Books – 2017, week 51
It’s almost the end of the year, and I’m squeezing in some quick reads over the long lazy weekends. Okay, they’re sort of the opposite of lazy, but my reading isn’t suffering for it.
This week saw me wrapping up a series, and exploring the graphic novel selection in the Overdrive collection of our public library.
Two stand outs this week, both are graphic novels. Nimona, which I’ve been meaning to read for a long while, was a lot more fun than I expected. Or, to clarify, I’d expected it to be a lot of fun, then sometime last year I read the first couple of pages and decided it wasn’t quite my thing… for some reason I picked it up again last week and finished it in one sitting. It’s sweet, and different from the stuff I’ve been reading of late, and I actually really enjoyed it. I can see why it won all the awards it did, and why it’s so highly recommended.
The other big hit for me was volume one of DC’s Batgirl and the Birds of Prey Rebirth series. I don’t subscribe to this title for the school library, but I thought it might be worth checking out – and I’m so glad I did. It’s got a lovely sense of humour, some great girl power action that actually adds to the story rather than distracts from it.. I’m just going to go off on a quick tangent here and mention how much I hate it when a book starts peppering social issues into the narrative just for the sake of it. Yes, these things are important, but if they’re not adding to your story, don’t force it. Anyway. Back to gushing – I finished the first volume, and really wanted to dive straight into the second one, but I decided to pace myself. Too much of a good thing, etc. etc.
One of the reasons I read as much as I did this week might be because I started the week off with such a tragedy. Gail Carriger’s Finishing School series started out promising; I enjoyed the first book enough to pick up the next in the series, which unfortunately fell a little flat. It still wasn’t terrible though, so I carried on with book three. Ugh. The storytelling wanes drastically as the series goes on, with very little actual plot stringing the book together to it’s culminating climax. I love a good regency romance, so all the talk about cleavage and falling in love with inappropriate people and all of that really should have been right up my alley, but somehow a lot of it rubbed me the wrong way.
I think the reason I rated the fourth book quite so poorly on Goodreads is because it’s just such a big jump from the mood of the previous books. I understand our main character has to grow up, and there are decisions to be made (Soap or Lord Mersey? As if that was ever really a dilemma), and an overarching plot to be wrapped up (the Picklemen puns were really wearing me down by the end of it) and I would be fine with all of that – but to so suddenly jump from innocent YA flirtatiousness to that much violence and hints at sexiness was a bit jarring.
It’s odd, because I quite enjoyed her Parasol Protectorate series, which was very sexy. I mean there is a lot of sex in those books. So really, it’s probably not the presence of the adult themes, but more the sudden introduction of them that bothers me. If we had slowly built up over the four books a sense of maturity and seriousness, I may not have been as put off by the fourth book as I was. Unfortunately, as it stands, this series goes down with the Custard Protocol as just not my thing. (I maintain that the book covers are great though, across all three series)
Another miss for me came at the end of the week (just before I started writing this post, actually). I loved The Mysterious Benedict Society, so I was really excited to see a new book by Trenton Lee Stewart. Overall, I love the story, but not so much the storytelling. The first half of this book just draaaaagged on for me. Once the Meyer family made an appearance things were so much better, and I really enjoyed the last part of the book while Reuben and associates are in the mansion… but by then the magic was a little too far away to reach. I wish we’d seen more of Reuben’s mom, who is such a lovely character, and of Jack, who by the end of the book I was absolutely smitten with.
I appreciate that Reuben is a character many kids may be able to identify with, having all sorts of anxiety issues, and it’s nice to see that in the forefront of an adventure story like this one, but…. it just didn’t work for me. I really wanted to like this one more than I did, unfortunately.
While digging around the public library’s Overdrive collection, I found the graphic novel adaptations of The Baby-sitters Club books by Raina Telgemeier. I read one last week actually, and was pleasantly surprised at how true to the original books it was, so I breezed through the remaining three this week.
One of the things that made me laugh was realizing just how young the characters in this book are. I’m not sure how old I was when I read the series, but seeing them proudly proclaim how they’re “almost twelve!” and therefore worthy of more responsibility had me giggling away to myself. If my twelve year old students are anything to go by, I don’t blame these girls’ parents for being hesitant.
Overall though, such a fun read, and I’m going to keep an eye out for the fifth book in the series which was illustrated by Gale Galligan instead – reviews indicate that she does just as amazing a job as Raina Telgemeier, so I’m pretty stoked to get my hands on that at some point.
Side note: If memory serves me correctly, my favourite characters were Kristy and Mallory. I also am now inspired to go see if they have any of the Alex Mack books, and how well those will live up to the test of time.
My other foray into trying to find some hidden gems handed me a graphic novel adaptation of The Boxcar Children. The first one is….. well, if I’m being honest, it’s pretty terrible. Only because it seems to follow that weird formulaic adaptation style of comics from the 80’s, where the actual story is boiled down to some sort of kindergarten lexile level, and then peppered throughout the book with what looks like fan art. In this case some really good fan art, but I just couldn’t shake the feeling of reading a “great classic, now in graphic form!”.
It is a series, and I imagine the rest of the books aren’t as basic as this one, but I was never really a huge Boxcar Children fan so I doubt I’ll be looking into them.
And that was my week in books!
We’re somehow already on to the last week of the year, and while I’m hoping I’ll get to make a dent in my to-read pile, I suspect I might end up making more progress in my to-watch pile this coming week instead:
- Bright, which has received terrible reviews, but which I’m planning to watch anyway,
- Two Cops, which I’m slowly catching up on, and
- Hwayugi, which I’ll hopefully be group blogging about over on Tumblr.
I’m also ambitiously hoping to get a start on Untouchable and Wise Prison Life, maybe check out Kantarou: the Sweet Tooth Salaryman (since Netflix keeps insisting I’ll love it), as well as set up my planner for the year ahead, temporarily move into my sister’s room while we have guests visiting, fit in holiday season socializing, buy new glasses, go to the gym, whip up a couple of exciting dinners with my mom……
… like I said, really not lazy weekends. But hey, it’s hard to be mad about having so many fun things on my to-do list. Hope everyone is having a great couple of weeks with family and loved ones, or just some peace and quiet to yourself, whatever you most need! Till next week!