Archive: June 2019

Book Review: Minus by Lisa Naffziger (2019)

Tuesday, June 25th, 2019

One of the worst comic books I’ve ever read.

one out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free e-ARC for review through Edelweiss. Trigger warning for child abuse and trauma. This review contains spoilers. )

The plot for Minus struck me as interesting enough: Beck and her paranoid, home-schooling dad are on a road trip to the University of Chicago, where Beck has just been accepted. She runs into a convenience store at a rest stop to use the bathroom and, when she comes out, the place is ransacked; the clerk, shot dead; and her father Gil, vanished (along with the car and her cell phone). Now, alone in the middle of nowhere, this kinda-sorta naive young woman has to figure out just WTF to do.

Sadly, this is just a giant train wreck of a story:

* The rest of the plot? Totally predictable. You know that Gil abducted Beck pretty much from the get-go. It’s like a badly written episode of Law & Order: SVU. There is no mystery in this mystery. In fact, it’s really damn boring.

* Despite finding out that Gil kidnapped her from a loving home, Beck stubbornly sticks by his side. While this may very well be an accurate portrayal of the trauma abducted children experience, Naffziger’s treatment of it is hideous, and reads like a celebration of Stockholm Syndrome. The adults around Beck kind of protest lightly (by which I mean in a panel or two), but nowhere do we see her getting counseling or, I don’t know, being exposed to a counter-narrative from her (still totally alive, sane, and free) bio mom, Nadia. In fact, the final scenes show Beck visiting Captor Dad in prison, proclaiming “You’re more of a dad than my biological father will ever be.”

Well yeah (maybe probably not), but that’s because Gil didn’t give him the chance to be a dad, don’t you think?

* And let’s talk about Bio Dad, Howie Waskello, Naperville cop-turned-vigilante. The dude who, according to Naffziger, supposedly occupies a rung somewhere under “child-snatching recluse.” Dude only went on a Roaring Rampage after his daughter vanished, was presumed dead, and then resurfaced on Facebook a decade later. Pre-kidnapping, he seems to be a nice enough dad, doting on his daughter and taking her to the mall for a shopping spree on her birthday. It’s only after the trauma that he snaps. And can you blame him?

Granted, I can see why Beck wouldn’t be too keen on having a relationship with Bio Dad, given the additional trauma he inflicted on her as part of the “rescue” – but c’mon. This really deserves a more nuanced take than “bio dad bad, captor dad good,” don’t you think?

* Add to this Becks’s ethnicity, and this is where things get especially dicey. She’s brown-skinned, as is Nadia. Howie looks a little less so. I read mother and daughter – and possibly father, too (anyone have a read on the surname Waskello?) – as Native American. If so, this book just got a lot grosser, casting a person of color as the Big Bad, even when pitted against the literal white devil who stole his daughter.

Either way, I find it significant that the only other (obvious) character of color – Nadia, whose resemblance to Becks is striking – is relegated to the background, and is only allocated a line or two in passing.

* The characters’ connections to one another are totally improbable. Everyone Becks bumps into is related to by two degrees or less, sometimes quite literally. Is Naperville really that small a town?

* This just feels like nitpicking at this point, but the art was not my jam at all.

The only redeeming point is the Beck reference early on. This sounds like an exaggeration, but I can assure you it is not.

(This review is also available on Amazon, Library Thing, and Goodreads. Please click through and vote it helpful if you’re so inclined!)

tweets for 2019-06-24

Tuesday, June 25th, 2019
  • RT @NickKristof: The Trump administration is spending $775 per migrant child per night to keep them in tent cities after taking them from t… ->
  • RT @mattdpearce: Updated story from South Bend. Today, Pete Buttigieg looked a lot like a lot of other white politicians who have been in h… ->
  • RT @EmilyWTHR: Snapped this picture of a rainbow that just appeared in sky near Brebeuf Jesuit HS as parents were leaving an informational… ->
  • RT @rtraister: I'd just point out that it's only been three days. There is still time to handle it differently and better, to treat it as n… ->
  • RT @davidsirota: Wall Street: Give us $29 trillion to cancel the debts we created from our grotesque greed

    Also Wall Street: Having to giv… ->

  • RT @heidiheilig: Hey folks! Authors for Families is putting together an auction to raise money for RAICES to help immigrants and refugees.… ->
  • I just fell out of my seat, no lie. Might have lost consciousness for a second or two there. @ABRAMSbookshttps://t.co/ARorI3UHBQ ->
  • RT @TexasTribune: 1/ People are buying diapers, wipes, soaps and toys to donate to children in overcrowded migrant detention centers.

    But… ->

  • RT @KFILE: New York Post story on Trump sexual assault allegations removed on orders of Murdoch lieutenant https://t.co/Bzl8ifG6Bn ->
  • RT @LittleLunaLyra: i am Māori

    before white people came, transgender takatāpui people had an important place in society

    now T3RFs march i… ->

  • RT @Amy_Siskind: In other news Trump sanctioned Ayatollah Khomeini today who has been dead since 1989. I think Frederick Douglass told him… ->
  • RT @MichaelBloch15: “National political figures who want to end mass incarceration should follow Warren and Sanders’ lead: support county-l… ->
  • RT @spicy_emma: “could a depressed person do THIS?” she says at 12:15am as she folds her laundry that came out of the dryer six days ago ->
  • RT @reddogsusie: #TN #MEMPHIS
    🆘🆘SENIOR ALERT! Old Yellow 10yo boy hw+ found stray, thin & lame! Desperately needs a kind home & soft bed! P… ->
  • RT @HeerJeet: "Kidnap survivors of Somali pirates & the Taliban trying to shame the USA government" isn't something I would've predicted. h… ->
  • RT @kenklippenstein: RT if you paid off your student debt and are perfectly fine with everyone else’s being canceled ->
  • RT @AOC: DHS ripped 1000s of children from their parents & put them in cages w inhumane conditions.

    They call their cells “dog pounds” & “… ->

  • RT @eccentricmarion: typing an entire rant and deciding not to press tweet https://t.co/bGy8g1gPuH ->
  • RT @IlhanMN: Corporations and the wealthiest Americans have repeatedly gotten tax breaks and bailouts. It’s time for a bailout for the 45 m… ->
  • RT @BernieSanders: If we could bail out Wall Street, we sure as hell can #CancelStudentDebt. ->
  • RT @justicedems: "Now people are in their 30s and older that have taken on insurmountable amounts of debt because we have sold them an empt… ->
  • RT @briebriejoy: If we had cancelled all student debt in 2016, we would have shrunk the racial wealth gap between young white and black hou… ->
  • RT @MylesUdland: Schools named after Robert E. Lee are picking new Lee's to be named after to avoid costly signage changes. https://t.co/v6… ->
  • RT @JaneEBoon: "It’s easier to cling desperately to the belief that Donald Trump is not a rapist than it is to acknowledge how many of our… ->
  • Stand with Rep. @ilhan against student debt via @CREDOMobile #resist https://t.co/12Q1B98HDh ->
  • RT @bradybuzz: About every 16 hours, a woman is shot and killed by a former or current partner.

    Our nation's courts and law enforcement mu… ->

  • RT @ladybookmad: RT+FOLLOW for the chance to win a copy of my new poetry collection, the mermaid’s voice returns in this one, and my new se… ->
  • RT @OriginalFunko: RT & follow @OriginalFunko for a chance to WIN a #SDCC2019 exclusive Mr. Pricklepants Pop! #FunkoSDCC #SDCC50 #ToyStory->
  • RT @Vixen_in_Vegas7: Im giving away this black Iphone 7 128Gb. its my old phone from wayback 2018. it has no issues just a few scratches in… ->
  • A Baby Elephant Collapsed from Exhaustion. These Elephant Rides Must Stop! #care2 https://t.co/DwTOzCYdew ->
  • Click To Give at The Animal Rescue Site https://t.co/ML9GSByVOc via @po_st ->

tweets for 2019-06-23

Monday, June 24th, 2019
  • RT @TeenVogue: "There was an intense amount of pressure from the upper echelon editors — who were primarily white men — to cover the domina… ->
  • RT @pstokesbooks: Heartbreaking thread and a great example of how the system is set up to hurt vulnerable people. In what world can a man w… ->
  • RT @ava: ✊🏾✊🏾✊🏾✊🏾✊🏾
    #BETAwards
    #WhenTheySeeUs
    We see you, brothers. We see you. https://t.co/A7Ty9MFBCS ->
  • RT @kylegriffin1: Nearly 100 internal Trump transition vetting documents leaked to Axios identify a host of "red flags" about officials who… ->
  • RT @honeychild1229: Realized I was taking more pictures of all the Blizzard doggos at #ocpride so I took a few of us humans too! 🌈🐶✌️
    #bl->
  • (More below the fold…)

tweets for 2019-06-22

Sunday, June 23rd, 2019
  • RT @JenAshleyWright: If women were making up rape allegations for fame and fortune, 1. Some of these women would be rich and famous by now,… ->
  • RT @reneefeltz: I am with @democracynow at Fort Sill Army base in Oklahoma where Japanese Americans held in incarceration camps during WWII… ->
  • RT @reneefeltz: “This is a concentration camp” – Satsuki Ina, who was born in the Tule Lake concentration camp, as she is holding a pictur… ->
  • RT @common: "What we saw are dirty children who are malnourished, who are being severely neglected. They are being kept in inhumane conditi… ->
  • RT @Rintitty: He was down on the ground and I didn't want my dogs to eat him. Handsome lad. https://t.co/15xKAJXr6c ->
  • (More below the fold…)

tweets for 2019-06-21

Saturday, June 22nd, 2019

tweets for 2019-06-20

Friday, June 21st, 2019

tweets for 2019-06-19

Thursday, June 20th, 2019
  • RT @joshgerstein: Trump admin tells incredulous appeals court panel that judge erred by insisting that 'safe and sanitary' conditions for d… ->
  • RT @KeithOlbermann: KARMA’S BROTHER BLUE LIVED WITH HER, NOW HE MAY DIE WITH HER TOMORROW. “A big lovable bear” says the person who dumped… ->
  • RT @Lin_Manuel: What was in my pocket to say that night. https://t.co/pBLBOV9e43 ->
  • RT @NathanHRubin: Joe Biden telling Cory Booker to apologize on Juneteenth is rich.
    Chuck Todd deliberately misinterpreting AOC words abo… ->
  • RT @owillis: .@chucktodd when trump called mexicans rapists, when he said black teens should be executed, when he bragged about groping wom… ->
  • (More below the fold…)

tweets for 2019-06-18

Wednesday, June 19th, 2019

Book Review: All of Us with Wings by Michelle Ruiz Keil (2019)

Tuesday, June 18th, 2019

This DNF hurt like h*ck.

two out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free e-ARC for review through Edelweiss. Trigger warning for rape and drug use.)

After the death of her grandmother Loretta, seventeen-year-old Xochi finds herself in San Francisco, alone, on the run, and down to her last few bucks. And then she somewhat serendipitously has a platonic meet-cute with Pallas, a precocious twelve-year-old who also just so happens to be the heir to a rock royalty family. Faster than you can say “content warning,” Xochi is installed in their storybook Victorian mansion as Pal’s governess. In an attempt to cheer Pallas up one evening, the pair accidentally conjure two demons in Pal’s claw-foot bathtub – demons who trace a path of destruction through Xochi’s troubled past.

I really thought I’d love All of Us with Wings. I mean, it’s an #OwnVoices rape revenge story with LGBTQ elements, ferchrissakes! And “Gilman Street,” Ruiz Keil’s contribution to the YA romance anthology Color Outside the Lines, is a thing of punk rock beauty and wonder.

Sadly, Wings lacks the magic and energy of “Gilman Street.” The writing feels choppy and uneven, and the story is veeeerrry slooooow to get started. By the time I DNF’ed at the 59% mark, Xochi’s demon children had only committed one murder, and the only being consciously aware of their presence is Peasblossom the cat. (In theory, I love that Ruiz Keil humanizes the cat by giving him a voice, but here the multiple perspectives really don’t add anything to the story.)

What we do get is a shit ton of Xochi lusting after Pal’s dad Leviticus, who is eleven years her senior (and whose only notable personality trait seems to be that he’s a rock star). Actually, that’s not so much the problem as is Lev’s lusting after Xochi – and then acting on said lust, even though he knows it’s wrong for multiple reasons. There are some gross, rape culture dynamics going on here (adult man/teenage girl; employer/employee; 1%/impoverished high school dropout), which are only exacerbated by the fact that I don’t know whether Ruiz Keil means for us to be rooting for them as a couple.

Like, it’s understandable that Xochi has complicated relationships with older men considering her past experiences, but Lev’s actions are simply inexcusable. In all fairness, it’s possible that the demon spawn will target him later in the story, I just couldn’t bring myself to read that far.

Anyway, it pains me to give this book so few stars, especially since I seem to be in the minority (serious case of fomo over here), but it is what it is.

(This review is also available on Amazon, Library Thing, and Goodreads. Please click through and vote it helpful if you’re so inclined!)

tweets for 2019-06-17

Tuesday, June 18th, 2019

tweets for 2019-06-16

Monday, June 17th, 2019

tweets for 2019-06-15

Sunday, June 16th, 2019

tweets for 2019-06-14

Saturday, June 15th, 2019

tweets for 2019-06-13

Friday, June 14th, 2019
  • RT @shutupmay: @NetflixDogs you shld profile @APurposefulResc !! amazing org who rescue dogs who are older or injured/sick & would get over… ->
  • RT @Lelouch90: This is Kalu. She lost 3 of her legs in an accident, was pregnant but sadly, lost the pups as well. She never gave up & kept… ->
  • RT @MorrisAnimal: Calling all our dog adopters! (And dog people in general.) Share your dog story for a chance to get featured on the next… ->
  • RT @varsha_venkat_: ELIZABETH WARREN JUST CALLED ME ON THE METRO AND I ACCIDENTALLY SAID HOLY SHIT ->
  • RT @seananmcguire: REBEL GIRLS, by @badcoverversion, is set in 1992, at a Catholic high school where a vicious rumor is circulating that a… ->
  • (More below the fold…)

tweets for 2019-06-12

Thursday, June 13th, 2019

tweets for 2019-06-11

Wednesday, June 12th, 2019

Book Review: Pirate Queen: The Legend of Grace O’Malley by Tony Lee & Sam Hart (2019)

Tuesday, June 11th, 2019

A Portrait of an Ambivalent Freedom Fighter

three out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free copy of this book for review through Library Thing’s Early Reviewers program.)

Born to a fierce chieftan in western Ireland named Eoghan “Black Oak” O’Malley, Grace O’Malley went on to become a legend and folk hero in her own right. The Pirate Queen, as she would later be called, grew up in the 1530s and 40s, at a time when England, under King Henry VIII (and later Queen Elizabeth I), began its Tudor conquest of Ireland. She eschewed traditional women’s pursuits – marriage, motherhood, needlework – in favor of swordplay and sailing. Nevertheless, at sixteen she married Donal O’Flaherty and bore him three children, thus uniting the families politically.

It was only after Donal’s murder at the hands of a rival family – an ambush masterminded by the British – that Grace took up arms. Her success, especially at sea, chipped away at Britain’s power. In retribution – and also several failed attempts to assassinate Grace – British forces murdered a number of people close to her: her father; a shipwrecked sailor she took as a lover; her second husband, “Iron Richard” Burke; and her oldest son, Owen. Rather than cow Grace, this only fueled her quest for revenge. Despite years of battle, piracy, espionage, and hostage-taking, Grace likely lived to the ripe old age of 73, dying of natural causes (the exact year and location of her death is a matter of dispute).

Pirate Queen: The Legend of Grace O’Malley is a portrait of a reluctant freedom fighter: a mother who’s desperate to protect her children; a wife and daughter who wants revenge against her family’s tormentors; an Irish noblewoman who wishes nothing but peace for her country. I find it rather curious that the book’s synopsis describes Grace thusly – “Grace spent her life wishing to join the fight to keep Henry VIII’s armies from invading her homeland of Ireland — only to be told again and again that the battlefield is no place for a woman.” – when, in fact, she spends much of the narrative trying to avoid fighting. Certainly, Grace doesn’t want to be conscripted into women’s work, but neither does she revel in the bloodshed that seems to follow her on both land and sea. Or at least Tony Lee’s Grace doesn’t want this: my knowledge on the topic isn’t broad enough to have an opinion either way.

After reading Pirate Queen, I feel slightly more informed than I was going in, but overall the details are a little more bare-bones than I was hoping for. In particular, I would have like a deeper dive on Grace’s motivations; the story seems to say one thing, while the synopsis says another. The art is serviceable, though not really my style.

(This review is also available on Amazon, Library Thing, and Goodreads. Please click through and vote it helpful if you’re so inclined!)

tweets for 2019-06-10

Tuesday, June 11th, 2019

tweets for 2019-06-09

Monday, June 10th, 2019

tweets for 2019-06-08

Sunday, June 9th, 2019