Thursday, 31 May 2018

May Wrap-up


Here's a horrifying thought - it's already the end of May. 

News from the Reading Front

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This is what I thought I'd be like once uni ended.

https://giphy.com/gifs/frank-ocean-boys-dont-cry-someone-probably-already-did-this-before-who-knows-5ETs34G31iCAg

This is what I'm actually like now that uni has ended.

At first I thought I was just reading a lot of comics because comics were fun, but now I'm thinking I might also be a little burnt out right now when it comes to novels. 

Anyway, let's take a look at what I've read this month...

Carrie by Stephen King - 3 Stars - Review

The Absolutely True Story of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie - 2 Stars - Review

I also read six graphic novels and two comics.

Reading Challenge Check-in

I am now only one book behind on my Goodreads Challenge! 

2018 Witches and Witchcraft Reading Challenge: 1/5
  • Carrie by Stephen King (Her mother refers to her as a witch so IT COUNTS.)

Science Fiction VS Fantasy Bingo 2018: 2/25

  • Fantastic Beasts - All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater 
  • It's the End of the World as We Know it - Carrie by Stephen King (Said almost word for word in the book.)
The 2018 Swords and Stars Reading Challenge: 1/20
  • Read a Book with Magical Realism in it - All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater
Back to the Classics Challenge 2018: 3/12
  • A classic written by a woman author - Agnes Grey by Anne Bront
 
  • All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater 
  • All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
  • The Absolutely True Story of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
 Cloak and Dagger Reading Challenge: 1/5
  • Carrie by Stephen King
Ivyclad Bingo (2018 Reading Challenge): 7/16
  • Superhero - Nightwing Volume One: Better than Batman by Tim Seeley
  • Contemporary - All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
  • Over 500 Pages - Pamela by Samuel Richardson
  • Historical - A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens (Yes, even at the time it was published.)
  • Black Cover - Middlemarch by George Eliot 
  • Witches - Carrie by Stephen King
  • Magic - Zatanna Volume Two: Shades of the Past 
(I see reading Carrie was a good life decision.)

I also joined a new reading challenge this month.

Beat the Backlist 2018: (21/30)

Note: For the purposes of this challenge, anything released before the 1st of January 2018 qualifies as a backlist book.
  • Goblin Market and Other Poems by Christina Rossetti (First Published: 1862)
  • All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater (First Published: 2017)
  • Ouran High School Host Club Volume Nine by Bisco Hatori (First Published: 2006)
  • Agnes Grey by Anne Bront
  • Nightwing Volume One: Better than Batman by Tim Seeley (First Published: 2017)




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I found out about the GDPR really late, especially considering that I'm in Europe. You'll notice that there are now two cookie consent bars you have to click through. I am sorry about that, but I needed to link to my privacy policy and I wasn't sure how to remove Google's banner (or if I was allowed to). I think I'm GDPR compliant now. If I'm not and you know I'm not then please tell me. 

I'm also now on Twitter. This is mainly thanks to the fact that so many jobs want you to have experience of Twitter so that they can trust you to manage their social media channels -

(Try again.)

This is mainly thanks to the fact that midnight me makes bad, impulse-driven decisions, but you're all welcome to pretend it's because you kept telling me how great the book blogging community is on there. Anyway, it turns out that I have the Twitter skills of a lemon. You can find me at @Ivyclad_Ideas.

News from the Net
  • The Super Sons/Dynomutt crossover dropped today. 
  • Antman and the Wasp won't be released in the UK until the 6th of August. Is it just me, or does it keep getting later and later? 
 

Monday, 28 May 2018

More a Critique Than a Novel (Maria by Mary Wollstonecraft)

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/3209858-maria
(SPOILER WARNING.)

2/5

"Abodes of horror have frequently been described, and castles, filled with spectres and chimeras, conjured up by the magic spell of genius to harrow the soul, and absorb the wandering mind." - Mary Wollstonecraft, Maria, Page 1

Okay, first of all, this is not a reflection on the politics of the novel. This book is a stark, eye-opening look at the non-existent rights of women in the eighteenth century. After marriage, they were owned by their husbands. Any money they had, any property, was his by rights. The children were his by rights. A husband could divorce his wife for adultery. A wife needed more than that. This novel is a great critique of the time period, written by a woman who lived in it.

That said, I rate books on enjoyment, and this was more of a critique than it was a novel. I always feel like Wollstonecraft uses six hundred words where she could use six. It's a bleak novel, yes, but it's still a novel. It shouldn't read like A Vindication of the Rights of Women . That said, I loved the gothic imagery that surrounded the setting of the asylum.

Between them, Maria and Jemima embody every terrible thing that could happen to a woman in this era. Maria is a sane woman locked up in an asylum because her husband, who she considers herself seperated from, said she was mad. She's recently had a baby daughter, and she has no idea where she is. Jemima was born out of wedlock to a servant. She's treated as a servant by her father and stepmother, denied the love that their other children receive. When she gets a job in a big house, the master rapes her. Pregnant, she's thrown from the house. The master gave her a potion to induce abortion, which she takes, and then, with nowhere to go and no way to get employment, she has no choice but to become a prostitute to survive. By the time she meets Maria she has a job at the asylum, but she's become a cold, hard person. Life made her that way.

This novel was left unfinished when Wollstonecraft died soon after giving birth to Mary Shelley. There were a number of possible endings. Personally, I like the one where Maria gets her child back. I am always drawn to hope. I would like to think that, despite everything that women went through in the eighteenth century, Wollstonecraft would still have believed in it. 


Have you read any unfinished novels?

Thursday, 24 May 2018

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie (Banned Books Club #1)

 Banned for vulgarity, racism, and anti-Christian content.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/693208.The_Absolutely_True_Diary_of_a_Part_Time_Indian2 Stars

“I used to think the world was broken down by tribes,' I said. 'By Black and White. By Indian and White. But I know this isn't true. The world is only broken into two tribes: the people who are assholes and the people who are not.” - Sherman Alexie, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, page 176 

Scrolling down the page on Goodreads, I feel like I'm the only person in the world who didn't particuarly enjoy this book. 

Personally, I felt like this read more like MG than YA. Not in terms of content, but in terms of style. I didn't like how the character relationships were built either. Arnold/Junior literally walks into his classroom on his first day at his new all-white school and immediately develops a crush on Penelope for no apparent reason. Later, they start sort-of dating after a grand total of three interactions. He becomes friends with Gordy simply by asking. The exceptions to this were his relationships with Rowdy and Roger. His friendship with Rowdy is at the heart of the story. When he makes his decision to attend a different school, Rowdy feels betrayed, and it takes the rest of the novel for them to even begin fixing that rift. As for Roger, I was confused at first by the fact that when Arnold/Junior punched him he didn't hit back. It took a while for me to realise that he was simply too shocked. After all, he's a popular senior. When he made that racist comment, he probably wasn't expecting the new kid to try and break his nose. What I do wonder though is if Arnold/Junior is simply an exception to him. Roger is far from the only racist character in the story and he was likely repeating something he'd heard either at home or in the wider community, and that makes me think that he might still be racist to other people. 

This book covers a lot of heavy topics. Racism is an obvious one - it's actually been banned on those grounds before, which is ironic considering that the novel is about how prejudice and discrimination puts people like Arnold/Junior at a disadvantage. Poverty and alcoholism are rife on the reservation, and their school is underfunded too. The narrator is incensed to realise that he's learning from the same textbook his mother used as a student.

Whilst I think this book covers a lot of important topics, I felt like it lacked in narrative aspects. Still, it's a quick read, so don't let me put you off.


https://thisislitblog.com/2018/05/04/have-you-joined-our-banned-book-club-yet/
"Banned Book Club is a monthly meme at This is Lit to encourage readers to read more challenged and banned books. We’ll pick a challenged book each month and read and review it by the end of the month.

Join the Goodreads group here.

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Am I Cheating on My Reading Challenge?


The short answer to this is no, but I can't deny that when I take a look at my "Read 2018" shelf I feel a little guilty. At this point, manga and comics make up just under 50% of the books I've read this year. 

Part of me feels like this is cheating. 

After all, there's far less text in comics and manga (unless you're reading the last few chapters of Death Note in which case, Jesus Christ, you might as well have picked up a novel) so they're quicker to read. 

The rest of me is aware that this is a stupid feeling.

For you to cheat, there have to be rules to break in the first place. Can anyone tell me the rules of the Goodreads Reading Challenge? Is there a book somewhere that I can consult?

(And will it count towards your challenge?)

Logic dictates that if the book is on the site, it should count. 

What this really comes down to is book snobbery.

No matter how much we personally hate it, book snobbery is something we all have a little of deep down. How could we not? It's how we're raised. When you're learning to read, there's a huge emphasis placed on reading "proper" books. This generally translates into reading novels and phasing out stories with pictures. Pictures are, after all, for children. Never mind that many of the periodicals of the Victorian era published illustrated stories for all ages. Classics authors such as Charles Dickens and Arthur Conan Doyle originally published their stories with illustrations alongside them, and modern editions often follow suite. 

As we get a little older, "proper" book stops meaning simply novels and starts meaning a specific type of novel - usually classics. I remember when I was about sixteen and we were told we could pick any book off the shelf in the classroom to read. I picked up something I thought I'd enjoy. I can't remember the title. It was some time-hopping, dimension-jumping sci-fi, I think. I remember the teacher asking me if I was sure that was the one I wanted because she thought I could handle something more "difficult". 

For me, reading's not about difficulty. It's about enjoyment.

So, no, I don't think I'm cheating. Not really. I'm just mosying along, reading what I want. And isn't that the point of doing the Goodreads Reading Challenge in the first place?


Do you ever feel bad about what you choose to read, even though you know that, logically, said feelings are ridiculous?

Sunday, 20 May 2018

Limbo (Sunday Post #16)

https://caffeinatedbookreviewer.com/the-sunday-post-meme

It's been a while since I've linked up for this, an unfortunate consequence of me posting my monthly wrap-ups on the final day of the month instead of the first Sunday, but I've handed in my last ever assignments so it seemed like a good time to take a look at where I am now. 

Meanwhile, in the Real World...

I'm kind of in limbo at the moment. On the one hand, I'm searching for jobs. On the other, term hasn't technically ended yet so I'm still a student. Assignments are all handed in now and, honestly, I'm done. If I ever have to write another essay, it'll be too soon. All I can do now is wait and see what's coming next.

So what does that mean for this blog?

News from the Blogging Front

Well, I'll have to change my tag line.

(Obviously.)

But other than that? Right now, I'm thinking nothing. I wanted to jazz it up a bit, but I don't like change and didn't want to do anything too extreme so please enjoy the stock picture of a forest that Blogger provided for the background.
 
(Blogger - saving lazy bloggers since 2018.)


News from the Reading Front

I'm joining another reading challenge.

(We do not need to join another reading challenge.)

Your opinion is noted. 

As I was saying, I'm signing up for Beat the Backlist 2018

http://novelknight.com/2018-beat-backlist/
(Dammit!)

I always read far more backlist books than I do new releases, so I can't believe I missed this one in December. I'm aiming to read 30 backlist books.

News from the Writing Front
 

I CAN WRITE WHAT I WANT AGAIN! 

https://giphy.com/gifs/brooklyn-nine-pGnQ7i6DuPKmc

For real this time. I have a short story I need to edit for an anthology that the society I'm in puts out every year, but after that I can go back to focusing on the first draft of my story. I've been reading through some of the latest chapters (mainly to reacquaint myself with where I'm at) and, oh my God, it needs so much editing.

But who cares?

I can work on it again. Reguarly. That's all that really matters.

News from Around the Net
  • If you haven't read this post about why we need to stop calling female characters Mary-Sues, you need to. It takes pot-shots at Batman (always a joy), and also a quick shot Spiderman (HOW COULD YOU?!).
  • The final issue of Super Sons comes out on Wednesday 23rd of May. It's been confirmed on Twitter that the duo will return in a new series called Adventures of the Super Sons in August 2018.
  • Shruti @ This is Lit has started the Banned Book Club monthly meme, encouraging people to read and review a banned book (voted for by the Goodreads group) every month. Click here to join the group.
  • We're all blessed because Brooklyn Nine-Nine is no longer cancelled. 
Happy Sunday! How's life?