30 April 2009

Random:: Nice.

Cyanide and Happiness, a daily webcomic
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YA Lit:: 999 Reading Challenge Part Cinq

You may remember my 999 Reading Challenge, comprised of 9 books in 9 categories in 2009. Looks like I've finished off the easiest of the groups: picture books. Aw hells yeah!

Now, when will I get cracking on those non-fiction books? And what the hell did I mean by my "titles I never thought I'd read" category? Like, books in Hindi or Greek or something?

As usual, new entries are in italics.
  • 9 teen books with multicultural characters
    ~The Possibilities of Sainthood by Donna Freitas
    ~The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Vol. 1: The Pox Party by M.T. Anderson
  • 9 teen award-winners
    ~Japan Ai: A Tall Girl's Adventures in Japan by Aimee Major Steinberger
    [YALSA's 2009 Great Graphic Novels for Teens]
    ~Life Sucks by Jessica Abel
    [YALSA's 2009 Great Graphic Novels for Teens]
    ~Emiko Superstar by Mariko Tamaki and Steve Rolston
    [YALSA's 2009 Great Graphic Novels for Teens]
    ~Luna by Julie Anne Peters
    [National Book Award Finalist]
  • 9 graphic novels (non-manga)
    ~The Plain Janes by Cecil Castellucci
    ~Janes in Love by Cecil Castellucci
    ~Skim by Mariko Tamaki
    ~Batman: The Killing Joke by Alan Moore
    ~Watchmen by Alan Moore
    ~Awkward and Definition by Ariel Schrag
    ~Abandon the Old in Tokyo by Yoshihiro Tatsumi
    ~American Widow by Alissa Torres
  • 9 blogs & podcasts
    ~YALSA blog
    ~The YA YA YAs

    ~Stuff You Should Know podcast

    ~Stuff You Missed in History Class podcast

    ~Book Lust with Nancy Pearl podcast

  • 9 webcomics
    ~Cyanide and Happiness
  • 9 Overdrive audiobooks
    ~Dairy Queen by Catherine Gilbert Murdock
    ~Something Rotten by Alan M. Gratz
    ~The Rules of Survival by Nancy Werlin
    ~True Story by Bill Maher
    ~A Brief Chapter in my Impossible Life by Dana Reinhardt

  • 9 picture books (Category finished! 04.08.09)
    ~Dad Runs Away with the Circus by Etgar Keret
    ~Chester by Melanie Watt
    ~Scaredy Squirrel by Melanie Watt
    ~A Visitor for Bear by Bonny Becker
    ~Bad Kitty by Nick Bruel
    ~The Cat's Tale by Doris Orgel
    ~When Randolph Turned Rotten by Charise Mericle Harper
    ~Are You Ready to Play Outside? by Mo Willems
    ~Wink! The Ninja who Wanted to be Noticed by J.C. Phillips
  • 9 non-fiction books
    ~Obama: The Historic Journey by The New York Times
  • 9 titles I never thought I'd read
    ~The Coffee Trader by David Liss
And now, on to May of '09!

26 April 2009

Road Map:: The Bridges (and Libraries) of Allegheny County, Part I

I have this thing about putting up library jumpies (pictures of me in front of libraries in mid-air) in the order they were taken, but I'm *so* far behind, you know? I'm starting to feel like the order just isn't important anymore.

So I'm currently on a trip to the Three Rivers so that Husband-san can defend his PhD proposal. This, of course, means I have time to rekindle old friendships, walk across bridges, and jump in front of libraries. Of course, ne?

One of my best friends took me to Mount Washington for a quick bite overlooking the city. Then I saw a woman with a Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh bag, asked her where she got it, and the rest is predictable.

a) Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh- Mount Washington
Pittsburgh, PA (04.25.09)

Ta-da! The last time I'd been to Mount Washington was two and a half years ago at night. People were dressed to the nines as there was a wedding nearby. One of these days I need to jump in my wedding dress... OMG that's brilliant!

21 April 2009

Review:: Luna by Julie Anne Peters

If all civilizations are built upon gender expectations (hunters vs. gatherers, "fathers who want their sons to play baseball" vs. "mothers who want their daughters to take ballet lessons"), then individuals who don't fit their man/woman mold are bound to become very familiar with uncomfortable silences.

In Julie Anne Peters' sisterly/brotherly novel Luna, Liam is technically born a boy but has always felt like a girl inside. He spurs his metamorphosis forward by calling himself Lia Marie or Luna and exploring feminine clothes. And Luna isn't even the main character of the book. It's Luna's sister Reagan, with the boyish name, who tells the story as she squirms and tries to protect her brother. While Liam/Luna is marked by movement and mimicking of feminine body language, Reagan is comparatively immobile. She is indecisive, beats out Bella Swan in the complete-klutz-on-a-date category, and sometimes despises her sibling. In other words, she is the "every teen" while Liam and Luna are both larger than life.

I've read criticism of Luna's "stereotypical" qualities. True, not all male-to-female transgender teens like pink. Not all of them crossdress. Is it so wrong, though, that this one does? I will say, though, that I'd like to see more character flaws in Luna. You're meant to desperately love Luna because she is the kind of sister you might envy-- someone who is brilliant and independently well-off, loves you to bits, and gives you the answers to the Chemistry test you're about to bomb. More importantly, she is meant to put the reader at ease with the thought of being transgender and SRS (sex reassignment surgery).

So, if Luna's near-perfection allows readers to not feel so icky about the gender swap, then I don't mind so much.

8.57 of 9
The conversations between Reagan and Liam/Luna really brought this home to me. They could be lighthearted one moment and downright cruel the next. Those two were definitely the most touching part of the equation. Their friend Aly was a minor character but a realistic one, especially with the way she deals with Liam's truth. The rest? Eh. The mother and father could both be rather disconnected and surreal, and I don't know any teen boys who would put up with the way Reagan consistently blows Chris off.
It took me nearly five months to read this book, partly because I started it when I had too many projects going. Each time I picked it up, though, I was completely engrossed. So it's not because it's slow, per se, but because I wanted to enjoy it.
Obviously, it's too easy to say this is geared to LGBT readers. The book itself claims it's for anyone who's ever felt invisible. I think this could be a life-changing read for some, and opinion-changing for others.
Like it? Try this!::
I haven't read Ellen Wittlinger's Parrotfish, a novel about a female-to-male transgender teen, but I imagine it's pretty good, especially since I'm a *huge* fan of her novel Hard Love.
Further Notes::
This National Book Award finalist might feel somewhat dated in twenty years, but having the courage to accept the things about you that you cannot control will never go out of style.

Luna. By Julie Anne Peters. Little, Brown, and Company, 2004. 248 pages. $7.99

06 April 2009

YA Lit:: A - Z Reading Challenge

And she can't be stopped. By "she," I mean me, of course.

Through Twitter I found @yalitgoodbadugly, a vivacious teacher-to-be who is really into YA lit. Looking through her blog, I found yet another reading challenge that called my name-- the one where you read books with titles starting with every letter in the alphabet! I'm on it, baby.

Popularity Scale:
So Five Minutes Ago-- Personality Quizzes
In-- Reading Challenges!

My tweaking of the rules for this: I'm including both YA and children's titles read in 2009.

Et voila!

The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Vol. 1: The Pox Party
, M.T. Anderson
Are You Ready to Play Outside?, Mo Willems
Awkward and Definition, Ariel Schrag
Abandon the Old in Tokyo, Yoshihiro Tatsumi

Batman and the Outsiders: The Chrysalis, Chuck Dixon
Batman: The Killing Joke, Alan Moore
Bad Kitty, Nick Bruel

, Melanie Watt
The Cat's Tale: Why the Years Are Named After Animals, Doris Orgel
The Cardboard Piano, Lynne Rae Perkins

Dad Runs Away with the Circus, Etgar Keret
Dairy Queen
, Catherine Gilbert Murdock

Emiko Superstar, Mariko Tamaki




Inubaka (vols. 6 & 7), Yukiya Sakuragi
Into the Woods - Warriors Tigerstar and Sasha (vol. 1), Erin Hunter

Janes in Love, Cecil Castellucci
Japan Ai: A Tall Girl's Adventures in Japan, Aimee Steinberger Major


Love Roma (vol. 3), Minoru Toyoda
Loveless (vol. 1), Yun Kouga
Life Sucks, Jessica Abel



Ouran High School Host Club (vol. 1), Bisco Hatori

Plain Janes, Cecil Castellucci;
The Possibilities of Sainthood, Donna Freitas


The Return of the Killer Cat, Anne Fine
The Rules of Survival, Nancy Werlin

Something Rotten, Alan M. Gratz
Skim, Mariko Tamaki
Scaredy Squirrel, Melanie Watt
Scaredy Squirrel at the Beach, Melanie Watt
Sucks to Be Me: The All-True Confessions of Mina Hamilton, Teen Vampire, Kimberly Pauley

Tales of Beedle the Bard, J.K. Rowling


A Visitor for Bear
, Bonny Becker

Watchmen, Alan Moore
When Randolph Turned Rotten, Charise Mericle Harper




For the record, this is a reading challenge I don't mind leaving unfinished at the end of the year. I mean, am I really gonna find a book that begins with 'X'? We shall see...

05 April 2009

YA Lit:: 2009 Young Adult Book Challenge

And 'cos I'm a tool like that, I'm embarking on another reading challenge (in conjunction with my 999 Reading Challenge). This one is relatively simple, though.

Just read 12 young adult novels. One a month. Easy as petting my lovable kitten. Depending on his mood. Sometimes he's a little punk. But sometimes he's like buttah.

Thanks, J. Kaye, for inspiring me to add to my reading pile.

The trick to this one, I think, is reading actual novels the old school way. As in, no downloadable audio books. Just my eyeballs for seeing, my brain for interpreting, and my fingers for turning pages. Oh yeah.


Aw man. This is harder than I thought. So far, these are the ones that qualify.
  1. The Possibilities of Sainthood by Donna Freitas

  2. Sucks To Be Me: The All-True Confessions of Mina Hamilton, Teen Vampire by Kimberly Pauley

Is this possible? Of the 40 books I've inhaled this year, I only read 2 YA novels? I mean, 22 of those 40 have been YA books, but they've been audio books or graphic novels or manga...

Wow. I need to get on the ball with my old-style reading self.