torachan: (Default)
What are you currently reading?
Still reading The Invisible Library and am about a third of the way through.

I also started reading The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Color Blindness, which is something I've wanted to read for a long time, and Carla just happened to find it at a Little Library the other day! I only read the intro so far, but I'm really looking forward to reading more.

What did you recently finish reading?
I finished two books! Finally, finally, finally finished The Mayor of Castro Street, which I started reading in early February. Although I found it slow going sometimes, it really was interesting. I was basically totally unfamiliar with any of the events, except the basic fact that Harvey Milk was a local politician in San Francisco and had been murdered.

This happened when I was really little, so I wasn't paying attention to politics or news of any sort at the time, but it's also so recent that it was never covered in school (all my US history classes ended around World War II). Aside from Milk himself, I'd had no idea that Jim Jones was active in San Francisco politics like that. My only awareness of him is as a wacko cult leader who convinced hundreds of his followers to commit suicide, so it was surprising to see people taking him seriously (even as they thought he was a bit odd).

I also just finished reading Yuge!: 30 Years of Doonesbury on Trump, another Little Library find!

Honestly, before recent political happenings, Donald Trump was not really on my radar at all. Of course I'd heard the name, and could have told you he was rich and that there's been some scandal with his first wife Ivana and his mistress Marla Maples, and that he had funny hair, but that's probably about it. Now he's unavoidable and utterly terrible and ridiculous, and it's interesting to look back at these strips going all the way back to the '80s, and see that he was pretty much the same back then, just on a smaller stage.

I also have very little familiarity with Doonesbury. I never read the funnies much growing up, and when I did, I skipped over the ones with ongoing plotlines and read things like Far Side or Garfield instead, so while I was aware of Doonesbury and could pick it out of a lineup based on the art style, I have no idea who any of these characters are or what other plotlines are going on besides the Trump theme here. So it was a little confusing in that regard, but not to the point of making it unenjoyable.

It was an interesting read and I'm glad I picked it up, but I think people who are already fans of Doonesbury or people who have more familiarity with Trump through the years and can link real life events to the portrayal in the comic would get more from this than me.

What do you think you'll read next?
The two books I've got in progress, for sure, and maybe one of these days I'll actually read some more manga again? idk why, but it seems like I'm always either in book mode or manga mode, and I just haven't been picking up the ipad lately.
torachan: arale from dr slump dressed in a penguin suit and smiling (arale penguin)
What are you currently reading?
Currently reading Kindaichi (still/of course). I'm on the third case of the second series and honestly have no memory of this one at all. (This has actually been the case with a lot of them!)

I'm also still reading Prisoner of Azkaban, though I've slacked off a bit on my lunchtime reading and I don't think I read more than a few pages this week.

Also also I am reading a physical book. (What!?) You see, all around my neighborhood are a lot of these Little Free Libraries in it and we always check them out when we walk by. So far Carla has picked up quite a few books from them, but I hadn't until last week. I picked up two books that looked interesting and I read one already (which I will talk about below) but have not yet read the other. I plan to take te one I read back today (to a different Little Library than the one I took it from, just for fun) but I decided I'd also like to try and read more of the books on my shelf so that I can leave them in these libraries when I'm done.

So to that end, I picked a book off my shelf that seemed like something I could read fast. XD It's a graphic novel called Vietnamerica by GB Tran and I think I must have read about it years ago on [livejournal.com profile] 50books_poc. I've only read a bit so far, but I'm enjoying it. (Though I have found some of the lettering choices to be a bit hard to read. For some reason parts of it are done in cursive...)

What did you recently finish reading?
I finished reading my first actual book of the new year! One of the books I picked up at the aforementioned Little Library was Mindy Kaling's Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns). I really did not enjoy The Mindy Show and gave it up after four or five episodes (the love interest was just so annoying!) and I've never seen The Office (though it's on my list), but I really liked this book a lot! It's hilarious and a super easy read, which was just the thing I needed to get me back into (hopefully) the habit of reading things other than manga. If you like humorous autobiographies, I'd definitely recommend it.

What do you think you'll read next?
Mainly just continuing to read the things I talked about above, but I will probably give Kindaichi another break after this case and try to read something else manga-wise. Not sure what, but I have a bazillion files on my ipad, so there's a lot to choose from. :D
torachan: (Default)
Title: Watchmen
Author: Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons
Number of Pages: 416 pages
Book Number/Goal: 23/50 for 2011
My Rating: 3.5/5

Summary: In an alternate 1985, masked heroes exist, but with a few exceptions have been banned by the US government since the seventies. When one of the remaining active heroes is murdered, another exiled to Mars, and a third thrown in prison, two retired heroes team up to try and find out what's going on, but what they discover is beyond anything they could have imagined.

Review: I hated the art for this, but the story was interesting, if a bit hard to follow at times due to the way I couldn't keep anyone straight at first and it kept jumping all over the place in the timeline. Once I got a few chapters in, it was easier to keep everyone straight, though. This did interesting things with the idea of superheroes, making it a bit more realistic. None of the heroes or villains have any sort of superpowers, except for Dr Manhattan, and I like things like the way the heroes were inspired to start fighting crime by reading comic books, and the government ban and such. Like, one of the things that I find hard to deal with in US superhero comics is how everyone exists in the same universe. Like, I really think they should be separate. I don't think they necessarily cross over well. But they are all supposed to exist at once. It strains my credulity (one superhero is something I can accept; fifty with fifty different powers and origins less so). Anyway, so I liked the "realism" of this set-up. I wasn't that thrilled with the big reveal, idk. But still, I enjoyed it overall.

But one thing I cannot not comment on, and that is the wtfery of Sally's plotline/backstory/reveal/whatever you want to call it. Like, really? Really? The last we see of her, she is KISSING A PICTURE OF THE COMEDIAN? Because I guess all these years she has been pining for her rapist? Way to fucking go, Alan Moore. Gross. And it's not like we ever see a single redeeming thing about The Comedian. He is a thorough asshole, who killed a woman he got pregnant and raped another woman and is a total asshole in general. But Sally not only got over the rape enough to have sex with him again (just once? more than once? it wasn't really clear to me), but has apparently been in love with him all these years. If this had been a physical copy I read, I really might have thrown it across the room at that point. Also, just in general, and this has probably been noted by people who read comics more often than I do, but jfc, Moore has issues with women.
torachan: (Default)
Title: Scott Pilgrim
Author: Bryan Lee O'Malley
Number of Pages: ~200 pages per volume
Book Number/Goal: 15-20/30 for 2010
My Rating: 5/5

I had heard people mention Scott Pilgrim before, especially recently, what with the final volume just released and the movie coming up, but I had always assumed it was a superhero comic, for some reason, so I wasn't really interested. But then at some point I realised it wasn't, and decided to give it a shot and omg it is the best thing ever! Now I'm so eager to see the movie next month!

So the basic story. Scott Pilgrim is a slacker in his early '20s. He has a band and a seventeen-year-old girlfriend and shares a bed with his gay best friend (who also pretty much supports him, seeing as Scott doesn't have a job) in their one-room apartment. Then one day he starts to notice a girl he's never met before appearing in his dreams. He does finally meet her at a party, and it turns out she's a delivery person for Amazon.ca and uses "subspace" to make her deliveries. Oh, and subspace happens to run right through Scott's head, thus her appearance in his dreams. They start going out, but she tells him he'll have to defeat her six or seven evil exes.

As you can guess from the subspace thing and the defeating the evil exes, this is not a totally realistic story. It's got a lot of wacky elements and a very video game/manga feel to it, and that's done in a way that felt very organic to the story.

The characters are great. I love Knives Chau, Scott's seventeen-year-old (ex-)girlfriend, who ends up becoming part of their group even after he dumps her. I love Scott himself, stupid and useless and utterly ridiculous as he is (yet somehow in a totally charming way). I especially love Wallace Wells, Scott's gay best friend. (Who I always thought was Asian for some reason, but is played by Kieran Culkin in the movie. I don't know why I thought that, maybe because he has black hair and the white characters seem to all have light hair, idk.) I love Kim and Julie and Stephen Stills and Ramona and all the minor characters. Oh, and of the villains, I especially loved Todd and his veganism. XD

I have to say, I think the last volume was the least well done. Everything with Gideon just didn't really come together that well. (Speaking of Gideon, though, I'm super excited that he is going to be played by Jason Schwartzman! ♥) But overall I really loved the whole series and am so, so sad that I have read it and now it's over. D: I want more!
torachan: (Default)
Title: Just So You Know #2
Author: Joey Alison Sayers
Number of Pages: 32 pages
Book Number/Goal: 10/30 for 2010
My Rating: 5/5

This is the second volume of Sayers' comics about her transition. Just as funny and touching as the first one. My only complaint is that these are so short! (But they're also only $6 each ($7 outside of the US), so, you know.)
torachan: (Default)
Title: V for Vendetta
Author: Alan Moore and David Lloyd
Number of Pages: 288 pages
Book Number/Goal: 56/75 for 2009
My Rating: 5/5

In the post-apocalyptic "future" of the late 1990s, Britain is under totalitarian rule, but a mysterious man known only as V is about to change all that.

This is pretty much right up my alley storywise. The art...well, it was bearable to get the story. I would have much preferred it as a novel, though, because the art definitely didn't add anything to me. I'm not a fan of most western comic styles and this seemed worse than most in that it was so dark and everyone's faces were half in shadows all the time, so I had real trouble distinguishing characters (especially since aside from V and Evey, they were pretty much all Generic White Guy With Short Hair). But as with many less-than-stellarly-drawn manga, it's well worth it for the story.

I kind of feel frazzled at the moment, so I don't really have much to say beyond that, though there were definitely things that didn't sit well with me, most notably the fact that while it makes sense for the government as set up here, having all the people of color and queers sent away to concentration camps sure makes for a convenient excuse to tell a story about only straight white people (except for that one tragic lesbian whose tragic life and death is nothing more than a tool to cause straight people to change). I wasn't too thrilled with the portrayal of women here, either.
torachan: (Default)
Title: Bayou
Author: Jeremy Love
Number of Pages: 160 pages
Book Number/Goal: 43/75 for 2009
My Rating: 5/5

Lee is a black sharecropper's daughter in the early 1900s. When her white friend Lily goes missing, Lee's father is blamed for her kidnapping. But Lily saw what really happened, and to save her father from getting hanged, she starts off on a journey to Dixie, an alternative South filled with monsters and talking animals, to try and find the man who really kidnapped Lily.

The story is amazing. It doesn't pull any punches in its depictions of race relations, so it's not an easy read, but it's well-worth it. The art is awesome, too. It has a very unfinished look, just colored-in sketches rather than perfectly-inked drawings, but they're really well-drawn and I love the look.

I have actually been reading this online and have not read the physical book (which is chapters 1-4 of what's been posted online), but I saw several other people posting reviews of the book and was like, hey, I have read that, even if not the physical copy, so I should totally add it to my count! (That's what I do with manga that I read chapter by chapter, after all. I just add it to my list when the volume comes out.)
torachan: (Default)
Title: Birth of a Nation
Author: Aaron McGruder, Reginald Hudlin, and Kyle Baker
Number of Pages: 137 pages
Book Number/Goal: 37/75 for 2009
My Rating: 4/5

When the mostly-black residents of East St. Louis are prevented from voting due to a "glitch" that lists them all as felons, they demand a recount. When all they get is an apology, they do the unthinkable: secede from the United States.

This was recommended to me when I posted about Truth: Red, White & Black, also illustrated by Kyle Baker. To be honest, the summary didn't grab me all that much, but I figured what the hell, why not? and put it on my wishlist. Not like graphic novels take long to read anyway.

I ended up enjoying it a lot more than I anticipated. The writing's great and I was laughing at something on practically every page. And Baker's art works a lot better here than it did in Truth, where his cartoony artwork felt a little out of place.

One thing I didn't really like was the format. It's not a comic book, or even a series of comic strips. Neither is it a text story with illustrations. It's kind of a weird hybrid, with panels laid out like a comic, but with the narration and dialogue (mostly dialogue) underneath each panel, and I found it kind of hard to follow sometimes.

Mooch on BookMooch.
torachan: (Default)
Title: Just So You Know #1
Author: Joey Alison Sayers
Number of Pages: 36 pages
Book Number/Goal: 34/75 for 2009
My Rating: 5/5

By the author of Thingpart. Excellent comic about the author's transition from male to female. Funny and touching and generally awesome. I just wish it were longer!

lgtbq_recs

Jun. 13th, 2009 04:04 am
torachan: (Default)
Today was the last day of my first week of reccing for [livejournal.com profile] lgbtq_recs so I thought I'd post a round-up over here. I have recced all of these on my journal at some point or other, so to long-time readers they may not be anything new.

Graphic Novel: Skim by Mariko and Jillian Tamaki
Author: Ali Smith
Manga: Hourou Musuko by Shimura Takako
Movie: Imagine Me & You
Book: Luna by Julie Anne Peters
Music: The Cliks
Book: City of Night by John Rechy

I'll be doing a second week at the end of the month. :)
torachan: (Default)
Title: Skim
Author/Illustrator: Mariko Tamaki (author), Jillian Tamaki (illustrator)
Number of Pages: 144 pages
Book Number/Goal: 31/75 for 2009
My Rating: 5/5

It's 1993 and Kimberly Keiko Cameron, aka Skim, is in grade 10 at a Catholic girls' school. She is: Wiccan, biracial (Japanese-Canadian/white), sort of an outcast, overweight, falling in love with her English teacher, Ms. Archer.

I really loved this. It's so...ordinary. It's not a message book, even though there are lots of things (being Asian, homophobia, being queer, bullying, teen suicide, rumors, divorce, being overweight) that could be turned into big Issues to Teach a Lesson, but they're not. They're just part of what happens. That's part of what makes this feel like a story about teens rather than a story particularly for teens (though it's not inappropriate for teens by any means).

I really love the art, too. The style is obviously Japanese-influenced...but not manga-influenced. Instead, it immediately calls to mind traditional Japanese paintings (check out the cover here), which makes for a rather unique comic style and one I really enjoyed.
torachan: (Default)
Robert Morales and Kyle Baker "Truth: Red, White & Black" - 5/5

I wish I could give this more than five stars. This is such an amazing story. Wow. Really, just...wow.

What this is is a retcon history of Captain America. The story of Captain America is that he was a guy who didn't qualify for the army in WWII, and volunteered for a government experiment that would turn him into a super soldier and allow him to fight. This comic comes up with a backstory for that. What if Captain America was not actually the first Captain America? What if others were experimented on first? And who, in actuality, did the government like to experiment on? Based on the reality of things like the Tuskeegee Experiment, it makes sense that the government would test their super soldier serum on black men (though I also agree with one reviewer I read, who said, but would the government really want to take the risk of having black super soldiers around?). This is the story of those men, especially the one survivor, Isaiah Bradley.

The story is very powerful and I highly recommend this even if you never read comics and know nothing about Captain America. I haven't read American comics since I was a kid, and never knew anything about Captain America before this. It's unnecessary. The comic gives you all the info you need to know, and believe me, you will not regret reading this, though it is a very hard story to read.

My one complaint would be the art, which is very, very cartoony and doesn't really fit the tone of the story that well (as well as not really being to my taste, but American superhero comic art is not to my taste, period; I actually think I prefer this cartooniness slightly to the usual superhero style).

Also, personally, it was hard to get used to reading the right way, as I'm used to reading manga and thus my default for comics is top right to bottom left.

(I still have the scans, if anyone wants me to upload them.)
torachan: sakaki from azumanga daioh holding a cat, with the text "I like cats" in Japanese (sakaki)
I've been reading a lot (for me), but have been slacking on reviews, so here's what I've got so far. I'm pretty damn pleased with myself that I've read eight books and it's only the middle of February. :D

Tanuja Desai Hidier "Born Confused" - 5/5
This is the story of Dimple Lala growing up and finding herself over the summer between 11th and 12th grade. There is romance in there, and there is friendship stuff, but really it's about Dimple. I've been reading more young adult books lately (so many of the interesting books I see recced are YA...) and a lot of them really feel like it. This did in some ways (the feel of the POV felt more like a novel aimed at teens), but it wasn't dumbed down or anything. I really enjoyed this book a lot, and I'm sad to see Hidier hasn't written any other novels.

I did have some frustrations with it, namely that because it's first person and Dimple doesn't really speak up when people blame her for stuff, it comes off feeling like we're supposed to think she was the one in the wrong. (With Gwyn, it kind of came around at the end (though I still felt like she never admitted/realised what an ass she'd been to Dimple), but by the end of the book I was still left feeling like Dimple was blamed for the mixups with Karsh, even though it would be ridiculous to read his behaviour any other way than she does. In fact, I was shocked that he said he had never been dating Gwyn. I was sure that he was dating her, but still had feelings for Dimple, and I am just so confused as to what the fuck he thought he was doing if not dating Gwyn.) Also Gwyn seriously bugged me. Like, the whole time. I loved um, the lesbian cousin, whose name I can't remember right now. And Zara! ♥ And Dimple's parents were awesome, too.

Very highly recommended.

Shaun Tan "The Arrival" - 5/5
I almost feel like it's cheating to including this on my reading list, since it's a story told entirely in pictures, but I will anyway. :p And it's really, really awesome, so you should read it, too. It's the story of a man who leaves his wife and daughter behind in order to find work in a foreign country. The book follows him in his new life there as he meet people and tries to figure things out, and ends with him eventually sending for his wife and child to join him. The story is set in a fantastical world. The land he comes from has shadow dragons flying through the sky. The land he arrives in has...well, just about everything weird you could think of. One man he meets escaped to this land from a different country, where he and his wife had to run for their lives from giants with blowtorches. Another man tells of the war he fought, and when he returned, he found his entire village destroyed. A young woman tells of how she escaped slavery to come here. I love these tales as much as the main character's. And I love his little book, as he tries hard to figure out what these strange foods are and how to read maps. Tan's beautiful drawings really get across the confusion of being somewhere where you don't understand anything and are trying your best to get by.

M.T. Anderson "The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Volume I: The Pox Party" - 5/5
Okay, everyone needs to go out and read this right now! And anyone who read all the racefail about "zomg poor white me, I could never write people of color, wah wah, damned if I do, damned if I don't" really needs to read this even more. Because M.T. Anderson? The man who wrote this awesome, amazing story about a slave boy in the American Revolution? Yeah. He's white. And believe me, you'll forget that as you're reading.

Anyway, this is the story of Octavian, a slave who has been raised like a prince for the purpose of an experiment. The book follows Octavian as he grows up, becoming bleaker and bleaker as the years go by. It's such an interesting premise, and a very interesting look at the American Revolution as well, and the hypocrisy of the people who wanted to be free from the "slavery" of a monarchy, but clung so tightly to their own slaves, even as slavery was declared illegal in Britain. (And oh, the moment when Cassiopeia hears of that and realises that if she'd only gone to England with that asshole, she'd be free now!)

More spoilers (highlight to read): I'm so glad Trefusius was a good guy! I really liked him and was hoping that he wasn't as bad as the rest, so I was mentally cheering when he drugged Sharpe and Gitney. That was brilliant. But argh, when Octavian got dragged back after running away. As I was reading um, what's his name's letters, I was so afraid that it was a trick at first, but then I let my guard down as it seemed to be a legitimate job offer for Octavian...and then it turned out to be a trick after all! D: This book was so frustrating and angering to read, not in a bad way, but just the attitudes of people like Sharpe who were determined to see everything as proof that blacks were lesser beings, and the knowledge that not only is that not fiction, but it's not something of the past, either! Ugh, it just left me wanting to go around and punch random people in the face.

Hamasaki Tatsuya "One Piece: Chinjuutou no Chopper Oukoku" - 2.5/5
I grabbed quite a few manga novels at one point because I'd so enjoyed the D.Gray-man novel, Reverse. Alas, this did not live up to that at all. It's the novelisation of one of the One Piece movies and as OVAs and films of manga and anime often are, it's vaguely AU. It takes place just after Chopper joins Luffy and the others, but Vivi is not on the ship with them for this adventure. The plot here is that the crew sets sail for an island that's supposed to have a great treasure, only when they land there, Chopper gets separated from the others. The island turns out to be inhabited by weird animals and a little boy named Mobambi, and they mistakenly think Chopper is their new king. Of course a baddie appears and lots of fighting happens and stuff. It was a fun enough read (and very quick), but not anywhere near as good as the manga itself.

Azuma Kiyohiko "Azumanga Daioh" (4 vols.) - 5/5
Azumanga Daioh is a 4-panel manga that follows a group of girls from the start of 10th grade through graduation. I was pleasantly surprised at the continuity, as I'd expected each strip to be separate and random. The humor is what I'd expect from the author of Yotsuba&!, that is, absolutely hilarious. Everything is silly about this, from the ten-year-old genius who skips ahead to 10th grade, to the skeevy male teacher who says he wanted to become a teacher because he likes high school girls, yet it's also very emotionally realistic. Most of these girls are not friends when the new school year starts, but by the end of high school, they're inseparable. I especially loved Sakaki and Kagura, but it's really hard to pick favorites because they all have their charms.

At the beginning I didn't like it quite as much as Yotsuba&!, but by the end I think they're almost tied.

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