'm glad it did.