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
Cute, but not quite as substantive as I'd like -- nor funny enough just to be frothy for a sustained period. There's some nice, gentle meta-humor thouCute, but not quite as substantive as I'd like -- nor funny enough just to be frothy for a sustained period. There's some nice, gentle meta-humor though.
The sad truth is, I think what I really want is more stories about Trish Walker from Netflix's Jessica Jones, because SHE IS THE GREATEST EVER....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
Fascinating and complex novel about South Africa in three different time periods -- during apartheid, immediately after it, and in the present day. LiFascinating and complex novel about South Africa in three different time periods -- during apartheid, immediately after it, and in the present day. Like the photographs Vladislavic references throughout, I feel like I could think and think on this book and continue to derive new meaning. Double Negative is weighty without being pretentious. ...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
This is a message that, it turns out, is not more interesting if it's presented in a pretentious Korean literary novel as opposed to an American one.
This is a message that, it turns out, is not more interesting if it's presented in a pretentious Korean literary novel as opposed to an American one.
Some takeaway from this book:
-Why have characters when you can have symbolic stand-ins? -Lots of gross rapey sex provides fantastic insight into the human condition. -Fixate on one or two random female body parts and describe them endlessly. (NIPPLES. This is the second book I have read this year that is obsessed with nipples.) -Definitely end with a character angstily staring out the window of a moving vehicle, because this is a story you wrote when you were 14. ...more
I know this is just the warm-up for Rag and Bone, but it felt really rushed, almost to the point of sloppiness. Fortunately, I am 99.9% positive Rag aI know this is just the warm-up for Rag and Bone, but it felt really rushed, almost to the point of sloppiness. Fortunately, I am 99.9% positive Rag and Bone will be better....more
This is set in the Charm of Magpies universe, but frankly I find Ben and Jonah a much more engaging couple than Crane and Stephen (who I liked more inThis is set in the Charm of Magpies universe, but frankly I find Ben and Jonah a much more engaging couple than Crane and Stephen (who I liked more individually than as a pair). Their shared backstory is full of angst and betrayal, but there's something so sweet about them! This was just a joy to read. Plus there was the added pleasure of getting to see Crane and Stephen from an outside perspective. What a clever way for Charles to continue, and freshen, this series. ...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.
So Warner Brothers (the studio producing the movie) has forced Scholastic (the books' publisher) to pull all copies of the original book in advance ofSo Warner Brothers (the studio producing the movie) has forced Scholastic (the books' publisher) to pull all copies of the original book in advance of the film. This is baffling to me: what secrets could possibly lurk within its pages that WB would feel the need to have it suppressed?
Reading it (which I actually had never done before) did not answer this question for me. As I'd been already made aware, it does not have a plot -- it's just a brief (for reals, Harry -- or possibly Ron, see below) introduction to the history of the classification of Beasts, and then an alphabetical list of examples. All of which is very charmingly presented: Rowling is, with some recent exceptions (and I do not mean Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, excellent at world-building. The only thing that strikes me as remotely spoileriffic is the fact that Newt's bio at the end of the book reveals (view spoiler)[who he marries (hide spoiler)]. But that's hardly reason to banish it from the shelves. What is Warner Brothers up to? SOUND THE CONSPIRACY ALARM PLEASE.
Anyway, that weirdness aside, my real complaint with this book is that the cute idea of having Harry, Ron, and Hermione's notes sprinkled through the text is ruined by making all three of them appear to have near-identical handwriting. Maybe I am just the worst handwriting analyst ever (possible) but I found each of their scrawls to be practically indistinguishable. Scholastic couldn't have sprung for different colored inks? Huh -- maybe someone at WB was super offended, and that's why they pulled this book.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
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.
Eminently readable history of the English obsession with murder from the early 19th century to the mid-20th; I gobbled it up in nearly one sitting. WoEminently readable history of the English obsession with murder from the early 19th century to the mid-20th; I gobbled it up in nearly one sitting. Worsley makes connections between real-life cases and the fictional depictions of crime from the same era that I found fascinating. She's occasionally sidetracked by biographical detail (we delve, for example, into the personal lives of Thomas de Quincey, Wilkie Collins, and Dorothy L. Sayers) but all of that is interesting, too, with Worsley's voice lively throughout. As is often the case with popular nonfiction, I was left wanting more -- more analysis, some grander statement -- but it's possible that I am just yearning for life (and death) to make more sense in general. ...more
Still quite delightful, if less surprising in its delightfulness than The Magpie Lord. Poor K.J. Charles: now I Expect Things from her!
I continue to nStill quite delightful, if less surprising in its delightfulness than The Magpie Lord. Poor K.J. Charles: now I Expect Things from her!
I continue to not be enamored of the romance (although it was quite sweet here), but once again the magical mystery was suspenseful and scary. I enjoyed this take on the Giant Rat of Sumatra. Esther (the badass Jewish magic practitioner lady) was suitably awesome, and I'm looking forward to more of the other justiciars, particularly Jenny Saint.
Will probably gobble down the next one posthaste....more