I Hate Fairyland Vol. 4: Sadly Never After

•November 5, 2018 • Leave a Comment

In the final volume of I Hate Fairyland by Skottie Young, Gertrude is trapped in Hell, a new Evil has come to destroy Fairyland, and Gert is the only one who can save the realm. Will she agree to battle the villain and save Fairyland? Will she finally get to go home after 40 years? I won’t tell, but I will say that I’m saddened by the fact that the series is over. Young has other commitments and wanted to give Gert the ending he envisioned for her now, rather than let the quality of Fairyland suffer. I can respect that even as I mourn the loss.

This final volume is full of the same great art, wild colors, and graphic gore that I’ve come to expect from Fairyland. When I read the first volume, I remember being both horrified and unable to look away. Fairyland is violent, gross, and oh-so-wrong, and Gert is an absolute menace, but I love her and I love the story.

Lumberjanes Issues #41-44

•November 3, 2018 • Leave a Comment

I did not read comic books when I was a kid. It just wasn’t a medium that appealed to me. Thanks to the magical bookish community that is Litsy, I finally gave comic books and graphic novels a go about two years ago, and Lumberjanes was my gateway drug of choice.

Lumberjanes is an all-ages comic created by Shannon Waters, Grace Ellis, Noelle Stevenson, and Brooklyn Allen, published by BOOM!Box. It’s set at a very special summer camp for girls: Miss Qiunzella Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet’s Camp for Hardcore Lady-Types, and focuses on the adventures of Roanoke Cabin’s five campers and their long-suffering camp counselor.

I believe these issues, which form the “Time after Crime” story arc will be bound into Vol. 11, which has not yet been released. While I know I’m not the target audience, I love these comics. The characters are wonderful, quirky, smart, and loving girls. Each issue has great life lessons on acceptance (of self and of others), leadership, love, friendship, and hard work. These are girls who aren’t perfect, but who are doing their best, and I think they make good role models. If I had kids, I’d absolutely encourage them to read this series.

The art has changed significantly over time. Originally illustrated by Brooke Allen, issues 41-44 are drawn by Ayme Sotuyo. I prefer the original style, but the coloring is still done by Maarta Laiho, and the colors are gorgeous and inviting. The storylines remain strong and true to the theme of “friendship to the max” introduced in the very first issue. If you are looking for a fun escape that will leave you smiling, I highly recommend this series.

Mandela and the General

•October 29, 2018 • Leave a Comment

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher through LibraryThing’s early reviewer program in exchange for my honest review.

Mandela and the General is a brief history, in graphic novel format, of the end of apartheid in South Africa and how that came to pass. It’s based primarily on an interview the author conducted with General Constand Viljoen. The book does have some good details, but I feel like this is a case where less is not more, and I was left feeling dissatisfied. I wanted more information on this pivotal time in South African history, as this barely scratched the surface.

Part of the problem may be that I am not the target audience, and I can see where this would be a good introduction to Mandela’s history for a middle school student, something that would whet their appetite for further study. It lacked real depth. Another issue for me was the artwork. I didn’t care for it, and when you don’t like the art in a graphic novel, that makes it difficult to enjoy the story.

Overall, I’d give it 2.5 of 5 stars. I can see its value for a younger audience, but I wanted more.

Firestarter

•October 29, 2018 • Leave a Comment

FirestarterStephen King is a hit or miss author for me. It seems that I either love his novels or am so bored by them that I bail. I’m late to the party for Firestarter. I remember seeing the movie at an inappropriately young age, but I never picked up the book. Instead, my first foray into the King canon as a teenager consisted of It (bailed), “The Body” (enjoyed – but it was the only one of the short stories in Different Seasons that I read), Pet Sematary (bailed), and The Eyes of the Dragon (LOVED!!). In my early 20s, I read The Gunslinger and The Drawing of the Three, but didn’t make it through The Wastelands. I own two complete sets of the The Dark Tower series. Maybe someday I’ll try again to read them.

I took a break from King’s work for decades and once again, thanks to Litsy, have started dipping my toe back in the water. I read Duma Key earlier this year, and loved it. I bailed on The Stand (do you see the pattern here?). Then, October arrived. The Litsy buddy read that I co-host, which is attempting to read all of Stephen King’s works in publication order, finally came to Firestarter. Because I have a vague recollection of the film and I adore Drew Barrymore, I decided I would not “ghost host” this month. Instead of  just posting the discussion thread for the book, I would actually read along with my fellow book lovers.

I cannot fully express how glad I am that bought a copy of this book and cracked it open. Despite severe migraines Friday and Saturday, I had trouble putting Firestarter down. The prose is brilliant. King sucks you into the story from the very beginning and never lets go. The story opens with two college students who sign up to be part of a one-day experiment to earn some extra cash. If this book doesn’t serve as a warning on the dangers of signing up to be a guinea pig for medical trials, I don’t know what will! The two students end up getting married and have a child, a daughter, who is born with special “gifts” thanks to the effects of the drug her parents both received as part of the experiment. The most obvious and terrifying of her gifts is pyrokinesis – the ability to start fires with her mind.

The scariest part of this novel to me isn’t Charlie’s ability to start fires. By far, the most terrifying aspect is the government hunt for her family, the lengths the Shop goes to in order to capture her and study her. Even before that, just the fact that the government is engaged in the initial drug study, testing hallucinogens, trying to build super soldiers, is so believable and frightening.

I don’t want to say anything more about the plot, as I really think you should read the book for yourself. My mass market paperback copy is 564 pages, but believe me, they fly by and the book is over before you know it. Often, I feel like King needs a stronger editor to cull his books down (I’m looking at you, The Stand), but Firestarter is a taut thriller that I sped through. I’m not sure if it’s enough to knock The Eyes of the Dragon off the all-time favorite Stephen King novel pedestal, but it’s definitely top three. 4.5 stars.

The Princess Saves Herself in this One

•October 26, 2018 • Leave a Comment

princess

I hate poetry. There. I said it. Take away my English degree if you must, but it’s just not a genre/writing style that I enjoy, as a general rule. Every time I encounter a poetry category on a reading challenge, I groan. Last year’s Book Riot Read Harder challenge had a category that was something along the lines of “a book of poetry in translation on a subject other than love”. What? That was a challenge to find and an even bigger challenge to get through.

This year, The Reading Women challenge has a category for a collection of poetry written by a woman. Thankfully, being written by a woman is the only restriction. What’s even better is that this challenge is the only one out of nine that I’m participating in that has a poetry-only category. I went onto The Reading Women’s Goodreads page to try to find ideas and had originally thought to read Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur because it’s available on Hoopla (free through my library, yay!), but there’s another category on that challenge that it proving challenging to find a fit for, and I’m going to use Milk and Honey for that. So, I decided to give Amanda Lovelace’s poetry a chance.

I feel like I have said this a lot lately, but it was not at all what I expected. This collection is broken up into four sections. The entire thing reads very quickly, but I question how well the eBook is formatted compared to print. I think it would be better to read this in print, but I was looking for easy, instant access and free, so I went with borrowing it from Hoopla. Maybe stop reading here if you are worried about spoilers, because I don’t know how spoiler free I can be. You’ve been warned. I take no responsibility if you continue and hit a spoiler.

This starts out with some really gut-wrenching writing about abuse that the author suffered. It is not an easy read, by any means. I was horrified and deeply saddened, and if it hadn’t been for the challenge prompt, I’d have walked away. Lovelace does a brilliant job of evoking emotion, sharing her pain, with very few words. She goes on to write poems about finding oneself, being one’s own knight in shining armor, losing family members, and love. I didn’t enjoy all of it, but even the ones that  I didn’t directly connect were still dripping with sincerity and emotion. Best of all, it ends with a very positive, hopeful note, so while I initially wanted to run away from it, I was able to turn off my iPad and go to sleep feeling happy.

I will continue to say that I hate poetry. I will not go out of my way to read it and will whine whenever a reading challenge has a poetry category. It’s just who I am. However, I am not sorry that I gave this one a chance, and if you’re looking for a quick option to check a box, I don’t think you can go wrong with this one. Be prepared to feel like you’ve been kicked in the stomach, especially if you are an empathetic person.

(Screenshot credit from Hoopla on my iPhone with background from PicCollage)

Ghostland

•October 25, 2018 • Leave a Comment

Ghostland: An American History in Haunted Places by Colin Dickey is a book I picked up in 2016 thanks to Liberty Hardy and her podcast, All The Books. I must not have been paying attention when she gave her glowing recommendation because this book is not anything like what I expected. That’s not a bad thing, though.

This is less a tale of hauntings and more a look at why we attribute supernatural events to certain places. It’s more psychology/sociology focused than I anticipated, and it’s wonderful. Dickey looks at a variety of places, from homes to hospitals, prisons to entire cities, and discusses how elements of architecture and historic events play into the development of lore and tales of hauntings. The concept of “ruin porn”, particularly as it relates to cities like Detroit, was especially interesting and heartbreaking.

If you have an interest in history and what it says about the human condition, I highly recommend this book. It’s not scary, in a horror novel way, but it will make you think. Real people are the scariest monsters in my opinion.

Inheritance

•October 23, 2018 • 1 Comment

My grandmother passed away on Labor Day. In part because my mother was with her when she passed, her dog has become part of my household. You could say I’ve inherited a 7-year old, 10 lb chihuahua. His name is Scooter, because he stretches out on his tummy and scoots at a high rate of speed across the floor. It’s hysterical. What’s even funnier is when he and Bailey do it together.

It’s been a challenge merging the two households because Bailey is still adjusting and Mom was gone for so much of the time Bails has been here, that they are getting used to each other, too. And poor Scooter is seriously traumatized. He’s lost his #1 human and his home, and relocated to the other side of the country. He has to get used to an entirely different climate and learn to share room and board with a really big dog.

Bails still isn’t entirely sure what to make of this relatively new addition, and I’ll be honest, I’m not either. I’ve never been a fan of small breed dogs. I’ve been bitten twice by a dog that wasn’t my own, and both times were by small breeds. I’m actually more scared of small dogs than I am of Dobermans, Rottweilers, or Pit Bulls. Many of the ones I’ve encountered are Napoleonic terrors. But, Scooter seems to have accepted me, and with the help of a trainer, we are all learning how to be a cohesive pack. They are now actively playing with each other, including play bows, and apparently they have a game where Scooter runs full tilt into Bailey and she rolls him over with her nose. As I type, Bailey is snoring at the foot of my bed, and Scooter is curled up on the large dog bed down below.

I’ve often heard that you may not get the dog you want, but you always get the dog you need. Bailey has helped heal my heart after I lost Pilot and Scooter is definitely teaching me lessons in compassion, patience, and understanding, and chipping away at my small breed prejudices. I think Gammy would be pleased.