It’s December, which means it’s wrap-up season. Everyone’s wrapping up something, whether it’s presents or the books, or posts, or goals. I was at a loss at first on how to do this because there is an overkill of wrap ups in the blogosphere and I tend to do two wrap ups every quarter: one is a monthly wrap up, a new feature I started this year, and the other is a quarterly wrap up. I thought it would be too much for readers if I should do both of these plus the several reflection posts I usually do at the end of the year, but then I thought about why I blog and that made me feel better about doing whatever the hell I want.
I love having people read and like my posts, but the only way I can maintain my sanity on here is to remember why I blog and that is to entertain my damn self. 🙂 With that said, here’s what I consumed since my last What’s on Your Nightstand post.
What’s on Your Nightstand, is a monthly meme hosted by 5 Minutes for Books on the last Tuesday of every month that summarizes what you’ve read for the month, what you’re currently reading, and what you plan to read next. For my posts, I also include articles, music, art, TV shows, and whatever else I did in the month.
Superman: Red Son by Mark Millar, illus. by Dave Johnson and Kilian Plunkett (pencils), Andrew Robinson and Walden Wong (inkers), and Paul Mounts (colorist). The comic book reimagines the superhero as a leader of a communist nation. It’s a great read that both comic book lovers and history buffs will get a kick out of and the illustrations are pretty good as well. I highly recommend it.
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling, narrated by Jim Dale, was a re-read by audio book. Dale does a great job narrating the story and I enjoyed every minute of it. I was excited to get to this one since the fourth novel is my favorite and I wanted to hear how Dale would handle the quidditch world cup chapters.
The Sculptor by Scott McCloud (illus.) was an interesting read. It’s a magical realism comic book about an artist who gains the ability to sculpt anything he wants at the price of his life: He has just 200 days to live. The story is a great one and there’s much to get out of it, but I didn’t enjoy it much. The illustrations were okay, however I’m not a fan of the style. I highly recommend it though.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling, narrated by Jim Dale, again was a reread by audio book. I enjoyed this one as well. It was such fun! And gosh Umbridge is so mean. I think this one stood out more to me in audio book form because I wasn’t able to race through it in anticipation as the story nears its end. I went along with Dale’s pace and so was able to pay more attention to Fudge and Dumbledore and Hermione. I appreciate that Hermione wants to free the elves, but her perception of misrepresented populations is just as damaging as other wizards’. The good thing, though, is she’s aware of this and tries to change.
Ship of Magic by Robin Hobb is the first novel in her Liveship Traders fantasy trilogy. I buddy-read this with Emily at Embuhlee liest and good thing I did because I probably would have given up on it early on. The story drags in one of the chapters close to the beginning but then picks up. It was a good read but a heavy one with lots of details and emotions and POV characters. It wore me out and now I need a little break from Hobb’s books.
The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan, narrated by Jesse Bernstein, is the second installment in the Percy Jackson series, a fun middle-grade fantasy series that places Greek gods in the real world. This was a reread by audio book. It was fun, but gosh! I hate how it’s narrated. I just don’t like the voices Bernstein uses because it seems like he’s forcing them to sound cool. It was so annoying.
Caraval by Stephanie Garber is a YA fantasy novel that will be published in January. I requested and received an advanced copy from the publisher back in August, but decided to read it close to the publishing date. I was looking forward to this one because I heard it’s similar to The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, which I read earlier this year and loved. Unfortunately, Caraval was a miss for me. The caraval event in it was interesting, but I didn’t like how it was written or the characters, who I think could use some more development. The protagonist was annoying so I struggled to get through the story.
The Titan’s Curse by Rick Riordan is the third installment in the Percy Jackson series and another reread, but not by audio book. I refuse to listen to those audio books. I’ll continue my reread using my physical books. This installment was fun as well and I enjoyed my time reading it. I whisked through it pretty quickly, actually. It made me want to go visit the Hoover Dam.
Revenge of the Green Lanterns (Green Lantern, Vol. IV #2) by Geoff Johns, illus. by several artists, was lent to me by an awesome co-worker who’s introducing me to superhero comics (he loaned Red Son to me as well). Unfortunately, I didn’t like this one much. The stories, except Branded, which features Batman, weren’t interesting and neither was the protagonist, Hal Jordan. The illustrations were good, though.
Very Good Lives: The Fringe Benefits of Failure and the Importance of Imagination is the commencement speech J.K. Rowling gave at Harvard University in 2008. Though I’ve watched the speech online, I grabbed the little book when I saw it at the library. It was okay.
Armstrong: The Adventurous Journey of a Mouse to the Moon by Torben Kuhlmann (illus.), trans. by David Henry Wilson, is a wonderfully illustrated picture book about a mouse’s attempt to fly to the moon. The story is good and is sure to interest children in space travel, and the illustrations are gorgeous.
The Only Child by Guojing (illus.) is a wonderful, whimsical picture book about the author’s experience living in China as a kid under the one-child policy. Though the story is based on a real event in the author’s life, it is a fantasy story and is told without words. I immediately fell in love with it and highly recommend it.
Other things consumed in December:
The Perpetual Solitude of the Writer (lithub.com)
— This essay by Adam Haslett was a good read. It made me want to try one of his books. Here are a few quotes from it:
“And so without quite realizing what I was doing, over the course of the next few years, I wrote a series of stories that eventually became my first book, each of which dramatized in one way or another this struggle: how to find intimacy in a culture that has hollowed out the very language we use to describe it. How to capture the experience of grief when our terms for it have been overrun by the commercialization of confession.”
“We ward off love because it presents itself to us as a demand: to acknowledge another person’s needs, and thus our own; to glimpse their mortality, and thus ours.”
“Which is what I think of as the purpose of art. To bridge the divide of our intractable separateness by using our experience to create something that can be shared in common. Artists remove themselves in order to return.”
Stephanie Danler on Having Your First Book Blow Up (thecreativeindependent.com)
— Regarding Tilda Swinton and Margaret Cho’s emails about Swinton’s role in the recent Dr. Strange movie. See related podcast below.
Don’t Stop the Presses: Why We Need Journalists in Comics (bookriot.com)
Benjamin Hale’s Four Essential Fiction Writing Rules (thestoryprize.blogspot.com)
The Lunar Chronicles: Fairy Tale Heroines in the Future (ladygeekgirl.wordpress.com)
— I really liked this review of the series, which touches on some of the problems I have with books 2 and 3.
Throwback Thursdays: Spindle’s End (ladygeekgirl.wordpress.com)
— Another great post. This one is about one of my favorite books by Robin McKinley.
Women of Harry Potter (tor.com)
— I highly recommend this one to Harry Potter fans. It’s a series of articles written by Sarah Gailey where she gives more voice to the women in HP and discusses what motivates them and what they contribute to the series. I loved the Hermione article and I thought the Ginny Weasley one was interesting.
A Crash Course in the History of Black Science Fiction (fantasticstoriesoftheimagination.com)
— Nisi Shawl, author of Everfair, shares a list of science-fiction stories by Black writers.
10 Gustav Klimt Tattoos For Art Lovers (demilked.com)
— Some pretty cool tattoos. I love the first one:
On the South Downs Way (lensscaper.wordpress.com)
— I found this photoblog by U.K. photographer Andy Hooker in a WordPress feature. The linked post is to a photo he took on South Downs Way. It’s a lovely picture of a clear winter day with hills rolling off into the distance. I love the lighting at the time of day he took the photo. The sun is low and gives everything a light golden tinge.
— I’ve never played the games and I’m pretty much just hearing of it, but I love the illustrations for the characters. I want to know more about it without having to play the games because I suck at video games. The movie was okay, but I prefer the story in the past, which was more exciting, than the one in the present, which dragged a bit. Some people fell asleep. I couldn’t sleep, though. I was on the lookout for Michael Fassbender’s abs.
— I’m kind of pissed at myself for getting hooked on this again. I picked up where I left off, after the huge plane crash, but I’m struggling again because of how dramatic the show is. Why must horrible things always happen and the only way to resolve issues is by sleeping around?? Why?! SO frustrating.
— I finally decided to just go ahead and buy the first season on Amazon. I like it, but it’s not the type of story I expected. I think I’m on episode four now. I expected Nick to be a little more curious about his family and his past since learning he’s a grimm, but so far it doesn’t seem so.
The Good Witch and other feel-good/holiday TV shows and movies
— The Christmas spirit bit me and now all I want to watch are those small-town movies and TV shows where only good things happen and everyone falls in love.
Avatar: The Last Airbender
— I’ve been waiting FOREVER for a review of this on the Glass Reflection YouTube channel and after so long, finally, it’s here:
Visit Westeros, the Malazan World and the Forgotten Realms as Globes (thewertzone.blogspot.com)
— This blogger placed maps of fantasy worlds on globes.
— In which Tor peeps classify fantasy worlds using the system in Seanan McGuire’s Every Heart a Doorway.
Nerdist Podcast: Jake Gyllenhaal (nerdist.com)
The Writers Panel #304: Patrick Ness (nerdist.com)
The Writers Panel #298: John Green (nerdist.com)
Episode 71: Margaret Cho and the Yellow Telephone (tigerbelly.libsyn.com)
— I listened to this one after reading this NYT article about Tilda Swinton emailing Margaret Cho about the backlash against her role in Dr. Strange. I suggest you read the NYT article, then listen to the podcast and read this NPR article afterward: When Swinton And Cho Talk Race, The Point’s Lost In Translation.