Book Review: What if it’s Us, by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera

Book Review: What if it’s Us, by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera

JAR  copyright
Hey, that’s my bed!

Adorable, funny, awkward, and sweet. What if it’s Us? puts you in the shoes of high-schoolers Arthur (a Georgia native spending his summer in New York City) and Ben (a New York City native spending his summer being miserable).

I sped through this book in a day, laughing and smiling at how ridiculous and truthful it was. Every awkward interaction, every moment of inarticulate babble, every proclamation of love, felt like a shout out to being a confused, lonely, almost-always-panicking teenager. These two let their insecurities get the best of them again and again, but that doesn’t stop them from trying just one more time to make things work.

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10 Quick Reviews: Because I am Oh-So-Far-Behind

10 Quick Reviews: Because I am Oh-So-Far-Behind

Wow, I am so far behind on my book reviews that just looking at the list is causing me physical pain. The last review I wrote was for Meddling Kids back in… June, *winces* and I’ve read three novels, two works of nonfiction, a collection of shorts stories, and five graphic novels since then.

Ouch.

So, as a way to compensate quickly, I’m going to do a handful of shorter reviews for all but one of them, which I will instead vomit love for everywhere in the future. *coughvoxmachinaoriginscough*

So, without (much) further ado, the ten books I’ve read since June. Including but not limited to- Amberlough, Convenience Store Woman, and Hope Never Dies

*points blade towards the dawn* Onward!

 

 

Guardians of the Galaxy, Volume Five: Through the Looking Glass by, Brian Michael Bendis, Frank Cho, and Valerio Schiti: So, I randomly picked this one up at a used book store in Fort Bragg, California. It is… confusing at best, much like the Goodreads synopsis, which sounds just as bewildered as I felt. I was expecting to pick up in the middle of a story, that’s what you get for grabbing the fifth book in any series. What I was not expecting was standalone chapters from completely different stories thrown together in one volume. However, I did enjoy Venom and Captain Marvel being parts of the Guardians. Sparkly Blue Capt. Marvel is my new aesthetic. And Peter not realizing he had been elected president of an entire planet is hard to beat- I hope they use that story line in a future Guardians movie.

Rat Queens Volume Two: The Far Reaching Tentacles of N’rygoth: Not quite as good as the first volume- though I liked getting to see the girls working together as a guild instead of just drinking and hooking up. The art felt a little slap dash, and I have to wonder with the debacle of the previous artist, whether the formatting and art were a tad rushed. I also felt like, despite this volume being devoted to Dee’s past and its ramifications, I still know nothing about her. I’m guessing that’s because she is the sane, intelligent one, so her personality gets overshadowed by all the anger and drug taking the other three bring to the story. Still, I’m looking forward to continuing the tale and seeing where Rat Queens ends up.

Lumberjanes Volume One, by Noelle Stevenson and So!Many!Artists! Hmm… what to say about this one? I was expecting it to be a little more… mature and dialog heavy, I guess. It feels more like what I’d watch after Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends. Entire pages go by with little besides “Urgh” and “Aaaah!” being spoken. It wasn’t bad by any means, in fact it’s strange, humorous, and endearing, I’m just used to reading heavier stories in my graphic novels. If you’re headed into this one, expect it to be closer to a Nickelodeon cartoon then a traditional story. Once again, not a bad thing, just… different. The art is simplistic and fun, the characters are endearing if not very deep, and the wild twists will bring to mind Invader Zim. I don’t know if I’ll continue this one, however, maybe if the library has it I will.

DIY MFA, by Gabrielle Pereira, Not exactly what I hoped for, which was an explanation of an MFA course, including reading lists and examples of the sort of studying, tests, and essays you would be expected to write. What I found was a lot of advice telling you to go out and figure out what books you want to read, how you want to write, and what you want to study. Well… obviously, that was what I was doing before I got this. I was hoping for academic guidelines, instead I got someone telling me about how they have an MFA, a few breakdowns of stories that remind me why school made me desperate for escape and lots of lectures on how if you aren’t writing it’s because “you don’t want it badly enough”. I read this book to motivate me during a time when I was depressed and anxious and not writing. I wanted to- badly, placing myself in front of a screen for hours, too nervous and down on myself to write a single thing. Then here comes this book telling me I just don’t want it badly enough. Instead of motivating me, it made me feel like even more of a fake then I already do. So, yeah… didn’t get the experience I was hoping for from this one. Maybe I’ll go back to it in the future- I get the feeling a better mindset might lend itself well to a reread.

The Art of the Disney Golden Book, by Charles Solomon: Little Golden Books were a prominent part of my childhood, with their bright illustrations that spilled across the pages and found their way into the dialog and borders. Not only was this an interesting read, but every page has at least one gorgeous piece of art. Starting with its inception in 1933 and going all the way into the era of Brave and Finding Nemo, it includes interviews with artists as well as historical anecdotes about Walt Disney himself, Mary Blair, Retta Scott Worcester, and many of the other artists and publishers of Disney. It’s been a long time since I’ve read my Golden Books, but the artwork stayed with me, so it was wonderful getting to see many of those images reprinted in bright new ink.

Hope Never Dies, by Andrew Shaffer: What did I just read? What’s going on? I know we exist in the darkest timeline, but now also the strangest? Did you ever think you would want to read a bromance between Obama and Biden where they take the seedy underbelly of Delaware(?!) by storm. Hey, who knew Wilmington was such a dangerous place… besides the people who live there, that is. This was weird, funny, and slightly aggravating to read, mainly because it’s Biden making a lot of poor, impulsive choices and not misspeaking nearly enough. But! It’s also Barack keeping his adventures hidden from Michelle and a poor, put-upon secret service agent who just wants a better gig then protecting the former leader of the free world and his erstwhile companion while they run around on a half-baked detective spree. My main problem with this? That I put it down when I was done and I still existed in the darkest timeline, where is the book that will pull me out of it?!

The Sandman: Overture, by Neil Gaiman, J.H. Williams III (Artist), Dave Stewart (Colorist), Todd Klein (Letterer): My favorite thing I’ve read on this list, hands down. The story of how Morpheus came to be so tired and weak at the start of Preludes and Nocturnes. This story may be a prequel, but I think it should be read at the end of all things, a bittersweet glimpse at the Endless, at their relationships, and their pain. It was beautiful, poignant, and strange, all those things you want from a story of the Dream Lord. In it we see the past, the present, and because it is a tale from before, we are allowed to know the future, and all the suffering and joy that comes with it. Just thinking back on it gives me chills. When will Neil Gaiman and Lin Manuel Miranda team up and become the ULTIMATE CREATIVE FORCE. Lin is already in contact with Patrick Rothfuss, imagine this PERFECT TRIFECTA OF PURE AND GOOD. *weeps softly*

Amberlough by, Lara Elena Donnelly: So, I started out really liking this story- I thought it was a glamorous tale of love and espionage, full of dancing, champagne, hot sex, fabulous hair and great clothes. Then the points started racking up against it. First, I don’t like abuse of any kind between lovers- don’t care if the other party is “fine” with it (though in this case the character was very, very drunk, and couldn’t be considered “fine” in any sense of the word), and it was all downhill after that. I guess I’m not great at enjoying tales of morally ambiguous characters, because I have no one to root for and nothing to care about. This story eventually turns into a romp through a regime occupied city that feels a lot like 1940’s Paris, complete with riots, explosions, suicide, murder, and torture. Gone is the glam, the glitz, the everything that called me to this book in the first place. By the end of the story I didn’t like anyone and had no expectations for them, I guess I won’t be continuing this series…

Convenience Store Woman, by Sayaka Murata and Ginny Tapley Takemori (Translator): Well- this was another one that left me dissatisfied. This is a dark, strange little story, the only point of light is the shining convenience store itself, and the only place our protagonist, Keiko, feels comfortable at. We follow her through her day to day routine, and are allowed to eavesdrop on her thoughts as she absorbs the habits of those around her to appear more “normal”. I had trouble sympathizing with Keiko, and kept expecting some sign of character growth or change when none was offered. I suppose her acceptance of what she wants to do might be considered something of a personal achievement, but since it left her exactly where she was at the start of the story, I felt nothing. Perhaps she would register somewhere on the autism scale, but if so, maybe her family could have been more supportive of her? But, this is a Japanese story, and from the small amount of research I did, I understand that people with autism are generally misunderstood and stigmatized by society. Then there is the character of Shiraha- I have worked with a man a lot like him; opinionated, lazy, unmotivated, and casually cruel, so there was no humor to be found there. I army crawled through this one, through the smell of unwashed bodies and boiled vegetables to an end that felt like 1984.

Nebula Awards Showcase 2018 with Jane Yolen as Editor: Most of the stories in this were… fine. Some of them were downright middle school. But! The two stories by Alyssa Wong were stunning, especially “You’ll Surely Drown Here if You Stay” which was chilling, beautiful, and moving. “This is not a Wardrobe Door” by A. Merc Rustard was sweet and made me smile, and the excerpt from The Jewel and her Lapidary by Fran Wilde was compelling enough for me to want to read the whole story. “Seasons of Glass and Iron” was a thoughtful retelling and crossover of two lesser known folk tales from countries other than France or Germany.
Bad parts? Excerpts from Every Heart a Doorway, which read like Harry Potter Mary Sue fanfic, I believe the longest paragraph in it was the one describing the protagonist’s clothes, hair, skin, and eyes. Also her roommate was horrible and her headmistress shouldn’t have let her talk to another student like that. All the Birds in the Sky felt like it was written by a twelve year old, and Arabella of Mars felt like someone found a forgotten Georgian era novel and inserted some completely unrelated adventures in space into the narrative. And yeah, David D. Lavine, we’ve all seen video of Marie Antoinette’s automaton too. And the affected speech hurt me. I read Austin, why was their manner of speaking causing me pain?

Alright, that is that. Ten books in arbitrary order. Of course, I still have other books I’ve read and haven’t discussed on here yet including but not limited to; The Golem and the Jinni, The Girl who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her own Making, Damn Fine Story, and The Princess Diarist. I haven’t found anything this year that completely ruled my life- but five books I really enjoyed, so I guess I won’t complain (right now), and unlike last year, I haven’t picked up anything that made me want to stop. I mean, sure, I probably should have given up on A Gentlemen’s Guide to Vice and Virtue, but if I could successfully drag my ass to a job I hated for eleven years, finishing a YA novel is a breeze.

Autumn Book Releases

Autumn Book Releases

Every season makes me want to read, the difference with autumn is that now even more people empathize with me. The weather is on occasion getting colder here in the western Sierra Nevada’s, the leaves are beginning to turn, and autumn book lists are emerging.

Including mine!

Here are eight books I’m looking forward to this fall.

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Writing Inspiration, Part One- Instrumental Music: A to E

Writing Inspiration, Part One- Instrumental Music: A to E

Music has always been an influence in my life. Not one to be restricted by genre or popularity (or lack of), I listen to it all, from new age to hip hop, metal to folk, classical to electronic, and many of them have had some form of influence on me creatively.

The first list I wanted to create was for instrumental music, both traditional and contemporary. I go to these albums a lot when I’m writing, and have returned to some of them for many years. I’ll compile a list of more traditional singers later, but for now I wanted to share these artists, with links to their sites and Bandcamp page (if applicable). I’d love to hear about what you’re listening to as well. What albums get you thinking, feeling, and writing a story in your mind before your hand ever starts working?

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*sidles in*

*sidles in*

Oh hi, WordPress, long time no see- were you out of town for awhile? No? Sick? Not really? Busy with work? Or were you avoiding me?

Wait, what? I’m the one who hasn’t been around? Woops, guess you caught me there.

Life has left me paralyzed these last two months, a whirlwind of change has gifted me with anxiety so fierce it’s all I can to get out of bed each morning. I left my job of over eleven years and began a new chapter of existence, but what should have been an exciting and joyful time has left me more nervous and depressed then I was prepared for, and most days it’s all I can do to process the hurricane of emotions and thoughts that run in dizzy circles through me. I wake at four thirty or five every day, already afraid of what will happen next.

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Book Review: Meddling Kids, by Edgar Contero

Book Review: Meddling Kids, by Edgar Contero

Ever watch Scooby Doo? Ever wish that once, just once, it wasn’t a man in a mask- but instead something darker and more sinister then the gang had ever imagined? Something that haunted them for years later, stalked them no matter how far they ran, or how much they hid. Called them back after years of denial to finally solve the mystery, the real mystery, of their last case together.

Then this book is for you.

Hilarious, action packed, tense, and frightening, this story throws you in the mine cart and sends you down that abandoned shaft at eighty miles an hour. Just hang on, because the corners are tight and the speed keeps building- this is one hell of a ride.

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Happy Birthday, Mr. Yeats

Happy Birthday, Mr. Yeats

I first discovered the work of Yeats in 1997, through the Canadian singer Loreena McKennitt, who’s rendition of “The Stolen Child” became somewhat of an early obsession of mine. Yeats’ poetry paralleled many of my interests at the time; mysticism, Celtic mythology, the occult, and nature all figure prominently in his work, and heavily influenced what I was reading and writing at the time. A few years later an English teacher assigned each student with a poem to study and recite based on what she felt best reflected our personalities. I wonder even now how Mrs. Haas knew me so well as to assign “Lake Isle of Innisfree”. And perhaps it’s reading and rereading have had some influence over what I dream of and yearn for, because little else sounds as perfect as the life Yeats describes on the shores of Innisfree.

In honor of his birthday I collected four of my favorite poems, as well as original photography by me to accompany it. Poems include “The Lake Isle of Innisfree”, “The Crazed Girl Poem”, “The Falling of the Leaves”,  and “The Withering of the Bough”.

 

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