Last week’s #comics

Buffy Omnibus Vol 1 and Vol 2

I’m not sure why it’s taken me this long to read the Buffy Omnibuses. I’ve read Season 8 (loved it) as well as the High School Years (not so much). It was so much fun being back amongst the Scooby gang and also Drusilla and Spike (I love how I can imagine Drusilla’s accent as I read her speech bubbles, which are very true to her character – poetic and also a bit insane).

Pop Vol 1 by Curt Pires

A fun enough but violent comic set in a world in which celebrities are grown and bred and one manages to escape. The storyline wasn’t the best but I really loved the pop art style of illustrations.

Ghost Vol 1 and 2 – Kelly Sue DeConnick, Alex Ross, Phil Noto (Artist), Jenny Frison (Artist), Patrick Thorpe (Editor)

In this case, I’m not a fan of the illustrations. To be honest, I couldn’t really tell the male characters apart (and there are quite a lot of them). I do like Elisa, the mysterious Ghost, who has a strange power and an unknown past. The storyline gets a bit better in Volume 2 as we find out more about what’s happening in the city. Not exactly DeConnick’s best but it’s still interesting enough so far (especially since I am just now only finding out about Elisa’s past life) that I may continue. However, it looks like Vol 3 wasn’t by DeConnick so we’ll see how that goes!

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#amonthoffaves2017 – books worth the hype?

amonthoffavesA Month of Faves is hosted by Andi, Tanya and Tamara

Fri. | Dec. 8 – 3 Popular Books Worth the Hype #AMonthofFaves

Oops a few days late with this one.

The Book of Dust – Philip Pullman

I know there have been some mixed reviews and I wasn’t entirely that into Lyra as an infant but I really loved being back in that setting. Daemons!

When Dimple Met Rishi – Sandhya Menon

A cute and fun YA romance read. Now if they’d just turn it into a movie.

Jane, Unlimited – Kirstin Cashore

I had fun with this book – a sort of “choose your own adventure” of sorts, with multiple possibilities and endings. Also, a main character who makes umbrella art. I loved this one. About the hype though? I don’t know.

Not worth the hype

Angel Catbird – Margaret Atwood

Was it because it’s Atwood that I was expecting more (a whole bloody lot more) than this? Yes yes of course. But I think even if this was by an unknown writer, I would have expected more. It was just too simplistic and it made me feel like she hasn’t seen how complex storylines and characters in well-written comic series can be (like Saga). Anyway, I think because it’s Atwood that I even gave Volume 2 a try. I can safely say I am not reading that series anymore.

Needs more hype

I don’t know if there’s very much hype about these books but whatever, they are great reads and they need more hype!

 

All the Rivers – Dorit Rabinyan

It’s only got 909 ratings on Goodreads so that’s a bit on the low side. This book, written by an Israeli writer, is about a relationship between an Israeli woman and a Palestinian man. She’s in New York for just six months and it’s a chance meeting with this man but can it work? Can it last? Lovely and thought provoking.

 

Cork Dork – Bianca Bosker

What a fun nonfiction read. I was constantly having to disturb the husband with a newfound fact about the wine world or sommeliers or fine dining. And that to me is what makes nonfiction enjoyable. Learning new things. But it was also very personable (it is after all her discovery and journey, learning about wine and the world of sommeliers) and it made me want to keep reading and reading.

 

The Strays – Emily Bitto

I loved this Australian novel set in the Melbourne art world (my review here) but haven’t really seen that much about it online – or perhaps I just am not aware of book hype these days…?

Reading the Tournament of Books books!

 

Last month was my Tournament of Books reading month! Here’s the shortlist and here are my thoughts on:

All the light we cannot see – Anthony Doerr
All the Birds, Singing – Evie Wyld

Reading Dept of Speculation and Silence Once Begun made me realize that I like more traditional narratives. As in, a storyline, a plot, dialogue written with apostrophes. And books that are written in a more experimental style are not exactly in my comfort zone.

But sometimes it is good to read out of one’s comfort zone.

I am glad I read Dept of Speculation. Jenny Offill has a way with words and her style is intriguing, the way she has written this story of a marriage in short paragraphs, sometimes just a few sentences. But I was left wanting more. I suppose that might be the point of this book? At any rate, I am interested enough to want to read her next book!

Jesse Ball’s Silence Once Begun is styled as a collection of transcripts. It is an interesting idea, a man who signs a confessions, admitting to having killed many. The writer interviews his family, the man himself, and an elusive woman who visits him. Thus the transcripts.

But this book was not for me. It had its moments, and a unique concept, but it wasn’t something I could appreciate. And it dragged a bit too much for me. I didn’t really want to finish it. I ended up finishing it anyway as I just wanted to tick it off the list. Luckily it wasn’t too long a book.

Well at least I got somewhere with that one. I downloaded a library e-copy of Wittgenstein Jr by Lars Iyer. But after the first five pages I knew that I would not like this book.

Michel Faber’s Book of Strange New Things fared a lot better. It is a far more straightforward narrative – a pastor who heads to an outer space colony to minister to the natives (that is the “aliens”) there. I am quite fond of reading SF books, although I have not read many, I like exploring new worlds and all that. And this one was fun on that part. The rain, the aliens, the adaptation to life on this planet. The humans working on this planet were equally fascinating. But it did wear on a bit for me. What was happening on earth (the pastor’s wife remained on Earth) though just seemed too much. All this happening when he’s away in outer space? The messages between the two were sometimes a bit tedious and I was glad to get out of that and return to what was actually happening on the planet.

I have saved the best for last.

I am sorry to edge An Untamed State in here too. It does deserve its very own post but I find it hard to write about it. Because there was a lot of angry reading going on. It was a book full of emotions and rage. And such pain and sorrow. I couldn’t finish it fast enough because I just needed to finish it and return it so that I wouldn’t have to think about it anymore. It made me feel sick. I know that’s not the way to recommend a book but such is the power of Roxane Gay’s writing, her storyline and the situation she puts her characters in, before and after, that I couldn’t not feel the rage as I read this book.

And finally, now that I have written about it, I feel like I can put it to rest now.

I’m glad I decided to read off the shortlist last month, it made me reach out for books that I might not have picked up. I tend to not read the ‘latest’ books (yes, I say latest although these were published last year), preferring to let any hype die down for a while before finally reading them, but I’ve been following the Tournament for the past few years, wishing I knew what the hell the judges are talking about. I might not be able to read all the rest of the books on the shortlist (I am still WAITING for my Station Eleven hold gaaaahhhh!! But my time will come… soon… it better!!) but at least I can read some of the commentary and yell at my tablet when they’re making the wrong decision.

 

Nonfiction Reads from Roz Chast, Emily Spivack, and Sybille Bedford

cantwetalkpleasant

Chast’s graphic memoir is both funny and sad. It was such an eye opener with regards to growing old and dying.

Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? is a graphic memoir of her last years with her parents, who are in their 90s and live on their own in Brooklyn. Her parents are quite a pair – her mother is bossy, and to be honest, a little bit scary and demanding; her father is a chronic worrier, and becomes senile. They have a fear of retirement homes and refuse to talk about the inevitable. But it does happen. Her mother falls down one day and can’t get out of bed, and she is the one who cooks, drives and keeps their lives together. And so they have to move into an assisted living home, and Chast has to clear out their apartment – and all the many many items they have accumulated over the years (shavers??).

But wow, to first of all learn of 90-plus-year-olds living on their own. And then to read of the cost of assisted living. It was a big shock to my system.

This was a hard book to read. Some of the pages were hilarious, and others were just gut wrenchingly sad. You will inevitably think of your own family and wonder what you will do when your own parents can no longer look after themselves.

wornstories

Worn Stories – Emily Spivack

The synopsis from Goodreads:

Everyone has a memoir in miniature in at least one piece of clothing. In Worn Stories, Emily Spivack has collected over sixty of these clothing-inspired narratives from cultural figures and talented storytellers. First-person accounts range from the everyday to the extraordinary, such as artist Marina Abramovic on the boots she wore to walk the Great Wall of China; musician Rosanne Cash on the purple shirt that belonged to her father; and fashion designer Cynthia Rowley on the Girl Scout sash that informed her business acumen. Other contributors include Greta Gerwig, Heidi Julavits, John Hodgman, Brandi Chastain, Marcus Samuelsson, Piper Kerman, Maira Kalman, Sasha Frere-Jones, Simon Doonan, Albert Maysles, Susan Orlean, Andy Spade, Paola Antonelli, David Carr, Andrew Kuo, and more. By turns funny, tragic, poignant, and celebratory, Worn Stories offers a revealing look at the clothes that protect us, serve as a uniform, assert our identity, or bring back the past–clothes that are encoded with the stories of our lives.

I was excited to read this, it sounded like it would be a great read, but I think I was expecting something more in-depth but each story was just one or two pages long. Some of the stories were poignant, relating to a tragedy or a loved one, one or two were humorous, but too many were rather forgettable. And towards the end, I didn’t really want to read on, although I did finish it, just to finish reading the book. Sigh.

Maybe you would enjoy this more than I did, especially if you’re a fan of some of the contributors, see above. I felt that the collection could have been more diverse, as a lot of the contributors were those from the art world.

visitdonotavio

A Visit to Don Otavio – Sybille Bedford

Bedford, a German-born English writer, led a rather interesting life (click on the link for the Wikipedia entry). This book is about her year in Mexico after World War II.  Originally published as The Sudden View: a Mexican Journey in 1953, A Visit to Don Otavio is a witty, intelligent look at Mexico in these times. Bedford is a beautiful writer, and occasionally turns her eye to the food that she consumes around the country, pleasing this foodie very very much. I am always enthralled by descriptions of food, especially in countries I’ve never been to before. Bedford is a master of observation and I am pleased to note that she has written quite a few other books:

  • The Sudden View: a Mexican Journey – 1953 – (republished as A Visit to Don Otavio: a Traveller’s Tale from Mexico, a travelogue)
  • A Legacy – 1956 – her first novel, a work inspired by the early life of the author’s father, which focuses on the brutality and anti-Semitism in the cadet schools of the German officer class.
  • The Best We Can Do: (The Trial of Dr Adams) – 1958 – an account of the murder trial of suspected serial killer John Bodkin Adams
  • The Faces of Justice: A Traveller’s report – 1961 – a description of the legal systems of England, Germany, Switzerland, and France.
  • A Favourite of the Gods – 1963 – a novel about an American heiress who marries a Roman Prince
  • A Compass Error – 1968 – a sequel to the above, describing the love affairs of the granddaughter of that work’s protagonist
  • Aldous Huxley: A biography – 1973 – the standard, authorized biography of Huxley
  • Jigsaw: An Unsentimental Education – 1989 – a sort of followup to A Legacy, this novel was inspired by the author’s experiences living in Italy and France with her mother
  • As It Was: Pleasures, Landscapes and Justice – 1990 – a collection of magazine pieces on various trials, including the censorship of Lady Chatterley’s Lover, the trial of Jack Ruby, and the Auschwitz trial, as well as pieces on food and travel.
  • Pleasures and Landscapes: A Traveller’s Tales from Europe – a reissue of the above, removing the legal writings, and including two additional travel essays.
  • Quicksands: A Memoir – 2005 – A memoir of the author’s life, from her childhood in Berlin to her experiences in postwar Europe.