Monday, April 24, 2017

Reading Through the Classics: The Unbearable Lightness of Being

TITLE: The Unbearable Lightness of Being
AUTHOR: Milan Kundera
PUBLISHED: 1984
CATEGORY: Adult
GENRE: Realistic Fiction/Philosophy
PREMISE: A group of people carry on and have affairs in the Czech Republic before its fall...
MY THOUGHTS: You know that person in the back of the room who is convinced that their taste is the best taste around and they probably know more about stuff then anyone in the classroom, including the teacher? I feel like this book was written for that person. It just has that air about it where you can tell the author thought they were being terribly clever.
Now okay...like most literature: it has pretty writing. But that's pretty much all it has going on for it because the story is dull as dishwater. If you like reading about selfish people having affairs and justifying their horribleness to themselves via philosophy, then you might like this. Me...I like to have an actual plot and character development in my books. There were neither of those here. I won't even go into horrible treatment of female characters in this book. I could rant for hours about it and the sex scenes that were not sexy at all. They were mostly just awkward.
Now it does go a bit into the fall of the Czech Republic because that's where the author is from. Those parts were interesting to me because honestly, I don't know much about the Czech Republic. Some of the insights into the revolution and how the fall happened were interesting and good. I feel like the author maybe should have made this about that instead of focusing on boring people who basically just have sex with each other, justify the fact that they cheated, and then move on.
So yeah...I hated this one. Part of me wants to deny it's a classic out of spite. But my rule is it has to be over thirty years old and people still talk about it and like it or not this book qualifies.
WHO SHOULD READ: Um...philosophy fans? I don't know really.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Notable Releases: 4/16-4/22

Sorry about the delay of this, these past few days have been very busy. But better late then never. Here are the releases from this past week that I'm looking forward to eventually reading, are big buzzy books, or are just books I think people might be interested in knowing.

MG/YA:

Missing by Kelley Armstrong

New Armstrong book is always a thing to take note of.








Lois Lane Book 3: Triple Threat by Gwenda Bond

Have I mentioned I love the Lois Lane books? Because I really do.

The Lotterys Plus One by Emma Donoghue

A middle-grade debut from the author of Room. I'd take that low Goodreads rating with a grain of salt, most of the low ratings seems to be just hand wringing over the fact that there are LGBT characters in this.






Guardians of the Galaxy: Collect Them All by Corinne Duyvis

Just in time for the movie, Marvel releases a book set in the Guardians universe. Written by one of my favorite authors. I can't wait.
Bang by Barry Lyga

Another twisty thriller available from the author of the I Hunt Killers series.








Adult Fiction:

He Said, She Said by Erin Kelly

This week's twisty thriller release.

The Book of Joan by Lidia Yuknavitch

Interesting looking new sci-fi book.








Non-Fiction:

Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann

New true crime book from the author of The Lost City of Z (which incidentally just had its movie release)






Not a Scientist: How Politicians Mistake, Misrepresent, and Utterly Mangle Science by Dave Levitan

Interesting looking science book, that sadly is probably going to become very relevant.






Graphic novels/Manga releases

Clarence Vol. 2: Getting Gilben
Revival Vol. 8: Stay Just a Little Bit Longer
Attack on Titan: Before the Fall Vol. 10 GN
Captain America-Sam Wilson Vol. 4 #takebacktheshield TP
Invincible Iron Man Vol. 2: The War Machines TP
Mockingbird Vol. 2: My Feminist Agenda TP
X-Men 92 Vol. 2: Lilapolooza TP

Friday, April 21, 2017

Reading Through The Classics: A Doll's House (note: there are spoilers for the ending)

TITLE: A Doll's House
AUTHOR: Henrik Ibsen
PUBLISHED: 1879
CATEGORY: Play
GENRE: Realistic Fiction
PREMISE: A wife's life starts to come down around her and then she realizes she was perhaps trapped all along...
MY THOUGHTS: I continue through my new obsession with plays. This recent one has been on lots of feminism lists and...I suppose in a way it is. If you go by first wave feminism rules. Nowadays...I personally have issues with the way the wife left (she could have at least taken her kids with her...). But I notice everyone has different takes on that ending so...
This is a very slow character piece and honestly the realization Nora goes through seems to come out of no where as the first half and midway through the second half, she seems perfectly fine with how things are. It's not terribly subtle in making you the viewer see that this marriage was not okay though.
Honestly, like most classics, I have a lot of mixed feelings about this one. At the time it was released, it was probably very gutsy as divorce/leaving your husband was just not seen as an option back then. Nowadays...I feel like the pacing is awkward and there could have been a much better lead up to Nora leaving. I have to say I'm very curious about the new play on Broadway that is apparently a sequel to this about what happens when Nora comes back.
WHO SHOULD READ: those interested in first wave feminist literature (who don't mind how dated said literature can be), theater nerds, feminists

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Book Review: The Hanging Tree

TITLE: The Hanging Tree
Book 6 in the Peter Grant/Rivers of London series
AUTHOR: Ben Aaronovitch
CATEGORY: Adult
GENRE: Urban Fantasy, Mystery
PREMISE: Peter agrees to do a favor that he owes, that favor leads him right to his biggest foe...
MY REVIEW: This review will be short, because my opinion on this series hasn't changed very much from the last series. Basically: I love it.
This is a wacky world with a charming main character. It's a bit like Dresden Files, but with more of an overall plot and not as much accidental (I hope) sexism as that series can have (seriously Butcher....do some research on how not to write female characters. It'll do you loads of good). These are more police procedural oriented then urban fantasy focused, so if that's not your thing, it may not be for you. Luckily, it is my thing so I adore this series.
Basically, if you're already a fan of this series, this latest book will not disappoint. If you haven't discovered this series yet, seriously get on it. Particularly if you love urban fantasy/mysteries.
WHO SHOULD READ: Those that have read the first five books, Dresden Files fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five I need the next book now feelings

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Graphic Novel Review: Archie Vol. 2

TITLE: Archie
Vol. 2 in the Archie series
AUTHOR: Mark Waid
ARTIST: Veronica Fish
MIGHT NEED READ BEFORE: Archie Vol. 1
PUBLISHED: 2016
GENRE: Romance/Contemporary
PREMISE: Archie and the gang's romantic misadventures in Riverdale continue...
MY REVIEW: I know what you're thinking: Archie? Really? Yes, really. This new series that Mark Waid came out with is just a delight. THIS is how you reboot Archie. The CW Riverdale show is okay and all, but I don't actually consider it an adaptation of Archie. I consider it someone's weird fanfic AU. This Archie, is much more my speed.
The characters are still delightful, in their over-the-top ways. This story continues where the first volume let off, so if you want to read, I recommend starting with the first volume. I love this version of Veronica. It's a much more nuanced version of the Veronica who was just your basic mean girl in the original series.
If you have a fondness for the Archie comics (come on, admit it: you read at least one), I highly recommend giving this new series a shot. There's also a new Jughead series (the first volume I'm reading now), a new Betty and Veronica series and if you're into horror, check out the creepy chilling adventures of Sabrina which crosses over with the weird tales of Archie. And for those who like Riverdale, there's a new comic series about the show starting.
WHO SHOULD READ: Riverdale fans, Archie fans, YA contemporary fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five Team Veronicas (though I think she can do better then Archie)

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Book Review: Daughter of the Pirate King

TITLE: Daughter of the Pirate King
Book 1 in a duology
AUTHOR: Tricia Levenseller
PUBLISHED: February 28th, 2017
CATEGORY: YA
GENRE: Fantasy/Adventure
PREMISE:The daughter of the pirate king gets captured by pirates. Little do the pirates know: her capture was on purpose...
MY REVIEW: I don't know about anyone else, but I wanted to read this one the minute I heard about it. Pirate princess? Like, who doesn't want to read about that? But I also went in with low expectations because...well YA, much as I love it, can have the tendency to take great concepts and just ruin them. Luckily, a few issues aside, the author mostly managed to make this a delightful book.
Are there tropes in here? Yes. But the author tends to subvert them. Every time a familiar scenario would start and I'd "uh oh, here comes sigh worthy part" she managed to take the trope in a way I didn't expect. The romance is a bit insta-lovish but the author never once tries to make the relationship into one of those "meant to be!" couples. She remembers at the end of the day: these two characters are pirates and that means things like romance are always going to be messy and not happy-go-lucky. The main character is a delight, I don't mind the romance, and the adventure is fun.
The thing that made me sigh heavily though was the representation. Mainly...there wasn't much of it. There are bits at the end where I can tell the author went "oh! Everyone here is white and straight...might need to fix that." and what follows is some pretty textbook examples of tokenization (the one character specifically not white was exotified so much in her description) and Bury Your Gays (one character revealed to be gay and then killed). Sigh. This debut was going so well before that. I'm sorry, if you're going to do some poor examples of representation like that, then I'd rather you not have bothered at all.
While there are definitely things that need work, I did ultimately like this book. It's exactly what it advertises itself as: a fun pirate adventure. The author needs to really work on her representation issues but overall, she has a lot of promise. I look forward to the next book.
WHO SHOULD READ: Pirates of the Carribean fans, those looking for books featuring lady pirates
MY RATING: Four out of Five pirate ships

Monday, April 17, 2017

Book Review: Dear Ijeawele, Or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions

TITLE: Dear Ijeawele, Or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions
AUTHOR: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
PUBLISHED: March 7th, 2017
CATEGORY: Non-Fiction
GENRE: Essay/Feminism
PREMISE: Author/activist Adichie goes into her ideas of feminism in a letter to her friend.
MY REVIEW: A couple of weeks ago, my review of this might have been very different. What happened a couple of weeks ago, you ask? Well, Adichie gave an interview where somehow trans issues came up and she said some pretty transphobic things. There have been more detailed articles about it. This review of the same book goes a bit into what happened.
 I'm conflicted about how to approach this because while I definitely sigh at yet another feminist saying transphobic things (even if it is perhaps said in ignorance, which...I really hope is the case here). I also don't want to suddenly discount all the things she says about issues that she is informed about, such as race/gender etc.
This has clouded my reading of this somewhat and I will freely admit that. There are parts in here I liked and parts in here that...I just kept thinking about those comments in the back of my head and they really contradicted some of this book. So yeah...lots of mixed feelings. I do think I will still read Adichie...I just am going to probably be much more critical of her stuff now then I might have been before.
WHO SHOULD READ: Feminists, fans of We Should All Be Feminists
MY RATING: Three and a half out of Five conflicted feelings

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Your Syllabus For: Verse Fiction

Continuing the poetry talk from last week, this week's syllabus is for verse fiction. For those that don't know, verse fiction is basically poetry that tells a story. While there can be verses in poetry collections, they're usually not connected story-wise (they may all have a theme though, sometimes). Verse tells a story through its poetry so you're basically reading a fiction novel, but it's in poetry form.

Verse Fiction Syllabus

Make Lemonade books by Virginia Euwer Wolff

Witness by Karen Hesse (as well as others by her)

What My Mother Doesn't Know series by Sonya Sones (and others, she's written quite a few from what I see)

Jack series by Sharon Creech (as well as her other verse books)

The Brimstone Journals by Koertge

Jinx by Margeret Wild

Homeless Bird by Gloria Whelan

Crank series by Ellen Hopkins (as well as her many many other books)

Keesha's House by Helen Frost

Yellow Star by Jennifer Roy

Sold by Patricia McCormick

Street Love by Walter Dean Myers

A Bad Boy Can be Good For a Girl by Tanya Lee Stone

I Heart You, You Haunt Me by Lisa Schroeder (and check out some of her other books that are also verse fiction)

All the Broken Pieces by Ann Burg

Sharp Teeth by Toby Barlow

Song of the Sparrow by Lisa Ann Sandell

Glimpse by Carol Lynch Williams

Exposed by Kimberly Marcus

The Weight of Water by Sarah Crossan

The Good Braider by Terry Farish

Under the Mesquite by Guadelupe Garcia McCall

Because I Am Furniture by Thalia Chaltas

Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai

Love and Leftovers by Sarah Tregay

Words With Wings by Nikki Grimes

Karma by Cathy Ostlere

The Language Inside by Holly Thompson

The Crossover by Kwame Alexander (and others)

A Time to Dance by Venkatramen

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson (as well as her other books, because Woodson is a fantastic writer)

Skyscraping by Cordelia Jensen

The Red Pencil by Andrea Davis Pinkney

The Lonely Ones by Kelsey Sutton

Saturday, April 15, 2017

New Releases: 4/9-4/15

Here are this past week's releases that are on my radar, are books I think people might want to know are out there, or are just getting lots of buzz.

MG/YA

Alex and Eliza by Melissa de la Cruz

The uber Hamilton fan in me wants to read this. But the book reader in me who has been burned too many times by Cruz's books is very hesitant. We'll see if I ever read it.






Given Duet Book 1: Given to the Sea by Mindy McGinnis

After The Female of the Species, I'm on the McGinnis fangirl train. So chances are I'll be picking this one up at some point.







The Takedown by Corrie Wang

I've seen this interesting looking contemporary floating around the internet for a bit. Might take a look when I can.







Adult Fiction:

The Shadow Land by Elizabeth Kostova

Historical fiction from the author of the popular book (that I still haven't read) The Historian.







The Perfect Stranger by Megan Miranda

This week's twisty thriller offering comes from the author of All the Missing Girls. Which from what I understand was a pretty popular read last year.







Non-Fiction:

Too Much and Not in the Mood by Durga Chew-Rose

Interesting looking new essay collection.

Notes on a Banana: A Memoir of Food, Love, and Manic Depression by David Leite

Foodies, if you're looking for a new book dealing with food, sounds like this may be for you.






Some Graphic Novel/Comics Released this week:

Welcome Back Vol. 2 TP
Woods Vol. 6 TP
Batman Vol. 2: I Am Suicide TP
Jem and the Holograms Vol. 4: Enter The Stingers TP
Fix Vol. 2 TP
Black Panther: A Nation Under Our Feet Vol. 3 TP

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Book Review: Ghost Talkers

TITLE: Ghost Talkers
AUTHOR: Mary Robinette Kowal
PUBLISHED: August 2016
CATEGORY: Adult
GENRE: Historical Fantasy/Mystery/Alternate History
PREMISE: During WWI a medium enlisted in the army starts to uncover secrets and betrayals...
MY REVIEW: I have been meaning to read Kowal for awhile now. Her Glamourist Histories series looks right up my ally and I've heard good things. After reading this book, I understand why I've heard those good things. This book was just good.
It's an alternate history of sorts where there are mediums enlisted in the army to help talk to the ghosts of dead soldiers. The world is wonderfully built and the author weaves a damn good mystery in it to keep interest going. Ginger was a fun character whom I honestly wouldn't mind spending more time with. There seems to be only one book planned in this universe so far but honestly...I wouldn't say no to more books.
But in the meantime, I think I'm definitely going to be looking into Kowal's other books sooner, rather than later. This was so good and wonderfully written.
WHO SHOULD READ: Alternate History fans, steampunk fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five dead soldiers sticking around

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Book Review: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

TITLE: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
AUTHOR: Rebecca Skloot
PUBLISHED: 2010
CATEGORY: Non-Fiction
GENRE: Biography/Science History
PREMISE: A biographer goes into the history of the woman who gave the cells known as HeLa cells.
MY REVIEW: This book is a lot like Hidden Figures for me: I know nothing about the science it is talking about because science is not my wheelhouse. But the author gives such a great in depth look into fascinating lives that I find myself not caring.
This one was also wonderfully organized. One fault I had with Hidden Figures that hindered my enjoyment of it a bit was that the author kept jumping around with their information. I appreciate the in depth research...but at least present it in a way that won't confuse me. This book, did what I wish Hidden Figures had done (Hidden Figures is still good though, guys, go and read it). The author does jump back and forth a little between time periods, but there seems to be an actual rhyme and reason for it.
Also kudos to the author for explaining some of the science in a way I get. As I've mentioned: science is very much not my thing (I got Bs and Cs in it through out high school for a reason). But she explained it in such a way that I not only understood it...but was actually interested in it. In short, I really liked this book. If you're just coming off the thrill of seeing Hidden Figures for the first time on DVD/Blu-Ray, I highly suggest this book. After you get to the Hidden Figures book.
WHO SHOULD READ: fans of Hidden Figures, science history fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five fascinating lives

Book Review: Squirrel Meets World

TITLE: Squirrel Meets World
Part of the Marvel book series
AUTHOR: Shannon Hale and Dean Hale
PUBLISHED: February 7th, 2017
CATEGORY: Middle-Grade
PREMISE: Doreen starts at a new school while trying to figure out her squirrel powers and this whole superhero thing..
MY REVIEW: I adore the Squirrel-Girl comics. Marvel has had its ups and downs lately in the comic side of things, I freely admit this. But Squirrel-Girl has been one of the most delightful ups. So needless to say, I was thrilled when I heard there was going to be a Squirrel-Girl book.
This one is like most of the other Marvel written books out there. It has a great feel for the character, it gets the tone right, I definitely feel like this is a teenage Doreen. It's just plot wise...the book is a little all over the place. Which I notice is a thing for these comics to written book things.. Sometimes characters do better in other mediums and I suspect Squirrel-Girl is one of those. Because while the book definitely had the fun Squirrel-Girl vibe...it's not what I would call a brilliant book.
This is one I would mostly recommend to fans of the comic. If you never have read Squirrel-Girl before...this is not a good introduction, instead do the first volume of the recent series. That will give you a much better intro to the delight that is Doreen.
WHO SHOULD READ: young Marvel fans, Squirrel-Girl fans
MY RATING: Three and a half out of Five the comic is better feelings

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Your Syllabus For: Poetry for Beginners

So this month is National Poetry month. Now, you may be like me and just...not know a thing about poetry. This past week or so I've been combing through a lot of poetry lists and coming up with some poetry basics for me to look at when I start my journey into poetry (which will be next year, this year the journey is into plays). This is by no means a complete list. There are tons of poetry collections out there. But it is a list to give you an idea of what to start with so you can slowly become a poetry master reader.

Ancient Poetry/Epic Poems:

The Odyssey by Homer

Also, check out The Iliad.

Classical Chinese Poetry: An Anthology

There was a plethora of Chinese poetry being formed in the BCE era. This collection from what I can see, has a majority of the major ones.

Beowulf by Anonymous

Metamorphoses by Ovid

More epic Greek poetry.

The Aeneid by Virgil

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight by Anonymous

One of the many medieval epic Arthurian poems out there.

The Epic of Gilgamesh by Anonymous

If Not Winter: Fragments of Sappho by Sappho

Medieval-1800s poetry:

The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer

There are a lot of Chaucer epic poems to choose from. This is probably his most well known though.

The Faerie Queene by Edmund Spensor

This humongous epic poem apparently influenced a lot of 18th century poets.

Shakespeare's Sonnets by William Shakespeare

Along with a bunch of plays, the Bard also wrote quite a few poems in his day. Overacheiver.

The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri


The Complete English Poems by John Donne

The Complete Poetry by George Herbert

The Complete Poems by William Blake

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

The Rape of the Lock by Alexander Pope

1800s Poetry:

The Complete Poems by John Keats

The Complete Poems by Percy Bysshe Shelley

This guy was married to Mary Shelley, she of Frankenstein fame, fyi.

Selected Poems by George Gordon Byron (better known today as Lord Byron)

The Idylls of the King by Alfred Tennyson

Really, all of Tennyson's work seems to be popular. But this is the one he seems to be known for.

Complete Poems by Christina Rosetti

Believe it or not, Emily Dickinson is not the only female eighteen hundreds poet out there.

The Complete Poems by Emily Dickinson

But definitely give Dickinson a look.

The Collected Poems of W. B. Yeats by W. B. Yeats

Lyrical Ballads by William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman

The Essential Tales and Poems by Edgar Allen Poe

Seriously, read The Raven if you have not already been taught it in class.

1900s Poetry:

The Waste Land and Other Poems by T. S. Eliot

Also check out his Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats collection, which the musical Cats is based on.

The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran

Complete Poems by Dorothy Parker

Collected Poems by Edna St. Vincent Millay

Howl and Other Poems by Allen Ginsberg

The Selected Poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke by Rainer Maria Rilke

Ariel by Sylvia Plath

And honestly all her other poetry collections. I also recommend her one prose novel: The Bell Jar.

Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair by Pablo Neruda

Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein

You probably read this as a kid. I highly recommend rereading as an adult, you'll catch a lot of things that go over a kids head.

The Poetry of Robert Frost by Robert Frost

The Collected Poems by Langston Hughes

The Complete Poems by Anne Sexton

The Complete Collected Poems by Maya Angelou

2000s-Present

Crush by Richard Siken

Sailing Around the Room: New and Selected Poems by Billy Collins

Salt by Nayyirah Waheed

Love and Misadventure by Lang Leav

A Thousand Mornings by Mary Oliver

Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur

The Princess Saves Herself in This One by Amanda Lovelace

Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine



Some handy non-fiction about poetry:

The Ode Less Travelled by Stephen Fry

Book that I'm personally going to read to help me try and understand poetry more.

Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke

If you're looking for verse fiction, there's going to be a list for that next week.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Notable Releases: 4/2-4/8

Here are all the releases from this past week that are on my radar, I think people may be interested in, or are just books getting lots of buzz.

MG/YA

Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett

You've Got Mail/The Shop Around the Corner YA retelling? I'm here for it.

Journey Across the Hidden Islands by Sarah Beth Durst

I'm always up for a Durst book. This one sounds just as imaginative as all her other books.

Defy the Stars Book 1: Defy the Stars by Claudia Gray

Claudia Gray always does unique ideas. After her great turns in Star Wars, I can't wait to see her tackle sci-fi.







Geekerella by Ashley Poston

I've been hearing some good things about this cute looking contemporary Cinderella retelling.


Rebel Mechanics Book 3: Rebels Rising by Shanna Swendson

The next book in a fun steampunk series that I really need to get caught up on.







Adult Fiction:

Book of the Ancestor 1: Red Sister by Mark Lawrence

Latest Mark Lawrence series for all you fantasy junkies.








Kendra Donovan 2: A Twist in Time by Julie McElwain

For those who loved A Murder in Time last year, the sequel is now out.

Themis Files 2: Waking Gods by Sylvain Neuvel

Sleeping Gods was a huge book from last year (I still need to get to it). For those who loved it, the sequel is now out.

Star Wars: Thrawn by Timothy Zahn

Latest Star Wars book to tide you over until Episode VIII.








Non-Fiction:

Rebel Mother: My Childhood Chasing the Revolution by Peter Andreas

Interesting looking memoir.







The Yellow Envelope: One Gift, Three Rules, and a Life-Changing Journey Around the World by Kim Dinan

A travel memoir just in time for the busy travel season.







Comics/Graphic Novels released:

Lumberjanes Vol. 6
Earth 2 Society Vol. 3: A Whole New World TP
Green Arrow Vol. 2: Island of Scars TP
Superman Vol. 2: Trials of the Super Sons TP
Damsels Vol. 1 TP
We Stand on Guard TP
X-men Legacy: Legion Omnibus HC
Boruto Vol. 1 Naruto Next Generations
Tokyo Ghoul Vol. 12