Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Emma--The Comic




Official Press Release Stuff:
Marvel is pleased to present your first look at Emma #1 from New York Times best-selling writer Nancy Butler (Sense & Sensibility) and rising star artist Janet K. Lee (Return of the Dapper Men)! This March, delve into the world of nineteenth century courtship courtesy of a Rita Award-winning author and the illustrator whose work Newsarama.com calls “truly breathtaking.” Local matchmaker Emma Woodhouse can make anyone the perfect pair – provided she can stop the men folk from falling for her first! Find out how one upstanding young woman comes to find herself stuck in a love triangle as big as an English village, only in Emma #1!
EMMA #1 (JAN110685)
Written by NANCY BUTLER
Art and Cover by JANET K. LEE
Rated A… $3.99
FOC – 2/7/11, On Sale – 3/2/11

I'm always suspicious of updates or graphic novel versions of classics. This, though. This I could be into.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Raptors on Vacation

Raptors on Vacation understands people like us.

The children did not say a word.  They sat quietly in the boxcar, looking at the bushes.
“I wonder if it’s a bear,” thought Benny.  Soon something came out.  But it wasn’t a bear.  It was a dog, which hopped along on three legs, crying softly and holding up a front paw.
“It’s all right,” said Jessie.  “It’s only a dog, but I think he is hurt.”
The dog was still alive when the children started to eat him.


The children did not say a word.  They sat quietly in the boxcar, looking at the bushes.
“I wonder if it’s a bear,” thought Benny.  Soon something came out.  But it wasn’t a bear.  It was a dog, which hopped along on three legs, crying softly and holding up a front paw.
“It’s all right,” said Jessie.  “It’s only a dog, but I think he is hurt.”
The dog was still alive when the children started to eat him.

The Velociraptors Club.  I’m proud to say it was totally my idea, even though the four of us worked it out together.  “Us” is Mary Anne Spier, Claudia Kishi, Stacey McGill, and me - Kristy Thomas.
(requested by alison)


The Velociraptors Club.  I’m proud to say it was totally my idea, even though the four of us worked it out together.  “Us” is Mary Anne Spier, Claudia Kishi, Stacey McGill, and me - Kristy Thomas.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Book Thief

Book Thief

This story is told from the point of view of Death. It is the second World War and Death is following 9-year-old Leisel through Nazi Germany.

They first meet when Leisel, her younger brother, and her mother are riding on a train. The three on their way to meet the foster family that will be taking custody of the children. Leisel's mother is always sick, and her father, a Communist, has been out of the picture for as long as Leisel can remember. Before they make it to the foster family's home, Leisel's younger brother dies on the train. The conductor throw the women and the dead little boy off the train. It is in an unknown town that six-year-old Warner is buried. In her grief, Leisel finds a book half-buried in the snow. The Grave Digger's Handbook. This is the first book she steals. Never mind that she is illiterate. Never mind that the book is probably dreadfully boring. No. It is the only piece of her brother that she can keep.

Leisel comes to love her foster parents and to call them Mama and Papa. Mama has a foul mouth and uses the name "swine" with affection. The family works hard--Papa is a house painter. Since the war began, though, business has been slow. Papa made the mistake of painting over some anti-Semitic slurs written on the business front of a Jewish acquaintance. From there, Papa's application to join the Nazi party, an application submitted by everyone that knew what was good for them, is under indefinite review. Mama takes in the laundry of wealthy families for extra money. Things are tight.

Every night, Leisel has nightmares about her brother's death. Papa is the one that sits with her at night to calm her. A few times, she wets the bed. It is Papa that is there to clean up the sheets. After one incident, he finds Leisel's hidden copy of The Gravedigger's Handbook under the bed. Rather than punishing her for stealing the text, he begins to teach her to read. Leisel's nightmares disappear as Papa begins giving her reading lessons every night in the basement. The going is slow, but Leisel becomes addicted to the freedom that literacy offers her.

Papa served in WWI. A friend volunteered him to clean the latrines. This saved Papa's life. Every other man in the unit, including that friend, was killed in battle that day. Papa kept the friend's accordion and promised the man's wife that if she ever needed anything from him, he was there to help.

Twenty-some years later, that favor is called in when Max shows up on the front door step. Max is the son of  Papa's friend from the first world war. His best friend helped him to track Papa down as a possible ally during the war--Max is Jewish and needs a place to hide from the Nazis. There is already a strain on the family finances. Without a word, though, Papa welcomes Max into the house.

Max gets set up to live in the basement. He has a mattress under the stairs (like HARRY POTTER!) and hidden by a drop cloth and some paint cans.

He chooses to stay in his little alcove day after day. As the weather gets colder, though, Max gets seriously ill. He is moved upstairs to sleep in Leisel's bed. After nine terrifying days, Max finally opens his eyes. But only after the family has faced a brutal reality--If Max died while staying with them, they have no way to dispose of his body. Shit. Max is noble and basically tells them to dump his ass at any time. For the first time, the family really understands what kind of problems hiding Max could really cause them.

Leisel's book thieving ways continue. She makes an unlikely friend that contributes to her thieving ways. Her library grows. Reading becomes easier and more important to her.

Everything that is changes. That's my way of telling you that I super-loved this book, and I could ramble on about it forever. (Not literally, of course.) So I'm leaving you with this. If it's that important actually read it yourself. It's worth it. Promise.
  • The narrator is a very serious Death. A very different Death than George Lass. I still read the entire book in her voice. I do not suggest this. 
  • Leisel and Rudy make me feel like I could steal something. It sounds easy. The only thing holding me back is a nervous bladder. And that I can't handle suspense. And that I would feel bad for the rest of my life.
  • I don't know how many of you remember The Upstairs Room. The family in that story builds a complex hiding spot with a false back of the closet to hide the two girls. I kept waiting for some kind of official shelter to be built for Max. Nothing.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Better Book Titles

Hi. As part of my blog-versary business, I'm going to start moving away from an all book review format. Spicing it up a little more often. I get dragged down sometimes by my need to relive every single detail of a book. I don't cover every book that I read. (Who wants to read my review of The Good Earth? No one? Okay.) Mini-posts are my plan to give myself more time to finish reading books that aren't blog friendly and to take the pressure off me on constantly publishing something.

Here's to you, douche canoe trolls. And before you accuse me of anything, just remember that I own the real version of this book. And that before the year is over, I may very well be a published researcher. Suck it.

Good thing I still went to church during my prime boob-sprouting years.

Judy Blume: Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret.

I'm not even going to comment on this one. Not because I don't want to. I don't think I can legally say the things on my mind right now.

Glenn Beck: Broke: The Plan to Restore Our Trust, Truth, and Treasure

There are more sweet Better Book Titles at the Better Book Titles site. Here.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Ramona the Brave


Ramona Geraldine Quimby is six years old now! Huzzah!

The book starts out with Ramona and Beezus cruisin' back from the park. Beezus is super pissed about something. She explains to Mrs. Quimby that the boys at the park started calling her Jesus Beezus. To a sixth grader, this is the worst thing ever! Ramona stood up for Beezus, but that only made the experience even more humiliating.

The summer is otherwise pretty boring. Until Mrs. Quimby gets a job. Mrs. Q's new job means that the Quimbys will finally be adding onto the house. A new bedroom will be added onto the first floor of the house behind the vacuum closet. Ramona is super stoked about this 'cause she'll has something to talk about at show-and-tell--This first grader has a hole chopped in her house! A hole chopped in her house! What other first grader has that?

Construction putzs along. Eventually, there is a real hole in the house. Ramona and Howie run through the house and jump out of the hole over and over and over and over again. They do this until the construction workers have stop them. Dudes are trying to lay concrete. Have some patience, Ramona.

When school starts, Ramona is flippin' out with excitement. Girl just has to get to first grade to spill her super awesome show-and-tell story. When Ramona lets it out, she hears crickets. No one in her class is impressed. They're confused. Why the hell is there a hole in her house? Even the teacher gets on her case. Ramona calls on Howie to verify her story. There was a hole chopped in her house! Dude even jumped through it with her. Howie wusses out and tells the class that there wasn't a hole chopped in the house. There was a hole pried into her house. Stupid Howie and his power tool technicalities. Even I'm offended for Ramona.

This sets the tone for the entire year for Ramona. Her teacher, Mrs. Griggs, is not exactly a charmer. She just doesn't understand Ramona's energetic and creative and sensitive personality. Mrs. Griggs doesn't notice Susan of the boing-boing curls copying Ramona's owl when the class is crafting for Parents' Night. She only notices Ramona throwing away her own owl and scrunching Susan's owl. Ramona is forced to apologize to Susan in front of the class. This is devastating for Ramona, a really sensitive kid. She is being punished for something that never would have happened if Susan hadn't plagiarized her owl!

Finally, the new bedroom is finished. It is agreed that Ramona and Beezus will each get a turn being in the new bedroom. They'll switch every six months. This seems like a huge hassle. But it's only fair. Ramona gets the first turn because Beezus usually gets things first. This is going to be epic. Ramona has never had her own bedroom! Her mother re-finishes a dresser and bookshelf so that Ramona even has her very own furniture! This is the day that Ramona has been dreaming about for months!

Ramona's first night in the new bedroom goes horribly. She's terrified. (I would be too. The bedroom is downstairs while everyone else is sleeping upstairs.) The problem, though, is that Ramona can't tell anyone that she's scared of sleeping downstairs. By herself. In the dark. She tries to stay awake as late as she can with classic kid-not-wanting-to-sleep stalling tactics. Eventually, she does sleep. But not well. Ramona can't tell her parents how scary it can be to stay in that new room alone. Then, she might look like a baby or have to move back upstairs into her old room.

As the year progresses, Beezus develops a crush on her sixth grade teacher, Mr. Cordoza. I felt embarrassed for Beezus. She constantly talks about him to her family. Mr. Cordoza assigns a spelling paper where the students have to list 5 examples of different words. For "pleasant," Beezus listed picnics, our classroom, Mr. Cordoza, reading, and school. Really. Beezus, could you be anymore obvious? You like Mr. Cordoza. You like school because of Mr. Cordoza. You like the classroom because of Mr. Cordoza. You like reading because it's being taught by Mr. Cordoza. And you want to go on a picnic with Mr. Cordoza. By the way, did I mention Mr. Cordoza? Did I find a way to insert him into every conversation? 'Cause Beezus sure did.

One day, the educational god that is Mr. Cordoza sends home a good progress report on Beezus. You just know that Beezus is stashing that thing away for her Mr. Cordoza shrine. Ramona is determined not to show her parents her progress report from Mrs. Griggs. She knows it can't be good. Eventually, Mom and Pop Quimby get the report from her. It's pretty positive. There is mention of Ramona looking at other people's papers and needing to keep her hands to herself and a lack of self-control.

Ramona's parents advise her to try to grow up. That's how she can get along with Mrs. Griggs better and to fix everything on her progress report. Really? How about considering that Ramona is bored. She can count well and has to sit through it as the rest of the class struggles with it. She's reading better than her classmates. She's doing her work quickly because it's too easy. Every time she tries to answer something in class, Mrs. Griggs shoots her down. It's clear that Mrs. Griggs is unreceptive to Ramona's personality. Why wouldn't Ramona have trouble focusing in school? The entire progress report situation makes me feel sad for Ramona and angry at Mrs. Griggs. School isn't fun for Ramona. Learning isn't fun for Ramona. First grade really sucks.

First grade sucks so much and the progress report is so bad that Ramona says a bad word. Of course, she gives her parents fair warning that it's coming. Then, she lets it out. (I should warn you that this very bad word may be nsfw.)



GUTS


That's right. Ramona said 'guts.' The Quimbys laugh. In her face. (Whenever I do childcare, I get told off by small children for saying 'butt.' As in 'Sit on your butt.' Me and my filthy mouth.) Ramona, secretly sensitive gal that she is, gets upset over this. Here she was trying to cuss her parents out and they respond by laughing. Beezus tries to help by saying that their parents laughed at the things she said when she was Ramona's age. It's nothing personal. Kids just say the darndest things.

The next day, Ramona is feeling full of "spirit and pluck." She decides to take a different way to school--walking one block over to the next street. It's no different than her usual route. It's just a block over. Trotting along with her lunchbox, Ramona encounters a German shepherd. (The dog, not a person that tends sheep. Just to clarify.) Cujo chases her! Eek! To scare him off, she throws her shoe at him. Cujo picks the thing up and runs off with it! Eff.

Ramona limps along to school with only one shoe. She plans to hide it from Mrs. Griggs. It's bad enough constantly being shot down by Mrs. G. Ramona does not need it to be pointed out that she has a 50% success rate with getting her shoes to school. Because Mrs. Griggs does have eyes, she notices Ramona is lacking footwear. Mr. and Mrs. Quimby are both at work, so no one can bring Ramona another pair of shoes. She's told to find a shoe in the Lost & Found. Let me and Ramona both say--Gross. There is no way in hell Ramona is letting someone else's foot germs touch her.

During recess, Ramona hides out until the coast is clear. She then gathers some institutional strength paper towel (That stuff is like sand paper.) and heads up to Mr. Cordoza's classroom. She asks Beezus' imaginary husband to borrow a stapler. Then, she constructs herself a make shift shoe. Magic! When recess is over, Ramona asks Mrs. Griggs if she can continue working on her slipper rather than making Thanksgiving turkeys with the rest of the class. Progress!

Before class is over, Ramona gets called down to the office. The German shepherd's owner found him chomping on a shoe. So of course he brought it down to the elementary school. The secretary "guessed" that it looked like the shoe of a first grader. Random? Either way, Ramona ends up with her shoe. It's pretty gnarly now with some teeth marks on it. The secretary is impressed with Ramona's harrowing tale, validating Ramona in a way that Mrs. Griggs has failed. The secretary tells Ramona that she's a brave girl. True dat.
  • At this point, Mr. Quimby still works in an office. I have the strongest memory of Ramona Quimby, Age 8 when he was a discount grocery store clerk and going to college.
    • Ramona spewing chunks in that book is possibly the most vivid memory I have of a book I read way back when. I was terrified to eat oatmeal. Every time I read the scene I would think, "No, Ramona! Not the oatmeal! Just stay home sick today! For the love of all that is holy STAY HOME!"
      • My strong reaction to this scene is probably related to the fact that I get sick by suggestion. It's hardly ever because I'm actually sick. Mostly it's because it's just a really inconvenient time (trying to get out of going to a particular class! on a first date! in the filth encrusted bathroom of a friend!). The power of subliminal suggestion, y'all. That's all it takes. How's that for a little TMI?
  • Beezus should be thankful that Jesus Beezus is the best those kids could come up with. Since about the 10th grade, I've had people call me Alison Twat because of my last name. (I had to look 'twat' up on Urban Dictionary the first time it happened. Hello, emotional scars.) Beezus, it could be worse. And it will be once those kids get to high school and expand their vocabularies.
  • I still use Mr. Cordoza's spelling tricks. A secretary is someone you can tell your secret to. Secretary.
    • It might have been in another Ramona book that the teacher says that school principal is your pal
    • Look at that. Beverly Cleary taught me a life-long lesson. For realz.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Blog-versary.

Happy anniversary, blog readers.

I originally planned to vlog this bad boy up. (There will be a vlog. Soon. Fear not.)
Problems with me vlogging:

  1. I had to apply make-up to make my nose visible. I am just that pale.
  2. I am becoming painfully aware of all my ridiculous facial expressions. It ain't pretty.
  3. I sound like Jessi Slaughter. I promise to not pop a glock and to not make any brain slushees.
Anyway, I have some stuff planned for the next year. (A posting schedule? For regular posts? Could it be?) And some other less ho-hum stuff. Be ready. Seriously. It'll hopefully be fun.

So happy birthday to my baby blog. I [didn't] make you this cake to commemorate the event. Enjoy.