Becky Albertalli is just the best -- THE BEST -- at writing authentic teenage voices. I think it's because she understands technology, and how it inteBecky Albertalli is just the best -- THE BEST -- at writing authentic teenage voices. I think it's because she understands technology, and how it intersects with modern life, better than pretty much any other YA author. Also she's hilarious.
The Upside of Unrequited was slightly -- like, the tiniest fractional amount -- less enjoyable for me than the superlative Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, but I am about 99.9% sure that's because the subject matter was so much closer to me: close enough to be painful at times. Molly is insecure and feels unloveable; I'm still struggling with some of her issues now, as a supposed adult! (We're even on the same anti-depressant! High five, Molly!) But Albertalli writes her emotional ups and downs with such subtlety and skill: this book feels real, but never too heavy; it's not an unrelenting angstfest. Molly's story is a little bit of a fantasy, but an utterly relatable one -- I would say that it verges on inspirational. (I should just ask out the boy I like!!!) That sounds treacly, though, and this book is anything but. It's pretty much the platonic ideal of contemporary YA.
Love the casual diversity that still acknowledges differences and difficulties. Love the preponderance of happy queer endings. Love the cameos from Simon, Abby, and Nick. Requited or unrequited, just: love....more
The crimes depicted in this book -- the widescale murder of Osage Indians for their oil fortunes -- are not particularly interesting; they probably could have been solved in two seconds were it not for the sweeping corruption throughout the white-controlled local government, which was of course aided and abetted by national policy. It's more terrifying than your typical true crime story could ever be....more
The main story is lots of fun -- Singularity comes to the newly established "normal" (whatever that meaYay, I liked this so much better than Warzones!
The main story is lots of fun -- Singularity comes to the newly established "normal" (whatever that means at this point) universe from the Battleworlds one, and is incredibly cute. Then there's just lots and lots of ladies being badasses alongside other ladies. Even the non-superhero scientists are ladies! I want to live in the alternate universe where this is the status quo. Eventually they can add one token guy to the team, and have him need to be rescued while in various states of undress all the time. (Hawkeye?)
Unfortunately, this is another collection padded out with old issues, in this case a borderline sexist Avengers comic from 1963 (I say borderline only because it turned out to be less bad than I originally thought it would be -- props to vintage Stan Lee for never being entirely terrible?) and the first issue of fucking Warzones! WHY WOULD YOU PUT AN ISSUE FROM THE PREVIOUS COLLECTION IN THIS COLLECTION? This "Vol. O"/"Vol. 1" crap is patently bullshit, so this is pretty much putting issue #1 of volume 1 at the end of volume 2. WE'VE READ THIS, DUH. Pull your head out of your ass, Marvel.
Anyway: LADIES! Yay, superhero ladies! Let's focus on that.
No, seriously, let's focus on that. Many many more titles about that, please!...more
This is what I wanted Lillian on Life (another odd naming coincidence!) to be, but it wasn't. Lillian Boxfish is a much wittier, more feminist take onThis is what I wanted Lillian on Life (another odd naming coincidence!) to be, but it wasn't. Lillian Boxfish is a much wittier, more feminist take on the "old woman remembering her life" genre. (Is this a genre? I'm going to call it a genre. Why not.)
This is also another "wandering New York" narrative, in a year that has been all about those for me. The parallels between Lillian (and her real life inspiration, Margaret Fishback) and my 2016 idol, Maeve Brennan, are striking, although I'm glad this book didn't end as bleakly as Maeve's life did. (I wonder if Margaret and Maeve's paths ever crossed?)
It seems I will simply continue reading New York flânerie until I'm able to walk those streets myself....more
This was so much better than The Flash: Rebirth. I already knew the story from watching the animated version, but thisBarry Allen fucks shit up again!
This was so much better than The Flash: Rebirth. I already knew the story from watching the animated version, but this has some moments that lacked -- and they were almost all my favorite parts. (view spoiler)[Thomas Wayne stabbing Thawne with a GIANT SWORD in the middle of his villain speech and Bruce crying over his father's alternate universe letter (hide spoiler)] were huge highlights.
I mostly read this because I am getting impatient to see how TV!Barry Allen and his much better hair fuck things up in the show's version of Flashpoint this fall. But this was quite fun all on its own.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
This is the second Teju Cole book I have read that has engendered deeply mixed reactions in me. And unfortunately, after this one -- and particularlyThis is the second Teju Cole book I have read that has engendered deeply mixed reactions in me. And unfortunately, after this one -- and particularly one incident toward the end -- I think I am done with him.
On the one hand, there were passages in Open City that I deeply loved: beautifully written and evocative wanderer's musings about New York City that reminded me of one of my recent favorite books, The Long-Winded Lady. Cole intermixes these travels with reflections on the various marginalized peoples who have inhabited the streets his character, Julius, walks in a way that also bore fond comparisons to Edmund White's The Flaneur. And I even enjoyed many of the (often implausible) extended conversations Julius has with random people he meets. For a while I felt that the act of Julius mostly passively listening to strangers regaling him with their life stories would ultimately illuminate his character, as in Rachel Cusk's Outline. But no. Mostly they just revealed his tendency to make snap judgments about people.
Until finally they reveal -- spoiler and trigger warning, I guess -- that he may have raped a girl at a party years ago? I had to stop and reread several pages, but no: the accusation is made (by a woman Julius is in lust with) and he never refutes it? The wandering narrative just wanders on? WTF? WTF? WTF?
Picture a loud record-scratch sound effect in my brain, which I am still hearing as I type this.
I don't know. I am really interested in Cole's depictions of the black experience, specifically the African immigrant experience, but I don't think I want to hear anything more that someone has to say on compassion or tolerance if they're willing to drop something like that in for -- I am not even sure what effect. Some last-minute literary shock value?
I got bounced hard out of Cole's Known and Strange Things by the essay in which he suggests that Barack Obama isn't really black enough. I'm more willing to acknowledge a difference of opinion when I am not a member of the oppressed group most involved in the discussion, but as a bona fide lady, I can safely say: hey! Rape is not something I am cool with being tossed off as a random, nonsensical plot point. I'm done....more
*Kamala *KAMALA (she needs two mentions I love her so much) *Both of the storylines in this volume were really fun and really smart -- not justAmazing:
*Kamala *KAMALA (she needs two mentions I love her so much) *Both of the storylines in this volume were really fun and really smart -- not just superhero shenanigans, actual meaningful superhero shenanigans *Bruno's new girlfriend is really cute! *New besties Nakia and Zoe *Aamir and his adorable new wife! *Tony getting to be a good mentor and a good (if complicated) person; I MISSED this! *Dr. Faustus is SUCH A CREEPY VILLAIN; this was a good use of him
*I'm not sure Wilson can really write Loki all that well, or maybe I am just still bitter about A-Force, Vol. 0: Warzones! *Carol ex machina *Whateverthefuck is up with Sam right now -- which I know has nothing to do with Wilson, but sheesh
But in conclusion:
(I was gonna go for the full joke and say "Khaaaaaaaaaaaan!" but it just sounds too angry. I AM NEVER ANGRY AT KAMALA.)...more
Everyone seems to love this book, and I really don't get it.
Well, that's not precisely true: I do see the appeal -- this is a domestic thriller that iEveryone seems to love this book, and I really don't get it.
Well, that's not precisely true: I do see the appeal -- this is a domestic thriller that is well-crafted in its way. It's topical. It's slick.
But it didn't work for me. I found the writing very flat and cold -- there's almost no emotion between these pages. That may have been a stylistic choice on Abbott's part, to show how broken and empty her characters are, but it was also very boring. Obvious/annoying comparison: Gillian Flynn's books, at their best, have a heat and a rage to them that's fascinating to me -- and, at least before she kicked off the current thriller trend, that felt so fresh. Emotionally dead people being emotionally dead, though -- that's been done and done and done.
Nothing about this book was surprising. You know going in exactly who the culprit is, and the why is about as expected as it can be. I also could have really done without various characters being used as mouthpieces for Profound Truths about Parenting and Being a Teenage Girl Today. See, this is another place where feelings might have been more effective than essentially capslocked MESSAGES.
Abbott is clearly skillful but judging on this book, hers are not skills in which I am particularly interested. I probably still ought to give this two stars rather than one, but I am feeling cranky and contrary. ...more
I was initially disturbed when I saw her beautiful cover for the updated Archie; I have never read a single issueFiona Staples makes everything sexy.
I was initially disturbed when I saw her beautiful cover for the updated Archie; I have never read a single issue of the original comics that I can recall, but I am aware of the characters through cultural osmosis and this character who looked like he could easily be a cousin of Richie Rich or Alfred E. Neuman should not be hot. But I was still jonesing after reading the latest Saga and I wanted to look at some pretty pictures, so I thought I'd give this a try.
Much to my surprise -- and delight -- the new Archie is more than just a pretty face! Mark Waid's reworking of Riverdale is vibrant and inviting, and the stories in this volume are fun and playful but deeper than I anticipated. I loved the hints of Jughead's tragic past (there's a sentence I never thought I'd type) and Betty and Archie's relationship and breakup were so well-handled -- both subtle and sophisticated. (More unexpected adjectives!) Yet Archie is still silly and wholesome enough that I imagine it would be recognizable to the original series' fans.
I was sad that Staples only did the art for three issues, although the other artists are above average themselves. Staples is simply singular. Even though thanks to her -- here comes another one -- I now want to do dirty, dirty things to Jughead beneath the bleachers....more
I find it odd that in a post-James Frey world, someone can publish a work of stories he straight-up admits in the introduction are fiction as memoir.I find it odd that in a post-James Frey world, someone can publish a work of stories he straight-up admits in the introduction are fiction as memoir. It's not just that the names are changed: Holt says he's combined and invented; he even gives himself the name "Dr. Harper" in one of the tales. I understand that the labeling of this book was 99% likely to be the publisher's decision, not his, but it messed with my perception of these stories from the beginning.
I also feel that, as fiction as opposed to a straight-forward recounting of the facts, these tales are just not that interesting. There are patients with odd symptoms, à la an episode of House, and some generally fairly weak philosophizing. Maybe it was just the introduction setting me up, but I never believed any of it -- by which I mean, I never engaged with any of it, as fiction or as fact. Holt, or "Harper," comes off as fallible, which is nice, but otherwise entirely lacking in personality. The few other characters -- the no-nonsense nurse with the backpack; the crazy-haired, crazy-talking intern from the psych ward -- come off as either stock or unbelievable. This book was so close to being the type of thing I love, and then there was just...a false note, and it wasn't.
I keep missing reading Marvel titles and then being frustrated and disappointed by what I do read. I usually love G. Willow Wilson, but this was not aI keep missing reading Marvel titles and then being frustrated and disappointed by what I do read. I usually love G. Willow Wilson, but this was not a good pick for me from the outset. I hate Marvel's stupid Battleworld concept, which this of course has to be a part of, and I generally have a rough time with team comics where there are like 87,000 characters in play and I can't recognize half of them half the time. (The fact that this is an alternate universe does not make it easier.) There are some great individual panels in this ("America, no!" "America, YES.") but overall it's muddled and confusing and just really not my jam.
Lucy Knisley's Relish is an absolutely delightful tribute to food, foodie culture, gardening, cooking, and eating. It's also a thoughtful explorationLucy Knisley's Relish is an absolutely delightful tribute to food, foodie culture, gardening, cooking, and eating. It's also a thoughtful exploration of family legacy -- what our parents pass down to us, both good and bad, both accidentally and with intent. Knisley breezes past the heavier moments with a light touch -- not losing the flavor of the story, but also not letting the low notes weigh the reader down like a bad meal. Her art is sprightly, with a similar energy to Alison Bechdel's (one can see why Bechdel blurbed this book). And there are recipes! (In fact, Knisley's family recipe for pasta carbonara is even pretty much exactly the same as my family's. Just one of the many things I now want to chat with her about.) Who could ask for more?...more
Reasons I should have known better than to read this book:
1. The title 2. The cover
Reasons I read this book anyway:
1. Aliens! 2. Many, many, many enthusReasons I should have known better than to read this book:
1. The title 2. The cover
Reasons I read this book anyway:
1. Aliens! 2. Many, many, many enthusiastic reviews said the depiction of the alien culture was really cool and from the opening chapters this appeared to be true. 3. ALIENS. The first step is admitting you have a bit of a xeno kink. The second step is...well, I wish it hadn't been reading this.
GIANT HONKING REASONS I SHOULD HAVE KNOWN NOT TO READ THIS BOOK BUT DIDN'T BECAUSE THEY ARE NOT INDICATED IN THE SUMMARY OR ANY OF THE REVIEWS I READ:
1. D/s. Extreme D/s. Public use of leashes and harnesses and all kinds of stuff that make me shudder -- and not in a pleasant sexy way -- to think about are employed. 2. Noncon. I say noncon instead of rape because the abuse isn't sexual, I guess, but Liam is chained up against his will. He is hunted down when he tries to escape. His free will is basically stripped away -- except he likes it because of course he's naturally submissive and OH MY GOD WHAT BAD FANFIC IS THIS 3. Slavery, basically, even if the author never cops to that. Just because you're like
doesn't make the slavery not slavery. I don't really care if your alien culture says it's okay. I don't feel okay about it. 4. Lines like:
"You need to be forced into that which is healthy for you"
“I would like to steal your control from you and force you to admit that even your body knows that it is mine, and it will react to me even over your own preferences"
GET AWAY FROM ME WITH THIS NIGHTMARE FUEL.
Look, I'm a big girl. I read a whackadoodle alien romance novel with a cover featuring a) a big purple guy with a tail and b) a scruffy naked dude whose neck looks sort of broken? I knew to some extent what I was getting into. Although admittedly, I did not think it would be this. This is so, so not my jam. I mean, good to know, right? I can definitely cross those kinks off the list. Buuuuuuuut I wish the summary for this book had been a little clearer. Or that I had been smarter and bailed once I realized the way this was going -- instead of grimly holding on in hopes that things would somehow get better for Liam. By my definition of "better," they didn't. The way Gala writes him, he would disagree, and hey -- who am I to kinkshame? If you like heavy D/s and vague sexual slavery, you will probably be super into this book, because on a prose level it's pretty well written and there is some interesting worldbuilding. But if you are not into those things...yikes.
I would have been safer reading a fic where Spock has some sort of weird flower penis or whatever. Lesson learned....more
Everyone seems to love this one and I'm bummed that I didn't. But I really, really didn't.
From the beginning, I had a hard time handling the fact thatEveryone seems to love this one and I'm bummed that I didn't. But I really, really didn't.
From the beginning, I had a hard time handling the fact that all of D's dialogue -- and thoughts! -- were in ridiculous tough-guy dialect. D's the assassin character -- so badass he no longer even has a name! -- but his dialogue reads like Third Mook From the Left's in some terrible mafia movie. Yet I squinted whenever he was speaking and moved on.
The other protagonist is an oral surgeon named Jack Francisco. Jack Francisco is a ridiculous thing to name your protagonist, even in the world of silly romance novel names. Jack Francisco should be a cowboy or rodeo clown, not an oral surgeon. But this is nit-picky so again I handwaved it and proceeded.
I was not rewarded. Jack and D's eventual hookup is abrupt and unsexy. I never felt the heat between them; I actually remember thinking, "I'm glad she's taking this slow" right before the first sex scene, because I was anticipating a ton more build up, as there had been next to nothing to signify mutual attraction at that point. But no. Sex happens about 1/4th of the way through, and then it's just dumb fights and idiotic self-endangering behavior for the rest of the book.
And the book is so long. For a story with dozens of hired killers running around, there is a shocking lack of tension. Maybe every assassin in this book is as droopy and inactive as D? Look, if I'm reading a romance novel about a hit man, it's because I want some sort of illicit thrill from a man who's highly competent and extremely deadly. I don't want some gravel-mouthed mope who's about as sexy and dynamic as the vampire Angel in guilt-ridden rat-eating mode. Let's just say this: Seville did manage to convince me that Jack could perform successful facial reconstructive surgery; I was not at all convinced that D had managed to kill undetected the 47 or whatever people he was always angsting about, unless they'd been on a bus that he accidentally drove over a cliff while blowing his nose.
So this is an excellent book if you want to hear about the exploits of a competent oral surgeon. Ladies.
Speaking of spicy stuff: oh, the sex scenes in this book! The numerous dull, interchangeable sex scenes. Seville's descriptions are either anatomical or filled with flowery metaphor: at one point D caresses Jack with "long, smooth strokes like raking a zen garden"; at another point, "Jack was just starting to spiral upward when D suddenly pulled out and seized Jack's waist, flipping him over as easily as one might a pancake on a slick skillet." Okay, so now I'm puzzling through mental images of zen gardens and pancake flipping. Hawt.
Basically, I think where I and this book part ways is that the book takes itself way too seriously. This is a ROMANCE about an ASSASSIN falling in love with his TARGET. That's a pretty cracky concept. Maybe...have fun with it? This does not need to be -- and probably shouldn't be -- a work of high literature. It should be sexy and fun. But in my opinion, Seville's 0/2 here.
One final example of my issues with this book: like I said, it goes on forever; it has more epilogues than The Return of the King. When you finally reach the last one, and you're expecting something like a depiction of D and Jack's happy life together, instead Seville gives you a graphic description of child murder. One that has nothing to do with the main plot, by the way. I guess it's just in there to remind you that life is terrible.
Anyway, that's what you get for a sexy feelgood ending. All in all, I think I'd rather read the adventures of Jack Francisco: Cowboy Dentist....more
I was really looking forward to this, but I found it incredibly disappointing. I loved the idea of LunSigh. Ms. Marvel, Vol. 1: No Normal this ain't.
I was really looking forward to this, but I found it incredibly disappointing. I loved the idea of Lunella as a character, but her narration was really flat and repetitive, and the plotting of this felt messy and scattered. All this volume needed to do was set up Lunella and Devil Dinosaur as a team, but I feel like it completely skipped over the moment when they bonded. This wasn't funny or feelsy, and it should have been both. Alas.
The issues with Amadeus Cho (<3!) did remind me that I wanted to start his Hulk run, so that's something, at least. ...more
I agree with the general consensus that Lansdale seemed fairly tired of Hap, Leonard, and their shenanigans when he wrote the previous book in this seI agree with the general consensus that Lansdale seemed fairly tired of Hap, Leonard, and their shenanigans when he wrote the previous book in this series, Captains Outrageous, but fortunately he took a nice long break before apparently deciding he missed these crazy bastards. Lansdale, Hap, and Leonard are all back on top form here -- in fact, this book has some of the best action sequences of the series so far. There's also some nice Hap angst as he deals with another descent into dime-store moral philosophy. And since Lansdale is back on form, these parts are beautifully written, and the contrast between Hap's self-reflection and the gators, guns, and general mayhem of the rest of the book is again delightful, and one of the things that keep me coming back to this series.
Though the main thing is really just how evident it is, on every page, that Hap and Leonard and Brett all love each other. That's surprisingly rare: a series where the characters all like each other so much.
That said -- I would absolutely read a spin-off devoted to infamous assassin Vanilla Ride....more