Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Unconventionally Creating a Graphic Novel | Tour: Dare to Disappoint by Ozge Samanci

Dare to Disappoint by Ozge Samanci sounds like an incredible graphic novel. It's about growing up in Turkey and trying to find her passion when her family and society are trying to tell her what direction to go in. What makes the book even more interesting is that she utilizes unconventional materials throughout the book. Each post on this tour will highlight one such material. 

For my stop, Ozge will be briefly talking about her use of evil eye beads. When I saw that that was the featured material for my blog, I got really excited. I actually own a few pieces of jewelry with evil eye beads and have one hanging up at home. They're pretty commonly found in Brazil. But here's Ozge's own words on it.
Beads for evil eye are part of the culture in Turkey. In Turkey, many people believe that babies, kids, adults, men and women can be harmed by the evil eye, the jealous gaze of others. To protect themselves from the harms of evil eyes some people wear an evil eye bead by pinning it under their shirt or visibly by attaching it to a wall of their home or a mirror of their car. In my comic-collages evil eye beads make wonderful eyes for the characters.

I can't wait to read this book, and I hope you'll all check it out as well! 

Dare to Disappoint by Ozge Samanci
Publisher: Farrar, Straus, Giroux (BYR)
Release Date: November 17th, 2015
Growing up on the Aegean Coast, Ozge loved the sea and imagined a life of adventure while her parents and society demanded predictability. Her dad expected Ozge, like her sister, to become an engineer. She tried to hear her own voice over his and the religious and militaristic tensions of Turkey and the conflicts between secularism and fundamentalism. Could she be a scuba diver like Jacques Cousteau? A stage actress? Would it be possible to please everyone including herself?
In her unpredictable and funny graphic memoir, Ozge recounts her story using inventive collages, weaving together images of the sea, politics, science, and friendship.

Monday, November 23, 2015

A Hilarious Broadway Parody | Something Rotten! on Broadway

A friend from high school and I had been planning to see a Broadway show together even before we graduated, and only the other day did we finally make good on those plans and saw Something Rotten! 

I have heard nothing but good things about Something Rotten! but still went in without much of a clue on what it's about except for the fact that it's funny. What an understatement. This was such a fun show, parodying musicals and Broadway itself, as well as Shakespeare. It takes place during Shakespeare's time. We watch as two struggling playwrights who are trying to make money while having to compete against Shakespeare. The older brother, disheartened and desperate, turns to an unlikely source and finds out that the next big thing is going to be musicals. He also finds out that Shakespeare's most famous play is going to be called "Omelette." 

Hilarity ensues as they try to write a musical about breakfast and eggs. Any Broadway fan will get a kick out of the show and the songs featured. There are so many references to different shows, some obvious and others more subtle. Those who don't understand the references likely won't appreciate Something Rotten! as much, and they'll definitely know they're missing something as the rest of the crowd laughs. But even if you're like me and only got maybe 75% of the references, you can tell they're making fun of Broadway while on Broadway.

The actors do an amazing job, from Christian Borle as Shakespeare to Brian d'Arcy James as Nick Bottom to Heidi Blickenstaff as Bea, there is so much mixed talent on the show. The songs are upbeat and fun. The show is so great for when you need a break or just want a laugh. 

But even beyond the hilarity is a level of depth in the story arc. It's not just about Broadway but also about talent, being true to yourself, freedom, happiness, family, and loyalty. It's about learning who to trust and who not to trust--including trusting in yourself. It's about taking a stand and being your own person. There are two fierce and amazing females who show that they are brave and smart and clever in their own right. 

The end was kind of shaky in my opinion, and I'm not sure how I feel about it, but overall, I think the show wrapped up nicely. It shows how success and happiness don't necessarily have to come from fame and how fame isn't always all that it lives up to. It's about starting over but without changing who you are.

This is such a beautiful and hilarious story that anyone, but especially Broadway fans, will enjoy. There's a dash of history, a lot of wit, some literature and writing, and so many laughs. I highly, highly recommend this show and would see it again if I could afford to.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

So Much Potential, But What About Execution? | Quantico Review (Episodes 1-6)

ABC Sundays @ 10 PM EST

I started this show on a Friday night after catching up on How to Get Away With Murder. The night ended with me going to sleep at 4:30, with one episode (episode 5) left to catch up on. What an intense show! While not nearly as intense as Orphan Black or even HTGAWM, there's plenty going on on this show. 

This is one of the most diverse casts on television, and I love it. It's talked about just enough without making it the focus of the show. It just is what it is. With the exception of the Simon not actually being gay plot (which just upsets me to no end), the characters are not defined by their sexuality, race, religion, or otherwise. It certainly plays into who they are, as it does for all people, but they are more than that.

The constant switching between present and future keeps me at the edge of my seat. It's a bit like the flashbacks in HTGAWM, and in both, it's done very effectively, connecting past to present (or present to future, depending on how you look at it). I look forward to seeing how the story will play out and how the show will move forward once this one mystery/case is solved. 

I love crime shows, and I love getting a look at how their training works. There's so much potential in that, and I'm so glad Quantico is taking advantage of that. There's so much tension between the characters as they come to trust one another but also compete against one another. The intensity and time constraint is reminiscent of so many of my favorite shows.

All the lies and betrayal are a bit confusing to follow, and there are so many times when I wish people would just tell one another the truth. There are so many situations where things could end so differently, but I guess that's what makes the show so addicting.

Episode 6 really opened my eyes to the soap opera quality the show was starting to lean towards. I'm hoping it'll go back to more of the FBI/espionage/intrigue soon, without so much of the cheesy romance. The show reminds me of all the best and worst parts of some of my favorite shows, and I guess that's why I keep coming back for more. But I also slowly fell out of love (and sometimes was brought back, sometimes not) with many of the shows it reminds me of. I'm hoping that the show will start to go back in the direction that will keep me interested. I really love what they're doing on the show right now, and I'd hate to see that go downhill for the sake of trying to appeal to a certain group of people. 

The show started out strong in characterization and dialogue, as well as plot. I can only hope it'll continue on an upward trend from now on. The acting is getting shaky, with some strong performances and some weak. Maybe episode 6 will be the exception or maybe it was more of a filler. Fingers crossed, and let's see where the show will take us!

Stay tuned for updates as the show progresses.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

A Celebration of Diversity, Friendship, and Geek Culture | Review: An Infinite Number of Parallel Universes by Randy Ribay (ARC)

An Infinite Number of Parallel Universes by Randy Ribay
Publisher: Merit Press
Release Date: October 16th, 2015
As their senior year approaches, four diverse friends joined by their weekly Dungeons & Dragons game struggle to figure out real life. Archie's trying to cope with the lingering effects of his parents' divorce, Mari's considering an opportunity to contact her biological mother, Dante's working up the courage to come out to his friends, and Sam's clinging to a failing relationship. The four eventually embark on a cross-country road trip in an attempt to solve--or to avoid--their problems.
Disclaimer: I received a copy for review, but this did not affect my review in any way, nor am I being compensated for this.

"At the heart of the story, it's about coming together during hard times. It's about trust and acceptance."

I haven't been seeing this book around the book community, and I wish more people were talking about it. For all the talk about diversity, An Infinite Number of Parallel Universes is such a great example of a book that seamlessly features diverse characters. Though those aspects of the characters are important to their story and their identity, it's not the main focus of the story.

I enjoyed the different characters, though I don't think any of them really stuck to me or really impressed me. They were all at a level playing field, and there were merits and great parts of all their story arcs. Sure, there were some characters who annoyed or angered me at times. There were others I really cheered on. I didn't really like the way their perspectives were split in blocks rather than with switching chapters because it made the overlaps a bit awkward, but I thought each portion was comprehensive and interesting.

What really made this book great was the focus on friendship and overall geek culture. Though the reason they are going on a cross-country trip is concerning, they stick together and look out for one another. They all have their own issues, and they, at times, forget about the fact that everyone else is going through things too. But at the heart of the story, it's about coming together during hard times. It's about trust and acceptance. I don't play D&D, but I love that the story depicts a group of people who originally came together because of a mutual interest but then grew to something more. SO many of my friendships came about this way, but it's rarely depicted in books.

The book was a pretty quick read, though a bit slow/dragging at times. It was easy to get caught up in everyone's drama, and I loved when story lines finally intersected. We got to see some select scenes from both/all perspectives, and it really shows how we think we pay attention to others, when we really spend a lot of time thinking only of ourselves--not in a selfish way, necessarily.

Overall, I enjoyed the book. The cover still makes me so happy every time I see it, though there's no concrete reason why. I love the geek love. I wasn't wowed by the book, but I would recommend it, particularly if you're looking for another "diverse" read.
An Infinite Number of Parallel Universes: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Book Depository
Randy Ribay: Website | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook

Sunday, November 15, 2015

A Month in Review: September and October 2015

This will be a quick one, since I didn't read much, and I was/am still on a semi-hiatus. I posted some updates, including my new blog! Hoping to get back to a good schedule of about 2 or 3 posts a week soon. I'm also working on trying to mix things up more on the blog to take the pressure off of having to read and review. I'm having a tough time thinking of discussions, though, and I don't want to rely on features all the time. Anyway, here's the past two months in review!

Books I Read


Book Haul

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Library of Souls by Ransom Riggs
Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut
Ways of Seeing by John Berger
Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann
I Crawl Through It by A.S. King
An Infinite Number of Parallel Universes by Randy Ribay (ARC)
Into the Dangerous World by Julie Chibbaro and Jim Superville Sovak
Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin (eARC)
Finding Center by Katherine Locke
More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera
Faking Normal by Courtney C. Stevens
The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness
Just Visiting by Dahlia Adler (ARC)


Other Posts:

Updates on Life, Books, and Starting New
Music Monday (#14): Those Girls Playlist


I think I might actually start taking this portion out. I've been really bad at keeping up with my personal blog, but if you're interested in that kind of stuff, please head over the Infinite Golden Floors.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Invisible Helicopters, Bomb Threats, Mental Illness, and more | Review: I Crawl Through It by A.S. King

I Crawl Through It by A. S. King
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Release Date: September 22nd, 2015
Four talented teenagers are traumatized-coping with grief, surviving trauma, facing the anxiety of standardized tests and the neglect of self-absorbed adults—and they'll do anything to escape the pressure. They'll even build an invisible helicopter, to fly far away to a place where everyone will understand them... until they learn the only way to escape reality is to fly right into it.
Disclaimer: I received a copy from the NOVL newsletter. This did not affect my review in any way, nor am I being compensated for this.

"I still don't really know what happened in the book, but it will definitely stick with me for a while."

Where do I even begin? When I finished I Crawl Through It, I was lying in bed reading. All I could think was woah. This book blew my mind; it made me think deeply about our society and how we treat mental illness and PTSD. It left me speechless. I still don't really know what happened in the book, but it will definitely stick with me for a while.

This is the kind of book you want to read with other people because you'll want to talk about it. You'll want to attempt to work through your confusing, probably jumbled up thoughts. You might try to pretend like this isn't the crazy, weird book that it is, but it is. It's labeled surrealist fiction, and I think that's a good way to explain it. There are sometimes invisible, sometimes not invisible helicopters, a girl who turns herself inside out, a girl whose hair grows every time she lies, and a girl who is two people in one body. There are bomb threats and a crazy bush man. There is so much going on, yet it's so hard to tell what's actually happening.

But I could see how the different pieces represent different struggles and the way society treats them/the victims. You can see the messages about what testing does to kids, how people deal (or don't) with grief, how important family is (but how ruined these families are), how society and rape culture impact the victims/survivors, what it feels like to realize that no one is better than anyone else, etc. There's a lot of social commentary in this book, but it's really the way the story was presented that makes you think about them/realize such commentary. I Crawl Through It makes you think deeper about these issues because they come to you--or at least they did to me--when you're trying to figure out what everything in the book means.

By the end of the book, my mind was blown. At that point, it's pretty clear what the messages are, even though the book doesn't end perfectly and leaves a lot left unanswered. I didn't find that to be a problem, however. I think it leaves enough resolved and enough open-ended. There's honestly not that much more to say because it's so hard to talk about anything that happens. I connected to the characters because I could understand their struggle, yet it always seemed like there was a gap between the characters and me as a reader because of the writing and surrealist nature. In the end, I think that the book is more centered on the ideas than on making characters likeable or whatnot (not that characters need to be likeable).

I would highly recommend this if you're looking for a thought-provoking book. I would highly recommend it for book clubs or buddy reads. I Crawl Through It will make you think about our society, and I think it brings about really important social discussions and commentary.
I Crawl Through It: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Book Depository
A. S. King: Website | Facebook | Twitter

Monday, November 9, 2015

Music Monday (#15): Spotify Playlists I've Been Listening To Lately

Every other Monday, I'll share a song/artist/album that I'm either currently listening to or currently obsessed with, though they often go hand-in-hand. Some may have special themes or surprises. This means that I might share a playlist, fan!mix, Top Ten list, etc.

Many of my past few featured songs have come from Spotify playlists, and I know I've mentioned some of those playlists before. But I thought I'd just share my favorite playlists/the ones I've been listening to quite a lot lately. There are more that I listen to from time to time, and I'm always on the lookout for new playlists, but these are the ones I have saved.

Your Favorite Coffeehouse

The first Spotify playlist I discovered. I find all/most of these on the Browse Overview, where they recommend/suggest some playlists. I haven't listened to this in a while, but it's still a go-to.

Deep Focus

For when I need to study. My savior in college so far.

Epic All Nighter

Another one for when I need to study. I don't listen to this one as much, but it's still great.

Calm Down

Great for when I'm blogging or just need some background music, though I haven't listened to this one in a few weeks.

Feel Good Indie Rock

I think Indie Rock (or similar, ie indie pop) is my favorite genre of music, though I haven't really found many of the artists yet. This is another great playlist for when I'm blogging and also when I want to discover new music/artists.

What are your favorite Spotify playlists? Do you have any recommendations for me?

Friday, November 6, 2015

Flashback Friday (#10): Something Strange and Deadly Readalong Discussion

This is a more irregular feature. Flashback Friday is where I review, or possibly discuss, an old TV show, movie, book, or album. So what's considered old? Anything that was not released within the past year and a half. By years, I mean calendar year (so for this year, June 2014-December 2015 would NOT be old).

I'm participating in the readalong for Susan Dennard's Something Strange and Deadly. I love the series, and I hope that all the hype around Truthwitch will also lead to people picking up this series and falling in love. I hope you'll join in! But regardless, here are my answers to some of the discussion questions!

1) How do you think you would react to the Dead walking around your city?

Oh my gosh. I would be terrified! I don't know who would honestly be okay with the Dead wrecking havoc in their city, and I don't know if I know anyone crazy enough to go fight them (actually, there are probably a few).  If the Dead started showing up, I would leave the city! I know some people in Connecticut, and if worst comes to worst, I also know people in Canada, and I could even flee to Brazil. I'd like to think I could be brave, but nope, that's not realistically happening. I'm too scared to actually do anything. I'd never be like Eleanor; I'd just be a bystander.

2) What do you think about the Dead? Are you glad it isn't too zombie-ish, or were you hoping for a more zombie-esque theme?

I don't think I've actually read any other "zombie" books, but I will say that I'm not normally into those kinds of books. I've never watched The Walking Dead and just generally don't read much supernatural fiction. But I actually really enjoyed the portrayal of the Dead in the series. Perhaps it's because I don't have much experience with it, but I found it to be a refreshing different take on zombies. I'm kind of glad it wasn't too "zombie-ish" because I don't know if I would have enjoyed it as much. Part of what makes Something Strange and Deadly so special is that it's a historic supernatural book. It's not just about what zombies/the living dead would be like in our current society but also what it would be like, what their motivations would be, if they were in a different time in history. Props to Sooz!

Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: July 24th, 2012
The year is 1876, and there’s something strange and deadly loose in Philadelphia…

Eleanor Fitt has a lot to worry about. Her brother has gone missing, her family has fallen on hard times, and her mother is determined to marry her off to any rich young man who walks by. But this is nothing compared to what she’s just read in the newspaper—

The Dead are rising in Philadelphia.

And then, in a frightening attack, a zombie delivers a letter to Eleanor…from her brother.

Whoever is controlling the Dead army has taken her brother as well. If Eleanor is going to find him, she’ll have to venture into the lab of the notorious Spirit-Hunters, who protect the city from supernatural forces. But as Eleanor spends more time with the Spirit-Hunters, including their maddeningly stubborn yet handsome inventor, Daniel, the situation becomes dire. And now, not only is her reputation on the line, but her very life may hang in the balance.
Something Strange and Deadly: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | The Book Depository 
Susan Dennard: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Tumblr

Friday, October 30, 2015

Mini Review: We Should Hang Out Sometime by Josh Sundquist (ARC)

We Should Hang Out Sometime by Josh Sundquist
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Release Date: December 23rd, 2014
A bright, poignant, and deeply funny autobiographical account of coming of age as an amputee cancer survivor, from Josh Sundquist: Paralympic ski racer, YouTube star, and motivational speaker.

Josh Sundquist only ever had one girlfriend.
For twenty-three hours.
In eighth grade.

Why was Josh still single? To find out, he tracked down the girls he had tried to date and asked them straight up: What went wrong?

The results of Josh's semiscientific, wholly hilarious investigation are captured here. From a disastrous Putt-Putt date involving a backward prosthetic foot, to his introduction to CFD (Close Fast Dancing), to a misguided "grand gesture" at a Miss America pageant, this story is about looking for love--or at least a girlfriend--in all the wrong places.
Disclaimer: I received an eARC via NetGalley. This did not affect my review in any way, nor am I being compensated for this.

I was originally interested in this book because I have never been in a romantic relationship, and I thought this book would offer at least a little of insight as to why that might be. Or rather, why it was like that for someone else. I also heard that Josh is hilarious, and I was interested to see what he had to say on the matter.

Perhaps my favorite part was all the diagrams and the various other ways he presented information outside of the normal text. These portions were amongst the most hilarious and often presented information that wouldn't have been as funny in text form. Josh's writing itself is pretty straightforward and blunt, which I enjoyed. However, as funny as parts of it were, I think I was expecting much more humor, and I only got a little bit of that.

Something else I had a problem with was the way the book was the way he split up his stories, making them seem like scientific experiments. I guess I could understand why he made the decision to split up the stories and girls in that way, but it bothered me a bit. Not only were some sections clearly weaker than others, but it made it seem as though females can be understood in this scientific way rather than understanding their complexities.

I do think that he did a pretty good job of exploring his thoughts on the reason he hadn't been in a romantic relationship before. For the most part, he kept me interested. But it was pretty clear what his real message was--probably similar to the message he gives at various speaker events. I didn't necessarily have a problem with this, but at times, it was a bit overwhelming and so obvious, and I was hoping it wouldn't be. I did appreciate his message though, and I think it's an important one which I connected to it a lot. He seems awkward the way I am, but it's important to see how self-worth and acceptance may be a huge part of this and can at least be a huge first step.
We Should Hang Out Sometime: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Book Depository
Josh Sundquist: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Youtube

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Review: The Chase by Balak, Sanlaville, and Vives

Last Man: The Chase by Balak, Sanlaville, and Vives
Publisher: First Second
Release Date: October 6th, 2015
Richard Aldana, the mysterious stranger who entered the Games in the first volume of Last Man, continues to defeat all of his competitors, despite his outlandish refusal to use any magic, and to rely solely on martial arts. With young Adrian fighting at his side, he's beginning to look like a likely contender for the Royal Cup. But in a breathtaking twist, everything changes: this world is not what you thought it was, and Richard Aldana is certainly not who he claimed.

With the same fast-paced, action-oriented storytelling and gorgeous art asThe Stranger, the third volume of Last Man changes all the rules, and will leave readers eagerly awaiting Book 4!
Disclaimer: I received a copy for review from the publisher. This did not affect my review in any way, nor am I being compensated for this.

I've become invested in this series in a way I didn't expect, but here I am, back reviewing the third book to the Last Man series. I still find myself a tiny bit shocked by the graphic-ness of the books in this series, but it's not a bad thing, just something you don't see often, at least in what I'm used to reading/seeing.

I think every book in this series just gets better and better, building off of the books before it. The Chase is no exception. My favorite aspect of this installment, however, is how it finally gets to the female empowerment. Finally, finally, finally Marianne gets her time to shine. And how badass is she? She sticks up for herself, takes care of Adrian, and kicks butt all at the same time. She shows that she doesn't need someone to take care of her. In a male-dominated world, she's so underestimated, but she finally steps out of the shadows and takes the leading role.

On a different note, I feel as though this installment didn't really give any answers the way I hoped it would. Marianne seems to have gotten the part of the map from Aldana, but what about the bike? I feel like she had that there the whole time, so who did she get it from? How does she know about these other worlds? And of course, the book ends with yet another confusing Aldana scene. Just when I thought I was starting to get a better sense of the story, they throw this curveball, and I'm left trying to figure out what just happened! I guess that's how they get us to keep reading, though. ;)

Another great installment! I can't wait to find out what happens next.
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