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How did I read 45 books already this year? Teen and adult WIB

March 5, 2013

Oops, yeah, it’s March.

Sorry.  I have been very, very, VERY sick over these past two months.  Reading is probably something I should be doing LESS of, which you know is very difficult for me, but because a lot of what I’m dealing with is motion sickness, the constant eye motion just makes me feel bleh.  Yet I’ve found a couple of ways around it.  Closing one eye seems to work better than having both open.  And, also?  Graphic novels.  Because it’s not the same repetitive motion.

Anyway, January:

First book I read this year was Jim Butcher’s latest Dresden Files, Cold Days.  Harry falls further down the rabbit hole–or the fairy hole, or whatever–and it’s just as solid as the middle books that made me love the series.  (This is one of the few series where I liked it enough to keep reading and then OMG MY FAVORITE.)  I do recognize a lot of the problems in it, especially the Big One–Harry, and probably Butcher, struggles with trying to be Mr Chivalry in a world that doesn’t need it, and then in this book, Harry is pretty much tempted with the Dark Side, which includes all those “animal nature” things that lead to having the idea that women need to be protected and whatnot.  And Butcher can’t keep upping the stakes, can he?  This one didn’t seem to be as upped as the mid-season “finale” that was, but honestly, how could you?  I think I cried my way through the whole damn book.  But this one was just good.  Fairies, which are never my favorite things, but some people like them (“They’re good for people who like them,” my daughter’s friend says, trying to be tactful and failing adorably), and they’re a necessary part of the world, so I can even put aside my general dislike.  Heck, it’s fantasy, and I don’t even generally like fantasy, so I had to put aside my general dislike to begin with.  Urban fantasy is always better than any other kind, though, in my opinion.  At least then I rarely have to memorize a glossary, ROBERT JORDAN.

Next, I read Paul Dini’s Batman: Arkham City, which is a prequel to the game, and I was disappointed on all fronts.  PAUL DINI.  AWESOME VIDEO GAME.  PREQUEL.  Yet…it doesn’t quite work.  My husband says there are a couple of continuity errors, which–whyyyyy?  There shouldn’t be!  But yeah.  It’s good if you like, you know, comics, but if you’re expecting excellence, not so much.

When Will You Rise?: Stories to End the World is Mira Grant’s two-novella (if that) book set in the Newsflesh universe where her awesomest books reside.  I’ve actually read some reviews that say that the second story is NOT set in the Newsflesh universe, which makes a lot more sense to me, but either way–well, whatever.  This will add to that which was previously read, but I wouldn’t suggest it on its own.

I also read Shadow Show: All-New Stories in Celebration of Ray Bradbury.  Like most anthologies, it was a bit hit or miss, and Gaiman’s tribute left me feeling like I hadn’t read nearly enough Bradbury, nor would I, to ever completely get it, not in my entire life.  Harlan Ellison’s was awful.  I don’t get it.  Or why his name is trademarked?  I guess that’s just a thing?  But there were some good stories in there too.  Check them out yourself, basically.  In short story anthologies, especially ones I read a few weeks ago, I don’t really feel like I can point to this one or that one and say “THIS IS THE BEST” or whatever.  Short story isn’t my preferred form of reading.

Uglies: Shay’s Story and, later in the month, Uglies: Cutters, are graphic novels set in Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies universe.  They follow main character Tally’s best friend, Shay, through her very different experiences.  The stories are written by Westerfeld and comic book–okay, if I say how I think she gets treated, I have a terrible fear that someone will Google her name and that’s how she’ll be known forever, so I’m not going to say it, so let’s just go with: Devin Grayson.  And the stories are fine.  The art by Steven Cummings, however, sucks.  There’s no huge difference between the Uglies and the Pretties, and while some people will tell you that’s just because it’s all PERCEIVED by the residents of the universe, I will tell you instead: FORGET THAT.  One of the reasons why I get so upset with the movie version of A Wrinkle in Time is that the actress who plays Meg is cute.  Other people are like, “Come on, Meg just THINKS she’s hideous.”  Look, I’m not saying Meg is a troll.  I AM saying that it’s okay to say yes, most people have an “awkward phase” where it just ain’t pretty.  Even the prettiest kids can be ravaged by acne and growth spurts that make them gangly and unbalanced, or hit that period of time where they quit sports for social acitivites and end up with an ego-crushing weight gain.  IT’S OKAY.  IT HAPPENS.  In the book, even Meg’s mom is like “You will grow out of this.”  She doesn’t say “You’re the most beautiful girl in the world and fooling yourself about all this awkward nonsense.”  She knows Meg hit an awkward patch.  My own daughter hit an akward patch around, oh, twelve or so.  It wasn’t that she wasn’t still pretty; it was more like we had to wait for puberty to remember she was pretty.  And then it’s a self-perpetuating thing, because one you ding a kid’s ego, BAM.  They’re down in the dumps and it’s harder to come out.  Not that it was that bad with my kid, but yeah, we all get awkward.  (I did the quit-sports-gain-weight thing at that age, myself.  SUCH a bad idea.  What was my mom thinking?)  My husband had a mullet.  Not an on-purpose one, either.  IT HAPPENS.  IT SHOULD BE PART OF THIS WORLD.  So that was my big complaint there: the art.  Otherwise, it’s an interesting story.  Would’ve rather read it in a novel though.

I had to do Ready Player One for the book club, and instead of rereading the book, I got the audiobook through ILL.  What a good idea!  I have a bit of a crush on Wil Wheaton (man, I read your blog before it was cool), and have been enjoying him on The Guild and Big Bang Theory (because it took me forever to get to these things, because other people were cooler there).  It was just as fun to listen to the book as it was to read it, and I had to pause to crack up when Wheaton reads words like “holodeck” and “Wil Wheaton.”  It really got me through being sick, and I love it so.  Looking forward to the movie, but I won’t be rereading it before then, because I refuse to nitpick.  I REFUSE.

I read The Boys, Volume 1: The Name of the Game by Garth Ennis, with art by Darick Robinson.  Look, I knew what I was getting into with Ennis.  I’ve read Preacher and whatnot.  But I really did think the violence was a bit much.  I mean, it would’ve been just as effective with SOME gross moments, instead of a LOT of gross moments.  We’ve proven that comics can be violent, so now can’t we focus on storytelling instead?  I guess not.  Which is too bad; I liked the story.  I even didn’t mind that Robinson makes one of his characters very obviously Simon Pegg, when usually that stuff bugs me.  (Actually, I got over the Samuel L. Jackson thing pretty quickly too.  Oh God.  Gimme a second here.  I just had a flashback to going to see Iron Man for the first time and screaming and crying in the theater about Samuel L. Jackson and then having to explain WHY.  You think you can just take these things for granted but, God, could there have been a better fan(gender) moment?  I’d had NO IDEA.)  So yeah, good times, except…ew.  Maybe I just don’t have the stomach for it anymore.

A huge switch, then, to David Levithan’s Every Day, the story of a person–A–who wakes up in a different body every morning.  Every day a guy, or a girl, or whatever; it is only that the body will be the same age as A.  That’s it.  Unfortunately, A has fallen in love.  What does this mean?  It means an examination of gender, of sexuality, of perception–outer and inner.  Levithan is a little indulgent, and gets a bit Lesson-y at times, but he’s never completely heavy-handed, and A’s story is completely engrossing.  Highly, highly recommended.

Kyle Baker put his stuff online to read for free, and I must also recommend You Are Here, a comedy of errors–sort of–about a criminal trying to go straight, for love.  Sort of.  It’s so much fun, and I really enjoyed the ending.  I <3 Baker, love his retro style, loved his Plastic Man, love love love You Are Here.  Will be reading more of him in the future.

Hester Browne has a new one out, called The Runaway Princess, and I figured I had to give it a go.  Her Little Lady Agency books are great, although it hurt to watch a character get so dumped on, but I wasn’t as crazy about The Finishing Touches, although I did enjoy it.  (Oh, I missed one in between there, published in 2011.  Will have to order it.)  But I LOVED The Runaway Princess.  (Oh, it’s because our library never got it.  Weird.)  Really, it was wonderful, the perfect fun read.  Bless Hester Browne for giving me someone I liked even when she was shopping.  Do you know how rare that is? (The only thing I hate more than shopping is reading about shopping.)

Ugh, then I read R.L. Stine’s Red Rain, his first grown-up scary novel.  It is scary, if scary is randomly, occasionally gory.  It is good, if good means bad.  It is REALLY REALLY BAD, y’all.  It’s chock full o’horror cliches, bad writing, people who don’t ask questions, things that aren’t explained, and every character being flat and boring or flat, boring, and inconsistent.  I’ll admit, I didn’t see the “twist” at the end (not the one at the VERY end that made it seem like an episode of The Hitchhiker circa 1989, the one right before it), but um, that was like the only good thing it had going for it once the action heads north.  I don’t even get why he wrote it.  Maybe he needed some cash?

Then I read Raina Telgemeier’s Smile, because I always meant to.  It’s the very cute story of a girl and her braces and her, you know, life and times and dramas.   Highly recommended for J readers. 

Interview with the Vampire: Claudia’s Story was kind of an indulgence for me–actually, I wouldn’t even call it that.  It was a bit of a lark for me.  I knew I wasn’t going to love it; and I figured I might well hate it.  I didn’t, either of those things.  The art is sumptuous, but it doesn’t give us more than what the written pages do, really.  It shows her less inhuman, I think, and more relatable than I remember, but as the story goes on, it pulls back (as Louis does in the book, really), and never takes us into her head the way it should.  The idea of not having to rely on one of the most unreliable narrators in the world was pretty tempting; it’s too bad it doesn’t get the job done.  I really did enjoy Ashley Marie Witter’s art, though.

Days of Blood and Starlight is the sequel to Daughter of Smoke and Bone, and Laini Taylor takes us to dark, slow places that some readers will find themselves easily bored with.  I loved it, but it was hard, heavy reading.  The main characters are now embroiled in a war, and war is not pretty.  The light moments are there, and they really endear you to the characters, but for the most part: war.  Dreary, unending war.

He Noticed I’m Alive–and Other Hopeful Signs by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat (of Nate the Great fame) is the first book of two where I’d only read the second when I was a kid.  Wow, does it really help to have read the first.  I got it…somewhere?…and was surprised by how funny and clever it was.  So then I got the book I used to own through ILL, called Two Guys Noticed Me–and Other Miracles, and I was disappointed that it wasn’t as good as the first.  It’s much goofier, and seems to forget the main character’s aversion to her affluent lifestyle.  Still, I’m glad I went down that nostalgia path.

That brings us to February (although Two Guys is from them; I kind of cheated since I was discussing the one).  Next up: more Leivthan, a reread of the book that turned me vegan, a lot more comics, the new Gayle Forman, and more!

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