book reviews, crafts, cheap things…

Archive for March, 2014

Book Review: Red, White, Black & Blue by Keith Knight

Red, white, black & blue : a (th)ink anthology : cartoons

Blast from the past!

If you’re not familiar with Keith Knight, his work is totally awesome. I have a few of this books which I totes love, and I recently picked this one up at the library since I hadn’t read it before.

Published in 2004, it’s basically political comics from the thick of the Bush era. They’re spot-on to how things were at the time.

My first thought was Whew! Thank goodness we’re under a new regime, shit was so fucked up then! And then I realized that we’re basically still at war, we’re still crowded by racism that’s institutional AND and home-born, government surveillance has been proven (hiya NSA), and everything is now so connected that there’s a pretty serious chilling effect over activism and free speech. People’s passion is gone. Remember when everyone was going to rallies all the time, and it wasn’t considered in bad taste to critique the gov? But basically, other than the demise of MJ and the mass-forgetting of a few public figures’ names, the book’s still hella relevant. Buy his other books (this one’s sold out) or check this one out!


Book Review: Yokohama Threeway and Other Small Shames by Beth Lisick

Yokohama threeway : and other small shames

Yokohama Threeway is great because it’s funny. But it’s also low-commitment. Of the fifty-ish vignettes, few of them are longer than a couple pages.

The premise is embarrassing moments, like that one thing you did 6 years ago and are still cringing over. But 50-ish of them. And all of them make you think thank goodness it wasn’t me. Phew! They’re basically little 3-minute bursts of Maybe I’m not too fucked up after all (even if it’s a lie to yourself).

Read it! buy a copy from City Lights/Sister Spit or get it from the library!

 


Book Review: Teen Spirit by Francesca Lia Block

Teen spirit

234 pages went by in a flash; if you’ve liked FLB’s other books, you’ll enjoy this one. Like many of Block’s books, this one includes some good magical realism and has elements of a love letter to LA, companionship between weirdos, inspiring sartorial descriptions,  and a female protagonist as an explorer.

Plot-wise, Julie lives a sweet life with her awesome mom and grandma, but then grandma dies so she and mom move to an apartment in a new part of LA. Amidst the change and mourning, mom goes weird and gets a strange boyfriend, and Julie makes a friend at school and tries to bring her grandma back with a Ouija board that she finds in the bedroom closet of her new apartment. But it’s not her grandma who comes back. What happens next is surprising and interesting.

I could have gone for a little more length and depth (maybe a little more magic and more details about Julie’s job), but in all, Teen Spirit was quite good.

find a copy here


Book Review: It’s Alright. A Truckface Anthology. Vol 1. By LB Briggs

Photo on 3-25-14 at 8.22 PM #2

This anthology was the most enjoyable 360 pages that I’ve read in a long while. At some other point I’ve reviewed Truckface zines on this blog (you can use the little search box up top to find them); I totally dug them then, and my “digging” continues. The anthology includes Truckfaces #7 – #11, and it will make you really happy if you like TMI perzines that are all about, you know, life and growing up and stuff (through a pretty much anarcha-queer, feminst, gender fucking lens).

The content follows LB from working shitty retail and food jobs, all the way up to working in a high school. I could totally relate, as I’ve worked lots of shitty retail and food jobs– and I’ve recently moved up to jobs in high schools and public libraries. It was written in real-time, so there’s all kinds of good messiness. But it’s also really well-written, and you won’t be like “Whaaa, where’d the rest of that sentence go.” Some of the sentences are like, whoa.

A++. Buy a copy from Mend My Dress Press. It’s $19 and totally worth it. But if you can’t handle the $19, you can also get #16 for $3 from Antiquated Future, and probably some of the other ones from other places.


Book Review: Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh

Hyperbole and a Half.

I learned after the fact that this book is based on a fuckin’ awesome blog. I am so excited to add it to my blog reader! All the Hilarious +(sometimes) Deeeep memoir stuff is right up my alley. The dog drawings are A+.

Get a copy here; read the blog and buy the stuff here!


Book Review: The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri

The lowland : a novel

A popular choice! The book review world and the internet world were generally pretty excited about this one.

I wasn’t as obsessed with it as I was with some of Lahiri’s other writing, but it was still a pretty sweet book. The beginning was pretty slow for me, but as I got used to unfamiliar names and places and dug further into her characters’ lives, I kept reading (fairly raptly). There are tons of details in this book that don’t all necessarily peak– the text is more about the story than the solution (this would have been obnoxious for me at other parts of my life, but right now I’m ok with the mellowness). But with that said, Lahiri tries to bring some solution into maybe the last 15 or 20% of the book, and it felt a little unnecessary.

But still, it’s a pretty epic book that takes place across oceans and generations. Check it out.


Book Review: Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

Attachments

So I read Eleanor and Park  by Rowell a bit back, and liked it pretty well. After a long wait on the reserves list at my library, Attachments finally came in. I liked it even better.

The pace is really good and the wit is super clever. The premise is very modern: Lincoln and Beth work in the same office, but never see each other, as Lincoln’s job is as a graveyard shift “internet security officer” (a.k.a. a person employed to read staff emails). But they find a way to fall for each other anyway…

Generally speaking, it’s a love story. But it’s also about coming of age (even if it’s happening a little late). I’m not sure what to write without giving away too much, but it’s really enjoyable, so taking the time to read it won’t ruin your life or anything.

Find a copy here


Book Review: Wish by Alexandra Bullen

Wish : a novel

The cover of this book is so fairytale blah, but don’t let that deter you!

After her popular and outgoing twin’s death, shy and awkward Olivia and her parents have moved to an old Victorian in San Francisco to start fresh. Alas, the tragedy brings out the worst in each of her parents, their family structure continues to crumble, and Olivia feels terribly sad and alone.

BUT a bit of magic enters her life in a surprising way, and suddenly Olivia has some of the support she needs to start moving on. In addition to the magic, there’s a good deal of real-life stuff that is fairly interesting– and readers who know San Francisco will be amused by identifying different subtle landmarks (and piecing together the sometimes “creative” merging of them). The story is reminiscent of something that Francesca Lia Block might write, but the language is completely different.

In my opinion the mention of clothing brand names weaken the story a bit, as does the too-tidy ending. But all in all, it was a solid amusement that had me looking up the author as soon as I finished.