Friday, March 23, 2018

BOOK REVIEW: Herding Cats, Sarah Andersen


If you've read one of Andersen's previous collections, you know what you're getting with this one. The "scribbles" subtitle is accurate, as
each comic is only a page. The first two books were also delightful, and this one follows through on that as well. Because of the length of the pieces, there's no earth-shattering material. Instead, they're short strips that capture the reality of being an adult today.

That can be good and useful in and of itself. It's nice to know I'm not alone in struggling with adult tasks or self-worth. None of us really knows what we're doing, but hey, a lot of us take comfort in books and pets and friends and comics like these.

That's not to say there isn't depth. The comics tackle issues like anxiety, introversion, time management, sexism, politics/the social landscape, and global warming. There are lighter topics, too, like how summer is hot, being a bookworm, bonding with fictional characters, and the little joys of life, like scissors sliding across wrapping paper.

Where this collection veers away from the path of the first two is the discussion that closes out the book. In the last few pages, Andersen intersperses the comics with prose in order to advocate for creativity. She discussing the realities of being a creative person on the internet, where everyone has access to your work but not everyone has good intentions, and she calls for creative types to, simply, keep making stuff, a message that's always nice to hear.

In my opinion, collections like these are best in small doses. pick it up, read a comic or two, have a chuckle or appreciate how relatable or cute it is, and repeat the next day.

Thanks to NetGalley, Andrew McMeels Publishing, and Sarah Andersen for the e-arc in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, March 16, 2018

BOOK REVIEW: What She Doesn't Know, Andrew E. Kaufman

While reading this, I was hovering around three stars. I didn't love it, but it certainly kept me reading. However, the more I read, the more frustrated I got.

I had issues with the writing style. I actually love present tense, which not many people do, so that wasn't what tripped me up. It just didn't feel as polished as it should have been. There's a lot of info-dumping. The dialogue is unrealistic at times. Every time Riley yells, it's in all-caps. There's no real setting of scenes, just sentences like: "It's been a few days since Riley left her sister that apology message and still no response." But every chapter (and each scene is a new chapter) opens similarly. A lot of the moments that should be emotional don't land, such as: "She applies the makeup, but even that can't fix the damage caused by a life wasted, a life destroyed. Then a tear--the kind that expresses what words never could--rolls down her cheek."

Sunday, March 4, 2018

BOOK REVIEW: Soul of the World, David Mealing

I'm writing this review because I loved this book and great books deserved to be talked about! It's no secret I love epic fantasy. I enjoy a ton of genres, but there's no shaking epic fantasy from the #1 spot. However, it's a very frustrating genre because it's been so focused on straight white male protagonists. To me, and to many other readers, that's tired and boring by now. I don't need the genre to be reinvented. I just need it to be more inclusive, and I'm very happy with this one.

I picked up Soul of the World on a whim. I knew I wanted a big, thick fantasy, but honestly, I often shy away from male authors. That's the majority of the genre, though, so I grabbed this one in B&N one day and decided to buy it because I was excited by the prospect of two of the three main characters being women (and the other being a man of color, but I didn't realize that just from reading the back cover).

Basically, the story takes place in a new world across an ocean from the old, so very much inspired by Europeans coming to North America. In this new world, there are indigenous tribes, colonies of Sarresant and Gand, and a wall that divides the two. The plot isn't easy to distill into a sentence or two because there's just so much going on. There's very cool magic and revolution and a shifting of gender roles and giant animals and gods with mysterious motivations.