Saturday, June 23, 2018

Book Review: Chaotic Good

TITLE: Chaotic Good
AUTHOR: Whitney Gardner
CATEGORY: YA
PUBLISHED: March 13th, 2018
GENRE: Contemporary
PREMISE: A girl who is sick of being ostracized by male geeks, dresses up as a male to be able to go her local comic book store in peace. Things do not go how she plans...
MY REVIEW: This is more of what I am taking to calling geek lit. I am mostly enjoying these geek lit books. But one thing about them is bugging me, and that thing persists in this book: it does not call out the geek world on its issues enough. I know what you're thinking, wait...this book sounds designed to call out the stuff like sexism in it? And to be sure, Gardner definitely goes farther on calling out shit then most of these books do. But...I can't help but notice it never once mentioned the word sexism, nor did it imply that the problem was sexism and that's...really baffling to me. This was talking about fake geek girl crap, and fake geek girl crap exists, mostly because of sexism. There is some of the usual bs elitism that floats around geeks involved as well, but mostly....it's sexism. I've yet to see any male geek who didn't know some obscure piece of information get called a fake geek. Laughed at a bit, sure. But he's still welcome to play Dungeons and Dragons. If a female geek doesn't know the random thing, she gets told to go away and stop pretending she's a geek.
Honestly, the way the author handled the character of Brody in general, just really bugged the shit out of me and dragged down the whole novel for me really. Yes, sometimes a character would tell him he was being a jerk. Cameron got a great tell off scene at the end. But...even she never once told him to his face that hey, you're being sexist, you know that, right? Quite frankly...someone really needed to tell him this.
I'm sorry, but I've dealt with way too many guys in fandom who are like Brody. Who will say all the bs he says, then insist that they totally aren't sexist, how dare you suggest such a thing! It's been my experience, guys like Brody...tend to ruin fandom. My advice to anyone who runs into a guy like him is a) Call him on his shit, please. Tell him outright he is being sexist and it is not okay. B) If he doesn't change his behavior...ditch him. Because if he sticks around spreading his toxic views to the group, your friend group is going to disappear, because they don't want to deal with him.
If it wasn't for Brody and the mishandling of that entire issue...I would have liked this a lot more. The main character is fun, it does address some stuff like male privilege and does that well. It did try to address the fake geek girl stuff and definitely said it was wrong...but by not talking about the sexism part of it...I'm not sure if it handled the subject that well. All of this is just more then a little disappointing as I loved this author's last book so much.
WHO SHOULD READ: Queens of Geek fans, Geekerella fans
MY RATING: Three out of Five sad sighs

Friday, June 22, 2018

So You've Finally: Read and Watched The Handmaid's Tale

Trying to get back into the swing of doing recommendation lists again. We'll see how long this lasts.
This time, I've got a list for fans of The Handmaid's Tale. This book has been everywhere lately, thanks to the TV show, our current crappy political situation here in the US, and even it being on the Great American Read List.
I confess, I haven't seen the TV show. because I don't have a Hulu subscription. I have however read (and highly recommend) the book. Here are just some recommendations for people who...not sure if enjoyed is the right word here, as the book is scary as hell (or at least I found it scary as hell). Liked, I guess? Note: you're not going to see the usual suspects like 1984 or Fahrenheit 451 etc. Because more then likely, you've either already read those, or you've been recommended them a million times already.

Some other older sci-fi recommendations:

Earthseed series by Octavia Butler

Hainish Cycle series by Ursula K. Le Guin

Some more recently published recommendations:

Chaos Walking series by Patrick Ness

The Power by Naomi Alderman

Vivian Apple duology by Katie Coyle

Red Clocks by Leni Zumas

American War by Omar El Akkad

The Chemical Garden Trilogy by Lauren DeStefano

Bitch Planet graphic novel series by Kelley Sue DeConnick

Some non-fiction dealing with the subjects brought up in the book/show:

Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women by Susan Faludi

Enlightened Sexism: The Seductive Message That Feminism's Work is Done by Susan J. Douglas

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Reading Through the Classics (Play version): Waiting for Godot

TITLE: Waiting for Godot
AUTHOR: Samuel Beckett
CATEGORY: Play
GENRE: Um...Magical realism...I guess?
PUBLISHED: 1952
PREMISE: Two old men wait for a man they call Godot every day. Here are just some of the things that happen to them while they wait...
MY THOUGHTS: This is a weird play. Like, of all the plays I've read so far I think the weirdest is either this one or Angels in America. But like Angels in America....this works for me.
A large part of it is the banter. I love me some good banter, and this play has that in spades. It just makes you laugh, even as you have no idea what's going on sometimes.
I enjoyed this. It is a weird ass play. But apparently, weird ass plays are my thing. What can you do?
WHO SHOULD READ: fans of the play, Angels in America fans, philosophy fans

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Book Review: Scrappy Little Nobody

TITLE: Scrappy Little Nobody
AUTHOR: Anna Kendrick
CATEGORY: Non-Fiction
PUBLISHED: 2016
GENRE: Celebrity Memoir
PREMISE: Actress Anna Kendrick talks about her life.
MY REVIEW: I...honestly don't have much to say about this book. It is basically what it is: a memoir written by Anna Kendrick.
It's very typical celebrity memoir stuff. She talks about her childhood a bit. She goes into how her career started. There are some bits here and there about the movies she has been in (not much about Pitch Perfect, oddly enough). and so on. There weren't any major reveals that shocked me or anything like that. If you're a big Anna Kendrick fan, you're probably aware of most of the information in here.
So it's an okay memoir. It just doesn't really blow me away. I don't look at Kendrick differently or anything like that. It's just an average celebrity memoir.
WHO SHOULD READ: Anna Kendrick fans
MY RATING: Three out of Five shrugs

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

My Big Fat Recommendation List: E Authors

Here are all the books I recommend by authors whose last name start with E. It won't be long probably. Last names starting with E don't seem to be common, in the writing world at least.

Childrens/Middle-Grade Books

Tales of Magic series by Edward Eager
Are You My Mother? by P. D. Eastman (picture book)

Young Adult

Wildthorn by Jane Eagland
Court of Fives Trilogy by Kate Elliott
The Pimpernelles Duology by Patricia Elliott
This is Our Story by Ashley Elston
The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw
Ivory and Bone series by Julie Eshbaugh

Jennifer Estep
Mythos Academy series
Black Blade Trilogy

Adult Fiction

Contemporary
Heartburn by Nora Ephron
The Horse Whisperer by Nicholas Evans

Historical Fiction
Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquival

Fantasy
Elemental Assassin series by Jennifer Estep

Mystery
Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich

Plays

The Vagina Monologues by Eve Ensler

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Book Review: The Dead Girls of Hysteria Hall

TITLE: The Dead Girls of Hysteria Hall
AUTHOR: Katie Alender
CATEGORY: YA
PUBLISHED: 2015
GENRE: Paranormal
PREMISE: A girl inherits a mansion full of secrets, and ghosts.
MY REVIEW: This was a random pick up from the library for me. At the time I was craving ghost stories. I tend to do this when it gets hot and muggy outside. I crave a weird combination of ghost stories, gothic historical fiction, and then cute and fluffy contemporaries. I don't get it either, but it is what it is.
Alender is always good for a fun ghost story so I picked this slightly older book up that I meant to read awhile ago. It was a fun time. It's not a must read or anything like that. But if you're in the mood for ghosts, this should give you your fix. It's a nice and fast-paced plot, the characters are interesting, the atmosphere is great. It's exactly what I wanted at the time I picked it up.
This is a very quick read and was very nicely done. Again, not exactly a must read. But if you want a fun story with ghosts, this should do the trick.
WHO SHOULD READ: those that want ghost stories, Katie Alender fans
MY RATING: Three and a half out of Five decent reads

Friday, June 15, 2018

Book Review: This Will Be My Undoing

TITLE: This Will Be My Undoing: Living at the Intersection of Black, Female, and Feminist in (White) America
AUTHOR: Morgan Jerkins
PUBLISHED: January 30th, 2018
CATEGORY: Non-Fiction
GENRE: Essays
PREMISE: A series of essays by Morgan Jerkins diving into things like feminism, racism, pop culture and so much more.
MY REVIEW: Lately I've found that I really enjoy essays. Particularly I like listening to them via audiobook. Which is what I did with this one and I highly recommend it. The author does the narration herself and she's pretty good at it.
I personally really liked this one. As with most essay collections, some are better then others. One or two go a little too long for my taste, but she still makes her point. The subjects raised are interesting ones that not many people talk about. For instance, she talks about a trip to Japan and the differences between how she was treated there, versus the United States.
I think it was a pretty solid collection. I hope we see more from this author in the future.
WHO SHOULD READ: those that like essay collections, Roxane Gay fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five interesting essays

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Book Review: From a Certain Point of View

TITLE: Star Wars: From a Certain Point of View
AUTHOR: various
CATEGORY: Adult
PUBLISHED: October 2017
GENRE: Science Fiction
PREMISE: A collection of short stories that retells A New Hope from various side characters points of view.
MY REVIEW: Star Wars books are always a bit of a mixed bag. I have had much better luck with the newer books then with the older ones, but that still doesn't mean everything is guaranteed to be good. This short story collection, is a big like the Star Wars books: a mixed bag.
I do really like the idea of it. It basically goes through the movie A New Hope and just kind of gives different viewpoints of it. For instance, we get a story from the captain of the ship Leia escaped on, there's one from Aunt Beru, one from a paperwork person on the Death Star (a particular favorite of mine), a stormtrooper, heck there's even one from the monster in the trash compactor.
It's a wide and varied collection. Some I really loved, most were just shrug sort of stories. But it was a great writing exercise idea. I vote we do another one of these for each of the other movies.
WHO SHOULD READ: Star Wars fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five solid short story collections

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Book Review: The Belles

TITLE: The Belles
Book 1 in The Belles series
AUTHOR: Dhonielle Clayton
CATEGORY: YA
PUBLISHED: February 6th, 2018
GENRE: Fantasy
PREMISE: In a world where beauty is everything, one girl competes to be the favorite Belle and learns that there is more to her world then there seems...
MY REVIEW: I admit it...I wasn't sure how much I was going to like this. People kept comparing it to The Selection and I kind of loathe that series. But thankfully, this turned out to be ten times better then The Selection (and frankly, nothing like that series) and I wound up really enjoying it.
It is not really groundbreaking stuff. YA fantasy that does social commentary happen all the time. But this is very enjoyable and very readable. I love the world Clayton has built here. Like with The Cruel Prince, it's one of those worlds that has me itching to get out my drawing supplies, it's so vivid. The main character is enjoyable, there's plot intrigue, some good twists at the end, and I honestly kind of love the villain in this.
This was just a very nice, solid, YA fantasy. I think YA fantasy and I are starting to get our groove back. I've really enjoyed the last few I've read and that has been a nice change from the past year of just okay to boring fantasy books.
WHO SHOULD READ: Dhonielle Clayton fans, if you enjoyed all the descriptions of the Capital in Hunger Games (this place is like the Capital on steroids)
MY RATING: Four out of Five solid starts to a series

Monday, June 11, 2018

Book Review: Stay With Me

TITLE: Stay With Me
AUTHOR: Ayobami Adebayo
CATEGORY: Adult
PUBLISHED: August 2017
GENRE: Contemporary
PREMISE: A couple talks about the difficulties in their marriage.
MY REVIEW: This book was honestly just a case of not for me. I didn't click with it at all. I didn't personally find it engaging, but did see why others liked it. The writing is beautiful, the story is interesting. It just personally fell flat for me.
Part of it is just personal taste I think. Books dealing with marriages just don't really interest me that much. I will say, it's a very quick read. You can probably finish it in like two days. There is a lot going on and it's very dramatic.
It just wasn't for me.
WHO SHOULD READ: fans of Americanah, An American Marriage fans
MY RATING: Three and a half out of Five good books that weren't for me