Monday, September 12, 2016

Summer Reading Round Up - Part 1

Since one of my September goals was to start writing about books again, I thought I'd start with all the books I read this summer! This is just part one. I filled out three bingo cards (I'll explain those in a second), so each post will summarize the books from one card. Originally I planned to throw all the cards into one post, but then this post got too long so here we are :P

I'm starting to realize that I really like reading challenges. As long as they're not super intense - like I don't care for 24 hour readathons. So daunting! I know you're supposed to take breaks and all that, but honestly I don't think there's anything I'd even want to do for 24 hours. I get restless. But anyway.....summer always brings lots of great book challenges, since most of them last all summer. Way less pressure! This summer I took on the Summer Book Bingo hosted by My Life as a Teacup! If you've never played a book bingo, it's pretty simple. The bingo card will have a different type/genre of book in each square. Read the type of book in that square and you get to cross it off. Five squares in a row makes a bingo! We started sometime in June, and ended on August 31st. In that time I was able to make 3 bingo's! Here's the first first card I completed.

Summer Book Bingo

Contemporary literature: Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge by Paul Krueger. I wasn't in love with this book, but it was a fun and easy read (without being YA fluff) and had a new premise that I've never actually read/watched a million times before. Magical (sort of) monster fighting bartenders! After I finished this book I was inspired to learn more about mixing drinks.
Rating: 👽👽👽 (3 aliens)

Read in a day: The Big Needle by Ken Follett. This book was really bad, but I'm still glad I read it hahah. I collect used Ken Follett paperbacks, and at this point there's only a few that I don't have - OR SO I THOUGHT. It's not like they're rare or anything, but since I only buy them used it's just a luck of the draw sort of thing. Anyway, one night I was browsing the library bookstore and found this old, thin novella with his name on it, except I'd never even heard of the title. His books are usually pretty big, so the size also threw me off. On the cover it said it was a reprinting and was originally written under the name Symon Myles. What?! So I spent a whole ten cents on it and took it home to do some research. I learned that it was the first novel he ever wrote, but his agent convinced him to use a pen name because "you might want to write better books later." She was right. The book was bad (it's not even available in print anymore, even the reprinting that I found, so it was a lucky find!) but it was really interesting to see how his writing has evolved over time. It was inspiring in a way. He started off with this shitty pseudo James Bond novella, and now he's a best-selling, award winning author. We all have to start somewhere. In an interview he talks about how bad they are, and said "Looking back, they seem trashy and full of gratuitous sex and violence. But I was doing my best. Every one of my early books was the best book I could write at the time."
Rating: 👽👽 (2 aliens)

Non-fiction: The Rap Yearbook: The Most Important Rap Song From Every Year Since 1979, Discussed, Debated, and Deconstructed by Shea Serrano. This book was so much fun! I am not-so-secretly a huge fan of rap and hip-hop. The genres often get a bad rap (SEE WHAT I DID THERE TEEHEE) and are often stereotyped for just being about shooting people and boobs, which is really upsetting, because that just isn't true (not saying there aren't any songs about shooting people and boobs, but you get it). This book delves deep into what inspired iconic songs from each year. The illustrations are also great, with lots of silly graphs and flow charts to help explain what was going on.
Rating: 👽👽👽👽 (4 aliens)

A book you've been meaning to read: We Are Pirates by Daniel Handler. Oh my god. THIS BOOK. I had so many thoughts and feelings about this book, I don't even know how to articulate any of them. That's why I didn't review this book sooner, even though I had all these feelings, more feelings than I've had about a book in a long time. But for you, I will try. To start off, it's important to know that Daniel Handler is one of my favorite authors. He has been for a very time, from childhood to adulthood. I even went to meet him last year, on his book tour that was FOR THIS BOOK. However I didn't read the book until this summer because hardbacks are expensive, sorry. Anyway. So I guess the fact that I didn't love this book almost felt like a betrayal (yes, I'm being dramatic, but stay with me). And it wasn't for a simple reason like I just thought it was mediocre, or that it just wasn't my type (neither was Why We Broke Up, but I appreciated it for what it was). But this book actually made me uncomfortable, and the fact that a book was making me so uncomfortable also made me uncomfortable, because honestly I don't really get emotionally attached to books. By the end I was repulsed with the characters and was happy to be done with them.

So what went wrong? Well first of all, the marketing for this book was completely off. To give you the premise in one sentence - We are Pirates is about Gwen (a 14 year old girl) and some new ragtag "friends" in San Francisco that steal a boat to become pirates. The synopsis on the book flap and everything plays it off as a fun comedy about some people looking for freedom and whatever by causing a bit of mischief in the Bay Area. I thought it sounded like the premise of an Indie flick. So the fact that I excitedly jumped into this book with that sort of expectation is what started things off on the wrong foot. This book gets really dark. It starts off ok but about halfway through things take a very sinister turn, completely throwing you off guard. Gwen is extremely troubled and you're not rooting for her at all. I know we could use the "not all protagonists need to be likeable" argument, but reading along and slowly realizing that Gwen is less of a normal 14 year old and possibly the next Dexter Morgan was...weird (especially because you didn't realize that this is supposed to be that kind of book).

While Gwen is off causing havoc, her parents are trying to find her, obviously. So there are chapters where it switches to her fathers (Phil) point of view. You'd think you'd at least be cheering for her parents, hoping they find their daughter? Nah. To sum up Phil, here's a quote from a review I really liked: "It is quickly revealed that Phil is actually a passive misogynist prick who thinks the world is owed to him and cares very little of his family beyond the happiness/convenience they can supply him." - source. So even though Gwen embodies evil itself, you can't blame her for running away; just everything she does after running away is a completely different thing. Anyway. As always, Daniel Handler is an excellent writer, whether I liked the actual story or not, but overall this book wasn't a win for me :(
Rating: 💬💬💬💬 (Undetermined)

Graphic novel: Marvel Zombies vol. 1 by Robert Kirkman, Sean Phillips. I don't really know what I was expecting when I picked this up. It says ZOMBIES in the title so I knew things would be dreary, but...I don't know. So in this series all our fav super heroes are zombies (they go into how this happened a bit, but the story starts with them already as zombies). Except for the most part they aren't really super heroes anymore? They're entirely aware of what's going on to them - meaning they still know what's right and wrong - yet all they focus on is finding people to eat? And when they can't they (SPOILER haha) start eating each other?! Wasn't into this.
Rating: 👽 (1 hero eating alien)

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