Friday, August 28, 2015

Back to Blogging — Things I've Read

A follow-up to my last post where I talked about what I had been watching, here are the comics and books, I've read in the past few months.

Comics
  1. Saga by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples. I caved. I finally read Saga, and I now see why everybody only has the best things to say about it. The plot is a star-crossed lovers space opera, but while it does contain elements that I've seen before, it combines them in a way that's still unique and interesting. Fiona Staples' art makes every page simply incredible (even when the contents are graphic or super far out there), and I can't wait to see what she and Brian K. Vaughan have in store for the story.
  2. The Wicked + The Divine by Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie. The Wicked + The Divine is a series that I love, but I feel like I'm constantly five steps behind. When I think I've caught up, it always ends up throwing me for a loop. I'm interested in the ways it continues to delve into fan culture and reactions to celebrity and fame, and I love how it combines deities from a wide range of mythologies.
  3. The Encyclopedia of Early Earth by Isabel Greenberg. One of the things that really interested me as an English major was different narration styles, and what really stood out to be through this graphic novel was the oral history feel of it. It wasn't so much an "encyclopedia" as we know it, in neat columns and arranged alphabetically, but a passing on of an oral tradition, the tradition of storytelling that composes a living encyclopedia of a culture. Overall, it was a great read!
  4.  Nimona by Noelle Stevenson. Oh, man, who doesn't love Noelle Stevenson? I love her writing for Lumberjanes and I've been following her artwork on Tumblr for awhile, so I definitely had to pick up Nimona. I loved everything about it. It gave me feels. That's it. That's all I have to say. Go read it.
  5. Seconds by Bryan Lee O'Malley. I started Seconds as soon as I put down Nimona, and I really enjoyed it as well. The plot and crux of the story were extremely relatable, including the twists and turns along the way. Bryan Lee O'Malley's art style is extremely adorable
Books
  1. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. Ready Player One is one of those super hyped books I heard about on BookTube but just finally got around to reading. Overall, I am happy I read the book, if only to see what all the hype was about. One of the strong points that many people praise is Cline's references to 80s nerd culture, but, even as a lover of some of the things mentioned, some parts of the narrative seemed way too "I'm going to name drop all these references just so you know how much of a nerd I actually am." There were also so many parts that seemed way too contrived and deus ex machina-y for my liking. Wade's growth as a character was extremely limited, and so much of his victory seemed like it was handed to him.
  2. Everything Leads to You by Nina Lacour. I absolutely adored Everything Leads to You. So much of YA LGBTQ books I've read center around a character coming out, and, while those stories are definitely helpful and important, it's nice to see a story where a the sexuality of a LGBTQ character isn't questioned but is taken as an absolute fact. Furthermore, I love how it's a story of friendship and of solving a mystery, at its heart. It makes the romance plotline feel more realistic and natural, love blossoming among day-to-day life, not some all-consuming magical insta-love that sometimes seems to take over the plot of most contemporary YA books.
  3. A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas. I had really high hopes for this book because I am an absolute sucker for anything Beauty and the Beast related. For me, the pacing in this was a bit slow and weird. There was a lot of exposition that seemed really forced, and Freya really got to me at times. This was a really slow read for me, even when the action was picking up with the plot. I'll probably read the next book in the series, since the setup of the exposition seems interesting, but I'm not sure I'll be running to get it as soon as it comes out.
  4. P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han. I'm a big fan of Jenny Han's contemporary books, but this one feel a little short for me. I enjoyed most of the book, but my final disappointment mainly stemmed from the fact that I thought Lara Jean should have chosen the other guy.
  5. The Jewel by Amy Ewing. When I heard that The Jewel was a YA version of The Handmaid's Tale, I was super intrigued. While it doesn't exactly live up to The Handmaid's Tale, it was still a pretty decent story, and I liked the fantasy elements that were introduced. However, the book seemed like it ended right just as the action was starting to pick up, which was really disappointing. I'll continue to read the series because I'm interested, but it was a bit frustrating to be dropped out of the story when things were really beginning to happen.
  6. The Martian by Andy Weir. So here's the thing: I love science fiction, but I rarely ever read it. I don't know why, it's just not something I really grab for even though I want to read more. Anyway, I loved The Martian. How surprising. Mark's narration was amazing, and I really enjoyed the glimpses into NASA and JPL. I'm looking forward to the movie now — I absolutely love space movies!
These weren't all the books I've read in the last few months, but they're the ones that stood out to me the most. I'm particularly fond of the short review format, so I think I'm going to continue short monthly wrap-ups, probably starting next month, but from now on, I'm hoping to update this blog at least once a week!

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Back to Blogging — Things I've Watched

It's been a while since my last blog post, mainly because there have been a lot of changes on my side. While I haven't been reading quite as much as I want to, I've still come across some pretty awesome things that I've been excited about recently. I've arranged them all by media specific category because of course I did.

Movies
  1. Age of Ultron. Marvel fangirl that I am, I, of course, had to go see the second Avengers movie. To be honest, the first Avengers is probably one of my least favorite MCU films because I get just a little annoyed when a team movie focuses primarily on one character instead of the team as a whole (also, Cap's characterization just isn't there for me). I enjoyed Age of Ultron better, but I still felt it was too Tony-centric. I did really like the dynamics of the team, even if I thought the focus on Tony should have been shifted to other characters. To me, though, Age of Ultron seemed more like a transition — a hint at what's to come in Civil War and Ragnarok as well as Black Panther and the Infinity Wars. I'm so happy with the new Avengers line-up, and I really can't wait to see them in action!
  2. Mad Max. Mad Max was  a complete surprise for me. It wasn't even on my radar until first reviews came out, praising its feminist undertones. Because of this, I had to check it out. The film is, unsurprisingly, very over the top with it's portrayal of violence and does get quite graphic, but what really impressed me was the female narrative and how, even though the abuse directed at women was certainly implied, it wasn't explicitly shown. I loved how Max was there to help Furiosa in her quest, but didn't take the spotlight away from her or twist it to his own ends. The scenes were visually stunning and so impressive, and I could hardly care that the cars didn't exactly make sense.
  3. Ant-Man. Oh man, where do I start with Ant-Man? Originally, I wasn't too excited about it. All the development issues and conflicts with Edgar Wright (I'm a big fan of Edgar Wright, by the way) left me a bit shakey about it. Also, I just couldn't believe they were going to focus on Scott Lang instead of Hank Pym and Janet van Dyne. You know, founding Avenger who actually gave the group its name, Janet van Dyne, the Wasp? But I went to see it because, hey, it's Marvel, and I am a person with very little will power. Also because I heard whisperings of rumors that my favorite, Captain America related characters were going to be in it (and, oh man, that after credits scene). Overall, I loved Ant-Man. On top of cameos from some of my favorite MCU characters like Peggy and Sam, the writing was excellent, and I absolutely adored how they basically turned a heist movie into an origin story. I'm so looking forward to Hope taking up her mother's title (and super relieved that while there was a romance element to the characters, it didn't come to the forefront of the script), and I'm super excited to see what else will come from these characters as they get more immersed into the world of the Avengers.
  4. Inside Out. I'm pretty sure I cried the majority of the time I was watching Inside Out, which is kind of a feat considering I was at a dine-in movie theater and trying to eat dinner. Inside Out was such a wonderful movie, balancing happy moments with sad (which I suppose was one of the main takeaways from it). I'm really glad to see the improved quality of discourse around mental health and depression that has come out of people going to see it, and I love how it continues to show that animated films targeted to children can successfully tackle and really breakdown super complex ideas.
Television
  1. Call the Midwife. Call the Midwife is a show that's been on my Netflix queue for awhile now, but it took two of my friends rounding up people to cosplay as midwifes at Dragon Con for me to actually sit down and watch it. I can't believe it took me this long. I'm a big fan of 1950s settings and of dynamic female friendship, and this show exhibits both exceptionally well. It's a roller coaster of a show, and I can hardly get through most episodes without crying, but the way it's framed heavily implies hope amid the heartbreak.
Anime
  1. Kill la Kill. I think the best way how to explain why I watched Kill la Kill is that my boyfriend recommended it. I was a bit hesitant about it because a few aspects of the first couple episodes rubbed me the wrong way. I did get through the series, though, and ended up liking it quite a bit, especially as the plot continued ramping up. Some of it was pretty out there in terms of violence and the jiggle physics didn't make a whole lot of sense to me, but I suppose that's a bit par for the course. In any case, I really enjoyed the development of the characters (especially of Mako) and how internally consistent the whole mess of crazy actually was.
I've realized that I might have gone a bit overboard in my wrap-up, so I'm going to recap the comics and books I've been reading in another post soon.