Books Read in March

Here’s what I read in March. Not as impressive as February but still some good stuff in the mix!

The Daily Show: An Oral History as Told by Jon Stewart, the Correspondents, Staff and GuestsThe Daily Show: An Oral History as Told by Jon Stewart, the Correspondents, Staff and Guests by Chris Smith
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I read half of this and then listened to the rest. I was a little disappointed the audiobook wasn’t narrated by anyone from the show but that would be pretty amazing to get that cast back together. That being said, the readers did a wonderful job mimicking the voices and tone where they could without it being too distracting.

I was watching the Daily Show with Craig Kilborn in high school and I remember when it changed hands to Jon Stewart. I have always been relatively progressive/liberal in my world view, so I wouldn’t say that Jon changed that, but The Daily Show did let me know that I was not alone in thinking that way, it made me want to stay up to date on the news, it made me understand how politics really work.

The show, Stewart’s version of the show, played a HUGE role in my young adult life and this book does an amazing job covering its evolution over the course of 12 years. If you are a fan of the show, if you remember watching it every night, if you attended the ‘Rally for Sanity’ — pick up this book or give it a listen. You will be impressed by how much hard work this entire cast and crew put into keeping us both informed and entertained all these years, and how that ended up changing the media as a whole.

MooseMoose by Max de Radiguès
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I read this because we were discussing how it made it onto lots of top comic lists for teen readers but we cataloged it in adult. I understand the cataloging since our YA section is both a mix of middle and high school materials and this definitely is very mature content.

The story deals with bullying, and not just being picked on, but physical violence and a level of abuse that was disturbing.

I think it is a powerful story that will find its way into the hands of readers that need to find it, but I can understand why we opted to put it in the adult collection.

Me and Marvin GardensMe and Marvin Gardens by A.S. King
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A.S. King is one of my favorite young adult authors so I was surprised to see this title cataloged as Children’s Fiction. It still has that trademark King bit of magical realism, but the characters and themes run a little bit younger, or maybe just things that work for a wider age range of readers.

While not my favorite King book, this has a great story to give to kids who have a passion about the environment and interest in humans finding that balance between nature and progress. Definitely for the more thinky middle school reader who has already realized that their parents are not perfect and that the world has shades of gray.

Paper Girls, Vol. 2Paper Girls, Vol. 2 by Brian K. Vaughan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Even better than the first volume (I did not think that would be possible). This series is amazing.

Don’t read anything about it, don’t find spoilers, just find the books and read them.

Samanthasaurus RexSamanthasaurus Rex by B.B. Mandell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

How could I not read this? Adorable dinosaur with my name. The trick with the diamond seemed like a stretch. If there is a Samantha in your life, this is a solid purchase.

I Am Jim HensonI Am Jim Henson by Brad Meltzer
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Sweet and simple book, this would be great for a read-aloud to older elementary kids. The author does not mention that Jim has passed away, though kids can see it if they look at the timeline included on the last couple pages.

One of my personal heroes and I’m always glad to see his story being told and shared.

They Can't Kill Us All: Ferguson, Baltimore, and a New Era in America’s Racial Justice MovementThey Can’t Kill Us All: Ferguson, Baltimore, and a New Era in America’s Racial Justice Movement by Wesley Lowery
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I think Lowery does a good job of staying objective in his recounting of the tumult of the last few years. I knew about most of these events, but not all of them, and lumping them all together in this book, realizing that this is just a snapshot of two years in America, you can’t help but wonder what, if anything, has changed.

The saddest part is how optimistic the afterward sounds when it comes to continuing to deal with these issues as a country…I feel like this has all be pushed out of the spotlight since November and the national rhetoric is not one that encourages discussion of racial issues.

The Private EyeThe Private Eye by Brian K. Vaughan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It is becoming VERY DISTURBING that every book I pick up this year has some kind of “THE CLOUD WILL END US ALL!” message to it…and Private Eye wasn’t even a NEW book!

BKV does it again with a twisted story about a not-to-distant future where the world has gone to shit and, as usual, most people just deal with it. Loved the characters and their hints of backstory. I’m kind of glad this is a one-off, that the little teases are all we get and we have to make it up from there. The main story is enough to satisfy.

Sci-Fi Noir Action Thriller Graphic Novel.

Decelerate BlueDecelerate Blue by Adam Rapp
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Another commentary on our short-attention span world. I liked the ideas here but I wish it had a little more to it all. I never felt like I got to know Angela and Gladys as well as I could have.

Still, some cool themes and ideas to talk about.

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testing, testing, is this thing on?

I swear I have NOT forgotten about this blog. Actually, I spend a lot of time thinking of things I could post about, crafting the entries in my mind while doing other things at work or making dinner…but then I get free time and instead go and do the things I was going to write about – read a book, play a game, watch a tv show etc.

So if anyone even still reads this thing, I’ll try to get more than just “What I Read in March” posted by the end of this month.

Books read in February

Whoa, hey, I swear I did not forget about this blog…or maybe I did. I just always feel like I need to have something to say when I post here versus my usual ramblings about life, the universe, and everything over on my livejournal. I’ll try to get this blog back into the posting mix at some point.

But anyway, here are the books I read in February 2017:

In which I discover I like novels written in verse and then become a raving Neal Shusterman fangirl again:

Skip School, Fly to Space: A Pearls Before Swine CollectionSkip School, Fly to Space: A Pearls Before Swine Collection by Stephan Pastis
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

One too many Crocodile comics in this one for me as they tend to be my least favorite of the strips. Not sure why but this one didn’t have as many stand-out strips as the other two.

The 13 ClocksThe 13 Clocks by James Thurber
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My uncle that worked in a bookstore gave me a copy of this quirky title back in 1990. I remembered loving it though I couldn’t tell you a thing about it. So when I found it in my parent’s garage, I decided to read it again to see if the magic was still there.

James Thurber’s humor is not for the uninitiated. He loves wordplay, rhyming and non-sequitur silliness. My Mom had copies of his short stories so I was familiar with his quirky sense of humor before starting this book, which reads like a blend of Dr. Seuss and Peter Beagle if they were both slightly tipsy.

It’s a children’s book but also not…you have to be old enough to get the nods and winks to how fairy tales work.

It’s an odd book, but I love it.

Princess Leia: Royal Rebel (Backstories)Princess Leia: Royal Rebel by Calliope Glass
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Written as though it was a real biography, this book doesn’t really have any new information about Leia, which was kind of disappointing. The book is a short 125 pages which I guess all that is canon now according to Disney. Though this could be used as a good teaching tool for what a biography should look like since it includes a chronology, timeline and even an index!

Catching a StoryfishCatching a Storyfish by Janice N. Harrington
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I don’t know why I always shy away from books written in verse. I don’t consider myself a fan of poetry so I suppose the idea of reading a story in that format doesn’t appeal to me. Yet the few times I have taken a chance, I have been very impressed. This is one of those times.

The short lines of verse are more powerful than any prose paragraph, capturing Katharen’s emotions in a way that a normal sentence might not.

This is a beautiful story about a girl who moves from Alabama to a town further north, where she hides her talent for telling stories after the other kids mock her accent. She finds solace with her grandfather, hanging out with him and talking about fishing – well, she thinks he is talking about fishing, but he is giving her little life lessons.

Great story for middle grade readers (4th grade and up) and this actually might be a good pick for someone reading out loud to a classroom of students.

Scythe (Arc of a Scythe, #1)Scythe by Neal Shusterman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I loved this book, it’s my favorite kind of science fiction – taking something to an extreme and playing out the consequences. In this case, we have The Cloud becoming the all knowing Thunderhead and science conquering death.

What I really liked about this book was that there were so many plot lines that could have been dragged out but instead were wrapped up by the end, leaving us with new options for book 2. There were plenty of loose ends but nothing so frustrating as to make you feel like you are being strung along as a reader. So if you are sick of series, fear not, you can read ‘Scythe’ and enjoy it.

I’m surprised this is a series because I think this first book wraps things up relatively well – but I said the same thing about ‘Unwind’ and that turned into an amazing series. So I will definitely pick up the second book when it comes out.

This Is Our StoryThis Is Our Story by Ashley Elston
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Great mystery thriller, definitely would be great for fans of shows like Riverdale or Veronica Mars.

I was a little annoyed by how often the author had characters roll their eyes or put their hands on someone else to “frame their face” – these were overused and I’m not sure why the editor didn’t flag them.

You’ll also need to suspend your disbelief for how much a high school student would be allowed to do in a criminal case, no matter how small the town.

But whatever, if you can overlook those things, the story was tight enough that I could not stop reading and I had to know what would happen next.

Loving vs. Virginia: A Documentary Novel of the Landmark Civil Rights CaseLoving vs. Virginia: A Documentary Novel of the Landmark Civil Rights Case by Patricia Hruby Powell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I didn’t realize this was a novel in verse when I ordered it, but as I had just finished another fantastic book in verse, I decided to read it. I am so glad I did. The book and the illustrations weave a beautiful story about two people in love, just trying to live their lives while a racist world spins around them. The story is told alternating voices between Richard Loving and Mildred Jeter Loving. The focus is on their relationship and personal suffering more than the actual Civil Rights case.

Powell conducted interviews and did lots of research to make the story as real as possible. I was really impressed and highly recommend this title. Sadly, it is still relevant in 2017. As we struggle for equality for all, it is good to read a story like that, about the people behind the headlines and what they might think or feel. The Lovings did not set out to be the poster couple for interracial marriage, they just wanted to be able to live their lives, unafraid.

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Books read in December

Short list because HOLIDAYS! Just too much going on, distracted me from making time to read.

At least there were some good ones!

Descender, Volume Two: Machine MoonDescender, Volume Two: Machine Moon by Jeff Lemire
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

3.5 stars – This volume wasn’t quite as engaging as the first, maybe because the story is starting to tread some familiar water to anyone who who is a fan of the sci-fi genre. Still, beautiful artwork and the characters are engaging enough that I want to know more about what happens next. This ends on a crazy cliffhanger !!!

As I DescendedAs I Descended by Robin Talley
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Robin Talley does a really great job of reworking ‘MacBeth’ in our modern world. She didn’t just copy+paste the story, she reinterpreted it to work with modern young adults and the hierarchy that exists in high school. That doesn’t mean she had to hold back on the horrific aspects of the Scottish play.

MacBeth is my favorite of Shakespeare’s tragedies, maybe my favorite play of his overall. I would be curious how someone unfamiliar with the play, who wasn’t reading it because it was a retelling, would feel about this book. I know I enjoyed it a lot because I was looking for the parallel stories and really enjoying the new twists that Talley added.

If you’re a fan of MacBeth, definitely pick this one up!

MooncopMooncop by Tom Gauld
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’m not sure what to say about this short but not simple graphic novel. Gauld’s sparse use of text means you can finish a first read through in a matter of minutes, but the story and the ideas behind it will stick with you.

Labyrinth Lost (Brooklyn Brujas, #1)Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Goodreads says this is a series, but it does NOT end on a giant cliffhanger, thank goodness! I started to slow down in my reading when I saw the “Brooklyn Brujas #1” in the record. I’m so tired of series.

Alejandra comes from a family of brujas, powerful witches that live in our world. But she isn’t sure she wants to embrace that side of her. But her Deathday celebration is approaching, a ritual that will bind her powers to her for ever. Alex must decide if she wants to stay a bruja, like her mother and aunt and sisters – or just be a normal girl.

This book is a great blend of magic and Mexican folklore. I think it would be a great read for teens who read Harry Potter when they were younger and want more magical people living in our world stories. Lots of adventure, a bit of romance, and real characters from Mexican folklore. The author even included notes in the back of the book to let the reader know which magical creatures are part of established myth.

If there are more adventures of the Brooklyn Brujas, I will definitely pick them up! But I am glad that Alex’s story was wrapped up at the end of this book.

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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)

beatles-eight-days-a-week-270x400

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