Weekend Links: Bucky and Books

Here are some fun things I’ve seen around the Internet recently.

On the blog Writing for Kids (While Raising Them) author Meghan E. Bryant describes her long process of getting her picture book, Dump Truck Duck, published. That she kept at it for so long is inspiring in itself, but I find it really fantastic that she was able to get publishing deals for several books right afterward, because of the simple fact that she never stopped writing. I think about all the stories sitting in my drawer right now, waiting to be polished, and the ideas swimming in my cluttered brain waiting to be written while I  query other things, and I have hope that if I can get one book published, maybe something else will start.

Women Write About Comics published an article, The Feminization of Bucky Barnes, where they parse out why the Bucky Barnes/Winter Soldier character is so particularly popular among female fans. I’ve really liked that character for a while, mainly because of the angst (I’m a horrible person that likes to see my favorite characters tortured). But the writers on WWAC bring up other points, like how Bucky replaces the “girl” character, which rang true for me as far as why I feel so attached to that character. (Chicken or egg: which came first, my love of Bucky or my love of Sebastian Stan? Both evolved so closely together…)

Maggie Stiefvater drew a diagram of what her character Gansey from the Raven Boys series looks like when “His fingers lightly touched his temple and his cheekbone, and his eyes looked off at nothing”. I laughed for one full minute.

 

Recent To-Read Pile Additions: SciFi, Roller Derby, Serious, and Fun

I add books to my To-Read list faster than I can actually read books. I know at least half of what I want to read will go unread forever — but here are some that I’ve recently become interested in that I really, really hope I can get to someday.

Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson. I don’t know too much about this book, except it’s about humans colonizing Mars. Recently I’ve wanted to read more science fiction, and I’ve heard good things about this series from multiple sources. Plus, there’s apparently going to be a TV series of it in a couple of years, because everything is a TV series now (thanks, Game of Thrones, you started a trend!) so I better leap on that bandwagon before it gets too overloaded.

Mr. Lemoncello’s Library Olympics by Chris Grabenstein. I just read the first book, Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library, and I thought it was a fun book with good characters and really fun puzzles. (Probably helped that the puzzles made me think of Gravity Falls…sigh.) I want to stay on top of what’s pretty popular for kids books, too, and this is a quick read, so I hope to get through this one soon.

Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson. A kid’s graphic novel about a girl who joins roller derby to get over losing touch with her best friend. This has been out for MONTHS, I have no excuse, I should have read this long ago.

The Memory of Light by Francisco X. Stork. This is a contemporary young adult novel about a girl who survives trying to commit suicide. I’ve read Stork’s other young adult book, Marcelo in the Real World, and I was floored by his complex characterization of Marcelo and the way that character grows by the end of the book. I’m so positive I’ll love this book, I’ll probably fall into a fit of rage if I don’t.

Will I get to these books? Probably, maybe, someday, we’ll see!

What’s on your list?

Romance Stories I’ve Quit

This post is part of Top Ten Tuesday, although you’re going to notice, there’s only two things on the list. Maybe because I dislike these things enough for five each?

So, I like romances in my stories. Not all of them, but they’re nice, and when done right create a little warm spot in my chest. But sometimes they frustrate me. Here are those times.

Young Woman and Older Man

I’m not against this on principle. I know people who have married older men, and they’re wonderful together. And there are stories where I actually like this, like Emma. But in books that don’t do it well, I feel a little icky and uncomfortable about it. Often because there’s a weird thing with the power dynamics in the relationship, like the man is the teacher and the woman is the one developing feelings (lookin’ at you, The Paper Magician). Plus, I can’t think of a book (off the top of my head at least) where the reverse happens and a young dude in a lesser position must win the older lady (though I have a feeling that the dynamics would be different in that situation..). Maybe I’m being unfair, but knowing that’s part of the story is enough to put me off altogether.

My First Love, My Only Love

I say this as a woman who went out with one guy ever in college and then married him. I can’t stand it when the romance revolves around a girl who has gone out with one person ever in her life, and now they’re soul mates and want to spend the rest of eternity together (*cough* TWILIGHT *cough*). I think the issue I have with this is that it usually comes up in young adult novels, and how often does it really happen that you stay with the boyfriend you met in your Sophomore science class? (I know it does happen…but how often??) I prefer it even if she recently broke up with someone, or even, at the very least, had other crushes. But your first boyfriend ever?

Again, in some cases it does work out okay (Graceling) but often that’s because there are other circumstances, more of a point to the story than simply the romance. I do get very excited when young adult novels twist on this a little bit, where the main character thinks she wants to be with that one person forever, but then maybe she meets someone new. Because that’s actual life, even if it’s in a world with magic.

What do you think? Am I just being grumpy? And what kinds of stories have you sworn off? Let me know!

Books On My Fall To-Be-Read List

I looked at my summer to-be-read list, and saw that I only got to half of those books! Woops! Which is why you’ll see some repeats this go around. But I got through some of the nice big thick ones, and even an extra monster book, Words of Radiance, the second in Brandon Sanderson’s Stormlight Archive series, so I think I did pretty good.

Here’s what I think I’m going to read this fall — but we’ll see!

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell. This fall is actually made a little easier, since there are some books coming out I’m looking forward to. One is Carry On, the oversized fanfaction that that Cath writes in Rowell’s Fangirl. I have to read this one, because if I don’t, I just failed as a version of my own self.

Ice Like Fire by Sarah Raasch. This is the sequel to Snow Like Ashes, a majorly fantastic YA fantasy. I devoured the first one, and I look forward to slurping this down when it comes out in October (right after Carry On!!)

Fairest by Marissa Meyer. This was there last time! But I really do need to read it, because in November I’ll have to get…

Winter by Marissa Meyer. The last book in the series! I can’t wait! Exclamation points!!

Saga volume 5 by Brian Vaughan. Saga is one of the greatest comics I’ve ever read. Period. Done. I only haven’t read it because I’m getting it through the library, and it hasn’t. Come. In. Yet. Blargh.

Jingo by Terry Pratchett. I actually got to Feet of Clay, and now I’m back on my Terry Pratchett / City Watch kick. Next bookstore stop, I’m grabbing this.

Step Aside, Pops by Kate Beaton. Kate Beaton is hilarious and smart and beautiful. I’m going to buy this one and it will sit so pretty next to Hark! A Vagrant.

These are the books I know I’m definitely going to read — I mean it! What’s in your pile?

 

This post is done as part of Top Ten Tuesday on The Broke and the Bookish.

Favorite Fairy Tale Retellings I’ve Read

This post is a part of the Top Ten Tuesday meme on The Broke and the Bookish. Check out their blog for other lists!

Cinder, Scarlett, and Cress by Stephanie Meyer. I started reading Cinder and the other books in this series last year, and I was immediately super impressed that Meyer follows the basic story of the fairy tales, while making it her own thing entirely. In particular she blew my mind with Cress, her retelling of Rapunzel, when she seamlessly integrated some elements that I had forgotten occurred in the fairy tale.

Dearskin by Robin McKinley. I first read this book, a retelling of Donkeyskin, in high school from my school library. Honestly, I think that book was in there by mistake, since a big part of the story involves incest and rape, but I’m so glad it was there. It’s an excellent, emotional book, and I’ve read it a couple of times since.

The Rose and the Beast by Francesca Lia Block. This is an anthology of fairy tale retellings.

Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi. It’s Snow White, but figuring out which character is the princess, and which one is the evil stepmother, is part of the fun in this one.

The Stinky Cheese Man and other Fairly Stupid Tales by Jon Scieszka. Obviously this has to be on here.

There’s five for me! There are probably others that I’m forgetting, or others that I forgot/didn’t know were fairy tales to begin with.

What fairy tale retellings do you love? Let me know, and go to Broke and Bookish to add your list!

Book (and Cartoon) Thoughts: Teen Fantasy and Crystal Gems

Some varying thoughts on things I love that have been pinging in my head.

I’ve been reading a lot of great teen fantasy lately. I loved Cinder and it’s sequel Scarlet by Marissa Meyer, and I’m just waiting to finish up a couple other half-read things before I dive into the copy of Cress sitting tantalizingly in my Nook. The other day I finished Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch, and I could hardly handle how much I enjoyed that (I’ll have a mini review of it, likely next week).

I went into a Books-a-Million for the first time yesterday, realizing that’s what took over a Borders I used to go to when I was in college. It partly reminded me how much I miss Borders, but also got me thrilled by how big of a graphic novel section they have (not to mention the area of just nerdy merchandise). It was a little messy, and a little sparse, but I’m hoping that’s just because it was the middle of the week and they were organizing.

As for cartoons, there was a big reveal episode of Gravity Falls, and now I just want to know when the next episode airs.

Steven Universe, Pearl, Rose's Scabbard
I need one of these hugs.

Cartoon Network has been playing Steven Universe episodes all week, though their way-too-early airtime means I have to wait a day, putting me a day behind. They’re drawing into the end of the season, which means the plot is getting heavy, but Rebecca Sugar and her team are revealing more and more about the characters, who they really are, and how the loss of Steven’s mother a long time ago affects them all differently. And oh man, the Pearl episode, Rose’s Scabbard? I need to watch that a hundred times. Basically I end each episode in a state of extreme emotion, so I may have a heart attack before this whole thing’s done. (I might need to write another big post on this show.)

Really, what an age to be an adult who loves books and cartoons made for children.

Books on My Fall To-Be-Read List

Once again I’m taking a topic from Top Ten Tuesday on The Broke and Bookish. This time, the books that I want to read this fall.

  • 20312458A Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin. I’ve been putting this off for a while, and I’m not even sure why. I think I’ve just been on a short book kick? And I never did finish rereading the whole series beforehand. (Thanks, Wikipedia!)
  • Walt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imagination by Neal Gabler. I’m currently reading this, but it’s danged long (though not as long as Dance) so this will take me a while to read this.
  • Seconds by Brian Lee O’Malley. I have it, it’s sitting on my shelf, I’m gonna read it this week, I swear.
  • Extras by Scott Westerfeld. I’ve also been putting this one off, because I loved Tally and she’s not the main character here, as far as I can tell from the description. But I want to hand the whole book stack over to other people to read, so I’ve got to finish the series first.
  • Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel by Sara Farizan. Not only did I go to Lesley with Sara but her first book, If You Could Be Mine, was truly excellent. I can’t wait until this one comes out in a couple of weeks.
  • The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson. I mentioned last week that I need to read more Sanderson. And I will. Perhaps on an upcoming plane trip…
  • Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater. I also mentioned last week how much I want to read the next in her Raven Boys series. This also comes out in a couple of weeks. October is a good month this year.

Those are the books I plan to read this fall. will I get to all of them? Probably. Will I kick some out in favor of another one I decide I want to read more? Also probably. And obviously I’ll be filling in my months with more than that.

What books do you plan on reading this fall?

Catching Up: Forever… by Judy Blume

I love Judy Blume. Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret is the only fiction book I’ve ever read that actually answered questions about puberty, I thought Starring Sally J. Friedman as Herself was amazing, and I don’t think anyone can get out of elementary school without at least one of the Fudge books.

Somehow, though, I missed Forever… Probably because this is a young adult book, and when I reached the age when I would have picked it up, I was too busy hiding in the fantasy section of my school library or spending every last cent of my pocket money on manga to bother with realistic prose fiction.

Spoilers ahead.Read More »

My Books in 2013

Looking back on my Good Reads list, this year was pretty big for new authors that I love

The Fault in Our Stars by John GreenFirst and foremost is John Green, all of whose books I’ve now read, most notably of which is The Fault in Our Stars. I didn’t fall in love with all of this books, but TFiOS is now and forever more one of the best pieces of writing I’ve ever come across. I can’t stop recommending it to (or buying it for) people, and I only wish I had figured out how great it was when it first came out so I could have jumped on the bandwagon sooner. As a direct result of that, too, I’ve become a fan of his brother Hank and their YouTube pages, which help me while away all sorts of time I should be spending writing.

Speaking of books I missed the first ship on: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. I mean, Jesus. The Fault in Our Stars is one of the most well-written books I’ve ever read, but man I think this is THE best book I’ve ever come across.

Then there’s Rainbow Rowell. Eleanor and Park simultaneously broke and swelled my heart about as much as TFiOS, and Fangirl gave that wonderful, well, fangirl flutter in my gut that I don’t feel as often as I once did. I still haven’t read her adult book, but it’s certainly on my list.
Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls
Also of note: this year, Sara Farizan, another Lesley graduate, published her first book, If You Could Be Mine, a wonderful love story. It makes me so proud to have been in the same program as her.

Not in the YA grouping: David Sedaris. How have I not read this man before? His nonfiction essays reveal a life that in most ways is very different from mine, but he still manages to write things that click and mesh with the way I see the world, that echo thoughts I’ve never said out loud because who else would possibly think that way? I’ve read almost everything he’s written, which is really depressing in its own way, since I could read his books forever. But luckily Sedaris is one of those magical readers that stand up to rereadings (or re-listenings, since I switch between his audio books and print books) so I can just go back to him again and again and again.

Boxers and Saints2013 was also a year where I started getting into different forms of reading. audiobooks became my go-to way to pass the time doing chores or driving, though I do find myself being very picky with what I listen to: it has to be something I can spend only about 80% of my brain on, and I can’t make myself listen to anything that equals more than 10 or so CDs. I’ve also discovered a new love of short stories, with Aimee Bender and George Saunders, and also J.D. Salinger and another new favorite book, Franny and Zooey.

Always there are new comics. This year I found a new favorite webcomic, Boumeries, which I’ve talked about before. I’ve also loved Gene Luen Yang’s new duet (duology? twosome?), Boxers & Saints about the Boxer Rebellion in China. Other good ones were Message to Adolf by Osamu Tezuka, Same Difference by Derek Kirk Kim, and Marbles, a memoir on bipolar disorder, by Ellen Forney.

Really, I could go on and on about the books I loved this year. There are plenty I didn’t name. But those are some of the things that stuck out for me. How about you?

Teen Lit: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

So I finished Fangirl a few weeks ago, but for some reason am only just now getting around to talking about it. After reading and loving Eleanor & Park, I was suddenly inspired to look Rainbow Rowell up on Amazon, to see if she had anything else coming out. And did she.

FangirlSo, Fangirl is about Cath, a girl entering college. She’s stressed about leaving her dad, and that her twin sister suddenly wants to be separate and have a different roommate and live in a different dorm. Her own roommate is older, and a little grumpy, and she may have bitten off more than she can chew with an advanced fiction-writing course.

Now, here’s the part of the plot description that hooked me in. Cath is a fangirl, a hardcore fangirl over the Simon Snow series, which is obviously and hilariously a version of Harry Potter (I’m not going to say spoof, it’s taken far too seriously to be a spoof). Not only does she read it, and buy merchandise for it, she also write fanfiction. Slash fanfiction. In which she has the two main male characters fall in love with each other, over and over again. I had never heard of an author actually having a character that took part in this segment of fandom, that for a moment I couldn’t believe this was what the book was actually about. I was so stoked to read this book for that bit alone. What really thrilled me once I started reading it, though, is how seriously Rowell takes fanfiction as she’s telling the story. Cath has a few problems with writing fic, one being that she spends so much of her time doing it, another that she fails a Fiction assignment because she decides to hand in a new piece of fanfiction. And there are characters that point out the downside of writing fanfiction, like her professor, pointing out that Cath is using it as a way to avoid living her own life, or writing her own stories. But Rowell also does a very excellent job of having Cath explain why writing fanfiction is so important to her, why she continues to do it, how it makes her feel just better about things. And even when Cath does finally realize that she has to write her own stories, it’s not because she decided that fanfiction is something she has to push to the wayside. It’s still important, it’s just that now it’s not the only important thing.

Also, being a nerd obsessed with a book series and writing gay fanfiction isn’t the only thing about Cath. She’s got a past that’s a bit messed up, and issues with her parents and herself that make it more and more apparent why she is the way she is. These elements are just as important as the fact that she is a nerd, and it makes the story so multi-dimensional and whole that you don’t have to be a fanfic-writing geek to understand Cath and relate to her on a very basic level. Basically, it’s a real story about a real girl, who happens to write fanfiction.

There are so many things about this book I could talk about — the great characters, the truly funny dialogue (“But I like that we’re not friends!” “I do, too. I’m sorry you had to ruin that by being pathetic.”), and a plot that just pans out in a very real and satisfying way. This was great, great, great, and I love Rowell for bringing this into the world.