tweets for 2020-04-08

April 9th, 2020 2:00 am by Kelly Garbato

tweets for 2020-04-07

April 8th, 2020 2:00 am by Kelly Garbato

Book Review: Long Story Short: 100 Classic Books in Three Panels by Lisa Brown (2020)

April 7th, 2020 7:00 am by Kelly Garbato

A cheeky idea with mixed results.

three out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free e-ARC for review through Edelweiss.)

Long Story Short: 100 Classic Books in Three Panels is pretty much what it sounds like, with two (admittedly nitpicky) differences: 1) the comics are anywhere from one to six panels; and 2) some of these are not what you (if you are of the snobby literary persuasion) would call “classics.”

Yes, there are the usual suspects: Shakespeare and Poe; Don Quixote and Madame Bovary; To Kill a Mockingbird and Pride and Prejudice. But you’ll also find some more contemporary works (The Hunger Games, The Perks of Being a Wallflower), as well as books not uncommonly derided as “lowbrow” or “pedestrian” (Carrie, Twilight).*

This is a really clever concept that’s rather hit-or-miss in execution. The collection’s success really hinges on its reader’s familiarity with the books being parodied and, c’mon, who – outside of an English lit major – has read so many of these old and stuffy books? (Moby Dick, ugh.) Or, if you haven’t yet read some of these titles but plan to, the spoilers are all but guaranteed to ruin your life.

Still, there are some pretty fun comics here. In no particular order, I loved the Bible, by a bunch of anonymous, long-dead dudes; “The Lottery,” by Shirley Jackson (“Let’s all get together and kill Mrs. Hutchinson.”); The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain (“You can love someone and still be racist.”); Charlotte’s Web by EB White (“WRITERS make the best of friends. And then they DIE.”); and, of course, The Jungle by Upton Sinclair (“DON’T. EAT. MEAT.”). And Carrie = words to live by.

I really think Brown could’ve done better with both The Handmaid’s Tale and Lolita, though. Reducing Atwood’s message to “IT IS HARD TO BE A WOMAN” seems pretty simplistic, even for this project; any distillation that doesn’t contain the word “patriarchy” or “theocracy” is way off the mark. And the Lolita strip just feels icky. Like, it’s a story about a pedophile rapist; no need to romanticize it with phrases like “fire of my loins” and “sin of my soul.” This makes child rape seem, like, complicated and existential when it’s just more of the same misogyny we all know and hate. KISS.

* fwiw, I hope the scare quotes adequately telegraph my disgust. Stephen King is one of my auto-reads!

(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 2020-04-06

April 7th, 2020 2:00 am by Kelly Garbato

tweets for 2020-04-05

April 6th, 2020 2:00 am by Kelly Garbato

tweets for 2020-04-04

April 5th, 2020 2:00 am by Kelly Garbato

tweets for 2020-04-03

April 4th, 2020 2:00 am by Kelly Garbato

tweets for 2020-04-02

April 3rd, 2020 2:00 am by Kelly Garbato

tweets for 2020-04-01

April 2nd, 2020 2:00 am by Kelly Garbato

tweets for 2020-03-31

April 1st, 2020 2:00 am by Kelly Garbato

Book Review: War and Peas: Funny Comics for Dirty Lovers by Jonathan Kunz and Elizabeth Pich (2020)

March 31st, 2020 7:00 am by Kelly Garbato

“That was when I knew I had a problem.”

four out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free e-ARC for review through NetGalley.)

— 3.5 stars —

Like nearly every collection of comics I discover on NetGalley, War and Peas began as a webcomic that I’d never heard of, but will now follow religiously.

A little bit morbid and a whole lot weird, War and Peas features four-panel comics that are loosely related, with a recurring cast of characters. There’s no-nonsense scientist and her sentient robot, who’s not-so-secretly in love with her; a rad feminist dog who keeps finding himself back at the pound, for myriad reasons; a gay couple, both named Bob; a straight couple that meets when the dude bends over to pick up a lucky penny, only to split his pants down the backside; an old timey couple who lost their son, sold into indentured servitude, in an industrial accident and comes back as a ghost; and a slutty witch and her vampire paramour. Most at least merit a grin, while a few actually had me guffawing.

Naturally, I am partial to those strips with dogs, robots, and patriarchy smashing (not mutually exclusive).

(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 2020-03-30

March 31st, 2020 2:00 am by Kelly Garbato

tweets for 2020-03-29

March 30th, 2020 2:00 am by Kelly Garbato
  • RT @mbrockenbrough: Listening to an epidemiologist right now: If you go to the grocery store, wear a mask (he wears gloves and safety goggl… ->
  • RT @DKThomp: It's hard to pick out the most brutal detail from this overview of Bill de Blasio's horrible March, so I'm just going to go wi… ->
  • RT @Lexialex: Great news. NYU can afford to pay their students a refund for this semester they’re missing https://t.co/rFbAGMtWa9 ->
  • RT @goldengateblond: the real-life Avengers 🙌🩺 https://t.co/zZtwxFMrh2 ->
  • RT @Yamiche: President Trump today at the White House said to me: “Be nice. Don't be threatening.”
    I’m not the first human being, woman, b… ->
  • (More below the fold…)

tweets for 2020-03-28

March 29th, 2020 2:00 am by Kelly Garbato

tweets for 2020-03-27

March 28th, 2020 2:00 am by Kelly Garbato

tweets for 2020-03-26

March 27th, 2020 2:00 am by Kelly Garbato

Book Review: Put Your Feelings Here: A Creative DBT Journal for Teens with Intense Emotions by Lisa M. Schab (2020)

March 26th, 2020 7:00 am by Kelly Garbato

Not just for teens!

five out of five stars

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

Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is a form of psychotherapy that “combines standard cognitive-behavioral techniques for emotion regulation and reality-testing with concepts of distress tolerance, acceptance, and mindful awareness largely derived from contemplative meditative practice.” While it originated with efforts to treat borderline personality disorder, evidence suggests “that DBT can be useful in treating mood disorders, suicidal ideation, and for change in behavioral patterns such as self-harm, and substance abuse.”

In Put Your Feelings Here, social worker Lisa M. Schab distills DBT concepts into a guided journal. The exercises help users identify unhelpful or distressing thoughts and emotions, work through them, changing what they can – and accepting what they cannot. The result feels a lot like a fusion of CBT and mindfulness, and not in a bad way.

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I’m not a therapist, or a teen with intense emotions, so I can’t really say how well Put Your Feelings Here works as DIY DBT. However, it is a pretty thoughtful and stimulating journal, with exercises like “What beliefs about nature/religion/spirituality/the purpose of life/a higher power give you comfort?” and “Intense emotions can hurt. You don’t need more pain. List 10 things you could do to be kind to yourself instead of hurting yourself more.”

Though it’s directed at teens (and obviously so, what with prompts like ‘turn your OMG into LOL’ and instructions to design your emotions like an app) my 41-year-old self found many of the prompts stimulating.

The journal features a moderate amount of artwork, which is is cute, complements the exercises nicely, and definitely gets the creative juices flowing. Most of the prompts have ample room to record your responses, though a handful of the pages could benefit from more white space.

Also, this might seem like a minor thing, but as a lifetime journaler: I loooove the lay-flat binding, which makes it so much easier to actually write in journals, as intended. It’s the small details, okay.

(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 2020-03-25

March 26th, 2020 2:00 am by Kelly Garbato

tweets for 2020-03-24

March 25th, 2020 2:00 am by Kelly Garbato

Book Review: Space Boy, Volume 6 by Stephen McCranie (2020)

March 24th, 2020 7:00 am by Kelly Garbato

The one where we finally discover Oliver’s flavor!

three out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free e-ARC for review through Edelweiss.)

— 3.5 stars —

A long-running weekly comic on WEBTOON, Stephen McCranie’s Space Boy is teased as “A sci-fi drama of a high school aged girl who belongs in a different time, a boy possessed by emptiness as deep as space, an alien artifact, mysterious murder, and a love that crosses light years.”

The MC is Amy, a sixteen-year-old girl who’s pretty normal except for the fact that she’s an unwitting time traveler. Born on a mining colony, her family was forced to return to earth when her father lost his job. Since it’s a thirty-year journey, Amy and the ‘rents were cryogenically frozen for the trip: hence the “girl out of time.”

The family settles in Kokomo City, where Amy enrolls in South Pines Academy. Though she misses her BFF Jemmah (now old enough to be Amy’s mom; could this be the “love that crosses light years”?), she soon finds her own new social circles: football star David, his girlfriend Cassie, and their friends Zeph, Meisha, Maki, Logan, and Howard; and the school’s agriculture club, which includes fellow crossover Meisha, and Tamara and Shafer.

And then there is Oliver, the mysterious, silver-haired boy who does not seem to have a flavor. (Amy has synesthesia and “tastes” peoples’ personalities.) Though her friends think he’s trouble with a capital T, Amy gravitates to Oliver, and vice versa. But for reasons not yet revealed, Oliver’s very existence is classified – and their continued friendship endangers Amy’s life. Enter: the alien artifact and mysterious murder.

Volume 6 collects episodes 76 through 92 of the WEBTOON comic, originally published between 8/24/16 and 12/15/16 (yes, the trade paperbacks are very far behind! Do yourself a favor and create a WEBTOON account so you can stay up to date.)

One thing I don’t love about the trade paperbacks is that the plot seems to progress at a snail’s pace, and Volume 6 is no exception; 256 pages and we’re still not done with Spirit Week! Still, this is an enjoyable and bittersweet collection.

Volume 6 sees Oliver continue to distance himself from Amy, while fissures deepen among some of Amy’s friends. Amy gets to experience her first snowfall – and snow day! – for which mom thankfully yet temporarily lifts her grounding (that’s a whole ‘nother story). Amy finally discovers Oliver’s flavor (orange with hints of cinnamon, brimming with passion and vibrancy and life – the complete opposite of Nothing) – revealed, oddly enough, as he’s beating the piss out of a bully. Before she can even begin to process, Oliver and his foster dad Dr. Kim vanish, just as mysteriously as they arrived.

The agriculture club’s baby chicks make a quick cameo, as part of Tamara’s efforts to lift the spirits of a mopey Amy. My feelings about the ag club are something of a roller coaster: initially I was overjoyed that Amy made the connection between the soft, floofy, sentient creatures she was loving on and the chicken salad sammie on her plate, and vowed to go vegetarian. This quickly crumbled when she got an accidental mouthful of bacon on Oliver’s sandwich and decreed that it was fine, so long as the agriculture club doesn’t start raising baby piggies. Speciesist much?

And the very existence of animal agriculture so far in the future feels like a disappointing lack of imagination of the artist’s part. When I first started reading Space Boy, I thought it had to be at least 30 years in the future, to allow for Amy’s travel. Probably more like 100+ given all the new tech. But when Amy starts researching the Arno and its mission to reach the alien artifact, we learn that the year is actually 3355: The Arno launched in 3051, and was supposed to reach the artifact in 300 years – which, for Amy, was 4 years ago. 3051 + 300 + 4 = 3355.

So you’re telling me that it’s more than a thousand years in the future and we don’t have synthetic or lab-grown meat yet? That we’re still breeding and raising sentient creatures to be slaughtered for food? That our morals have evolved so little? Gross, dude. If this is the future, I hope humanity burns itself out well before 3355.

But yeah, baby chicks are hella cute.

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