Wednesday, May 23, 2018

My Weekly Pull [21]



My Weekly Pull is something I do every Wednesday to show which comics I had pulled for me that week! If you're into comics, or you're looking to start, please join me! If you decide to do your own post, leave a link in the comments. I would love to stop by and check it out!

Hunt for Wolverine: Mystery in Madripoor #1 (of 4) by Charles Soule, Jim Zub, David Marquez, Chris Bachalo
Legion #5 (of 5) by Peter Milligan, Wilfredo Torres, Javier Rodriguez
Moon Knight #195 by Max Bemis, Ty Templeton, Greg Smallwood (Deadpool Variant)
Old Man Hawkeye #5 (of 12) by Ethan Sacks, Marco Checchetto

My pull list is going to start looking a lot smaller! I've decided to stop including the comics Jacob and I get together each week, and instead focus only on the comics I'm reading. I've decided to do this for a lot of reasons: a) time commitment, b) I'm not actually reading some of them right now (but I might in the future), and c) it's hard for me to respond to questions about comics I haven't actually read yet.

This week we're continuing with Hunt for Wolverine from a different perspective. I finally read the first issue (!!!) and now know that there are different teams looking for Wolverine, so these different mini series are the different groups that are out looking. I love how it's pulling in a lot of different characters! Daredevil, Iron Man, Spider-Man, Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, etc. This issue is going to focus on a group of women that are looking for him, like Rogue and Storm. 

Legion is on its last issue and I don't know what the flark is going on. I think I've been inside his head for too long, and there is some weirdness going on (if that cover is any indication). 

I love the Deadpool variant for Moon Knight! His speech bubble says, "How in the world am I supposed to keep this outfit clean?!" 🤣 It's a very Deadpool thing to say from a Moon Knight perspective.

As for Old Man Hawkeye...it's getting dark. I'm actually hesitant about reading this newest issue. It might make or break the series for me, to be honest. I've always loved Hawkeye, especially the Kate Bishop version, but I don't know if I can stick with this series for seven more issues. 

Reading any new comics this week? Old?

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

The Universe Is Expanding and So Am I (Virginia Shreves #2) by Carolyn Mackler

Synopsis (via Goodreads): Sixteen-year-old Virginia Shreves’ life is finally back on course: she’s accepted who she is inside and out and is rebuilding her relationship with brother Byron, whose date-rape charge shattered everything.

But just as she adjusts to her new normal, her world turns upside down again. Sparks with boyfriend Froggy fade, her best friend bombshells bad news, and then the police arrest Byron. As Virginia struggles to cope, she meets Nate, an artist with his own baggage. The pair vow not to share personal drama. But secrets have a way of coming out, and theirs could ruin everything.
For some girls it’s sexy when a guy bench-presses or throws a football, but he’s slaying me with the book references.
I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. My thoughts and opinions are my own. Also, the quote I used may have changed or been altered in some way, but I am quoting from what I received.

I didn't realize this was the second book in a series, but The Universe Is Expanding and So Am I was able to stand on its own. If anything, it makes me more curious about the first book!

I'm relieved Virginia didn't immediately back her brother when he was charged with date-rape. Families tend to do that with their loved ones, because they don't want to see them in pain or in trouble, despite what they've done. Virginia knew Byron's actions were wrong, but she also remembers her brother from before the suspension and charges. She's conflicted over her feelings, but never wants Byron to avoid punishment. It was an interesting perspective to read from, because her head and heart were constantly conflicted.

Virginia was an amazing character. I hated that her parents would body-shame people in front of her, or even hint that she could do better herself. It was awful to view from the outside, and I cannot imagine how someone would feel on the receiving end of those offhanded comments. They destroyed her confidence and made her question herself. Parents: love your children as they are. I never want my children to feel like something about them needs to be changed. Society has dictated what people should look like today, and frankly... it's bullshit. I'm a "curvaceous chick," too. We should respect all body types and love people for who they are.

I wasn't sure where this story was going to go, and I was a little disappointed by the ending. It was similar to being suspended on a roller coaster and waiting for a drop that never happens. There wasn't a cliffhanger, or any indication that things would be continued later on, and maybe an epilogue would have made the story feel more final. Instead, I'm left with questions and feeling like there is more story to be read. Twice I've caught myself going back to pick this book up, only to remember that I've finished it and there's nothing left to read.

Overall, the story was wonderful and I really enjoyed being in Virginia's head. She's an incredibly compassionate person that appreciates people. She makes a point to learn their names, so they're not simply referred to by their job descriptions (example: the tree woman or the lawn man). Her relationship with Sebastian was sweet, and I loved their interactions with each other. The family dynamics were imperfect but realistic. There were little arguments and disagreements, but they did care about each other. They may not have always shown it in the best way, but it was there.

Everything about this book felt authentic, and now I feel like the author purposefully ended the story the way she did. It feels like Carolyn Mackler stopped in the middle of a thought, but that's life. Life is forever flowing around us. Virginia, Sebastian, Bryon, Annie... their lives are going to continue moving forward in one way or another. We get to see a glimpse of what might happen to them, but there are so many different paths they could take. I think we're supposed to be left feeling curious and optimistic about their future.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Q [4] Why are we okay with human voilence but not animal cruelty?

After reviewing The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis, I realized a lot of people weren't going to read it simply because animals get hurt. However, this book includes rape, murder, drugs, etc., but fewer people have an issue with reading about those topics. What is the difference? Why can we read about people getting hurt but not animals?

I've had people tell me that animals are innocent and defenseless, but a drugged teenager in the woods with a group of heroin addicts is also innocent and defenseless. She didn't ask for that to happen to her, she doesn't want to suffer their abuse, but we can read about that and say the book was powerful or highlighted important aspects of society. I'm pretty sure I said similar things in my review, but also mentioned how I wish the animal cruelty had been left out. I can understand its importance and why the author included it, but I don't like to read about it. I don't like to read about people getting hurt either, but I don't seem to have as much trouble with it.

This question has been on my mind since yesterday, so I thought I'd ask and see what everyone else had to say. Why are we okay when we read about human violence and disturbing or dark topics, but we tend to avoid books that hurt animals? If the books are fiction, shouldn't we be able to tolerate reading about both?

Another example would be Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young. It was very violent, but the parts that made me cringe were the animal sacrifices. An owl having its throat slit was worse that a guy being stabbed through the torso. I feel like I should be equally disturbed by both.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis

Narrated by Amanda Dolan,
Justis Bolding & Dan Bittner
Synopsis (via Goodreads): A contemporary YA novel that examines rape culture through alternating perspectives.

Alex Craft knows how to kill someone. And she doesn’t feel bad about it.

Three years ago, when her older sister, Anna, was murdered and the killer walked free, Alex uncaged the language she knows best—the language of violence. While her own crime goes unpunished, Alex knows she can’t be trusted among other people. Not with Jack, the star athlete who wants to really know her but still feels guilty over the role he played the night Anna’s body was discovered. And not with Peekay, the preacher’s kid with a defiant streak who befriends Alex while they volunteer at an animal shelter. Not anyone.

As their senior year unfolds, Alex’s darker nature breaks out, setting these three teens on a collision course that will change their lives forever.



“But boys will be boys, our favorite phrase that excuses so many things, while the only thing we have for the opposite gender is women, said with disdain and punctuated with an eye roll.”
We're raised to know the difference between right and wrong, but who actually determines what those are? If your child was murdered, would it be wrong for you to seek your own justice? Would you feel bad about exacting revenge on someone that hurt you or a person you cared about? Where do you draw the line? It's easy to look at someone else's life and judge their decisions based on what we think we know, but we honestly have no idea what another person has lived through.

The Female of the Species was a lot darker than I originally expected it to be. The synopsis alone tells you that Alex killed someone and got away with it, but the reasons behind the murder feel... justified. I know that sounds awful, because killing for any reason should be wrong, but it was hard for me to feel that way when I was so caught up in Alex's thoughts and feelings. What would I have done in her situation? 

Alex was a little off kilter from the beginning. She knew she had issues with rage and controlling her actions. Her best friend over the years was a punching bag her father left behind. She didn't understand what made her this way, and none of her research provided answers. Alex could never accurately identify what she believed to be wrong with her, but she was perceptive, thoughtful, and incredibly protective of others. Alex had a way of appreciating people that she knew very little about. Her worldview may have been a little skewed, but she was able to rationalize everything in a way that made sense. I guess you could say she used her "powers" for good, but that didn't make it any easier to read about. 

Jack and Peekay (thought it was PK while listening to the audiobook because it stands for Preacher's Kid) were interesting perspectives, too. Jack's job at a slaughterhouse was a little too detailed for my liking, and I could have done without that information being included in the book (wish I could erase it out of our reality, too), but I do understand the point the author was trying to make. Sometimes we have to do something we don't like in order to achieve something better. Peekay had the best parents, and not because they were religious. They were understanding and accepting of their daughter, her lesbian friend, and didn't try to invoke the wrath of God just because she drank alcohol and went to a party. 

I thought The Female of the Species raised a lot of important questions about rape, acceptance, and the punishments given to those who are "evil." It also shows us how speaking up or choosing to remain silent can have unforeseeable consequences in life. Not speaking up about an attempted rape allows that person to try again in the future. Could you live with the guilt if they were successful? What if someone else was hurt because you were too afraid to say something? This book also shows a victim's internal conflict between embarrassment, humiliation, anger, resentment, and a wide range of other emotions. Making the decision to call the police may seem simple on the surface, but is a lot more difficult in reality. 

I cannot tell you if you should read this book or not, because I know the content will be hard for a lot of people to stomach, but I do think it delivers an important message. We live in a world where people are raped and murdered. Animals are abused and neglected (Alex and Peekay work at an animal shelter, so there are a few uncomfortable situations involving animals) with little or no consequence. It might not be the easiest thing to talk about, but what happens if we ignore it? It doesn't go away or stop happening. 

This book had me hooked from the very beginning. I enjoyed the alternating perspectives and how honest everyone was with themselves. It was refreshing to read about teenagers that felt authentic. People admitted their flaws and failures, while also expressing their hopes and desires. I thought I knew how this story was going to play out, but I was wrong. This book kept me on the edge of my seat and I couldn't turn the pages fast enough. The Female of the Species will leave you feeling raw and conflicted, but also a little hopeful.

"You can love someone down to their core and they can love you right back just as hard, and if you traded diaries you’d learn things you never suspected. There’s a part of everyone deep down inside of them not meant for you. And the sooner you learn that, the easier your life is gonna be."

“There are laws in place that stop us from doing things. This is what we tell ourselves. In truth we stop ourselves; the law is a guideline for how to punish someone who is caught.” 

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Final Thoughts [4] Rogue & Gambit (#1-5)

Rogue & Gambit (#1-5) by Kelly Thompson, Pere Pérez (Illustrator), Kris Anka (Illustrator) 
I loved Kelly Thompson's take on Hawkeye (Kate Bishop), so I was thrilled when I saw she would also be writing Rogue & Gambit! I don't think these two get enough attention, and Thompson manages to cram a lot of their past and present into 5 issues. I actually learned a lot of new things about these two. They have a complicated history, but their love is fierce even when they're not together (or Rogue is smooching with Deadpool--ugh).

I would say this comic is romance with a twist! Rogue and Gambit go on a couple's retreat, but it's also their mission. Something hanky has been going on, so they're sent to figure out what it is. They were the best candidates, because their relationship was actually suffering. They needed outside assistance, but they had no idea what would happen once they arrived and started snooping around.

If you're looking for something short and engaging--this is it! These two are so much fun to read about, and you cannot help but fall in love with them, too. Their secret mission was unexpected, and I would love to know more about the baddie (don't want to be spoilery!) and their past. These are also some of my favorite illustrations, both inside and out. I honestly don't think I could pick a favorite cover... maybe #3... but just because we get to see a lot of the previous versions of Rogue and Gambit.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Mini Reviews [5] Birds of a Feather & Ivy in Bloom

Birds of a Feather: A Book of Idioms and Silly
Pictures by Vanita Oelschlager,
Robin Hegan (Illustrator)


Synopsis (via Goodreads): Children are innately curious about words, especially phrases that make them laugh ("Ants in your pants!"), sound silly ("Barking up the wrong tree" or "Goosebumps") or trigger images that tickle a child's sense of the absurd ("Like a bull in a china shop"). Birds of a Feather introduces children to the magic of idioms words that separately have one meaning, but together take on something entirely different. Birds of a Feather introduces idioms with outlandish illustrations of what the words describe literally. The reader then has to guess the "real" meaning of the phrases (which is upside down in the corner of each spread). At the end of the book, the reader is invited to learn more about these figures of speech.

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I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

I really loved the idea for this! The illustrations were beautiful, but I did have a problem with one: Let the cat out of the bag. It was a little too much. I understand the need to adequately convey the idiom through imagery, but I also think it sends the wrong message to kids. We shouldn't put animals in bags and tie them up, not even as a joke in a children's book. I feel like this could have been depicted in a better way.

My second issue with this book was the captions. They're upside down. Do you know how difficult it was to continuously flip the book over (impossible on an iPad that keeps adjusting the screen), to read the descriptions for the idioms? The idioms themselves were short and to the point, but the upside down portion (explanation and example) were a lot longer. My son was also frustrated because he wanted to look at the pictures, and I had to try and angle the book in a way that would allow me to read the captions. About halfway through I stopped flipping the book over and just gave my own explanations. I think it was a lovely idea that could have been executed better.


Ivy in Bloom: The Poetry of Spring from Great
Poets and Writers from the Past
by Vanita Oelschlager,
Kristin Blackwood (Illustrator)
Synopsis (via Goodreads): Ivy in Bloom captures the weariness of a young girl tired of a long winter. "I stare out the window," she says on the first spread of brown and gray, "looking for birds or flowers / or even warm showers / but I don't see any such thing." But then Spring comes when "March is out of breath snow melting to flowery waters and watery flowers spring rose from its wintry rest." And Ivy's "heart dances with daffodils." As these words also dance across each spread, Ivy's world erupts into a riot of color.

Ivy in Bloom introduces the poetry of Dickinson, Longfellow, Browning, Wordsworth, Frost and others. Excerpts from their writings, as seen through Ivy's eyes, will open up poetry as a way for children to express their own feelings about the changing of seasons. This book includes longer excerpts and brief bios of each author
.

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I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

I thought Ivy in Bloom was very clever and creative! The author combines poems from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Charles Dickens, E.E. Cummings, and a few others. Pieces from their individual poems are layered together to create one comprehensive story.

Even though I know why it didn't flow well (people have different writing styles), the book was smooth in some places and choppy in others. I do think the author put a lot of research and work into this book, and the illustrations are gorgeous. They really brought this story to life and kept me turning the pages. There was also an unexpected reference to God at the end that didn't seem to fit in with the rest of the spring theme, but it didn't actually detract from the overall story. 

I enjoyed reading this one, and I like that the author breaks down the individual poems at the end. It shows us where they came from, who wrote them, and how they fit together.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Before I Let You Go by Kelly Rimmer

Synopsis (via Goodreads): The 2:00 a.m. call is the first time Lexie Vidler has heard her sister’s voice in years. Annie is a drug addict, a thief, a liar—and in trouble, again. Lexie has always bailed Annie out, given her money, a place to sleep, sent her to every kind of rehab. But this time, she’s not just strung out—she’s pregnant and in premature labor. If she goes to the hospital, she’ll lose custody of her baby—maybe even go to prison. But the alternative is unthinkable.

As the weeks unfold, Lexie finds herself caring for her fragile newborn niece while her carefully ordered life is collapsing around her. She’s in danger of losing her job, and her fiancé only has so much patience for Annie’s drama. In court-ordered rehab, Annie attempts to halt her downward spiral by confronting long-buried secrets from the sisters’ childhoods, ghosts that Lexie doesn’t want to face. But will the journey heal Annie, or lead her down a darker path?

Both candid and compassionate, Before I Let You Go explores a hotly divisive topic and asks how far the ties of family love can be stretched before they finally break.
Addiction is, in that way, just like love—in the early moments, you don’t see the potential for it to bring you pain—it’s just something you slide into between laughs and smiles and moments of bliss. It’s something that feels like a shield, until you realize it’s actually a warhead, and it’s pointed right at you.
I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. My thoughts and opinions are my own. Also, the quote I used may have changed or been altered in some way, but I am quoting from what I received.

Before I Let You Go was really hard for me to read. I don't mind reading books that make me uncomfortable, but there are no words to truly describe how awful child abuse is. Children trust adults to love and take care of them, and they shouldn't have to worry about someone hurting them physically or psychologically. They're impressionable, and if you tell them something long enough, and with enough force, they're likely to believe it themselves.

Kelly Rimmer touches on a lot of difficult subjects that both angered and saddened me. My heart broke for Annie, Lexie, Daisy, their mom, and even Sam. No one was untouched by the addiction and abuse, because they were all connected in some way. It effected the lives of everyone, but some more than others. Daisy is a sweet, innocent child that had no say in how she was born into this world. The fact that a newborn had to suffer through withdrawals killed me. I don't know what I would have done as a parent in that situation, or a relative in Lexie's case.

However, even though I was disgusted with Annie for allowing this to happen to her child, I also know that she suffers from an addiction, which is an illness. Addiction should be treated and people should be offered help instead of condemnation. We can never truly know someone's past, or what happened in their life that started them on a path of self-destruction. They are still people. A lot of states prosecute mothers who test positive for drugs when they are pregnant. It's a felony, and the rights of their child are given to someone else (while the mother is still pregnant). Annie's doctors had to get permission from the baby's guardian to perform an emergency C-section. She had no say over what happened to her own body, and even the medications she was prescribed had to go through someone other than her doctors.

I understand that the law wants to do what's best for the baby, but what about the mother? They only care about the baby while it's in the womb. They stop giving a shit the second it's born and can be placed in foster care. They'll still do whatever they can to punish the mother, but they don't give any more thought to the child or their future. How about putting more money into the foster care system? They could also offer to help the mothers instead of taking them away from their babies. I know this isn't the case for every mother with an addiction, but surely there are better ways for their situations to be handled.

Like I said, this book gave me a lot to think about, and it also challenged my views on addiction and how it affects people. As for the story, it was difficult to get through at times, but it was powerful. There are a lot of important things being said, and it's hard to wish for one specific outcome.

Lexie frequently got on my nerves. She was incredibly stubborn and insisted on doing everything herself. However, she does recognize this about herself, so that made her poor decisions easier to forgive. She was struggling to cope with everything being thrown at her, and she's used to doing it alone. It was easy for her to forget that Sam wanted to help. He also wanted her to be able to ask for it. Their relationship was sweet, but we also see their ups and downs as the story progresses. Taking on a baby, dealing with a relative in rehab, work--the logistics of it all is maddening. They were truly a team, though, especially when it mattered most.

If it were possible for me to reach into the book and pull Lexie's mom out, I would have done it in an instant. I wanted to shake her until she realized how blind and disturbingly obedient she was being. I understand that she was grieving, but your children should always come first. They should always be your main priority, and you should listen when they have something to say.

This book made me shake with anger, cry with helplessness, and wish for the impossible. I cared about all of these characters individually, and I really wanted their lives to work out in the best possible way. Before I Let You Go is a poignant story that makes you view things from a different perspective, feel every emotion imaginable, and appreciate the things in life you may have taken for granted.