Claire & Nikki Book Club Review :: We Need New Names

I feel like I should explain the Book Club a little bit before just jumping straight into this post. At the end of May I was feeling sort of “meh” about the Goodreads book clubs I’m part of. No offence meant to them at all! I like them. But they’re just so BIG that the books I’m particularly interested in don’t often (read: ever?) get picked and there doesn’t feel like there’s enough incentive to take part sometimes. I wanted something that was smaller so, even if I’m not super jazzed about every single book, I feel motivated to read each one because I knew the other member(s) of the book club are reading too and because of the discussion that will ensue.

SO, of course, I voice messaged Claire about it and we decided on a book within the hour!

How it works is that one of use will pick the book one month and the other will pick the book for the next month. This month, was my choice: We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo.


Claire’s library hardback (left) & Nikki’s paperback (right)

Book: We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo
Publisher: Vintage, 2013
Genre: Literary Fiction

Summary: Darling and her friends live in a shanty called Paradise, which of course is no such thing. It isn’t all bad, though. There’s mischief and adventure, games of Find bin Laden, stealing guavas, singing Lady Gaga at the tops of their voices. They dream of the paradises of America, Dubai, Europe, where Madonna and Barack Obama and David Beckham live. For Darling, that dream will come true. But, like the thousands of people all over the world trying to forge new lives far from home, Darling finds this new paradise brings its own set of challenges – for her and also for those she’s left behind.
More Information: GoodReads

Nikki’s Thoughts & Rating:

*Spoilers are indicated like thisAny struck-through text from this point on is a spoiler.

Although it initially felt a little slow for me and I had to adjust to the novel being written in the present tense, by page 30 I became somewhat invested in the story and by page 52 I was really getting into it had fully committed. The social commentary throughout the book is just really great and at those two points in particular, religion and developed nations’ attitudes towards developing nations (respectively) are called into question perfectly. This careful analysis is told from the perspective of Darling who, while very insightful, is also very ignorant. Taking only one of these aspects of her personality into consideration does her character an injustice. She has opinions which are sometimes misguided, she is cliquey like children often are, she is easily influenced by her friends and the myth of America, she is insensitive even when she gets a little older, but she can also be empathetic and she has a conscience and she can think critically about situations. She is a very realistic character which I appreciated.

Several (read: six) times throughout the novel, Bulawayo references the title of Things Fall Apart and this is no coincidence. There are certain loose parallels we could draw about Africa ‘before and after’.

Darling never actually mentions her country’s name and I think this does two things. For one, it makes you see her country more broadly. Although we are reminded not to think of Africa as a single country (or to give it a single story) and that the countries are each different and have different issues to deal with, at the same time, it doesn’t matter which specific one she comes from. In fact, she could almost be coming from a different continent altogether – certain central strains of the story would be the same – it just so happens to be a country in Africa. It is a story of immigration and the desire for better things.

Secondly, this purposeful omission seems more obvious when contrasted with all the other things Darling is very specific about: soda brands, store names, phone and laptop brands, etc. While, in general, it actually annoys me to see cultural references (especially current ones) littered throughout a novel (it dates the book and feels distracting to me), one has to assume it was done to contrast the absence of these things or the difference in the way they might appear where Darling is from. I think Darling’s vagueness about her country paints it with a sort of fantasy and intrigue; especially when contrasted by the brashness of American consumerism in the latter half of the novel.

I don’t think it matters, but we can safely say the African country in question is Zimbabwe, where Bulawayo is from, (there is mention of Rhodesia at one point) and I’m sure other more subtle cultural cues would reveal that too.

Oddly, although our situations are vastly different, there were a lot of small things that I could relate to as someone who has moved from my country to another one to live. Small things (that many people can probably relate to just in the process of growing up, not necessarily moving to a different country) are falling out of touch with close friends and not knowing how to be around them or what to say anymore. It’s a confusing and difficult and frustrating feeling. And there is a little guilt too, even though that’s just how things happen sometimes and no one is at fault.

There is also a weird feeling about having moved and still feeling like your country is yours and identifying with it, but being so far away and distanced by both space and time. You start to realise you don’t know the most recent news. Even if you were to try to keep up with things by searching out the news, there are unexplainable details that can’t be grasped from abroad. That along with with not feeling like you’re really allowed to fully claim your new adopted home as yours no matter how long you’ve lived there and have seamlessly integrated, starts to create a small feeling of a “gap” in your identity.

There’s a point near the end where Darling goes from living a certain way to watching that way be lived by others who she has left behind that has a sort of soft, winding tension that echoes her friend Godknows‘ question, near the beginning, “What exactly is an African?”.

“Chapter 16: How They Lived” feels a bit like a narrative essay which seeks to elaborate what Darling’s story has already been successfully revealing without the inclusion of this straightforward exposé. It is beautifully crafted–like the rest of the book–and so I feel bad saying this, but it feels a little unnecessary. Like its purpose is for drama. I suppose there is no harm in an intermission for poetic emphasis and it doesn’t detract from the book. But I didn’t think it was needed and I just wanted to get back to the story especially since it was further along in the book which I find an odd place for stylistic changes.

There are no surprises in this story really. Pretty much all the pieces of your quintessential immigrant story are there. But it is full of beautiful similes, metaphors and juxtapositions that perfectly describe a very specific sort of feeling or that expose a certain way of thinking: a set of culturally constructed priorities. And, while I wasn’t completely blown away by the book overall, I really valued the way it was told and I think Bulawayo’s criticism is demonstrated effectively through the scenes, characters and happenings described.

3.5 stars and I would recommend it to others. ★★★☆☆

Nikki’s favourite line(s):

“If you are stealing something it’s better if it’s small and hideable or something you can eat quickly and be done with, like guavas. This way, people can’t see you with the thing to be reminded that you are a shameless thief and that you stole it from them, so I don’t know what the white people were trying to do in the first place, stealing not just a tiny piece but a whole country. Who can ever forget you stole something like that?”

And this beaut:

“And so the spirits just gazed at us with eyes milked dry of care.”


Claire’s Thoughts & Rating:

As Nikki has already said, this is part of our Book Club. It was Nikki’s turn to pick and I think she did a great job!

I approached We Need New Names eager to sink my teeth into a different book. I’ve read a ton of Fantasy lately, as well as a number of YA novels, and that hasn’t led to a lot of diversity on my part. I wouldn’t have picked this book up out of my own interest, though I do find it interesting, because that isn’t the type of thing I read lately.

However, when Nikki picked it, I had to admit she made a good choice. We Need New Names is a complex and engaging read that brings up so, so many issues and topics. What I liked the most is the author’s tongue and cheek attitude, her snarky writing style that is both simple and detailed. She doesn’t shy away from the realities of poverty and goes into depth the simple hopes and pleasures that living can have.

Thematically, she talks about poverty and safety but most importantly (in my opinion), “the grass is greener syndrome”. I suffer from this most extremely, but it’s something I’ve seen back in The Bahamas. Everyone sees each other’s lives through rose-colored glasses, they cannot see that each lifestyle, American or African, has its own struggles and pains, and its own redemptions of course.

Though I liked this book, and I would highly recommend it,  I’d give it heartheartheartHalfHeart. It’s engaging and well thought out, and I left it thinking good things but I wasn’t wowed. It’s good, no, it’s great, but not wow.

Claire’s Favourite Line:

“Look at the children of the land leaving in droves, leaving their own land with bleeding wounds on their bodies and shock on their faces and blood in their hearts and hunger in their stomachs and grief in their footsteps. Leaving their mothers and fathers and children behind, leaving their umbilical cords underneath the soil, leaving the bones of their ancestors in the earth, leaving everything that makes them who and what they are, leaving because it is no longer possible to stay. They will never be the same again because you cannot be the same once you leave behind who and what you are, you just cannot be the same.”


Have you read this book yet?

If you have, what did you think? If you haven’t, do you want to?

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Claire x Nikki Review June 2015

Claire x Nikki Mash Ups


This month: My fella and I went down to London and hung out with Claire for a weekend and it was SO FUN! The first stop was ELCAF (where we met up).

I got to have a portfolio review with Jillian Tamaki (where I thoroughly embarrassed myself..haa…) and listen to a talk from Sam Bosma (fyi, they are both internationally renowned illustration/comics champs), and I even got them both to sign my copies of their books :)

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FYI We stupidly forgot to take any pictures aside from one shot of two books we wanted to read and not forget about (though I did take some video clips that I want to put together later…) so all these photos are not ours (unless otherwise indicated).

We ran into some other friends and had lunch at Look Mum No Hands where I devoured a gooorgeous, moist, delicious Red Velvet cake that I was waaay too busy wolfing down to have time for pictures. Just imagine the best cake ever…then you will almost understand what this cake was like.


Look Mum No Hands

Then we just roamed the streets of London for a few hours until we were drop-dead tired.

The next day was filled with museums! The British Museum (a.k.a. Beautiful House of Colonial Loot. No shade. Just sayin’…) and the Natural History Museum (both total favourites) while Claire gave commentary about museums that was both really interesting and totally obscure that I would probably not have known/thought about if I didn’t happen to be roaming the museums with her.


The British Museum


Dippy the Brontosaurus in the vestibule of The Natural History Museum

I even reconnected with Dippy (pictured above) for the third and possibly final time before s/he gets replaced by a blue whale. Word on the street is s/he’s going to America which is total B.S. because s/he should go to a museum up North because London always tries to hog all the cool stuff. /mini-rant over.

SOOOOOooooo that whole weekend was really great! It definitely lived up to my excitement, but was over all too quickly. We’ll have to go down there again soon.

But, back to books!


Books Read

  • In the Miso Soup by Ryū Murakami ★★★☆☆ thriller
  • Yesterday by Haruki Murakami ★★☆☆☆ literary fiction
  • Goliath by Tom Gauld ★★★★☆ graphic novel/biblical fiction
  • We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo ★★★☆☆ literary fiction
  • Vacancy by Jen Lee ★★★☆☆ graphic novel
  • The Little Gardener by Emily Hughes ★★★★☆ kidlit
  • Saga (single issues #25-#29) by Brian K Vaughan & Fiona Staples ★★★★☆ graphic novel
  • Aya of Yop City by Marguerite Abouet & Clément Oubrerie ★★★★☆ graphic novel
aya of yop city

Book of the Month

Miscellaneous Favourites:

Museum: Natural History Museum

Game: This is more of a “movie” for me since I watched it rather than playing, but The Last of Us.

Song: Laura Mvula’s That’s Alright



Nikki put it so well above. This month has been trying for me, it’s been hard work wise but socially it’s been great! I finally managed to graduate with my MSc and I admit, I got a bit teary when I put on those robes, I couldn’t believe it actually and finally happened. My friend Jess came down for that and it was good to feel that familiarity again. I met up with Nikki at ELCAF and had a ball, it was so great to see her and the fella! We laughed and talked foolishness but such good foolishness!

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I also went to Pride this year (hence the sticker) and it was my first pride ever. It was a magical day for me, I got to see another good friend from Oxford and made new ones as well. Anyone who knows me, knows that I consistently struggle in that department. Also, it was the first time I’d gone to anything remotely gay or been public about my sexuality. I blog about it and the people who know me know, but I’ve never been to a club, or been seen in public with a partner. It’s not on purpose, but when you learn to hide at a young age because where you live it isn’t safe to be who you are, it’s hard to get out of that habit. But it was so good to jump and shout. I screamed for every Caribbean flag I saw, every country that I recognized. Magical I tell you.


Books Read

  • The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black
  • The Bone Season (The Bone Season #1) by Samantha Shannon
  • The Mime Order (The Bone Season #2) by Samantha Shannon
  • We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo
  • A Darker Shade of Magic (A Darker Shade of Magic, #1) by V. E. Schwab
  • Daughter of Smoke & Bone (Daughter of Smoke & Bone, #1) by Laini Taylor
  • Days of Blood & Starlight (Daughter of Smoke & Bone, #2) by Laini Taylor

Books of the Month

This was the Book of the Month, hands down. I thoroughly enjoyed the adventure and its characters.


TV: I am obsessed, and I mean really obsessed with Parks and Recreation. Leslie Knope is my idol and everything that I want to be in the future. I cannot wait till it happens!


Leslie Knope is my idol.

Food: For some reason, I’ve developed a crazy craving for sushi. I like sushi, always have but this month, it’s like all I want to eat for lunch and dinner. I even had it for breakfast once, what the heck right?

How was your June?


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Review: The Darkest Part of the Forest

Book: The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2015
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Source + Date Read: Library + June 2015
Recommend: Great fantasy read by a nitty-gritty writer.
Book Pro’s: Strong female protagonist with a magical twist on reality.
Book Con’s: A bit slow on the uptake, but amazing.
Favourite Line: Once, there was a girl who vowed she would save everyone in the world, but forgot herself.”

Summary: Children can have a cruel, absolute sense of justice. Children can kill a monster and feel quite proud of themselves. A girl can look at her brother and believe they’re destined to be a knight and a bard who battle evil. She can believe she’s found the thing she’s been made for.
Hazel lives with her brother, Ben, in the strange town of Fairfold where humans and fae exist side by side. The faeries’ seemingly harmless magic attracts tourists, but Hazel knows how dangerous they can be, and she knows how to stop them. Or she did, once.
At the center of it all, there is a glass coffin in the woods. It rests right on the ground and in it sleeps a boy with horns on his head and ears as pointed as knives. Hazel and Ben were both in love with him as children. The boy has slept there for generations, never waking.
Until one day, he does…
As the world turns upside down, Hazel tries to remember her years pretending to be a knight. But swept up in new love, shifting loyalties, and the fresh sting of betrayal, will it be enough?

More Information: GoodReads

I decided to go read this after I’d read a few great reviews about it. I’ve read other stuff by Holly Black, and I’ve always loved her work. Why? Because she’s such a great writer. She’s a good nitty, gritty writer. She’s totally unafraid to get ugly and describe the not so good parts of being a teenager (which doesn’t seem so long ago to me… I don’t feel like an adult, at all).

The Darkest Part of The Forest is a diverse read featuring a strong female protagonist with her strong brother. I know I’ve said strong too many times in this one review but seriously, these twins kick butt in different ways. They’ve had a tough life and came through it with panache and elegance. Holly artfully infuses fantasy into a surreal world, where magic is accepted and absorbed into the mundane, everyday life.

What surprised me is how she managed to make it seem so amazing and terrifying, you can ask the faeries for a blessing but tourists go missing, devoured by banshees. It’s that dual bit, the good and the bad infused that make this so strong. Faeries are lovely yet cruel- gorgeous and cold.

Another strength for this book is the inclusion of actual faerie perspectives. In a number of novels in this genre, the faeries are other-worldly creatures, demon angels sent to cause mayhem. But here, they’re actual beings, with terrifyingly petty feuds, hopes and dreams. They love and grieve, and they sacrifice as well. I liked that, she somehow manage to humanize a myth in a great way (one of the only other books to do this well, in my opinion, is Seraphina by Rachel Hartman, in how she humanized dragons)

I’m also going to start linking to other reviews when I write one, as I’m one of those readers that are influenced by the reviews of others- so maybe this will help others make up their minds? Dunno, but read on!

Have you read this? I’d love to hear your perspectives on it!


Posted in Book Reviews, Fantasy, YA | Tagged , | 11 Comments

2015 Quarterly Check-In #2 (Nikki)

Let’s just hop to it!

Goodreads challenge

It currently says 67/75 books. Yes, I bumped it up again from 60 to 75 because it was inflated with comics, picture books and short stories which I don’t really include in my personal count. Remembering that my original goal (and still my personal goal I guess) was to read 40 books, I have read 25 average- or novella-sized books, 6 plays/poetry collections, 17 graphic novels, 6 children’s books, 6 picture books and 6 short stories.

If you’re counting at home, I’m pretty sure that missing ‘book’ was the graphic novel short that I counted on Goodreads but not in my personal spreadsheet…

So far I’ve read 43% female authors (pretty much the same as the previous quarter and 7% down from my goal) with 55% male and 2% “other” (either both male and female creators or unknown, but authors who identify as neither would fit in this category too). I have read 32% authors of colour (2% up from the previous quarter and right on track with my goals).

Now a whopping 23% of my reading has been translated works which is super impressive since I wasn’t even paying much attention to my translated books.

The amount of books from my TBR has gone down to 27%.

56% of my reading has been free either from the library or friends or eARCs.

• • •

10-10-10-10 challenge (formerly a 10-10-10-5 challenge):

TEN Novels (as in not non-fiction) by Female Authors: Doin’ fine

  1. Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
  2. Wonder by RJ Palacio
  3. Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine
  4. The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
  5. Come Close by Sappho
  6. Ariel by Sylvia Plath
  7. The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker
  8. When Angels Speak of Love by bell hooks

TEN Novels from Around the World: On track

  1. A Wild Sheep Chase by Haruki Murakami [Asia]
  2. The Dhammapada by [anonymous] [Asia]
  3. Speaking of Śiva by [anonymous] [Asia]
  4. In the Miso Soup by Ryū Murakami [Asia]
  5. We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo [Africa]

TEN Graphic Novels/Comics/Picture Books: I totally busted this wide open. Why is it even a challenge category? The Nikki of yesteryear was confused when she thought this one up. I’m just going to stop counting these here now.

  1. Saga vol 3 by Brian K Vaughan (author) & Fiona Staples (illustrator)
  2. Saga vol 4 by Brian K Vaughan (author) & Fiona Staples (illustrator)
  3. Red Sonja by Gail Simone (author) & Walter Geovanni (illustrator)
  4. Ms Marvel by G Willow Wilson (author) & Adrian Alphona (illustrator)
  5. Outcast, vol 1: A Darkness Surrounds Him by Robert Kirkman & Paul Azaceta (illustrator)
  6. Rat Queens, vol 1: Sass & Sorcery by Kurtis J Wiebe (author) & Roc Upchurch (illustrator)
  7. March: Book One by John Lewis (author), Andrew Aydin (author) & Nate Powell (illustrator)
  8. The Worrier’s Guide to Life by Gemma Correll (author/illustrator)
  9. Low by Rick Remender (author) & Greg Tocchini (illustrator)
  10. Embroideries by Marjane Satrapi (author/illustrator)
  11. Shadow Show: Stories in Celebration of Ray Bradbury by [various]
  12. Southern Cross #1 by Becky Cloonan (author) & Andy Belanger (illustrator)
  13. Sam and Dave Dig a Hole by Mac Barnett (author) & Jon Klassen (illustrator)
  14. Mr Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brown (author/illustrator)
  15. The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt (author) & Oliver Jeffers (illustrator)
  16. Akissi: Cat Invasion by Marguerite Abouet (author) & Mathieu Sapin (illustrator)
  17. Hug Machine by Scott Campbell
  18. A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to School… by Davide Cali & Benjamin Chaud
  19. Goliath by Tom Gauld (author/illustrator)
  20. Vacancy by Jen Lee (author/illustrator)

Five TEN Non-Fiction Books: Done and dusted :)

  1. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling
  2. Bone Black: Memories of Girlhood by bell hooks
  3. Letter to My Daughter by Maya Angelou
  4. Apology by Plato
  5. Homage to Catalonia by George Orwell
  6. Theory of Everything by Stephen Hawking
  7. Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
  8. Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay
  9. The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx & Friedrich Engels
  10. None of the Above by Rick Edwards

• • •

Somewhere along the way I decided to drop my 2015 Old & New Classics Challenge

It was making me feel lazy and uncomfortable with keeping myself in a certain kind of bubble that I naturally gravitate towards anyway. I felt guilty every time I thought to pick up something from this challenge knowing I was doing a disservice to my understanding of wider perspectives. And now that I’ve decisively dropped this challenge, I’ve picked up some more classics and my brain is totally happy about that because it works in mysterious ways.

To be fair, it could just be because this challenge was so restrictive in its specificity. It doesn’t work well for people like me. I need open categories, not pre-determined titles. Sheesh!

• • •

So far my favourite book this year has been The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker.

the golem and the jinni

Oh gosh. My heart is fluttering just thinking about it now.

And, just like that, this year is halfway gone and I’m just here crying about how old I’m getting… #QuarterLifeCrisis?

Are you on track for all your reading goals (however official or unofficial they might be)?

What’s your favourite book of the year so far?

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Review: Monstrous Beauty

Book: Monstrous Beauty by Elizabeth Fama
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) , 2012
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Source + Date Read: Own + May 2015
Recommend: For those that like some mermaids with their breakfast.
Book Pro’s: Interesting take on the mermaid myth.
Book Con’s: Something about this just felt off. I’m not too fond of the protagonist.
Favourite Line: “She wanted a smile that was meant only for her.”

Summary: Fierce, seductive mermaid Syrenka falls in love with Ezra, a young naturalist. When she abandons her life underwater for a chance at happiness on land, she is unaware that this decision comes with horrific and deadly consequences.
More Information: GoodReads

I was lucky enough to win two ARCs from Anya from her weekly draw and I chose this one and Etiquette and Espionage. I’ve always wanted to read this so I was super happy when I saw this in the group!

That being said I didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought I would. There were certain parts of this book I found extremely disturbing that came out of nowhere. I did like the expansion of the mermaid universe, that was great, but what I didn’t understand was the purpose of the overarching plot, the “curse”.

Ok, this “curse” is a big deal. It ruins some serious lives and the protagonist wallows in it, terrified to fall in love, have sex, marry, or do anything that involves men really. It is centered around romance and Syrenka’s love for a human. I’m just not much of a romance person and I don’t like it as the main plot device. It’s just not my thing. It’s a good book and the tone was interesting and sort of whispy, but just not my cup of tea. So short review folks!


Posted in Book Reviews, Fantasy, YA | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Be A Good Human Tag (pt. 1)

I quite liked Jen Campbell’s Be A Good Human tag video. It struck a chord with me because, at the root of it, the main reason I read–far above escapism or enjoyment*–is that I want to be a better, more knowledgeable human.

*Although, the desire to grow and add new perspectives and ideas to my bank of thoughts is, for me, inherently enjoyable even if it comes at the cost of an unenjoyable book/reading experience…yknow?

This is not a list of books that I think would make other people better humans necessarily, but I list of books that I feel have helped (or are helping or will help) me to be a better person either through reminders or reassurances or revelations…

But I actually want to get to my list later. In this post, I’m more curious about books that YOU feel have made you a better person and hear why you feel they did/do that for you. Fiction, non-fiction, prose, poetry, comics; ALL are welcome. The more books the better!

So, what books do you think have made you better person?


Posted in Discussions | 7 Comments

Why So Serious?

So today we’re thinking about humorous books or books that, while perhaps not comedies in themselves, made us laugh whether that be one big, full belly laugh or a series of nearly constant titters.


I feel like there are a lot of kids books I could list here, but I’m leaving them out of this list.

All My Friends Are Superheroes by Andrew Kaufman

I’ve talked about Kaufman before. I have read three of his four novels now and he is definitely my type of humour (a bit silly, but smart? a little random, but directed) and I compare him all the time (as I will do now) as an author for adults who liked Lemony Snicket as children (and currently…?). Puns to be had.

Laugh-o-meter: smiles at ‘punny’ silliness and consistent titters


Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

I love the wryness of Brave New World and its absurdity. It’s hard to explain why I found this funny… But it’s similar, maybe, to the way I find many classic dystopias funny. People have described books like this as ‘haunting’ or ‘frightening’ or ‘disturbing’ and all of these other hyperbolic adjectives that I don’t think do the works real justice. I think those descriptions are more accurate for books like Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness (if you ever make it out of the jungle of metaphor and superfluous description, that is…pun intended). The way a lot of classic dystopia is often written doesn’t really conjure a reaction of ‘horror’. An annoyance, maybe. A defiance, possibly. A frustration at how backwards society can be, perhaps. But, to me, I think the absurdity is definitely funny. It’s the outlandishness of the situation (however realistic it might be) that is humorous in that same way that a terrible thing that you could have predicted and that was completely preventable is humorous.

Laugh-o-meter: smiles of disbelief


Revenge of the Mooncake Vixen by Marilyn Chin

This series of shorts just feels so RAAAAN-DOM. It’s like Chin just wrote as she thought, as a stream of funny, randy weirdness. It is odd. It is good. It is hard to describe. The first story is not funny. It is sad and humiliating, but it sows the seeds of defiance that will fire our protagonists up for the rest of their lives.

Laugh-o-meter: consistent titters


Leave it to Psmith by PG Wodehouse

I might just be an old man in a young woman’s body, but there’s this one bit where I had to put down the book because the giggles just built up too much and I needed to take a little breather to reflect on how funny that ridiculous situation would be in real life.

Laugh-o-meter: consistent giggles with the occasional belly laugh


How I Became Stupid by Martin Page

I wouldn’t say this book is hilarious…and it’s the only one on this list that isn’t in my list of favourite books…but there are a lot of funny parts and it’s worth checking out because satires, while funny, are also intended to make social commentary (or political commentary or some other kind of commentary) and this book does that fairly successfully.

Laugh-o-meter: smiles and an occasional ‘heh heh



I have a bit of an odd sense humor, but I think these following books are good representations of the things that make me laugh.

Sabriel (Abhorsen #1) by Garth Nix

This book and series is fun for one reason, and one reason alone: the Mogget. Mogget is amazing. He is funny, witty and full of wicked humor. Everything this cat says makes me burst into giggles, whether it is Sabriel, Lirael or Abhorsen. I vote for Mogget!

Laugh-o-meter: quick giggles and bursts of loud guffaws.


Saga, Volume 1 (Saga: Collected Editions #1) by Brian K. Vaughan (Writer), Fiona Staples (Artist)

Everything about this series is hilarious. It’s great because it’s so different and unexpected. Plus the art’s really amazing. It isn’t kid-friendly but if you want a healthy laugh filled with the most ridiculous characters that manage to get themselves into some funny, confusing situations.

Laugh-o-meter: truly scandalous (which means that you have to read it).


Rivers of London (Peter Grant #1) by Ben Aavoronovitch

An irreverent and sarcastic London-er makes this book a funny one. It’s all about the magic and the stupid situations that Peter gets himself into- I don’t know how he does it but he blows everything up. Constantly.

Laugh-o-meter: inappropriate giggles.


*Claire’s 5-cents* I am an awkward comedy person so I’ve only got 3 giggles for you today.

Share some giggles with us! What Books have made you laugh??


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Literary Listings: 5 Dragon Books That Will Make You Geeky(er) Part 2

This is the second part of my love affair with dragons. I love dragons, I really do and when I made the first list in 2014 (or was it 2013?) there were some good pickings. Now? So many dragon books! So many! Now there are tons of pickings and so many are real winners. I am so excited to add 5 more dragon books to the list of things that will make you geeky. Check out the first!

Literary Listings: 5 Dragon Books That Will Make You Geeky(er) Part 2

Pacific Fire (Daniel Blackland series) by Greg Van Eekhout

Ok, so this book isn’t completely about dragons but involves dragons, magic, krackens and a bunch of amazing things and the third book in the series is called Dragon Coast *squeals*. It’s set in an alternative California where magic is absorbed by bone and the carcasses of magic creatures are currency. I love this series, Pacific Fire is the second in it, with California Bones being the first. Either way this book is hella geeky and just amazing.

Talon (Talon series) by Julie Kagawa

I haven’t actually read this series but I do know that it involves dragons and I’ve heard great things about it!

GoodReads description: Long ago, dragons were hunted to near extinction by the Order of St. George, a legendary society of dragon slayers. Hiding in human form and growing their numbers in secret, the dragons of Talon have become strong and cunning, and they’re positioned to take over the world with humans none the wiser.

A Natural History of Dragons (Memoir by Lady Trent series) by Marie Brennan

One of my favourite series by far. I can’t say this enough, you need to read this book, and then the second and third and wait like me, with bated breath, till the fourth comes out. It’s set in an alternate world where dragons are just like any other creature in our world, as populous as kittens with some being as cute as puppies and deadly as… well, dragons.

Plus, look at this damn covers?! SO pretty!

The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien

I don’t even know how this book didn’t make the first list, because it is a dragon classic. It’s the first dragon book I ever read and it has spawned way too many movies (that movie series did not need three films, it really didn’t).

The Dragon Keeper (Rain Wild Chronicles) by Robi Hobb

I haven’t read this one either, and I feel bad but I’ve gotten a copy from the library but I heard it is amazing.

GoodReads description: Too much time has passed since the powerful dragon Tintaglia helped the people of the Trader cities stave off an invasion of their enemies. The Traders have forgotten their promises, weary of the labor and expense of tending earthbound dragons who were hatched weak and deformed by a river turned toxic. If neglected, the creatures will rampage–or die–so it is decreed that they must move farther upriver toward Kelsingra, the mythical homeland whose location is locked deep within the dragons’ uncertain ancestral memories.

I want your dragon recommendations! Send forth your wyverns!


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