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Earning my keep: ARC reviews from BEA, beginning with Ernest Cline’s Armada

August 24, 2015

Having recently finished a handful of Advanced Reader Copies (or ARCs) that I received at Book Expo America, I decided to seek out some advice on what to do with them. I wanted to be sure that I could not shelve them in my library.

I ran across this article, and I saw far, far too much of myself in it. Although I have never sent an angry email or felt like someone SHOULD have given me a book, I have felt entitled to the ARCs I receive just because I bought a ticket to BEA.

I get literally over one hundred ARCs per year, sometimes over 150. I don’t read all of them. Some sit on a shelf in my room as I take out library books and reread old favorites. I give many, if not most, of them to local libraries to use as prizes for summer reading programming, but then there will still be a handful that I swear I will read “someday.”

“Someday” will not help the publishing companies, and “someday” is not what they gave me that book in exchange for.

So today I’m going to start seriously reviewing the ARCs I’ve read thus far from BEA 2015.

The first book I began with was the one I said I was going to begin with: Ernest Cline’s Armada. Cline bowled me over with his book Ready Player One a few years ago, and I’ve never met anyone who didn’t enjoy it. When I first finished Armada, this is what I posted to Goodreads: This is probably really a 3.5. Early pacing is uneven; it feels like a short story that needs editing or a bigger novel that didn’t quite happen. But it entertained me. It was exciting and interesting and fun. I now need a jacket for my Armada patch.

So, okay, technically I reviewed the book in exchange for an advanced copy. But that is the least I could have done. Let me discuss the book in a little more detail. There shouldn’t be any big spoilers here.

With Ready Player One, we are entrenched in ’80s nostalgia by way of plot: the whole world is on an ’80s themed scavenger hunt created by a man who grew up in the ’80s. In Armada, the main character is a teenager who grew up worshiping his father, who grew up close enough to the ’80s that the ’80s become a focus for the teenager as well. For some readers, this isn’t hitting as well, but I find that ridiculous. My generation is dumping ’80s nostalgia by the truckload on our children. My daughter saw Clue and Ghostbusters before she saw any non-animated movie from her own generation.

This teenager sees a spaceship from his favorite video game hovering in the air above his hometown, and then a whole lot of stuff happens from there, once you deal with a  chapter or three of “here’s his life so far.” It feels like it was written backward–the reader can easily become bored with the drop-off in action–but it picks up after that and stays face-paced for most of the rest of the book. What has upset many readers is that the plot is similar to that of The Last Starfighter. That’s not a movie I watched over and over again (unlike Clue), so my memory of it is vague, but I know enough to know that’s not what Cline is going for here: Cline is asking instead, What if The Last Starfighter Knew About The Last Starfighter? Cline works well in a meta-world, and makes some really interesting, subtle points about the cynicism and optimism of the post-Gen X world.

And of course it also works as a big-budget movie. Because of course it would. It should!

Armada likely isn’t half the book Ready Player One was, but I’m okay with that. Until publishing companies understand that the reading public can wait longer than a year for a great author’s second book, we’re going to be getting these rush jobs. I’m not going to hold it against the authors. Armada needed a lot more work, but it’s still a fun, quick read, a good summer read, and I enjoyed it.

Side note: When I got this book signed by the author, he seemed surprised that my daughter had read the book and picked up on a lot of the references. He assumed that she would have an electronic device by her and look up the things she didn’t know, rather than that she’d already been introduced to most of it by me. This is extra-interesting because I feel like I’m part of a generation where we shove all our interests in our children’s faces all the time, especially the geeky parents. I’ve known quite a few little kids who can tell me all about R-rated movies and M-rated television shows because their parents want to share their interests with them (or because the parents don’t censor what their children watch). As someone who forgot exactly how raunchy Clerks was (“HOW?!?” my husband asked), I’ve been guilty of this myself but mostly by accident. But for the most part, many of the things we grew up with in the ’80s are kid-friendly with the occasional sex joke, so of course we’re going to share our favorites with our kids.

I didn’t, however, let my kid watch Ferris Bueller’s Day Off until she was old enough to take a skip day. For reasons.

Next up: children’s books!

Fantastic Four review: Half a good movie

August 16, 2015

[Spoilers.]

Well, I saw it. The first half was great: a solid adaptation of a mash-up Ultimate Fantastic Four and 616, if a little Ben-light. And then something happened. I don’t know what. When they step out into the Negative Zone, or Planet Zero as they call it here, everyone stops being able to act. It’s wooden and the dialog doesn’t help. Reed starts saying all these ill-fitting cliched lines. Then there are a few good, dark scenes about the trauma of going through these incredible physical changes, except Reed’s trying to get to Ben and Ben is calling out to him but Reed isn’t responding even though he’s getting closer and closer and Ben is flat-out panicking. What the hell? Then Reed runs away…and that’s it.

What the absolute fuck?

Then there’s a really odd time jump and we’re a year into the future, where Ben’s being used as a government killing machine and Johnny’s up next, and so Sue tracks down Reed and OH WAIT, I forgot the part where Sue doesn’t even GO despite being one of the original team. It’s only bros, drunk bros at that (which is clever but the lack of Sue is awful). Sue…calls Daddy and rats them out. Sigh. Then she gets hit by whatever and they’re trying REALLY hard to show why everyone got such different powers, except I’m not sure what happened to Reed then?

So Sue tracks down Reed and is like, “Your bestie’s being used by the government whatevs but THEY WANT TO USE MY BROTHER SO WE HAVE TO STOP THIS.”

The weird thing is, other than the murder count Ben’s been racking up, Johnny’s just trying to do something constructive instead of rebelling, and his dad’s telling him how wrong he is, which is some of the worst parenting I’ve seen in a movie since…the cluelessness of the parents in Inside Out. But, frankly, (HAHAHA oops) they were just clueless. Franklin Storm (…sounded weird every time) was flat-out wrong.

So with all this government stuff set up, then they find Doom, which is a whole other issue, on Planet Zero I guess driven mad by 365 days of isolation and possibly um combining with the planet’s energy source/life force thing, which um I think gave him tk, then he blows up heads when they try to bring him back to Earth and starts babbling about his world and destroying ours, which by the way was all Franklin Storm (…still weird) and his mindset so…great job again, Dr. Storm.

I don’t know who gets the worse end of the stick: Ben and his five pre-trip lines of dialog or Doom and his absolutely wonky, shoved-in storyline. Which is too bad. He’s an interesting character in the beginning: he’s dropped out of Dr. Storm’s think tank and he’s arrogant and in love with Sue or at least in love with the idea of being in love with Dr. Storm’s daughter.

Another weird thing was the ages. Miles Teller looks like a teenager. Michael B. Jordan looks like he could be a teenager. Kate Mara looks 25. Victor’s supposed to have been working on the project for ten years, which makes him seem to be about 25, but since Sue’s supposed to be around the same age as Johnny, either Victor’s EXTRA creepy, the ages are off somehow, or Sue’s creepy because she looks way older than Reed.

There’s no luuuurve story with Reed and Sue, just some friendshippy cuteness, which I liked. Victor sees it as flirting, which nah. Pre-flirting, maybe. For two awkward people. I liked how awkward Sue was. Mara’s portrayal of her is great. I just wish they’d aged the character up a bit. Or made Reed older–maybe putting some stuff in about a time skip between the time of the science fair and when he’s recruited?

Anyway.

Yeah. So it was a strong first half and then a muddled mess. The director says that was studio interference, but unless they’re so desperate to break even, they’re not going to let us see what should have been.

Which, they might be desperate to break even, since right now all they’ve done is continue a trend of lackluster FF movies and kept their rights to the characters for another chunk of time.

Sigh.

PS I wish they’d just let the adoption thing not be an issue. Never mention it. It’s an awkward thing for Reed to bring up and I wish Sue had called him on it.

Hypocritical Nerds, or Why I’m Excited for the Fantastic Four Movie

July 29, 2015
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I’ve seen trailers for the Fantastic Four movie twice in the theater now, and both times I’ve felt I was the only person in there that had a positive response to it. On the few websites where I read my news, being the spoilerphobe that I am, you’re lucky to see the occasional “I’m willing to withhold judgment till I see it”–a rare thing on the internet anyway. Mostly, it’s rant after rant on how the movie looks awful, and it’s going to tank, and blah blah blah.

The racism issue aside (although that is a Big Effin Deal and we should keep talking about it), I find this to be extremely hypocritical, given that the movie looks like a fairly faithful adaptation of the great Ultimate Fantastic Four run that started back in 2004. If the fanbase, or nerds if you will, were so thrilled to see the nods to the Ultimate universe first portrayed on the screen by Samuel L. Jackson (whose likeness was used in the comics when the movie was a twinkle in someone’s eye), why have they suddenly turned on UFF? Is it because most of them haven’t read it? Or, like many have posited, it’s just an excuse to bring out the racism?

A little from column A, a little from column B, I guess. Fans are not a monolith any more than any other group, of course, but the trailers are solid. Action, powers, some laughs, a dash of romance. The studio’s even changed the logo that fans hated so much, to a 4 tastefully behind the scenes, rather than up front, which led all of us to call the movie “Fanfourstick.” The posters still have the old logo, but both trailers I saw (I’m pretty sure they were different) had the modified logo, which looks a lot nicer.

I’m going. I’m taking my non-comics-reading friends with me. I will likely enjoy this movie, hopefully more than the bland by-the-numbers Alba/guy from Ringer version we got or its terrible cloud-villain sequel.

I realize it’s not the MCU and therefore the sun won’t shine out of its butt or whatever, but it’s Ultimate Fantastic Four on screen. That’s AWESOME that we’ve come to a place and time where making a straight-up alternate universe version of a superhero team is a legitimate thing that studios are willing to put a lot of money into. Haters gonna hate, but the average nerd should be giving this a chance. After all, if this does well, maybe we could have Red Son Superman or Golden Oldie May Parker.

…Too much?

Wibbing out

July 19, 2015

My laptop has been a hot mess for over a year. If you breathe on it funny, the plug falls out and it dies. If you dare open two programs, it chugs. If you leave Facebook open and it goes to sleep, you have to reboot it–as soon as it finally stops giving you the spinning icon. So when I post, I usually start a draft on my tablet and take it to the laptop only when I need to do things that the tablet isn’t great for. It also means I’m not always looking at my goal lists and my to-do lists. This is probably a good thing, because otherwise I’d feel overwhelmed all the time.

My 2014 WIB list still has over 100 items on it. Let’s see how much I can get through with just a line or two. I’m starting to think I should just write real Goodreads reviews, since trying to write once a week means I get busy and my week is gone, and suddenly it’s a month later.

Chinese Cinderella: The True Story of an Unwanted Daughter by Adeline Yen Mah is the teen version of her book Falling Leaves. I meant to get Falling Leaves, but it had been years since I read another of her books and when I saw Chinese Cinderella, I assumed that was the right book and got it. I think she also did another version for even younger readers. It’s an important story to tell, about what it’s like to be an unloved child, and how some families do not blend well, but I think I would’ve preferred the older version. Good for teens, though.

There is a new translation of Albert Camus’s The Stranger, and I don’t like it. It’s meant to be more noir, a reflection of the author’s intent and influences, but the sentences are often so short that they come off as the narrator being simple-minded rather than terse. It made for a difficult read.

Alethea Kontis’s Enchanted, the beginning of the Woodcutter Sisters series, was not my thing, and I gave up on it pretty quickly. Part of the problem was insta-love; I forget the others by now but I think maybe an anachronistic feel? I gave away the other book I had in the series without even opening it.

Alice Hoffman’s The Museum of Extraordinary Things felt like more of the same and not quite enough from an author I usually really enjoy, if not flat-out love. A disappointment.

I was supposed to read Anthony Trollope’s The Warden for a book club, and while I thought I could read it no problem, I wasn’t in the mood and I didn’t care whether I finished it, so I didn’t. I’ll maybe get back to it one day but it’s not a high priority.

Anne Tyler and I are not what we once were. I used to love The Accidental Tourist, and now I’m not quite sure why. Muriel is incredibly irritating, whereas once she was one of my go-to Manic Pixie Dream Women. I had forgotten that a huge part of Macon’s life revolved around the grief of losing a child. Macon annoyed me; his family annoyed me; I wanted to punch almost everyone in this book. When I read another Tyler this year, I didn’t quite feel the same way, but close. Oh well. I guess I have little tolerance for “quirky” anymore.

I wish I hadn’t finished Becca Fitzpatrick’s Black Ice. It’s a mess of a book, a Harlequin romance mixed with a bad thriller to give us some sort of YA book, but not a good one.

I don’t get the hype over Ann Leckie’s Ancillary Justice. It might just be a harder sci fi than I prefer, or maybe it’s a great book and I don’t see it. But mostly I was confused–not by the gender stuff, but by the plot and the time jumps. It was like two books smooshed into one, when two would’ve been much better.

I also read Foxtrot Beyond a Doubt, Camp FoxTrot, and Wildly Foxtrot, things I do when my daughter leaves her books on the table and walks away. Of them all, Wildly Foxtrot was my least favorite (not that they aren’t all entertaining) but it’s also the oldest, so it seems like maybe Amend came into his own in the late ’90s.

I did some Clive Barker rereading and I’m still of the mind that while Weaveworld is pretty good, it’s a bit draggy and Imajica is the best book he’s ever written, possibly one of the best books ever.  He’s a more visceral Neil Gaiman, and I mean that in the medical sense. Barker immerses himself in a world that has functional bodies: not just the blood-n-occasional-guts of horror, but spit, semen, sweat, and his characters and worlds are richer (if messier) for it. I really want to read his new one, but it’s a bit down the list right now, unfortunately.

I am really enjoying Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 9, and last year I read the first three trades. I always go back and read again when I get a new one, and the latest one always seems not as good as the rest, and then the next one comes out and I see how it all fits together, and then I bump the previous trade from 4 to 5 stars.

I reread Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency for the first time since high school. I have never been a rabid Adams fan; I couldn’t really read dry sarcasm on the page when I was young so British humor was a problem for me with Hitchhiker’s Guide. I had to see a movie version before I realized how good it really was. The end of Dirk Gently is kind of muddled, and holy heck does Adams have an issue with writing women in his books. But other than that I was entertained. Not enough to read the other one again though.

I think Adams was at his best when he wrote Last Chance to See, a non-fiction book about his travels around the world seeking endangered animals. It’s a great book and I highly recommend everyone read it.

While I’m at it, other favorite first-time reads from the year:

Fairest: In All the Land – Bill Willingham can be great. He isn’t always, but he can be. I will miss Fables, despite some of its sexism issues.

Jim Butcher keeps knocking it out of the park in Skin Game, the latest Dresden Files book. This one reads like Butcher binge-watched Leverage, but it’s not loosely disguised fan fiction (KELLEY ARMSTRONG) so I’ll take it. It’s a heist book, woo! I love heists. I’m so excited for Ant-Man.

Jo Walton’s My Real Children is an amazing alternative history book about a woman who has Alzheimer’s and remembers two distinct sets of memories, with different partners and children. It’s the kind of book you can recommend to a wide range of people because it’s literary enough to draw in the literary readers, and spec fic enough to draw in the sf people. The only people you can’t really recommend it to are people who need high levels of action. I loved it. You should read it.

John Scalzi’s Lock In is a near-future thriller in w…

Sigh. The plug fell out.

John Scalzi’s Lock In is a near-future thriller where a portion of the population is completely paralyzed in body but not mind. Technology comes to the rescue, and people can have meaningful lives with manmade bodies or online existence. Chris, who primarily chose the former, is an FBI agent who is assigned to a murder case related to the illness that causes lock-in. Don’t read anything about this book ahead of time, then Google it and have your mind blown.

Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke & Bone series ends with Dreams of Gods & Monsters, a satisfying conclusion, if a bit rushed at the end. Not my usual fare, this YA fantasy series is rich and beautiful, and I recommend it for contemporary fantasies readers.

Not every story in Margaret Atwood’s new collection, Stone Mattress, is five-star, but overall, the book itself is. Here she gives us her look into the minds of average people, artists, murders, victims, including the characters from one of my favorite of her books, The Robber Bride. Sequel-ish!

The first issue of Sex Criminals by Matt Fraction blew me away (no pun intended) and when I bought the first volume, I was even more impressed. I’ve never read anything so good at discussing and portraying sex the way real people discuss and think about sex.

Three more:

I read Orange is the New Black and while I don’t love everything about Piper Kerman, that’s no different than how I feel about the show too. Seriously though, this might be a privileged look at women’s prisons, but it’s still a good one.

Rob Thomas (not THAT Rob Thomas) continues the world of Veronica Mars in two novels, the first of which is The Million Dollar Tan Line. It’s always great to see Veronica again, and the book does the show justice. Excited to read the second…one of these days.

Finally, my favorite book of the year was Rainbow Rowell’s Landline. A romance with a Twilight Zone twist, it’s the story of a woman who’s been working more than her family needs her to. When she chooses to work instead of leave with them for Christmas break, something very strange happens that causes her to reevaluate the relationships in her life. I loved this book so much I made my first decorated cake to celebrate it. It was a delicious but amateur-looking cake. But Rowell appreciated my willingness to embarrass myself for the Greater Book Good, and that’s what matters.

Whew, almost 30 books, right? Good for me. Maybe good for you too? Not just for reading but I hope you’ve found a rec in here somewhere.

(Jillian: My Real Children, it’s all you.)

Until next time…

All the news and footage coming out of ComicCon may be too much for me to handle

July 12, 2015

I’m a spoilerphobe and that’s how it’s going to stay, but I do like early bits of news and teaser trailers. That means this weekend is the best for me, because at San Diego ComicCon everyone likes to give away just enough information for me to pretty much run around in circles all weekend screaming and crying.

Leaked footage is popping up and disappearing all over the internet, but here’s a few links to some of my favorite bits I’ve read and seen so far:

About 15 seconds of X-Men: Apocalypse has been leaked, and Storm’s hair is AMAZING.

I am pretty sure Deadpool said “Fuck Liefeld.” I guess we’re not worried about that R rating anymore.

Suicide Squad Harley impresses. I actually liked what little we got of Leto, too.

Batman V Superman or whatever it’s called does not look terrible in the trailer. Wonder Woman looks thin but mighty. I think the movie will seem coolish in the theater and be crappy on rewatch like Man of Steel, but we’ll see.

The animated Vixen trailer looks so, so good and it has Amell and the Flash actors doing voices!

Merida from Brave is coming to Once Upon A Time, and of course she looks very insecure (sigh), but so is Dark Swan, who looks ridiculously intriguing. See both clips here.

And while Daredevil season 2’s Punisher looks great, the important thing is JESSICA JONES AND LUKE CAGE TOGETHER AT LAST PLEASE TO HAVE MAKEOUTS

Flash season 2 trailer just dropped, and you have to go through more than half of it to get to the “new” stuff, which is pretty much voiceover but worth it. Vibe! Jay Garrick!

What else? Oh, yeah, ASH VS EVIL DEAD which, frankly, looks FANTASTIC and I’m so excited for it even though I don’t have a huge love of Evil Dead. I enjoyed the 3rd one, covered my eyes at half the second one, and that’s about it. But I love the character, I love horror comedy, and I love Bruce Campbell.

There’s lots of other stuff going on too. The CW is picking up the live-action Archie show Riverdale, and Arrow’s getting a new costume and supposedly lightening up a bit (thank God), there’s an Orphan Black twerking video going around, as well as a blooper reel (which is not that funny, but it shows how Tatiana Maslany STAYS IN CHARACTER ALL THE TIME even between takes, which is amazing and makes perfect sense.

Ant-Man in, what? A week? And it’ll be another week before I see it, I think, unless my husband gives me the okay to see it without him, which I can sort of imagine him doing because he’s so nice, but I can’t imagine me going like I did with Man of Steel because it’s a Marvel movie and therefore going to actually be good. :P

LIVING THE DREAM

1001 WIB

June 11, 2015
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All right. So things have been a little less post-y than I was hoping. The surgery really knocked me for a loop and then I got a call: “Can you come in for a job interview?” Why yes. Yes I can. I can always do that. Awesome news: I got the job! I start…Monday. Yes, Monday. As a librarian again, not just a web content creator/web designer for a library. As a Youth Services librarian again! The world is a wonderful place.

Today I am at my husband’s work tidying up the library and hanging around while my car is being fixed, so while I’m waiting for some work email to come in (!!!), I decided hey, WordPress is one of the sites that isn’t blocked by the school filters! I can catch up on my WIBs! And boy, do we have a lot to catch up on.

Let’s work our way backwards and see where we get before lunch, shall we?

I’ve been running the Marvel Unlimited app ragged. No, really, I have. I started in the present, and then was like “Ooh, X-Statix!” and “Ooh, Young Avengers!” and from there, I just went crazy. And all of it has been SO GOOD. Most of it, anyway. I think I’ve read over 20 trades’ worth in 3 weeks. If I could ask for one thing for my birthday/Christmas this year, I think it might be to have a year of Marvel Unlimited, not just the one-month trial. And the Spider-Gwen hoodie. And all the girl Dorbz.

Right now, I’m smack in the middle of reading Peter David’s EXCELLENT run on X-Factor, which started around 2005, my personal Golden Age of Comics. I read a lot of comics as a teen, when I could get my hands on them, and I always loved all the X-Men teams, not just the First Class or even the HELLA DIVERSE “global” second wave (with the African one and the Canadian one and the Native American one and the Russian one and the German one and…I can’t believe some fans are whining about “forced diversity” when they grew up with this giant X-Team of Token Members). I loved X-Force, and Generation X and X-Factor and, later X-Statix. (I’ll get back to them. I realize they’re not for everyone.) Whatever team, I was there. But Peter David’s run on X-Factor, starting with a five-issue Madrox standalone in 2005, is a particular favorite of mine.

At the time, House of M had just finished and ended with the Decimation, where Scarlet Witch went from using her powers to create an entire world where mutants were on top to taking the powers away from almost every mutant on the planet with the magical words “No more mutants.” It was annoying that almost everyone cool was still powered but you could hand-wave that away as the Scarlet Witch’s mind being unable to take away her friends’ abilities. Sort of. Either way, the world was down a heck of a lot of mutants. It was supposed to solve the problem that there were a zillion mutants running around, and they no longer felt like a minority.

I’d rather they have gone with that, but it’s fascinating. Jamie Madrox, the Multiple Man, opens a detective agency in the section of New York City knows as Mutant Town. Along with Rahne Sinclair (Wolfsbane), Guido Carosella (Strong Guy), Theresa Cassidy (Siryn), Monet St Croix (M), and a now powerless Rictor, they solve mutant-based crimes and generally avoid the X-Men as often as they can.

Also added to the mix was the mysterious Layla Miller, an important character from House of M. Layla had the ability to give people their memories of the real world back, and told everyone that she “knows stuff.” She joins the X-Factor team as a grating know-it-all, and quickly comes to be an important part of who they are. As they say later, there’s something comforting about someone who knows what’s going to happen. When I first read X-Factor, I saw her as a muddled overpowered Mary Sue, if an intriguing one. Now, I love her.

The art in the beginning helps make the series. It was absolutely gorgeous. Jamie looks like a good-looking Everyman, yet is always recognizable. I wish Siryn always had her freckles, but oh well. Make-up. I’ve met people with freckles. I know what they do. M was a character that was also overpowered and mysterious, and she’s settled into herself and fits well too. Guido is still great, Rahne is sometimes still confusing (her hair goes from long to short again from the solo series to X-Factor, and that’s really a metaphor for her character in the two series too), and Rictor’s misery really sells the Decimation.

Madrox: Multiple Choice is a straight-up noir story, but X-Factor is detective story and superheroing all together. I think my husband would really like it because “superheroes doing not-superhero things” is one of his favorites, and he also really enjoyed my other favorite detective superhero: Jessica Jones. I’ve also read the first four trades–The Longest Night, Life and Death Matters, Many Lives of Madrox, and Heart of Ice, as well as Messiah Complex, because argh, Marvel and their crossovers. It’s great how the app puts them all in order for you, but I’m always jumping from what I want to read to all these other comics just to follow along. I know I don’t have to, and yet I keep doing it. And it does help to know, I guess.

I’m super sad because I think I’ve finished the next storyline, but I need to double-check with Goodreads, and THE ARTIST CHANGED AND IT’S SO UGLY NOW. It’s so easy to think of something as good when the art is beautiful, and so hard to remember it’s a good story when the art is bad. And, truly, any art would be bad after…I think it’s David Yardin but I’m not sure. Wikipedia sure is bad about artist changes, but great with telling you who the author is.

But I’m hoping that even though I only have a week left, I’ll still be able to read all of it. I love it so.

Wow, I guess it had been a year since I’d started with Mark Waid’s new Daredevil run. After the darkness of the Brubaker years (which I never got to finish, but I could if someone bought me Marvel Unlimited!), Waid’s cheerful approach to Daredevil was a nice change of pace. So I continued with that by reading volumes 6 and 7, which draw Matt’s time as Hell’s Kitchen defender to a close. Then we’re back at volume 1 again (sigh) for The Devil at Bay, which has Matt in San Francisco. Loved all of it.

I also blew through Brian Reed’s whole time on Ms Marvel, and wow, other than Reed doing some weird ball-dropping with some of the plotlines (disappearing boyfriend!), what a great run. I really enjoyed it. Then I moved on to DeConnick’s Captain Marvel stuff, and I definitely like Carol in space more than Carol time traveling. But then again, time travel in superhero comics, argh.

Okay, so let’s talk about X-Statix. Peter Milligan took over X-Force in 2003 with this incredibly bizarre, ultraviolent (for the time), deconstruction of superheroes. A group of fame-hungry young mutants are stealing the name X-Force for their reality show/merchandising and are often murdered off horribly. It is a weird tale that fits in absolutely not at all with the rest of the X-universe, and I remember people loathing it. Not me. I loved it, in part due to Mike Allred’s art. Seriously, if I ever win the lottery, I’m paying Allred to draw me.

X-Statix is definitely not for everyone. It’s a satire and gruesome and it’s hard to get attached to anyone because they keep dying. But in a comic book world of safety nets, X-Statix was the very opposite of that. It was garish and brutal and irreverent and odd. The fact that it was originally X-Force, running as a normal X-Force book, is something I cannot see happening today. It’d have its own title, as it ended up doing with the name change. It ran for two X-Force trades (which I own), four X-Statix titles, a Dead Girl solo series, and, most recently, is at least partially referenced in All-New Doop. Which, go figure, is also trippy.

Let’s see, what else?  I reread Young Avengers, which was just as good as I remembered, and comes highly recommended. I’m sad that they didn’t have an ongoing title longer than what I’d already read, but they show up here and there, so I meant to do that but I got sidetracked because I didn’t feel like reading All The Events All the Time just to read Young Avengers.

Marvel Unlimited has The Pulse, aw yeah, so more Jessica Jones. I’ve reread everything now this year except for V4 of Alias, which I haven’t been able to find in stores.

A store. I went to one store this year.

The new stuff: “caught up” Unlimited-stylee (six months back?) on Ms Marvel (soooo good), and All-New X-Men, which is also fantastic, and Guardians of the Galaxy. I have literally read nothing bad, and most of the art has been awesome too. Truly, other than always having to figure out what event’s going on, Marvel really has been solid these past ten years, unless I’m just reading the wrong books.

Okay, it’s been two hours, lunch, and I still haven’t even gotten to the BOOK books, but I’ve got other things to do now and, frankly, I’m about to fall asleep on the keyboard.

Next up: NEW ERNEST CLINE

The Bags of BEA 2015

June 2, 2015

My 1000th post!

BEA: These are mine, mine, mine

June 2, 2015
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I mean, here are some books I’m really excited to read. Oh, and a reread. Most of them are new, though.

Also, they are the only ones I got signed to me, because 1) I caught the author signing and 2) there’s no way I’m getting rid of them.

I’ve already discussed The Magicians trilogy here. There’s a show coming too, that looks pretty good.

Fairest is a prequel of sorts to Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles series, which begins with Cinder, and the next book, Winter, should be coming out soon. For a series of futuristic fairy tale retellings that began with “Cyborg Cinderella fights magical Moon Witch,” it is surprisingly good and has gotten better with each book. (Although I love Scarlet best.) Fairest came our early this year, but I didn’t know about it because my library only bought Cinder this year. Sigh.

Ernest Cline wrote the amazing Ready Player One, which I love in both paper and audio forms (Wil Wheaton reading his own name is particularly funny for some reason), and this year he’s coming out with Armada, which looks to be about a Regular Guy and an Alien Invasion. The book is due out July 14th. I’ll have finished it way before that.

YA Throwdown: DC vs Marvel! Not really, but there’s a Teen Lois Lane book that came out earlier this month by Gwenda Bond, Fallout, and a Black Widow story through the eyes of a teen who needs her help  coming out in October called Forever Red. I guess I should read the Lane book first, since it’s already out. I GUESS.

Mo Willems has I Will Take a Nap coming out TODAY, and it is precious and perfect and you should get it.

August 25th is the release date of the David Levithan novel Another Day, the companion book to the absolutely wonderful Every Day, the story of a person who wakes up in a different consciousness each morning and then falls in love.

The Brad Meltzer is the third book in the Beecher White series, which I know nothing about but I love Meltzer, so I got it. He’s just a really nice guy and a good writer. I hope the other two books are at the library. It has a release date of June 16th and is called The President’s Shadow.

Jayne Ann Krentz is an old favorite from my romance-reading days, and her new book, Secret Sisters, sounds pretty good. I mostly just wanted to meet her, and this book doesn’t drop until December, so it might not get read right away. It looks much more on the thriller side of romance than her usual fare.

Richelle Mead, who I fell in love with despite wanting to with the Vampire Academy and Age of X series, has written a standalone called Soundless, inspired by Chinese folklore. The cover is gorgeous. It comes out in November. I want to read it now.

Finally, Charlie Jane Anders, the woman who brings me my nerd news as editor-in-chief of io9.com, brings us All The Birds in the Sky, which looks like a trip. It’s not due out till January. She was wearing Adventure Time shoes. :)

Those are just the ones signed to me!  Not even the “signed in case I don’t like them so they can go to the library” or “they go straight to the library for a Friends fundraiser” ones!

I love BEA. :)

(I didn’t do the Bags of BEA post yesterday because I spent a lot of time on the phone getting ready for my surgery. I’m hoping to do it today after my doctor’s appointment. Otherwise, I’m not sure when because my MIL says it’s really no big deal but the nurse made it sound like at least a little deal.)

Home from BEA!

May 30, 2015
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…AND BOY ARE MY ARMS TIRED

For serious, though, I forgot how heavy books are. I mean, duh, right, but I have a bad back and I forgot how quickly my back starts to hurt from things that are common at BookExpo America: standing for long periods of time, sitting on the hard floor for long periods of time, and lugging a zillion books.

Not a zillion. 139 this year, with 9 more Image Comics first issues.

You can see them there in my trunk, sort of. That is the trunk of a woman who just got home from BEA. Because my car was in a parking garage most of the time I was in New York, I would dump out my suitcase and then go back the next day for more, trying to sort them a bit before the attendant brought the next person’s car, but I didn’t do such a great job.

I have a ton of pictures, but none this year of celebrities, because I didn’t feel a need. Almost everyone I got a book signed by that made me excited was someone I’d already met at a previous Expo. The only person I sort of wish I’d taken a picture of is Mo Willems, because he looks so different from last time! He grew his hair out and it makes him look like a completely different person. Very laid-back. Although I heard he’d been living in Paris. Maybe that was part of it too.

All the pictures I’ve taken have been since I got home.  One of all of them piled across my table. Sets of the piles to show off the titles. One of the ones I got signed to me or don’t even have to think about keeping. I’ll post them when I have a bit more time to get them from the iPad to the laptop.

This year I’m not donating most of them to my old library in New Jersey. I think we’re going to take some of the signed books and do something cool with the library down the street and the Friends group. I’m very excited to talk possibilities with the director and youth librarian.

Here’s a new thing I learned about BEA this year: being able to use a rolling cart is a mixed blessing. On one hand, you don’t get the red marks on your shoulders from the bags, and you definitely don’t bleed where some of the less bare-shoulder-friendly bags scrape. On the other, rolling bags with only two wheels do not turn well, and they take up a lot of space, and sometimes it’s easier to push them but then you take up even more space. And at the end of the day, you weave like a drunk from the uneven weight inside or just being tired, I never did figure out which.

You run over people’s feet and into their heels and it’s embarrassing but everyone was really great about it. Even the ones who insinuated I snuck the bag in were polite after I explained that I have surgery this upcoming week. (Don’t worry, it’s not a major surgery, and I should be okay very soon after.)

But anyway, 139 books, that’s not my record but it’s pretty good for someone who was on her own and having some physical issues. That includes the new Richelle Mead, Mo Willems, Neal Stephenson, Meg Cabot, Brad Meltzer, Newt Gingrich…so so many, and I’ll be discussing them soon.

But first: bag video Monday!

(PS Hi to anyone who Googled “Action Librarian.” It was so nice to meet you all!)

Hey, it’s almost June! That means it’s BEA TIME!

May 25, 2015

In two days, I will be in New York City at BookExpo America, basically one of my favorite things to do. Again, I’ll be going it alone–but with shoulder surgery coming up, I’ve been allowed the use of a rolling bag, so that’s a figurative and literal weight off my shoulders. Given that it looks like BookCon is eating BookExpo (is this still supposed to be the last year?), it’s no surprise that I’m looking at the guest list and not feeling it. As a return attendee, I’ve already met a lot of these authors. I’m mostly in it for the free books this year, and also a chance to see my friend’s new baby. I hope new baby doesn’t keep me up all night.

So: bag post coming soon, I think.

Meanwhile, I’ve had my head in my tablet–again figuratively–with Marvel Unlimited. Oh, the things I have read! I will make a post about them soon, because I don’t want to not talk about them, and we all know if I miss writing in a week, I’ll probably miss writing for a few weeks. It’s all about sitting down and actually doing it. Today would be a wonderful day to do catch-up if not for the guilties I get for blogging rather than getting together yet another cover letter for another job application.

But it is almost the middle of the year, and my lowered expectations have really helped a lot: I’ve already met my one hundred-book goal for the year. I’ve been putting in the Unlimited reads as their trades (and trying to read whatever the trade says it has in it), so that put me over the top. One less thing to stress about.

When you factor in the September and October reads from 2014, I’m at 19 of 20 new books, and BEA always gives me enough galleys to ensure that will be fine even without the new added-months goal-stretch. Where I’m lagging a little are my “JRI” books: Just Read It. It’s a cute name my friends and I came up with a few years ago when we were looking to motivate ourselves to read more of what we had at home unread rather than the shiny new books at the library. At first, I was putting the Marvel Unlimited books under my JRI tag on Goodreads because they’re ebooks and I have until now always put my ebooks under JRI. But, unlike the books I have downloaded or purchased, when I finish a title from a streaming service like Marvel Unlimited I have created no extra space for myself, on a shelf or on my tablet. So it seemed unfair. I am at 19 of 50, but BEA books also count toward JRI, so it will be fine.

I’m going to try to be pickier about what I keep from BEA this year, although perhaps not what I pick up. After all, if it’s not something I’ll likely love, I can always pick it up at the library.

All right, it’s dinnertime here, then I’ve got to pack for BEA since I won’t be home much tomorrow. I’m only packing one book this year–okay, maybe two–but I’m hoping to come home with dozens.

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