Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Where the Line Bleeds: Yes, they conformed to character, but these two traded skins like any set of twins

What is this? A review? An actual review? I know, it's been a while.

After reading Jesmyn Ward's latest book, Sing, Unburied, Sing I had an opportunity to receive a copy of one of her earlier works in exchange for an honest review.
The story is a character study of the twins Christoph and Joshua, from a rural town on the Mississippi Gulf coast. Raised by their grandmother Ma-Mee after their mother went to Atlanta and their father slipped further into drugs. The book opens with the boys graduating from high school, hoping to get some sort of job to support their grandmother. Their ambitions are modest, shaped by the world they know. They apply all around town, at fast food joints and the dock, with never a thought that they won't be working together. But Joshua gets a job while Christoph isn't so lucky, causing a rift between the two that goes mostly unspoken. Though really much of their communication goes without words, so it makes sense that their argument would be silent as well.

Ma-Mee senses the distance and hurt from the boys but all she can wish is the boys were younger.

Christoph goes more and more despondent as the days go by and the phone stays quiet, as he goes another day without a job, without contributing to the house. Eventually he takes up his cousin's offer to start dealing pot, a secret he keeps from Joshua.

The jacket description says something about a confrontation with their father Sandman either saving or damning the twins. I won't tell you what happens but I will tell you this happens in roughly the last 5-10% of the book. Most of it is the quiet day-to-day lives of the twins, flirting and getting their hair braided and getting high and playing basketball.

Understand this is not a complaint about the book, just a warning that if you're looking for action you should go elsewhere. That isn't to say that I wasn't sucked in; I wanted to know what was going to happen, even when what was happening was mostly a slow burn. Ward has a lyrical quality to her writing, though I unfortunately didn't highlight too many passages to use as examples. But I do have at least one and it's pretty good so enjoy
The sun would not leave them: even after it set, it left a residue of heat in the evening. Christoph, stone-drunk under the barebulb lights strung between the trees at Felicia's party later that night, thought the blanketing heat was a vestigial presence, something made even more present by its absence.
I may like Sing, Unburied, Sing better but this was still an excellent read one I was happy to be able to read. It was a book outside my comfort zone, populated by characters I don't read about often.

Gif rating:
Title quote from page 4

Ward, Jesmyn. Where the Line Bleeds. Scribner, 2006. NetGalley

Monday, January 22, 2018

Admitting Some Favorites

I sometimes have a problem when it comes to admitting when I love something. Some things. Certain things.
I was thinking about this the other day when I was re-reading Attachments by Rainbow Rowell for the I'm-not-sure-how-many-times. I finished my other book but still had commuting time left and being bookless is unacceptable, obviously. And Attachments has been a go-to whenever I need something else to read, even if it's just a couple chapters. Which was my plan. But a couple chapters turned into a few more chapters turned into the whole book.

It was roughly at that point that I had to admit to myself that yeah, I think Attachments is probably one of my favorite books. But why do I have to admit it? What is it something I ever denied? Or not actively denied, I suppose (because no one was challenging me) but something I didn't really acknowledge.

This isn't the first time it's happened, although the first time I can think of with a book. The other 2 instances that come to mind are movies: Clueless and Jurassic Park.

Both are movies I've seen a million times from the time they came out to present day and yet for both it's been within the last 3-5 years I've acknowledged that these are favorites. I've always liked them. I have read the novelization of both movies. Yes, even Jurassic Park which WAS BASED ON A BOOK (which I also read). No, I don't know why the novelization exists.
Maybe I have an idea
Maybe I didn't acknowledge it at first because none of these are particularly high-brow things. I mean, they aren't especially low-brow things either. Distinctly middle-brow. Very average brows. And it's not like other things that I consider favorites are impressively intelligent (Lamb by Christopher Moore, The Martian by Andy Weir and also the movie, World War Z by Max Brooks). 

Maybe some things are just a slow burn. Some things are instant favorites and some are comforting and eventually you realize how much you rely on them.

I don't have too much of a point here other than maybe I should revisit other things I really like to see if maybe I actually like-like them. Also that everyone should read (or reread) Attachments because it is the most wonderful, sweetest thing.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Reader Harder List: 2018 Reading Challenge

Last year, Etudesque posted a book challenge list from PopSugar that I meant to update throughout the year and then managed to update all of twice. Whoops.
This year she's posted a list courtesy of Book Riot called Read Harder that I will attempt to remember this year. Or I'll do what I did before and forget about it until the last week in December.
  1. A book published posthumously
  2. A book of true crime
  3. A classic of genre fiction (i.e., mystery, sci fi/fantasy, romance)
    • And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie. It was a reread but STILL COUNTS
  1. A comic written and illustrated by the same person
  2. A book set in or about one of the five BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa)
  3. A book about nature
  4. A western
  5. A comic written or illustrated by a person of color
  6. A book of colonial or postcolonial literature
  7. A romance novel by or about a person of color
  8. A children's classic published before 1980
  9. A celebrity memoir
  10. An Oprah Book Club selection
  11. A book of social science
  12. A one-sitting book
  13. A first book in a new-to-you YA or middle grade series
  14. A sci-fi novel with a female protagonist by a female author
  15. A comic that isn't published by Marvel, DC or Image
  16. A book of genre fiction in translation
  17. A book with a cover you hate
  18. A mystery by a person of color or LGBTQ+ author
  19. An essay anthology
  20. A book with a female protagonist over the age of 60
  21. An assigned book you hated (or never finished)
OK so, when I saw how short the list was I was thinking "Yeah, I got this." And then as I looked at it closer I realized "Shit, yeah, this IS gonna be hard." Hence the name, I suppose. 
Well, one down at least. Let's see how the rest of the year goes

I swear, I'll get around to writing another real review soon. Scout's honor and all that. 

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Reading Through the Years: 2013-2017

Alright, we've seen how things look this last month, last quarter, last year and now it's time for some totals over the last 4 years. Don't you just love an infographic? (Cos clearly I do).

Monday, January 8, 2018

2017 Reading Stats

2017 is over and let's take a look at how the year overall stacked up.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Q4 Reading Stats

OK it took me some time to get the actual infographic set because 2018 is the year of procrastination (so basically the same as every other year, hooray for no growth!) But it's here now, so enjoy!

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

December Reading Wrap-Up

I know it's been a while. I blame the holidays. Not that I really have a good excuse (I didn't travel, nor did we have people staying with us) but still. Holidays throw schedules off and take up lots of otherwise productive time where you are sitting around eating junk food. But I am still around and I am still reading so hey. There's that.

I hope everyone had relaxing and 9more) productive holidays and lots of plans for 2018.

I'll be doing a few different wrap up posts so let's start with the first one, December reading stats!

Total books read
Reset: My Fight for Inclusion and Lasting Change by Ellen Pao
Neurocomic by Dr. Hana Ros & Dr. Matteo Farinella
Almost Midnight by Rainbow Rowell
Welcome to Night Vale by Joseph Fink & Jeffrey Cranor
You Don't Have to Like Me: Essays on Growing Up, Speaking Out, and Finding Feminism by Alida Nugent

Total pages read


POC Authors

Female authors
US authors

Book formats
ebook: 20%
hardback: 40%
paperback: 40%

Where'd I get the book
Gift: 40%
Indie: 40%
Kindle/Audible: 20%

Readalong/book club

Book by decade
2010s: 100%
Books by genre
Graphic novel (also science!): 20%
Memoir: 40%
Sci fi: 20%
YA: 20%

Reset and You Don't Have to Like Me are by POC authors (Asian and Latina, respectively)
Neurocomic is by a non-US author (UK).