Poetry's not really my bag, although I'm trying to get better about experimenting with it. I'm certain that there are poets I'll respond to, and I wan...morePoetry's not really my bag, although I'm trying to get better about experimenting with it. I'm certain that there are poets I'll respond to, and I want to understand it better. It's hard for me to talk intelligently about it, though, since I feel so inexperienced. I haven't read enough to have context, so I'm just doing the knee-jerk "I liked it" thing.
However, I did like it. Especially "Splitting an Order," my favorite, "Home Storage Barns," a close second, and the quirky, evocative "The Celery Heart." For what that's worth.(less)
I have been a librarian now for five years, and I can attest that the anecdotes in this book are very likely true because I've experienced events very...moreI have been a librarian now for five years, and I can attest that the anecdotes in this book are very likely true because I've experienced events very like them. The characters, the bullies, the deranged, the confused. If you ever want to see a community's most unique members, check out the public library. I assure you, they'll be there.
Like any library worker, I could regale you for hours with stories about the questions, complaints, and behavior I've encountered at work. (Although, at least from my experience, this book was conspicuously lacking in stories about cleaning up disgusting messes. Yes, there was one story about vomit, but where was the urine? The blood? The poo logs? The diarrhea? I've had to clean all that up or watch my fellow librarians do it, and I work in a library in a pretty comfortable suburban community. You should hear the stories my friend tells. She works in a public library right across the street from a halfway house for the mentally ill.) And yes, a lot of the stories are about the stuff that you have to laugh at to maintain your sanity. But I was happy to see the book end on stories about the good stuff. The people whose lives are changed for the better because of the library. Because it's those stories that keep me going to work when I can't stand the thought of being yelled at one more time, or encountering one more unanswerable question, or trying to maintain my cool when someone tells me an offensive joke as though I'll love it. I have to remember the patrons who we stop seeing so much because they finally got a job, or the patrons who gush in gratitude for suggesting a book they loved.
But granted, it's way more amusing to tell stories about the guy who fell asleep on the furniture and peed all over it, or the lady who set her infant on a computer table that was later mysteriously covered in diarrhea.(less)
Earlier this year I read Hawkeye: My Life as a Weapon, largely because it was getting some serious raves. And I liked it, but I didn't love it. But wi...moreEarlier this year I read Hawkeye: My Life as a Weapon, largely because it was getting some serious raves. And I liked it, but I didn't love it. But with Black Widow: The Finely Woven Thread, I had the reaction I was hoping for from Hawkeye.
The art in this is, to my untrained eye, really great. I loved how it's largely muted tones and black and white, with big pops of red. And I really like Black Widow.
Occasionally I struggle with comics and powerful women. Even comics I really like, like Fables. Actually, that's a really good comparison. You've got super spy Cinderella, and she's drawn with what would be a six-inch waist and 36G bust. Whereas Natasha Romanov is drawn more athletic. She's slim, she's curvy, but she's not a Barbie doll.
Cinderella has some character depth to her, but in the end it's not that exciting. Some angst relating to her ex-husband. Mostly just a feeling of isolation since most of the Fables think she's some airhead socialite. Natasha's issues are way more mysterious, way more serious, and therefore way more interesting. She spends her life trying to do good, to atone for her past. But her most personal acts of kindness and good she sees as weakness. She's almost embarrassed by the urge to kick the ass of an abusive neighbor, or feed a stray cat. I like that kind of internal conflict, especially when it's backed up by superhero antics.
Finally, my biggest beef with Cinderella (from Fables. Let's not start discussing the original tales.) is that she's so often treated like a big male fantasy, and nothing more. I realize that superhero comics are all about fantasy, and I don't begrudge that, but it bugs me if male characters are not only given insanely unbelievable physiques, but also depth of character and story. Especially when, like poor Cinderella, their female counterparts are given hyper-exaggerated hourglass figures and then made to wear leather bikinis and get in catfights with other scantily clad ladies, and that represents the bulk of their page time. Black Widow is not given this treatment, and it made me like the book all the more.
Here endeth the feminist rant.
**Full disclosure: I am in no way an expert in comics, and have judged them based on my limited exposure. If you have suggestions that disprove my experience, by all means clue me in. Politely.(less)
I could've guessed that this was one of Meljean Brook's early novels, and I have to admit that I'm glad I didn't start here. The Iron Seas series show...moreI could've guessed that this was one of Meljean Brook's early novels, and I have to admit that I'm glad I didn't start here. The Iron Seas series shows more originality, the pacing is solid, and her characters rang truer. Demon Angel, on the other hand, had a really slow start, and never revved up to the point I know she's capable of. I suppose that this could be due to my growing affection for Steampunk, and the ebbing of my enjoyment of urban fantasy/paranormal romance. But I suspect it's more than that. I never connected with these characters like I have In other books, and I think some of the joy in the Iron Seas writing was missing here.
But like I said - it's early Meljean Brook. I bought the second book back in my book selling days, so I'll be reading that one too. Searching for the zest I've come to expect from her writing.(less)
It was cute, and fun, and would make a great movie. There were stretches of farce in the middle that were genuinely funny. I chuckled to myself. Out l...moreIt was cute, and fun, and would make a great movie. There were stretches of farce in the middle that were genuinely funny. I chuckled to myself. Out loud. That is not nothing. But I have two problems with this book.
First: I really wanted more of Fliss and Lorcan. (Three problems, actually. What kind of name is Lorcan?) Their meet-cute was perfect. They had chemistry. They had plenty of opportunity for funny interactions and romantic shenanigans. I want to read that book, but most of it never happened. I found myself yearning for a slightly different story. It's not fair to judge a book for not being the type of book you want it to be, but nevertheless. I felt a little let down.
Second: I always have problems with Sophie Kinsella. She's light. She's funny. She has mostly appealing characters. She has romance. It should be everything I like in a book, except for one thing. She always presses the anxiety button in her books. She always makes me uncomfortable at least once, and it's hard for me to enjoy myself after that. To be fair, it was less of an issue in this book. But consider Shopaholic. I absolutely cannot enjoy watching someone make such a long series of such seriously bad choices. The thought of someone in debilitating debt dealing with the stress by getting a new credit card to buy massively expensive designer shoes just kills me. Yes, I realize it's fiction, but it gives me indigestion. It stresses me out. I can't enjoy myself when the characters I'm trying to identify with are self-destructing in magnificent fashion. Just, no.
So, anyway. I keep trying. And this was the closest I've gotten to real and lasting enjoyment. Sophie Kinsella will probably never be a go-to author for me, but you could do worse than this for a beach read.(less)
-Two timelines. One in 1978, and one twenty years later, in 1998.
-Two main characters, both of whom tell pieces...moreThis book has a lot going on. Observe:
-Two timelines. One in 1978, and one twenty years later, in 1998.
-Two main characters, both of whom tell pieces of the story in both past and present.
-A story told largely through journals, memos, emails, court proceedings, phone transcripts, etc.
-Multiple references to sports, politics, and musical theater. Occasionally all at the same time.
-A diverse and active array of secondary characters, all with their own plotlines happening.
-A massive sense of old-fashioned romance.
And that's just the stuff I thought was important enough to mention here. By all rights, this should have been a hot mess. And it is jam-packed, don't get me wrong. But it also has a lot of heart and manages to tell a story of first/lost love without screwing anyone over or making someone an arbitrary douchebag just so we feel better if he gets dumped. Instead we get a book filled with improbably lovely characters on an improbably romantic journey. It's no coincidence that one of the characters is writing a romantic comedy. This is a top drawer rom com put to the page. Fast and delightful and a perfect summer read.
Oh, and I guess I should mention to all the homophobic bigots out there - the main characters are dudes. It's a gay romance. Feel free to be uncomfortable now.(less)
Vivian Maier is astonishing. This is the second book of her photographs to be published, and it may have amazed me even more than Out of the Shadows d...moreVivian Maier is astonishing. This is the second book of her photographs to be published, and it may have amazed me even more than Out of the Shadows did. Eye to Eye is entirely made up of street portraits - the hardest kind of portrait to do well. And yet this woman, this self-taught artist, managed to take photos that were in focus, composed, and that captured something. A personality, an emotion, a moment. All in one shot. Not attempt after attempt to get what she wanted. Just a single glorious shot. And she never shared them with anyone! Astonishing.
If you like photography - if you are interested in photography in any way - you must see Vivian Maier's photos. You don't know what you're missing if you don't.(less)
I've enjoyed the occasional paranormal romance for several years now, but I have to admit that recently I've been reading fewer of them - largely beca...moreI've enjoyed the occasional paranormal romance for several years now, but I have to admit that recently I've been reading fewer of them - largely because I feel like I've read all of them before. Similar characters, similar settings. Similar. But this one has a few things that aren't so similar, and that I really liked.
Mainly, I responded to the Twenties of it all. Drop-waist dresses, bobbed hair, T-strap heels, bathtub gin, spiritualism, speakeasies, cloche hats. The birth of the modern woman. That's the good stuff. You also get a hero who's a rum runner, and a heroine who's a spiritual medium. I've read a lot of paranormal romance, but I haven't read this. And sure, you get some romance clichés - the Insta-Love, the damaged hero who's cured by the love of a good woman, the feisty and independent heroine who finally decides to settle down. Reluctantly. But you know what? Those things are fun. And I just got done reading a whole mess of books ranging from serious to downright depressing. I wanted a little fun. A freckled spiritual medium/exorcist in the San Francisco of the Roaring Twenties really hit the spot.(less)
I find that I don't have a super lot to say about this book. I liked it. And it was a super fast read, which is always nice. Especially seeing as how...moreI find that I don't have a super lot to say about this book. I liked it. And it was a super fast read, which is always nice. Especially seeing as how I've got a perpetually overlarge stack of library books at my house. A stack that I'm forever determined to eliminate, and yet never manage to actually eliminate.
This book was a bit more mature than Scott Pilgrim, with insightful messages about control and relationships and moving on. All of which is good, and yet it did kind of result in a book that was less fun. Not everything has to be fun, but there was a certain playfulness in Scott Pilgrim that I missed in Seconds. I still enjoyed it. I don't regret reading it in any way. But while I could see myself re-reading the Scott Pilgrim books in their entirety, I don't think I'd go back through this one. Despite the adorable artwork.(less)