Comics Round-Up

This past weekend was a long one for me, and I spent two of the three days off work putting a sizable dent in my graphic novel TBR stack (with mostly excellent results). Beautiful Darkness, by Fabien Vehlmann and  Kerascoët : four stars. This book basically just revels in how horrible people are. The characters aren’t particularly…

The Plain Janes, by Cecil Castellucci and Jim Rugg

Three stars, read in December 2015. A middle grade graphic novel about a group of girls who form a “secret art gang,” sneaking out at night to create works of art in public spaces all around their city.  This was disappointing because the premise is awesome, but the delivery is so cliche it’s almost—but not—a…

Sensation Comics Featuring Wonder Woman, Vol. 1, by Gail Simone

Three stars, read in September 2015. I did not realize, and ended up loving, that this was an anthology, each comic produced by a different team. Only one was terrible: “No Chains Can Hold Her,” in which Supergirl and Mary Marvel feature, which is cool, but (1) I truly hate the Golden Age illustration style, (2)…

The Color of Earth, by Kim Dong Hwa

Three stars for the series, but five stars for the first book alone. Read in September 2013. There was quite a bit of buildup for this book before I was finally able to read it. I lived in Utah at the time, and I’d been hearing a lot about it in connection with Banned Books…

Silas Marner, by George Eliot

Three stars, read in December 2015. I remember starting this book in seventh grade, though I didn’t get far. (It was around the same time I attempted the unabridged Les Miserables, so maybe I was just overwhelmed by my own ambition.) It took me almost twenty years to pick it up again, but I’m so glad to…

50 Women Artists You Should Know, by Christiane Weidemann

Three stars, read in July 2015. I picked this up expecting to just glance through it, but I ended up reading the whole thing. I also thought I would recognize several of the artists, but it turned out I’d only heard of Frida Kahlo, Georgia O’Keeffe, and Mary Cassatt. I feel like that’s embarrassing, but then…

Furiously Happy / Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, by Jenny Lawson

Furiously Happy: Five stars, read in October 2015. Let’s Pretend This Never Happened: Three stars, read in October/November 2015. I really needed to know about Jenny Lawson a long time ago. She’s a blogger who became famous, partly because she’s insanely funny, partly because of the conversation she fosters about mental illness. Like her legions of followers, what…

Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline

Three, maybe three and a half stars, read in March 2016. It’s taken me forever to write this review, mostly because I keep questioning whether there’s even a point in writing it. I feel like I didn’t have the experience I should have had with the book, but I’m glad I read it. My husband has been…

Comics Round-Up

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Vol. 1: Squirrel Power, by Ryan North and Erica Henderson Four stars. This is by far the funniest Marvel comic I’ve read yet. Squirrel Girl is such an upbeat, confident character; she solves problems with ass-kicking, yes, but also empathy and creative thinking, and that is cool. The “screenshots” of tweets between…

Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress, by Marissa Meyer

Three stars, read in February 2014. This series isn’t the most elegantly written, to be honest; I actually speed-read large sections of Cinder and didn’t feel like I was missing anything. But I love the idea of a sci-fi fairy tale adaptation, as well as the fact that the series features so many girl action heroes. Each of…

Paddle Your Own Canoe, by Nick Offerman

Three and a half stars, read in November 2015. This is really enjoyable and I love Nick Offerman, but I’m a bit more than halfway through and have thirteen different books going at once and it’s getting hectic so I need to give it up for now. I fully intend to finish this at some…

Gilead, by Marilynne Robinson

Three stars, read in December 2015. I wish I had read this book ten years ago, or even five, because I know it would have meant much more to me back then. So many beautiful philosophical thoughts are expressed by the book’s narrator, especially toward the beginning, and I was enthralled for the first several…

Ancillary Justice, by Ann Leckie

Three stars, read in February 2016. Intriguing from the first pages, this is science fiction that you don’t have to be an avid science fiction fan to appreciate. Breq, the protagonist, is an ancillary—an AI in a human body. At the beginning of the book, she is only that one body, but twenty years ago…

Exegesis, by Astro Teller

Three stars, read in January 2016. It’s surprisingly difficult to pin down what I think of this book, which I found as part of the Reader’s Room Winter Scavenger Hunt (for the library excursion, item 12). I read it in about two hours, which sort of gave me the impression of loving it, but it’s really just…

Black Widow: Forever Red, by Margaret Stohl

Three stars, read in January 2016. I enjoyed the buildup of the first 150 or so pages unconflicted, but man I am just not equipped to tolerate YA romance anymore—especially in a book like this where the bar starts out so much higher than usual, with not just one but two kickass female protagonists. Natasha…

The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Three and a half stars, first read in fall 2001, read again June 2013. It seems like most people have strong reactions to this book—they either love it or hate it. (I actually didn’t know anyone hated it until I reread it last year, but apparently they do. I suppose this makes sense, for the…

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, by Marie Kondo

Three stars, read in January 2016. Almost every time I was skeptical about something in this book, Marie Kondo persuaded me to give it a try. (I haven’t tried yet, but I now want to.)  This is significant to me because I am stubborn about many things, lazy about others, and picky about the way I organize. I don’t…

The Unspeakable, by Meghan Daum

Three stars, read in November/December 2015. There are a few things I have in common with Meghan Daum that I’ve never known another person to share, at least not to the same degree (and they’re things about which degree really matters). Most of her essays contain some opinions that I find obnoxious—like the many actually…

What My Mother Doesn’t Know, by Sonya Sones

Three stars, read for Banned Books Week in 2011. This book was not as engaging as other young adult romance I’ve read—Sarah Dessen, E. Lockhart, Judy Blume, Louise Rennison, Laurie Halse Anderson, Lauren Myracle, Carolyn Mackler, Phyllis Reynolds Naylor all do it much better—but I have to admit I do like the ones that are…

French Women Don’t Get Fat, by Mireille Guiliano

Three stars, read January/February 2013. Guiliano is a little smug about the brilliance of the French, and that is worth an occasional eye-roll. I also can’t help but doubt just a tiny bit that unhealthy eating habits are quite so rare in France as she claims they are (but then again, the book was written almost ten years…

Longbourn, by Jo Baker

Three stars, read in February 2014. I really don’t do Jane Austen fanfiction, or adaptations or whatever you want to call them; I love Austen’s books, but I don’t love her as a Thing (in Internetspeak), and the fanfiction has just never appealed to me. I have to admit that I roll my eyes every…

Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk, by David Sedaris

Three stars, read January 2012. I’ve been meaning to read David Sedaris for so long, and this was my first go. I haven’t quite figured out his style yet, although it’s obviously satirical—he makes fun of an awful lot of different kinds of people in this book. But I need to check out a few…

Confessions of a Closet Catholic, by Sarah Darer Littman

Three and a half stars, read January 2012. It was cheesy—really cheesy—but I loved the premise of this book. The protagonist is eleven-almost-twelve, a Jewish girl who decides to give up being Jewish for Lent. Her best friend is Catholic, and Justine really wants to be, too—so she sets up a confessional in her closet with her…

A Story Lately Told / Watch Me, by Anjelica Huston

  Three stars, read in April and October of 2015. As is often the case with memoirs written by people famous for something other than writing, A Story Lately Told is essentially a stream of consciousness collection of anecdotes and names. Huston mentions a lot of famous people, describes a lot of rooms, and tells a…

The Infographic Guide to Life, the Universe, and Everything, by Thomas Eaton

Three stars, read in February 2015. This book is enjoyable and beautifully put together, but some of the infographics are repetitive, hard to understand, or just plain bizarre. Out of 80 infographics, for example, twelve are about space, which is one every six or seven pages. There’s one showing relative brain size for different species…

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, by Alan Bradley

Three stars, read in 2010. The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie is a murder mystery starring a precocious eleven-year-old British girl and her eccentric family. To be honest, I’m not sure what the appeal of the book was to me; I did enjoy reading it, but when I think back on it, I can’t remember why….

Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte

Three and a half stars, read (finally!) in November 2010. This book has been on my shelf since before I can remember. I’ve seen a few of the movie adaptations and I started reading it once or twice, but I never got past Jane’s years at Lowood. So when I created the “books I own but haven’t read…

Saturday Night Widows, by Becky Aikman

Three stars, read February/March 2014. I like the concept a lot, but I was very aware of how Sex and the City these women were. You can’t help wondering how the project would have gone down among people who don’t have summer homes and glamorous Manhattan brownstones and “Paris was one of our favorite places”…