Friday, March 27, 2015

Are You My Mother? by Alison Bechdel

When I think of the title, Are You My Mother?, I immediately think of my beloved childhood favorite by P.D. Eastman.  A young bird falls from his nest and embarks on a journey trying to find his mother.  In the end, he returns to his nest and his mother appears by his side.

This book is NOT one in the same!

In Bechdel's version, it is a much more complex story, from the loss of her father to suicide to coming out to her mother.  She also features personal relationships, romantic and otherwise, as well as her professional journey as an artist.  And, all of it is paralleled with the psychoanalysis of Donald Winnicott.

I tend to read through most graphic novels fairly quickly.  Bechdel's Are You My Mother? is an exception.  I found myself reading this one over days, frequently revisiting pages.  When I read the final page, I thought the book was good, but not great.  BUT, Bechdel's story has stayed with me.  I find myself returning to her story in my mind at random times throughout the day.  And, when I saw her previous novel Fun Home at the library, I had to have it.  I had to read more of her story.  Maybe with these lasting ripples, Bechdell's book was better than I initially thought.  Because I think that I will be continuing to think about it for a long while.

Have you read Bechdel's Are You My Mother?  What did you think?  Was your initial response the same as the lasting one?

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Literary Link Love: March 2015

I have had a great month of literary links!  Let's get to it!

Have you seen these amazing quotes from children's books?  They are great quotes and great buttons!

If you are a book lover, these are the worst things that can happen to us.  Sadly, I have experienced a number of them.

I have always adored J.K. Rowling, but this made me adore her even more.

I really, really want to be able to read ALL the books, but alas ... math says I can't.  So bummed!

Curious about which Dr. Seuss character you are?  I'm Cindy Lou Who!

Speaking of Dr. Seuss, let's listen to what he has to say to us adults.

Are you a grammar nerd?  I am and I found these hilarious!

Did you see that James Patterson is at it again?  Him and his work tend to be controversial, but his actions speak loud to me.

In case you missed it, I've been hosting Movie Madness March over at Book Bloggers International.  I even wrote a guest piece on Music in (Literary) Movies!

I also shared some blogging advice in honor of Bloggiesta over at Book Bloggers International as well.  It's been a busy month!

Have you seen these business cards for comic book superheroes and villians?  If not, definitely click on over some fun!

Jon Scieszka chimes in on audiobooks for kids.  I like this guy!

And, the last link is the true struggles of a book lover.  Serious struggles.

Last, but not least, I leave you with a special card that I need to carry with me . . .

What great links did you visit or enjoy this month?  What am I missing?

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Wordless Wednesday: Canyon Falls

Welcome to Wordless Wednesday!

I am bringing another beautiful sight to you this week from Yellowstone National Park -- Canyon Falls.  An absolutely breathtaking view in person!

For more Wordless Wednesday selections, check out the dedicated blog.

What other places have you been that offer breathtaking views?

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga (Audiobook Review)

Allow me to introduce you to Jasper Dent.  His close friends know him as Jazz.  He appears to be one of your typical teenagers.  He is a smart kid attending the local high school, participating in play practice after school before heading home to complete his homework.  He has a best friend and a girlfriend. BUT, he is far different from the rest of the kids at school.  He was raised by an infamous serial killer, witnessing crimes that no one should have to see, especially a child at a young age.  When another potential serial killer arrives in town, Jazz may become a key piece to the puzzle.  The question is . . . Is he the killer or the ally?

I absolutely loved the idea of this book, as morbid as that might sound.  I could not wait to see if Lyga would be able to follow through.  To put it simply . . . He did!!  I grew to love the characters - the good, the bad, and the crazy.  Jazz is quite the character in and of himself, carrying this story until the very end.  He was brilliant and scary and vulnerable and strong.  It is no wonder that I Hunt Killers made my Best of 2014 list!

I cannot close my thoughts on this book without also mentioning the narrator, Charlie Thurston.  Thurston was the perfect fit for Jazz's tale, but also slipped into character so easily with the others in the story.  His interpretation on Jazz's best friend, Howie was my personal favorite.  I found myself sitting in parking lots, taking the long way home, and finding every excuse I could muster to listen to this book.  I can only hope that Thurston continues to narrate this series.

Have you met Jasper Dent and experienced his chaotic, abnormal life?  What did you think about his story?

Monday, March 23, 2015

Monday Maunder: Spring 2015 Bloggiesta!

Welcome to a special edition of my weekly ramblings!

For those that are not aware, this week is Bloggiesta -- an event to aid bloggers in cleaning up and improving their sites.  I am very excited that this time around it is a full week event filled with all sorts of great challenges and opportunities to make your blog even bigger and better.  I've got high hopes for this week, so without further ado, let's take a look at my list of tasks . . .
  1. Back-up Blog
  2. Back-up Template
  3. Update Books Read in 2015 
  4. Update A-Z Review Index 
  5. Update BBI Blog Index 
  6. Update BBI Guest Post Index 
  7. Clean Out TO READ Notebook (currently at 54)
  8. Clean Out FB Saves (currently at 23)
  9. Catch Up on Reviews (currently at 3 -- Songs of Willow Frost, Bossypants, & Wishful Thinking)
  10. Comics Post for BBI 
  11. Schedule Comics Discussion Post 
  12. Schedule Reviews Written (currently 3 written -- Boxers & Saints, American Born Chinese, & Fun Home)
  13. Generate New Discussion Posts 
  14. Catch-up on Blog Reading (Feedly currently at 447)
  15. Write and Post March Literary Link Love
  16. Compile & Schedule BBI Voting Results
Whew!  That's quite the list, but hey, I've got all week to work on it!  Right?!?

For more information on Bloggiesta, check out their dedicated blog.  I am also hosting one of the mini challenges this time around, so make sure you check out Blast From the Past for even more great ideas to pull from.  A giveaway may also be included!

Are you participating in Bloggiesta?  What is on your list of things to accomplish this week?  (Links encouraged!)

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Spring 2015 Bloggiesta Challenge: Blast From the Past

Welcome to the Spring 2015 edition of Bloggiesta!

I am excited to host a challenge for this round of Bloggiesta!  Every time that this event comes around, a number of us always talk about all those amazing challenges that have been offered in past years, but so few of us actually have the time to get to that long list OR we completely forget about it as we get caught up in the current challenges.  For this Bloggiesta, we have two things going for us:  (1) This is our first week-long event (woohoo!) and (2) I am hosting a challenge that will take us back to those past challenges!  So, let's do it!

THE CHALLENGE:  Visit the long list of all those past challenges from previous Bloggiesta events.  Be sure to review all of them and see all the amazing resources that are available to you.  Then, choose one or two that really stand out to you and perform those challenges.

REPORT BACK:  After you have completed the challenges selected above, comment below with what challenges you took and how they went.  If applicable, link up in your comment.

PRIZE WINNERS:  For all those who participate in this challenge, you will be entered to win one of two prize levels!  One winner will receive a $15 Amazon e-gift card.  Five winners will receive a signed Lisa See bookmark (pictured below).  If you are opting into the drawing for the prizes, be sure to include your email address in your comment or ensure that it is easily found on your website linked.

For more information on Bloggiesta, check out the devoted website to the event.

If you have questions, let me know.  Best of luck to you!


Friday, March 20, 2015

Ms. Marvel #1: No Normal by G. Willow Wilson

I am always on the lookout for a new comic series, and with all the hype surrounding Ms. Marvel, I thought I would give it a try.  I am so glad I did!

Kamala Khan seems to be your ordinary teen, but she's not.  Kamala is a Pakistani American teenager of the Muslim faith.  She is frustrated with her differences to the "normal" crowd, inspiring herself to sneak out late one night to attend a party to better fit in.  That one night changes everything, and Kamala finds herself having to navigate typical teenage life on top of unbelievable powers that come with being the new Ms. Marvel.

I am not sure what I was expecting with this one, but it was not what I got.  I found myself laughing out loud and simply having fun with this storyline.  BUT, down under, it really deals with so many more complex issues (the hardships of growing up, being different, cultural classes, and more).  I am really looking forward to reading more from Kamala.  This girl has so much potential and I can't wait to follow her journey to super-dom.

Have you met Kamala Khan yet?  Are you following along?  If so, what about this one keeps you reading?

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

Gone Girl.  This was the first book I read by Gillian Flynn and it was one that left me with very mixed emotions.  (You can see my review here.)  Despite those feelings, I knew I had to read more because in the end I was impressed with her writing and skill to keep me guessing.  So, I decided to read her novel Dark Places next.

In Dark Places, we meet Libby Day, a young woman with a tragic past and difficult present.  When she was only seven, her mother and two sisters were brutally murdered.  Libby was able to escape, but it was her testimony that would convict her brother in the family's deaths.  Now, more than twenty years later, Libby connects with a secret society that is fascinated with her brother's case . . . and they believe that he is innocent.  Libby needs the money, so she cooperates with them, leading her down a very dark path.

Dark Places is not twisted like Flynn's Gone Girl, but it still provides the reader with a complicated story that left me guessing.  There are times that proved to be difficult to read (Flynn did not skimp on the tragedies or the characters), but she cemented my belief in her talent.  She is good with the dark side of human nature, and for some reason, I want more.

Have you had the pleasure (if that's what you want to call it!) of discovering Flynn's work beyond Gone Girl?  How do you think they compare to the blockbuster hit?

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Wordless Wednesday: Belgian Pool

Welcome to Wordless Wednesday!

Check out this beauty, Belgian Pool located in Yellowstone National Park!

For more Wordless Wednesday selections, check out the dedicated blog.

Have you been to Yellowstone Park before?  If so, what was your favorite part?

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The Maze Runner Trilogy by James Dashner

I first read The Maze Runner back in March 2010, not long after it was first released.  I remembered enjoying it, but never returned to the series as the sequels were completed.  Then, I saw the movie was going to be released.  And, a friend asked about the trilogy.  I figured it was time to return to THE MAZE!

The Maze Runner

Since it had been a number of years since reading the book, I thought it would be best if I revisited the story.  I needed to be reminded that Thomas randomly appeared in the maze.  That the maze was an isolated home to dozens of boys, all who appeared just as Thomas did.  The initial view seems peaceful, content, and organized.  However, on further inspection, Thomas discovers that the maze is a nightmare, one the boys cannot escape and becomes downright terrifying at night when the Grievers appear.  Thomas didn't think it could get worse, but it does ... when a girl arrives with a message and everything begins to escalate.

The Maze Runner was still an enjoyable read the second time around.  I discovered that I needed a reminder of Thomas and the maze.  I remembered the basic plot, but some of the details were needed for the rest of the series.  In the end, a good start to the beginning of the trilogy.

The Scorch Trials

The maze is gone, but Thomas and company have to face an all new challenge.  A challenge that may be more difficult than the maze, and leaves characters and readers alike wondering who to trust.

I liked that I learned more about the history of the maze.  I liked the new characters introduced, both the good and the bad.  I did not like that I was left with even more questions than I started with.

The Death Cure

The finale to the trilogy brings a completely different dimension to the world than Thomas is living in.  I enjoyed these new challenges, finally getting a peek into the outside world that keeps being only referred to in the previous novels.  And, Thomas finally gets his own answers and maybe some resolution.

Overall, I was satisfied with the series.  It did get progressively more violent, which took me a bit by surprise (and I'm not sure why).  And, the ending left me with very mixed feelings.  BUT, it was good character development and world-building.

The Maze Runner movie is now out on DVD, and I had the opportunity the other day to watch it.  It did not follow the books as much as I had hoped.  The movie really took advantage of the scariness of the book, but it also took out key aspects that I'm hoping will be addressed in the sequels to come.  My final conclusion:  It was good.  The book was better.

Have you read The Maze Runner trilogy?  Have you seen the movie?  What did you think about the progression of the series and the way it ended?