August Book Choices

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1.The Alice Network by Kate Quinn

In an enthralling new historical novel from national bestselling author Kate Quinn, two women—a female spy recruited to the real-life Alice Network in France during World War I and an unconventional American socialite searching for her cousin in 1947—are brought together in a mesmerizing story of courage and redemption.

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2. Option B by Sheryl Sandberg
After the sudden death of her husband, Sheryl Sandberg felt certain that she and her children would never feel pure joy again. “I was in ‘the void,’” she writes, “a vast emptiness that fills your heart and lungs and restricts your ability to think or even breathe.” Her friend Adam Grant, a psychologist at Wharton, told her there are concrete steps people can take to recover and rebound from life-shattering experiences. We are not born with a fixed amount of resilience. It is a muscle that everyone can build.

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3. Frederica by Georgette Heyer

When Frederica brings her younger siblings to London determined to secure a brilliant marriage for her beautiful sister, she seeks out their distant cousin the Marquis of Alverstoke. Lovely, competent, and refreshingly straightforward, Frederica makes such a strong impression that to his own amazement, the Marquis agrees to help launch them all into society.

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4. Spider-Gwen by Jason Latour

IN ONE UNIVERSE, it wasn’t Peter Parker who was bitten by the radioactive spider, but Gwen Stacy! She’s smart, charming and can lift a car … just don’t tell her father, the police chief. Now, in the wake of Spider-Verse, Gwen swings into her own solo adventures! And she soon finds herself between a rock and a hard place when the Vulture attacks, and NYPD Lieutenant Frank Castle sets his sights on bringing her down. Then, still haunted by Peter’s death, Gwen visits his only family: Ben and May Parker. But what really happened the day Peter died? Find out right here as the spectacular Spider-Gwen steals not only the spotlight, but also the hearts of comic fans worldwide!

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5. Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil Degrasse Tyson

What is the nature of space and time? How do we fit within the universe? How does the universe fit within us? There’s no better guide through these mind-expanding questions than acclaimed astrophysicist and best-selling author Neil deGrasse Tyson.

But today, few of us have time to contemplate the cosmos. So Tyson brings the universe down to Earth succinctly and clearly, with sparkling wit, in tasty chapters consumable anytime and anywhere in your busy day.

While you wait for your morning coffee to brew, for the bus, the train, or a plane to arrive, Astrophysics for People in a Hurry will reveal just what you need to be fluent and ready for the next cosmic headlines: from the Big Bang to black holes, from quarks to quantum mechanics, and from the search for planets to the search for life in the universe.

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June and July Book Review

I should confess now, I couldn’t get through Hild. I tried, boy did I try. But at one point, when you’ve fallen asleep for a second time while reading a book, that you need to cut your losses. Considering I never fall asleep while reading, this was a quick cut, though an unfortunate one.

Hild was many things, boring one, but also so long. So long with so many names of people and places I couldn’t place, couldn’t remember, and wasn’t sure what their importance was. So I gave up, and read others things.

Now to July: Things No One Will Tell Fat Girls.

I wasn’t expecting it to be about Body Positivity or how many, and few, chords it would strike in me. There were definitely a lot of lessons I learned from it, or became aware of. There were ways I started to see myself differently and the concept of fat.

It’s easy, I realized, to call yourself fat when you’re not and dig yourself into a deep pit of self-suffering. Reading this book made me realize that I wasn’t fat, not the way she describes it and how she lives it. It was kind of startling, that kind of realization, and I felt bad how often I’d kicked myself down.

It also brought great value to me in understanding that really breaking free of social expectations of what beauty should look like is trying not to be beautiful. Which is really hard for me, when I’ve been called pretty my entire life, but wanted to be more – more gorgeous and not pretty, or more sexy and not pretty. Pretty feels and continues to feel like it’s for small girls, but that lead to a lot of the lack of self-confidence I have, waiting for others to give me that stamp of approval.

So now I’m going to try to be different, in at least not waiting for someone else to tell me what or who I am. It’s a small step, reminding myself constantly in places that I feel like I want it like an itch under my skin. But, I don’t expect an overnight change, just one that I can look at a picture and think I look great on my own terms.

End of my rambling, I hope you read this book and give it a shot. You learn a lot about yourself as you read it, a lot of wrestling with yourself and your preconceived thoughts on value and beauty. It was a heavy and hard book to read, but never boring.

– Sugar Out

Book Review: Etiquette & Espionage

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A little bit late but I’ve had a crazy month of weddings, travels and general business.

This one I didn’t actually “read” as I listened to it during long flights, meal prepping and bus rides. I should state now that I loved it, Gail Carriger has the kind of humour I get and enjoy.

I loved the sarcasm and wittiness of Sophronia, I liked how, though she is 14 at the beginning of the book, she isn’t overly childish or immature. She feels like a teenager, for sure, but it’s not over-exaggerated.

I enjoyed all the characters, especially the large female cast and some recurring characters. I liked how somethings weren’t black and white and some relationships weren’t easy. I enjoyed how these characters were flawed but it was okay, no one was judging them harshly for not being perfect in every way. Dimote with her lace and jewels, Sidhe with her boyishness and Agatha with her silence. I also liked the male characters, Pillover and Soap, and I’m excited to see where the romance goes.

Gail doesn’t seem the type to pick generic romantic pairings, so it will be exciting to see how to ends and why we don’t meet Sophronia in the Soulless series.

Overall I definitely recommend it, there’s something very enjoyable in reading such a feminine book, especially one teaching girls how to use that femininity to their advantage.

– Sugar Out

Comic Review: Gwenpool

Another one! I had a very busy June so I enjoyed having these comic books to have a quick break.

Although Batgirl was a great surprise from DC and I thoroughly enjoyed it, Gwenpool fell on the other side of the spectrum.

This was another two volume attempt, where I hoped maybe getting over the hump of a first book would get the plot moving along and endear me to the overall story.

It didn’t.

I don’t know what I didn’t like overall about Gwenpool, maybe how she was supposed to be an “outside” person who was a fan of the comics suddenly sucked into this world with no abilities or skills. How she decided to take on this brand new world by becoming a vigilante, again with said lack of capabilities. Maybe it was her personality which was meant to mimic Deadpools recklessness but just seemed dumb with her.

Like – why was she in that world? Why did she have this specific slightly suicidal personality? Why did she not want to go back home? Why was she not using her knowledge of the universe to, I don’t know, do something – like get back home? How is it that she can afford these guns and outfits from the beginning with no money? Why is it when she meets Dr Strange she’s like – nah, not gonna go back home?? Also why is she not freaking the fuck out about how messed up that world is?

Then she tries to use the whole comic book “world”, as if it has set rules when usually the one who sets the rules are the writers and the writers can change chapter to chapter – As she should know for someone who is *such* a fan.

It was contrived, obviously meant to play on the fame of the Deadpool movie and get some of the attention from that franchise.

The plot was basically cameo-ing, either using big name superheros to bring some attention to this lackluster comic, but had no overarching story to it. Gwenpool is not personable or half as interesting as the person she’s meant to be copying. Her whole schtick about playing with the comic book as a genre is boring, we get it – types of writing have certain themes and tropes commonly used by male writers. Good job on pointing the obvious by not actually trying to change them or criticize their use.

Also it’s basically one useless, slightly damsel-y girl surrounded by competent men, so….. whatever.

(I was also super disappointed it wasn’t a resurrected Gwen Stacey from another Spiderman comic who, because of her death, was slightly loopy and became a vigilante.)

(I mean, maybe that’s just another version of SpiderGwen but that would have been awesome okay?)

Overall the comic was just not enjoyable, men should just not write women without having a woman co-writer. That’s my key takeaway.

Also what the hell Marvel? You have Ms Marvel and Thor but you can’t bother to do Gwenpool properly? You have the money to hire better writers or at least decent ones.

Last bit before I’m out – why doesn’t she have pants? Like… she obviously should have pants… she’s in New York… it’s not exactly warm there all year.

– Sugar Out

Comic Review: Batgirl

As I trudge through Hild, I took a break to read another comic series from DC in June. Although Catwoman was definitely a mess and a huge disappointment, Batgirl was a pleasant surprise.

I read two volumes and I have to say it was enjoyable. The character development was on point, the plot didn’t waver and didn’t add any unnecessary plot points or devices.

I enjoyed having a story filled with a majority of fleshed out and personable women, I also liked how Barbara didn’t turn into some kind of hipster pixie like some of the shows geared towards women have become. I liked her friendships and how she depended on others to be successful, this wasn’t some lone-ranger Batman copy, which was great. Batman can be super tedious, especially now when everyone is mimicking the whole “Dark Knight” thing.

Although the second volume did have some mistakes here and there, I did enjoy it as a follow up. The discussion of Barbara after the Joker’s attack, discussing her state of mind and also about physical disabilities, was insightful and I wish they had spent some more time speaking to these issues and how she dealt with them. That’s my criticism of the second volume, there is material there that could have gone on to the following volumes.

This could be the case though but, from where it left off, it doesn’t seem to be a conversation they would be continuing. I would love to be surprised though.

Overall, I would recommend it, it was a quick and good read and, along with Ms Marvel, is a definite buy.

– Sugar Out

Comic Review: Catwoman

I should have known just from the cover, a woman in a sultry prose and the bra hanging off a building for no discernible reason? Definitely not for me.

Ah but I thought I’d give it a shot, and ignore the sexist art.

Let’s start with the art though:

I could potentially get over the provocative poses, the constant shots of her face that always had to include either her crotch or her boobs. Maybe I could have ignored the anatomically incorrect poses that made her either break her legs or her back to keep it.

I could have also, possibly, ignored how she was constantly putting on her underwear or how her catsuits zippers would be so uncomfortable against her boobs.

The fact that all the women look the same…all the “attractive” women look the same, and all those who aren’t are kind of drawn…i want to say grotesquely but that’s not the word. Just men with boobs? It was bad, like Michelangelo who just added oranges on the chest of men to make them women, kind of bad. It all just seems like… it was done half-assed, lazy.

And I couldn’t ignore all of these issues, it was done in such poor taste I didn’t want to. The whole thing seemed a kind of soft core porn comic with a ‘story’ to give the men a reason to draw her like this.

Storyline:

I don’t know, it’s focused on keeping Catwoman as a cameo character, just hanging around and jumping in other people’s stories without actually having her own main villain or big problem to solve. Everyone she meets she HAS to seduce, and here I thought she was smart and cunning, a real “cat burglar”. When I think of cat burglars, and let’s say men, I don’t think of them constantly in a thong seducing their competition and their victims.
Also they rely on fridging another female character for no actual purpose, it’s for one plot device and then… not really useful?

Character:

Ah Catwoman, they did a disservice to you. You have no personality, or the one you have is so schizophrenic… you’re like 5 different women in one body. You’re cunning and smart in one part, serious about how your relationships with women and how men treat women. Then you’re self-centered and indulgent, recklessly spending money as if you have no sense of self-preservation. Also you’re apparently suicidal? Which came as a surprise to be honest, must be a whole “save me batman” ploy to explain some kind of relationship with him….
What the hell is that relationship with batman anyway? It got really rapey at one part and I had to stop reading. I don’t understand this whole, strong women like men who beat them up and then have sex with them -trope. It’s uncomfortable. There’s a difference between play-wrestling and full on kicking each other and punching each other in the face.
Also she never bruises, ever. Always flawless… she bleeds but its so beautiful and she cries, also so aesthetically pleasing, but never turns black and blue ever. Gets thrown into a wall and, when she’s naked in the next panel, she is untouched.
Another thought is, how is it that Batman knows who Catwoman is but Catwoman has no idea who the man she’s sleeping with is? She is not that dumb…

Anyway, not sure if I should pick up another DC comic about women… might give WonderWoman a shot but seriously… I like Catwoman, I remember her from the cartoons and the Tim Burton movie. It seems such a shame they wasted such an interesting person to create something boys to jack off to.

– Sugar Out

Comic Review: Ms Marvel

Next on the list! Ms Marvel volumes 2-6.

I love this series, its amazing the contrast of reading this after Snotgirl. There is so much depth of character and growth in these volumes. Kamala changes and develops in each as a superhero, figuring out how to balance her personal and superhero life, and asking for help.

It is really great how community focused this series is, how it shows that everyone is interconnected. That superheroes don’t live in this bubble all by themselves. The cameos to others, like Iron Man to Miles Morales’ Spiderman, is awesome.

I am also really surprised how they went for the whole “preventative” justice and Tyesha was able to speak about her own experience. I appreciate how everyone has a voice in these volumes, these “background” characters aren’t just there to fill up the blank space or to die to move the plot along. (which they don’t) They add so much value and insight. Even Nikia, who has been ignored by Kamala since she became Ms Marvel, shows up and keeps pointing that out. It is a very self-aware story that knows the impact of its messaging.

The flashback to the independence of India and the creation of Pakistan I found, in my personal opinion, well done. I liked how Kamala went back to Pakistan and felt that same experience I have had, of not being “enough”. You speak with an accent, your family thinks you can’t handle their food so they bland it out, everything makes you feel other even though this is where you technically belong.

I also loved how she wasn’t coming in saving Pakistan from itself, there was a superhero there, who knew what they were doing and didn’t need this “western” savior.

Oh man, it was so great.

Definitely recommend and am so happy I got back into this series.

-Sugar out