Showing posts with label print book. Show all posts
Showing posts with label print book. Show all posts

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson

Rating: WORTHY!

This was a graphic novel, apparently based on personal experience, about a twelve-year old girl going through typical 12-year-old experiences, except that in this case, she becomes fascinated by the so-called sport of roller derby.

Main character Astrid has been best friends with Nicole for what seems like forever, but comes the summer of their twelfth year, and they each want different things. Nicole wants to go to Ballet camp. Astrid, overwhelmed by her first trip to a roller derby, wants to go to derby camp. Her blithe assumption that Nicole will fall in with her plans means Astrid is in for a rude and unnerving awakening.

I'm not a fan of so-called sports that encourage violence and conflict, but this story was amusing enough that even while I disapprove of the sport, I'm willing to consider this graphic novel a worthy read. Astrid has to learn to stand on her own two feet with Nicole gone, and that's not easy on skates! Plus, she lies to her mother about the fact that Nicole isn't going to derby camp with her. The derby work is hard and Astrid is brand new to it, so it's a long learning curve for her, but eventually she picks up the rhythms and skills, and she finds her place.

The story, the second I have liked by this author, had humor and heart, and the art was pretty decent, so I consider this a worthy read.

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Doomed by Tracy Deebs

Rating: WARTY!

This was another tired novel in first person. I think I'm going to systematically survey all of my books and give away or delete every last one of them that's in first person because I'am so tired of that worthless voice that it almost makes me ill when I see it in a book. Also, if I'd known that this author was a 'professor of writing' at a college, I would never have picked this one up on the first place. Such people are usually the very worst people at writing novels in my experience, but I've had it on my shelf for some considerable time, so maybe I was less picky when I picked this up!

The story launches into tropes form the outset - the disaffected teen who is parentless, the two guys, one a 'bad boy' and one a good guy for the inevitable YA lust triangle, and the ditz of a female main character who is so useless she can't possibly choose between them and leads both of them on like a cruel mistress for the entire trilogy. Get a tomb! Apparently this professor of writing teaches that it's best to rip-off every story that's ever gone before instead of writing something new and fresh. Either that or she teaches writing originally, and then hypocritically does just the opposite when it comes to her own projects. Either way this is not a person i want to learn anything from.

Main character Pandora wakes up on her birthday. Despite knowing better, she searches desperately for an email from her mom, but there is none. Yes, she's not an orphan per se, but her mother works for Big Fossil, aka Big Oil, and is often gone, and her father has been long gone, yet he's the one who sends her an email. How mom comes to leave Pandora all alone at home with no-one to keep an eye on her is a mystery. It's not like she couldn't afford a live-in caretaker for her daughter, but this lazy writer doesn't even bother to address that.

Pandora is quite obviously, it quickly comes to light, not the brightest silverware in the drawer. When she sees an email from her father, and despite being warned by her mother to delete on sight any emails he might send, she opens the lone one he does send and then clicks on the website it links to. This act unleashes something take instantly takes over the entire internet. Yes, everything, worldwide! No one is better than this hacker. No security is equal to it, so everything goes down. Then Pandora's computer lights up and she's offered the chance to play a game and save the world. Also, her two male consorts are let in on the game. How her father would even known she was hanging out with these two guys these days is one of endless questions left unanswered.

Idiot Pandora, despite the entire world being offline, decides they can go get pizza. This leads to a truck broadsiding them, and it was when Pandora, in first person, was describing in detail the accident that I decided I wither needed something to prevent severe nausea, or I needed to get the hell away from this piece of garbage. I chose to ditch the book. It's trash. I'm done with this author, too.

Saturday, November 2, 2019

Cold Copper by Devon Monk

Rating: WARTY!

I've read material from Devon Monk before and enjoyed it which is why I picked this up, but this wasn't to my taste at all, and I DNF'd it pretty quickly. Whoever it was who decided that paranormal needed to be an integral part of Steampunk, and actual steampunk didn't, I don't know, but I'm not onboard with that scheme of things unless there's a really good reason to toss in everything, including the kitchen sink. Apart from rabid desperation and lack of imagination, there usually isn't.

This was book three in the "Age of Steam" series, but once again there was absolutely zip on the cover to indicate that to potential readers. Thanks assholes at Penguin Publishing Group for letting me know what unrelibale and unhelpful morons you all are. I'll keep your dedicated incompetence in mind.

But really I should probably blame myself. It said right there on the back cover blurb that the main character's name was Cedar Hunt. Seriously? I was so distracted by the name that I completely missed that he was a lycanthrope. That alone would have saved me from this novel! I should have followed my gut instinct to avoid like the plague any novel that has a ridiculous main character name like that. Instead, I made the grievous error of thinking that if I liked one book by this author, maybe I'll like another. I can see now why readers have absolutely no loyalty to authors whatsoever any more, and maybe that's a good thing.

But I digress, as usual. So anyway, the story was supposed to be about this werewolf (Monk evidently doesn't have the guts to call 'em like she sees 'em) who is hunting for a magical thing (yeah, magic!) that's capable of great destruction (yeah, world-shattering!). There are seven pieces to this, so presumably that means seven novels at the very least in this rat's nest of a series. It's a pity the Holder didn't destroy the series before it got this far. A glacial storm forces Cedar Hunt (he's hunting for the Holder, get it? He can't Cedar holder for da storm though) and his party to cannibalize each other (kidding). No, they take refuge from the storm in Des Moines, Iowa, and it's arguable really whether that's better than freezing to death. At least that latter would have got them a kiss from Elsa. Or Frozone if they preferred.

Des Moines is ruled not by monks (Devon Monk, des moines, get it?), but by Iron Fist - or at least the iron fist of some evil dude. And so it goes. Apparently this witch is so pathetic that she can't carve them out a warm igloo amidst the storm so this entire volume of the book looks to me like it's not going to expend a single joule of energy on getting closer to the Holder, but instead, is going to be completely sidetracked. Another problem with series. But at least I never got invested in this one. It didn't even have any steampunk - at least not in the bit I read. Instead, it had all the hallmarks of a western featuring witches, but it was so tediously-written and there was such an underlying stench of a Hollowquim romance about it that I could not stand to read more than two chapters about these characturds before I gave up. It was nice knowing you once Devon Moin, but no fear we must part ways here.

The Siren's Call by Jennifer Anne Kogler

Rating: WARTY!

This is book 2 of a series I began reading so long ago that it's not even one I blogged. Also I barely remember it. This is yet another problem with series ! LOL! I did recall it hazily, along with the author's name and the distinctive cover, and with a favorable if vague memory, but unfortunately I was turned off this particular volume right from the off, very nearly.

The story starts out with main character Fern, one of the 'Otherworldlies' having a bad dream while on an airplane flight with her schoolmates to Washington DC. Although she has a couple of friends at school, she is considered weird and is bullied by people who apparently go unchecked and unpunished at this school, as is the case with every high-school novel ever written for the YA crowd. Curious, that, isn't it? I guess YA authors just love to bully their characters for reasons which escape me.

At the airport, the students are divided into groups of four to share a room, and despite this bullying, Fern is assigned to share a room with the two biggest bullies. That's where I quit reading this. I am so tired of this school-bullying crap. I don't doubt that there is unfortunate and even dangerous school-bullying going on in real life, but for authors of these books to use it as their go-to conflict device is tiresome and unimaginative, and I will not reward it with a positive review. These authors need to get a new shtick.

In this case it wasn't even credible that this room assignment would be made especially since, on an occasion prior to this novel starting, these same two girls had duct-taped Fern's head to something while she slept. Who sleeps through getting her head duct-taped? Why are these two jerks still even students at the school after pulling a cruel stunt like that? Or is it one of those idiotic stories where the bullied don't snitch on the bullies? Again, tedious trope rejected. Find something intelligent to write if you want me to read your stories. This one is garbage.

This is Just a Test by Madelyn Rosenberg, Wendy Wan-Long Shang

Rating: WARTY!

This is a middle-grade book that started out well enough, with some nice humor and interesting activities, but unfortunately it quickly settled into a rut and never seemed interested in getting out of it. The rut had four grooves: David's upcoming bar-mitzvah, his ongoing attraction to schoolmate Kelli Anne, his fear of nuclear war, and the ongoing battle between his two grandmothers. The problem is that it never got out of those grooves, and they became ruts. So the best thing I can say about this book is, awesome name, Wendy! That's more like a sentence than a name, but it is awesome.

As as you might guess from those author's names, one of the hinges of this story is that David isn't only of Jewish heritage, he's also of Chinese extraction, and his grandmothers do not get along. In fact they're both interfering busy-bodies each trying to be the dominant one, and at first this was mildly amusing, but it quickly became tedious, as did everything else in this story, I'm sorry to report. You know from the off that everything is going to come out fine in the end - his grandmothers will get along, he'll "get the girl," he'll somehow overcome his ridiculous fear of nuclear war, and the bar-mitzvah will be fine. So why waste my time on the journey there?

Ridiculous I say because this wasn't set in the fifties; it was set in the 80's so WTF? Nuclear war? Yes, it's always been a fear, and is a greater one now we have an even bigger jackass for a president than Reagan was, but what I didn't get was why the authors had chosen to set this back in the eighties because setting it back was what I felt they'd achieved by that choice. At first I thought that maybe it was because the authors were in their fifties, but I no longer think that's the case, so I'm at a loss. The fifties would have made sense, but the eighties??

This book isn't aimed at me, obviously, but for me, it didn't get there. It spent too long ruminating on topics that really aren't that relevant today. I know a lot of people are into religion, but for me religion is as Shakespeare put it in The Tragedy of Macbeth, scene five (although his words were about life, not religion): "a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing," so that typically doesn't resonate with me because I can't take it seriously.

The battle of the grandmothers, as I mentioned, quickly became tedious. David's obsession with nuclear war and his digging of a bomb shelter in his friend's back yard wasn't remotely entertaining or even interesting. His flustering at every thought of Kelli Anne wasn't amusing, but was understandable and perhaps appropriate, but nothing new, and in the end that was the problem. There really was nothing new here; nothing to see, so I moved along. I can't commend this as a worthy read.

Friday, November 1, 2019

Mennonite in a Little Black Dress by Rhoda Janzen

Rating: WARTY!

I have no idea who this is written for. Not me, that's for sure because it rubbed me up the wrong way from the off. It was first person to begin with which is typically a poor choice of voice, and it's especially a poor choice when the voice comes off as fingernails on a chalk board.

If I'd known that the author was a professor of creative writing at some college I would have avoided it like the plague because sorry experience has taught me well that books from authors like that paradoxically tend to be dreary and uncreative at best. Kate Christensen's review in the NYT says it wonderfully - and in an otherwise positive review! She wrote: "Nothing much happens here, plot-wise." I couldn't have put it better myself. The blurb had made this sound interesting though. It was about a 43-year-old woman who almost simultaneously separated from her newly-revealed gay husband, and was involved in a serious accident that left her with several broken bones. In true fictional tradition, she went running...well hobbling anyway, back to her hometown.

That's about as far as I got. I'm not normally into that genre - the running back home like a little kid story that is so unfortunately common these days, but this one sounded like it might be different. It was different in that it was not fictional, but it wasn't in any other way, and the screeching, laughing too loud story-telling style grated on my every nerve. I honestly could not stand to read it beyond the first few pages, and I ditched it in short order. I'm done with this so-called creative writing professor.

Raven the Irate Princess Book 1 or something by Jeremy Whitley, Rose Higgins, Ted Brandt

Rating: WARTY!

Normally I would steer clear of a book, even a graphic novel, with a title like this, but I had come to this via its predecessor, the Princeless graphic stories about a feisty young princess whose self-appointed mission is to rescue all of her sisters who are distributed in various towers throughout the kingdom, the aim of which is to inspire princes to come and rescue them so the king can get them married off. I've given up on this entire series now not so much because it was so bad, although the stories were becoming rather monotonous, but because it was impossible to figure out in which order they should be read and my normally useful local library had the titling so messed up that it didn't help!

Take this one for example: it's listed as Book 1 Captain Raven and the All-Girl Pirate Crew, but it's not the first in the Raven story. You have to read the Princeless series to get her backstory. For me this was the biggest problem with this - that the arrangement of these volumes felt like a disorderly mess. But this one would do, I guess if you were only interested in reading the Raven stories. I just think the author and publisher could have done better. But why would they care?

In this story, Raven has a ship already (from a story prior to book one - go figure!), and now needs a crew, so she sets off into town to hire one, and promptly gets robbed by another woman. After a chase that goes on a bit too long, she ends up running into the cook from her father's pirate ship - when he was the pirate king and before her brothers screwed her over. She ends up predictably hiring the woman who robbed her and then a bunch of other women because she doesn't like the available men. That's about it.

It was entertaining as far as it went, but as I said in my review of the other volume I read along with this, it wasn't entertaining enough to make me want to read any more beyond this. This one, like the other one, barely enters into worthy read territory, and I found I was growing somewhat bored with this series as I was with the companion series: Princeless. I decided to quit while I was ahead and give this a negative and the other a positive to indicate mixed feelings! I won't be reading any more in either series.

Princeless Raven the Pirate Princess by Jeremy Whitley, Rose Higgins, Ted Brandt

Rating: WORTHY!

Normally I would steer clear of a book, even a graphic novel, with a title like this, but I had come to this via its predecessor, the Princeless graphic stories about a feisty young princess whose self-appointed mission is to rescue all of her sisters who are distributed in various towers throughout the kingdom, the aim of which is to inspire princes to come and rescue them so the king can get them married off. I've given up on this entire series now not so much because it was so bad, although the stories were becoming rather monotonous, but because it was impossible to figure out in which order they should be read.

Take this one for example: it's listed as 'Book 2 Free Women', but it's not the second in the pirate Princess series. It's the first. I don't think it's even the second in the Princeless series, although at this point I'm not sure. For me this was the biggest problem with this - that the arrangement of these volumes is a total disorderly mess. I can't find a definitive listing, although I admit I did not search exhaustively because I was so tired of looking by then and my local library did not help because there was no consistent naming strategy for the volumes! Thanks librarians!

Anyway this volume, wherever it comes, deals with Raven and her crew of women setting sail to go after Raven's evil brothers. I read this a while back and only just realized I never reviewed it, so while I did want to say I found it a worthy read, it only just fell into that category, and my review will be a bit vague since I recall only the gist of it. Higgins and Brandt did the heavy lifting with the art which was pretty decent, while Whitley did a bit with the writing.

Raven has to deal with all manner of villains on this island they arrive at, and that's pretty much it! I do recall it was entertaining, but I started running into the law of diminishing returns, which is inevitable in any series, and which is why I tend not to read very many of them. It's rare for one to truly engage me because there's typically too much sameness, too much repetitiveness, and very little innovation once a writer has locked their self into a series. This is why I'll never write one! While this was okay, I read this and a companion volume, but didn't feel any urge to continue reading because it wasn't that great!

Get a Clue! by Lisa Banim

Rating: WARTY!

This is the first book in the Lizzie McGuire Mysteries series. It's the last one I will ever read! The front cover won't tell you (way to diminish people Disney, you dicks), but it's written by Lisa Banim and based on the TV series created and developed by Terri Minsky. I've been curious about the series, but never watched it. After this book I don't intend to.

The plot, if you can call it that, is that someone has been leaving notes is assorted places around the school, with cheesy messages like "I Know What You Did Last Week." Other than the annoyance factor, it's hardly a major crime. The "twist" if you can call it that, is that the notes are in Lizzie McGuire's handwriting. Lizzie decides to take it on herself to track down the suspect, and she pretty much lives up to the absurd 'ditzy blonde' trope in doing so. That's when I called out, "Check please! I'm done here." I can't remotely commend this based on the portion I managed to suffer through. I fear for young readers and readership in general if this kind of garbage actually appeals to people.

Night Shift by Debi Gliori

Rating: WORTHY!

From Scots author Debi Gliori comes this short (~30 pages), illustrated, small-format book which has the aim of conveying what a life of depression feels like on the inside. The approach to it is to convey the feeling in graphic images of, for example, dragons, supported by brief and pithy verse. This is the kind of book you have to go with from the off and take it as you find it rather than try to analyze it, and I felt that it works well, and it works for both grown-ups and children. I commend it as a worthy read.

The Glitch by Elisabeth Cohen

Rating: WARTY!

This was a book I found in the library and which sounded interesting from the blurb - a highly-driven professional woman literally meeting herself and - I was thinking - maybe learning something from a stepped-down version of herself, but it didn't turn out that way.

The book began with the family (this woman, her husband, and their daughter) on holiday. The daughter disappeared while both of them were on their phones conducting business. She apparently was taken home by some guy, who then called the parents to tell them that she was safe and sound. That just creeped me out. The book was supposed to be funny, but it wasn't, not remotely. Kirkus Reviews - clueless as they are, described it as a "painfully funny satire". The got the pain right. If I'd known beforehand that they'd recommended it, I would have fled from it like it was Ebola virus. But as it is, no, just no. The more academic the writer, the less I tend to like their pretentious pap. This novel sucks as befits a person who has a masters in writing. Now if she'd said she had a mistresses in writing, maybe that would have been funny.

Eyes Like Stars by Lisa Mantchev

Rating: WORTHY!

The publisher won't tell you this, but this is book one of the "Théâtre Illuminata" trilogy. Once again, not a word on the cover about this being part of a series. That's a huge black mark against it, as well as a testament to Big Publishing™ dishonesty, but I've had this on my print book shelf for several years, still at that point in ignorance of it being the prologue to a trilogy! I decided to give it a try anyway. In the end I wasn't disappointed, but neither was I pointed enough to want to read any more. I'm very much anti-trilogy or any other -ogy, especially anti- the unending 'series'. It has to be something truly special before I will embark on another series. This one volume, however, I'm willing to commend despite some issues with it.

It seemed obvious after getting about fifty percent into this book that it wasn't going to end after one volume, but by that point I'd decided I liked it enough to read it to the end, although about two-thirds the way through I started having doubts. It came back strongly enough from the lull to carry me to the end, but it was precisely this sort of thing that put me off wanting to read more, especially since the ending was a bit flat and a lot cliffhanger. I do not approve of that. If the author can't make the story grip you through one volume, what chance has she when piling the soul-sapping weight of another two on top of it?

The story is about Beatrice Shakespeare Smith, and that 'Shakespeare' portion of her name is important because although she lives in a magical theater which is literally home to real characters who exist in plays in a tome that the theater guards, and who manifest themselves in the theater even when a play is not in progress, Mantchev seems to think, as judged from what she writes, that the only works ever produced in a theater are those by Shakespeare.

Realistically, she could hardly steal characters from more modern plays without getting into copyright issues, but there are scores of well-known plays out of copyright, and she could have could have at least mentioned other characters in passing without anyone suing her, yet all we get is Shakespeare, a mention of The Little Mermaid and from that, some vague love interest named Nate who seemed to think that "Bertie" needed manhandling now and then. The fact that he disappeared at one point in the story and never reappeared when others who had also disappeared returned, told me that this was never going to be resolved in one volume. Barf. So here's another author who's sold out to the YA publishing world's demand that if you don't have a series, or at least a trilogy then you're fucking useless.

But I digress! This tunnel vision on the author's part with regard to 'what's a play' has imposed a severe limitation on the novel, and while I must grant that the author did well, even confined solely to Shakespeare, this confinement meant she lost a huge opportunity to have interesting and amusing interactions in this world she created. So, while parts of it were highly amusing, particularly her banter with the four fairies from A Midsummer's Night Dream: Cobweb, Moth, Mustardseed, and Peaseblossom, who seemed to like to hang with Bertie because of the chaos and mischief she caused, there were also parts that were tedious to read, and an often insufferable Ariel (from The Tempest), who was the penis leg of the inevitable YA lust tripod that all these YA stories are inevitably cursed with.

Bertie was, she's been told, left at the theater as a baby by her mother, yet she never really questions why her mother left her there as opposed to say, a convent or an orphanage. Instead she makes up stories - performed as plays, in which she watches various random characters act out her origin story. But Bertie's days are numbered precisely because of her ill-behavior, and at seventeen, she's given an ultimatum: prove herself invaluable to the theater, or leave. For reasons which escape me, she decides that if she can put on a production of Hamlet set in ancient Egypt this will make her case! She sets out to organize the performance, but first has to deal with Ariel's mischief in setting loose the entire cast of every play by ripping out the pages of the magical play-book. The only page he can't rip out is his own.

The characters are recovered, of course, and nary a word is spoken about this imprisonment, so issues there, but that aside, the story was interesting enough and amusing often enough that I was able to stay with it. So I commend this as a worthy read, but like I said, I have no stomach for pursing Bertie in any further adventures. She's not that interesting of a character. If the next volume had been about Cob, Moth, Mus, and Pease, I might have changed my mind!

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Passion Blue by Victoria Strauss

Rating: WORTHY!

This book was set in 1487, which is the same year that the farcical witch-hunters' manual Malleus Maleficarum was published, and Leonardo da Vinci drew his 'Vitruvian Man'. It tells the story of Giulia Borromeo, the daughter of a Count and a seamstress in his employ.

When the count dies, it turns out that in his will, he has left provision for a dowry for Giulia so that she might marry decently, but her wicked stepmother decides that Giulia needs to be married to Christ, and gives her dowry to a convent, to which Giulia is promptly dispatched. She's not sent so promptly however that she doesn't have time to pay a quick visit to an astrologer who maps out her future with regard to whether or not she will ever meet her romantic match.

If she'd worded it precisely that way, she might have got a clearer answer, but in a desperate attempt to make sure she gets what she wants, she also pays a sorcerer to create an amulet containing a spirit which will guide her to her true love. I'm unconvinced of the value of incorporating this supernatural element into this story, because it seemed like an unnecessary distraction to me, and the story works perfectly well without it, but the amulet played only a small role, so I was willing to let that slide.

That amulet seems to Giulia like it burns when she meets a young man at the monastery who is there to renew a damaged fresco. Of course she's not supposed to be with him alone, but she's a bit of a rebel, and she doesn't want to be at the convent anyway. She has other plans. She's expecting to meet the love of her life and move on.

Later, she meets the same guy on a supervised trip from the convent. This trip came about because Giulia has some talent for drawing, and the convent she was sent to conveniently has a workshop of some renown, where nuns create works of art to adorn churches. It's quite a lucrative business, especially since one of the nuns - the maestra, has created a brilliant shade of blue known as passion blue - not from romantic passion but from the passion of Christ. Once Giulia's skill in art comes to light, she's is adopted by this maestra, and begins training as an artist under her wing. She attends the workshop each day instead of pursuing what the other nun novices are doing.

Despite being thrilled with her opportunities there, Giulia is still intent upon pursuing her romantic inclination, and she secretly arranges to meet her guy in the orchard behind the convent one night, where there's a breech in the wall and he can climb through. These meetings continue, but they don't end up where Giulia was expecting them to!

The book was quite surprisingly entertaining. It felt really nice for a change, to pick up a book like this on spec as it were and to discover that it's as good as you'd hoped it would be. We should all write books like that. I commend this fully as a worthy read.

Saturday, October 5, 2019

Princeless Vol 6 Make Yourself by Jeremy Whitley, Emily Martin, Brett Grunig

Rating: WORTHY!

This was billed as 'Part Two' and I was unaware of there being a part one. This is when I decided to quit reading this series because it's far too hard to try and keep track of which volume comes where. If there are two parts, isn't that two separate volumes? I mean all of this is the same story, so it's completely arbitrary as to where it's split! Just list them numerically in the order they should be read, and don't inexplicably branch off into a completely separate story that retains the same name. It's not rocket science.

Why publishers have such an issue with issues is beyond me. Do they not want people to have a good reading experience? It would be perfectly simple to label these quite clearly an unambiguously according to the order in which they should be read - but that would actually benefit people so why in the name of all that righteous would Big Publishing™ ever do such a thing? They're not interested in helping people. They're interested in profiting and that's it.

So this will be the last of this series I read, but it was not because this particular (half-)volume was a bad one. It was entertaining enough, but as I mentioned in a previous review, the sameness doesn't go away, and by this point this showing-up in an obscure local to rescue a sister, running into problems, then emerging victorious has become a ritual. It's not thatentertaining! It's certainly not original at this point. Plus for the first time I did not like the 'sister' (in this case endlessly-arguing twins) being rescued. So while I consider this a worthy read, I do not have the patience or time to continue with this when so much else begs to be read. Again writing was by Whitley, and art by Martin and Grunig.

Princeless Vol 4 Be Yourself by Jeremy Whitley, Emily Martin, Brett Grunig

Rating: WORTHY!

So on goes the story. These will be my last two of the Princeless/Pirate Queen mess of comics, not least because it's far too hard to keep track of what order one should read them in, but more importantly, this is a case of diminishing returns. The more of these that I read, the less entertained that I am, sorry to report.

Not that these last two were unentertaining by any means, but this is a problem with series. They're really the same story told over again with a different tweak each time, and that's not that entertaining to me. At some point I lose interest. This is why I shall never write a series myself. The last thing I need is to bore myself with my own writing!

So this episode it's off to rescue the middle sister of the Ashe family, Angoisse. Her sister Adrienne and her indefatigable colleague Bedelia plunge fearlessly into the swamp, lose their dragon, and confront zombies and a vampire who is intent upon capturing Adrienne and returning her to her royally-pissed King of a father for a reward.

As usual there are surprises awaiting Adrienne, and as usual she wins out. But her sister isn't the same as when Adrienne last knew her. Now if only they can beat the dread Grimorax, maybe they'll have a chance! This was amusing, and a little bit different, which is what kept me entertained, but even in this I could feel the same-ness creeping in. However, it is most definitely a worthy read: decent script by Whitley, and great art by Martin and Grunig

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Princeless Book 2 Get Over Yourself by Jeremy Whitley, Emily Martin, Kelly Lawrence

Rating: WORTHY!

I came across these books purely by accident in my local library and pretty much have started falling in love. The writing (by Whitley) is good and amusing, and M-ART-in takes fine care of the ART. Colors by Lawrence are also excellent. Naturally when you're relying on your local library to get this new stuff (new to me anyway) you can't always be sure you get it in the right order - or read it in that order either, for that matter.

This is book 2, and I should have read it after the other volume I got, so that's on me. What's not on me though is the confusion by the author starting a series within a series. Some of the books are subtitled 'Raven the Pirate Princess', and those are intermingled in the library listing, so it was a real pain to sort out not only in what order these should be read, but also which were of one series and which of another. Life ought to be a lot simpler than this. No wonder people end-up takine automatic weapons into crowds when life is like this - and this sure as hell isn't the most egregious example of life's frustrations; it's just one of many minor ones, but many a mickle maks a muckle dontcha know?

That pet frustration aside, I really enjoyed this volume in which Adrienne and Bedelia take their dragon Sparky on a road-trip (road? Air-trip) in search of Angelica, who ain't so angelic, but who is Adrienne's sister, and who bills herself as fantasy land's most beautiful.

Unfortuantely, it appears that Angelica is in no need of rescue and probably would prefer to be left alone with her swelling crowd of admirers, but that's not the only problem since the King has hired a group of poseurs, aka knights(? Maybe?) to track down and kill the knight he believes is responsible for Adrienne's death. The problem is that the night who "killed" Adrienne is actually Adrienne herself, as part of a dastardly escape plan. The plot quickens. Loved it. Commend it. Haven't had this much fun since Bad Machinery and Rat Queens which is hardly surprising since this appears to be a cross between both those series. Now I'm on my own quest to find more.

Princeless The Pirate Princess Girls Who Fight Boys by Jeremy Whitley, Rosy Higgins, Ted Brandt

Rating: WORTHY!

Written by Whitley, with art by Higgins and Brandt, this began as a Rapunzel rip-off about the rescuing of a purported princess (she'd deny it) from a tower. Her hair, unfortunately, was nowhere near long enough, but the escape was affected anyway, and they were on their merry way. The 'pirate princess' was desperate to take over the nearest pirate ship, especially since it was being run by her brother (although he was not on board). I was sorry one of the trio dropped out and spent the rest of this volume napping, but that's dwarves for you.

Most fun sentence: "We kept company for a few moments before she continued eastward while I ate and watered my horse." I've heard the phrase "I could eat a horse," but the way this was worded, she actually did eat a horse. And then watered it. That takes some doing....

Loved it though. A fun romp. Commend it. Looking for more.

Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia

Rating: WORTHY!

Eliz is counting the days until her graduation when she can head off to college and leave her little town behind. She's tired of being the odd one out at school and has no interest in anyone there. What neither the school nor anyone else but her immediate family realizes is that Eliza Mirk is the creator of a web comic called Monstrous Sea, which is highly popular. Why it is, I don't know.

There are a few (and far between) illustrations in the print book along with some text about which I had no particular feelings one way or the other excepting to say that it didn't seem to me the type of thing that would inspire and rabid readership and a thriving paraphernalia store which nets Eliza a comfortable income such that she can already pay her way through college.

This all begins to unravel when a studly guy arrives at her school as a transfer, and immediately he and Eliza start becoming an item. At first it's very awkward, but when they both reveal their shared interest in Monstrous Sea (he as a fan fiction writer, she as a fan fiction artist - so she tells him) they begin hanging out together and eventually really are dating. This is where I began to have problems with this novel because it started feeling too trope to live. The girl who thinks she's unattractive and has no interest in guys. The stud of a guy - a jock, with chiseled features and a buff bod - is attracted to her. Seriously? That is so YA. This could have been about a couple of regular nerds with no special physical qualities and it would ahve read a lot better, so why'd the author go the trad route instead of making her own path? Selling out to Big publishing™ maybe? Far too many YA authors do.

For the longest time it seems as though Eliza was truly going to be different, because the writing suggested she was perhaps overweight and typically dressed way down, but in the end she's the good-looking girl who only needs to take her eyeglasses off to be a runway model. Well, it wasn't quite that bad, but it came close at times. That started to turn me off the novel, but the writing continued to be good, original, and interesting and the relationship didn't suddenly balloon out of nothing. That sure helped. The thing is that it could have been that same way with the nerds. Unfortunately, it wasn't.

I read on anyway, and found myself being drawn into the story and wanting to know what happened next even when, at the end, it became predictable. Eliza had a counterpart who had started a series of books and then when it came to the last volume - never produced one. She left her fans hanging and dropped out of the world. You knew at this point that Eliza would contact her when she ran into the same issues, which in Eliza's case were precipitated by her idiot parents who have zero understanding of Eliza, and who constantly demean and belittle her interests concerning Monstrous Sea; they consider it to be just some passing fad which didn't deserve to be taken seriously. They had no interest in even reading the web comic.

I wondered at times how autobiographical this novel was. I don't know. I hope it wasn't, but it could well be for all I know. She writes like maybe it is, or like maybe she knows someone like this. I can understand it from my own experiences. But loved ones aren't by any means required to love what we love. We can only hope for understanding, and be miserable if we don't get it! Writing can be a very lonely profession, even for an amateur.

The problem other than the trope high-school couple was that the ending was very predictable. You know she's going to be outed before she tells her studly boyfriend her big secret and that he's going to react very negatively, but in the end everything is going to be hunky dory, and she's even going to be reconciled with her family that she's spent the entire novel all-but despising until that last few pages. That was too sickly for me, but despite that, the overall the novel was worth reading. Besides I'm tired of wishing for novels that don't necessarily wrap-up neatly in the end like a pathetic TV sitcom tying off all the loose ends in a half-hour or forty minutes. I got so tired of waiting for such novels to come that I started writing them myself!

I read somewhere that this author is John Greene's new favorite. I wonder what happened to the previous one? How are they faring? Whenever I read one author recommend another like that I wonder how much they were paid to review the book. She's fortunate that I read that commendation after I read her novel, because if I'd read it beforehand I would never have picked this book up! I can't say she's my favorite author, but then I'm not paid for my reviews! I can say I would read something else by her - except maybe not if it was as long as this was.

History Dudes Ancient Egypt by Laura Buller, Rich Cando

Rating: WORTHY!

I liked this book. It was fun, full of detail, not remotely boring, and amusingly-illustrated by Cando (which I confess sounds suspiciously like a made-up name!). From my own researches into ancient Egypt for various projects I've been involved with such as Tears in Time and Cleoprankster, I could tell it was accurate, too.

It tells a young reader everything they might want to know about ancient Egypt and author Buller pulls no punches, beware. It discusses pulling out brains during mummification, and stuffing body organs into canopic jars. But it explains everything about everyday life as well as everyday death along with food, religion, habits, games, and so on. It talks about clothing, wigs, and shoes, about building pyramids, and everything else a young kid might want to know about an ancient and fascinating civilization. It's the perfect introduction to ancient Egypt for young children and I commend it wholeheartedly.

A Girl Walks Into a Book by Miranda K Pennington

Rating: WORTHY!

This was really more of a memoir about the author's life and her bad relationships than it was about the Brontë books, but there was nonetheless enough in it pertaining to the books, and it was interesting and amusing enough in parts that I decided I would rate it favorably. I picked it up to read the blurb initially because I found the title amusing.

This author is clearly in love with the Brontës, something I confess I am not. I tried Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë and did not like it at all. I tried Shirley by Charlotte Brontë and found it boring in the extreme, so I DNF'd it in short order. Agnes Grey destroyed my little grey cells. The only place I erred from that poor history was Jane Eyre, which I liked.

Given this dismal track record I was curious as to what new light this author might shed, and there wasn't a lot except in where it applied to her own love life - or lack of one, or failure in one. It became a bit annoying in parts, because it seemed like every Brontë she read pertained to whatever was happening in her life at that moment and I wonder if her attachment to the book might have been less were she to have had a more accommodating social life.

The most infuriating part - and the part where I wondered if I might have to ditch this book - was where she became involved with a colleague at work in a wretched co-dependent relationship and this went on, and dragged on and on forever. It bothered me that she stayed in this relationship with this guy who was half-assed about it for the longest time and just when I thought she was going to ditch him permanently she reported getting back with him and then peremptorily marrying him! Now I'm wondering how long that marriage will last. But it's her life; I'm not going to judge this book on the poor choices she might have made living it! Especially not since the book made a point of comparing her poor choices in other relationships with the relationships the various Brontë books detailed.

It was because of reading this that I decided to try Shirley and Agnes Grey. I do not thank her for that! She ends the book with a report about traveling to London and then to Haworth in Yorkshire which is where the Brontës lived. It's a bit of a honeymoon for her and her husband. Of course the first morning they're in Haworth, he gets sick and she has to hike a mile in the Yorkshire fog down to the nearest pharmacy. Which is called a chemist in Britain.

It turns out he had this thing called quinsy which I'd never heard of before, despite having grown up in Britain. I realized what it was when I discovered the scientific name for it is peritonsillar abscess. From what I've read of it, that's hardly so debilitating that he couldn't have got out of bed and gone to the pharmacy himself, so to me this spoke poorly of this ongoing relationship between these two, but then I've never had it, so maybe it's worse in person than a text can convey. I dunno.

After reading so much about this relationship this felt to me like just one more burden it had put on her. But surgeons took my tonsils when I was little so I don't have any issues with those. They still haven't paid me for them. Maybe if they had, I'd feel differently!

Like I said, this book can be annoying in parts, but it is educational and entertaining, and even insightful in others, so overall, I commend this as a worthy read.