REVIEW: My Year with Eleanor by Noelle Hancock

REVIEW: My Year with Eleanor by Noelle HancockMy Year with Eleanor by Noelle Hancock
Published by Ecco (2011), eBook, 304pg
Filed under: Adult, Memoir, Non-Fiction
Got my copy from: Scribd
Buy your own copy at Amazon or BookDepository (affiliate links | info) or add it to your Goodreads shelf

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After losing her high-octane job as an entertainment blogger, Noelle Hancock was lost. About to turn twenty-nine, she'd spent her career writing about celebrities' lives and had forgotten how to live her own. Unemployed and full of self-doubt, she had no idea what she wanted out of life. She feared change—in fact, she feared almost everything. Once confident and ambitious, she had become crippled by anxiety, lacking the courage required even to attend a dinner party—until inspiration struck one day in the form of a quote on a chalkboard in a coffee shop:

The only thing I know about Eleanor Roosevelt is this quote:

No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.

which turned out to be fine because I learned a lot about her in My Year with Eleanor! Not that it’s a proper biography, of course, but it’s got enough stuff about her to have convinced me to add a few ER biographies to my to-be-read list.

Did you know she didn’t really become her own person until she was middle aged? She lived in a cabin with two lesbians, and went on tours across the country giving speeches, and went flying in an airplane back when women didn’t “do that,” and oversaw the drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and did a whole bunch of other neat stuff. Lookit!

I really love the idea of taking inspiration for positive life change from a historical hero, even IF it results in the creation of a stunt memoir. I am not a huge fan of stunt memoirs, but this one is better than most because a) I don’t think the author purposefully set out doing her year with the end goal of writing a book1 and b) by completing her year of no fear, the author has for sure changed the course of her life from now on. How many other stunt memoirists can say the same? And then…

REVIEW: Seven for a Secret by Lyndsay Faye

REVIEW: Seven for a Secret by Lyndsay FayeSeven for a Secret (Timothy Wilde Mysteries #2) by Lyndsay Faye
Also in this series: The Gods of Gotham
Published by Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam (2013), Hardcover, 464pg
Filed under: Adult, Crime, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Mystery
Got my copy from: Library
Buy your own copy at Amazon or BookDepository (affiliate links | info) or add it to your Goodreads shelf

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Six months after the formation of the NYPD, its most reluctant and talented officer, Timothy Wilde, thinks himself well versed in his city’s dark practices — until he learns of the gruesome underworld of lies and corruption ruled by the "blackbirders", who snatch free Northerners of color from their homes, masquerade them as slaves, and sell them South to toil as plantation property.

The abolitionist Timothy is horrified by these traders in human flesh. But in 1846, slave catching isn’t just legal — it’s law enforcement.

When the beautiful and terrified Lucy Adams staggers into Timothy’s office to report a robbery and is asked what was stolen, her reply is, "My family". Their search for her mixed-race sister and son will plunge Timothy and his feral brother, Valentine, into a world where police are complicit and politics savage, and corpses appear in the most shocking of places. Timothy finds himself caught between power and principles, desperate to protect his only brother and to unravel the puzzle before all he cares for is lost.

This is the sequel to The Gods of Gotham, which I read back in 2013 and LOVED. SO. MUCH. And yay! Seven for a Secret is just as good, if not better!

Seven for a Secret is one of those books that takes me ages to digest, and I’m note entirely sure if I’ve got it all done with. I definitely feel like I’ll have to reread the whole trilogy again once the third book comes out. There’s so much STUFF in these books, besides all the interesting (and depressing) historical details, so much narrative/character stuff to pick apart that’d definitely take more than one reading to do. And then…

REVIEW: Primates by Jim Ottaviani and Maris Wicks

REVIEW: Primates by Jim Ottaviani and Maris WicksPrimates by Jim Ottaviani and Maris Wicks (Illustrator)
Published by First Second Books (2013), Hardcover, 133pg
Filed under: Biography, Children's, Graphic Novel, History, Middle Grade, Non-Fiction
Got my copy from: Freebie
Buy your own copy at Amazon or BookDepository (affiliate links | info) or add it to your Goodreads shelf

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Jim Ottaviani returns with an action-packed account of the three greatest primatologists of the last century: Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Biruté Galdikas. These three ground-breaking researchers were all students of the great Louis Leakey, and each made profound contributions to primatology—and to our own understanding of ourselves. Tackling Goodall, Fossey, and Galdikas in turn, and covering the highlights of their respective careers, Primates is an accessible, entertaining, and informative look at the field of primatology and at the lives of three of the most remarkable women scientists of the twentieth century. Thanks to the charming and inviting illustrations by Maris Wicks, this is a nonfiction graphic novel with broad appeal.

I don’t know much about primates. Monkeys, apes, whatever: besides what little I know from watching a few specials on the Animal Planet channel I caught years ago, they’re basically a mystery. I know even less about the three women who researched primates SO HARD they’re still creating shockwaves.

Primates is an adorable and informative biography of Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Biruté Galdikas, with a mini-bio of Louis Leakey thrown in for kicks. It’s adorable because of the art style, which makes everyone looks slightly chubby and round. It’s friendly! Everybody looks friendly, even when they’re poaching animals.1 The colors are bright and clear and the whole look of it makes me smile. And then…

REVIEW: Saga Vol. 1 by Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples

REVIEW: Saga Vol. 1 by Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona StaplesSaga, Volume 1 (Saga #1-6) by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples (Illustrator)
Published by Image Comics (2012), eBook, 160pg
Filed under: Action, Adult, Adventure, Fantasy, Fiction, Graphic Novel, Romance, Sci-fi
Got my copy from: Bought
Buy your own copy at Amazon or BookDepository (affiliate links | info) or add it to your Goodreads shelf

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When two soldiers from opposite sides of a never-ending galactic war fall in love, they risk everything to bring a fragile new life into a dangerous old universe.

From New York Times bestselling writer Brian K. Vaughan (Y: The Last Man, Ex Machina) and critically acclaimed artist Fiona Staples (Mystery Society, North 40), Saga is the sweeping tale of one young family fighting to find their place in the worlds. Fantasy and science fiction are wed like never before in this sexy, subversive drama for adults.

This is another one of those series that everybody’s been telling me to read because of how amazing it is. And it is pretty darned amazing!

The first thing that struck me about Saga was the art. omg, so pretty. It’s bright and shiny, but not in an overly cartoon-y way. It’s stylish!

I love the way the characters look like futuristic mixes of scifi and fantasy, too. Which, considering they live in a universe where science and magic are at war with each other, totally makes sense. There is a robot prince with a head like a TV screen!! So cool! And then…

REVIEW: Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

REVIEW: Steve Jobs by Walter IsaacsonSteve Jobs by Walter Isaacson
Published by Simon & Schuster (2011), eBook, 630pg
Filed under: Adult, Biography, Non-Fiction
Got my copy from: Scribd
Buy your own copy at Amazon or BookDepository (affiliate links | info) or add it to your Goodreads shelf

four-starsfour-starsfour-starsfour-stars

From best-selling author Walter Isaacson comes the landmark biography of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs.

In Steve Jobs: The Exclusive Biography, Isaacson provides an extraordinary account of Jobs' professional and personal life. Drawn from three years of exclusive and unprecedented interviews Isaacson has conducted with Jobs as well as extensive interviews with Jobs' family members and key colleagues from Apple and its competitors, Steve Jobs: The Exclusive Biography is the definitive portrait of the greatest innovator of his generation.

I have a love-hate relationship with Apple in that I love their products when they work, but hate them when they don’t. More importantly, though, I’m super interested in the history of technology, especially computers! I’ve been wanting to read this Steve Jobs biography for a while now but got discouraged because the hardback is frickin’ heavy; luckily there’s an ebook version on Scribd, so I read it on my iPhone instead.

Steve Jobs was a total dingleberry. I would NOT have wanted to work for him. Not only did he refuse to wear deodorant or shoes for about 20 years, he yelled, belittled and was generally a huge pain in the rear towards everyone he met. He also didn’t like blinking and ate way too much fruit.

He ALSO lead the way to designing some really great devices and changing the way we interact with technology on a massive scale, so I guess it worked out. And then…

Why do you write reviews?

The thing about reviews is that I don’t think people read them unless

a) they’re your really good friend and are thus interested in everything you blog about
b) they’re already interested in the book you’re reviewing and want to know more about it or
b2) they’ve read the book already and want to see how your thoughts match up with theirs
c) you’re the NY Times or some really big review blog with a whole heap of pull (Dear Author, for example)

I basically only write reviews for my personal satisfaction, with a side bonus of getting some discussion (see b above). They’re the least popular posts on my blog (not counting the hits I KNOW are people Googling for help with their school projects) and yet they’re the ones I spend the most time on. So why do I keep writing them?

Writing reviews helps me keep track of my thoughts about a book! I have a pretty good memory for books anyway, but I don’t always remember WHY I liked (or disliked) a book. Because I write reviews for most of the books I read, I’m able to refer to them later on and refresh my memory. I also think reviews are great for spreading the word about an awesome but underrated book, especially backlist titles that need a bigger fan base.

I think also it’s a good idea for me to think more critically about the media I consume. It stretches my thinking muscles, and it makes the enjoyment (or non-enjoyment) of something more visceral and enjoyable as a whole.

Why do you write reviews?

Currently reading: some comics I’m in the middle of!

Reading single issues on Marvel Unlimited is fun, but confusing. I’m more used to reading collected trade paperbacks and/or graphic novels, where all the issues are in one bound book and I know where to stop. Nowadays, with MU, I’m reading for as long as I can stand staying on one series and then I switch to another.

This means that I’m reading a lot of comics, but I’m stuck in the middle of a lot of TPB. Here’s some of what I’m currently into:
wolverine old man logan
Wolverine: Old Man Logan by Mark Millar and Steve McNiven. This is a sub-story or alternate arc or SOMETHING (idk the correct term) in the larger Wolverine series. I like sub-stories because it makes it easy to drop into a long-running series without having to start all the way from the beginning. Old Man Logan is particularly good because it doesn’t have a lot of crossover elements from the larger Marvel universe– like, it’s tied into the whole universe, duh, but you don’t have to know everything that ever happened and every character that ever existed in the MU to enjoy reading about Wolverine and Hawkeye being old and kicking post-apocalyptic butt.
gambit once a thief
Gambit, Vol. 1: Once A Thief… by James Asmus, Clay Mann and Diogenes Neves. (one of) Gambit’s solo series! This is fun and silly and everyone wears fashionable-but-impracticable clothing to run around in the jungle.

I like Gambit! I’m fond of thieves and con artists, especially when they thieve and con stylishly. Bonus points for NOT having him talk in that horrible dialect like he does in some other series.

runaways vol 5
Runaways, Vol. 5: Escape to New York by Brian K. Vaughan, Adrian Alphona and Takeshi Miyazawa. I’m not as enamored with the second Runaways season as I was with the first. I think maybe the dialogue is getting worse. I may end up DNF’ing it, except that now the kids are in New York fighting with Spider-man and Captain America and it’s still kind of awesome despite the badness?

I also just read the first issue of Marvels, which was AMAZING. It’s a retelling of major events in the Marvel Universe through the POV of a non-superhero. And– surprise!– nobody’s just like “omg they’re amazing yay!” Plus, the art is fantastic.

What’re you reading this week?