January 2018 books

January 2018 books

All the Crooked SaintsAll the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Magically real and really magical. I wasn't sure I liked this book until I was done with it, and here I am, the next morning, still smiling about it with a heart full of warm fuzzies. This is the kind of book Ronan Lynch would laugh at you (out loud and in public) for reading...but you find out later he keeps a dog-eared copy underneath his pillow.

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One of Us is LyingOne of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I had a great time reading this book. I rolled my eyes at the cliches early on but those faded into the background as I got caught up in the mystery and friendships and story. A pretty solid read, considering I picked it up at random at the library (...and then vetted it on Goodreads, of course, and saw that Noura liked it, which was good enough for me to take it home!).

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Everyone's a Aliebn When Ur a Aliebn TooEveryone's a Aliebn When Ur a Aliebn Too by Jomny Sun
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This kind of book is not in my wheelhouse, so I was ready for it to not be my thing. And maybe it isn't. But it is precious and adorable and full of little warm-fuzzy moments, and who can be against that?

If you, like me, are wondering if your kids will like this book, here's the deal. Yes, it has a lot of pictures and relatively few words, but no, it is not a kids' book. But yes, if they like clever, thoughtful stuff, they will like this book. Even if they don't get the updog joke.

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Mary, Queen of Scots and the Murder of Lord DarnleyMary, Queen of Scots and the Murder of Lord Darnley by Alison Weir
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book is really interesting, but loses its momentum SO weirdly right at the part where Darnley is murdered. Weir actually apologizes (sorry-not-sorry) in the introduction for having such a long lead-in to the main event (Darnley's assassination), but that part turned out to be more interesting. Then the aftermath is similarly fascinating.

So a bit dull in the middle, but WOW, what a story, and what a life this woman lived! I was left with a few thoughts:

1. That show Reign gets things bizarrely right, for being ostensibly aimed at a mass-market teenaged audience who may not care for the intricacies of Protestant vs. Catholic disagreements. Like, it's so, so wrong on many levels, but at least one person on the writing/researching team for that show has a good eye for the core historical events and motivations and alliances that drive Mary's story and s/he lets them shine through even if great liberties are taken with timelines and names. (Except maaaaaaybe Bothwell. We'll see what they do with his character.)

2. Darnley is the original WORST. He is just THE WORST. He connives his way into a marriage he feels entitled to, then steps out on Mary within a few months of tying the knot, then whines and schemes for the Crown Matrimonial to soothe his Man Pain, then plots with sundry lords to, at best, remove his wife from the throne in his favor and, at worst, induce a miscarriage (of a baby HE is the father of!) and ensuing death of said wife.

3. And Mary, meanwhile, has to just DEAL. For being a queen, she is remarkably powerless. I mean, during the course of her life she had to marry THREE men who mostly just wanted proximity to her crown (the better to seize it for themselves!), and almost had to marry a fourth (Norfolk). The part where she basically has to take Darnley back even though she KNOWS he was quite recently down with other people killing her (again, assuming the BEST of intentions on his part), and actually DID kill her most trusted advisor in front of her, and also he has syphillis and is a terrible human being...GIRL.

4. Also meanwhile, we have Queen Elizabeth who is - surprise! - Mary's get-a-grip friend! Who knew? That is not a side of the narrative that we hear that often. When Rizzo was killed, Elizabeth wrote to Mary and was like "um, if you stay with Darnley after this, you are not living your best life." Then when Bothwell kidnapped her, Elizabeth was like, "MARY. Come stay with me, and not even in a prison, probably!" And sure, it ended up that Elizabeth signed Mary's literal death warrant, but it took her twenty years to work up the courage to do it and she later claimed she hadn't meant to, after all, and that the signed warrant was delivered before she could stop it. Mary and Elizabeth: the original Frenemies!

You just can't make this stuff up. It's fascinating.

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Representative experiences of running into my students around town

Representative experiences of running into my students around town

January 26th, outsourced