Thursday, March 30, 2017

20:120 Batman: Court of Owls Vol.1 by Scott Synder, Greg Capullo, & Jonathan Glapion

The Court of Owls has been rumored and hinted at for as long as Gotham has been around.  Always a group that operates in the dark, controlling the underworld, but Batman has looked into it but never found any evidence until a string of brutal murders targeting Bruce Wayne and friends starts up. Now he is in the thick of things and it seems to have been following his family for generations but is this real or is he finally loosing his grip on reality?

I thought the story was intriguing.  My big hand up so often with comics is the artwork and in this case it was ok, except where it was supposed to be ugly because that fit with the story itself.  I was I had been more gripped by the whole thing but for whatever reason, I just wasn't.  I've been told by family members I need to keep going so I will hope the next one works better for me.

Page count: 176p/4,012p ytd/278,487p lifetime

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

19:120 The Lay of the Land by Seanan McGuire

What seems to always be the most likely way to get someone interested in someone else (at least from a story trope way)?  Yeah, have the father forbid the daughter to ever go near "that boy/man" ever again and then ground her.  So what does Jonathan Healy do when the Covenant member comes to town and his daughter, Alice, has stumbled into him already?  Yep.  And what does she do in response?  Of course!  She takes him over some cookies and offers to show him around the woods filled with incryptids.

Now we already know that Tom and Alice end up together since this backstory to the series but it's nice to see characters we don't really get to know in the series but who definitely have influenced the people we do follow.  I will say though, I wish Ms. McGuire had not used the boring old trope in this case.  It felt like a bit of a lefdown to go with something so obvious.

Page count: 32p/3,836p ytd/278,311p lifetime

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

18:120 My Last Name by Seanan McGuire

Verity and Dominic have finally meandered across the country to arrive at her parents' home but while the greeting could have been warmer, it was pretty much what you could have expected from her paranoid parents when she brought home a Covenant member.

Short and sweet tale about Dominic meeting the folks for the first time. No surprises at all although I would have thought she might have given them a bit more of a heads up beforehand considering how paranoid they are.  Saves on bullets you know.

Page count: 14p/3,804p ytd/278,279p lifetime

Sunday, March 26, 2017

17:120 Lorraine Hansberry: Award Winning Playwright and Civil Rights Activist by Susan Sinott

In 1959, in just her late 20s, Lorraine Hansberry was finally able to get the play out of her head and onto paper and A Raisin in the Sun was born.  It had been rattling around in her head for a while but once it found its time and place, it took off and took America with it.  Lorraine had grown up fairly middle-class in Chicago, or as middle-class as a black family was to be, to parents who were in at the beginning of the Civil Rights movement.  She learned much watching them that did not truly germinate until she was a young woman and able to truly appreciate what they had done and what her generation still needed to do.  A Raisin in the Sun allowed her to start finding her outer voice although it seems a shame that so much of its message went askew at the time. It is a shame that she died so young with so much left to give to society.

I admit, before this year I had heard of this play but had never seen it or had any idea even what it was about.  I didn't know the name Lorraine Hansberry.  My 10th grader is doing theater and needed to do a biographical research paper so we decided to combine the assignments and do it on a playwright and Ms. Hansberry had been coming up a lot in the standards and his theater curriculum so I suggested her because I did not want to deal with yet another Shakespeare thing (don't get me wrong, I enjoy Shakespeare but researching him is so overdone and I wanted to learn about someone new).  He agreed and this book was the source of most of his information.  It was very informative, simply-written but engaging at the same time.  I'm definitely glad to have learned more about her.

Page count: 147p/3,790p ytd/278,265p lifetime

16:120 The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

My original review from 2013:

A 40+yr old man returns to his hometown after many years away for a funeral and finds himself walking down memory lane.  Down a lane with the ocean at the end of it and memories long since repressed and forgotten about things that sound impossible but aren't really.  About monsters and madness, oceans and other worlds, love and loss.  For a while, he leaves the outside world behind and remembers it all.

This is such a quiet book that you don't even realize how much time has gone by until something suddenly snaps you back into reality and you look down to see how much of the book you have read except you haven't read it, you have been swallowed by it mind and soul.  You can't wait to steal a few more minutes to dive into it again only to find yourself emerging an hour later.  Not a long read by any means but I found myself reading it slowly to savor it.  It doesn't want to be rushed but rather wants to quietly unfurl and draw you in...and you want to let it.

Page count: 259p/3,643p ytd/278,118p lifetime

Friday, March 24, 2017

15:120 A History of US Vol. 5: Liberty for All? by Joy Hakim

Review from 2013:
The 5th book in her US history series for middle school.  Better than some of the others.  There was some interesting information in there setting things up for the Civil War and while I appreciated learning more about the authors and artists of that time, I'm not sure how much my son got out of that.  There were definitely parts that I felt could have moved more quickly but at the same time, I think it was good to show where the country was and all the things that went into creating the factions of North vs. South.  It wasn't just slavery although that was the main thing but the industry, life styles, and exploration that slavery enabled that many people did not want to lose as well.

Page count: 219p/3,384p ytd/277,859p lifetime

Thursday, March 23, 2017

14:120 Hatchet by Gary Paulsen

Brian is angry, so angry.  He knows the Secret that caused his parents' divorce and now he is stuck in a small, single-engine plane on his way to visit his father in Canada because they can no longer all live together. He is stewing about that when the pilot has a heart attack and the fight for survival in the Canadian wilderness starts with the plane crashing in the middle of nowhere, well off the flight path they were supposed to be on.  With the plane sunk in a lake and no supplies but his windbreaker, the hatchet his mother gave him as he left, and his very limited knowledge of survival skills, he must find shelter and food for who knows how long.

I have seen this book around but had never read it before but found a literature study unit for it and grabbed it for homeschooling and now is when my son decided we should read it.  I really enjoyed it as Brian was very easy to relate to.  He makes mistakes, he doesn't have a lot of survival skills, he has set-backs where he almost gives up but then pulls himself out of it.  He has some luck, both good and bad, but in all it's a huge learning experience for him and we get to share it.  I also appreciate that even after his rescue, he doesn't just return to how he was before but they mention some of the issues he has readjusting to regular life.  I think that's an important thing that so often gets left out so I was happy that this book didn't.

Page count: 186p/3,165p ytd/277,640p lifetime

Sunday, March 5, 2017

13:120 American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang

Three seemingly unrelated tales interwoven until they all wrap up together at the end.  You have the Monkey King who has trained and studied to be accepted into Heaven with the other Gods but is shut out because he is only a monkey. There is Danny, an all-American boy, who is continuously embarrassed every time his cousin Chen-Kee visits from China and behaves as the most horrific characterization of every horrible Chinese stereotype ever.  And then there is Jin Wang, a new student in a new school, trying to fit in with his all-American classmates and horrified when a boy from Taiwan starts at the school and wants to be friends with him because what will that do to his chances with the girl he is falling for?  All three main characters are dealing the fact that they are not happy in their own skin and looking for acceptance from outside is not working out so well for any of them.

My older son read this for his college comics class and recommended it to me.  It has won several awards and it's easy to see why.  The graphic novel format allows it to swing back and forth between the stories easily and conveys the thoughts much easier than I think the written word alone would have allowed for.  The interweaving of the stories was well done although a bit heavy handed at the end on the moral but since it's such an important one, it's easy to forgive.

Page count: 233p/2,979p ytd/277,454p lifteime

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

New Releases I'm Looking Forward To: 2nd Quarter 2017

My usual disclaimer:
Let me state, this is really based on authors or series that I'm already reading since those are the things I follow.  I'm not paid to write this blog nor do I have any affiliations with any publishers so I don't receive free books or advance notice of things except what I glean off Facebook from people who do have those contacts or what I research on my own (which again, leads back to authors that I'm already reading).  Maybe someday I'll be one of those who has the contacts and gets ARCs but it's not today.

So I'm still massively behind in reading the new books that I keep buying.  Life has gotten so much busier although I'm not altogether sure how but I think it's been spending a lot more time with friends and now with our new dog there is a LOT of time spent outside walking her which is definitely not helping me get more reading done.  That doesn't mean that I'm not going to find time to start getting to some of these books that I post about. Thankfully there isn't a ton coming out this quarter so maybe I can start making a dent in the backlog.

Legend Has It by Elliot James is first up.  The fifth book in the Pax Arcana series.  I'm a book behind right now but this one definitely looks cool with the villain reading a magic book that is changing the world around him to match his fantasies.  Hmmm...

Release date: April 18

Next up is Snared by Jennifer Estep, book 16 in the Elemental Assassin series.  I've just started reading book 15 and it looks like the new long term plot line with the Circle will be continuing for a bit.

Release Date: April 25

Cold Reign by Faith Hunter kicks off the next month.  Again, I'm a book behind in the series *sigh* but this next one looks to be seriously a** kickin'.  Leo is under threat (again) but this time from revenants that should never have risen which means there is much more magical mojo going on than Jane has ever dealt with before.

Release date: May 2

The second book in the Hidden Legacy series, White Hot by Ilona Andrews, ended up being delayed a while so it's nice to see that not only is it coming out this year but the third will be coming out a few months after.  This is definitely a paranormal romance series but the world is intriguing and they are definitely working to have a reason for the characters to have a relationship which is something I definitely appreciate.

Release date: May 30

Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire wraps up this quarter's new releases.  A follow-up to Every Heart a Doorway, this is the backstory of the twin girls, Jack and Jill, who found that love isn't always enough and choices can be tricky things.

Release date: June 13