March Wrap Up

Its the post that no one asked for but that your getting anyway!
The name of the game for March was making a dent in the comics and graphic novels in my collection.
Ok Team! Lets get a run down of what I read and how I felt.

25489134The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden: I started this one in Feb and finished it in early March. I was completely sucked in and only really stopped reading when I got super spooked in some of the later chapters. I really enjoy fairy tales and folk takes and was delighted to get some insights into stories of the Russian variety. I was also really interested in the way the church was portrayed, not as the enemy, but as deceived.                      4.5 Honey Cakes out of 5.

23129410Welcome to Night Vale by Joseph Fink and Jeffery Cranor: I had such high hopes. I really love the Welcome to Night Vale podcast. Cecil and Carlos are my OTP and I am all about the episodic randomness that pulls together into a beautiful surprise. Unfortunately I just didn’t feel connected to either of the main characters. Neither Jackie or Diane really drew me in, and I was honestly much more interested in learning more about Josh or Old Woman Josie and the Erica’s. I did listen to this on audiobook, which is the only reason this got a 3 rather than a 2.
3 Flamingos out of 5.

29780171Archie Vol 2 by Mark Waid: I’ve really been enjoying the re-emergence of the Riverdale fandom. Archie himself has never been a favourite character, lets be real, he’s a total jerk. I’m here for Betty and Jughead and Dilton and Ethel. I’m not sure if I’m going to keep going with the next volume, not because I don’t like these last two volumes, but because I just don’t like Archie enough to keep investing $20 into these.
3 Fickle Redheads out of 5.

27405590Jughead Vol 1 by Chip Zdarsky: This is what we are here for!! Juggie has always been my fav. He was snarky and sarcastic and just not about that date life. This first volume paid hommage to the classic Jughead stories and it made me so incredibly happy. Can we also talk for a moment about Juggie being asexual? As someone who identifies as demi, I’m all about this. Its only dropped in passing, but I’m happy they did it this way rather than making it a big production.
4 Burgers out of 5.

2057897925943106Amulet Vol 6 and 7 by Kazu Kibuishi: I’ve been working my way through this series and have been liking it quite a bit so far. The only issue I’ve had so far is that the story can be hard to follow at times. I’ve found myself needing to go back and reread sections, and in more then a couple cases, feel parts of the story are skipped over and we are expected to fill in the gaps. Its a very interesting fantasy story with a delightful mix of mechs and sci-fi.
3 Robot Houses out of 4.

28354793Chupacabras Song by Jim C. Hines: I have weird feelings about this one. I love Jim C. Hines. He is a phenomenal writer. I have loved everything I’ve read from him. Sure it can occasionally be a little fan servicey, but heck, you do you Jim. I had to read this tiny short story 4 times before I got a solid idea of what was going on. I’m not sure if I just wasn’t in the right headspace for the story, or if it just wasn’t up to Mr. Hines usual calibre , but this one wasn’t for me.
3 Magic Vet Assistants out of 5.

30776605Jughead Vol 2 by Chip Zdarsky: Yes, just Yes. 100x yes. This volume was perfect, it was everything I wanted and more.  We get more Juggie, being Juggie, this time in less episodic and more slice of life story telling. Which is what I live for. We get to see Juggie interacting with his friends, and going on a date, which is a beautiful thing. That Juggie is ace is further developed in this volume and it truly gave me life. One of the things I found myself enjoying more than I thought were the interatctions between Archie and Jughead, where we explore how friendships change over time, and it was really delicately done.
5 Burger Women out of 5.

25138266B26067583atgirl Vol 1 and Vol 2. by Cameron Stewart: I don’t know team, maybe Batgirl just isn’t for me. Batwoman? Yes, always Yes. Batgirl… Meh. I had a really hard time with this one. I don’t know if its because despite this being a Volume 1 and 2 there is a tonne of back story that is hinted at rather then explained. I don’t think the story is inherently bad, it was just not an ideal jumping in point. I also found our main character to be rather dislikable over all. I’m down with flawed characters, and that your protagonist doesn’t have to be a nice person. I honestly just find her more annoying than anything.
3 Needy Batgirls out of 5.

28954189Scythe by Neal Shusterman: I need to stop trying to describe Neal Shusterman books to my friends. They can tell by my face how excited about them I am, but the content is so dark, and psychologically messed up that my friends become concerned. Scythe was absolutely phenomenal and I would 100% recommend. I will do a full on review of this one. I love it too much not to. Long Story Short: World without death gives two teens a license to kill.
5 out of 5 Flamethrowers

28186137Angel Catbird by Margaret Atwood: I might have been mildly disappointed by Welcome to Night Vale, but that honestly is nothing in comparison to Angel Catbird. This thing was a monstrosity. Maybe it was intended to be one of those its “so bad its good” cult comics, but it blew past that and exploded into 3 years of unchanged kitty litter. Margaret Atwood has written a couple of my favourite books, and even though I had seen pretty brutal reviews for it, I wanted to give Ms Atwood the benefit of the doubt. This was a wrong choice. The art was good, but the dialogue was juvenile and story went from 0-60-300 in a matter of panels. The only reason my Goodreads says 1 star is because there is no option to give 0 and still give a rating.
0 Creepy Half Rat Harems out of 5

Thats it team. It was a pretty wild ride. I had some really amazing reads this month, and more then and a few disappointing reads. Heres to April and a beautiful new month of reading.


The Story Of Beautiful Girl

For all I know this book is a book club phenomenon that has been love and adored by millions. But that is not how I found it, or grew to fall in love with it. I was simply racked for time to pick a Historical Fiction for The EOG Book Club, and couldn’t muster the energy to blow through a Jane Austen novel in a little over two weeks. This lead to me frantically wandering the newly created book section of my mothers local Wal-Mart. (There is only one very tiny book store in town that keeps bankers hours.)

I was about to give up after seeing nothing that peaked my interest, regency royal scandals are not my cup of tea, when I saw this beautiful little blue cover glowing brightly on the top shelf. I thought to myself, it will be too good to be true if this turns out to be historical fiction, but low and behold it was and I was very happy.

The Story of Beautiful Girl by Rachel Simon is set in the early 70’s and leads right up to current day, taking place at the School for the Incurable and Feebleminded, an institution where the disabled and mentally handicapped are dumped and taken care of only in the most basic way, and rarely even that.

The story follows 3 main characters:
Lynnie – a woman with developmental delays who is housed at the school who runs away with Homan after becoming pregnant due to the abuse of of the the grounds keepers.
Homan  – An African American deaf-mute man sent to the School simply because no one is able to communicate with him. He falls in love with Lynnie, and after finding out about her pregnancy promises to free her from the school.
Martha – A little old woman with no children of her own living on her farm after the death of her husband. Lynnie and Homan turn up on her door step one night and trust her with hiding and caring for the new born baby after Lynnie is apprehended and Homan is lost to the night.

I was incredibly impressed with the writing style and how well the author was able to put across the thoughts and emotions of all the characters. She masterfully delves into the mind and speech of an African American man who grew up in the 50’s, and surmounts the awesome challenge of him having to describe words and people he has never heard of. She also delves into the mind and feelings of Lynnie with such delicacy and insight I wasn’t at all surprised when the author turned out to have grown up with a sister who had a disability.

Without giving too much away I want to say that this book is really amazing, a lot of really important themes were explored in interesting and engaging ways. All the characters were well fleshed out and believable, well all but one but we can gloss over her. And the setting was almost 3 dimensional. I would recommend this read to absolutely anyone, the themes are universal and there is not so much romance that it would turn a guy off reading it.

My only critique was the ending, I felt that it could have been handled way better then it was. It felt a little rushed, and really the only part of the book that didn’t feel believable to me. There are so many ways that the writer could have resolved the story and brought Lynnie’s daughter to the realization of who her family was, it may have made the book a few chapters longer but would have been well worth the extra time. Luckily the story seems to resolve its self before we get to this disconnected feeling last chapter, so it was easy to disregard it and let it end a chapter earlier.

Dear Fatty

As promised, a review of Dawn French’s memoirs, as titled Dear Fatty.

Let me start this off with letting you know how I stumbled onto this gem. Netflix… Oh the wonder that it is! I was tootling around the titles, and wanted so bad to laugh. I looked at all the comedy movies they had, nothing really peaked my interest. So I looked through the tv titles, mostly dramas. I had however flagged some amazing British drama/action mini series, and the Netflix, oh lovely darling, created a category of British comedies. Ooh, and there planted in the middle… The Vicar of Dibley. ❤ I cannot sing the praises of this rediculous show often enough. The writing is both hilarious and heart felt and the actors true comedians. I adored it. Lead actress? Dawn French. 

Fast forward 6 months, and I’m running around Chapters looking for something to read. Nothing caught my eye, so I wandered over the biographies hoping to get another copy of The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe by  J. Randy Taraborrelli, a 545 page monster I had read, loved, lent out and never got back. The system said 4 copies were in stock, I searched the obvious places, the not so obvious places (I had worked this particular Chapters for 6 months in the past) and couldn’t find them. So I asked a staff to check the carts in the back to see if it was just recently in and hadn’t made it to the shelves. Five minutes, ten minutes, fifteen minutes, so I started browsing the shelves for something new. The Royals, Maya Angelou, Beck, Jimmy Carson, Doris Day, Amelia Earhart, Anne Frank, Dawn French! Ok so I’d only ever watched one of her shows, but it was called Dear Fatty and there was no putting it back!!

Dawn is very upfront about how she plans to write her “biography” and calls it her memoirs for a reason:

“I have decided to think of this book as a memoir rather then an autobiography. As I understand it, the latter means that I have to be precise about chronology and touch on all aspects of my quite-dull-in-parts life. […] Those bits would mainly be about puddings I’ve enjoyed and when I’ve set the washing machine on the wrong cycle and my quest for comfortable shoes, and the time I put a gun in a kitten’s mouth.”

The style of writing in letters I find can become annoying very quickly, but French masters it! Switching between heartfelt letters of love, to letters that make me laugh til my face hurts. She starts off with a letter to the reader, then a heartfelt one to her deceased father, the letter that follows is one of my favorites. Its a letter to her father, reminding him of the time she was 3 and had secretly wriggled under her parents bed while they were still asleep one morning. Her hand becomes stuck and she calls out for help and what follows is a hilarious account of her nude father leaping from the bed to pull her out, and her shock and dismay to see her father naked for the first time, and that he has a “vicious hairy saggy mole-snake creature” attacking the gap in his legs.

I quickly learned that the Fatty from the title had nothing to do with French’s own  “spherical” shape, but everything to do with her long time comedy partner. I was surprised however to hear her talk about herself and her body with the utmost respect. I cant recall ever hearing a bigger woman who revered her own boobs as much as she, or be completely unconcerned with her shape. It was more then a little bit inspiring. Her letter to her niece was inspiring, telling her to embrace her body, and that if one day she was curse with knockers as enormous as herself to use them to her advantage. I caught up on her life and found that she has recently lost 8 stone (112lb), an amazing feat! She is very upfront for why she did it, in an interview speaks to it being due to her desire to want to be around for her daughter as she grows up and that “I had great fondness for that other body. I knew it very well and I don’t know this one as well, not yet.” and ‘… Well I suppose I’ve always thought that that isn’t really what mattered, and yet by losing all this weight I realise that for a lot of people that is all that matters and that’s really sad. And I refuse to dislike the old body and you know, I may have it again you never know!”

Dawn skips merrily along, touching on her childhood with her family moving about because of her fathers position in the  RAF, and meeting the Queen (another laugh out loud moment), and saunters into her teen years and all the exploration and love it entailed. French describes her family, immediate and extended, with such warmth and love as they require to jump off the page (or in the case of a venomous grandmother makes her seem like more then a one dimensional villain). Her letters to her teen dream celebrities are beyond hilarious as she recaptures all those embarrassing things we all have written to our Hollywood crushes!

Throughout the bulk of the book it is made clear that Dawn has a loving relationship with her father, that he means the world to him, and many of the letters are written to him, She is also clear that at this time her father has already passed away. She makes mentions several times how she genuinely wished he had been around for key moments and key people in her life. When she finally makes it to the letter concerning her fathers death she tackles the topic with grace, humility and complete openness. We learn of her fathers deepening depression and despondency, as well as his tirelessly hard work of keeping the family afloat in a rough economic situation. The she very carefully reveals that her father committed suicide. And she isn’t angry, or at least thats how it reads, she is sad, she obviously misses him, but she understands where he was at and why he did it. She isn’t happy about it, she isn’t glad, she simply excepts that it is what she felt he needed to do. I can only imagine the time, and mental/emotional anguish that had to be mulled through to reach that point. In my opinion this letter is the one that makes the book the most profound.

Overall I would recommend this book to anyone 13 and up, and that’s only cause I’m a prude. Her language and content is mild, and I would be surprised to find anyone who would be offended, but she does with great candour the relationships and experiences she’s had as well as the very delicate topic of her fathers suicide. All in all though, if you want a book that balances hilarity and heartfelt perfectly this is the book for you. If you want to laugh til you cry, or just cry cause its needed, this is a book I would highly recommend.

A Little Thing About Books

I want this blog to be about books. Simply that, books I’ve read and loved, and books I’ve read and hated. Books I’ve read and been entirely indifferent about.

I’m pretty sure this is the fourth or fifth time I’ve tried to write this opening, and every time I write it and reread it I’m never happy with it. For a blog about books it feels like this needs to be eloquently written, with impeccable grammar and the utmost grace, but truth be told, I’m no author and I always hated my literary analysis classes. To pump out a critical and detached report on the books I’ve read is the total opposite of my goal. I want to write these “reviews”, for lack of a better word, with all the emotion the book gave me. A summery without personal opinion is not one I want to read.

Books and I have had a lengthy relationship. First as an escape from childhood bullies, seeking out beautifully illustrated tomes that would draw me in visually then transport me with words as I cowered among the shelves. Then as I grew older, as  an escape from the every day doldrums that inevitably follow each of us as we fall into routine. Slowly at first, and then more rapidly, these magical vessels for the imagination have made their way into my home and into my heart. My small collection has turned into something akin to a library. I smile every time I move, friends and family heaving and huffing, asking me breathlessly, “What are in these rubbermaids?”, I grin and huff right back, “Just some of my books.” They take up the most space, have absorbed more of my money and occupy more of my time then any other pursuit I have. Which is why I want to dedicate a blog to the adventures I encounter between the pages.

The name of the blog may mean nothing to most people, but it means the world to me. It is a line from one favorite books, from one of my favorite authors, and it marks the first time a book ever made me cry. I had read the first and second book in the series when I was in junior high (out of order I might add), and was very excited when I found the two of them being sold in my local grocery store years later. Low and behold there lay a third book, not new by any means, simply ignored by the ignorance of youth, passed by because I simply hadn’t known to check for more books in a series. Needless to say I snatched all three up and went home to immerse myself. I felt no need to read the first two books, the characters were as familiar to me as if I had read them only hours before. I was disappointed as I read. Where were my characters? Where was the familiar landscape? The messa? The valley and its ring of impassable mountains? But knowing my author, and trusting her love for own creation I kept on. Slowly the old palet returned, new names, new faces, but the same world.

And as we wandered out of the valley, an old friend; but an old friend alone. Mechanical, and immortal, we see Guardian stoic among the bamboo, frozen in time. We pass him, move among the stalks, only to hear a voice creaky and disused “Olwen, is that you?”, we reply in fear ” Who spoke? Where are you?” The voice answers back, full of rust and utter sorrow “You are not Olwen. You are not Olwen!” Not alone in the forest of bamboo, we pan to a grave. The grave of the only thing that gave him meaning, the child grown into a woman, aged unto death, Olwen Pendennis. And inscribed in the stone, words to break a heart, “Where you go I may not follow” That simple passage, the mixture of memory and emotion mingled so delicately together moved me to tears. I couldn’t put it to words, couldn’t even properly understand why, but my heart broke and melted right out my eyes.

Thats what a good book should do, it should move you. It doesn’t have to make you cry, its only happend to me twice, it just has to make you feel something. I’ve yelled at books and had to put them down for a time. I’ve laughed and books and startled friends, family and pets. I’ve been scared by books and needed to leave the light on to sleep. And its these movements, these moments that I want to call into existence here.

Please join me for the journey.

Much love ❤