I received DEATH, DISABILITY, AND THE SUPERHERO: THE SILVER AGE AND BEYOND as an ARC through NetGalley.com.
For the sake of transparency, I feel I shouI received DEATH, DISABILITY, AND THE SUPERHERO: THE SILVER AGE AND BEYOND as an ARC through NetGalley.com.
For the sake of transparency, I feel I should start this review out with a little information about myself. I'm a thirty-year-old disabled person, with a life-long fascination with death. My interest in comic books is new. I find the medium and the method of storytelling fascinating, but I'm not really into superheroes. (I like darker stuff than superheroes tend to go.)
Despite my lack of familiarity with many of the superhero storylines discussed here (I've read the late-80s Batman arc, A Death in the Family, but hadn't even heard of a lot of the characters mentioned in the book) I never felt confused. There are good descriptions, right down to the ways the panels were arranged on the pages, and visual aids, as well.
I came away from this book with a few things: - a less harsh opinion of why superhero comics are the way they are about death - a couple recommendations for comics I hadn't even been interested in before - a realisation about why my favorite superheroes in movies are so interesting to me (hint: It's because they view and deal with their super powers as disabilities.)
The book is broken down into ten chapters. It's mainly about disabilities until the seventh chapter. Then chapters seven, eight, and nine are about death in superhero comics. I read the first seven chapters with great interest, but about halfway through the eighth, I started feeling like it was repeating a lot of the same things as the previous chapter. I skimmed through it and part of the ninth before just skipping to the conclusion chapter, which held my attention again.
So, I guess, for me, a book solely about disability in comics would have been better, but it's fascinating and thought-provoking, and I definitely recommend it to fans of superhero comics and people who are in death and/or disabilities studies....more
I received EMPIRE OF SIN: A STORY OF SEX, JAZZ, MURDER, AND THE BATTLE FOR MODERN NEW ORLEANS as an ARC through NetGalley.com.
Sometimes it's hard to bI received EMPIRE OF SIN: A STORY OF SEX, JAZZ, MURDER, AND THE BATTLE FOR MODERN NEW ORLEANS as an ARC through NetGalley.com.
Sometimes it's hard to be a fan of learning. Once you're not actually at school and taking classes, it's up to you to find your own texts on the subjects that interest you. Often you find books that are dry, boring lists of facts. Sometimes you find books that suffer from an author who wants so much to avoid that, that they end up padding the story with imagined dialogue and things of that nature, and then you may start to doubt how accurate the thing is, as a whole. This book strikes a wonderful balance.
EMPIRE OF SIN is clearly very well-researched; the list of cited sources is quite impressive. Despite being chock-full of facts, it still flows easily, like a well-written novel. New Orleans is still full of "characters," so it's no surprise that that's what a lot of the historical figures involved in this book feel like, but they never feel like created characters. Or... Well, they're self-created characters. So many interesting people, doing so many interesting things, in such an interesting time.
I'm very glad my request for this ARC was approved. It's made my Christmas shopping for my dad so much easier. New Orleans history isn't his area, but he is a fan of true crime, and this book was such a great read for me that I'm sure he'll like it, too....more
The premise of this book sounded right up my alley--it's set in a bleak dystopian future where a catastroI received J as an ARC through netgalley.com.
The premise of this book sounded right up my alley--it's set in a bleak dystopian future where a catastrophe referred to as WHAT HAPPENED, IF IT HAPPENED is constantly and simultaneously both denied and apologised for, and it focuses on the relationship between two people pushed together by shadowy forces for an unknown purpose.
But it fell flat for me in almost every aspect.
There is such an opportunity for rich characters in this story, but they are all two-dimensional at best, and occasionally one-dimensional and/or reprehensible. I found the tone uneven and difficult to get used to, which made a book I should have been able to read in six hours or less into a ten-day project. And there were so many loose ends. I'm usually fine with a loose end or two, because things aren't always wrapped up nicely in real life, but fiction _isn't_ real life, and so it should at least _mostly_ make sense. J seems to be a bunch of stories/plots/sub-plots all tied together in the middle, but with all the ends dangling free.
So, disappointingly, this one was not for me....more
I received THE VULGAR TONGUE: GREEN'S HISTORY OF SLANG as an ARC through netgalley.com.
I'm submitting this review before I finish this book, because II received THE VULGAR TONGUE: GREEN'S HISTORY OF SLANG as an ARC through netgalley.com.
I'm submitting this review before I finish this book, because I'm not sure if I ever will finish it. It's very informative but, at least in the first five chapters (the part I've read), it seems like it might be for readers for whom the study of linguistics is more than just a casual hobby. It might have been too informative for my level of interest, and that's not the book or the author's fault at all. ...more
I received AN INFURIATING AMERICAN: THE INCENDIARY ARTS OF H.L. MENCKEN as an ARC through netgalley.com.
I requested this book from NetGalley for a simI received AN INFURIATING AMERICAN: THE INCENDIARY ARTS OF H.L. MENCKEN as an ARC through netgalley.com.
I requested this book from NetGalley for a simple reason: I knew H.L. Mencken was an early-20th Century journalist and critic, whose name is often attached to quotes that inspire me to smirk. That was about it. He seemed an interesting fellow, and this title made me even more interested, and so I asked for a copy.
AN INFURIATING AMERICAN's main issue, in my eyes, is that it's very short. I wanted to know even more. But as an introduction to the mystery that is H.L. Mencken, I think it's a very good place to start. In fact, it may even be useful to people who already know a bit more. It seems there is a great deal of conflicting information about H.L. Mencken, all coming from reliable sources who knew him well, or at least felt that they did. So, clearly, he was a very complicated man. When you want to learn about complicated people, it's a good idea to get as many different points of view as you can before you make up your mind about what you believe. This author often cites several popular opinions before stating his own. I find that a really useful strategy in biographies....more
I received WHEN MYSTICAL CREATURES ATTACK! as an ARC through netgalley.com.
Another tidbit, in the spirit of full disclosure: This review is basicallyI received WHEN MYSTICAL CREATURES ATTACK! as an ARC through netgalley.com.
Another tidbit, in the spirit of full disclosure: This review is basically going to be made up of several chunks of the contents of an email I sent to Kathleen Founds after I finished the book. (Also: She's really super nice, and if she writes more books, I will buy every single one of them.)
Okay. So! When I requested When Mystical Creatures Attack! from netgalley.com it was a case of judging a book by its cover, which, not gonna lie, I do a lot. But, seriously, anybody who can look at a book cover with a cartoon giant squid with its tentacles wrapped around a cartoon unicorn and not desperately want to find out what it's about is no friend of mine. Anyway, my interest grew when I read the information about it and found it was a novel-in-stories, with epistolary leanings. I'm a really big fan of that sort of format, and it's something I've wanted to do myself for some time, so I love seeing examples of it, especially ones that I think work.
One of the things I like about novels-in-stories is how easy it is to find a place to stop. ...Well. NOT THIS ONE. I started WMCA! before bed and didn't stop until the end. And at the end, I kept holding my Kindle and looking at the glowing screen for a while. I wasn't sure how I felt, other than 'a little overwhelmed.' I had a million thoughts, and it was really hard to put them into a sensible order. Here's another 'not gonna lie' moment: I happened to have therapy the next afternoon, and it was still so much on my mind, that it's what I spent almost my whole hour talking about. (When she wrote back to me, she said she wished she could put that last sentence on the back of the book as a blurb. I'd totally blurb for her.)
Clearly, I liked this book, and it wasn't only because of the format. I liked it because I felt like I knew the characters--I felt that I was (am, or have been) a lot of those people. I liked that there were parts that made me sad, and there were parts that made me angry, and there were parts where I felt less alone, and there were parts that made me laugh. Certain stories felt so real, while others felt absolutely surreal. It felt wild and unpredictable, like life, but also sometimes what happened was exactly what I expected, also like life. One of the main characters--probably the one that I would call THE main character, if I were forced to say--is bipolar, and the whole book seems to represent the highs and lows that come with that particular disorder. It sort of felt more like experiencing a book than reading one.
Mental illness in fiction is a thing that can feel really off to people who live with it, partially because even if an author researches or writes from experience, it may not match yours. This one worked for me, but if you choose to give this book a try (and you should) keep the possibility in mind that you might not feel the same. Also, trigger warning: it does deal closely with suicide. So. Read this book if you can, but take care of yourself. And remember, as Jenny Lawson reminds her Twitter and blog followers frequently, Depression Lies....more
I received GIFTS FOR THE ONE WHO COMES AFTER as an ARC through netgalley.com.
I really enjoyed this collection. It drew my attention on NetGalI received GIFTS FOR THE ONE WHO COMES AFTER as an ARC through netgalley.com.
I really enjoyed this collection. It drew my attention on NetGalley with its strange cover art, and I requested it when I noticed it was a collection--short stories might be my favorite format. I was nervous about its inclusion in the category "New Weird," because sometimes I just don't get it, but I needn't have worried.
GIFTS is a collection of eighteen stories of varying degrees of weirdness, only one or two of which almost lost me. (You really can't read this many stories and expect every single one to feel custom-made for you.) Most of the time the weirdness was ... comfortable. It didn't feel weird at all while reading; a real miniature dog and a real shrink ray purchased from ads on the backs of comic books felt natural, the way Helen Marshall wrote it. That is the kind of weird fiction I like. I think half the point of scifi and fantasy is to be able to lose yourself like that, and Marshall makes it easy.
My favorite stories, I have to admit, were the two that made me cry. But I won't tell you which two. I hope you read them all without expectations and find something for you, even if they're not the ones that felt like they were for me....more
I received LOST IN TRANSLATION as an ARC through netgalley.com.
This book is basically an illustrated mental_floss list, compiled and commented on by sI received LOST IN TRANSLATION as an ARC through netgalley.com.
This book is basically an illustrated mental_floss list, compiled and commented on by someone who is a fan of purple. I mean, the content itself was very interesting to me, as a fan of linguistics. Even though I'd heard of most of these words before (seriously, from mental_floss articles) it was fun to see them with art to go along with each one. And it's pretty cute art! But the font--which actually might have been handwriting--used for the definitions was difficult to read, especially in a few places where the text overlapped with the art. And the extra descriptions added by the author to help the reader get a better gist of the feeling behind each word seemed like unformatted poetry at times.
...I swear I actually liked it. It's a great idea, but the execution was lacking....more
I received HOW WE LEARN: THE SURPRISING TRUTH ABOUT WHEN, WHERE, AND WHY IT HAPPENS as an ARC through netgalley.com.
Benedict Carey is an awarI received HOW WE LEARN: THE SURPRISING TRUTH ABOUT WHEN, WHERE, AND WHY IT HAPPENS as an ARC through netgalley.com.
Benedict Carey is an award-winning science reporter. In this book he reports on the science of remembering, forgetting, and learning, basically from its inception right up to modern times. He writes in a very accessible way, and even uses personal examples, so it feels more like he's having a conversation with the reader than just giving a lecture.
I have to admit, lately I've been thinking about going back to college to finish the degree I stopped when I became ill. But I never understood how to study, and I'm afraid my mind isn't quite the sponge it was when I was younger, so I've been doubting my ability to succeed. After reading this book, though, I have all kinds of study ideas and I'm excited to try some classes to see if they work as well as I think they will....more
I received THE SWALLOW: A GHOST STORY as an ARC through netgalley.com.
Wonderful. THE SWALLOW transports its readers to Toronto in the 1960s where twoI received THE SWALLOW: A GHOST STORY as an ARC through netgalley.com.
Wonderful. THE SWALLOW transports its readers to Toronto in the 1960s where two twelve-year-old neighbors forge a deep friendship in spite of (or maybe _because_ of) the fact that they are complete opposites in nearly every aspect. Framing this tale of the strength of friendships amidst the loneliness and dissatisfaction of adolescence is a ghost story, both frightening and thought-provoking, if occasionally predictable.
More than twenty years ago, when I was small, another book with the subtitle "A Ghost Story" captured my heart and mind, and reading THE SWALLOW brought me right back to those days. I hope many young people find this book and get as much enjoyment out of it as I did out of Stonewords: A Ghost Story in the early 90s....more
Set in 1972 Cape Cod, NEST is the story of 11-year-old "Chirp" and her family as they deal with her daI received NEST as an ARC through netgalley.com.
Set in 1972 Cape Cod, NEST is the story of 11-year-old "Chirp" and her family as they deal with her dancer mother's diagnosis of MS. It is by turns uplifting and heart-wrenching, and I couldn't put it down. Full disclosure: my eyes leaked tears for at least two-thirds of the book, from a variety of different emotions. This is Esther Ehrlich's debut, and I can't wait to read more from her. NEST may be a young adult novel, but it's topics and the truths it reveals are universally important for people of all ages.
My only issue is with some of the language. (I don't want to say exactly which words, because I don't want to spoil part of the plot for anyone.) It's a nit-picky thing, and I know why that particular language was used--it's realistic to the time setting. Kids reading this on their own might not realise that. All this really means, to me, is that it would make a perfect book for reading as a class, with a teacher to point out things that make it clear that the book is set more than forty years ago. I plan on reading it with my 11-year-old niece next summer....more