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top10favorite2016firsthalf

Top 10 Tuesday: Favorite Books of 2016 So Far

Hello my darling bookish friends,

This year has been such an eye-opened for me in terms of books. I’d never before sought out new releases, being content to catch up on classics and other previously fully vetted books. But, through a confluence of becoming more involved on Goodreads, starting this blog, figuring out that ARCs exist and that I too, can get them, I fell into the wonderful amazing world of anticipating Tuesdays (because that’s when all new books come out? Who knew Tuesdays could become my new favorite day of the week?!)

So this week’s Top Ten Tuesdays, hosted by The Broke and Bookish since 2010, is perfectly themed for me; the prompt: Top Ten Favorite 2016 Releases So Far This Year. Now, I’ve already bought/received ARCs for far more books this year than I’ve actually read, so I’m dividing up this list in half:

  • Top Books of (first half of) 2016 I’ve actually read
  • Top Books of (first half of) 2016 I’ve bought/have and look forward to reading soon

Also, I can’t really stick to the number 10 – as snotty as I used to be about new releases (I was one of those awful people who mostly turned up their nose at “all that new stuff”) – I found, after giving them a chance, that I simply LOVE LOVE LOVE “all that new stuff” so much – so my favorites list for 2016 is overflowing. Here are my top top favorites, but I actually have many others 🙂

I am limiting my 2016 favorites to the first half of the year (end date: May 31, 2016); the list is in order of publication. 

Clicking on the image will take you to GoodReads!
Clicking on the title of the book will take you to my review on this blog (if applicable)


Top Books of (first half of) 2016 I’ve Actually Read

splitfootMr. Splitfoot by Samantha Hunt
Published January 5, 2016
Genres: Literary, Magical Realism, Gothic

I loved this book SO MUCH for opening up my world to part of the US I don’t ever get to experience in my cushy East-Coast perch. And, it’s so beautifully written.


gayyareadathon.jpgJuliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera
Published January 18th 2016
Genres: Young Adult, LGBTQIA

I only read this book this past weekend although it came out in January – as part of my first read-along ever, #GayYAReadalong. It’s one mindblowing, eye-opening book even for someone my age that I will be reviewing shortly!


girlglass

Girl Through Glass by Sari Wilson
Published January 26, 2016
Genres: Historical Fiction, Literary

The first book I ever pre-ordered, this is the perfect dance book – a beautifully-written historical coming-of-age in NYC, involving a former ballerina. Oh, and there’s mystery too, and two timelines. LOVE!


birdsAll the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders
Published January 26, 2016
Genres: Science Fiction Fantasy

I simply loved the message of this book, and its execution for the most part – it’s an inventive, beautifully written story about the eternal human struggle to conquer nature through technology and all the moral implications of that.


losttimeThe Lost Time Accidents by John Wray
Published February 9, 2016
Genres: Science Fiction, Literary, Epic Head-Trip

Wow, well so I just noticed the ratings on this one are not good on GR at all at the moment; I guess it’s a very niche book- a clever, epic, quirkly different multi-faceted sci-fi exploration of time. But maybe a bit tedious if this isn’t your thing, based on other reviews.


lovecraft.jpgLovecraft Country by Matt Ruff
Published February 16, 2016
Genres: Science Fiction Fantasy, Literary, Historical Fiction

Another brilliant sci-fi/fantasy, this one an inversion of Lovecraft’s often racist and sexist work, a visceral description of experienced racism, and a powerful allegory of institutional racism in the US, set in first half of the 20th century US.


evictedEvicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond
Published March 1, 2016
Genres: Non-Fiction, Housing Policy, US-History, Oral-History

This is an eye-opening book about the effects of housing policy on poverty in the US, told through the stories of two communities, a mostly black inner-city neighborhood and a mostly white trailer park.


whatisnotWhat Is Not Yours Is Not Yours by Helen Oyeyemi
Published March 8, 2016
Genres: Literary, Short-Stories

I’m not going to lie, this book went over my head a bit, but still is by far one of the most poetic books I’ve read this year. I also don’t read many short stories (the theme that ties these together is keys of all kinds, physical and metaphorical), so I was lucky to begin with such a beautiful collection.


Never-Open-Desert Diner3The Never-Open Desert Diner by James Anderson
Published March 22, 2016
Genres: Literary, Noir, Western, Mystery

I LOVED this book to pieces, mostly because of its atmospheric rendering of a part of the US I’m fascinated by but where I’ve never been (the Utah desert). To someone from DC that’s as far “out there” as you can get in the US, and I was simply swept away into the world Anderson so masterfully creates.


secondhandSecondhand Time: The Last of the Soviets by Svetlana Alexievich
Published May 16, 2016
Genres: Non-Fiction, Oral History, Eastern Europe, USSR-History

This is my soul-book for the year that I rated as “unlimited stars.” It’s brilliant because Alexievich is brilliant, but it’s also very close to my heart, telling as it does the history of the breakup of the Soviet Union. Ok, so I’m from Romania which was never part of the USSR, but this oral history is as close as I’ve ever gotten to a history of my past.


 Honorable Mentions of 2016 that I’ve Read & Liked a Lot

Clicking on the title of the book will take you to my review on this blog

midnight  cambodianoir  nyexposed  lovecanal


Top Books of (first half of) 2016 I Still Have to Read!!!

There’s actually a lot more books on this list, but these are the TOP books I still have to read 🙂 Clicking on the image will take you to GoodReads!

saltsea.jpg  suddendeath.jpg   whatlies.jpg  janesteele.jpg

lietree.jpg  mirrorthief.jpg  larose.jpg  dondelillo


Whew!! So many incredibly books in 2016 already! What have been some of your favorites, or which ones are you still looking forward to reading?

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For White Folks Who Teach in the Hood – The Must-Read (US) Education Book of the Year

whitefolksFor White Folks Who Teach in the Hood… and the Rest of Y’all Too: Reality Pedagogy and Urban Education by Christopher Emdin
First published on March 22, 2016
Beacon Press
Source: Goodreads Giveaway
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“Drawing on his own experience of feeling undervalued and invisible in classrooms as a young man of color and merging his experiences with more than a decade of teaching and researching in urban America, award-winning educator Christopher Emdin offers a new lens on an approach to teaching and learning in urban schools. Putting forth his theory of Reality Pedagogy, Emdin provides practical tools to unleash the brilliance and eagerness of youth and educators alike—both of whom have been typecast and stymied by outdated modes of thinking about urban education. Lively, accessible, and revelatory, For White Folks Who Teach in the Hood…and the Rest of Y’all Too is the much-needed antidote to traditional top-down pedagogy and promises to radically reframe the landscape of urban education for the better.” Source: Beacon Press.

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Review:

Excellent distillation of urban studies, race-gender oriented critical-theory, and education philosophy applied to the urban classroom, for a non-academic audience.

This book was written for me (and for you, too, especially if you teach or are interested in the education debates). (more…)

anticipatingjune2016

Anticipating June 2016 – New Releases in Books

Hellooo my darling bookish friends,

It is with great joy that I welcome June – yet another month of awesome new releases I look forward to (that, probably, I will still be catching up on in December, seeing how behind I’ve gotten already on all the books bought and received thus far this year). Anyone else with me on that? I know I’m not alone on endless tbr-piles 😉

Also a quick note on teaching and my blog: somehow, I was so much better at keeping up while my students were still at school… Is this the teacher version of senioritis, I wonder? Complete lethargy for the 2.5 weeks I still have to show up but do absolutely nothing but clean up and prep for next year because all my students are gone? (Ah, the joys of teaching seniors…). Anyways, it’s now June 1st, time to recommit, for real this time!

New June Goal: 4+ blog posts per week, and also keeping up with all of your wonderful blogs and updates!

Without further ado, here’s books I’ll have to read (aka ARCs), others I’ve pre-ordered, some I would love to read eventually, and one that I sadly cannot recommend. (more…)

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Unlimited Stars for Alexievich: THE Oral History of Eastern-Block Communism & the Transition to Capitalism

secondhandSecondhand Time: The Last of the Soviets by Svetlana Alexievich
First English Translation
by Bela Shayevich on May 24, 2016
Random House
Source: ARC from Random House via Netgalley
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The magnum opus and latest work from Svetlana Alexievich, the 2015 winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature—a symphonic oral history about the disintegration of the Soviet Union and the emergence of a new Russia. In Secondhand Time, Alexievich chronicles the demise of communism. Everyday Russian citizens recount the past thirty years, showing us what life was like during the fall of the Soviet Union and what it’s like to live in the new Russia left in its wake. Through interviews spanning 1991 to 2012, Alexievich takes us behind the propaganda and contrived media accounts, giving us a panoramic portrait of contemporary Russia and Russians who still carry memories of oppression, terror, famine, massacres—but also of pride in their country, hope for the future, and a belief that everyone was working and fighting together to bring about a utopia. Here is an account of life in the aftermath of an idea so powerful it once dominated a third of the world.” Source: Penguin Random House.

5heartrating5heartrating

Review

“We sit atop the ruins of socialism like it’s the aftermath of war.”

UNLIMITED STARS.

One of the best books I’ve ever read. THE most personally touching and relevant book I’ve EVER read. A book that penetrates the soul of my being and explains me to myself.
(more…)

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(Another) Mathematician’s Lament – How School Cheats Us Out of Our Most Fascinating and Imaginative Art Form

A Mamathlamentthematician’s Lament: How School Cheats Us Out of Our Most Fascinating and Imaginative Art Form by Paul Lockhart
Published April 1, 2009
Bellevue Literary Press
Source: I bought it
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“A brilliant research mathematician who has devoted his career to teaching kids reveals math to be creative and beautiful and rejects standard anxiety-producing teaching methods. Witty and accessible, Paul Lockhart’s controversial approach will provoke spirited debate among educators and parents alike and it will alter the way we think about math forever.” Source: Bellevue Literary Press

2starrating

As a mathematics teacher and long-time student of mathematics, I was overjoyed when I came across this book. Finally, I thought, an ode to the profound beauty and elegance of this most precise and direct human languages. And, hopefully, an expose on the state of mathematics education, and a plea to change course, maybe even some practical suggestions on how we may begin to do this.  (more…)

anticipatingmay2016

Anticipating May 2016 – New Book Releases, Fiction & Non-Fiction

Hi everyone! It’s that very exciting time of the month – the end! Which is thrilling of course because it means May is almost here, bringing with it a wealth of NEW BOOKS to swoon over and be enchanted by and hopefully fall in love with.

Here’s my most-anticipated list – 4 I’m still eagerly awaiting (on pre-order), and 4 I’ve had the privilege to read & that I highly recommend. Each list is in order of publication.

What are *you* looking forward to reading this month? I would love to know!!! Please leave a note in the comments if you wouldn’t mind sharing 🙂

(more…)

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Love & a Hooker: The Birth of Public Awareness of Toxic Waste in the US – A Review of Love Canal

Llovecanalove Canal: A Toxic History from Colonial Times to the Present by Richard S. Newman
Published on May 2, 2016
Oxford University Press
Source: ARC from Oxford University Press via Netgalley
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“The first book to place Love Canal in a long history of industrialization around Niagara Falls, stretching back to colonial times; Places grassroots environmental protest in a national and global context; Situates Love Canal in a long and complex environmental history its residents altered forever in the 1970s and 1980s; Draws on previously unused archived material and original oral histories” Source: Oxford University Press

5heartrating

Review

In the spring of 1953, the Niagara Falls School Board thinks itself mighty lucky for scoring the purchase of a site (Love Canal) for a new school for only $1. Ok, so it has been warned that underneath the seemingly idyllic pastoral landscape, a seething 20,000 tons of toxic waste percolates the earth. How this may be relevant, no one (wants) to guess, not even when the foundation of the new school sinks into an oily fetid pit. Undeterred, construction moves a few paces north, and the school opens in 1955. (more…)

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Cholera and Cover-Up in Post-Earthquake Haiti – A Forceful Expose of the Politicization of Science 

deadlyriver

Deadly River: Cholera and Cover-Up in Post-Earthquake Haiti by Ralph R. Frerichs
Published on May 3, 2016
Cornell University Press
Source: ARC from Cornell University Press via Netgalley
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“In Deadly River, Ralph R. Frerichs tells the story of the epidemic—of a French disease detective determined to trace its origins so that he could help contain the spread and possibly eliminate the disease—and the political intrigue that has made that effort so difficult. The story involves political maneuvering by powerful organizations such as the United Nations and its peacekeeping troops in Haiti, as well as by the World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. Frerichs explores a quest for scientific truth and dissects a scientific disagreement involving world-renowned cholera experts who find themselves embroiled in intellectual and political turmoil in a poverty-stricken country.” Source: Cornell University Press

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Review

Nine months after the catastrophic January 2010 earthquake that took over 220,000 lives, UN ‘peacekeeping’ troops from Nepal brought cholera to Haiti and unleashed an epidemic that continues to this day. It is estimated that 7% of Haitians now carry the bacteria; over 8000 have died. Yet, the UN denies culpability (although Ban Ki Moon has indicated that he understands the origin of the disease) and continues to fight “the most organized challenge to UN immunity yet” (New York Times). (more…)

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History Repeats Itself – New York Exposed Exposes Modern Political Quandaries

nyexposedNew York Exposed: The Police Scandal That Shocked the Nation and Launched the Progressive Era by Daniel Czitrom
Published on April 29, 2016
Oxford University Press
Source: ARC from Oxford University Press via Netgalley
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“A true-crime New York-based historical thriller featuring a colorful cast of turn-of-the-century figures–Tammany bosses, progressive do-gooders, and all the purveyors of vice and corruption;
the first thoroughly researched, thoughtfully written book about the Lexow investigation.” Source: Oxford University Press.

5heartrating

Review
You know that book that you just picked up that coincidentally seems to address everything that’s been swirling through your head recently, that is somehow connected to everything else you’ve been reading? Of course, it’s no coincidence, there is no such thing – only opportunities to learn, born of interest and active pursuit.

(more…)