Not because it was hard, but because (a) my daughter kept talking to me and (b) I kept getting distracted by The Oscars. And Twitter and Facebook. Also, I was trying to figure out which leggings to buy. Anyway.
Okay, I had to look at my calendar to see what I actually did this past week. Is that sad? It feels sad. I guess it’s a good thing I’m doing the Slice of Life challenge next month, huh? Anyway, that’s where I am. So yes, this past week I:
- went to a Hamilton trivia night (my team lost)
- went to the dentist
- went to a search committee meeting for the church’s new minister
- attended a plagiarism hearing as a witness
- visited an astronomy class as part of the pilot Teaching Squares program at my school (and learned quite a bit!)
- attended a student conduct hearing as a member of the conduct board
- went to see a student production of The Drowsy Chaperone, which was super fun (I love a good farce and a good meta-narrative)
- dropped in to a party I wasn’t invited to to visit a friend who was only in town for one night
- went to the Women’s March celebration and activist fair held by the local chapter of the march
And that doesn’t even count my regularly scheduled activities (work, gym, etc.).
Also, my daughter got into her first choice college (and the only one she applied to), so that’s exciting.
Oh, and in grown up news, I decided that I can’t afford to go to New York to see Hamilton next week so canceled that trip. It sucks but was also the right thing to do. The good news is that I was able to sell my tickets super easily, so yay Hamlet, I guess.
Last week, I read:
I liked this, though I wasn’t a big fan of the illustrations. The characters just looked all wrong to me except for Iko and Wolf.
Anyway, Iko is amazing as always, and I really appreciate that this is addressing all the Lunar soldiers left behind, which I have to admit I hadn’t given much thought to at the end of the series. So I like that Meyer is pushing us to think beyond “the win.”
All of the major characters show up, which is also nice.
This is super adorable, and it’s made even more adorable by the fact that it’s about friendship.
I also abandoned one book:
2/23/17: Made it to pg. 68, even though I was pretty certain from the first chapter this book was not going to hold my interest. I was willing to give it a chance because THAT COVER. Oh well.
Currently, I’m reading:
I am still making my way through the audiobook of Hidden Figures. I have lots of thoughts about this, most of them related to The Fifth Season, which I still have not reviewed, but I think I have a way to come at it now. Also, don’t forget that racism is systemic, all-encompassing, and a thief. And if you think we’re “past it” or in a “post-racial world,” you don’t understand history.
I am a little ways through Short by Holly Goldberg Sloan. It’s cute without being twee, so I’m enjoying it so far.
In TV news:
I watched the first episode of Big Little Lies on HBO. First of all, it was written by David E. Kelley, which I was not expecting. Second of all, I way prefer Nicole Kidman with red hair. And third of all, I found myself wondering how people who haven’t read the book experience or will experience the show.
Also, Reese Witherspoon is pretty great.
Have a good week, everyone!
Traveling to the march this past weekend put me behind on everything. Sigh.
First things first, though: I didn’t make it to the actual march because on the way there, about two hours outside of DC, I got sick and knew I wouldn’t be able to handle the walking or the crowds.
However, I still had a positive experience because of all the awesome women in my life, most notably my friend Monique who was willing to brave traffic, etc. to pick me up from RFK at 7:30 a.m. when I told her what was going on and also a woman named Crystal on our bus who supplied me with Dramamine and anti-nausea meds when I got motion sickness on the bus ride home (before I knew her name, even!).
And, yes, that means I got sick on the way there AND the way back.
Anyway, the best sign I saw this weekend was black text on a white background that said, “NOPE.”
Then, of course, there were the books.
This past week, I read:
Alex’s grandmother proves, once again, why grandmothers are better than almost everyone else.
Lots of good forward motion here with the plot. I’m interested to see how it all turns out.
Okay, yes, this was much much better than Raven’s introduction in Princeless, Vol. 3: The Pirate Princess since Raven kind of didn’t fit the tone there.
This book/series is definitely YA whereas Princeless could be classified as children’s, middle grade, or lower YA.
Anyway, I am a fan of groups of ladies being generally badass and am an ultrafan of POC women doing the same. Lots of good jokes in here (“not all men” and men’s rights makes an appearance) and a lot of fun. Also violence. And queer girls/women. And girls/women having varied interests (chemistry! cartography! dance! RPG! beating people up!).
Two thumbs up, fine holiday fun.
Read this on the recommendation of a friend who said it transformed the way she thinks about running training. I’m still trying to wrap my head around how I would use it in my classes. Lots to think about here but really good stuff about the ownership of learning.
As of today, I’m reading:
I don’t know what I’m reading. Wait, that’s a lie.
I’m still making my way through Furiously Happy–very slowly. Lawson’s writing style is a bit, shall I say, relentless. So I’m finding it difficult to sit down and read large chunks at a time. However, if it were a blog I could drop in on from time to time…well. You see where I’m going with this, right? Anyway, I told my daughter I would finish it, so I shall. It may take me until the end of summer, but I’ll do it. That’s just how much I love her.
Also, I just this minute decided to start reading The Hidden Oracle by Rick Riordan even though I have a ton of other books in my stack ahead of it because I know it’ll make me happy. So, that’s I am: eschewing all of the should-reads and going with my want to read. Just the way the book and summer gods intended.
Happy reading, everyone!
This past week, I finished:
This is super cute and very slice of life, which is a thing I dig.
When I first started this book, I didn’t think I would like it, but I very quickly changed my mind. This was really sweet (but not twee) and very engaging. Great characters.
Last week, I posted:
I’m posting about fannish pursuits for the A to Z challenge, and I have been keeping up with it rather well. Here are the posts I’ve made so far (and, yes, I don’t even want to talk about how I’m a fan of exercise. I’m just going with it.):
[wrap-up-posts week=”14″ year=”2016″ category=”Blogging A to Z” listtype=”ul”]
As of today, I’m reading:
Yes, still with Necessary Endings. Maybe this will be the week that I finish it?
I also have three books from the library on my Kindle, but I haven’t decided which one to start. Do I go for a tried and true author? The second book in a series that promises to be fun? Or something probably a little more grounded and serious? It all depends on how I feel tomorrow. I don’t want to say what the three books are because I may feel like something completely different when it’s time to choose. SUSPENSE.
Happy reading, everyone!
My eye issue has mostly resolved, so I should be able to keep up with blogs more from now, which is a definite yay. I missed posting last week, so this is a two-fer (though, technically, I guess it’s a three-fer). I read some books is what I’m saying. Let’s get to it.
This past week, I finished:
4.5 stars, rounding up
I love everything about this book (okay, almost everything, hence the 1/2 star deduction), including the cover. So fun! It gave me a happy.
The week before that, I finished:
Harriet Tubman is your OG, and you will respect her as such. Harriet Tubman is a complete and total badass. This book is A++ in showing that and giving an overview of her life. Two thumbs up, fine holiday fun.
Nathan Hale’s art is amazing, and he presents slavery in an unflinching and honest way, which is important given discussions around how children’s books are failing to do that right now.
Read Harder 2016: Read a biography (not memoir or autobiography)
This was solid.
I only have two complaints: (1) There were a couple of glaring typos in the first couple of pages and (2) the art work in the epilogue is completely different from the other chapters and it was my least favorite of all the art.
Otherwise, intriguing and an interesting/fun new take on Holmes.
Read Harder 2016: Read a non-superhero comic that debuted in the last three years
When I first started this book, I didn’t care much for the art–a little too dark and muddled. However, as the story progressed and Jessica’s came out of her depression, the art work shifted. It was subtle, and it worked.
I like Jessica. I liked this. And that ending? Man.
2.5 stars, rounding down
So. Here’s the thing. Marcus Samuelsson has led a fascinating life, and I enjoyed reading about it. But at one point, he reveals that he has a daughter, and he decides to be an absentee father while he pursues his dreams. Which, you know, is fine if that’s the choice he wanted to make. But all I could think as he was talking about his time gallivanting around the world as a chef is “Yeah, but what about Zoe?”
WHAT ABOUT ZOE, MARCUS?
So that tempered my enjoyment quite a bit.
Also, hot tip to all the absentee/deadbeat parents in the world: do not thank the parent who actually did the work of raising the child. That probably annoys me more than women who say their husbands are “babysitting” the children.
Read Harder 2016: Read a food memoir
So, all in all, January was:
A good reading month! I read 15 books, 5 of which counted for the Diversity on the Shelf challenge. I am running at lower than 50% reads by/about POC, so I want to improve on that next month. We’ll see how it goes. I also read three 5-star books. Wouldn’t it be nice if 20% of my reads this year turn out to be 5-star reads?
As of today, I’m reading:
The Light Between Oceans is slow-going so far, but it’s for book club so I shall power through. I am not sure yet how I feel about Re Jane. I dig a lot of the changes the author has made (I especially love how she deals with the madwoman in the attic–brilliant!) (also, love the word play in the title). However, this Jane is planning to do something original Jane just would not do AT ALL, so I am not sure if I’ll be able to keep reading if this Jane does something the original Jane wouldn’t. I am not even particularly enamored of the original, but I guess even I have my limits. So. We shall see how that goes.
Happy reading, everyone!
This week, I finished:
- Hark! A Vagrant by Kate Beaton (comic strip collection, adult) — It’s a collection of comics from her website, so exactly as expected
- How to Write a Novel by Melanie Sumner (adult) — Meh. I would’ve liked it more if the relationships and characters were a little more developed.
- Jem and the Holograms: Showtime by Kelly Thompson, illustrated by Sophie Campbell (YA, graphic novel) — Disappointing characterization with unnecessarily busy panels.
- Romeo & Juliet adapted by Gareth Hinds (YA, graphic novel) — Great adaptation with a really sympathetic Romeo.
- “Sonny’s Blues” by James Baldwin (adult, short story) — Amazing, amazing, amazing, amazing. I just really loved this in ways I can’t explain. The ending burned a hole in my heart, and I sincerely feel like everybody should read it.
Last week, I posted:
[wrap-up-posts week=”51″ year=”2015″ listtype=”ul”]
I just started All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr last night, which is a pretty big deal in terms of popularity. We’ll see how it goes.
Oh, and I started Humans of New York: Stories by Brandon Stanton, and it is pretty delightful so far.
There’s this moment in Crushed where the villain’s lackey legit says to Kamala that it’s her own fault she was kidnapped because she got in the car with him, and everyone saw her and wouldn’t think less of him but of her. And it’s so absurd and ridiculous that I started yelling at the page. But, for a moment, Kamala starts to second guess herself and think that she should have been smarter and known better. And it’s like, “Yes, Kamala, you should have known that the boy who you trusted and who offered you a ride to school would instead DRIVE YOU STRAIGHT TO THE VILLAIN’S LAIR.” Because that is a reasonable expectation to have.
So, anyway, if even one teenager/young person reads this book and is struck by how dumb the lackey’s logic is and how of course it’s not Kamala’s fault that this guy she trusted completely violated that trust and then tried to make her out to be the bad guy, and that teenager/young person then connects it to the way society likes to blame women/girls for the terrible things that happen to them because they should have known better and realizes it’s just as absurd, then this book is the best book ever.
A+++ for showing how a predator operates also.
Kamala continues to be pretty great (LOVE HER). I am frequently concerned about her costume, though. I just know one day a bad guy is going to step on her scarf and strangle her to death. Or she’ll get it caught in an escalator (there have been no escalators in the series thus far). That’s just how my brain operates, I guess.
(Or YAAAAAAAAAAAAS as the youngers say.)
There is so much to dig about this book. Let’s start here:
I listened to The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan a while ago, and enjoyed the book but found it a little long and fairly complex. So I was really interested to see how the book translated to the graphic novel format.
To start, the illustrations (by Orpheus Collar) are gorgeous. GORGEOUS. The colors are rich and detailed, and the characters look pretty much exactly as I expected. The pictures/colors also match the mood of the story: dark when appropriate, hazy and dream-like when appropriate, and, of course, bright and fun when appropriate.
The action scenes in the original novel are fairly complex, so they are well served by the graphic novel format. Events that take pages and pages of description are finished in one or two pages. The same applies with magical transformations or acts. They took a lot of description in the book but only a few panels in the graphic novel.
So that was great.
While I enjoyed reading this as a graphic novel, I found that the racial politics of the book were lost in translation, and that was a huge letdown.
There’s no ignoring that Sadie and Carter are brothers and sisters who, on the surface, don’t look alike. (He’s brown-skinned and she can pass for white.) This is a point of real tension in the original novel that is only briefly touched on in the graphic novel. In fact, it only comes up once when their dad introduces them to someone he works with at the museum.
In the book, that difference is a much bigger deal. For example:
- Carter thinks his grandparents rejected him in favor of Sadie because she looks more like them.
- Carter’s dad makes a very big deal about how Carter should dress, which causes Sadie to make fun of him for dressing as an old man.
In the graphic novel, those details are lost. There is zero mention of Carter’s relationship with his grandparents and/or how he feels rejected by them. At the end of the book, Carter mentions his dad would think Carter is dressed “like a hoodlum.” However, there’s zero mention of why, nor is there any mention of why that’s a big deal.
Another huge part of the story is that Sadie and Carter have lived apart for a long time, and they’re very wary of each other and have to learn to trust each other. They’re jealous of each other’s relationships with the other members of their families, and they both find each other tiresome in very complicated ways–mostly because they don’t know each other very well. Those complexities, too, get lost in the adaptation.
Oh, and a lot of the humor was lost. So, that sucks.
I feel like this review is reading negatively, and that’s not my intent. I really did like the graphic novel. However, I did read the original first, and it’s hard not to notice that so much of what I liked about the novel is missing here.
That said, I think the graphic novel is an awesome introduction to the characters and the series, but I would definitely recommend that anyone who enjoys it also check out the original novel as well. All in all, the graphic novel is a solid adaptation because the general outline of the story and the excitement are there. But, for nuance and humor, the original really is superior.
I haven’t written a proper review since October?! That’s just not on. Especially considering I have read a ton of books since then. Me and this blog have a lot to hash out in the next few days/weeks. In the meantime, here are some mini reviews.
1. Saints by Gene Luen Yang – This is half of a two-part series about the Boxer Rebellion in China. I thought the two books would come in together, but I guess whoever had the first book wasn’t done with it. I was planning to read them as a set, though.
What I liked about this book is how small in scale it is, even though it deals with a huge conflict. Saints follows Four-Girl as she discovers Christianity and leaves her family’s home. I really liked that she is not really directly engaged with the rebellion and is instead just trying to figure out her place in the world. The rebellion does directly touch her life, but the focus of the novel is on her day-to-day struggle to fit in with her family and community. So often stories about war are, you know, about war, so that was a pleasant surprise. Another unexpected and interesting approach Yang takes is with regards to Four-Girl’s conversion to Christianity. It’s less about spirituality and more about protection and rebellion. As far as the art goes, the graphics are delightful as usual. I love Yang’s artistic style.
2. Aya: Life in Yop City by Marguerite Abouet (illustrated by Clément Oubrerie) – It took me a little while to get into this slice of life graphic novel set in the Ivory Coast during the late 1970s–mostly because the artwork inside the novel isn’t quite as detailed as the cover, so that was disappointing. The novel also doesn’t really have a clear plot right away; it mostly establishes the setting and relationships in the beginning. Once the relationships and setting are established, the drama starts to pick up, and I became much more interested. The main takeaway of course is that people are the same everywhere. Some of the cultural mores are different, yes, but, in general, Aya and her friends/family deal with family, work, and societal drama. There’s a “who’s the daddy?” plot, a plot about a boy who disappoints his father, several plots about infidelity, etc. I mean, you know, the usual. By the end I was engaged, but I’m not necessarily interested in picking up the next part of the collection.
3. The House of Hades by Rick Riordan – I continue to be delighted by this series and by Rick Riordan. The best part of this book is that all of the demigods get a chance to narrate so the story feels more balanced, and a lot of character development happens. I have to give Riordan props for anticipating my needs/wants as a reader as well. At one point, I found myself thinking, “Man, I really miss [specific character]” and then that character showed up within a couple of chapters. I also started getting annoyed with how heteronormative all of the characters/relationships are, and then he introduced a gay character. So I have much respect for Riordan as an author based on those two instances alone. Also: plot, characters, etc. I’m also starting to warm up a lot more to the characters I didn’t feel a proclivity towards, so that’s nice as well. I’m looking forward to seeing how everything shakes out.
I did read more books than the three featured here, but I’m trying to figure out the best way to discuss them. Mostly, with them, I’m concerned with certain patterns or trends I noticed, so they aren’t really fit for typical reviews, I think. We shall see.