meghan rose allen

Review of Math for Couples by Adele Graf

Posted by in netgalley copy

I continue my quest to better appreciate poetry. This one has the word math in the title. I like math. By transitivity ...

Yeah, poetry doesn't work like that.

Again, I struggle with my attempts to appreciate poetry. Do I simply not appreciate poetry? Is Math for Couples not poetry to be appreciated? There are moments, little lines and turns of phrases that were like the snap of Lego pieces fitting together when I read it, but today, the day afterwards, I couldn't tell you what any of those lines were. I can tell you the first group of poems has lots to do with thinking about grandmothers; I think a lot of about my grandmother, so that was for me. There were also some poems that were more rhythmic, repeating syllables, mixing syllables up, getting somewhere new (i.e. yatter on page 77); poems like that remind me of playing Bartok on the piano, going back between smooth and choppy, and I like the contrast. But none of the poems rhymed, and I'm realizing that in my louche, uneducated way, I really like rhyming poetry (like A.A. Milne). Like I can say I like certain rhyming poems (say Disobedience by A.A. Milne), but other than a second here and there with the vanishing Lego click moments, I don't know if I liked the entirety of a poem in Math for Couples. Also, I didn't dislike one single thing either. I read the poems, I worked on appreciating the poems, but then I got to the end, still as befuddled about good poetry as I ever was.

And the eponymous Math for Couples poem: I saw what it was trying to do, but my math-brain shuddered at the lines with 1+1 > 2 and 1+1 <2. Put numbers in and the literal part of my brain takes over. Another poem was in a table though. I thought that was interesting.

Math for Couples by Adele Graf went on sale April 1, 2017.

I received a copy free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Review of All the Dirty Parts by Daniel Handler

Posted by in netgalley copy

Summary: Don't hate the playa, hate the game, and then the playa gets playa-ed. With lots of teen sex bits (Handler might have made them all over eighteen, I can't recall.)

So you want to read a creepy book about a compulsive, masturbating, teenage boy, who seems to have nothing the least bit interesting about him yet still manages to get laid (Marty Sue *cough cough*), I guess All the Dirty Parts is it. It's a mildly amusing read as an adult, but I'd be loathe to give it to a surly, fourteen year old boy; the last thing this world needs is more boys growing into men thinking, by virtue of them having a cock, that girls fuck them just because hey look, a dick!. At least he goes down on his girlfriend. Teenage boys can read all about that part. Too bad Handler didn't keep the cunnilingus and then write a book full of sex and well-rounded teenage boys with interests outside of pornography.

In any case, I defer to The Simpsons [Aside: There seems to have been a collective Stop Watching order in regards to The Simpsons. Any time any one quotes something from The Simpsons, it's always from an episode I've seen; it's never from whatever episodes are on now. I assume The Simpsons is still on now. I assume people are watching it. I'm guessing maybe I'm now too old to be hanging around with the kids quoting the new episodes, or the new episodes are barren of quotes. Either way.]: The Girl Who Slept Too Little and author Milton Burkhart:

I wanted to be a children's [writer] ever since Playboy wouldn't publish my cartoons because they were too filthy.

Yes, it's backwards -- Lemony Snicket was around before All the Dirty Parts, but I couldn't stop thinking about that quote as I read the book. I still like Lemony Snicket, but the more I read by Daniel Handler, the more I don't want to, and this book, while entertaining for an adult, still is very much ick.

All the Dirty Parts by Daniel Handler went on sale October 19, 2017.

I received a copy free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Review of Stitch Camp by Nicole Blum and Catherine Newman

Posted by in netgalley copy

I like crafts. I like crafts so much so that our linen closet has never been a linen closet -- it's our craft cupboard. (The joy I felt when my daughter's friend came over, opened the cupboard up with a Woah knows no bounds.) My dream job is to craft all day (with kids) and then do some math/programming with them and then some more crafting.

And so, I'm getting into reading some crafting books. I requested this one to get some ideas for Brownies, as well as ideas to do with my daughter. I think she (my daughter) would find most of the crafts too convoluted right now (she's eight, and big on instant gratification right now), but me as an eight year old would have been psyched. And I got some ideas for stuff to do with my Brownie troope, so that's good. The instructions are mostly clear -- I did find the knitting and crocheting sections to be more difficult to follow, likely because I know neither how to knit nor to crochet, and was reading the instructions, rather than reading and doing (although, after-the-fact, I did remember we have a crochet hook in the craft cupboard, so maybe I should get that out and learn so that I can start making some amigurumi little things that will make me super super super happy).

Any crafty tween-and-up would like this book. Now back to looking at kawaii craft patterns on etsy for inspiration.

Stitch Camp by Nicole Blum and Catherine Newman went on sale October 17, 2017.

I received a copy free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Review of Speed of Life by Carol Weston

Posted by in netgalley copy

Another wish-fulfillment YA novel where everything works out in the end and you get that warm, fuzzy feeling of a job well-done. Sure, the protagonist's mother is still dead (as she was at the beginning of the novel -- no zombies or resurrection spells here), but everything else has worked out in a shiny, happy, people sort of way.

Is it realistic? Probably not.

Is it enjoyable? Indubitably.

Speed of Life by Carol Weston went on sale April 1, 2017.

I received a copy free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Review of My Brigadista Year by Katherine Paterson

Posted by in netgalley copy

I never really know how to review books where I am clearly not the audience. For example, My Brigadista Year is marketed as Children's Fiction. Since I like kidlit (well, middle-grade and on more than picture books), I still request such books, but then I read them and am like this isn't for me, what am I supposed to say?

Plot: Cuba, 1960s. Thirteen year old Lora becomes a literacy volunteer for Castro, going off from Havana into the hinterlands of Cuba to teach campesinos how to read. It's vaguely inspiring, but the whole thing is so simplistic and flatly rendered, the conflicts either trivially resolved (her father doesn't want Lora to go, but then a page later relents, some campesino men don't want to learn to read, a chapter later they decide to learn, etc.) or are related second-hand (other volunteers are killed, the Bay of Pigs happens off-stage) without any real depth. But, then again, it's a kid book from the perspective of a kid. Can I really expect some sort of deep, moral philosophizing from a child protagonist in a book marketed to children? I mean, obviously, I do expect it, but can I really be surprised when it doesn't happen?

I just wish that this book was more than it ended up being 🙁

My Brigadista Year by Katherine Paterson went on sale October 10, 2017.

I received a copy free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Review of The Comic Book Story of Video Games by Jonathan Hennessey and Jack Mcgowan

Posted by in netgalley copy

A pretty dense information dump of a graphic novel. I'm a sucker for narrative and when narrative is lacking, as it is here, I have trouble focusing. Just page after page of this guy (and I mean guy in the literal sense, since the history of video games, at least in this iteration, is very dong-owning-focused. Obviously Hennessey and Mcgowan can't rewrite history to include more women, but as a woman who's been playing video games since 1987, it kind of sucks that the history is so masculine) made this game and then this guy made this other game. Also, no mention of Nethack, which I guess is okay when there are cameos by The King of the Cosmos and his son. I think I've been spoiled by Halt and Catch Fire when it comes to technology histories. I want plot and females and stories I can identify with, not just a timeline recounting of what happened when that (inadvertently) makes me feel that I'm always going to be excluded from one of my hobbies. Where are Cameron and Donna when I need them? Mutiny 4 evs!

The Comic Book Story of Video Games by Jonathan Hennessey and Jack Mcgowan went on sale October 3, 2017.

I received a copy free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Review of 101 Video Games to Play Before You Grow Up by Ben Bertoli

Posted by in netgalley copy

Ahhhh...Nostalgia. Plus pretty colours. And I'm going to say that I'm not grown up yet, because I requested 101 Video Games to Play Before You Grow Up from Netgalley for me rather than Tesfa, although when Tesfa looked over my shoulder last night and saw me reading it, she demanded that she get to read it too to make sure Zelda was in there (the book intrigued its actual target audience rather than me -- success!) Plus Katamari was in there (first thing I checked). No Nethack though. And as shiny and pretty and colourful as this book is, it can't change the fact that it's basically a list of one hundred and one games of male protagonists (obviously there are a few females tossed in, like Samus, but that's hardly enough). It's not Bertoli's fault that video games skew male, but it does put a damper on my reading off all the little video game facts/synopses, especially with Tesfa super-eager to see what video games she might want to play next. So then I ended up sad, instead of cheerfully inspired. Boo patriarchy.

101 Video Games to Play Before You Grow Up by Ben Bertoli went on sale October 1, 2017.

I received a copy free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Review of The Four Roads Hotel by France Théoret

Posted by in netgalley copy

I've slacked on this review. I finished this book ages ago. Conclusion: the book exists. You get the feeling that it's meant to be read as a physical copy, poorly bound, in a café, with a cigarette, and other literati around, reading the same or other slim novellas. A few of them are Marxists. Coffee is black and strong. Everything is in black-and-white. There may be berets. Someone should pound their fist on the table.

I, on the other hand, read this book on a kobo on an airplane. So ... yeah ...

Nothing much happens. I mean, obviously a lot happens if you just list all the things that happen (her parents own a store, they sell their store, they buy another store, they buy a hotel, they move to the country, she goes to university, etc.) but it's still a nothing happens sort of book. The conflicts are petty (overbearing father, ineffective mother, dismissive sister, loser boyfriend) and unsubstantial. It's all sort of abstractly interesting, like an art house film. I like some art house films, but I also tend to forget stories without strong plots, and I think The Four Roads Hotel is going to be one of those ones I end up forgetting I even read it.

The Four Roads Hotel by France Théoret went on sale October 1, 2017.

I received a copy free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Review of Lady Stuff by Loryn Brantz

Posted by in netgalley copy

After getting bogged down and it being humid and me being miserable, I needed something quick and easy to read. Et voilĂ , Lady Stuff comic of a roly-poly, always cold, sleepy, female protagonist bumbling through life in the way I do. I have to remember that whenever I get stressed out about how adult-like all these people around me are, indeed there are people as lazy and unsure of themselves as me, making comics for me to grin at, and make myself feel all that much better about burrito=ing myself away to suspiciously regard the outside world.

So yay! I enjoyed it. Yay yay!

Lady Stuff: Secrets to Being a Woman by Loryn Brantz went on sale September 26, 2017.

I received a copy free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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