Thursday, March 31, 2016

So You Want to Be A Jedi?

I stayed up late to finish this book (granted, it's not very long and I started late to begin with) and it's tearing me in two.  Light side and Dark side, perhaps?

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

What I'm Reading Wednesday

Three new books this week (although I did rip through a good six this past week and therefore have all of these drafts sitting balefully on my dashboard, waiting to be written)!



A Tyranny of Petticoats edited by Jessica Spotswood.  Kick-butt ladies from history retold by my favorite authors?  Yes, please, and thank you!


The Nameless City by Faith Erin Hicks.  I love Hicks' style and writing, plus this is colored by Jordie Bellaire, so I know it's going to be amazing.


The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi.  To give you a sense of the emotional punch of this book, I had to take a break from reading it because it was so gorgeously intense.  I am in awe of this book and this author.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Red: The True Story of Little Red Riding Hood

After reading Red, I'm debating whether or not if I should go back and read Rump, the first book in this loose not-a-trilogy-trilogy.  While I'm always up for another twisted fairy tale retelling, I rather expect them to be, well, interesting.  There was really only one subplot in Red that truly interested me; everything else felt humdrum and perfectly ordinary.

Monday, March 28, 2016

C2E2 Recap

Warning: this post is full of geeky glee and wonky pictures.  I'm not a makeup or fashion blogger, so things can get a bit blurry.  I don't have a fauncy camerah or anything, just my old, vampiric battery sucking phone.

C2E2 is one of my very favorite events of the year.  My favorite favorite is probably the Wisconsin State Fair (#FRYALLTHETHINGS and #BEERALLTHETHINGS), but C2E2 is a close second.  Somehow, it feels less intimidating than any of the BIG CONS, which, to be frank, I've not attended but I do want to go to Chicago Comic-Con (Wizard World) this year, too.  Even though it's in Chicago, I never feel overwhelmed.  Then again, I am a very bizarre introvert who likes crowds because I become invisible and I can people-watch from the anonymity of being just another face.

I do wish that C2E2 would get more big name guests (at least, big-name guests for me, meaning authors), but they do get a great selection of comic book creators and artists in Artist's Alley every year.  This year, the entertainment guests skewed very heavily to the small screen, mostly repping Agients of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Supergirl.  Random wrestlers often show up at these events, but as I only order the wrestling books, I generally have no idea who they are.  They are generally VERY PATRIOTICALLY DRESSED though, which seems to be a requirement for being a retired wrestler.

So here's a bunch of pictures with me rambling along.  I didn't take as many photos as I would have liked to on Saturday due to my phone battery of doom, but I got some of my favorites.

My little brother came with me for Friday and Saturday.  Friday was just a goof-off in Chicago day.  The hotel manager comped me a $500/night suite because they didn't have a double room.  No complaints.  Very snazzy jazzy hotel.  Here we are being goofy in the snazzy elevator:


Yeah, Watertower Place is touristy, but we were playing tourist that day.  The LEGO store there was so tempting, and this stormtrooper was right at the entrance!  


We made it!  Hooray! 


This was historically-accurate Belle.  She said she had, I think, seventeen layers of clothing on?  And she sewed that whole dang thing.  I tremble when I have to sew on a button, and it ends up being attached by a knotty mass of thread.  


R2-D2 is always one of my favorites.  My brother got a picture of me a few years ago adding the stolen plans to his front data storage.  


Look at the friendly Mandalorians!  Hello, Mandalorians!



More LEGO awesomeness.  I cannot imagine how long that must have taken.  I bow down before the superior intellect ... dangit, wrong series! 


Just: !!!


I love looking at the details of people's cosplays--the really intricate ones--but the clever ones are often my most favorite.  Like that guy who was Sharknado a few years ago, or this chap as the Infinity Gauntlet.  At least he was squishy, so maneuvering wasn't hazardous.



Deadpool and Hawkgirl.  As you do.  There's some cross-universal funkiness going on here, but I don't care.  




IT'S A STAR WARS PARTY UP IN HERE!  I have no idea what that shocktrooper is doing, and Obi-Wan seems really over this photoshoot.  


 My favorite part of this next picture is not the Gamorrean's sign, which is exceedingly cute, but the randomness of the T-Rex in the background, and how nobody cares.

Although I don't think they had chickens on Tatooine (then again, no one said they didn't), but I understand his frustration.  Why feed hapless guards to the rancor when you've got womp rats all over the place?  Alas, "EAT MOR WAMP RATZ" isn't as funny and doesn't fit on the sign.



I love all of this.


Okay, so he said he was a Thanagarian Nightwing, which is a funky mashup, but also very cool.  His wings were all hand-feathered which was gorgeous and amazing and it made me slightly nervous to walk past.


Okay, you can be mad at me for ruining your sleep tonight with this PuppyMonkeyBaby.  Hey, if I had to see it, you have to see it.


I like the cleverness of this one as well!


A freaking amazing Aurra Sing.


A lady asked Queen Amidala if the costume was hard to wear.  She replied "Only when I stand."  


"Shut your eyes, Marian!"  Okay, so I should probably be dead for looking at the Ark, but is this real life?  Or is this fantasy?  The best part of this whole exchange was Todt (he's carrying the Ark behind) saying, "Oh, no.  We have to take this up escalators?"  Spoiler: they made it to the show floor.


This was a dad and his kids on Family Day, which is Sunday.  It was both bizarre and adorable when he was telling them how this was going to go down without his voice changer on.


Superman in Jelly Bellys is a lot less creepy than Steven Tyler in Skittles.  Just saying.  Also: mad skills.



Oh HAI original Iron Man armor and props!


And hello to me and my brother's favorite Star Wars EU/Legacy author, Kevin J. Anderson.  This was the day my brother wasn't there, so we took a picture so I could rub it in.  Hey, it was KJA's idea!  





Friday, March 25, 2016

Baba Yaga's Assistant

[sing to tune of "Oklahoma!"]

Baaaaaaa-ba Yaga has a house with chicken legs and feet!
And the children meet
their fates as meat
lest a clever girl comes to save theeeemmmm!

Baaaaaaa-ba Yaga likes to trick and treat with frog's eyeballs.
Always has a test
to find the best
of the girls to be her protégées!

We know she flies over the land
steers her mortar and pestle by hand,
and when she crows,
"Ha! My tasty little treats!"
They'll be screamin'
"Save us, oh save us, from Baaaa-ba, Baba Yaga, the Witch!"

etc.

I have no idea why I felt like bursting into song.  This book did not make me very happy.  It was, not to put too fine a point on it, a disappointment.  So perhaps all this singing is to cheer myself up.  Or perhaps it's just that "Baba Yaga" fits the rhythm of "Oklahoma!" so well.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Bücherweltschmertz

I don't think that's a word exactly, but thanks to the glorious German language, I'm pretty sure I can make it a word.  I didn't take three years of German for nothing.  Well, I still can't do dative case, but a good friend and I did translate Sciescka and Smith's The Sinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales into German for Germanfest.  We won first place, a prize of which I am inordinantly proud.

Lauf, lauf, lauf, so schnell wie du kannst!  Du kannst mich nich nehmen!  Ich bin der Stinkendekäsemann!

The pinnacle of my writing career!

But really.  Lately I've been reading, and too often when I finish a book, I feel very little.  I'm neither angry nor sad nor joyous.  I feel empty.  Books should fill a void in your soul.  Lately, I've been experiencing the opposite: I invest my time and interest in a book and receive nothing in return.  It is the most epic of gallic shrugs, but bookishly done.

Perhaps I'm just burned out.  Perhaps I should take a break from blogging and reviewing; it's healthy and normal.  I honestly don't know.  So if you see less of me, it's that I'm trying to cure that bookish world-weariness that's been dragging me down.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Mini-Review: The Fade Out, Vol. 2

Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips do comic noir like nobody's business.  Actually, no one else should get in that business, because they've got it locked up tight, and there might be some sort of comics hit squad out to eliminate the competition, real quiet-like.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

The Girl with All The Gifts

I was going to start this out by saying, "Maybe I'm jaded," but then I realized that I am jaded, so there.  No need to hem and haw about it.


While I enjoyed The Girl with All the Gifts, and it was well-written with interesting characters, I couldn't help but think I'd read something like this before.  Or something vaguely like it.  Small girl saviors seem to be Writer's Choice when it comes to horror, especially post-apocalyptic horror (see: Robopocalypse, The Stand, Carrion Comfort, The Passage, etc.).  My ultimate reaction to the ending was a mental gallic shrug.  That happened; let's move on to the next thing.

Monday, March 21, 2016

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Vol. 2: Squirrel You Know It's True

AND LO! The heavens did part and deliver unto us, the unwashed and unworthy masses, another trade volume of Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, within which she smites a mighty Norse villain and sends her friend unto Asgard!

Friday, March 18, 2016

C2E2 2016

I'm off to C2E2 in Chicago!  I'll be picking up swag, hunting for those ridiculously awesome Claudia Grey/Princess Leia posters, and chilling with the geek community at large (and my little brother).

Girl About Town, Part II: The Actual Book

All of this to get into a review of Girl About Town, by choreographer, screenwriter, producer Adam Shankman (The Wedding PlannerRock of Ages, StepUp) and Laura L. Sullivan.  Ostensibly, this is a "Nick and Nora-style slapstick mystery about Hollywood."  I got a third of the way in and it was grim, flat, and most emphatically not slapstick.  And don't you dare drag my beloved Thin Man into this again.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Girl About Town: A Prologue with Unpopular Opinions

Please note that what follows are personal observations.  I have no actual experience in the area of co-writing a novel, publishing a novel, or really anything to do with writing except for this blog right here.  This collection of words came together as I was struggling to read a new book I received as an ARC, called Girl About Town.  I'll review the actual book tomorrow, but for now, I wanted to talk a little bit about some of the thoughts that informed my reading of the book.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

What I'm Reading Wednesday

This week, I'm on a monster kick.  There were several books I completely and fully intended to read before going to C2E2 and seeing their authors on panels, but I didn't.  So.


The Girl with All the Gifts is still squicking me out in a most wonderful way.  I keep making the mistake of reading this while eating and I generally find my appetite diminished.  Alas, this is not permanent, for later on I end up compensating by eating copious amounts of ridiculously unhealthy yet delicious things, like Cheddar Jalapeno Cheetos.  Melanie, the protagonist, reminds me of someone in a book I've already read, but in a good way.  I'm thinking it was either The Stand or Carrion Comfort or The Passage.


This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab.  The library's order of A Gathering of Shadows has been delayed, and so while I and my pounding heart wait for further adventures of Kell and Lila, I picked up this, her newest YA book.  I love, love, love the setting, and I think I can safely say I'd read anything and everything Schwab writes.  One thing I really appreciate is that she makes monsters ugly and frightening, not sparkly and sexy.

I think I'm going to give up on Julia Vanishes by Catherine Egan, but I'll flip ahead a bit to see if things get any more interesting.  Also: could they have come up with a more milquetoast title?  For heaven's sake.  It sounds like an adult thriller, not a YA magical mystery dystopia.


Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Mini-Review: Suicide Squad Vol. 4: Discipline and Punish

So, as is wont to happen in Comiclandia, this series got taken in an ALL NEW DIRECTION with an ALL NEW TEAM, etc.  It was okay, and there were some elements I genuinely liked.  However, the ignorance of a little something called "plot" is rather problematic, and even Harley's irrepressible mania can't save a plotless comic entirely.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Gorgon (Alex Hunter #5)

It seems to be a travel tradition for me to read an Alex Hunter or Matt Kearns adventure book by Greig Beck when I travel.  The last two that I read, Black Mountain and Book of the Dead (the latter being a Matt Kearns and therefore inherently inferior to any Alex Hunter book), didn't do much for me.  There wasn't enough of the Arcadian in them.  They weren't well-edited--Black Mountain, in particular, was a bit like "The Song That Never Ends" but with sasquatches.

I am extremely pleased to say that Gorgon broke that pattern of disappointment and delivered a fun, action-packed story with just enough internal character struggle to keep things fresh.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Greyling's Song

When I was in elementary school, the Scholastic book catalogs were everything to me.  So cheap!  Books!  Cheap!  It was a smorgasbord of chapter books and it was hard to show any restraint, especially when it came to new Animorphs books.  Animorphs were to me what Wimpy Kid and 39 Clues are to kids today.  I still have fond memories of them, even as I glower suspiciously at one of the co-authors as he goes on about being such an awesome white dude who writes diverse books yay!

Anyway!  One of my most-read purchases from the catalog was Catherine, Called Birdy by Karen Cushman.  Our teacher had begun reading it aloud to us in class, but she had to leave in the middle of the school year, so we never finished it aloud.  I had to know what happened to Birdy.  Did she run away with Wat?  Did she become a tumbler?  Did she have to marry the horrid old disgusting man???  God's thumbs!

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

What I'm Reading Wednesday

So I've slogged to the bit where Pip gets apprenticed to Joe and is a total dork about it.  I'm finding my impediment to Great Expectations is not Dickens' writing, which is as funny as ever, but my own mental prejudice against Pip.  Jerk.

Other things I'm reading:


Girl About Town by Adam Shankman and Laura L. Sullivan.  I probably won't be finishing this one, but I'd like to give it a few more pages to see if the promised Nick and Nora comedy ever appears.


Dangerous Deceptions by Sarah Zettel.  I am determined to finish this one this time.  I keep checking it out, forgetting I have it, and then returning it to the library.


The Girl with All the Gifts by M.R. Carey.  I was gobsmacked (in a good way) to realize that M.R. Carey is actually Mike Carey of Unwritten.  This is going to be good.


Julia Vanishes by Catherine Egan.  I haven't read enough of this to feel much of anything.  At least so far.  We shall see.


The Unmapped Sea by Maryrose Wood (on audiobook).  Lord Frederick Ashton is quickly becoming one of my favorite characters!  What a topsy-turvy world!


Red by Liesl Shurtliff.  Someday I'll get around to reading Rump.  But a magically-awkward Red Riding Hood?  Yes and please and thank you!




Book Recommendations by, for, and about Kick-Butt Ladies

Today is International Women's Day, which is a bit odd, because women are here ... all the time ... and we should treat women with respect ALL THE TIME so just one day is a bit ridiculous.  However, it's always nice to have a platform to talk about all of the freaking awesome things women do.  I went on a Twitter tear and pulled it all together for you in this handy-dandy Storify!

Which other books would you recommend?

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Truthwitch

I'm  not sure why you're reading this review instead of reading Truthwitch.  Susan Dennard's absolutely, gobsmackingly wonderful new novel is much more interesting than anything I have to say.  Honestly, I'm not sure how much substance and heft I can give to this review because right now, all I want to do is roll around on the ground yelling, "ALL THE FEELS!!!"  That's a completely normal reaction, right?


Right.

Monday, March 7, 2016

YA Interrobang's Brilliant Article on Sexism in YA

Somehow I missed this, but there were enough tweets this morning to point me in the direction of this brilliant, thoroughly researched article by Nicole Brinkley on YA Interrobang.  You can read it here.  Take the time to read it, please.

I remember many of those Twitter blowups about sexism, and how women weren't being kind or empathetic to men who said sexist things.  I felt bewildered.  Why should I apologize for wanting an explanation?  Why shouldn't they apologize for saying something hurtful?

I'm pretty much a nobody blogger.  I'm a librarian who moves in her own little circle and over on Teen Services Underground.  But as a reader, a blogger, and a teen librarian, I won't stand for women being denigrated or dismissed in fiction.  I won't stand for YA being deemed a lesser form of literature because it's written by women and read by teens, who many adults in positions of power view as tasteless, giggling hordes who can't think for themselves.

That's why I'm a teen librarian.  People think that teens have nothing to contribute to society.  You know what?  If that's what you tell them, then that's what they'll believe, and that's what you'll get.

Do you know what I saw last Friday at the library?  I saw a teen boy checking out as many YA books as his long arms could hold.  Because I'm nosy, I snuck a peek at what was in his arms: Allegiant.  Heir of Fire.  Seraphina.  Oh look!  Books written by women featuring strong female characters!  Don't give me lip about how boys won't read female-driven narratives.  They do.  And if they don't, it's because someone in their life--a parent, a teacher, an author they look up to--has told them that those books aren't "right" for boys.  And then we (as a society) wring our hands about "nice boys" who rape girls or who beat their wives or who shoot their exes.  Gee, I wonder where they learned that?

I feel too much to write any more down.  It's like my chest is exploding with sadness about how YA and its female authors and characters are treated, but also with joy that Nicole's article is out there.  Please read it.

Delilah Dirk and the King's Shilling

When I read Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant, I couldn't wait for a sequel.  But I had to.


And now that I have?  I wish I hadn't been so excited.  Perhaps, in the words of Miss Penelope Lumley, governess to the Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place, I was being optoomuchstic.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Once Was A Time

I am probably the only person on Earth to have not found this charming, fun, or particularly interesting.  As with any book, your mileage may vary.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Subterrestrial

Another impulse ebook purchase, read by me so you don't have to!

HOORAY!


I am an extreme sucker--dare I say, a pathological sucker--for vaguely fantastical, vaguely military, lost-species-type books.  Before James Rollins got famous with his Sigma Force books, he wrote several about lost and highly deadly species trapped in exotic locales.  They were, and still are, ridiculously fun to read.  I've re-read Amazonia, my favorite of those early titles, many times.  But since he's more into the Sigma side of it now, I'm always looking for a fun popcorn book to read when I don't want to think too much.  I thought I'd found something halfway decent in Subterrestrial.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

March Challenge: Clear the Shelves Again

It's that time again.  The time when books pile up and become permanent modern art fixtures in the apartment.  When my Kindle figuratively groans under the weight of the ARCs I have.

In the month of March, I'm not going to check out any new books.  The only books I'll read and review are ones I already have at home.

I can do this.  I can do this.  If Rey can fly the Millennium Falcon, I can do this.