Book Review: Zenn Diagram


zenndiagram.jpgZenn Diagram
Wendy Brant
YA Contemporary (+touch of magic)

Review copy obtained via NetGalley.

Plot Summary

Being a math genius is not exactly a ticket to popularity for seventeen-year-old Eva. Even worse, whenever she touches another person or their belongings, she gets glimpses of their emotions, secrets and insecurities, making her keep her distance from everyone. So when Eva realizes she can touch Zenn, a handsome and soulful artist, without getting visions–only sparks–she finds herself drawing closer to him.

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Mini-Reviews: Female-centric Fantasy


Going through old pages of a journal, I found some review notes from 6 months ago. They were good books and I hate to lose a review, so here you go! 3 female-centric fantasies. Enjoy.

This Savage Song by V.E. Schwab

Honestly, I struggle to review Schwab’s books. I just like them so much! This Savage Song was my second Schwab read, and I savored it over Christmas vacation in sunny Florida, which was very much a contrast to the dark setting of the book. Here are my (nearly) unvarnished notes:

  • beautiful
  • each word crafted and carefully chosen
  • characters that both shine & bleed
  • a world that builds effortlessly through the chapters
    • feels at once both brand-new and almost familiar
  • variety of characters & emotions
  • introspection/theme/meaning with subtlety

…..I can’t offer a lot of expansion on what six-months-ago Lyse was thinking, except that she really liked the book! Also, she strong-armed her husband into reading it and he carried it around the house and read in every spare minute until he finished it.

Skylark by Meagan Spooner

Skylark is the first of a trilogy that I began on audiobook and have not yet finished. 😦 Not the trilogy’s fault–I just stopped listening to audiobooks when I didn’t have to commute anymore. (This one is maybe technically dystopian, not fantasy.) So! Old notes:

  • Love the monster/human story
  • information is legitimately limited & MC grows to full(er) understanding naturally
  • interesting world that requires more exploration
  • lacks some early nuance
    • I struggled for interest/understanding through the first several chapters. The world took a long time to build for me.
  • I thought the author’s opinions/agenda were a bit heavy, but that may not be fair.
  • I have questions about the MC’s parents, but maybe they were answered in future books? Not sure.
  • I read most of the first book while I was walking local parks, and it made a great accompaniment to nature.

The Girl Who Swallowed the Moon by Kelly Barnhill

I didn’t know much about this book when I read it, but the cover was fun and I think The Book Wars recommended it. It was quite different, but I enjoyed it. Notes!

  • The darkness of Grimm’s with the whimsy of Lewis Carroll or Tolkien
  • timeless universal themes (even dark ones) made palatable for MG and younger
  • fairy-tale tropes re-imagined & rewoven
  • information doled out slowly
  • love of stories (fairy tales, mothers telling legends, etc.)
  • joyful, but not happily-ever-after

Conclusion

There you have it! Old review notes that I should have written up months ago. Are these useful for you at all? Have you read these? Let me know in the comments!

30/30: Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock


Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock
Matthew Quick
YA
Trigger Warnings: Suicide/Depression

Summary

In addition to the P-38, there are four gifts, one for each of my friends. I want to say good-bye to them properly. I want to give them each something to remember me by. To let them know I really cared about them and I’m sorry I couldn’t be more than I was–that I couldn’t stick around–and that what’s going to happen today isn’t their fault.

Today is Leonard Peacock’s birthday. It is also the day he will kill his former best friend, and then himself, with his grandfather’s P-38 pistol.

Maybe one day he’ll believe that being different is okay, important even.

But not today.

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29/30 Book Review: Leave Me


Leave Me
Gayle Forman
Fiction

Summary

Every woman who has ever fantasized about driving past her exit on the highway instead of going home to make dinner, and every woman who has ever dreamed of boarding a train to a place where no one needs constant attention–meet Maribeth Klein. A harried working mother who’s so busy taking care of her husband and twins, she doesn’t even realize she’s had a heart attack.

Surprised to discover that her recuperation seems to be an imposition on those who rely on her, Maribeth does the unthinkable: she packs a bag and leaves. But, as is often the case, once we get where we’re going we see our lives from a different perspective. Far from the demands of family and career and with the help of liberating new friendships, Maribeth is able to own up to secrets she has been keeping from herself and those she loves.

Target Audience

I’m obviously not the target audience for this novel, but I’ve read several of Forman’s YA novels, and I was curious to see how she tackled the adult audience. Also, as I’ve moved on from college and begun to establish my identity as an adult woman, I’ve become fascinated with studying the (real or fictional) stories of women in many stages of life. I think that doing so makes me more prepared for life transitions and helps me identify what I want out of my life.

And Leave Me addresses a common problem for women: feeling overworked and underappreciated. Most women don’t resort to literally running away from their homes, but they rebel in other ways. I’m scared of that feeling. I’m scared of feeling trapped by what should be a dream. I think maybe a lot of young women are.

So, how does Leave Me handle that nightmare Continue reading

28/30 Book Review: Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Sex and Science


Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Sex and Science
Mary Roach
Nonfiction/Journalism/Science

Summary

In Bonk, the best-selling author of Stiff turns her outrageous curiosity and insight on the most alluring scientific subject of all: sex. Can a person think herself to orgasm? Why doesn’t Viagra help women-or, for that matter, pandas? Can a dead man get an erection? Is vaginal orgasm a myth? Mary Roach shows us how and why sexual arousal and orgasm-two of the most complex, delightful, and amazing scientific phenomena on earth-can be so hard to achieve and what science is doing to make the bedroom a more satisfying place.

Less taboo than you might think

Let’s just get this out of the way–it’s a book how sex works and what science knows about sex. It’s not erotica. Yes, it talks about erections and orgasm and arousal and all kinds of body parts. But it’s quite tasteful, for the most part. Any adult could read this book and not feel guilty. Continue reading

27/30 Book Review: When Nobody Was Watching


When Nobody Was Watching
Carli Lloyd with Wayne Coffey
Nonfiction/Memoir

Summary

In 2015, the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team won its first FIFA championship in sixteen years, culminating in an epic final game that electrified soccer fans around the world. It featured a gutsy, brilliant performance by team captain and midfielder Carli Lloyd, who made history that day, scoring a hat trick—three goals in one game—during the first sixteen minutes.

But there was a time when Carli Continue reading

26/30 Book Review: Eat and Run


Eat and Run: My Unlikely Journey to Ultramarathon Greatness
Scott Jurek with Steve Friedman
Nonfiction/Running

Summary

For nearly two decades, Scott Jurek has been a dominant force—and darling—in the grueling and growing sport of ultrarunning. Until recently he held the American 24-hour record and he was one of the elite runners profiled in the runaway bestseller Born to Run.

In Eat and Run, Jurek opens up about his life and career as a champion athlete with a plant-based diet and inspires runners at every level. From his Midwestern childhood hunting, fishing, and cooking for his meat-and-potatoes family to his slow transition to ultrarunning and veganism, Scott’s story shows the power of an iron will and blows apart the stereotypes of what athletes should eat to fuel optimal performance. Full of stories of competition as well as science and practical advice—including his own recipes—Eat and Run will motivate readers and expand their food horizons.

Ultrarunning Education

2017 is my year of intense ultrarunning education. I’ve become suddenly obsessed with this sport, and I have a lot to catch up on. I was introduced to the ultrarunning community through YouTube, so I knew about today’s top competitive runners before I learned about some of the greats like Scott Jurek and Dean Karnazes. But I’m catching up!

I enjoyed Jurek’s back and forth narrative of discovering running, finding his rhythm, and competing at top levels. When you see elite ultrarunners, it can be difficult to imagine the journey they’ve taken, from their first run to record-breaking feats. This book is a good reality check, an examination of the gradual improvement that leads to such astonishing performances.

Jurek talks a lot about his nutrition, especially his transition from meat and potatoes to full veganism. Perhaps that transition is a revelation for some runners, but I think many of today’s runners will be more familiar with the benefits of healthier options. That may be a reflection of the changes Jurek and others introduced, combined with general societal awareness.

Conclusion

Great read if you’re a runner or you love stories about sports psychology. Ultrarunning is a uniquely challenging mental endeavor.