Reading Rush 2020 TBR

Friday 17 July 2020

My wife and I love readathons. We also like finding readathons that repeat each year and make them part of our yearly book rituals. The Reading Rush was a readathon we did before and enjoyed it so we figured, why not do it again? The only issue is that she's the reading equivalent of The Flash and I'm a normal human with a limp. The Reading Rush has seven prompts so the ideal goal is to read seven books, in one week. So in this TBR you'll find a lot of super short books and graphic novels but also some longer books that I'll read if I can. So here I am, back again, with my TBR.

Read a book with a cover that matches the color of your birth stone.

Superman: Red Son by Mark Millar

Want to know a terrible secret? I once was a huge comic nerd and am currently trying to get back into it. I love Superman. He's my favorite hero. I think Henry Cavill is the best thing to happen to Superman since the first film. But I still have never read Superman: Red Son. I know the story, the bare bones of it. But I've never actually read the whole thing. So since this cover is red, and my birth stone is the Ruby, I figured I'd read this for the readathon.

Superman: Red Son is a "what if" story asking the question "What would have happened if Superman's pod had landed in the USSR instead of Kansas. What if he was raised by communist Russia instead of the Kents? 

Read a book that starts with the word "The."

The Pearl by John Steinbeck

I've recently been trying to read more books by people of color and the LGBTQ community. I say that, but the first two books on my TBR for this readathon are by white men. In my defense, the reason is because the books I have on my main TBR by POCs and the LGBTQ community are longer than I think I can conquer in a week.

That being said, I'm picking up The Pearl by John Steinbeck because it's super short and also considered to be a classic. Also, despite the fact that some people dislike him, he was an early advocate for anti-racism. He wasn't perfect by today's woke standards but for his time he was pretty damn good, so why not?

This book is about a poor pearl fisherman and how one day he finds the biggest pearl he's ever seen and how the sudden windfall changes his life, but change isn't always for the better. It's a retelling a of classic Mexican fairy tale.

Read a book that inspired  a movie you've already seen.

Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones

It was hard to find a short book that had a movie based on it and not visa versa. I have plenty of movie novelizations that I could read in a day, but not the other way around. So I was lucky to find this one. Also it'll be interesting to see how close the great Hayo Miyazaki got to the original source material. 

Sophie is an 18 year old woman and is the eldest of 3 sisters. She knows her future is set for her. She's going to take over the family hat shop, which she doesn't want to do. But one day she's cursed by an old crone to look like an old woman. She leaves her house and finds work as a housekeeper for a notorious wizard name Howl. It's there that she finds hope that she could return to normal, but to do so she has to get to know the wizard, help strike a bargain between him and a fire demon, and meet the witch that cursed her head on. Easy, right?

Read the first book you touch.

This Is How You Lose The Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone

Here we go! A book co-written by a person of color. Amal El-Mohtar is a Lebanese-Canadian writer of poetry and speculative fiction. This book has also been on my TBR list since earlier this year when we found it at a library book sale. I'm really excited to read this and I'm pretty sure I'll give it five stars.

This book is about two agents involved in a war across time. These two agents, Red and Blue are on opposite sides of the battle but leave messages for each other and gradually fall in love. 

Read a book completely outside your house.

River of Teeth by Sarah Gailey

This book was put on my radar when I was looking for books to read for an LGBTQ readathon earlier in the year. Sarah Gailey is a non-binary author from San Francisco so that's a double whammy. I get to broaden my reading horizons AND I get to read a local(ish) author. 

River of Teeth is set in an alternate United States in Louisiana in the late 1800s. In 1850 President James Buchanan approved the import hippopotamus into the states for the purpose of a new meat source. Decades later, in a lawless Louisiana, the hippos have run wild and a man named Winslow Houndstooth has been hired to help clear them out. 

Read a book in a genre that you've always wanted to read more of.

Ariel by Sylvia Plath  or  The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

Thanks to my wife for this picture. She took it for her own blog and Instagram.

Ariel is a book of poetry and I don't read much poetry so that should be self explanatory. The Poet X is a YA novel told in verse, which can be counted as poetry as well.

This one is up in the air and it all depends on how many of these books I can knock out in one day. Ariel is on this list just in case I'm falling behind. It's 105 pages of poetry so it'll be a super fast read. The copy I'm going to read isn't the copy feature in the picture above. Turns out, Plath's husband was a huge asshole and edited the book, taking out poems that made him look bad and rearranged them to give the book an overall happy feeling. The newer, non-edited version is on hold at the library and will be the edition I read. 

The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo is a story told in verse about a young woman from Harlem named Xiomara and how she discovers slam poetry as an outlet for her feelings and as a way to understand her mom's religion. I really want to read this so if I can't get around to it for the readathon, I'll read it just for fun.

Read a book that takes place on a different continent than where you live.

The Bookshop by Penelope Fitzgerald.

If I only saved Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo I could have done two books by her for this readathon. Instead I decided on The Bookshop, a book that has been on my TBR since it was made into a movie in 2018. I've owned the book for a while too but never got around to it. So I figured why not?

The Bookshop follows Florence, a woman who moves to a small town in England and opens a bookshop. She finds that the small town isn't fully open to a book store and must deal with a group of locals who want nothing more than for her to fail, but she has an ally in the form of an old recluse.

So there we have it. That's my TBR for The Reading Rush. It's what I hope to read but I'm going to be honest with myself and say that what's on my TBR may not be what I actually end up reading. Maybe I blow through three books in one day and choose a different and longer book for a prompt. Maybe I'll hit a poorly timed reading slump and only do a few books but try my best to double count them. Or maybe, just maybe, I'll stick to my TBR exactly. Only time will tell.

Paper Girls by Brian K. Vaughan | Comic Review

Sunday 12 July 2020

I was already familiar with Brian K Vaughan's work since I had read Y: The Last Man and the first five volumes of Saga. But when my friend Figbar was moving away and was getting rid of some of his stuff, he gave me a bunch of comics and in that stash I found Paper Girls. A 30 issue series that's a quick and very fun read. Here's my review.

I love comics, but it's easy for me to get burnt out. Especially with Marvel and DC. There are just a million crossovers and huge events that mean you have to buy issues from series you never bought before. And if you don't do that, you tend to get lost. Also, there's the constant question of what is currently in cannon and what isn't. That's what I like about publishers like Image, IDW, and Boom (to name a few). They tend to have series that don't go on forever and even if they're long running series, they tend to not have a million crossovers. I know that the 30 issues of Paper Girls is it. As far as I know there isn't a sequel or any spin offs. I still have the entire Final Crisis/ Blackest Night/Brightest Day run with every single issue, but that takes up a whole short box of comics. So instead of diving into that hubbub, why not tackle a short but thoroughly enjoyable series?

Paper Girls is about four 12 year old girls, Erin, Mac, KJ, and Tiffany, who deliver newspapers in a fictional suburb of Cleveland. It's the morning after Halloween 1988 when the town is invaded by a mysterious force from the future and the girls are caught up in it.The series ran from October 2015 to July 2019 and was published by Image Comics.

I got sucked into this series right away. Vaughan created four very different and unique characters that I grew to like and care for as the story went on. These kids were believable. They weren't goody two shoes little girls but they also weren't written like adults. They had a good mix of child and adult qualities which was a very realistic. It was also nice seeing a story about four young females who didn't just sit around and wait for someone to come save them. It was impressive that it was a female centric comic with kids and it was done well. From my male point of reference, Brian K Vaughan writes women well. That is to say, there weren't any glaring problems that stood out to me. My wife is reading this series now and thus far, she has no problems with it. So that's a good sign.

The story got confusing at times but it I always eventually got it. The girls kept getting into trouble the whole time, but it always made sense. The flow of events worked, which isn't always easy to do with a story involving time travel, but Vaughan was able to keep the story moving without it going contrived.

The only issue I really had has to do with the ending so it kind of limits what I can say, as I don't want to spoil the whole thing for you. What I can say with that there were certain aspects of the story that didn't seem to matter at all in the end. There were a few things the girls did that had no effect on the outcome. This could be a good thing. It could show that sometimes things are just out of your control. But to me it just felt like parts (but not all) of the girls' struggle were pointless.

That aside, Paper Girls was good. It was a truly unique story with well written and engaging characters that kept me turning the pages from issue 1 to issue 30. Even though I liked it, I'm still glad it ended because it never got the chance to get stale.  If you're interested in a good limited run comic series, this is it.

Paper Girls by Brian K Vaughan gets an 8 out of 11

I Messed Up Book Tag

Sunday 5 July 2020

It's time for another book tag! Yay! This one is the I Messed Up Book Tag and it revolves around things I got wrong or didn't do in regards to books. Enjoy!

1. A character appearance that you misread and imagined differently.

Hester Shaw from the Mortal Engines series. In the first book she's described as being so disfigured that it actually makes Tom sick to his stomach. When the movie came out Hera Hilmar portrayed her and the only scar was a lightning strike-esque one that ran from under her left eye down to her chin. How ever will Tom look past her hideous scar and fall for... oh... wait.. it's not that bad really.

I know this was a problem on Hollywood's part and not my interpretation of the book, but I DID imagine her differently while reading. It was actually a problem a lot of people had with Hester in the movie. Nothing against Hera Hilmar, it wasn't her fault. But here's the quote from the book: “A terrible scar ran down her face from forehead to jaw, making it look like a portrait that had been fruiously crossed out. Her mouth was wrenched sideways in a permanent sneer, her nose was a smashed stump, and her single eye stared at him out of the wreckage.” Think of that description, then look at Hester in the book.

2. A character name that you’ve been pronouncing wrong.

Funny you should ask. The same day Anne gave me this book tag, I found out I was saying Amberle Elessedil wrong. I had also talked about this in my Hufflepuff Book Tag, but I was pronouncing it "Amber El" but according to the show it's pronounced "Amber Lee." Amberle is from The Elfstones of Shannara by Terry Brooks.

3. An overused trope that is your guilty pleasure.

I love the Unlikely/Reluctant Hero. As I've mentioned so many times before, I love The Dresden Files and Harry Dresden is anything but the likely hero. A recent series I love is The Sixth World series by Rebecca Roanhorse and Maggie Hoskie is a badass god fighting hero who started out as just a regular monster hunter. 

I love the thought that these heroes who save the day and world so many times were just regular people who were put into situations where they had to make the right choice.

4. A cliché character type that you like better on screen than reading about.

The painfully awkward nerd. I suffer from awful secondhand embarrassment and that goes for books AND movies. Books can get into the head of these characters and each decision they make. If they do something embarrassing I feel that I live it slower in a book vs a couple minute movie scene.

5. A word/phrase that you learnt because of its use in a book.

Racist Dog Whistle

Thanks to the book Yes No Maybe So by Becky Albertalli and Aisha Saeed, I learned this term that refers to a low key racists sign that meant to fly under the radar for the majority of people but be a secret sign to those in the know. So basically, a tool for garbage human beings.

6. Have you ever not read or completed a required reading book for school?

Hell yeah I have. One time a friend paid me to write a book report for him and he gave me a copy of the book. I didn't read the whole thing. Instead I'd open up to random parts and read a little then find a quote for the paper. He got an A. Two years later I ended up taking the same class and just rewrote the paper using the same ideas in different words and got another A. I never read the full book. I'd share the name or picture of the book, but it's been so long that I can't remember the book.

7. Have you ever (or wanted to) skipped a chapter from the point of view of a character that you weren’t interested in?

If you find a fan of fantasy books there's a really good chance that they've read and/or are a big fan of The Kingkiller Chronicles by Patrick Rothfus. I did like the books but not nearly as much as other people. The problem with Rothfus is that he's too long winded. So many parts of the book dragged on longer than they had to so they became boring. So many times I just wanted to skip to the end of a chapter because I was so bored but I knew that there'd be a chance I'd miss something important. 

8. Have you ever cancelled social plans to read a book?

Not that I can think of, but I know Anne and I have changed our personal plans because we wanted to read instead, But we didn't cancel plans with friends. We just decided not to go to a movie, or go out to eat, or something in favor of staying in and reading.

So there's my answers to the I Messed Up Book Tag. What are yours? If you did this or plan on doing it, let me know!

Yes No Maybe So | Book Review

Wednesday 1 July 2020

May was Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month and my wife and I took part in an Asian readathon. Though this was the year we were going to read more of what we wanted and not have our TBR list controlled by something like the Pop Sugar Reading Challenge (which is an awesome challenge btw), we still find readathons fun. Especially an Asian one. I myself am half Japanese and grew up very connected to my Asian half. So this readathon spoke to me.

I also wanted to expand my Asian reading horizon to include more than Japanese, Chinese, and Korean. The murder of George Floyd has made me want to expand my horizons in the African American direction, but back in early may, my focus was on Asians.

 Anne was the one who made me aware of Yes No Maybe So and recommended it to me because one of the two authors is Becky Albertalli, the author of one of my favorite books Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda and the second author is Aisha Saeed, a Pakistani American and guess where Pakistan is? In South Asia! So yay! I found my first book for the readathon. What did I think of it? Here's my review.

I like YA romance. It's cute and can cover some important topics all the while having a sweet romance story. Books like the aforementioned Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda, What If It's Us?, and They Both Die At The End. What If It's Us? was written by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera so I knew what I was getting into with this book and knew that I'd more than likely enjoy it.

This book is about two people. Jamie Goldberg and Maya Rehman. Two teenagers who where childhood friends and who will be placed together again when they find themselves volunteering for a local political campaign that turns out to be more important to them than they could ever imagine.
Maya and Jamie have their own problems but maybe they can find answers where they least expect it, in each other.

Just like with What If It's Us?, Yes No Maybe So had two main characters and each author took one of the characters. Becky Albertalli wrote Jamie's parts while Aisha Saeed wrote Maya's parts. If you've ever read a book by Albertalli you'll recognize her style with Jamie immediately. Since I was new to Saeed's work, I didn't know what to expect from Maya's parts, but they flowed quite well and had a unique voice.

I enjoyed this book and found Maya and Jamie's friendship and romance to be cute and just what I needed after being in a reading slump. It was an easy read/listen which was just what I needed. It took a while getting used to the romance as I've only ever read gay romance from Albertalli, so when Jamie and Maya started getting chummy, I was a tad confused. That's not really a critique. Just something that made me smile.

Politics played a large part in this story and it was done well. Jamie and Maya volunteer for the campaign of a state senator hopeful. The campaign is running an uphill battle as it's for a democrat in traditionally red Georgia. I was happy to see that the book didn't take the "all republicans are evil" route as there were a few good characters who weren't democrats. It shows that the other side isn't evil, something that's important to keep in mind.

This book was aimed at a young adult audience and that was easy to see when the various problems the characters experiences showed up. Remember when you were a kid and certain problems seemed like the biggest thing ever and that your life would never be the same, but now, years later, as an adult, you can hardly even remember why it was such a big deal? Or, you remember it perfectly but are embarrassed by how seriously you took it all? This book had a mix of those types of problems and bigger, more serious problems. So even though it was a YA book, as an adult, I could relate to the problems in different ways. Either remembering what it was like to be a kid or I could see it was a bigger more widespread problem like racism.

The one thing that actually bugged me about the book was the referencing of the white supremacist OK symbol and Pepe meme. In the book they talk about how white supremacists took over the "fifi meme" and the OK symbol. I have trouble with this because it annoys me in real life. If we let these asshats take away something as basic and universal as the OK symbol, they that gives them the power to do it to so many other things. But seeing as how that was my biggest problem with the book, one could say I liked it quite a bit.

I would recommend this book to anyone who's a fan of YA romance or is just in the mood for a sweet and quick read. The audio book had two great narrators for Jamie and Maya but even if I had physically read the book, I'd have enjoyed it just as much.

Yes No Maybe So by Becky Albertalli and Aisha Saeed gets an 8 out of 11

follow me

© Billiam The Nerd