February 12th, 2016

desert sea
  • maribou

After Trouble Saga; Forest Rutabaga; Treasury Escapes Crushed Monkey; Tower of MARTians

Saga, vol. 5, by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples
I think this is my favorite Saga yet. The Lying Cat is also my favorite animal companion at the moment. <3.

Get in Trouble, by Kelly Link
Sometimes I say, "Ugh, I don't really like short stories.." and then I follow it up immediately with a list of except fors. Kelly Link is almost always at the top of my except for list. I particularly appreciated that many of these stories were quite long, which made me like them even more. Kelly Link, man. *resists the temptation to stop writing this post, go find ALL the Kelly Link stories, read or unread, and then do nothing but read them until they are all gone*

Never After, by Laurell K. Hamilton, Yasmine Galenorn, Marjorie M. Liu, and Sharon Shinn
Four relatively fluffy non-traditional fairy tales. I particularly liked the one by Marjorie M. Liu (which is good, 'cause that one was why I picked up the book). Not a huge fan of the Galenorn story, too awkwardly I Am A Paranormal Romance for me. The other two were excellent.

The Illustrated Treasury of Scottish Fairy and Folk Tales, by Theresa Breslin, illustrated by Kate Leiper
What an absolutely wonderful book. The illustrations glow with life, the stories fall trippingly off the tongue. So glad I own another book by this pair; I'm saving it for a day when I can curl up with it and forget the rest of the world exists.

Stella, Fairy of the Forest and Roslyn Rutabaga and the Biggest Hole on Earth!, by Marie-Louise Gay
The Stella book was charming, funny, and full of love in the same way as Any Questions was, hurrah! Roslyn had adorable illustrations and was fun, but would not have jumped out at me as a "more of this author please"... so I'm glad I didn't read it first!
(45, 46)

The Amazing Hamweenie Escapes!, by Patty Bowman
Meh. Turns out that some wonderful books do not need a sequel after all. And this was one of them. Funny awkward pictures, droll text - but just didn't have the spirit and frankness of the first book.

Finding Monkey Moon, by Elizabeth Pulford
A delicate, warm story about searching for that one stuffed animal most kids have that they cannot do without, after it goes missing. Made me want to figure out which box my Lambie was in and rescue him. The night time pictures are cosy inside and mysterious outside.

MARTians, by Blythe Woolston
Dystopia that's more about imagining experiences than world-building. Notably fond of Bradbury. Pulled me in and kept me there. Wry and oddly kind.

Tower of Thorns, by Juliet Marillier
Oh ho! The Blackthorn and Grim series has hit its stride now that there isn't so much need for exposition. Really hope she has another one out soon. (Also, nearly every time I read a Juliet Marillier, or even read a review of one of her books, I go make a little note in my books-to-read file that says READ SOME MORE JULIET MARILLIER. I shudder to think how many of those notes are in the file by now...)

Ms. Marvel, vol. 3: Crushed, by G. Willow Wilson et al
A lot of the Marvel Universe stuff in this one, which I don't really read enough of the other titles to fully appreciate (she's bonding with who to the what now?) - but there were some really poignant moments, some really kick-butt moments, and a decent amount of jokes. Makes me feel like an 11-year-old to read this series, in a good way.
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    "Won't you be my neighbor?"

Book #7: The X-Files: Whirlwind by Charles Grant

Number of pages: 264

Charles Grant's second X-Files novelisation opens with the discovery of skinned corpses in the New Mexico desert, setting up what appears to be a standard serial killer novel. It would also appear that the killer is the sinister Leon Ciola, who shows up quite early in the book.

But, this being The X-Files, the story lurches into Stephen King-esque supernatural territory, with the only major fault in the novel being that its title will probably give you a big hint as to what the actual cause is, as well as this quote from the plot synopsis:

They were victims of a natural disaster. One of the most unnatural natural disasters imaginable, leading to a most painful, most certain, and most hideous death....

This isn't a perfect book, and I never enjoyed Charles Grant's fan novels as much as the later ones by Kevin J. Anderson, but Mulder and Scully do at least get some good lines in, with one of my favourites being the banter about the amount of clothes that Scully packs when travelling.

I liked that fact that Charles Grant managed once again to think of a concept that had not been used in the show (there isn't really anything similar to this in the whole series), and it does built up to a decent finale, although the resolution is a bit vague and open to interpretation.

[Spoiler (click to open)]

When a storm nearly kills Mulder and Scully, their life is saved by Mulder shooting a mysterious bag, the contents of which are never revealed, but which is presumably some sort of mystical charm.

Indeed, Mulder and Scully themselves seem to be still a bit baffled for the reasons for the murders, although the final chapter has some moments that are wonderfully sinister, and almost surreal. It does at least fit in with the show's penchant for including mysteries that remain completely unsolved.

Next book: Holy Cow (David Duchovny)
  • maribou

28 Sail Itch; Penguin Person Thing; Mean Flea; Snow Treasures

28 Days, by Charles R. Smith Jr., illustrated by Shane W. Evans
A poem and illustration about each of 28 different African-Americans of historical note, in honor of Black History Month. Mostly I liked the illustrations (great!) better than the poems (reasonably good!), but some of the poems were AMAZING.

The Book Itch, by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson, illustrated by R. Gregory Christie
I was hesitant to read this picture book because I'd already read the author's (excellent) middle grade book about the Mich(e)aux family and I was wary of boredom setting in. But I'm so glad I read it! It is GLORIOUS, all the things I liked about the middle grade book and some new things too. Most of all, the illustrator is a FREAKING GENIUS who brought the story of Lewis Michaux and his African National Memorial Bookstore to gleeful, vibrant, powerful life in a way that the text alone couldn't have managed. Such a gem!

Sail Away, by Langston Hughes, illustrated by Ashley Bryan
Sadly, most of the illustrations in this compilation of Hughes' poems about the sea didn't really work for me. Also, while I loved some of the poems (I reread one of them 8 times), I also found myself thinking "Who is the audience for this?? The pictures are for young kids and the poems talk about sex and death!?!?" That said, there were a couple of pages where everything pulled together and there was magic happening. Just wish that could've been the case throughout.

Love Is My Favorite Thing, by Emma Chichester Clark
Sweet picture book about a misbehaving dog, told from her perspective. Didn't totally work for me, but I was charmed enough that I requested the collection of illustrated blog posts about the same dog through interlibrary loan.

The Penguin Lessons, by Tom Michell
This was actually one of the first books I read this year (just forgot to log it right away), and I absolutely loved it. Michell writes in exactly the way I like about his relationship with a FREAKING RESCUED PENGUIN, and then to top that, it is ALSO a story about a British expat living in South America, and it is ALSO a boarding school book, and it is ALSO full of frankly acknowedged ambiguities. Another one of those books where I feel like the author was playing "things that will delight Maribou bingo," and won on 5 or 6 sheets at once.

How to Be A Person, by Lindy West et al
Ennnnnnh to this supposed guide for teenagers about to head off to college. Lindy West shows signs of being a writer I will frequently enjoy, and so I wanted to delve into her back catalog. Except this isn't just by her, it's by a ton of people who were writing for the Stranger at the time. And it isn't (mostly) earnest a la Incomplete Education, it's mostly tongue in cheek and snarky and mean and people thinking they are funny when I very much think they are not. That said, there were some excellent chapters, just not enough of them.

Let it Snow, by John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle
Perfect anotidote for the previous book - teen romance novellas, Christmas, a blizzard, connected plots / overlapping characters, and I was reminded (yet again) that I really dig Maureen Johnson and should provide my inner teenager with more of her books. (I already knew how much said teenager loves John Green, and Lauren Myracle was ... out of her league compared to the other two, but perfectly acceptable.)

Lola Levine Is Not Mean!, by Monica Brown
Early reader chapter book with spark and verve enough that I'll be reading the sequel. Lola is no Clementine or Ramona (at least not yet), but who is?

Louis Comfort Tiffany: Treasures from the Driehaus Collection, by David A. Hanks et al
Sooooooooooooooo many pretties. Got interested the Driehaus Collection after some friends visited the mansion/museum where it is housed. Excellent, creative photography of the collection (which is more lamps and vases - including some vases I'd never seen anything like before - and not so many windows), and satisfying accompanying text.

The Story of Diva and Flea, by Mo Willems, illustrated by Tony DiTerlizzi
Cute picture book for slightly older kids. The author's love of Paris and the illustrator's love of the tale the author is telling both shine through. High marks for fun.
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    KMRB is playing Bastille's "Flaws"