Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Year of the Gadfly by Jennifer Miller

My one-sentence review of this book: the delicious fun of a prep school novel and the impeccable punch of a great literary work. 

My love of prep school novels (PSNs) has been well documented (by me). So well documented, in fact, that Jennifer Miller herself found my blog post about this topic, friended me on Goodreads, and suggested that I try her PSN when it came out. The short note she sent me was humble, witty, and charming enough that I actually bought this book, braving the Kindle new release prices instead of picking it up from the library. 

Hey, I figured, what can it hurt? 

Turns out, this is one of my favorite books of the year so far. 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

In Web News: Comics Edition

I have been reading a LOT of comics lately (both in comic book and graphic novel form) so I wanted to share a few links of some cool stuff around the web.

-Forever Young Adult did this cool post about YA graphic novels. This article suggests only three books, so if you read those and get hooked (or if you are already hooked), GraphicNovelReporter has collected the Young Adult Library ServicesAssociation’s Great Graphic Novels for Teens lists from 2007 through 2012.

-I have been loving Kelly Thompson’s pieces for Comic Book Resources. Her column, which is called She Has No Head!, deals thoughtfully with comics from a feminist perspective, but it is also just a really fun column from a woman who loves her some comic books. She also has a podcast called Three Chicks Review Comics.

-My awesome co-worker introduced me to the most wonderful web comic that I am completely in love with. Little League by Yale Stewart follows the exploits of the young DC heroes as they attend elementary school, facing down bullies in the schoolyard, avoiding cooties, and saving old ladies from muggers. It’s insanely charming, the art is wonderful, and tiny angry Batman is so adorable I can’t stand it.

Anyone have any comics-related links to share? Any web comics that can’t be missed?

(Image from

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

What A Tree Grows in Brooklyn Taught Me About Early 20th Century New York City

As someone who gets her history from the novels she reads, I was paying close attention while reading Betty Smith’s wonderful A Tree Grows in Brooklyn so that I could pick up some juicy historical tidbits. (OK, that’s an exaggeration; I read history books too, just not nearly as many as novels. History just makes more sense to me when it’s in story form! Me and most other people in the country, I guess, which explains why Devil in the White City, a non-fiction book that reads like a novel, is so popular.)

1) People in Olden Times Had Sex
I know this shouldn’t be shocking, considering the continued presence of man on earth, but there is a tendency in the popular narrative to view earlier times as much more innocent, where there was no crime and everyone frolicked naked in the garden without shame. Literature from earlier eras often bears out this view, essentially cutting to the fireplace in lieu of the good stuff, leaving blank empty space in its wake which, nine months later, is filled by a delightful and clean infant.

Friday, May 4, 2012

My New Favorite Podcast: The JV Club

Janet Varney, SF Sketchfest co-founder and voice of Korra on The Legend of Korra has a podcast, and I couldn’t be more excited. I first heard Janet Varney on The Nerdist podcast, where she captured my heart with her unabashed love of Doctor Who, and my love grew on Twitter where she provided me with daily doses of charming hilarity. (Recent sample tweet: “Hello, Austin Texas! Or “Tejas,” as I like to say, when looking to be slapped.” – Janet Varney) On Varney’s podcast, The JV Club, she talks to various comedian and actress friends (all ladies so far, which feels like a warm shelter in the vast male podcast wilderness) about their high school years.

Truly Terrifying YA Books

 We’ve all been there: sitting up in bed at three in the morning, novel clutched in our hand, the words shivering through us as our heart beats faster and faster, unable to stop reading, partly because the book is so good that we have to find out what happens and partly because we are too afraid to turn out the light. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, just try reading one of the books on this list. Each one of these Truly Terrifying YA books inspired me to pull the blanket just a little bit tighter around me and wonder: Could there be something out there in the darkness?

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Graphic Novels of Note: I Kill Giants

I Kill Giants, written by Joe Kelly and drawn by JM Ken Niimura, tells the story of Barbara, a fifth-grader who wears rabbit ears and carries a heart-shaped purse named Coveleski. She lives with her brother and an older sister who takes care of them both. And she kills giants.
Barbara doesn’t have many friends, and the school psychologist takes a special interest in her. But not just because of her avowed giant killing. Something has happened to Barbara, something so upsetting that she refuses to talk about it.

Rather than drawing excitement from the question of whether Barbara’s giants are real, the true tension comes from the slow revelation of the devastating real-life tragedy that Barbara is escaping by subsuming herself in fantasy. And the reader doesn’t get to find out what it is until Barbara is ready to admit it to herself.