Graphic Friday- Are You My Mother? by Alison Bechdel

I read Bechdel’s Fun Home a few months after my father passed away and even though her father and her relationship with him was much different from my own, I found it to be very soothing in my grieving process.  I’m sure that I added this book to my TBR soon afterwards but the two books are very different.  Actually, I recall breezing through Fun Home and kind of expected the same of this.  This was a much heavier book, full of quotes and psychology.  I had a completely different reaction to it.

Bechdel tells the story of her relationship to her mother.  She talks about her mother’s reaction to the book about Bechdel’s father and the many ways that Bechdel has been formed by her mother.  There’s a lot here, about her mother’s disapproval of her homosexuality as well as her disapproval of memoir writing.  There is a deep look into why Bechdel feels envy over other’s successes and how her panic attacks possibly stem from her anger with her mother.  What you end up with is a deep look at their relationship that seems fairly told.

Now, I enjoyed this book.  It got me thinking which is something I love a book to do.  Again, it seemed to find me at the right time, when I am considering my own parenting.  Toward the end of the book, Alison’s therapist asks her a question and tells her to answer the one thing that comes to her mind first.  She asks what she most learned from her mother.  And that question alone sent me reeling, the kind of reeling that pulled me right out of the book so I could look around my own life and see the ties.

This was a great read.  I’m not sure if I like this or Fun Home best or even if the two can be compared.

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I’d Tell You I Love You but Then I’d Have to Kill You by Ally Carter

Another series that I have been meaning to get around to for years. This was actually my second attempt. I like to listen to my series on audio and the reader has an uptick which drives me nuts. The story was good enough though that once I got into it I didn’t really even notice anymore.

Cammie is a Gallagher Girl. She attends the elite Gallagher Academy which the residents of the local town (and everyone else) thinks is just a school for stuck up rich girls. But it isn’t. It’s a school for spies. Cammie is a legacy, her mother not only was a student there but is currently the head mistress. I found it refreshing that Cammie genuinely loves her mother and never seems embarrassed by her. In fact, she seems universally loved. That’s the thing about being a Gallagher Girl. The students are actually like a sisterhood and a family and a large part of that is that their lives will depend on one another some day.

But while on a covert mission at the town fair, Cammie meets a boy who will put her whole life style in jeopardy. Under the guise of making sure that nothing has been compromised, Cammie and her friends stake Josh out. Before long, Josh is more than just a boy but Cammie can’t tell him the whole truth and it gets harder and harder to keep her cover.

What a lighthearted, fun read! This one has action, romance, and friendship with a delightful garnish of cheese!

Graphic Friday: The Complete Phonogram by Kieron Gillen

Sometimes you meet a character, say, and that character strikes you as being a bit of an ass but you stick with it and before long you find yourself thinking that the character maybe isn’t too bad.  Then, by the end of the book you think he’s great and then he hits you with a reference to Hole’s “Beautiful Son” and you’re like, “Dammit.  I knew I liked you.”

And that kind of sums up a lot of my feelings about Phonogram.

I know that I missed a lot because my musical knowledge is lacking and rusty but I also got enough to be heavily entertained.  What do I know about Britpop?  Not a whole hell of a lot but that didn’t detract from my enjoyment, it just added some Googling in and I am all for learning stuff while I read.

Phonogram is a collection of comics built around phonomancers, who are basically music magicians.  And while this system of magic is never really explained or gone into in any depth, that’s absolutely fine.  We all know that music can be magic and it’s cool to see it actually portrayed that way.  What you end up with are some stories about how much music matters and how things change and, really, about moving on and growing up a bit.

Yes, I grew to love Phonogram as much as I grew to love David Kohl and extra kudos for the mentions of my favorite band.

The Prom Queen by R.L. Stine

What do you get when you mix Mean Girls and Fear Street?  The Prom Queen!

Seriously, this was about the funnest Fear Street I’ve read so far.  It starts on an eventful day.  First, everyone is talking about the dead girl that was found in the Fear Street Woods.  Then, there’s an assembly to announce the Prom Queen candidates!  There are five.  Simone, who is rich and flashy and dating the cutest boy in school.  Elana, who is the most popular girl in school.  Dawn, a tennis player who always wins.  Rachel, who has to study a lot because she doesn’t have any money.  Finally, Lizzie, the every-girl of the group who’s nice, has a long distance relationship, and works on the sets for the school play.  After school, the prom queens all go out for pizza together and make jokes at each other’s expense and then the next day Simone is kidnapped!  They find only a pool of blood in her bedroom.

It seems there is a killer slowly picking off the prom queen candidates.  But who can it be and what is the motive?  Is it the weird guy, Lucas, who used to date Simone and makes terrible jokes to Lizzie all of the time?  Or could it be Justin, Simone’s other ex who ran around on her all of the time and is suddenly acting really weird around Lizzie?  One thing is for sure:  She better figure it out soon or she’ll be next!

Graphic Friday- Psychic Academy by Katsu Aki

As I continue my discovery of the graphic novel connection, I want to take a minute to be real here.  I would not call myself a fan of manga.  I like graphic novels and comic books but the backward reading always drove me nuts.  Only, not really.  What I have learned through the years is that a good story is readable in any format.  When I was looking through books I’ve read in the past decade, there were some manga series that stuck out.  I liked R.O.D. and Hellsing, Princess Ai and Monster.  I know that it is possible for me to like good stories in this format.

But let’s be real here.  This is kind of a shit story.  It’s very… flat.  I know that I only read the first volume but there was nothing in that first volume that makes me want to continue.  Some of it even actively bothered me.

Like, cool, your two female characters are smoking hot and both into the main character and you have your typical love triangle where one girl has known him forever and the other is edgy and perfect for him or whatever.  BUT I do not think that I have ever seen so much accidental boob grabbing in my life.  The first time it happened I was surprised enough to send a picture of the frame to my husband with a chuckle.  Around the third time it happened I was rolling my eyes.  There is a lot of sexy for sales sake going on here, I think.  None of the sexiness makes any sense for the story.  And, for the love of God, why do their gym suits have nipples??!??

Suffice to say that I won’t be continuing this series.  In fact, I considered removing it from the collection so that I could replace it with something better but it appears to still check out.  This one was not even laughably bad in my opinion, just irritating.

The Knife by R.L. Stine

This is one of the Fear Street books that I definitely read as a child.  I’m not sure if I owned it or borrowed it from the library.  I have never been a big fan of hospital related stuff so I’m actually really surprised that I remember some of this one.  A+ for great horror and drama!

Laurie has always wanted to be a doctor but her aunt Hillary, who raised her, worried that she might get bored.  Laurie decides to spend her summer volunteering at the local hospital with her best friend, Skye.  Skye is a bit boy crazy and always has multiple dates lined up but she sure wouldn’t mind getting her hands on Laurie’s boyfriend if he were available!  It seems like a great start to the summer.  Laurie loves to volunteer, especially on the children’s floor, and soon she meets a cute med student, Rick, who is volunteering too.  But something isn’t right.  There’s a little boy whose records disappear when he leaves the hospital and while Laurie is trying to figure out why the boy seemed so sad and scared, she sees Rick follow a nurse into the new wing that’s under construction.  When she follows them, she discovers that the nurse has been stabbed but nobody will believe her!  What is wrong with the little boy and how is it tied to the murdered nurse and what is Rick up to?

I do just love these books.  I always describe them as being cheesy horror but they really aren’t.  They’re classic.

Dirt Under My Nails by Marilee Foster

The thing about my TBR list (journal) is that I have kept it so long that I really have no idea where a lot of the titles come from.  I started it seventeen years ago, lost it to a computer death and tried to recreate it, populated it with lists I found online, and added books that I wanted to check out from work when I knew I wouldn’t get around to reading them.  Where did I find this title?  Was it on the new book shelf or did I read about it somewhere?  Either way, this has been languishing on my list probably since publication in 2003.

Foster writes about her life as a farmer on Long Island.  The book is organized by season and each season contains vignettes about her rural life.  She talks about planting, irrigating, and harvesting.  She talks about the birds that come and go through the year.  She discusses the history of her family farming the island.  She writes about the wildlife that encroaches on the fields as well as the developing land around her.  More and more of the farmland is giving way to summer homes and summers are full of tourists.  Foster recognizes that these tourists may contribute to her income through her farm stand but they also can cause a lot of trouble.

This was a quiet and enjoyable read for me.  I found myself thinking that maybe I should take up bird watching, at least from my front window, and I remembered the smell of a hay barn in the hot summer and all the silly things we got into as children in the middle of nowhere.  I read this book with Google Maps pulled up and looked at some of the landmarks that I couldn’t resist, like the nature preserve and cemetery.  A great book to dip into.