American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang

Posted by on Aug 28, 2015 in 2015, 3.5 stars, Book Review, Graphic Novel | 0 comments

American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang

American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang

Genre: Young Adult Fiction
Format: Graphic Novel
Publisher: First Second
Publication Date: 2006
Pages: 233
Source: Library

The Short Version:
Chinese fables are intertwined in the stories of Chinese American schoolboys facing behavior born of stereotypes.

Why I Read It:
I read the author’s two volume work about the Boxer Rebellion about a year and a half ago. I really liked it and have heard that this was also excellent.

The Book:
From the publisher:

Jin Wang starts at a new school where he’s the only Chinese-American student. When a boy from Taiwan joins his class, Jin doesn’t want to be associated with an FOB like him. Jin just wants to be an all-American boy, because he’s in love with an all-American girl. Danny is an all-American boy: great at basketball, popular with the girls. But his obnoxious Chinese cousin Chin-Kee’s annual visit is such a disaster that it ruins Danny’s reputation at school, leaving him with no choice but to transfer somewhere he can start all over again. The Monkey King has lived for thousands of years and mastered the arts of kung fu and the heavenly disciplines. He’s ready to join the ranks of the immortal gods in heaven. But there’s no place in heaven for a monkey. Each of these characters cannot help himself alone, but how can they possibly help each other? They’re going to have to find a way–if they want fix the disasters their lives have become.

My Thoughts:
What feels like three separate stories turn out to be linked by the end. Subtle and not so subtle stereotyping and racism plagues characters in all three stories.

Jin just wants to fit in. Danny desperately wants his cousin (deliberately written as an over the top cliché) to disappear. The monkey king just wants to be seen as a God.

Gene Luen Yang has a very distinctive style of art and uses it well. It’s simplistic at time and very bright and colorful. He really lets the artwork shine in the fable of the Monkey King.

As with Boxers and Saints, this book left me with much to ponder. It’s got a good message about accepting yourself and about how damaging even subtle racism can be.

3.5 stars Rating 3.5/5

Read More

This is My Kind of Readathon!

Posted by on Aug 27, 2015 in Blogging/Reading, Fun | 1 comment

Andi and Heather at The Estella Society are at it again . . . and naturally that means fun.

Estella Society's Dog Days of Summer Readathon 2015

Estella Society’s Dog Days of Summer Readathon 2015

When I first saw the announcement I thought it was for the next Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon and I almost ignored it because I never do that one. I’m glad I took a second look.

Then I checked our calendar and lucky me! The weekend of September 18-20 is one of the rare fall weekends when we don’t have a football party scheduled. We’ll still be watching football but when it’s just us at home I can get a lot of reading done while watching (well except for when the Oregon game is on).

The Dog Days of Summer Readathon is exactly the kind of readathon I like. I never do the 24 hour ones because that’s just too much pressure and I won’t give up an entire weekend because we have too much other stuff in our lives that happens on weekends.

The thing that makes this one different is the same thing that makes Bout of Books appeal to me. It’s just about reading for whatever time you have available. As the official announcement post says:

It doesn’t matter if you can camp out with us the whole time or for only an hour!

So I’m in! I have no idea how much time I’ll actually devote to reading but in between the things that have to be done that weekend I will happily say “not now, this is my reading weekend”.

If you want to join in, head on over to the sign up post and add your name.

Happy Reading!

Read More

Nimona by Noelle Stevenson

Posted by on Aug 25, 2015 in 2015, 4.5 stars, Book Review, Graphic Novel | 2 comments

Nimona by Noelle Stevenson

Nimona by Noelle Stevenson

Genre: Fantasy
Format: Graphic Novel
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication Date: 2015
Pages: 266
Source: Library

The Short Version:
Nimona is a young shapeshifter who announces to the evil Lord Blackheart that she wants to be his sidekick and chaos ensues.

Why I Read It:
It seemed like everyone I know who read this loved it which both intrigued and frightened me.

The Book:
From the publisher:

Nemeses! Dragons! Science! Symbolism! All these and more await in this brilliantly subversive, sharply irreverent epic from Noelle Stevenson. Featuring an exclusive epilogue not seen in the web comic, along with bonus conceptual sketches and revised pages throughout, this gorgeous full-color graphic novel is perfect for the legions of fans of the web comic and is sure to win Noelle many new ones.

Nimona is an impulsive young shapeshifter with a knack for villainy. Lord Ballister Blackheart is a villain with a vendetta. As sidekick and supervillain, Nimona and Lord Blackheart are about to wreak some serious havoc. Their mission: prove to the kingdom that Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin and his buddies at the Institution of Law Enforcement and Heroics aren’t the heroes everyone thinks they are.

But as small acts of mischief escalate into a vicious battle, Lord Blackheart realizes that Nimona’s powers are as murky and mysterious as her past. And her unpredictable wild side might be more dangerous than he is willing to admit.

My Thoughts:
I am always wary when a book seems to get almost universal praise from the wide variety of readers who are my friends. I worry that I will be the one who thinks otherwise. I worry about expecting too much when I start the book and being disappointed when I don’t think it’s as great as everyone else seems to think.

I hesitated a long time before requesting this one from the library. I’m not sure which of my friends made the positive comments that tipped me over the edge into requesting it from the library but whoever it was I wish I could send a personal thank you note.

I LOVED this one! It’s quirky. It’s full of dark humor and sarcasm. It’s got a heroine who’s not exactly a role model. It’s got fun villains. Many of the real villains are disguised to their public as good guys. Its got heart. It’s full of heart. You can stop reading now and just go get this book and read it.

You’ll thank me when you’re done.

If I haven’t convinced you yet – here is the information about the main characters from the author’s website:

Nimona is an impulsive young shapeshifter who aspires to supervillainy and has convinced Lord Ballister Blackheart to take her on as his squire. While quick-thinking and innovative with her powers, she is disturbingly destructive and rarely gives any thought to consequences. She’s trouble.

Ballister Blackheart was once a fierce enforcer of the law until his best friend betrayed him and blew up his right arm, after which he decided that the law was wrong. He follows his own moral code now, which occasionally involves genetically engineered dragons.

Goldenloin is the kingdom’s darling and the figurehead of the Institution of Law Enforcement and Heroics. He is Ballister’s nemesis and former best friend, and responsible for Ballister’s lack of right arm – not that he’ll ever admit it. He has a very high opinion of himself. He wears a codpiece.

The Director is the shadowy figure at the heart of the kingdom’s inner workings, and the hand behind many of its darkest dealings. As far as anyone can tell her name is actually Director. No one knows much about her, and no one really likes her, but it’s not her job to be liked. She has work to do and no one had better get in her way.

Enthusiastic, optimistic, and a little scatter-brained. She’s traveled far and seen some things and nothing much fazes her anymore. Very excited about science. Not a witch. (Probably not a witch).

You want to read it now, don’t you?

4.5 stars Rating 4.5/5

Read More

Bout of Books 14 Wrap Up

Posted by on Aug 24, 2015 in Blogging/Reading, Bout of Books, Fun | 0 comments

Bout of Books 14 ended last night. It was my seventh Bout of Books and I’ve got the next one marked on my calendar the week of January 4-10.

Bout of Books

Once again I had a great time having a reason to say ‘not this week, it’s bout of books and I’m going to read instead”.

I had a great reading week. The main reason I like Bout of Books is that it’s a low-pressure readathon. I never feel like I need to stop doing everything else to just read but I am encouraged to maximize and make more time for reading than I normally do. Obviously I worked full time all week so that limited my reading time but I managed to get a lot of reading hours in in the evenings and over the weekend.

I use an app on my phone to track my reading and listening time it’s called ATracker.

Bout of Books 14 reading

My week of reading and listening

For the week I ended up with right around 9 hours of reading and 11 hours of audiobook time.

All in all with everything else I had going on I’m pretty happy with that.

I finished six books and started two more.

The books I finished this week are:

  • Nimona by Noelle Steenson
  • Messenger by Craig Johnson
  • American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang
  • A Hero’s Guide to Deadly Dragons by Cressida Cowell
  • Fables Vol. 13: The Great Fables Crossover by Bill Willingham and Mattgew Sturges
  • How to Ride a Dragon’s Storm by Cressida Cowell

All in all it was a great week of reading and talking about books with a great bunch of bloggers. I’m looking forward to Bout of Books 15 in January. I hope you’ll join me!

Read More

Weekend Update – Ten Things I Liked This Week

Posted by on Aug 23, 2015 in Fun, photos, Weekend Update | 5 comments

Weekend Update

I have so much fun doing this that it’s now a monthly feature.

It’s fun to start a list on Sunday and look for things to add to it throughout the week.

Here are ten things I liked this week:

1. This photo from the Meanwhile in Canada Facebook page. Inspirational A friend of mine posted it on Sunday and it literally made me LOL. I sent it to my boss and she made it her desktop wallpaper on her work computer.

2. Meetings scheduled for an hour that end after 17 minutes.

3. This picture of Abby and her toy cow.

Abby and her cow

Abby and her cow

Yes the cow moos. Also Abby and the cow are essentially the same shape.

4. Cold iced tea on a hot day.cold iced tea

5. A one day sale on theater tickets for Twist Your Dickens in December.

A complete send-up of the holiday classic, this adult comedy is adorned with the improvisational genius of the legendary comedy troupe The Second City, and includes zany holiday sketches, an ever-changing list of drop-in local celebrities and uproarious improv based on audience participation— it’s never the same show twice!

6. A pedicure

7. Pet store cats
Pet store cat

8. Preordering intermission drinks. Also remembering to say intermission and not halftime when ordering.

9. Mini Golf
Mini Golf

10. Wine tasting in test tubes and an antipasti platter on the patio for lunch at Red Lily Vineyards.

Wine Tasting and lunch at Red Lily Vineyards
Hope you’re having a great weekend!!

Read More

Nutshell Review: Messenger by Craig Johnson

Posted by on Aug 21, 2015 in 2015, 4 stars, Book Review, Craig Johnson, Short Stories | 0 comments

Messenger, A Walt Longmire Story by Craig Johnson

Messenger by Craig Johnson

Genre: Short Story
Format: eBook
Series: A short story that fits in the Walt Longmire series timeline after As the Crow Flies (#8)
Publisher: Viking
Publication Date: 2013
Pages: 58
Source: Purchased

The Book:

This is a short story that takes place after the events of As the Crow Flies (Walt Longmire #8).
From the publisher:

Sheriff Walt Longmire, his long-time friend Henry Standing Bear, and his undersheriff Victoria Moretti are returning from a fishing trip in the Bighorn Mountains when Walt receives a distress call from Crazy Woman Canyon. Forest service ranger Chuck Coon is in trouble. Walt, the Bear, and Vic arrive to find Coon and a young woman up a tree, so to speak. The unlikely duo are fending off three very real bears from the top of a Porta Potty and tell a mystifying story of another dangerous creature inside the “convenience.” When Walt, Henry, and Vic face the creature what they find may be a Messenger from the Camp of the Dead, with a very personal tie to Walt himself.

My Thoughts:
I really enjoy Craig Johnson’s short stories that go along with his Walt Longmire series. They aren’t necessary for readers who are purists and only read the full novels but they sure are a lot of fun.

This one isn’t a mystery and actually has a lot of humor in it. This is surprising since the majority of the story takes place in a porta-potty. I really enjoy the banter between Walt and his best friend Henry. Vic Moretti is one of the funniest foul mouthed female characters I’ve come to know and I like her more and more with every book and story she’s in.

If you like the Walt Longmire series by Craig Johnson I highly recommend any and all of the related short stories he’s written. They really add a lot to the stories of all of the regular characters.

4 stars Rating 4/5

Read More