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review 2020-02-09 17:22
Full Circle: From Hollywood to Real Life and Back Again - Andrea Barber
For more reviews, check out my blog: Craft-Cycle

I received a copy of this book through Goodreads, in exchange for an honest review.

A well-written, honest, inspiring, and entertaining memoir that gives a look at Barber's experiences with acting, fame, anxiety, divorce, motherhood, and life.

Throughout the book, Barber discusses her passion and talent for writing. This really shows in the book. The narration instantly pulls the reader in and she does a fantastic job crafting the stories of her life. I could definitely see Barber continuing a writing career.

As someone who casually watched Full House as a kid, but hadn't yet started Fuller House, I was interested in seeing an inside perspective on the whole phenomenon. I was pleasantly surprised by how interesting I found this book and how much I enjoyed it. It is easy to connect with Barber through the page because of her fantastic writing style.

While Barber deals with many heavy topics in this book, the overall tone is very positive. It emphasizes love, acceptance, and family, which ties in perfectly with the tones of Full(er) House. Even when writing about darker issues, Barber's positive perspective really shines through. She does not shy away from sharing her hardships, but emphasizes the light at the end and what she learned from the experience. I also thought she did a good job recognizing her privilege while still showing that she has struggled through various stages of life like any other person. A wonderful read.

As I was reading, the desire to watch Fuller House hit to see Barber's references first-hand. The nostalgia of watching the show as a kid came out and now I found a feel-good show that I really enjoy.

This was a great read that showcases Barber's talent for writing, her humor, and her mature and developed perspective on life. A remarkable book.
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review 2020-01-26 16:58
My Girlfriend's a Geek (manga, vol. 2) story by Pentabu, art by Rize Shinba
My Girlfriend's a Geek, Volume 2 - Pentabu,Rize Shinba

Taiga gets excited when Yuiko asks if she can use his computer because hers is broken - it'll be her first time visiting Taiga's apartment, and they'll be alone together! However, the situation isn't quite what Taiga thinks it is. Also in this volume: Taiga continues the BL fanfic Yuiko asked him to write but has difficulty viewing the characters the same way she does; Taiga meets Yuiko's friends and is forced to go to a school uniform cafe with them; there's a new guy at Yuiko's workplace who she's nicknamed "Milan"; and Taiga feels conflicted about the way Yuiko views him.

Okay, wow, this volume was actually worse than the first one. There was a lot more going on, and as someone who has played dating sims and dealt with the difficulty of selecting decent BL manga based off of the cover art and description alone, I could relate to some of the things Yuiko talked about. Unfortunately, the series doubled down on Yuiko's inability to see, hear, or do anything without viewing it through a fujoshi lens.

Literally any time Taiga spoke to or was near another attractive guy, Yuiko mentally paired him up with that guy and then usually brought that pairing up with Taiga in a conversation, even though it clearly made him uncomfortable. Also, Taiga repeatedly told Yuiko that he wanted her to call him by his real name, and she repeatedly ignored him and continued to call  him Sebas.

I honestly don't think Yuiko viewed Taiga as a real person, and certainly not as her boyfriend. Instead, he was just a guy she could cast in different real-life BL fantasies. Near the end of the volume, Taiga asked Yuiko why none of her fantasies ever included herself, so she tried out a few options, including Yuiko x Sebas, and rejected them as not really doing much for her. When Taiga took offense, Yuiko claimed she was just kidding and said "I'm just not a fan of real person B.L." (144). That...sounded suspiciously like she'd just admitted that, in all her fantasies with Taiga and other men, Taiga and those men weren't real people. Taiga's complaints about Yuiko's habit of pairing him up with his best friend Kouji seemed to indicate that he at least unconsciously realized this, and yet he continued to let her steamroll over him.

While reading this, I found myself thinking of Wotakoi, a series that handles similar topics but usually in a better way (I'm not arguing it's perfect - it definitely has its own issues). Narumi and Hanako also occasionally squeal over fantasies of their boyfriends in BL situations, but their boyfriends tend to play along a bit (Kabakura with some embarrassment but still relatively willingly, and Nifuji willingly and with zero embarrassment), turning it into a form of roleplay. Also, these fantasies aren't the sole basis of their relationships with their boyfriends. The same doesn't really apply to Yuiko and Taiga.

At any rate, this series is actively unpleasant, and I'm glad I only own the first couple volumes. I don't plan to continue on from here.


Two full-color pages, an excerpt from Taiga's BL fanfic in three different styles (normal, literary, and text message), a couple more pages of Yuiko's fujoshi glossary, an afterword essay by Pentabu, and a short extra in which Taiga protested to Yuiko that he and Kouji really are friends and not whatever fujoshi fantasy Yuiko pictured them as.


(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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review 2020-01-26 00:43
My Girlfriend's a Geek (manga, vol. 1) story by Pentabu, art by Rize Shinba
My Girlfriend's a Geek, Volume 1 - Pentabu,Rize Shinba

Taiga is a broke college student who really wants a "cool" part-time job, meaning something that pays well, is easy and close to college, and would involve working with cute female coworkers. When he spots a cute employee through the window of an apparel store advertising for a warehouse loading and unloading position, he jumps at the chance. He easily gets the job...and then spends the next few weeks struggling to even find moments to talk to Yuiko, the cute employee he spotted. When he does manage to talk to her, he can't always keep the conversation going, and he's worried that the summer is going to end before he has a chance to ask her out on a date.

Taiga does manage to get his chance, but his interactions with Yuiko are a bit odd. Why does she get so excited when she sees him in glasses? Why does it sometimes seem like they're talking about completely different things when they talk about manga? Before they started dating, Yuiko told him that she's a fujoshi, but what does that even mean?

I think I bought this, as well as the second volume, because I knew this series was going to be short (5 volumes total) and therefore less daunting. But that wasn't really a good excuse. I already knew what this series was based on - a popular blog in which Pentabu wrote about his relationship with his fujoshi girlfriend, which he later published in book form. I reviewed volume 1 of the book about 7 years ago and was very conflicted about it, so I probably should have passed the manga by. If I was going to read it, I should have used interlibrary loan. But I didn't, so now I have two volumes in my collection to read and review.

I think I was hoping that the story would work better in manga form. Unfortunately, so far it doesn't. Taiga and Yuiko both came across as shallow. Taiga literally chose what job to apply for based on his instant attraction to a random stranger, and Yuiko's interest in Taiga seemed to be at least partly based on the fantasy scenarios she mentally put him in (going ga-ga for him the instant he puts on glasses, the whole Sebas and Uke-Sebas thing). Taiga was repeatedly baffled or horrified by Yuiko's fujoshi fantasies, and I couldn't understand why the two of them continued to date each other. They didn't really have anything in common, beyond the one manga series they enjoyed for completely different reasons.

It's getting to the point where I wince whenever I read a manga or watch an anime where a main or prominent female character is called a fujoshi. There will almost always be a scene where the character observes two real human beings (sexuality sometimes known and sometimes not, but honestly it doesn't matter either way) in her vicinity and fantasizes that they're in love with each other. It's one thing to fantasize about fictional characters in whatever relationships you'd like, but doing that with real people, particularly when you're aware that it would make those people uncomfortable, just seems gross to me. And of course Yuiko did it in this volume with Taiga and his friend Kouji, much to Taiga's horror when he found out. (Again, why are Taiga and Yuiko still dating?)

The one thing in the story that I really liked, although it was very brief, was the explicit recognition that that the fictional character types people find attractive may have nothing in common with what they find attractive in real life. That came up during Yuiko and Taiga's discussion of Yuiko's current favorite fictional character.

If I didn't already have volume 2 in my collection, I'd probably be stopping here. The characters really don't work for me. As for the artwork, it was decent enough, if not particularly memorable. I can think of several shojo series it reminds me of.


Two full-color pages, an afterword essay by Pentabu, a page of translation notes, and an excerpt from the first volume of the books this manga is based on. There are also a few pages with further details about the manga Yuiko and Taiga keep talking about, as well as a "fujoshi glossary" explaining terms such as "seme," "uke," "gap," etc. Some of the words were ones I hadn't realized had fujoshi meanings ("concubine," "queen," etc.).


(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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review 2019-09-26 16:23
In Real Life - Cory Doctorow,Jen Wang
For more reviews, check out my blog: Craft-Cycle

I absolutely love Jen Wang's artwork. That was my main reason for picking this book up. I recently read The Prince and the Dressmaker and adored it. So I was excited to read this book.

This one started off well enough. I liked how it called out some of the difficulties female gamers face and playing with actual female avatars.

But then it shifted to the unfair working conditions for people in China and while the goal was good, the execution of it was a bit messy. The message gets kind of murky along the way. It vaguely touches on issues of Americans thinking they can solve everyone's problems without fully understanding their situations, but then abandons that by pretty much allowing that exact thing to happen and calling it a happy ending. For me, the book just took on too much and didn't present its material in the best way.

However, the artwork was still amazing and some scenes were reminiscent of The Prince and the Dressmaker, which made me giddy. There were aspects of the story that I liked, such as Anda's relationship with her mother and her overall learning from her experiences. The book obviously brings up some really important issues of real-world ramifications, global economics, and the shortening of distances through technology. However, some of the more serious issues weren't necessarily given the weight they deserved and the use of actual mistreatment of people as a plot point muddied the whole message I think the book was going for.

A good read overall, but it had some problems. 
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text 2019-08-08 18:58
Trying to figure out something

So I live in West Philly.  I technically live on the border between West and Southwest Philly.  I have live in this neighborhood my whole life.  Has the neighborhood changed?  Yes.  And it has gotten pricier.  And most of this is because it is close to universities such as the U of Penn.  But those changes, that gentrification, occurred 15-20 years ago. (I've lived in the neighborhood longer than that.  And it changed from Catholic Irish/Black neighborhood to white/gay/black/Chinese/African/college student neighborhood.  Until the yuppies showed up and added themselves to the mix). 


So there is a local pizza/bar and the owners own another place that has been open for close to 20 years in the neighborhood.  They support local breweries and the food is good (ingredients are from the Philly area).  


So last month there is this black man who is protesting across the street saying he was fired unfairly and because he was black.  He was joined recently by what is reported as nine other former employees who say he is a friend and he was  the third black man fired in 3 months.  They also state the work place is homophobic and anti-Muslim.  All nine are white.  (And I've been to the place often enough in the last year, that one of those people should look familiar if they are front house staff, and none of them do).


They have a GoFundMe and they stated aim is to close both restaurants and to stop the gentrification of West Philly (I think they really mean Southwest).  (The last place targeted with the gentrification label was a café that was locally owned, hired locally, and the owner had business in the area for 40 years, and was born and raised in the area).


The protest included shouting at patrons.  This also effected the Green Line Café across the street, and some of their patrons got shouted at.  It's a coffee shop with local owners (one of whom lives around the corner from the café, the other around the corner from me.  One of them knew my dog before I did.  The café also supports local artists and immigrants).


The owners, of course, deny the charges.  They have said they fired the employee because he repeatedly showed up late and did not get his certification.  They  have fired an injunction to move the protest.  They have closed down this week for staff training and bias training (which could be admitting something).  Furthermore, one owner, about four years ago, posted a racially charged  tweet  - something about how some interior design trend was so bad that he would rather have slavery back.  The tweet was removed, he apoglized, and the place was boycotted until a donation was made.  (two of the owners live locally, they hire locally and citywide). But there is an established history of at least one racially insensitive (at best) incident.  


There has not been much local coverage.  What local press there is, has been written by writers who are clearly not familiar with the neighborhood.  The business that the pizza place replaced was for years called the Wurst House, and was sold once too often, finally ending with an owner who didn't care (literally there were nail clippings in the food at one point).  The local press just simply reports what each side says.  And they have used the word gentrification about the business which isn't quite true - one place is the only business on its street, the pizza place is down the book from the typical West/Southwest Philly businesses - locally owned pet store, Marxist book shop, independent for charity bookshop, that weird store that sells who knows what, a couple African places to eat, a couple Vietnamese places to eat, two local "cheap" pizza places .


Most long time residents in the neighborhood are confused.  The protest group has not responded to any news outlet (including the local PBS one) which has people wary.  The owners of both places have contributed to the neighborhood (not counting the donation after the racial tweet), but there was that racial tweet.  The local protestors have not been to any of the local meetings about the developments that two groups are trying to put in, so that makes their claim about caring for the neighborhood look a bit lopsided. (why not protest the Dunkin Donuts and Starbucks for instance?)


Does anyone here have any ideas on how to at least get information that isn't simply from one side or the other?  I don't want to support a racist or homophobic business and considering the past tweet the charge very well could be true.  But the people making the charge are so vague about many things.  And the local Sanders group supposedly supports the protest, but they held the debate watch party at the bar that has been a local problem on my block for years (and has been repeatedly been closed for coding violations and unpaid taxes.  The owner is white and a former cop).  


One of the protestors said all you needed to do was the type the name of the place into Facebook and you would find horror stories.  Ah, no.  The only anti-place stories are the recent ones.  Older posts are all about people having a good time at the place or about the sacrifice to the sinkhole.  I did a search on twitter and pretty much the same thing.  The only person having a thread about the protest did not seem local.  


Anyway, just needed to vent my confusion.  Because it sounds like a clusterfuck of idiots on both sides.


I'll just keep supporting the Green Line Café, no drama there.

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