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review 2018-11-19 20:00
SuperMutant Magic Academy / Jillian Tamaki
SuperMutant Magic Academy - Jillian Tamaki

The New York Times and New Yorker illustrator Jillian Tamaki is best known for co-creating the award-winning young adult graphic novels Skim and This One Summer—moody and atmospheric bestsellers. SuperMutant Magic Academy, which she has been serializing online for the past four years, paints a teenaged world filled with just as much ennui and uncertainty, but also with a sharp dose of humor and irreverence. Tamaki deftly plays superhero and high-school Hollywood tropes against what adolescence is really like: The SuperMutant Magic Academy is a prep school for mutants and witches, but their paranormal abilities take a backseat to everyday teen concerns.

 

My first thought on this is that I am wayyyy too old to truly appreciate this graphic novel! I liked the idea of a school for mutants and witches and I’m pretty sure that this would have totally been my jam when I was in junior high school. Because, let’s face it, we all feel like mutants when we’re in junior high.

It was definitely a creative way to illustrate all the problems that we have at that age: where do we fit in? What are our talents? What will be do after graduation? Or even today after school? Do our marks matter? Does that cute boy/girl know that we exist?

I can still relate to some of it—don’t we all still feel like mutants some days? But those days are fewer and farther between the older that I get. I know that I can support myself and run my life successfully on the majority of days. If I could talk to my teenage self that would be my message: you’re going to be okay. Loosen up and enjoy things more. Too bad that wisdom only comes to us once we’re short on the energy to appreciate it fully.

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text 2018-11-02 13:58
Reading progress update: I've read 190 out of 256 pages.
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader - C.S. Lewis,Pauline Baynes

 

My First Task of the Festive Season!

 

Reading a book from a completed series.

 

Plus, it fits with my previous reading plans for 2018.  Two birds, one stone.  So to speak.

 

Should finish it up on Saturday at the latest.

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review 2018-10-10 22:13
The Ghost in the Glass House / Carey Wallace
The Ghost in the Glass House - Carey Wallace

In a 1920s seaside town, Clare discovers a mysterious glass house in the backyard of her new summer home. There she falls in love with Jack, the ghost of a boy who can’t remember who he was before he died. Their romance is a haven for her from the cruel pranks of her society friends, especially her best friend, Bridget, who can’t wait to grow up and embark on romances of her own. As Clare begins to suspect an affair between her mother and Bridget's father, she retreats to the glass house. But that haven begins to crack when she realizes that Jack has lied to her about his name . . . From a dazzling and fearless new voice comes a shimmering story full of wonder and mystery, in a world where every character is haunted by lingering ghosts of love.

 

I read this book to fill the Ghost Stories square of my 2018 Halloween Bingo card.

I found this story to be somewhat reminiscent of Frances Hardinge’s The Lie Tree (or maybe it should be the other way around, since this was published before The Lie Tree.) I think it was a combination of a main character who is starting to question a parent’s choices and the time spent in the cave by the sea, complete with perilous journey to get there.

Strangely, it also reminded me of Edna O’Brien’s The Country Girls, with the frenemy relationship between Clare and her BFF Bridget. Clare is a bit like Kate, with her desire to find true love and Bridget is a lot like Baba, longing to experiment with life, excitement, and boys.

Many people say that teenage girls become obsessed with horses when they are looking for a safe outlet for their love and attention. Clare hasn’t got a chance of finding a horse to lavish her care upon, but she finds Jack, the ghost boy in the glass house behind their rented summer home. What could be safer than a ghost for a first real relationship?

Not as strong nor as well written as either The Lie Tree or The Country Girls, it is still a pleasant story and I wouldn’t hesitate to offer it to a young adult.

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review 2018-10-09 05:21
Review: Read & Riot- a Pussy Riot Guide to Activism

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Written as a stream of consciousness, Nadya shares her experiences and thoughts on the state of things and how we as individuals can still have our say and try to make a difference in the world.

 

It's a fast read and easy to digest, with each chapter (aka Rules) broken into three segments: Words, Deeds & Heroes.

 

Words covers various topics like Questioning the Status Quo, the Prison Industrial Complex and What Putin Has to Do with Trump.

 

Deeds encompasses things we can all do- Dadaism, If the Kids are United, Art in Action and Pussy Riot Church (a Russian church that was more like a mini-mart or a venue hall).

 

Heroes explores the figures who've influenced Nadya's life and outlook- King, the Berrigan Brothers, Bell Hooks, Emmeline Pankhurst and Aleksandra Kollontai.

 

Equally intriguing is the recommended reading list at the end of the book, which offers up some pretty good stuff to feed your head and free your mind.  If nothing else, you'll end up with a crash course on activist ideas and a view from the front lines delivered by a person who's still there.

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review 2018-09-10 17:15
Pagans / James J. O'Donnell
Pagans: The End of Traditional Religion and the Rise of Christianity - James J. O'Donnell

A provocative and contrarian religious history that charts the rise of Christianity from the point of view of "traditional" religion from the religious scholar and critically acclaimed author of Augustine.

Pagans explores the rise of Christianity from a surprising and unique viewpoint: that of the people who witnessed their ways of life destroyed by what seemed then a powerful religious cult. These “pagans” were actually pious Greeks, Romans, Syrians, and Gauls who observed the traditions of their ancestors. To these devout polytheists, Christians who worshipped only one deity were immoral atheists who believed that a splash of water on the deathbed could erase a lifetime of sin.

 

This was a great history of the late Roman/early Christian time period. It wasn’t quite what I thought I was getting, but it was still very interesting and written in an easy-to-read style. I thought I was going to get more about the pagan religions of the time. Instead, I learned that the whole idea of being pagan, as opposed to being Christian, was a creation of the Christians once they found themselves in the position to be able to form public opinion. As the author puts it, “Outside Christian imaginations, there was no such thing as paganism, only people doing what they were in the habit of doing.” Like those of us now who don’t really espouse a religion, but still celebrate Easter and Christmas.

The main points to know about the traditional, pre-Christian religions? ①Their gods weren’t perfect. ②The gods weren’t very nice. ③The gods didn’t care whether or not human beings did the right thing. ④The gods hadn’t created the world, either. ⑤They could help you, if you were nice to them.

The relationship between gods and humanity was much more businesslike in traditional religions. If you wanted something badly, you made a sacrifice to the god/goddess of your choice and if they liked your offering, you might get some divine help. But there were no guarantees.

If I have learned nothing else from reading this book, I realize now how completely current European and North American societies are shaped by Christianity. It is the underlying assumption of all our societal structures. Even atheism is completely shaped by its reaction against Christianity.


Also, Christianity has changed greatly since its early days, but some things never change. It’s still split into numerous denominations because its followers are prone to outrage at discovering that someone else dares to have a different opinion. That judginess and tendency towards schisms/excommunication started early and continues on to present day.

The author doesn’t talk about Neo-Pagans (except in one footnote), but the Modern Pagan movement, just by using the word ‘pagan,’ is defining itself in relation to Christianity. Christians created the concept of paganism after all. These Modern Pagans are much more self-conscious about their ‘faith’ than the original worshippers of Zeus or Thor were. (The whole concept of having faith in a god being a Christian innovation).

Amusingly, one of the ‘pagan’ concepts that has hung on is the title of “Pontiff” for the Pope. It was originally the title of the Roman official in charge of all religious occasions, regardless of deity, held in Rome under the Emperors.

The author has also written a book on St. Augustine which might also be an interesting read, although there’s a good summary about him in the last half of this book.

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