I’m in a bit of a foul mood because I woke up with a headache, and now I can’t get through on a phone call I have to make, but at least this isn’t a recap where I can take everything out on ~*Elena*~.
However, I’m not ashamed to admit that some of these books were absolutely forgettable.
I read the second and third books of Garth Ennis’s The Boys: Get Some and Good for the Soul, and the grossness is toned down a bit (um, a BIT), and I really enjoyed it, although the whole Simon Pegg thing is still throwing me off. I found it just as off-putting when Nick Fury was Samuel L. Jackson (until Nick Fury WAS Samuel L. Jackson, or the other way around). And sure, I’ve forgotten the actual…wait, something about Russia? Hey, I just know I liked them.
The new Christopher Pike book, Witch World, is being sold in the YA section, which bugs me. I get that the main characters have just graduated high school, and that’s fair YA territory, but the book feels like it’s solidly somewhere in between YA and his usual adult fiction. Let me just say again “usual,” because this goddamn book recycles so many things he’s already used that my head wants to explode. Well, maybe that’s the headache, BUT HOW MANY TEENAGERS IN THIS WORLD ARE NAMED CLYDE?? I have only met one Clyde in my entire life, and he was a dog. Still, despite the number of things that are common in the Pikeverse, there were some new things in here too, and I am definitely going to be snarking this book. What I really want is someone who’s never read Pike to read this, but my husband did a dramatic reading of the inside flap, and now he’ll NEVER read the actual text. Boo.
Then I read a series of comics that were interesting to good, but not GREAT: The Winter Soldier Volume 1: The Longest Winter, which is Brubaker, so you’d think I’d be more into it, but I wasn’t. Fatale Volume 1: Death Chases Me–AGAIN BRUBAKER, again only a three-star for me, what the heck. Avengers Academy: Arcade – Death Game. Eh, Arcade. Read him once, read him enough. He’s the Q of the Marvel U. The only way he’d be interesting to me again is if he were, you know, on the big screen. Because that would be cool. You could see all those contraptions.
Oh, right, and then there was X-Men Season One, which should have been AWESOME. But it was just good. I loved this revamp, but it inevitably played to the fans rather than the newbies: storylines were cut short by the fact that they were “known.” EXCEPT THIS IS FOR NEW FANS, GUYS. TAKE YOUR FREAKIN’ TIME. Nope. Sigh.
Then I reread the first Buffy season nine because I picked up the second Buffy season nine, and boy, do I already love season nine. When people say they loved Buffy, I always ask if they’re reading the comics, because I’ve been enjoying the comics like whoa. They usually don’t even know there are comics, even though the comics are canon. This is sad, because canon Buffy is awesome Buffy. And we can always use more Andrew in our lives.
I read Fuse, the second Pure book by Julianna Baggott, and DAMN, was it good. I love this creepy Burton-esque world, where people have things attached to them like fans in their throat in dolls in their hands–or, even creepier, their children fused to where they were clinging to mothers’ legs, or brother attached to brother. In the second book, Baggott’s talent for world-building continues to shine, and her ability to bring you into that world is…well, seriously, I can’t think of anyone else who does it as well, except maybe Laini Taylor. Maybe it’s just that I like my YA dystopian fiction denser than the usual fare? Darker, more serious. But I’m not sure that’s always true–see how much I loved Scarlet, the sequel to Cinder. Worthy second books are hard to come by, yet I keep finding them, so I want to hold tight. So the answer to “Should I read Pure/Fuse?” is a mighty yes from me.
Natalie Standiford’s How to Say Goodbye in Robot is a book of my daughter’s that I borrowed because it was the only one in the car and I was eating lunch by myself in a vegan Chinese place in Philly and I wanted some company. I’m glad I read it, because it was very good, very moving. It’s about a teenage girl who moves to Baltimore and finds herself friendish with a very off-putting boy. He’s a tough nut to crack, but she’s a teenage girl, so she keeps trying. In the meantime, her family life is crap and her mom seems pretty darn crazy. You might think this sounds like a bad boy/bad family YA romance, but it is not. It’s really more about seeing yourself as different, until you realize that “different” is a whole other category. It’s about friendship, and how sometimes it’s more give than take, and sometimes it’s not really friendship at all. I don’t want to say too much, because there are a lot of twists and turns, but highly recommended for fans of realistic teen fiction.
April was, at least, a good month for novels. I finally got around to Hillary Jordan’s When She Woke, a dystopian retelling of The Scarlet Letter. In this book, people who have committed crimes have their skin dyed by a conservative, religious government. Imprisonment is just another reality show. Hannah is red, for murder–the murder of her unborn child; that is, abortion. Comparison to Margaret Atwood must be made, and that’s fine, but we can’t stop there. When She Woke is good on its own merits, good across the board, and I highly recommend it to pretty much everyone, especially those who’ve read The Scarlet Letter.
Radclyffe Hall’s The Well of Loneliness is necessary reading for all that there were times I felt like I had to push through. It’s considered the first important lesbian book, and it’s a painful read at times, because your heart breaks for these characters who have no place in society. We are introduced to Stephen, our main character, whose father is well aware of her “inversion” but cannot bring himself to tell her because maybe if he doesn’t she’ll grow out of it and be okay or maybe he’ll just tell her tomorrow. Little Stephen is a delight, with a fierce crush on a maid and playing at being a man. This is all very interesting stuff–that she has a masculine name, that she fantasizes about being a man–I often wondered through the course of the book whether this was an issue of strict gender roles or would Hall write Stephen as transgender if she were writing today. The end is heartbreaking, by our standards more than when it was published, because we see it as all so very unnecessary. Sigh. I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to read it, but honestly I never heard of it for ages, until I read Nancy Garden’s afterward to Annie on my Mind (one of the later editions), where she mentions it. And how sad is that, that once again, women are not as important to the canon as men.
Okay, so the end of the month didn’t go well. I tried to read some light stuff to make up for the Hall and ended up with “eh” reads: Janet Evanovich’s Love Overboard (before reissue known as Ivan Takes a Wife, the most spoiler-y non-arranged marriage title in the world), which was just your average Harlequin fare; Kazune Kawahara’s first volume of High School Debut, which was a until-I-read-it-I-didn’t-realize reread for me, which made it eh (I was trying to decide whether to keep the book; I decided against it even though I enjoy the title because I didn’t feel like I wanted to spend money on the rest); and Barbara Michaels’s Wings of the Falcon, which is not one of my favorite tales of hers, because the heroine is dead stupid–although, I think, traditionally so–and everything is awfully guessable. But it’s still a decent read, if you’re into that sort of thing. I just wanted something…less predictable. I think it too was a reread for me. So the month ended poorly but with me ditching a lot of books I knew I wouldn’t be reading again.
Next month: a bunch of really good books interspersed with me knocking out some crappy titles so I don’t have to keep them in my house anymore.
I’ve begun a surprisingly quick project: take all my classic books and move them to e-format to give myself more room on the shelves. I thought maybe this would hurt my feelings, but a lot of my classic books are in terrible condition (from an estate donation to a library book sale) or else B&N copies (which are terribly done if prettily covered), or either one and unread, so I don’t care if there’s space for them on the shelves because I only keep the stuff I love the most. We’re moving again, and who knows how many more times we’ll move in the next five years due to my husband’s job, so tossing a ton of books onto my iPad does not bother me at all. In fact, I even went through and got rid of about 10-20 books that I haven’t read that I’ve been sitting on forever. “Oh, I’ll read that.” Come on, I will never get to that while there are great books to reread and classic books to discover and new books by favorite authors to pick up. Whatever my friends don’t want will go to the Book Barn, although I don’t know if they’ll want some of them.
What did make me sad was realizing I couldn’t do it with some of my classics because they’re translated and I love the translator, but of course that means that if you want an e-copy, you must pay. (Fagles, I’m looking at you.) Understandable, but sad, because I love all my Penguin and Oxford translated classics but I also love space…
Still, my husband is happy because I’ve gotten rid of more than I picked up at BEA, which puts me ahead! And I still have a few boxes to sort through–they’re just in the corner of the garage, though, and a pain to get to. Maybe he and I can clear a path this afternoon…