What I’m Reading: Art Books, Biographies, and Other Things That are Taking Forever

As per usual, I have a few books that I’m pawing through at the moment, a couple of which are, for some reason, taking me a real long time.

First, A Dance With Dragons. Yeah, I know, I mentioned reading that months ago, but I keep setting it aside to read other books. I’m not sure exactly why it’s been taking me so long, but I think it’s a collection of reasons: Martin’s over description of things like food and individual people who don’t matter, the slow pace (I swear, there were two chapters in a row where all I really learned was that it was snowing) and maybe because, despite a few problems, I’m starting to like the TV show better than the books (sorry). In any case, I’m almost done. Hopefully I’ll finish by the end of the month.

Also on the list are a few nonfiction books. Adventure Time: The Art of Ooo is a Christmas gift from the hubby, and I love it. Lots of insider information, gorgeous art, production drawings, and stories of how the show came together. I’m reading this slowly, a piece at a time. It’s a treat.

Brilliant by Jane Brox is the story of the development of light over the history of man. This one is sort of a research book, as I’m trying to pick up ideas and gain inspiration for the WIP I keep talking about. Like anything history I have a hard time not finding bits of it a little dry, but it’s well written, and there are some truly beautiful lines in there (which I thought I marked off, but didn’t. Aaah.).

I’ve also still got the Walt Disney biography unfinished. I will get back to that.

Finally, I haven’t started this yet but I plan on cracking into it later this morning: Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell. I’ve never read anything by her, but I’ve wanted to find a longer classic that I can actual get absorbed in for a little bit. The description sounds right up my alley, and I felt drawn in on the first couple of sentences, so home it came. Let’s see if I finish this one.

What are you reading?

Weekly Finds: Internet Comics and TV Cartoons

The latest story arc on Octopus Pie ended this week. It’s been a pretty emotional one, which I truly need to go back and reread, but I can’t get over how good Meredith Gran at conveying complex emotions with her drawings, and sometimes a little bit of dialogue. The last page of the arc is particularly wonderful, showing, I think, pretty well how someone can get better and worse as they struggle to get over something.

pantyhoseAnd another comic: I read this one last week on Boumeries, but I still think about how very true to my own personal life it is.

I was also very excited about this past week’s batch of cartoons on Cartoon Network. Of the three that I actively watch — Adventure Time, Steven Universe, and Regular Show — they all had interesting growths in character and plot. We got to see Princess Bubblegum try and teach herself to chill out on Adventure time, which grows from a personal revelation in another recent episode, and Regular Show tied off a story arc that took a close look at how complicated relationships can be, especially for a kid’s show.

Steven Universe got me very excited, though. I’ve pointed out how much I love this show before, but a big event at the end of the episode shows how the plot is deepening, making the deceptively simple show more fantastically complicated than it already is.

Me, waiting for the next Steven Universe episode.
Me, waiting for the next Steven Universe episode.

Books I Wouldn’t Mind Santa Bringing This Year

This post is a part of Top Ten Tuesday, hosted on The Broke and the Bookish.

I have been quite the slacker with my blogging, but let’s try to get back in the swing of things with a nice little Christmas list. Some of these are books I’m sure I’m getting from someone or other, but others are likely not.

20701976Adventure Time: The Art of Ooo. I don’t always want to own art books, but this is such a wonderful and weirdly faceted show, I’m really excited to see early drawings and how the writers even manage to come up with things.

Nine Stories. I failed at reading Seymour, an Introduction, but I love Franny and Zooey and The Catcher in the Rye too much to not try more Salinger.

Alloy of Law. I’ve read a Brandon Sanderson blog post that he will be continuing the Mistborn universe with the characters introduced in this book, so I should get on it and read this one (though I’m still rather heartbroken over The Hero of Ages).

Elantris. Same thing, more Sanderson.

Hyperbole and a Half. I skimmed part of this when it passed through the library, why haven’t I read this yet? Why? It seems brilliant.

22078240Saga Deluxe Edition. I’ve already read everything in here, but I want to read it again. And what’s that, a hardcover collecting the first three volumes is out? Yes.

Cinder. I feel I need some new SciFi/Fantasy YA, and some of my friends and coworkers have rated this book highly.

I Shall Wear Midnight. I still haven’t gotten to reading this one, though I said I would. I just can’t imagine a world without more Tiffany Aching to look forward to.

The Maze Runner. Another popular, well-received YA I haven’t gotten to yet.

Show Your Work. I’ve read this from the library, and I bought Austin Kleon’s other creative advice book, Steal Like an Artist. But I want to own this book, so I can remind myself of some things, and also scribble all over it.

Of course, Barnes and Noble gift cards are always welcome.

Any books you want to see under your Christmas tree?

 

Weekly Finds 11/8/14

Thanks to NaNoWriMo, weddings, and now a fantastic cold, I’ve been a little bit slacking on the blog post front. But, hey, here’s some stuff I’ve been looking at lately!

The Mary Sue had an interview with Adventure Time head of story Kent Osborne and voice of Flame Princess (King?) Jessica DiCicco. I’ve always wondered about the plotting of that show, how much they think out ahead of time etc…. turns out, it’s not too much. Even with big character reveals like the Ice King being Simon, that came from the actual boarding session, when they were finishing up the story for that specific episode. It’s kind of amazing to know that some richly complex story stuff can come from figuring it out as you go.

One of my favorite fantasy series that I read in adolescence was The Enchanted Forest Chronicles by Patricia C. Wrede. Well, Wrede finally wrote a craft book, and now that I’m in the mood for such things I snapped it up in the library. I’m only a very little way through the book, and right now it’s not quite one of my favorite craft books. But, one thing I really like is that she points out that all writers work in vastly different ways, so what might be good and helpful advice for one writer (always make a detailed plotline first!) could be utterly paralyzing for a writer that’s not suited to that kind of work. So, as she says, take every bit of writing must-does “with a boulder of salt.” Hmm. Maybe I am loving this craft book.

Finally: have you all been watching Over the Garden Wall on Cartoon Network? The amazing cute-creepy-weird animated mini series by Adventure Time writer Patrick McHale? No? Oh my goodness, why not? Watch it, please. It’s so good. Not only does it look and sound beautiful, but it just refueled a love for dark fairy tale-like stories.

So friends, what’s sparking your imagination this week?

Graphic Novels: This One Summer, Say I Love You, and Seeing Red

I’ve been slack in my comic reading lately, which is weird for me. So, between the library and a couple of comic store trips, I’ve been trying to remedy that. Here are my thoughts on a few of the books I’ve been reading lately: This One Summer, Say I Love You, and Seeing Red.

This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki, art by Jillian Tamaki

Rose and her family are traveling to the lake this summer, like they do every year, and she’s excited to see her friend Windy, another girl a couple years younger than her. But this year things are different: her mother is depressed after failing to have another baby, her parents won’t stop fighting, and a local scandal involving a teenage girl wends it’s way through Rose’s life. All through that, she’s starting the horrible transition out of childhood.

Emotions run strong in This One Summer; Rose is bitter that her mother is so upset about not having another baby, as if she’s not enough, and this causes her to blame her mother, and all women, for the messes they get themselves and others into. As an objective adult I can see how bratty and selfish Rose is being, but I also understand that while it may be skewed this is the only way she can see to make sense of the problems around her. Her friendship with Windy get’s rocky, too, as Rose seems to force her way through growing up — taking out the scary movies to impress the boys at the general store — while Windy feels uncomfortable around the teenage boys and wants to keep making goofy jokes, even as it starts to annoy Rose. With constant tension between Rose and everyone else, and the intrigue of the local story, it’s a fast read even for a graphic novel, but Jillian’s illustrations made me pause again and again with the detail in things like the water or the trash at the teenagers’ firepit, or how she gets across whole scenes with their varying emotions often without the help of dialogue. A subtle, resonant character story that’s really everything I want out of comic. (This was a library book, but I may buy a copy for myself.)

Say I Love You Volumes 1 and 2 by Kanae Hazuki

Mei is a friendless loner, but then the handsome popular boy Yamato starts paying attention to her and things change. She gains friends, even rivals, and she starts to come out of her shell as she realizes that sometimes she can trust people and ask for help.

I’d heard great things about the anime, and also the story sounds so similar to Kimi ni Todoke, that I felt I had to check it out. The relationship certainly progresses much more quickly, as they kiss by the first chapter (it takes SO LONG for that to even start to happen in KnT). Mei’s quiet but still kind of standoffish attitude of course makes everyone hate her for being with the popular boy, and it doesn’t take long for a rival, in the form of the only girl Yamato slept with, to show up. I like the characters, and Mei’s ability to get people to understand how to interact with people (based on her experiences of everyone interacting badly with her) makes for a story that reaches beyond her own problems. But, I couldn’t get as invested as I would have hoped, partly because the story moves a little too fast. Also, Yamato, while generally sweet, is a little more forceful with Mei than I’m really comfortable with. I don’t think I’ll be compelled enough to keep up with this series.

Adventure Time: Seeing Red by Kate Leth, art by Zachary Sterling

Marceline forgot her bass at her dad’s house, so she goes back to the Nightosphere with Jake to endure a family reunion and get it back.

So, I love Adventure Time. And I love Marceline. Plus I already own the other books in this series featuring various lady characters, so I had to get this volume. Focusing on one of the bigger problems in Marcy’s life — her dad — she gets back home to find that her bass is gone, and that her dad actually stole it and sold it, sending her and Jake on a trail to get it back. Being in black in white, it’s missing all the bright candy-coated colors from the show, but the scenes are still detailed and full of varied character designs, including awesome frequent costume changes by Marceline. I like Sterling’s panel layouts, too, which are big enough to allow for the aforementioned detail and slow down the story enough to keep it from being too frenetic. The story gets a little cheeseball at the end (though that’s fine with me), with a touching scene between Marceline and her father showing that he may not understand his daughter’s motivations, but he still wants to try to make her happy. I also love the bonus story, in 4-koma style, of Lumpy Space Princess going on a quest for the hottest purse. Nice tough.

 

These are some of the comics I’ve been reading lately. Have you read any of these? What did you think? What other comics are you into right now?

Animated Distractions: I Love Cartoons

If you’ve been reading this blog for any amount of time, you’ve figured out that I like comics. Possibly you’ve also used your deductive prowess to realize: I also freaking love cartoons.

Bee and PuppycatI think the only time in my life when I wasn’t watching cartoons was somewhere in that awkward 11-13 year old stage, when I thought that I wasn’t supposed to anymore. I got over that pretty quickly. Then I found anime, and after that there was no hope really that most of my television viewing would be of the non-live action variety.

So, as an adult, I constantly watch animated shows. Not just the Adult Swim variety, but the things shown on the regular Cartoon Network/Nickelodeon blocks. And while I enjoy a great deal of what gets made even today, there are some that I’m simply obsessed with, those that I find so impressive that I’m thrilled with the creativity of people and inspired in my own work. Since cartoons have and always will influenced me, I feel like even on a blog about writing and books there’s room to talk about them.

I’ll ramble on specifically about different shows and movies in the future, but for now, here are some cartoons that are currently just making my life better:

  • Adventure Time. So weird, so crazy, yet so. Emotional.

    Adenture Time Marceline and Ice King
    This episode blew my mind.
  • Bee and Puppycat. You can really tell Natasha Allegri likes Sailor Moon. In a good way.
  • Steven Universe. Adorable kid saves the world with some kick-butt ladies. Yes.
  • Avatar: The Legend of Korra. Not as fantastic as the last series, but still, fantastic.
  • …and others that I won’t pass up if I happen to catch it, like Clarence, Wander Over Yonder, My Little Pony, and Gravity Falls.

Do you watch cartoons? Is there anything that influences you creatively? What other cartoons should I watch?

New Reviews: Marceline and the Scream Queens

Marceline and the Scream QueensSince I’ll be headed to school in a few days, but my to-review pile has been stacking up, I’ve been trying to get as much writing done for The Fandom Post as I can before I head out for a week. I’ve sent off a few things, but thanks to end of year rush only a couple have been posted, my reviews of Marceline and the Scream Queens issue #1 and issue #2. This is an Adventure Time spin off series written by Meredith Gran (Octopus Pie) focusing on Marceline and Princess Bubblegum. Overall, this mini series was a fun ride. The rest of my reviews should be up soon.

On top of that I’ve got a bunch of volumes of Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan and more Kamisama Kiss to review, so we can look forward to that over the next month or so.