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.
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.