Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Book Review: Ramona Blue

TITLE: Ramona Blue
AUTHOR: Julie Murphy
PUBLISHED: May 9th, 2017
CATEGORY: YA
GENRE: Contemporary
PREMISE: A girl realizes she's bisexual over an eventful few months...
MY REVIEW: Chances are if you've heard about this book, you've heard about the big stink raised on Goodreads by people going on about how this was lesbian erasure. I know I heard it and that made me hesitant to pick it up. Because lesbian erasure is a thing that goes on  in entertainment and it's gross. But after reading people's reasons for deciding it was lesbian erasure...I started to smell bs. Namely bs in the form of bi-phobia.
First, it didn't help people that they came to the conclusion that it was erasure because they read (the admittedly very bad) blurb. I'm sorry, if your basing your opinion on a blurb...I can't take your opinion seriously. Second, several bisexual people, who actually had read the book, started to clear things up and people just basically straight up said they were lying or tried to invalidate their experiences when some of them said they went through exactly what Ramona did in this book. That right there, ticked me off. Stop invalidating others' experiences just because that hasn't been your experience, okay? Not everyone figures out their sexuality the same way. No one's experience is universal.
So after that, and more then a few bi-phobic comments made by the people protesting the book (another big red flag for me), I decided to just check it out on my own and guess what: there was no lesbian erasure. Ramona makes it very clear she is still very into women, she's just now also into men. That's not really lesbian erasure guys. Ramona was always bisexual. She was just realizing it now and that is a thing that happens sometimes. If she dated Freddie and then decided oh, she just likes guys now, and did the gross it was just a phase thing, THAT would be lesbian erasure and I'd be right there protesting the book with you. But that wasn't what happened. Now, if we want to talk about the thing with her ex-girlfriend...that could also qualify, but the author also makes it incredibly clear that what that character said is all sorts of wrong and not okay. So I'm sorry, you all don't really have a case. Let this be a lesson: stinks raised on Goodreads about stuff are not always right. Read the book and form your own opinion.
That issue out of the way, onto the actual book: it was okay. I do feel Murphy could have handled some issues here and there better (like the thing with the ex-girlfriend). There are plots that are never fully resolved and issues brought up and then dropped as soon as they're brought up. The plot also stalled a lot in the middle. As a book, this is a pretty average contemporary. There are some good lines here and there though.
WHO SHOULD READ: Julie Murphy fans
MY RATING: Three and a half out of Five could have been better, but still good feelings

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Book Review: Eliza and Her Monsters

TITLE: Eliza and Her Monsters
AUTHOR: Francesca Zappia
CATEGORY: YA
PUBLISHED: May 30th, 2017
GENRE: Contemporary Romance
PREMISE: A bullied girl makes friends with the new kid. A new kid who happens to be a huge fan of the popular webcomic series she actually creates.
MY REVIEW: This is one of those books that totally flew under my radar when it was released but then I got the book in my OwlCrate box (a monthly book box subscription that I highly recommend) and suddenly it was everywhere. After reading it, I definitely see why.
First, there's a very heavy Fangirl vibe to this. But whereas Fangirl was sort of a criticism of fanfic and fandom at times, this is a love letter to it. It doesn't sugar coat it, but it does show how it helps. I also loved that it showed a wide variety of people can be a part of a fandom. Far too often, I see this idea that only nerdy people are into fandoms and guys...that's really not true anymore.
For the most part, this is a typical contemporary. There's a meet cute, family drama issues, life lessons learned, a cute romance, etc. But it's so utterly charming you don't care. The art in between showing the webcomic itself was also a very nice touch. This is personally going on my favorites list from this year.
WHO SHOULD READ: Fangirl fans, Geekerella fans, geeks in general
MY RATING: Four out of Five webcomics

Monday, August 14, 2017

Book Review: The Book That Changed America

TITLE: The Book That Changed America
AUTHOR: Randall Fuller
PUBLISHED: January 24rth, 2017
CATEGORY: Non-Fiction
GENRE: History
PREMISE: An author goes into how Darwin's book The Origin of the Species influenced American history.
MY REVIEW: This review is going to be pretty short, because I really don't have much to say about this one. Its topic was interesting and full of potential...but I don't think the author lived up to the title's promise. He didn't really tell me how exactly The Origin of the Species changed America.
Oh, he gave plenty of tidbits on how people reacted to the book. But he didn't really give much detail on how exactly the book changed things. Influenced people who influenced history? Sure. But didn't give concrete evidence beyond his own speculation that this book is why that person did this etc.
So yeah, this was a bit of a disappointment. There was some interesting tidbits in here about authors and whatnot. I appreciated that. I just wish the author hadn't wandered so much in his subject and actually sat down and told me how exactly The Origin of the Species changed America.
WHO SHOULD READ: Those who like to read about classic authors
MY RATING: Three out of Five books that should have stuck to its subject more

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Notable Releases: 8/6-8/12

Here are this past week's notable releases. Another rather busy week for books. ;sound of the TBR list growing in the distance;

MG/YA

In Some Other Life by Jessica Brody

I love books that play on the what if angle. Looks like this has that in spades, so I'll be giving it a look.

Little and Lion by Brandy Colbert

This author's debut book, Pointe was great. I can't wait to read this new one from her, which has been getting lots of buzz.

The Hearts We Sold by Emily Lloyd-Jones

New book from the author of Illusive. This one looks just as interesting and unique.






The League of American Traitors by Matthew Landis

This one has it compared to National Treasure in the summary and if it's as campy and fun as those movies, it might be a good time.

The Authentics by Abdi Nazemian

Contemporary that I've been hearing some good things about.

Shimmer and Burn Book 1 by Mary Taranta

Interesting sounding new fantasy series that is hopefully good. I've been having bad luck with this year's batch of new YA fantasy sadly.






The Epic Crush of Genie Lo by F. C. Yee

This sounds like a combination of The Life and Times of Juniper Lee (an extremely underrated old Cartoon Network show) and Wendy Wu: Homecoming Warrior (one of my favorite cheesy Disney Channel Original Movies). So I'm in.




Adult Fiction

The Amber Shadows by Lucy Ribchester

Historical mystery centering around Bletchley? Yes, please. I'm ignoring the so far low rating on Goodreads. Sorry, but I've read one too many really good books that have really low ratings there for me to take the ratings too seriously.




A Kind of Freedom by Margaret Wilkerson Sexton

Interesting looking historical fiction dealing with family drama, racism in the south and so on.






Non-Fiction

You Play the Girl: On Playboy Bunnies, Stepford Wives, Trainwrecks, and Other Mixed Messages by Carina Chocano

Essay collection exploring female representation in popular media. Sounds right up my alley.

The Girl in the Show: Three Generations of Comedy, Culture, and Feminism by Anna Fields

A look at how feminism and comedy have effected each other throughout history. Looks interesting, I hope it goes outside the straight white feminist box though.





Life in Code: A Personal History of Technology by Ellen Ullman

Essay collection that has been getting some buzz.







Comics/Manga

Mega Princess Vol. 1
Over the Garden Wall Vol. 2
Angel Season 11 Vol. 1: Out of the Past
Drifters Vol. 4
Cyborg Vol. 2: Danger in Detroit

Friday, August 11, 2017

Book Review: Our Own Private Universe

TITLE: Our Own Private Universe
AUTHOR: Robin Talley
CATEGORY: YA
PUBLISHED: January 31rst, 2017
GENRE: Contemporary, Romance
PREMISE: A girl falls in love with another girl at camp.
MY REVIEW: This is my first time reading Robin Talley. She's been popping up on the YA scene for a while now. I've been meaning to get to her stuff, it just never happened until now. I do definitely see why she's gained fans. Her writing is good. She's not afraid to present teenagers as they are. Her characters are real.
I will say I was surprised by how explicit this was. I'm not judging the sex. I liked how it was regular awkward teen sex and probably one of the most realistic first times I've read. I'm just surprised that it was in a YA book because most of the time...the sex doesn't get that explicit. If there's sex at all. So...be warned about that if you're recommending this to teens. Maybe recommend it for older or at least teens who can handle sex scenes. But other then that surprise, this book was enjoyable. It was a little slow, and sometimes it felt like the author wanted to talk about lots of issues and so just crammed them all in there at once.
But for the most part I liked it. The story is average. But I am pleased that finally, we have someone talking about things like things like biromantics and pansexuality. That was nice to see and very important. But other then that, it was mostly just a cute romance with an average plot.
WHO SHOULD READ: those looking for cute LGBTQA romances, contemporary romance fans, Robin Talley fans, fans of Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit
MY RATING: ....I honestly can't make up my mind between Three and a half to Four out of Five.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Book Review: Norse Mythology

TITLE: Norse Mythology
AUTHOR: Neil Gaiman
PUBLISHED: February 7th, 2017
CATEGORY: Non-Fiction/Retellings....I think
GENRE: Mythology
PREMISE: Neil Gaiman retells the Norse Myths in his own way.
MY REVIEW: Full disclosure: I know nothing about Norse Mythology. My knowledge of it comes from Thor comics/movies and the Gods of Asgard series Riordan is doing. So yeah...I'm really not the best one to tell you if these are accurate retellings or not.
I can however tell you: they are delightful retellings. From what I've heard from people who know better, Gaiman basically did stick mostly to the original tales. He just added his blend of humor to them. Such as the one where he basically concluded everything is Loki's fault (this is totally true tbh, in the tales and in the Thor comics!).
I enjoyed these a lot. Again, I'm probably the last one to ask if these are good takes on the Norse Myths. But if you know a little about the myths and enjoy retellings, you might get a kick out of Gaiman's take on them.
WHO SHOULD READ: Neil Gaiman fans, Mythology fans, The Gods of Asgard series fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five Lokis causing mayhem

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Book Review: The Inexplicable Logic of My Life

TITLE: The Inexplicable Logic of My Life
AUTHOR: Benjamin Alire Saenz
CATEGORY: YA
GENRE: Contemporary
PREMISE: A boy navigates his life when changes start to abruptly happen.
MY REVIEW: I'll be honest with you: I had some pretty high expectations for this book. Because I've read the author's other book, Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe and pretty much loved it. For the most part the expectations were met.
Saenz still writes beautifully. There's still great family dynamics and all sorts of thoughtful moments in this book. Characters are fully fleshed out. I have two issues, one...I didn't care for the way the author wrote Sam. I never got a handle on her. Mostly because when she said stuff, I was pretty sure the stuff she said was not her opinion, but the authors and...authors, don't do that. We can tell when stuff is actually your opinion. There was also some ways he went about writing some stuff that...yeah, definitely could have been handled better.
But overall, this was very good. The good far out weighed the bad. Not as good as Aristotle and Dante in my opinion, but still, a very solid second book.
WHO SHOULD READ: fans of Aristotle and Dante, John Green fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five heart strings getting tugged

Monday, August 7, 2017

Notable Releases: 7/30-8/5

Sorry for how late this is. It was tax free weekend at work so, I haven't really been able to get here to post. If you don't know what tax free weekend is...I envy you. But here are last week's notable new books that are on the radar for various reasons:

MG/YA

Middle-School Princess Book 3: Royal Crush by Meg Cabot

Another installment of this very adorable series.

Mechanica Book 2: Venturess by Becky Cornwell

Remember Mechanica back in 2015? Well, we're finally getting a sequel. I remember liking the book...I think...






When I Am Through With You by Stephanie Kuehn

New thriller that's been getting some buzz.

Spider-Man: Miles Morales by Jason Reynolds

I love the Miles Morales comics. This should make for a great YA book. I haven't gotten to Reynolds' books yet, but I've heard good things.







Adult Fiction

New People by Danzy Senna

Lit book that's been getting some buzz. Reviews have been fairly mixed but I've come to expect that from any novel that discusses race relations as this one apparently does.






The Clockwork Dynasty by Daniel H. Wilson

Steampunk historical fantasy. What can I say, it's my weakness.

Sour Heart by Jenny Zhang

Short story collection that's been getting some buzz among the lit crowd.








Non-Fiction

The Hormone Myth: How Junk Science, Gender Politics, and Lies about PMS Keep Women Down Robin Stein DeLuca

Something to read and then think about the next time someone on facebook sends you that "science" article that sounds like complete BS.





Morningstar: Growing Up with Books by Ann Hood

I love books that discuss reading lives. This will be right up my alley I think.

Invisible No More: Police Violence Against Black Women and Women of Color by Andrea Ritchie

Book about a subject that we really need to discuss and do something about.







Comics/Manga

Legion of Super-Heroes Silver Age Omnibus Vol. 1
Superman Vol. 3: Multiplicity
Paper Girls Vol. 3
Attack on Titan Vol. 22
Captain America: Steve Rodgers Vol. 3: Empire Building

Friday, August 4, 2017

Book Review: Tears We Cannot Stop

TITLE: Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America
AUTHOR: Michael Eric Dyson
PUBLISHED: January 17th, 2017
CATEGORY: Non-Fiction
GENRE: Essay, I guess.../Social Commentary
PREMISE: Michael Eric Dyson talks to white Americans about things like the racial divide, how racism has persisted all these years, and what we can do to try and change things.
MY REVIEW: In a perfect world, every white person would read this, actually listen to what Dyson is telling them, and change things. Unfortunately, we do not live in a perfect world. I have a sad feeling the people who need hear this stuff, will never read it. Or if they do read it, will go on about how this is racist towards white people (see, reactions on Goodreads to The Hate U Give and pretty much any book calling white people out our crap) and will ignore all the important advice Dyson gives at the end.
So why am I, a white woman, reading this you ask? To educate myself. There's also a great passage in the book from Dyson that kind of sums up why I read books like this, despite how much it criticizes my race:
"What I ask of my white students and what I ask of you, my dear friends, is to try, the best you can, to surrender your ignorance, to reject the willful denial of history, and to live fully in our complicated present with all of the discomfort it brings."
I really don't think that's too much to ask. Can it get uncomfortable at times, when you realize friends/family/even yourself sometimes do the things this book (and other books talking about race) points out? Yes. But sometimes life is uncomfortable. Especially when you go about trying to improve yourself. If you want a book that holds your hand while talking about racial issues, I'm sorry this book will not be it. It's very blunt and delivers several hard truths that need to be heard. I can pretty much guarantee it'll make you uncomfortable at some point. But if you are willing, it can definitely be worth it.
One thing I really appreciate is that he includes a whole chapter at the end that goes "okay, you've realized now that things are bad. Here's what to do to improve". It not only gave advice about how to deal with racism when you hear it, but also gave a whole list of books to educate yourself on. I loved this, because there are lots of times when I learn about issues and go "well okay, that's definitely a thing. How can I deal with it when it comes up?" and no one tells me. Sorry, but sometimes we privileged folks do need a bit of a guide to help us know where to go after we learn about issues we didn't know about.
WHO SHOULD READ: Anyone willing to read it with open minds, fans of essays
MY RATING: Four and a half out of Five important books

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Book Review: Geekerella

TITLE: Geekerella
AUTHOR: Ashley Poston
PUBLISHED: April 4rth, 2017
CATEGORY: YA
GENRE: Contemporary Romance, Retelling
PREMISE: A retelling of Cinderella if it took place in today's world starring geeks.
MY REVIEW: There's honestly not really much I can say about this one. It's a Cinderella retelling. You tend to know from the get go what you're going to get with those. So original, it is not. But it was definitely cute and definitely set out to do what it wanted: tell Cinderella through the lens of fandom.
There is so much here that probably any geek can relate too. I sadly can relate to all the "you're not a real geek" stuff that the prince character went through a lot. I will say this for the book: it pointedly says the fake geek stuff is nonsense. At the start, I was worried it wouldn't. The main character herself is unfortunately a little judgmental towards the prince characters' fangirls and goes on about them not being real fans and ruining the fandom for the real fans (this is also nonsense guys. PLEASE STOP IT). I wish the author had addressed that more, but she does at least say "hey, knock off the fake geek girl nonsense" so...I'll take it.
Again, I can't give this much points for originality. Cinderella retellings are a dime a dozen. There's not much you can do to make yours unique, because it's a tale that has been done pretty much to death (seriously, can we pick some other fairy-tales please?). But the author did manage to deliver a cute romance that got the job done and celebrated being a geek so I honestly can't complain too loudly.
WHO SHOULD READ: geeks, those who love Cinderella retellings
MY RATING: Four out of Five cute romances