Month: August 2014

Bout of Books 11 Update – Saturday

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So, I’ve dropped the ball a bit. I’ll admit it. But all of a sudden I got sick. Falling asleep at 6 pm sick and I can feel it’ll happen again. I’ve just not been doing well. I guess life just happens.

Since my last update, I finished Guy Gavriel Kay’s River of Stars. It was pretty impressive. I’ve also gotten a quarter of the way into Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar. I’ll hopefully finish it today. It’s only a two hundred eighty pager.

I’ve also gotten my hands on a copy of Max Brook’s new “Harlem Hellfighters,” a graphic novel about the Hellfighters.

That may be a bit more manageable.


Bout of Books 11 Update – Tuesday

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So, we’re already through Tuesday. It’s a terrifying thought. All I really did today was putz about and read Wonder Woman. The New 52 is one of the best things DC could have done and the new Wonder Woman Vol. 1: Blood is a solid choice. It’s filled with bold lines and striking imagery. The plot has a lot of potential.

I’m officially half way through River of Stars by Guy Gavriel Kay. Do you ever get that excited, tingly feeling when you know the big conflict of the book is about to happen and that everything is about to kick into gear? I’m doing that. So far, the characters are pretty cool and the plot set up is interesting. I’ll tell you more later.

I did manage to do the OTP challenge today.

My OTP (embarrassingly enough) is Ginny/Draco from Harry Potter. I know; I know. But, I’ve loved it since I was a kid. I cannot tell you the number of times I’ve tried to explain. Oh well. Rooting for the underdog?

I have a good feeling about tomorrow. I’m going to pick up Coraline by Neil Gaiman to listen to while I clean. That counts too, yeah?

Let’s Talk | Comics and Graphic Novels [Video Post]

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In which I talk about comics and a bit of their history and context.

Bout of Books 11 Update – Monday

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Happy Monday!

So, it’s the first official day of Bout of Books. I haven’t really sat to do much reading. Here’s what’s happened so far.

-I began and finished Pretty Deadly Vol. 1, a graphic novel published by Image Comics. It was beautiful, though I’m not 100% sure where it’s going next. 

-I began and finished Lazarus Vol. 2, another graphic novel published by Image Comics. It was a solid improvement off the first. 

-I read 50 pages of River of Stars by Guy Gavriel Kay and am hoping to get a good chunk more of it done. I’m home alone tonight, so with some luck I can knock out another 100 pages. 

I didn’t do any of the challenges, but I’d like to. I’m going to spend some time tonight looking at the ones posted to see what is doable. 

How is your BOB11 going?

See you tomorrow.

Let’s Talk: Hugo Awards

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The Hugo Awards, as most of you know, are one of the biggest awards in science fiction literature. They incorporate the whole group of science fiction lovers. Awards range from the biggies like best novel to the more fan-oriented like best fanzine. Last night, the Hugos were announced for 2014.

I’m mostly just reacting here to the announcement that Anne Leckie won the best novel award for Ancillary Justice, her debut novel. You can check out my review by clicking here. 

Charles Stross, also a nominee for best novel, did win best novella. 

I don’t know how  surprised I’m supposed to be about this one. Leckie has won the Arthur C. Clarke, a BFSA, a Nebula, and a variety of other awards. It’s a good book. It talks about complex issues and approaches gender in a way that’s pretty new to scifi. 

The books’ sequel, Ancillary Sword is set to come out in October of this year and people are itching for that Amazon preorder button. It’s not up yet (I checked).

I’m a bit conflicted, though. Leckie’s book was outstanding and the novel was phenomenally written. You  would never know it was a debut. However, Wheel of Time (the series) by Robert Jordan and completed by Brandon Sanderson was up for the Hugo this year. It’s a classic series with thirteen installments and some of the most devoted fans you’ll ever see. I don’t know how fair it was that it wasn’t ever nominated before its completion, but it’s a work that certainly is deserving of a Hugo award, if not several that ought to have been distributed throughout its completion. 

On top of that, Mira Grant (i.e. Seanan McGuire) was nominated for the sixth time for a Hugo. She has yet to win, but her work is very deserving. 

The competition was stiff, but by the first round of voting, Ancillary Justice had twice the number of votes than its closest competitor. Leckie’s novel was great. I really enjoyed it. But with such competition, I also wonder if there wasn’t so much awards momentum behind it that it took the award with greater ease than it may have otherwise. Any thoughts? 

You can check out the full award winners list here: 

Bout of Books 11 Update– Sunday

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So, I haven’t done much today.

I was going to go to the library. I want to pick up an audio copy of Coraline by Neil Gaiman. It’s about three hours long and perfect for chores around the house. 

I went to Half Price Books and picked up a copy of the final two books in Mira Grant’s (Seanan McGuire) Newsflesh series. 

I also am starting Pretty Deadly, a graphic novel published by Image Comics.

I haven’t read hardly anything today and will do better tomorrow. Do you ever have a problem starting read-a-thons?

Review: Where’d You Go, Bernadette?

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I’ll admit it happily: I love audiobooks. I have frequent drives that are at least 4.5 hrs, one way, if there is no traffic. I normally take them out of the library (yay, libraries!) and enjoy. Radio is pretty spotty during the drive so audiobooks cannot be beaten. So, please note that I listened to Where’d You Go, Bernadette?

 Where’d You Go, Bernadette? follows 8th grader B and her family. Her father, Elgin, is a super famous computer programmer and her mother, Bernadette, was a MacArthur Grant winning architect.  B is super excited for a family trip to Antarctica, but her mother has been at the center of conflict at B’s school and her parents’ relationship is balanced precariously. Her mother has been treading water since the destruction of her most famous house and her father is seriously considering committing Bernadette. When Bernadette disappears mysteriously two days before Christmas, B decides she must discover the truth behind her mother’s disappearance.

The story has the potential to look in-depth at some pertinent issues: depression, mommy wars, difficulties in cultural assimilation, and relationship struggles and coping mechanisms. What’s really unfortunate is that Where’d You Go, Bernadette? skips over these issues in large part. Maria Semple creates a picture of Bernadette that is erratic, combative, and depressed. In the end, instead of tackling Bernadette’s mental state with constructive help, Semple chooses to chalk it up to Bernadette’s “need to create.” This is obviously something lacking in the way Semple portrays depression, which runs, often, much deeper and in a much more complex way than presented. I found it very unsatisfying.

I thought that the voices were appropriately distinct. Much of the story was done in various documents and emails that they characters wrote. The characters were presented distinctly from one another and I found them to be fairly satisfying in that manner. Their development varied, though it wasn’t necessarily inappropriate in the voices’ differentiations. Again, in this respect, I was at times disappointed in the way that Bernadette was portrayed. She didn’t grow or seem to develop as a character. Elgin, her husband, sometimes did. Mostly, the characters were static.

I gave this book a 3/5. It was enjoyable, but wore on me. 

Review: Fiend by Peter Stenson

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I can’t really think of a more appropriate way to start the Bout of Books 11 read-a-thon than to post a couple of reviews? I’m a bit behind, so please bear with me.

Stenson’s Fiend is about a guy Chase. He’s a junkie living in what’s basically a slum on the outskirts of the Twin Cities. His parents are from the burbs and haven’t really been equipped to help him in years. He and his best friend Typewriter have been binging and going on serious benders since Chase’s girlfriend dumped him and he fell off the wagon.

In the midst of a week long meth binge, the two see a little girl outside. She seems happy and is giggling. Then, the little girl rips out a dog’s throat, spots them, and heads towards the house. The two freak out. The little girl is breaking in and they want to believe it’s all just a halluciation. It’s worse. The world is ending.

Zombies have taken over. Only Chase, Typewriter, and a handful of junkies are left to try and survive.

Fiend by Peter Stenson is available on Amazon

Stenson is very dependent on his reader’s knowledge of the Twin Cities. He often mentions locations by name rather than giving in depth descripitions. This is a double edged sword. As a resident of the Cities, it was interesting to be able to know exactly where they were supposed to be. However, it also made descriptions stand out when they weren’t quite right. Additionally, Stenson describes locations that are wrong. Frogtown isn’t all rambler housing and isn’t as big as Stenson describes. West Seventh is a bit run down but isn’t junkie city, at least not as close to Grand Avenue as he mentions. The Groveland Tap isn’t really the kind of place that a lot of meth heads gravitate to. I’d also think that if I were a non-resident of the cities, I would have been a bit lost in the locations. It would have distracted me or been confusing.

I liked a lot of the supporting characters, especially Typewriter. The side characters are very well fleshed out. They’re sympathetic and believable. I thought that Stenson does a good job showing how they’re both kind of normal but also incapable or dealing with the things in their life that cause them stress or lead to chaos. They were well balanced.

Chase, the narrator, was a bit disappointing. He was pretty insightful when it came to his friends, but the narration doesn’t really show a lot about Chase’s past or his development. It’s clear and believable when showing how he can be abusive, manipulative, or running on survival mode. There are some moments of vulnerability, where Chase says things that hint at his past and who he feels he once was, but those moments didn’t resonate with me, largely because we don’t see who he thinks he was.

There were tons of zombies though. They were flesh worn and giggled. Pretty creepy. In the first twenty pages or so alone there are three attacks. Very fun.

I did like the ending quite a bit. It was fitting, but that’s all I’ll say.

I enjoyed the book. I just wish there had been a bit more to some of the characters. Also the location thing I think is going to screw some folks up. 3/5.

I got this book for free for an honest review off of

Review: The Little Green Book of Chairman Rhama by Brian Herbert

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Unfortunately, I wasn’t pleased with Brian Herbert’s new release.

Short list of highlights:
-Slow pacing
-Poor character development
-Not enough background