Wednesday, August 31, 2011
Caves of Steel
Yes, that's a Zune. An OLD Zune. I love my Zune, and she loves me, so don't be hatin'! :p
Why?: Only Asimov can so neatly combine his science fiction world with a decent mystery. Asimov claimed in his introduction to Asimov’s Mysteries (a fun short story collection, if you can get your hands on it out of print; my copy is on the dresser at the moment) that he wrote this book because his publisher said that two genres that could never intersect were mystery and science fiction. Asimov definitely proved him wrong, with style!
Caves of Steel is the first Asimov book I read – or listened to, actually. I was suffering with nonstop headaches, and unable to read, when I downloaded the audiobook of this novel. Audio books aren’t my favorite way to read a story, but the reader (William Dufris) did an excellent job with the voices of Baley and Daneel. The world of Caves of Steel is very real, and is an excellent introduction to Asimov’s many joined Robots novels and stories. The Three Laws of Robotics and the development of Earth’s history (or downfall, really) are well-outlined without turning into a textbook as some of Asimov’s later writing did (I’m looking at YOU, Robots of Dawn). The use of agoraphobia as the protagonist’s strongest weakness is logically introduced and well developed. Baley is also a likable dude, as is Daneel, so it’s just a fun and engaging read all around.
Photo sessions with Alfred are super special because he wants to be in my lap/face/stomach/hand/etc at all times. @_@
Gist: About three million years in the future, mankind has stretched across the universe – and left a crippled Earth behind. The billions who live crammed together in Earth’s underground cities are looked down on in disgust by the genetically superior and wealthy Spacers. When a Spacer is murdered on Earth soil, it could mean disaster for mankind’s home planet. An Earther detective named Elijah Baley is assigned to the case, assisted by an unusually tolerant Spacer named R. Daneel Olivaw.
Bonus Trivia: I would very much like to listen to the BBC radio adaptation by Bert Coules, as he was a genius at adapting the Sherlock Holmes stories for Clive Merrison and Andrew Sachs. Anyone want to toss me a copy?!
Bonus Bonus Trivia: The next book in the series, The Naked Sun, was also quite good. It introduced an adulterous relationship, though, which is a total turn off for me.
Perfect For: Ages 13+ (though the story becomes more sensual in the third book in the series, I don’t really recommend reading it anyway, for other reasons), fans of the film I, Robot, since this is in the future of that Earth.
This picture = adogable!
Genres: Fiction, Novel
Keywords: Science Fiction, Mystery
Zune 80 cover came from DecalGirl.Com! I also got my Kindle skin there. They're awesometastic.
Monday, August 29, 2011
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Vol. 4
Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird
Why?: Can you tell I was born in the early 80’s? I fell in love with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon, which was much cuter and fluffier than the original comics. The TMNT comics were a part of the 1980s black and white comic wave, and they’re much edgier than the old cartoon, but still with a sense that the authors know what they’re dealing with here is giant talking ninja turtles.
I had on the wrong setting and totally messed up the cover shot. Whoopsie.
Many of the early TMNT comics were collected into four main compilations; of the four, this is the best, though reading the others is the best way to understand the entire story. Much of this storyline was adapted into the first TMNT movie, which was admittedly more “adult” than its target audience (I remember, as a child who grew up in a no-cussing household, being uncomfortable with the number of times Raphael screamed “Daaaamn!” in the movie!).
The original Eastman and Laird compilations aren’t available new anymore, largely because of the break-up of the original creators, but they can be found used. These stories have a special feeling that later stories, largely written by Eastman alone, lacked. Although TMNT is pretty cliché these days, it was groundbreaking and fun for it’s time. (Also, my little nerd is still alive in my heart, it’s true!)
Gist: During a Christmas celebration at April’s house, Leonardo is nearly killed while traveling alone in the middle of the night. After April’s apartment and store are trashed, they escape to an old farmhouse, where each of the brothers has to come to terms with everything that’s happened. This is the first book to really establish separate personalities for the four boys, which would develop more as the comics progressed.
Screwed up settings = moody action shot?
Bonus Trivia: TMNT gave rise to a number of imitators and parodies, involving everything from mutant rabbits to hamsters. For more info, see my geektastic post here.
Perfect For: 13+, people with a strong sense of nostalgia
Genres: Fiction, Graphic Novel
Keywords: Adventure, Science Fiction, Drama
The gritty 80s style art really riveted Gomez's attention. Yes, yes. Definitely!
Sunday, August 28, 2011
Additionally, IDW Comics and Nickelodeon are introducing a new comic series, which came out this month and sold out like mad before I could get my hands on it. -_- The problem with my local comic shop is, if you have to work all day, the stuff you want is sold out by the afternoon. Not cool. (Update: I now have a subscription box. Life is good.)
Considering the fact that this series began during the 1980s black and white comic explosion as a self-published parody of Daredevil, the phenomenon that is TMNT is pretty fascinating. What is it about four teenage turtles fighting crime that keeps drawing in new generations? (My personal opinion as to the answer is way down at the bottom of this post.)
TMNT was born when Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird (Laird has since come in and out of the franchise as an active participant - at least that's my understanding and remembrance, but Wikipedia says Eastman's the one who sold out; yet Eastman is the writer behind the new series @_@) used a bit of money and a tax refund to publish the first one-shot about a group of mutant turtles saving NYC from baddies called the Foot using the ninja skills taught to them by a giant rat. Yeah. WTH?
I was six years old when the 1987 TMNT series began. It ran until 1996, and I was a fan for a LOT of those years. My high points were third and fourth grade (the '89-'92 time period), coinciding with the first two live action films. This was some classic cinema, guys, teaching young children important life lessons like the many uses of the surfing term "Cowabunga" and the fact that pizza is a viable meal options any time of the day or night.
Image from ShareTV.org.
The series was based on the original Eastman and Laird comics (which I bought in trades when I was about ten years old...all bloody and violent!), VERY cartoonized to be appropriate for kids. Not that I cared. I loved this show. I loved the characters, I loved the corny storylines, I loved the swag. I know I had loads of the action figures, along with four hard-as-stone plushes, bags, t-shirts, and an adored sleeping bag. This was the show that taught me about being an obsessed fan.
...Me and all the boys. Yeeeah. No girls geeking out with me in the third grade!
Then there were the live action movies. The first of these was based closely on the fourth graphic novel (my favorite storyline along with one involving leeches which I read once, long ago, but have never found since and so can only dimly recall it), and I distinctly remember that they used the word "damn" a lot. I was scandalized. Raphael standing on a roof yelling, "DAAAAAAMN!" Egads! It was also one of two movies I've seen twice in the theaters.
No, I don't have the BluRay. YES I do have the first two on DVD. I remember they had a lot of trouble finding someone short enough to replace the original Michelangelo, but you wouldn't know it from this picture.
The second movie was a bit lighter, and the third movie was nonsense. Well! It was!
There was also an ill fated live action series. I was already in high school by that point, but I remember watching an episode out of curiosity. It looked a lot like Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, but I know that my kid self would've watched it just for a chick turtle. I always wanted one when I was a wee little dweeb. It barely survived a season.
I am confused as to why the chick turtle had to be skinny and have boobs. Hmm. Isn't she...a turtle? Anyway, she was erased from everything TMNT related when Eastman left the franchise. Word is, Laird detested her. If she'd existed when I was a little nerd, I'd've been thrilled.
The second animated series (2003-2009) started over and, thanks to series like The Real Ghostbusters and Gargoyles, was more adult in tone. I watched a few of these in college and would like to give the first couple of seasons a try; it looked intriguing.
I do question, however, why an adult, professional female like April had to walk around with her midriff hanging out all day.
Image also from ShareTV.org
Then there was TMNT which, due to being craptastic appearing CGI, I have not seen. The story is supposed to be within the world of the first three movies. I'll have to try it some day.
All in all, that's the comics (which have also had multiple incarnations), two cartoon series, one action series, three live action movies, and a CGI movie. But is that enough?! Apparently, HECK NO as now we have the upcoming Nickelodeon series.
So why is TMNT coming back yet again? I'm sure we could explore loads of deep, meaningful reasons. But here's my opinion: Geeks, nerds, and dweebs. Yes. Once they were children, watching My Little Pony, Strawberry Shortcake, The Smurfs, and TMNT. Now, they're 30-somethings in the entertainment industry. Therefore, all the awesomeness of the 80s must be brought back to life!
Is this a bad thing? Who knows, we'll have to see. At least the Turtles won't have to go on intense diets to become skinny and huge-noggined like Strawberry and the Ponies. They're men, after all.
Saturday, August 27, 2011
Charlotte Perkins Gillman
Why?: My connection with this story is very personal. I first read this story in college, but my memory of it was somewhat jumbled. Why? Because I spent a year falling into a severe depression without realizing it. While in many ways those of us who battle depression are no longer said to have a “nervous disorder” and locked away in an attic bedroom, there is still a stigma attached to the diagnosis. My depression was both chemical in nature (born of a hormonal disorder that affects many parts of my life) and emotional (I tried to stay in contact with high school friends and was naively devastated that I didn't hear from them; I had lost three grandparents in high school, one in the last month). As cliche as it might sound, this story helped me realize that something was wrong...and it's really about how NOT to cure the problem, rather than the problem itself!
This is a powerfully written and thought-provoking story. How well Gillman must have known the apathetic lack of energy and wandering thoughts that come with severe depression. How clearly she writes of the fact that medical science in her time did exactly the wrong thing by locking away these poor, delicate women suffering from “a slight hysterical tendency.” Like Conan-Doyle’s take on the dangers of cocaine and heroin, Gillman was ahead of her time in applying common sense to medical practice. Her use of the first person as her narrator falls from depression to psychosis is masterful and chilling. This short story works just as well as a psychological thriller as it does a social and medical commentary of the times.
Gist: A woman who has suffered a “brief nervous depression” is locked away in a rented house to recover her health. As her husband controls her days and nights, she becomes increasingly obsessed with the wallpaper pattern in her room, until it begins to consume her every thought.
Quote: "It is the strangest yellow, that wall-paper! It makes me think of all the yellow things I ever saw — not beautiful ones like buttercups, but old foul, bad yellow things.”
Bonus Trivia: This is a favorite of feminist critics, though I’m not one myself. Gillman herself wrote that this story is a result of her own struggle with depression and the “rest cure” she was placed under. Only after she began to rejoin the world did she start to feel better.
Bonus Bonus Trivia: This story is free on the Kindle, as well as many locations online!
Perfect For: Ages 15+
Genres: Fiction, Short Story
Keywords: Drama, Classic
Thursday, August 25, 2011
This book's a bit odd for me, because it's essentially a romance...but a romance with a good story!
The Ugly Duckling
Why?: I am not a huge fan of classic romance novels. Part of this issue lies in the confusion of romance with sex, and partly from just...they don't tend to strike a chord with me. So when my mother suggested an Iris Johansen book to me when I was in high school, I hesitated a bit. Add to that the concept of a "plain" woman becoming "beautiful," and The Ugly Duckling shouldn’t have appealed to me – but it does. The Ugly Duckling is a good, solid story and an enjoyable read. Despite the magical “fix” for Nell, the main character’s, looks, the circumstances keep it from being the center of the story. Nell survives the death of her husband and child, and she doesn’t just get over it in moments, yet the story isn’t dragged down. This is a tale both of revenge and personal growth that goes beyond miraculous plastic surgery. While there is a romantic element as the book progresses, there are also lovable secondary characters and a strong storyline that keep the reader involved in the story.
Gist: Nell Carter, a shy and retiring woman in a good marriage, is maimed in an attack that also led to the death of her husband and child. She awakens some time later to find that her reconstructive surgeon didn’t give her the face she was born with, but instead made her a great beauty. To fight her sense of emptiness, she sets out to wreak revenge on the drug cartel that murdered her family.
Bonus Trivia: This was Johansen’s first hardback novel. Previously, she had written largely historical romance.
Perfect For: Ages 16+, people who like a thrill
Genres: Fiction, Novel
Keywords: Thriller, Adventure, Romance
Since my mother suggested this book to me, here is a picture of her dog, Chaucer. Chaucer does excellent Elvis impressions thanks to a crooked tooth, but I think she's going for more of a pirate look here.
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
I decided to do something cute and simple for parent night. I actually painted my nails Sunday evening, and this is how they looked Tuesday morning.
If you're wondering why that pencil has a huge flower on it, I got tired of constantly buying pencils for my students to walk out of the room with. I would go through a hundred or more a year, paid for out of my pocket. I tape flowers on them now and refer to them as "embarrassing flower pencils." Generally, they don't accidentally walk out of the room with a rose. Unfortunately, when I have a sub, they are invariably stolen. I'm disappointed every time that just because I'm not in the room, some students will tear the flower off and walk off with my pencils. (I'm also disappointed that many substitute teachers can't be trusted to keep half my belongings from wandering off if I don't lock them in the closet...)
~Sally Hansen Diamond Strength Basecoat
~MAC Lacquer in Obey Me (I still hate the formula on this. I much prefer Finger Paints Curator's Crimson. Obey Me costs twice as much, but is runny and takes three coats instead of two. NOT impressed, MAC! The only thing it has going for it is the adorable bottle...which is why I bought it in the first place).
~Milani Diamond Dazzle on the tips
~OPI Who the Shrek Are You (this color is awful and I absolutely love it!)
~Ye olde generic fimo apple
~Revlon base and topcoat (I'm finding this chips less on me than Seche Vite!)
Simple, but very cute. My camera didn't pick up the sparkle very well. :)
Happy school year!
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
Tonight was parent night, and I was at work from 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. I'm all worn out!!
The Red House Mystery
Why?: This is Milne’s only mystery novel (he’s most famous, of course, for the Winnie the Pooh books), and it’s a shame that he didn’t revisit the genre. While the ending suffers from something of a cliché, the writing is a lot of fun, and he has wonderful descriptions that bring on the requisite chuckles. The mystery is well-developed, and I couldn’t figure out the entire solution until the very end, which is unusual. There are signs of this book in other writing, such as P.G. Wodehouse and Agatha Christie, and it doesn’t owe as much to the Holmes stories as many mysteries of the time do (despite the characters referencing them, Milne avoids the Watsonian narrator).
Gist: The story begins in the bachelor home of Mark Ablett, with the visit of his little known and black sheep of a brother, Robert. When Robert is abruptly murdered, an unfortunate passer-by named Antony Gillingham is drawn into the mystery.
Quote: “Directly I saw him and I said to myself--” Why, you could have knocked her over with a feather. Feathers, indeed, were a perpetual menace to Audrey.
“He is an important person to this story, so that it is as well we should know something about him before letting him loose in it. Let us stop him at the top of the hill on some excuse, and have a good look at him.”
Bonus Trivia: Milne was a huge fan of mystery fiction, and wrote that he preferred amateur detectives to the growing genre of professionals and P.I.s that were developing in American fiction. His affection for the Holmes stories is pretty obvious, as the two amateur sleuths refer to themselves as Holmes and Watson more than once!
Perfect For: Milne fans who want a surprise, and mystery fans. The language is very accessible to modern readers from ages 12 and up.
Genres: Fiction, Novel
Keywords: Mystery, Classic
Monday, August 22, 2011
Geekery + Cosmetics = Love
You can tell I need to have a talk with my camera, but my first victim is (drum roll pleeease), Triplicate Girl!
Before I blather about the character herself, here are the results of my first challenge:
Urban Decay Primer Potion in Original
Shany Eyeshadow Palette: Boutique (they sell through Amazon)
Physician's Formula Gel Liners trio, Brown Eyes
I don't own or use mascara. Heh.
Notes: I went for only the original orange and purple here. I took the pictures under bathroom lights in the middle of the night, which is a shame; I was very pleased with how it came out given the fact that I'm a total n00b!
Notes: My hands are so large that I don't find holding a single bottle comfortable. I compromised by holding both! I buffed out a peel on my thumbnail several days ago, and waited a day before I could get these shots outside; as a result, there's already a large chip on my thumbnail. C'est la vie. My nails include the white that was incorporated in her threeboot (Triad) and tv series uniforms.
Sally Hansen Hard as Nails base coat
China Glaze Papaya Punch
OPI Funky Dunky
Sally Hansen Xtreme Wear White Out
Who is Triplicate Girl/Duo Damsel/Triad/Duplicate Damsel?
Lournu Durgo has hopped in and out of the Legion, though she survived to serve in every continuity (which is more than can be said for her adorable preboot/Three Worlds hubby, Bouncing Boy). Originally, her power was to split into three identical bodies.
Here she is messing with Supergirl's mind which is, in my opinion, a fantastic way to spend one's time. My scanner isn't presently working, so I can't scan images myself; I've stolen these from around the web.
In one of the Legion's first storylines to have actual repercussions, one of Lournu's bodies was murdered by Brainiac 5's uncontrolled invention, Computo. In classic fashion, all she did was lose a body and change her name.
Lu later lost her second body as well, though it's uncertain whether that's part of current continuity. There's a beautiful scene between her and Brainiac 5 in the issue in which he stands trial for murder; it's a shame the art's by Keith Giffen.
They took Lu through several crushes, but eventually she married Bouncing Boy in an obvious bid to weed out two relatively low-powered characters. But they are freaking adorable together, so that's a-okay with me! In the recent Three Worlds unboot, they returned from their third honeymoon (this is a couple still very much in love!), and Lu had a major (and utterly unexplained) upgrade.
How she got her butt handed to her in the recent Adventure storyline I don't know. I question you, Levitz. I question you.
She also existed as the Carggite version of a schizophrenic in the reboot (Triad), and as an adorable and useful member of the cartoon series. In fact, she and BB were both front and center for that series, which proved that great storylines come from fantastic characters, not the shiniest powers.
She also appeared in Threeboot, but as I refuse to acknowledge the existence of that pile of droppings - I mean, series- I don't have pictures from it.
Lu and her husband are both great characters that, outside the television series, are generally very under-utilized. Their powers aren't as impressive as many of the others, but they're written as scrappy and intelligent. The move to make them co-heads of Legion Academy gave them some much needed exposure in the 80's, and Levitz has given them back that role. Sadly, his obsession with his own new characters overshadows them. I hope he'll fix that in the future.
Sunday, August 21, 2011
Bill Willingham (creator and author), Mark Buckingham (majority art), James Jean and João Ruas (covers), et al
Why?: Fables is a highly imaginative retelling of the folk tales from various cultures. The characters are engaging, the story lines vary (more in the past than they do at present), and they're even allowed to grow and change over time, which is a rarity in the comic industry. Since Willingham has stayed dedicated to the series, the characters get to stay more true to themselves than in more mainstream comics. Basically, it's a fun read and I enjoy it!
These are the collections, which are put together twice a year or so based on the individual comics. The series is released by DC, and was once part of their more adult-based, non-superhero Vertigo line.
Gist: Fairy tale characters are real, and they live among us. Although once spread across dozens of worlds, a group of them have been stranded in our "mundane" world since the first European settlements of North America. They were driven from their homes by the evil adversary, who serves as the faceless baddy for the first eight collections or so. These immortal characters have to survive in our modern world. The leaders of the society are King Cole, who serves as the face of the government, Snow White, who does the actual work, and Bigby Wolf, former Big Bad Wolf turned more-or-less full-time man, the Fables' sheriff. Those who look human live on a well guarded street in New York City; those who don't live in upstate NY at The Farm.
The early story lines changed genres, beginning with a noir-style murder mystery, moving into a conspiracy thriller up at the Farm, followed by a classic adventure story. Woven throughout these first seven books is the evolving relationship between Bigby and Snow, as well as Snow's contentious relationship with her twin sister, Rose Red.
Gomez is a fan, as you can see here. He thoroughly enjoys getting between me and my Fables collections while I'm reading.
Later on, the Fables spent a good amount of time at war, and the stories have continued to be strongly adventure-based. Some other characters who have great storylines include the frog prince (Ambrose, who is a sweet and nuanced character), the little-known but brave Boy Blue, Prince Charming (thrice divorced - Snow, then Cinderella, then Sleeping Beauty), Beauty and the Beast (still married after all these years!), and the Three Little Pigs. It's the characters who really make the series special, and the ties and nods to old folk tales, fables, and legends are huge fun!
I finally lost my patience after the last book and started buying the individual comics. *hangs head in shame* These editions are well made and excellent, though, and not ridiculously overpriced like some graphic novels.
Bonus Info: Some comic readers are offended by some of Willingham's conservative views, such as toward abortion and marriage/family (since I share his views on these, they doesn't bother me). However, in the same way that I can read mainstream comics which are increasingly liberal, I don't think your standard reader would have any trouble looking past the occasional politics in the story.
The last storyline, which will be collected for release in December, was a bit silly. I'm interested to see where he'll go from here.
Bonus Bonus Info: Television series based on Fables have died at the script stage both at NBC and ABC. :( It could make a good series with the correct writing, or it could end up just missing something, like the television adaptation of the Dresden books.
Bonus Info, The Trilogy: Fables has two spin-offs, Jack of Fables (which I'm not a fan of) and Cinderella (which is fun; she's Bigby's #1 spy/secret agent). One of the few Fables storylines I didn't care for required a lot of knowledge of the Jack series mythos, which was annoying since I don't care for the character.
Genres: Fiction, Comic
Keywords: Fantasy, Adventure, Drama
I turned one of the spare bedrooms into a book-lined office, but there are a few series that stay in my own bedroom for easy access. As you can see, Fables is one of them!
Saturday, August 20, 2011
As a huge fan of cartoons, comics, and Star Trek, the great loves of my childhood were
I had a lot of love for Michelangelo as well, but I recall as I reached the ripe old age of 8 or 9 realizing the magnificence that is Donatello. A dude who could build a sweet sewer-themed computer one second and beat somebody with a bo the next? SWEET! (...Is it just me, or does his shell look like it is in no way connected to his body in this picture? Additionally, I still sometimes ind myself humming the theme song to the ooold original series. Ah. Memories!)
Oh, my 10-year-old heart was yours, Egon. Your ridiculous hair. Your deep, awesome voice. Your pink suspenders. Only for you would I get up before 7 on a Saturday. It's a shame I thought the movie was meant to be scary instead of funny until a few years later; then I loved your real life incarnation as well.<3 (If you can stand the incredible pathos, one of Egon's best cartoon eps is right here on YouTube: "Egon's Ghost.")
I met Brainy in the grade where being smart stopped being cool and started being something to be tortured over. And by "met" I mean, of course, read. He was a character who was brilliant, and a bit weird, but still awesome and had incredible friends. My mother proved her love for me by taking me all over the southern US on my quest for his comics, and one of my fondest birthday memories is when my brother spent something in the ballpark of 10 bucks on Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes back issues for me at $0.25 a piece. We may have our differences, but there are times we definitely get each other. Awwww. Poor Querl has been through several incarnations since then in which he was a stereotypical brilliant jerk, but he's hovering on being his old self these days (I think Johns wrote him better than Levitz is, but that's just life).
And the man to whom my little heart belonged (and a bit always will *girlish sigh*):
Dr. Leonard McCoy
I grew up on Star Trek. Is it really necessary to explain why Bones is the most awesome fictional character in the history of pop culture? No? I didn't think so. If for some strange reason you DO need to know: he's cranky, he's Southern, he's gentle, he's kind, he's stubborn, he's basically fantastic.
(....It doesn't hurt my feelings to think of Bones as looking like Karl Urban, but I adore De Kelley. He was such an incredible gentleman.)
This isn't to say that I didn't embrace traditionally "girly" things. While nerdy, I also had affection for My Little Ponies (mine knew all the songs from the Dirty Dancing soundtrack), Barbies (they were trapped in kidnapping plots on a regular basis), and the New Kids on the Block (Joey was my favorite). But growing up nerd was still basic to my psyche!
I realize that embracing the label of "nerd" doesn't exactly teach them to stop trying to categorize themselves, but maybe it takes away some of the sting when labels are used against them.
It's also fun confusing them because they're so trapped in their little boxes that they have a VERY difficult time wrapping their minds around a nerd who likes big, girly earrings and doing her nails.
Poor little brains, going into meltdown. *patpat*
Friday, August 19, 2011
Mom likes to get things a year or so after I do, when they’ve been improved. So she bought her Kindle at the beginning of December and now she’s in love with the thing. Can’t say as I blame her! If anyone out there has sight problems and it’s come between you and your reading, take it from my one-eyed mother than the Kindle is a blessing (or any e-reader). You have so much more control over the size of the text that I think it’s really excellent for those whose eyes might tire or strain reading standard text size in paper books.
Why?: Bowen is an author would a good sense of humor, and she also writes engagingly spunky female characters who invariably get themselves into trouble! This is the first book in her Molly Murphy series, and she does an excellent job both in making a likable character and immersing the reader into the world of New York around 1910. It’s the details that make this book so real: prices, ways of living, and the Irish society of NYC in this time period are woven neatly into the narrative.
(On a purely biased level, it's a little disappointing that the romance of the series had to be introduced first thing, and it gets a bit annoying around book three, but it smooths out later).
Molly is also a lot of fun, polite and yet sassy, outgoing but uncertain. Her natural curiosity gets her into plenty of trouble, but she has the brains to get herself out of it most of the time. The mystery is deft enough for interest, written in the classic style that is more about snooping around than the gore and science of death and murder. The story is quite reminiscent of British mysteries along the lines of Agatha Christie, but the American location gives it its own flavor and feel.
Gist: Molly Murphy has made a mistake: defending herself from a nobleman. She finds herself on the run, and circumstances bring her to America. While at Ellis Island, she becomes the inadvertent witness to a murder that will change her life as much as immigrating did.
Perfect For: Ages 13+
Genres: Fiction, Novel
Keywords: Mystery, Drama, History
Thursday, August 18, 2011
DC isn't new to destroying its continuity and starting over (I'm a Legion fan, yeah? Rebooting LSH is essentially their hobby). Restarting doesn't hurt my feelings as long as they don't try to make Superman Red and Blue (anyone remember that? Anyone? Bueller?). I'm especially immune to the reboot in that the recently UNbooted LSH will be remaining in its current form, with Paul Levitz at the helm (and no, I'm not totally happy with what he's been doing, but at least we won't have to survive another threeboot).
(I seem to be abusing parenthesis in this post.)
DC has been giving out a lot of information about the reboot, and there's been interest in what female characters will make the cut. Female leads sell less comics, so it's understandable that some will be lost in the shuffle.
The list has been out for a while now, and while some small titles didn't make it (such as Zantanna), many of the big names have. Of most interest is probably Wonder Woman, who recently underwent an image upgrade which included *LE GASP* a pair of pants! OHMIGOSH!
I am totally a horrible human being and hotlinking this at the moment, but I'll fix it later. Promise.
Diana's bound to be saving a bundle on Monistat Chafing Powder Gel, amiright?
She will use the money she saved to buy pants for super powered adolescents everywhere!
The reaction has been, predictably, mixed. However, the positive feedback was so overwhelming that DC announced they would be changing other costumes in the upcoming reboot to be more respectful of women.
Sooo this is Jim Lee's idea of more respectful?
Booob escaaaape! He dropped the cap sleeves and jacket in favor of some incredible supercleavage. And that's not even considering that he's messed with her base colors, which is a whole 'nother rant.
But really, that's relatively minor, as is Supergirl's (ugh...Supergirl. She WOULD survive a reboot after Crisis couldn't keep her down. Sigh.) change from a skirt to panties, clearly...uh...covering more and...yeah.
She has...an Achilles' groin, which must be protected with armor!
So I thought, in their defense, here's an example that actually follows their new rule: Dawnstar of the LSH in her current costume and her New 52 get-up for Legion Lost.
Note the Giant Boob Cut-Out. I'm interested to see what they'll do with the currently-covered lady Legionnaires, like Saturn Girl and Chameleon Girl (who shouldn't even BE a Legionnaire...and again I digress. Again.).
But the point at which DC just took everything they've said about "more realistic" portrayals of women and threw it out the window is when they took woman with one of the least sexualized costumes:
Yes, it's skin-tight, but outside some of the new unboot Legion outfits, it COVERS the most skin.
And they've turned it into THIS:
Harley Quinn's New Costume. Yeah. Um. I'm...seeing how this is more respectful of the gender, aren't you?
Frankly, if DC wants to continue the historical precedent of women with all their personal private parts flapping in the breeze, more power to 'em. But they should NOT make a big deal about changing their image to be more respectful, and wanting to reach out to women readers while firing the majority of their female staff and putting Harley in an outfit that would make a professional companion blush.
Heck no, dude. I don't think so. You just take that g-string and be gone.
Wednesday, August 17, 2011
Daily Life in Medieval times
Francis and Joseph Gies
Why?: I was raised on stories of English history. Instead of “Little Red Riding Hood” or “Goldilocks,” Mom told me and my brother stories about the Henries, Stephens, and Jameses who ruled the Isle over the centuries. I don’t remember a time when I couldn’t list the wives of Henry VIII, or I didn’t know that Medieval castles stank to high heaven! This is what happens when your mother is both a gifted storyteller and a history teacher of the first order. Mom definitely did her work with me – I am an unashamed Anglophile and history nerd. I have a collection of books about life in both medieval and renaissance England (as well as across Europe, including France and Germany), and this is one of the best. It’s easy to read, chock-full of information, well-illustrated, and written in accessible language. This is a book meant to be educational without falling into the often over- convoluted realm of “scholarly” writing.
Gist: Daily Life in Medieval Times is a combination of previous works by the Gieses: Life in a Medieval Castle, Life in a Medieval City, and Life in a Medieval Village. Each book used a real location as a jumping-off point for introducing the culture of the times: Chepstow Castle in Wales, the city of Troyes in France, and the village Elton in England. They include loads of details, from wagons to hair to privies to social interactions, and give as close to a complete image as you can get of life long ago.
Perfect For: Ages 15+, fans of history, renaissance fair goers, costumers
Ye Olde Trivia: It doesn't appear that this collection is currently available new, but there are used sellers. Also, the separate books are available, and are often at Barnes and Nobles as bargain books, published by that company.
Genres: Nonfiction, History
Keywords: History, Illustrated
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
This is also a bit of a stretch on "new" as I bought it at the end of last month (right BEFORE I received the Books a Million coupons in the mail. Figures. -_- I could've held off on a new Kindle if I'd known I would have huge book hauls at great prices!).
I waited a couple of months before purchasing a new Kindle 3, because my 2 simply wasn't salvageable. I decided to go ahead and buy an official Kindle cover, which I never did for my 2. The 3's seem more...flimsy, and I'm fond of my mother's cover, which I got her for her last birthday.
I loooove the color red and am pretty much endlessly resentful that my rosacea makes wearing red a no-no. :(
I bought the one with the light. It's not FANTASTIC, but it'll let me read as a passenger in a car and whatnot, so that's awesomesauce in my book!
I had to go through and individually select each book I wanted to redownload, then reorganize them into categories. My poor, worn out thumbies aren't used to all this hard work now that I don't have time for video gaming anymore!
The category system came out just after I bought my dearly departed 2, and it made the Kindles SO much more user friendly. Now if they'd just make the screensavers customizable without a hack, they'd be darn close to perfect.
The skin is from Decal Girl, which is an AWESOME skinning website with excellent customer service. The design is called "Mystery" and I didn't pop the extra cost for matte since I have the case. The cover is more green and less gray than I expected, but I still loves it. It has a Jeeves meets Poirot feel to it (even though Poirot novels are generally my least favorite of Christie's). It's a bit sad that I'll never get to SEE the back, because of the cover. Ha. Ha.
I'm happy with him so far, but I miss the larger directional buttons on the 2. I have large hands and broad thumbs that don't like the itty bitty new one. I'd hate to be a dude trying to deal with it.
Monday, August 15, 2011
Published: 1984, 1987
Why?: I’ve noticed that among big Stephen King fans (at least my friends who are fans, which really isn’t enough to make much of a generalization, but I’ll go with it), this book isn’t a favorite. It’s a big departure from his usual works in both content and narrative style. I, however, am not a big fan of King, so maybe that’s why this is my favorite of his novels. I adore his conversational narrator, who tells the story as if you’re right there listening to it (adding his own opinions here and there), and the story is one of those rare fantasy tales where the plot manages to stand up against the world building. This is also appropriate for younger audiences than many of his books.
My roomie's dog, Annabel Lee, is a "younger audience." Sadly, as you can see, she's also not a big reader.
Gist: Thomas isn’t a bad boy…but he is under the influence of the evil magician Flagg. Flagg uses his power and influence to bring chaos to a once peaceful kingdom, as well as to the lives of its two princes.
Bonus Trivia: This novel’s baddie is very important to King’s Tower series. Despite being one of his less popular works, this book has some of the strongest ties to his self proclaimed opus.
Perfect For: Fantasy fans or the fantasy-curious, anyone who wants to try their hand at King’s Tower novels.
Genres: Fiction, Novel
My students often think I'm dumb enough to think they're reading when they're not even looking at the book, too!