Monday, June 4, 2012

Chicks Dig Comics

Chicks Dig Comics and I am one of them. I only recently discovered the beauty and awesomeness that is the graphic novel, but now that I have I glory in it; as do the contributors to this wonderful anthology. Part of a recent series of books dedicated to geek culture and the women who love it, Chicks Dig Comics is a collection of essays by female fans, writers, editors and authors. (There's a couple of interviews with male creators as well.) Like any essay anthology, some entries spoke to me more than others. Mutants by Marjorie M. Liu and The Captain in the Capitol: Invoking the Superhero in Daily Life by Jennifer Margaret combined to come closest to matching my own reasons for loving comics and superheros while Kelly Thompson's I Am Sisyphus, and I Am Happy highlighted some of the reasons that may have kept me from comics for so much of my life. But it wasn't only essays with which I personal experience with that spoke to me. Captain America's Next Top Model was a fun look at how a geeky fashoinista (one of the last adjectives I would use to describe myself) combines her two loves. Perhaps the essay that stuck with me the most was co-editor Sigrid Ellis' Kitty Queer, describing how Chris Claremont and the X-Men helped her discover and accept her sexuality.

And it's not just superheros. "Sandman", "FELL", "Vampirella", and manga all get their due as do many other comics. In the end, what this collection really does is show that there are as many reasons to love comics as their are comic fans. The fact that these fans all happen to be women makes it a must-read for geek girls everywhere!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Fuzzy Nation by John Scalzi

I usually start my reviews out with a brief, spoiler-free, plot-synopsis but I'm having a hard time doing so with this novel. The synopsis offered on the jacket takes you through about the first 2 chapters, and they're short chapters. Suffice it to say, there doesn't seem to be much to the plot that isn't spoiler-y. On top of that, Fuzzy Nation is a reboot of H. Beam Piper's Little Fuzzy, which I haven't read (yet), meaning I have no idea how much of the original work was incorporated into Scalzi's book beyond what I've read on his website and in the promotional materials provided by the publishers.

What can I say then?

I can say that, after reading Fuzzy Nation, I can't wait to read Little Fuzzy; yet I also have no desire to pick up another book tonight. To me one of the mark's of a good story is that it leaves you reluctant to let it go. In this case, I know that I can read more of this world easily (Little Fuzzy is in the public domain and therefore one need only head to Project Gutenberg to read it) and yet I know that the world will be different from the one I just left. The characters (at least some of them) will be the same, but they will have someone else's voice. The story will have the same over-arching ecological theme, but will have fundamental differences, otherwise there'd be no point in rebooting it.

I'm also still busy digesting Fuzzy Nation. Like Scalzi's other works, Fuzzy Nation forces the thinking reader to recognize that its events aren't completely outside the realm of possibility. Certainly we're well on our way to depleting Earth's natural resources and if we were to head into space and discover planets brimming with those same or similar resources, what would we do? Likewise, I can see the reaction to discovering sentient life on one of those planets could be exactly what happens in Fuzzy Nation. Add to that the moral ambiguity of the main character and it's enough to leave anyone feeling just slightly uncomfortable.

And still, I loved the book. I laughed out loud multiple times and I cried more than once too. In fact, I finished the last sentence with a smile on my face and tears in my eyes.

I have no idea how fan's of Piper's will feel about this new interpretation of his world, but I feel confident that fans of Scalzi's will love it. As for those who consider themselves neither, I'd encourage you to pick it up when it's released on May 10th, the story itself is wonderful and the underlying theme important to remember.

I was provided with a completed copy of Fuzzy Nation for review by the publisher, no guarantee of a positive review was given.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Dreadnought by Cherie Priest

Vinita "Mercy" Swakhammer Lynch is a Confederate nurse 20 years into the Civil War. Shortly after learning of her Yankee husband's death she receives a letter from the Seattle Sheriff telling her her daddy is sick and asking for her. Mercy hasn't seen her dad since he packed up and left when she was a little girl, but she decides to make the cross-country trek to see him, soon getting caught up in adventure and mystery. What is the drug the men call "sap" and what are it's ultimate effects? How did a large group of Mexicans end up in Utah and are they really eating people? What is in the mystery cars on the train that require a Yankee regiment and the most dreaded Yankee war engine in the country to guard them?

I've never really read steampunk before, unless you count Verne and Wells, so when I learned of a first-come, first-served contest by TOR to get a copy, I entered, knowing almost nothing about it other than "steampunk". I was a bit disappointed, therefore, when I discovered it was also an alternate history and zombie novel; two "genres" that have never been favorites. Zombies in particular give me pause after what they did to Jane Austen. However, I ended up pleasantly surprised.

Though the beginning (100-150 pages) dragged a bit for my tastes, once Mercy was on the train I was captivated. The action was perfectly paced and the mystery given just enough build; and while the book certainly subscribes to a variety of genres, all are done in a way that the book never really feels like a zombie-book, or an alternate history, or even steampunk. Dreadnought is about Mercy Lynch and her journey with the plot devices being secondary.

It turns out, when done well, I do like all these genres. I will certainly be seeking out other Cherie Priest novels in the future.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The New Fall Season - Part One

I know it's been forever since I posted here. My summer surprised me by being fairly socially driven and I didn't have the time I usually do to watch TV and write about it. But fall is here (or will be tomorrow) and the new fall season has started.

Last year I wrote a lengthy post at the end of the week about everything I'd watched and blogger crashed just as I finished it. I lost the whole thing. So, this time I'm posting a couple days at a time and saving often!

Monday: Monday I watched an old favorite and checked out a couple of new shows. First the old favorite.
How I Met Your Mother- I've been watching How I Met Your Mother since it first hit the air. My Buffy-love compelled me to first turn it on, but it was the funny that kept me coming back. The 6th season premiere pushed the "mother" story-line a bit, which is always satisfying and after a somewhat lackluster 5th season, the laughs were back in full-force with Robin getting over her breakup, Lily and Marshall trying to get pregnant and Barney being Barney. I'm looking forward to the progression of this season's story lines.
The Event- It took me a while to decide whether I was going to watch this one or not. I'm still feeling annoyed and confused by both Lost and Heroes and disappointed by the canceling of The Nine and FlashForward, but I read some good reviews and determined to give it a shot. What I saw was definitely enjoyable. If the network keeps it on the air and the writers and producers can avoid the temptation to make unintelligible goo out of the subplots, this show can definitely be a winner.
Hawaii 5-0-I'm too young to have watched the original, so I can't speak to how it does as a reboot, what I can say is that this is a refreshing change of pace to the traditional cop procedural/forensics-fest we've been subjected to for the last 10-20 years (depending on whether you blame CSI or Law & Order). Instead, Hawaii 5-0 delivers breathtaking scenery, jaw-dropping action, engaging stories and characters and some delicious eye-candy. Yes, it's incredibly unrealistic, but that's what makes it stand out from the crowd!

Tuesday:
Tuesday night I kept in on Fox.
Glee-After a weird teaser that had me a bit worried, Glee returned with a vengeance last night. The writing has continued to improve since the first few episodes last season (after which I stopped watching until this summer, it was just too painful). What made the premiere truly glorious though was the (somewhat disturbing) team of Sue and Shu. It just made me happy and I was smiling the whole hour.
Raising Hope-I've yet to make a decision on this one. I'll give it a couple more episodes for sure. On the surface, it seemed like a premise that could become one-note pretty quickly, but the last 2 minutes or so showed some real heart I'm hoping they'll expand on.
Running Wilde- The reviews I read weren't promising, so I didn't go into this one with high hopes. I didn't think it was as bad as others had been saying...I laughed a couple times and I didn't find any of the characters as detestable as some critics did. Regardless, I've been a Keri Russell fan since her Mickey Mouse Club days and Will Arnett could read a phone book and make me laugh, so I'll probably keep watching this one until it's canceled.

Did I miss something you watched? Have a different opinion on a show I covered. Share your thoughts in the comments!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

A Council of Dads by Bruce Feiler

When "Walking the Bible" author Bruce Feiler was diagnosed with cancer in 2008, he wondered what would happen to his twin girls if he died. At only 3-years-old, would they remember him? How could he make sure that they continued to hear his voice? Get his perspective when he was gone. An idea was born. He would talk to 6 men from his life, all of whom represented different aspects of his personality, and form a Council of Dads. When the girls wondered how he would feel or what he would say at a given moment, these men would be there, to be his voice.

This book is a combination of letters and emails written to friends and family during his "lost year" as he calls it, and a look back at why he chose each of the 6 men in the council. He gives us glimpses into his own family, the events that made him who he is. He also lets us sit with him in each meeting as he asked his friends to join his Council. Heartbreaking and uplifting, in the end this book is about love and the lengths we will go through to be remembered.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

For the love of Sci-Fi

I admit it, I totally judge books by their covers.

While killing time in a Borders in early March, I came across a book with an intriguing cover called Your Hate Mail will be Graded, a collection of entries from the blog "Whatever" written by John Scalzi. I'd never heard of it or him, but the blog had celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2008, making it one of the longest running blogs on the interwebs. I ended up buying the book and reading it pretty quickly.

After I finished reading it, I subscribed to the blog on my Google Reader where I came to discover that Scalzi also authored sci-fi novels. This discovery led me to a new realization, while most anyone who knows me would acknowledge that I have a predilection for Sci-Fi TV and movies, it had been years since I'd read any sci-fi (excepting Michael Crichton and Jules Verne). In fact, I can't remember having read any since I switched over from Young Adult to adult novels (you know, back before Harry Potter, when adults didn't read kid's books). I wondered why this was and decided that it came down to covers. The covers of most Sci-Fi novels look cheap and or cheesy to me, I simply don't find them appealing.

So, I made the decision to pick up some Sci-Fi novels and, of course, I started with Scalzi's. So far I've read 1 1/2 of his 4 book Old Man's War series, and I love them. Once I finish this series, I'll be moving on to Ender's Game, Dune, and Starship Troopers amongst others. I've learned an important lesson and made a significant step in my journey of geek-self-acceptance. So, John Scalzi, just in case you have happened to Google yourself and come upon this entry, thank you, you've expanded my horizons and added hundreds of books to my "To Be Read" list!

Time to sign off, the new Doctor Who starts with a special in 7 minutes and I can't wait to see what Stephen Moffat has done with the franchise!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott by Kelly O'Connor McNees

Almost everyone knows the story of Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy; and almost everyone has wondered at Jo's refusal of Laurie. How is it that 'spinster' Louisa May Alcott could write so deftly about young love and the heartbreak of romance? Alcott guarded her privacy closely and while she claimed Laurie was based on an acquaintance from her time in Europe, many people have their doubts.

Kelly O'Connor McNees was fascinated by the anomaly. She had been voraciously reading Alcott biographies for years before making the decision to try her hand at her first novel, and Alcott was the obvious subject. She chose a summer people knew little about and created a fictional story of what could have happened.

Well researched and detailed, several of Bronson's well-known friends make appearances, Emerson in fact provides the impetus for advancing the romance when he brings Bronson a copy of the newly published and controversial "Leaves of Grass".

It was a fast read, taking only five hours to finish, but I was entertained the entire time. While this book will certainly never reach the heights of literary greatness it's inspiration did, any fan of Alcott's will enjoy this jaunt into the summer that could have been.

About Me

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I'm human, so I've got some issues, but all things considered I guess I'm reasonably normal. My parents are still married. My best friends are my sisters...okay, so I'm normal for the 1850's whatever. I'm opinionated and nerdy. I'm walking the line between tweener-style pop culture love (witness my ever-burning New Kids love and inexplicable Twilight obsession) and elitist culture snob (I can't seem to get enough 19th century British Lit and historical biographies) but, after 30 years, I'm finally learning not to give a crap what anyone else thinks about me. Oh, and those are my feet in the picture. The socks were made by a friend.

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