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review 2017-06-15 23:48
Granpa, tell me about when you were little
Boy: Tales of Childhood - Roald Dahl,Quentin Blake

What a great biographic piece. Dahl is an excellent story teller, and puts that to use: he doesn't waste pages in the minutia, or get scared of leaving swathes of time undressed, but picks the bits he wants to tell about his early life, because they are important, interesting, colorful, defining. It turns into a very entertaining read.

It paints a picture of a time. I was impressed by his mother courage and strength (and humor, and mettle, and pragmatism... she comes across as one awesome lady), horrified by much of the sadism involved in his education, and somewhat enlightened on the reasons for his often irreverent characters.

I laughed a lot. There is humor inside every part, from the comfort of hindsight, fondness of remembrance, matter-of-fact way harrowing or ridiculous situations are described, or dry irony.

I plain loved it.

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review 2017-06-03 01:39
ARC Review: Symbols by Mario Kai Lipinski
Symbols - Mario Kai Lipinski

Gosh, I wanted to love this book. I mean, read the blurb - the bullied kid who's spent his days hiding from everyone slowly falls for the gentle giant at the high school they both attend, until an act of violence threatens to tear them both apart... yeah, I signed up immediately for the ARC.

And for the first half or so, this book held me in its grip, as the story between Matt, the bullied kid, and Shane, the gentle giant, unfolds, as Matt begins to trust Shane, as they fall in love and forge a path together.

Yes, sure, there were some issues with the dialogue, which I attributed to the author not being a native speaker and not living in the US so research into how teens talk these days would have been tricky. And yes, sure, the principal pontificates to Shane when he first starts about there being a zero-tolerance policy at the school, and yet she has no idea that Matt has been bullied for years, hiding in corners, shaking and utterly miserable, terrified, in tears, something that even the cafeteria cashier has noticed, yet the principal has no clue - how's that possible? And why wouldn't the cafeteria cashier talk to an adult at the school? Many of the bullying incidents happen in hallways or inside the cafeteria, and yet nobody addresses it.

Still, it was engaging, and was invested.

However, right about the time, Matt is beaten up and ends up in a coma in the hospital, this book took a massive nose-dive. The asshole detective that arrests Shane for allegedly causing Matt's injuries (he didn't), the subplot with Shane engaging Matt's long-time nemesis to find the real perpetrator, the court date, the dramatic last minute rescue by Shane's former friend, the drama with Matt's mother's reaction to Shane's size, the nasty old woman on the bus, and, and, and - it was just all too much and too over the top and too unrealistic in how much was piled on Matt and Shane's shoulders.

Look, I got that the author tried to make the point that one shouldn't judge a book by its cover, i.e. a teenager by his size and tattoos, but good grief, that point wasn't just made so much as hammered home time and again. And Shane, whom I adored, just took the judgments time and again, making all kinds of excuses for people's reactions to him. I hated that he did that. I hated that people would judge him just based on his looks and not his actions. For Matt's mother to think that Shane had hurt Matt, for anyone to think that Shane would hurt a fucking fly just because he's super tall, just pissed me off.

And yeah, I knew who the villain was going to be, but the reasoning behind the violent attack was pathetic. The perpetrator's characterization up to that point didn't indicate anything like what was given as a reason - I didn't buy it at all, and thought that it was just too convenient.

I loved both Matt and Shane, and I loved how gentle Shane was with Matt, and how Matt came out of his shell over time, and became the stronger one of the two. Their relationship was well done, and the author did a fantastic job bringing across the emotional bond between the two young men. What I didn't like so much were the multiple incidents of miscommunication and false assumptions that both of them make, but I chalked that off to them being young.

I think it can be very difficult for a non-native speaker to successfully write authentic dialogue as language continually evolves, especially in this day and age, and that the manner in which teens talk cannot be gleaned from, say, books, TV shows, or movies.

The premise was fantastic - the execution not so much. Still, three stars is nothing to scoff at. I did enjoy reading this book for the most part, and I did love Matt and Shane.


** I received a free copy of this book from its publisher. A positive review was not promised in return. **

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text 2017-05-03 18:00
What should I get next week?
Quantum Teens Are Go #2 - Magdalene Visaggio,Eryk Donovan,Claudia Aguirre,Zakk Saam
Green Arrow, Volume 1: The Death and Life of Oliver Queen - Nate Piekos,Benjamin Percy,Otto Schmidt,Juan Ferreyra
Deathstroke (2016-) #15 - Christopher Priest,Jeromy Cox,Bill Sienkiewicz,Jason Paz,Carlo Pagulayan
Descender Volume 1: Tin Stars (Descender Tp) - Jeff Lemire,Dustin Nguyen,Dustin Nguyen
Swamp Thing, Vol. 1: Saga of the Swamp Thing - John Totleben,Stephen R. Bissette,Alan Moore

*Reposting as a reminder/if you want to vote and missed this*

 

Vote on which of these books I should read.

 

1. Quantum Teens Are Go is a series written by a trans woman, who wrote Kim and Kim.   (Which I love.   Magdalene Visaggio is hardcore about writing queer positive stories, and doing her best to stay away from toxic themes in her works.   Her new series, Quantum Teens Are Go, has at least one queer character, and seems to continue this trend.  I also really love Black Mask, which is a very small press, and I've read some other books from an exclusive box set they did for a comic day last year - or perhaps the year before?  I got it on sale from Newbury.)

 

2. The Life and Death of Oliver Queen, because I really want to read more DC right now.   So should I hit the button and buy this?   It looks like it's pretty heavy on his girl, Black Canary, whom I kinda love, too.   (Or that's what I got from flipping through this volume in a bookstore.)  I'm kinda excited!

 

3. Deathstroke #15 - and one or two issues beyond - because I picked up #14 because it promised Deathstroke was blinded.   (On the cover of that, so I don't consider that a spoiler.)   I really kinda enjoyed that issue.   Should I continue?   It's more Rebirth that I'm loving, so...

 

4. I own quite a bit of Descender, but there are three or four issues I don't have.   Should I buy them, and actually catch up on this series?   Beautifully illustrated, and there's a robot resistance.   (Following, sadly, a robot massacre.   *cryface*)  Still, I'm really loving this despite all the sad, robot death.   

 

5. Let's go old school.   The thing I like best about the new Hellblazer series?   Swamp thing.  I kinda wanna kick it old school - and I'll even break my rule and go a little above ten dollars since I spent less than I thought I would today - and get the Saga of the Swamp Thing volume one.   Alan Moore.   Could get kinda weird.   Does from what I remember hearing about this.   And I'm definitely up for getting to figure out what's up with Abby and The Rot.   

 

Vote on these five.   Whichever you decide?   I'll get next week via Comixology - or Amazon if they have a better price, which I believe they do for 2 and 5 - and binge on Saturday and Sunday.    

 

This is partly because I'm curious if anyone will care what comics I read, and partly because I'm trying to get myself to read more non-Marvel comics to kick my Marvel habit mostly to the curb.   (I did buy some one dollar digital comics because Star-Lord and Gamora a couple days ago.  I will continue to buy super cheap digital comics and graphics.  But other than that, and some series I'm hardcore invested in, I'm dropping most everything else for now.)

 

So, if you want to, vote.   Because otherwise, I might buy and write about some really weird shit.   Also, feel free to add something for the next vote.   I'm already thinking Saga, Lumberjanes, and Spawn in the future, since I just bought the two issues I need to catch up on that.   (Also, there's a nifty 60% off TMNT sale.   One was on sale for four bucks, and I got half off that, so yes.)   After this, I'm going to flood you with reviews.   And I am truly sorry for that.   But I've found the motivation I need to read comics again, as I've been slowly dealing with Secret Empire.

 

And, ugh, desperately wanting to read Secret Empire #4 because Pym-tron, and I kinda love that literal mashup of character.   Ugh.   Ugh, gross, ugh, but I maaaaay check out that issue in print and flip through it, though I refuse to purchase it. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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review 2017-04-30 22:23
Um, yes, please!
Quantum Teens Are Go #1 - Black Mask Studios

I have a short fuse right now, between people still talking about Richard Spencer like he shouldn't be punched in the face - guys, guys, I just researched and found he's called for "Black Genocide" or at least eugenics of black people, so I am now 100% on board okay with him getting punched in the face again, Marvel turning Magneto into a nazi, and the tire place dicking me around.   (Thanks, what I really wanted was my tire to constantly deflate like it does.   Made an online appointment for Wednesday, but fuck that noise: I'm going in tomorrow morning and saying 'you've been dicking me around on lots of things, FIX THIS!!!!)   I had to go to them THREE times for one thing, and now this tire thing is making me mad at them. 

 

Basically I have little patience for things, and I will call out all the problematic shit.   Like Kim and Kim, which was written by the same author, this comic deals with a trans woman, and includes friction between her and a parent.   With Kim, it was her father who loved her deeply, but still thought of her as a son.   With Natalie - once Brandon - her mother is having a tough time dealing with the transition, and still calling Nat 'Brandon.'   She also seems to think that Natalie has changed since the transition, and is side eying the things Natalie is doing, like sneaking out to meet boys.   Specifically her boyfriend, although to be fair they're not doing what Nat's mom thinks.   (Sex, I'm sure.   I'm not sure she'd be relieved to learn they're stealing things from defunct science labs to build a spaceship, that accidentally turned into plans for a time machine because sometimes that's how building a spaceship goes.)

 

I've read a bit about the author, who wants to tell a story about a trans character that isn't, as she describes it, toxic.   (And I'm trusting her on this; she's a trans woman and I am not.   I do see a struggle with family members as a theme in her works, but I suspect that may be built on personal experience.   I suspect this because the parents do struggle, but also still love their children deeply and don't disown them, or deny them safety or protection, due to the transition.   In other words, there's just enough that's the same between the two that I see a pattern that may very well be personal experience, thus my suspicions.)

 

Another thing that Kim and Kim and Quantum Teens have in common is batshit insane science fiction fun.   Kim and Kim was little more off the wall, but I read the whole first series; this may grow to match, or exceed, the previous series.    And as always, the author has fun with her stories, and it shines through this.   The thing is that while the stories being told are for trans women - and people, they're also fun.   (And the introduction to Kim and Kim talked about trans people not getting happy endings; the author herself talks about avoiding toxic tropes and storylines when it comes to the trans community.   It would be a hard case to make that these stories aren't written for the trans community.)    The classic feel of the science fiction - that is the pure fun of possibilities, no matter how weird or off-the-wall - makes this more accessible.   And look, I'd be interested without that aspect, but I'm more interested with it, because I like that kind of story.   And there's no reason the writer can't do both - she clearly can, because Kim and Kim was popular enough to get her a contract for three more stories - but I think by not focusing purely on a more biographical story about being trans, and making it something else, it made the story more accessible to more people due to the two areas of interest that these stories present.   (Although I think there's a better reason for doing both, and one that makes the story the most accessible of all: the writer not only cares about trans issues, but is telling stories that she finds fun.   She's telling the stories the way she wants, and her pleasure in writing these makes it all the more fun to read.)

 

Love, love, love!

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review 2017-04-30 03:56
What Amanda Wants
More Than Words, Volume 2 - Debbie Macomber,Sharon Sala,Jasmine Cresswell

In continuing with rereading the Blossom Street Series by Debbie Macomber I read the short story "What Amanda Wants" in this book.  This story by Debbie Macomber continues along with the Blossom Street series right after the second book, A Good Yarn. Some of the Characters introduced in A Good Yarn are also in this story.  

 

This book contains 5 short stories about inspiring women.  What Amanda Wants is a story about a teenager who finds out her cancer has come back and this time it is worse than before.  She misses out on a lot of things that teenagers look forward to like dances and graduation.  Her friends drift away because they don't know what to do or say.  This isn't just a sad story though and Lydia that owns the yarn store, A good Yarn, wants to help. Read the story to find out how she makes a difference.  

 

That story is also in the book called Stories of the Heart by Debbie Macomber (Goodreads Author), Brenda Novak (Goodreads Author), Meryl Sawyer 

ISBN 0373837690 (ISBN13: 9780373837694)

 

The other stories are also very good.  I've read them before but this time I'm just reading the first one that is part of the Blossom Street series.  The first time I read this book and then swapped it.  I had to get another copy and this time I'm keeping it. 

 

 

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