what I read in September

what I read in September

This was a pretty great month with lots of really good books, some that I had been meaning to read for awhile and others that I stumbled upon (the dangers of helping with the new materials delivery is that I see all the shiny new graphic novels that I’ve never heard of before but sound awesome. Also the same danger of working with people who read a wide variety of books themselves and then you want to read what they say is good).

Citizen: An American LyricCitizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ve never really read a book of freeform poetry before. Luckily, Rankine eased me into it by starting with more of a prose style and then slowly moving into more of a poetry rhythm. A short little book with lots of powerful moments. These feelings and images will stick with me for awhile.

Batman: Earth One, Vol. 1Batman: Earth One, Vol. 1 by Geoff Johns

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I wasn’t expecting much from yet another Batman comic but WOW! I loved the reimagining of Gotham and the Wayne family, and, of course, Alfred. This was not at all what I was expecting and really hard to put down – which I didn’t! Read it all in one sitting.

Wonder Woman: Earth One, Vol. 1Wonder Woman: Earth One, Vol. 1 by Grant Morrison

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

3.5 stars.

I didn’t feel this one was quite as good as Batman. I don’t know why it is so hard to write a good Wonder Woman story. Maybe it is because that she, like Thor, is just born awesome. She doesn’t have the whole “death of her family” like Superman and Batman, nothing to really overcome so her origin story isn’t quite as engaging. They tried to give her some mother issues but she came off more as a spoiled brat than a struggling hero.

Also, the art was just so typical…all the girls have their mouths hanging half open and they were supposed to be shocked when Diana came home wearing makeup but…um, she didn’t look that much different from when she left.

I love that in a world that is devoid of men and no influence from men, everyone likes to imagine women would still wear skimpy clothing and bustiers. Be real – it would be a land of sweatpants and t-shirts, maybe jean shorts when it is cold.

Dark Night: A True Batman StoryDark Night: A True Batman Story by Paul Dini

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I really loved this book and the idea of using your superhero figures to help you cope with life. Dini really took a chance, bearing his soul like this, but he did it right and this is a great book, a great story, inspiring and affirming but not in a cliche kind of way? He’s not perfect but that is what made it such a great read – I could identify with his insecurities even if I wasn’t exactly like him.

Nobody Likes a GoblinNobody Likes a Goblin by Ben Hatke

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Cute story, great illustrations, perfect for the older picture book reader who likes a silly fantasy tale. Pair this with The Princess and the Pony for a quirky family read-together.

Lumberjanes, Vol. 4: Out of TimeLumberjanes, Vol. 4: Out of Time by Noelle Stevenson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This series just keeps getting better! What could have just been a goofy, one-note story about a group of goofy girl scouts has turned into an epic, layered tale of hardcore lady-types. Keep it coming Team Lumberjanes!

Jackaby (Jackaby, #1)Jackaby by William Ritter

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Really enjoyed this book! I would suggest it for fans that lik “Monstrumologist” or “The X Files” – anything with a supernatural twist. I love that all the monsters are not “bad” and that it pulls from a variety of myths and stories to create the creature world.

I definitely plan on picking up the second book soon!

Ms. Marvel, Vol. 5: Super FamousMs. Marvel, Vol. 5: Super Famous by G. Willow Wilson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This might be my favorite Ms. Marvel arc yet! It is a lesson that all of us need to be reminded of from time to time – teens and adults. Just loved it.

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movie thoughts: Eight Days a Week (2016)

movie thoughts: Eight Days a Week (2016)


I’m a pretty hardcore Beatles fan. Or, at least, I used to be. In middle school and high school I pretty much eat/sleep/breathed the Fab Four. I hung out in the library so much looking for their albums and books about them, I credit them with my career choice. I hadn’t really done anything Beatles related in awhile, so I wasn’t sure how I felt about this film coming out. Luckily, it was streaming on Hulu so it was pretty easy for me to sit and watch it.

Within the first few seconds, I could feel the fangirl in my awakening. The sheer emotion I felt at hearing that music, watching the clips – it surprised me! And as a fan who enjoys talking with other fans, I really liked the clips from the different celebrities sharing their own Beatles memories.

But after the first 45 minutes, the reality set in – I knew all of this already. In fact, I had seen most of these concert clips before and a lot of the Beatles quotes were lifted from the Anthology (though Paul and Ringo did participate but they really didn’t say anything new). Now, the audio remastering was impressive, especially the Hollywood Bowl concert clips (the complete concert is available now in audio and it will be a bonus on the blu-ray release). I’m not sure how those sound engineers managed to find the Beatles’ voices in that din of screams, but they pulled it off (you can listen to the album right now on Spotify if you want to hear it).

There was one factoid I didn’t remember from before – probably because it is more a reflection of U.S. history rather than Beatles history – which was about the Jacksonville concert and The Beatles supporting integration, commenting that such a thing was ridiculous. That never came up in the Anthology (it doesn’t really try to connect The Beatles story to the rest of the world) and having it appear in this documentary with everything else going on right now, it feels like history is somehow stuck in a loop and I’m not really convinced we’ve learned anything. Or maybe we have but we keep forgetting (“And once every five years, everyone chooses to forget what they’ve learned. Democracy in action.”)

I felt like the film lost steam near the end, trying to find a way to wrap up a story in the middle, because the end of the touring years is the start of the studio years, and those albums are more memorable than the previous because they start experimenting and branching out. So it just kinda ends then jumps ahead to give us a clip from the Let It Be roof concert.

I’m guessing most people don’t have The Anthology memorized the way I do (I watched that special at least 3 times and I have the CDs, which I also listened to over and over) so maybe the repetition won’t be as noticeable to them. I mean, that documentary is several hours long while this clocks in at about 90 minutes so the non-Beatlemaniac can enjoy it.

All in all, a fun watch for a Beatles fan and probably interesting for the uninitiated too. I can only hope that there is another kid out there, like me, looking for something to watch to kill time and they might turn on Hulu and see this special and decide to learn more about The Beatles. Give it a watch, but don’t expect any revelations.

3 1/2 stars

ST:TNG Blog Project

ST:TNG Blog Project

I feel like the quality is improving. I’m still not blown away by the stories and the show kinda feels trapped by the 45 minute time limit with some episodes rushing to a conclusion, but the character development is getting stronger. Picard’s backstory in The Battle told us more about our new captain. And now we get to learn a bit more about Riker and Data:

S1:E10 Hide and Q

I was surprised this episode happened so early in the show! As I have said before, Q is one of my favorite antagonists. He’s just such a lovable jackass. Here he is, back again, convinced he knows how to corrupt Riker and, to his credit, he almost does if it wasn’t for the voice of reason of Captain Picard talking him down from the slippery slope of absolute power. As conundrums go, trying to decide if you should keep the power over life and death would be a hard one, especially for a Starfleet Commander.  This is probably the best episode with a big idea so far.

S1:E11 Haven

This episode is most notable because it is the introduction of Deanna Troi’s mother, Lwaxana. She is a staple in the series, showing up to torture Picard, though in a complete different way than Q. We also get lots of great Troi/Riker and if you weren’t shipping these two yet, this episode makes it pretty clear that the show writers want these crazy kids to get together. This is the goofiest episode yet, the main plot is forgettable, and the only parts that stay with you is how ridiculous Lwaxana is.

S1:E12 The Big Goodbye

And so begins a long line of “How is the holodeck even a thing?” episodes where something random goes wrong, allowing the Holodeck to hold crew members hostage and endanger them by putting them in a time period closer to our own, when humans were still “savages”. To “relax” Picard decides to play his favorite noir detective, Dixon Hill (think Sam Spade but without the copyright infringement).  We find out that the Enterprise has a “20th century expert” on board and that women in the future don’t apply their own makeup (Beverly is fascinated by the woman checking her face in the police station.)  Oh, and again, if you weren’t sure if you should ‘ship Picard/Crusher, this episodes makes it pretty clear that, yeah, the writers are going to make that a thing eventually.

S1:E13 Datalore

THIS might be one of the best episodes so far, though the ending suffers from the classic “OMG THE SHOW IS ALMOST OVER DO SOMETHING!” but otherwise, great character stuff for Data. The Enterprise goes to visit the planet where Data was found and discover another android body. They decide to assemble the body and meet Data’s “brother” – Lore.

I would like to subtitle this episode – “Phrasing and Synth Music” because it had some awful music and some great lines that made me giggle, such as:

“Does he have all the same parts as you?”

“How do we turn him on?”

“He has a child’s body but we have found him to be much more.”


But it also had some great moments, like when Data tells Dr. Crusher that he can be shut down by pressing a special button on his back. He swears her to secrecy, noting “If you had an off switch Doctor, would you not keep it a secret?” (This, of course, plays into the plot later).

We also find out that Data earned his Starfleet uniform with 4 years at the academy and has been working for at least 15 years since then. Gotta respect that because I’m sure Starfleet would have given him an honorary degree if he had asked.

This is also the episode that brought us this often used/abused quote:


Which, honestly, seemed really uncalled for!  And even worse when his own mother chimes in! First, really rude of Captain Picard to use such language toward ANYWAY, but especially a kid who is learning how to be a Starfleet member. Wesley does lose his shit later, pointing out that if he was an adult, they wouldn’t speak to him that way (which is 1000% true).

Anyway, I really enjoyed this episode and all 4 of these were a lot of fun. Now I need to distract myself with some other shows while Andy catches up.🙂

ST:TNG Blog Project – episodes 4-8

ST:TNG Blog Project – episodes 4-8


(Don’t forget to pop over to Andy’s blog and check out his reactions/thoughts to these episodes)

It is funny to sit back and look at the evolution of popular television. I remember reading Everything Bad is Good For You and the book discusses how complex television has become over time. I feel like ST:TNG is definitely from that older era, when major story arcs were mostly the realm of soap opera and mainstream TV was still relatively stand alone when it came to episodes. There are little bits of character development, but nothing on the scale of, say, Buffy – which wouldn’t premiere for another 10 years.

Anyway – on to the good, and the bad (though nothing as awful as ‘Code of Honor’, that still holds the spot of worst episode so far)

S1:E6 Where No One Has Gone Before
This might be the first episode to actually have an effect on the rest of the series. Up until now, Wesley has been around but sort of just popping up for no reason, always on his own, not with the other kids. In the finale for this episode, we get an explanation as The Traveler tells Picard that Wesley is pretty much a genius and Picard should nurture his genius.

The way The Traveler describes himself to Picard made me think of Doctor Who. Just roving through time and space, popping in to see neat stuff, only bothering to pay attention if you interest him. (Clearly someone else agreed that this crossover should happen – IDW published a comic a few years back)

S1:E7 Lonely Among Us
This was one of those episodes with way too much going on and far too easy a resolution. We had the whole deal with the two alien species on board trying to kill each other and then the bonus of the weird alien energy ball that hops on board and knocks people out, eventually taking over Picard and turning him into energy. And then…it just sorta…is done.

Very forgettable, though it is interesting how often Picard is in peril in this series so far! Especially since Riker swore in the first episode to NOT let him put himself in peril. (yes, all I can think of right now is Monty Python and the Holy Grail with Lancelot and Galahad arguing outside Castle Anthrax…)

S1:E8 Justice
For some reason, I remembered this episode. I’m not sure if I caught it as a rerun or if something about Wesley’s situation bugged me and then stuck with me. I didn’t remember all the details, just how unfair it was that Wesley was in trouble (though I didn’t think he was apologetic enough after falling into that flower bed…I mean, dude, at least say “OMG I AM SO SORRY!!!!” he’s just sorta “oh whoops, my bad”…not that he should DIE because of that but still).

The idea of this episode is good – discussing the evolution of law and justice and enforcement, but it was hard to focus on because omg the outfits. WHY!?!?


V-Neck SHORTS??? No. Just…no.

Also, why does anyone think it would be a good idea to take shore leave on a planet full of horny alien people??? At best, Enterprise leaves and in 9 months (?) there are lots of little Starfleet babies on the planet and at worst, their genitals might match up to human parts, but what if they are filled with ACID? Or herpes??? Just…no.

S1:E9 The Battle
Picard backstory yay! So this is where the term “The Picard Maneuver” comes from?! My family always used that term to refer to anytime someone tugged down on their shirt (once they get out of the stupid onesie uniforms in later seasons, you’ll see Jean-Luc constantly rising from his captain’s chair and immediately making this adjustment as he steps forward).

Short version: Soldiers do sad things, it haunts them. Revenge is not only bad (and best served cold) but there is no profit in it. Actually, this was one of the better episodes. We learned a bit about Picard’s past, that he is relatively famous in Starfleet and has had at least one previous command.

My only pet peeve was Picard acting so nonchalant about his headache and then Crusher telling him (the audience too) that headaches are just not a thing anymore. But Picard and Riker just seem to be like “oh a headache” yet if Crusher is telling the truth, they should both be FREAKING OUT at the tiniest hint of a headache.

There are 26 episodes in this first season. TWENTY SIX! I’m riding my exercise bike every time I watch an episode so even if they are painful, at least I’m getting in shape, right?

Books Read in August

Filmish: A Graphic Journey Through FilmFilmish: A Graphic Journey Through Film by Edward Ross

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a fantastic graphic non-fiction exploration of the power of movies. I would compare it to Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art in how it helps break down things that we sort of know in our gut, but putting those feelings into words. At first I was like “Why is this a book? It should be a documentary!” but making that film would be impossible because getting the rights to all the movies references would cost millions! This graphic novel is an amazing introduction to film studies and remind you that those images on the big screen are more than just eye candy.

French MilkFrench Milk by Lucy Knisley

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

About what I expected for an early book. It really is just Knisley’s journal from her trip to Paris, nothing amazing, no real self discovery like in ‘Relish’. But you can see all the potential in the pages for her books to come.

Becoming Maria: Love and Chaos in the South BronxBecoming Maria: Love and Chaos in the South Bronx by Sonia Manzano

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I can’t think of anyway else to describe this but a first-person limited memoir. Sonia Manzano tells her own story of growing up in the South Bronx and channels her childhood, writing the book from her point of view as a girl growing up in the 1950s New York City. She does not make any reference to her life today, she does not talk about the things that happened to her as a child in the context of how we view things today. She and her mother are both beaten, they live in the ghetto, she talks about being felt up by strangers, but she tells it as if it is just happening, never stepping out of that moment.

This is definitely a young adult/adult biography, if only because of the abuse that takes place and the occasional f-bomb that gets dropped.

To me, this felt like an honest and revealing look at growing up as a child of Puerto Rican immigrants in the United States and also growing up a girl and also growing up ethnic but in a way that is both invisible and visible when it comes to the United States.

Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at WarGrunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War by Mary Roach

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Another fun bit of pop science reading, though this is perhaps more terrifying the the rest of her books because it connects to war. But still a very good read.

Orange: The Complete Collection 1Orange: The Complete Collection 1 by Ichigo Takano

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Picked this up because everyone who read it raved about it and I can see why! Not at all what I expected. Just a dash of sci-fi in this otherwise slice of life story, with a melancholy edge. I don’t want to say any more because I read this spoiler free and so should you. Just have volume 2 ready to go because what a cliffhanger!

The World According to Star WarsThe World According to Star Wars by Cass R. Sunstein

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was so much fun to read! A great way of thinking about Star Wars and stories and how they reflect and effect our society. Even a casual fan can enjoy Sunstein’s thoughts about this movie series.

GhostsGhosts by Raina Telgemeier

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Telgemeier’s first foray into supernatural stories. I enjoyed it, but the bar was set really high by her previous three books. I just didn’t feel like this one packed the emotional punch that Smile, Sisters, and Drama did. I’d say this is a 3.5 star book where Smile is a 5 star book. (which means it is still a really great book! She has just spoiled me!)

Buffy: The High School Years - Freaks & Geeks (Buffy: The High School Years, #1)Buffy: The High School Years – Freaks & Geeks by Faith Erin Hicks

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Within the first few pages of this book, I knew Faith Erin Hicks was a Buffy fan. She had the tone just right – the Scooby Gang had all the same wit and snark of the show. This comic book takes place early in Season 1. It feels like a lost episode. It was really fun to read this, especially since I just finished rewatching the first season of the show recently!

We Stand On GuardWe Stand On Guard by Brian K. Vaughan

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

WOW! This has all the makings of the next epic BKV series, lots of in common with Y The Last Man and Saga when it comes to using science fiction to examine issues happening today. I loved this so much and the final section left me in shock. I need the next volume now!

Saga, Volume 6Saga, Volume 6 by Brian K. Vaughan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another great entry in the series, I really love little-kid Hazel, glad she is growing up now and part of the adventure rather than a prop. Her voice is a great mix of her father and mother.

The Ballad of Black TomThe Ballad of Black Tom by Victor LaValle

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have never read any Lovecraft and I haven’t read any real adult horror stories in a long time. This made me want to pick up both! It had all the flavor of a classic scary story, LaValle’s book could have been published in the early 1900s, his prose felt both new and classic. And CREEPY!!!!!!! Made the mistake of trying to finish the book late one night and gave myself the heebie-jeebies!

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Neverending Story memories

If you were on the Internet today, you probably saw the the Google Doodle was a celebration of the anniversary of the publication of The Neverending Story by Michael Ende.

For many children of the 80s, this book and the movie adaptation conjure up fond memories. I am no different.

I remember my Mom reading this book aloud to me as a bedtime story. The thing that fascinated me the most was that the hardcover edition she had checked out from the library had text in two different colors – one for our world, and one for Fantasia. It was the first “adult” book I had seen with any kind of color inside beyond black and white. It just felt magical seeing the words in green and red. I remember a certain excitement once I was old enough to read it, to be able to read those colorful words on my own and enter Fantasia, but at the same time it was kind of sad because I really liked going there with my Mom.

If you’ve never read the book, I suggest finding a hardcover copy so you can experience the magic too. The movie is only half the story.