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Mirkat Always Reading

I'm always reading something, usually multiple books at a time.

Currently reading

The Extinction Agenda (The Extinction Agenda #1)
Michael Laurence
Something Like Gravity
Amber Smith

The Hate U Give

The Hate U Give - Angie Thomas

Starr Carter feels as though she's divided into to selves.  There is the Starr she is in her inner-city community and the "Williamson Starr" she is at the private school she attends.  At school, she chooses her words and behaviors carefully to avoid being seen as "ghetto."


One night, leaving a neighborhood party after shots are fired in the house where it is being held, Starr and her friend Khalil are pulled over by a police officer.  The encounter with the officer goes wrong, ending with Khalil fatally shot and dying in Starr's arms.


The shooting becomes national news, and wildly differing accounts of what happened and why are quickly circulating.  Starr must make decisions about who can know she was "the witness" and what role(s) she should play.


This book is powerful and serves up equal parts drama and wit.  The characters are nuanced and feel very real.  The story moves along in a compelling way and doesn't try to end in a too-tidy manner.

Credit Where it's Due

The Hate U Give - Angie Thomas

Credit where credit is due:  I entered the ISBN for this edition with low expectations and....  BOOKLIKES HAS IT!  I was able to JUST SHELVE IT!  Super-excited!

After Anna

After Anna - Lisa Scottoline, Jeremy Bobb, Mozhan Marno

Maggie is happily married to Noah, a widower, and they are happily raising Noah's son/Maggie's stepson Caleb in the suburbs of Philadelphia.  But for roughly 17 years, Maggie's carried a hole in her heart.  Her first husband Florian divorced her when she stopped being useful to him (working and supporting them both during his time in grad school), and he used her post-partum psychosis to have her declared an unfit mother, taking their daughter, at age six months, away from her.  Florian managed to become insanely wealthy by selling an app he'd developed, and he established a jet-set lifestyle based in France.


Out of the blue, Maggie gets a phone call.  The voice on the phone belongs to a young woman, saying she is Anna, wanting to reconnect with Maggie.  Maggie immediately travels to Maine, where Anna has been attending an exclusive boarding school.  It turns out that Florian, along with his second wife and their two young children, died in an airplane accident.  Maggie makes a quick decision:  Anna should come home with her and move in.


A short time afterward, Anna is dead.  Noah stands accused of murdering her.  The book is split into chapters designated "before" and "after" (i.e. before and after the death).  Many of the "after" chapters are devoted to Noah's trial.  Will he be found guilty?  The "before" sections focus on the events leading up to the fateful night when the body is found.


As I read through the alternating chapters, I often held the thought, "Things are not as they seem.  There will be twists."  My main questions were--when will the twists arrive, and what will they be?  Without giving away any secrets, I will say that the primary twist shows up at 75% into the book.  Then the plot speeds up as the twists multiply and the truths come out.  As I was mulling over possible twists early on, I did consider one that was roughly the actual twist--though I didn't anticipate 100% of the details.


The book kept me going, especially once I hit that 75% mark--then I had to keep going until I had all the details.  The ending, to me, was satisfying, albeit a bit rushed.  Going back and forth between Noah's and Maggie's narratives, there were times when the trial portions felt a bit grinding and I wished they could wrap up more quickly.


As an aside, I will mention that having grown up in Philadelphia (and now an expat), I was aware of Lisa Scottoline's books long before I decided to read one.  There were often local news stories about this mystery writer who was local.  I DNFed another Scottoline book that I just couldn't get into, but I don't recall which one.  I enjoyed the references to places in the Philly area.


After Anna - Lisa Scottoline, Jeremy Bobb, Mozhan Marno

Yes, irritated again about needing to add a book.  It isn't just that the edition I'm listening to wasn't on Booklikes.  No edition of this book was on Booklikes.  And it was released in 2018.  In April

Lisey's Story

Lisey's Story - Stephen King, Mare Winningham



Lisey Landon is the widow of Scott Landon, a beloved, best-selling author who died two years before the main action of the novel (whose "now" is 2006).  Despite persistent requests from interested professors, she has not been able to bring herself to go through and pack up his papers and books to donate to a university library.  She begins to receive threats from an unhinged individual who promises to hurt her if she doesn't arrange to donate the collection to one of the professors in particular.  At around the same time, her sister Amanda, who has a history of self-harming, badly cuts up her hands before entering a catatonic state.


This is a big book.  Its focus includes the language of marriage (with its own secret vocabulary), the process of grieving, the creative process, different types of love (familial as well as romantic), surviving trauma, and so much more.


Lisey is not Tabitha King, and Lisey's sisters are not her sisters but, as King reveals in his afterward, their "sister thing" is inspired by the "sister thing" of Tabitha and her sisters.  Similarly, although Scott Landon is not Stephen King, but they seem to share a creative landscape.


Sadie - Courtney Summers, Dan Bittner, Rebecca Soler, Fred Berman, Gabra Zackman

This book ended, and I said, "Nooooooooo!!!!"  Actually said it, out loud.  I wanted at least one more chapter!


The audiobook was produced in an innovative way.  There was a full cast of voice actors in addition to the two main narrating voices, Sadie and West McCray, the reporter doing a podcast about her disappearance.  The "podcast" parts are recorded to sound like an actual podcast, and there are also sound effects to accompany the actions.  It was the most immersive audiobook I've listened to.


I also picked up the print book and plan to review parts of the text in preparation for my library's new YA book club, which meets for the first time this coming week.  This book is our first selection.


This isn't much of a review, but I am afraid to spoil anything about this book.  Sadie is a fierce heroine with remarkable determination--on a righteous mission.  She will stay with me a long time.

Little Fires Everywhere

Little Fires Everywhere - Celeste Ng, Jennifer Lim

I finished this book today, and now I miss it.


Shaker Heights is an affluent, progressive planned community in the suburbs of Cleveland, Ohio.  Elena Richardson is third-generation Shaker Heights, and it's no mistake that the Richardsons are a prominent family in the neighborhood.  Elena married her college sweetheart, Bill Richardson, who became a well-paid attorney, established her own career as a local newspaper reporter, and had five children:  Lexie, Trip, Moodie, and Izzy.


The Richardsons also own a rental property--a duplex in their community, inherited from Elena's family.  Elena feels she does good by keeping the rent low ($300/month for each apartment) and renting to people she considers deserving.  The bottom unit has been rented for a long time to Mr. Yang, a reliable tenant.  The upper unit has had more turnover, but Elena believes she has found tenants who will grow roots there:  photographer Mia Warren and her teenage daughter Pearl.  


Pearl soon becomes friends with Moody, who is in her grade, and before long, she is a fixture in the Richardson house.  Mia becomes a presence there, too, when Elena hires her to do housekeeping and cooking.  Izzy, the youngest Richardson and black sheep of the family, convinces Mia to allow her to be an unpaid photographic assistant.


Everything changes when Linda and Mark McCollough, friends of the Richardsons, are going through the process of adopting a Chinese baby whose mother had left her at a fire station.  From Izzy's description of the situation, Mia quickly realizes that the desperate, depressed mother who left the baby at the fire station is Bebe Chow, who works at a Chinese restaurant where Mia has a part-time job.  Mia tells Bebe about the Richardsons, and soon the matter is covered by the local press, and a case in family court ensues.


Enraged that Mia dared disrupt her friends' happiness, Elena begins to use her reporter skills and connections to delve into Mia's past and dig into some mysteries.  Why were Mia and Pearl (as an infant) the subject of a photograph by the famous photographer Paula Hawthorne, which happens to be in the local art museum?  What happened to Pearl's father?  Why has Mia been so nomadic?


The title of the book refers to an incident described at the beginning of the book, from which the narrative backtracks and then returns.  Someone has set a series of fires in the Richardson house, leaving "little fires everywhere," including on each bed.  Who did this, and why?  Everyone seems to be assuming it was Izzy, who seems to have disappeared.  Are they right?  And if so, why would she do such a thing?


This book was written in such a compelling voice, with a third-person omniscient narrative that was never clunky.  It explored issues of conformity, individuality, identity, morality, and the meaning of motherhood.  Set in 1997 and 1998, when the author was a a teenager, the book also takes on race, class, and gender, along with their complexities.

Mueller Report

The Mueller Report: Presented with Related Materials by The Washington Post - Dennis Boutsikaris, Joy Osmanski, Cassandra Campbell, Robin Miles, Fred Sanders, Marc Fisher, Sari Horwitz, The Washington Post, Jackie Sanders, Vikas Adam, Gibson Frazier, Matt Zapotosky, Rosalind S. Helderman, Jayme Mattler, Cynthia Farrell, Samantha Desz, Prentice Ona

This review is redacted.  Harm to ongoing matter; grand jury; personal privacy.  (Okay, not really....  But those characters Ongoing Matter, Grand Jury, and Personal Privacy are seriously underdeveloped in this book!  I kid, I kid....)


I'm not giving this a star rating, as it feels kind of weird to do so.  I wanted to know what the actual report contains (as opposed to the way it's been characterized), redactions allowing.  The Washington Post did a good job with context and background materials.  It had a good beat and I could dance to it.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Vol. 1: High School Is Hell

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Vol. 1: High School Is Hell - Jordie Bellaire, Joss Whedon, Dan Mora

This is a Buffy reboot; once again Buffy is a new student at Sunnydale High School, but this time around, the setting is our present time. So everyone has a cell phone. The primary cast is introduced in this volume, but there are immediately certain differences. Willow and Xander form the Scooby Gang almost immediately, with only a pro forma objection from Giles. Willow already has a girlfriend, Rose, so I guess this likely means no Oz? No Oz makes me sad. Other differences are that Cordelia is nice to everyone, Spike and Dru show up already, and Anya already has a magic shop. Oh, and Buffy's mother, Joyce, has a live-in boyfriend who is a doctor.


I like this so far, but it feels as though the reboot is getting its bearings, so I'll need to wait and see how the story develops. I surprise myself by not recoiling against the differences (but it's not supposed to be like this!). I'm curious to see what happens next.

Volume 32 Rest in Peace

The Walking Dead, Vol. 32: Rest In Peace - Robert Kirkland, Charlie Adlard, Research and Education Association, Stefano Gaudiano, Cliff Rathburn

This is the end--the very last volume of the series.  When I went online in search of the release date for this volume, I also learned this was going to be the end.  THE END.  Initially, I put a hold on the book in my library's system.  Somehow, without my noticing, the library system had obtained four copies that were, OF COURSE, already checked out, and had several copies in cataloging.  And five people ahead of me in line.  The way this even happened was that someone had changed the way the titles were cataloged, so back when I first searched for "The Walking Dead. Vol 32," I got no search results.  Because the book was entered with the world "Volume" written out, and four people got to check out books I didn't know the library system had.


And I decided, "Screw that.  This is the last volume of the entire Walking Dead series."  So I walked out the the local comic shop and spent the $16.99 + tax to own this baby.  Then took myself off the waitlist to let others fight out when the library system makes it copies available.


I don't want to spoil anything about this final volume, and that makes it tricky to write about.  I will say that for a while now, I've been feeling that the series needs to be ended, and it needs to be ended well.  I believe it has been.  Not that there isn't pain, and yes, you will be choked up.  I think this ending did the series justice.  And I'm happy to put this book on my shelf.


Wildflower - Drew Barrymore

Collection of stories from the life of Drew Barrymore, in non-linear order.  Some of the stories I enjoyed more than others, but overall, I'm left with the impression of a good-hearted person who can spin an engaging story and actively seeks and follows through on opportunities to do good in the world.


Negroland: A Memoir - Margo Jefferson, Robin Miles

Margo Jefferson, born in 1947 into a wealthy African-American family in Chicago, writes about a segment of African-American culture she dubs "Negroland":  wealthy, educated African Americans who occupy a space of privilege, holding at arms' length both Caucasians and African Americans who don't belong to the "Negroland" caste.  Jefferson traces the caste back to slave days in the American south.  Problematically, children of slave owners and slaves are ancestors of people in "Negroland."


Although identified as a "memoir," the author endeavors to report on sociology and popular culture, as well as her own biographical stories.


Unfortunately, despite finding the topic interesting, I couldn't quite connect to the author's narrative style.  There were parts of the book where it seemed the author was going to such lengths to maintain a distance from her topic, that the content came out dry and dull.  There were sections about her childhood stories where she used a distracting technique of using first initials instead of names, and somehow those sections provided way too much detail about childhood events that were not particularly interesting.  "L did this; T said that."


There were moments when the author offered glimpses of what the book could have been; when she drops the distance and shares her personal stories.  But unfortunately, there were not enough moments like this.

John Dies at the End

John Dies At The End - David Wong, Stephen R. Thorne

This is another selection from the Albany Public Library Summer Reading Challenge. (Theme:  "Out of this world.")


The audio for this book was over 14 hours long.  I often found myself thinking, "Henry James would call this book "a loose and baggy monster."  Come to think of it, the book actually features some loose and baggy monsters.


If this book were a stew, it would contain ingredients from GhostbustersMen in BlackSupernaturalInvasion of the Body Snatchers, and Fringe.  There were parts that made me laugh out loud, but there were also parts that just rambled, on and on.  And way too many dick jokes. 


By the time the story got to its big twists near the end, I was exhausted.  I considered abandoning it, but didn't want to because then I'd have to find another "out of this world" book to replace it with.

Cover [Updated]

The Walking Dead, Vol. 31 - Charlie Adlard, Cliff Rathburn, Stefano Gaudiano,  'Robert Kirkman'


 Update:  Thank you to Themis-Athena for updating the cover!  




 [Now they match!]








Gah, it kills be to see this with the wrong cover!  This is the cover:



[Yes, I did submit an edit; I guess it's still pending....]

Walking Dead

The Walking Dead, Vol. 31 - Charlie Adlard, Cliff Rathburn, Stefano Gaudiano,  'Robert Kirkman'

Do not read if you are not up to date through volume 30!


Stephanie, the woman Eugene had been communicating with over his CB radio, turns out to be a resident of a community called The Commonwealth.  A group including Rick and Michonne travels out there in volume 30.  Michonne finds a picture of herself on a long-abandoned "have you seen this person" board and discovers that her (now adult) daughter Elodie posted it.  Understandably, reconnecting and catching up with her daughter becomes her primary focus in Volume 30. 


The Commonwealth is a large community that has found a way to restore a version of "life before."  There are even restaurants and resorts, with waitstaff.  One of the not-so-great aspects of "life before" replicated in The Commonwealth is social hierarchy depending on one's profession.  Upper-level residents of The Commonwealth are eager to have Michonne join their community and resume her "before" profession of practicing law.  Because of that background, Michonne is immediately treated as elite and offered luxury accommodations to move into.


After a trip in which Rick and associates escort Commonwealth Governor Pamela Wilton and her entourage to see the communities our main characters are associated with, it's back to The Commonwealth.  Rick's people are understandably wary of a governor.  Back at The Commonwealth, it soon becomes apparent that the social iniquities are responsible for unrest and division.  What, if anything, should Rick's group do about this?  I don't want to give anything away, but there are serious differences of opinion about the answer to that question.  Annnnnd.  Cliff-hanger, again.


I've read somewhere online that Volume 32 will be the last.  As much as I enjoy this series, it really does need to be resolved and wrapped up.  It feels we've been through all this before.

Astrophysics For People in a Hurry

Astrophysics for People in a Hurry - Neil deGrasse Tyson

A small collection of snack-sized lessons on astrophysics, delivered in an engaging, often humorous way.  The audio version has the bonus of being narrated by the author, whose voice is lovely.