Review: Ever After High — The Storybook of Legends

Ever After High: The Storybook of Legends by Shannon Hale

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Have I mentioned that I’m in stupid love with Monster High? Something about that doll franchise’s blend of adorable monster girls, increasingly outrageous fashion, and atrocious puns just makes me happy. The webseries’ emphasis on friendship and occasional horror certainly helps, such as designated mean girl Cleo being actually fiercely protective of her friends or Frankie Stein creating a voodoo doll boyfriend to impress her friends—who reveals his sentience by running off screaming after she’s dumped him in the trash. The franchise has been a hit with both adult collectors and the actual target audience. Mattel saw more money in them hills and spawned Ever After High, which is the same concept, but with the children of fairy tale characters in high school instead of the children of classic horror characters.

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Review: How To Be Gay

How To Be Gay by David M. Halperin

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In the traditional queer narrative, going off to college is a big event. Depending on how active your high school’s GSA was, you either are finally meeting more than three other queer people or finally meeting queer people you don’t remember from childhood. But, despite my initial enthusiasm, I never quite connected with the queer groups on my college campus. Setting aside that one person who treated me as if I were a very stupid Hummel figurine prone to spontaneous combustion, they were a fine group of people. But we never really clicked. There was a cultural barrier between me the geek and they the partiers that couldn’t be breached. Eventually, I did find my fellow queer geeks, but that cultural shock stuck with me. Despite my outstanding credentials (Exhibit A: a notebook emblazoned with “Mrs. Joan Watson” in glitter), I wasn’t, apparently, queer enough.

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Page to Screen: Captain America — The Winter Soldier (2014)

Captain America: The Winter Soldier
based on a story by Ed Brubaker and characters by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby

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On May 6th, 2016, Captain America 3 (No Sleep Till Stalingrad, one presumes) will open opposite Batman Vs. Superman (Grimdark: The Movie, one presumes). This is not so much the two titans of the comic book world taking their eternal battle to the silver screen as much as it is Marvel asking DC and Warner Brothers if they want to see a pencil disappear. As Phase 2 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe comes to a close—we’ve only got Guardians of the Galaxy later this year and then its onto phase capper Avengers: Age of Ultron—the success of Marvel Studios (especially now that it’s in the hands of Disney) is envied and unparalleled. DC and Warner Brothers aren’t the only ones attempting to mimic the formula (although they are the only studio hilariously doing it backwards); Sony Pictures wants to do one Spiderman film a year and Fox’s The Wolverine may be the first in a line of films featuring single mutants. (X-Men Origins: Wolverine need not apply.)

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Reading by Ear: Stuart Little

Stuart Little by E. B. White
read by Julie Harris

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Honestly, I do try to vary my audiobooks, but, since I try to only revisit books I read before I was eighteen, I’m starting to scrape the bottom of the barrel after five years of book blogging. It is a truth I do not like to acknowledge that I was not actually much of a reader as a kiddo, although I staunchly identified myself as such. Given the political nonfiction that overwhelmed Fort McBride’s libraries, the bulk of my childhood reading actually came from school.

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Review: Savage Beauty

Savage Beauty by Andrew Bolton, Solve Sundsbo, Tim Blanks, and Susannah Frankel

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I want people to be afraid of the women I dress.

I was never girlish. I made the transition from tiny, furious child to awkward, anxious, and still furious woman-sized child in the span of a few months in fifth grade. At that age, I had no concept of “style” (or the idea of wearing shoes other than a pair of giant white sneakers to school each day)—rather, my guiding light was my violent femmephobia, leading me to drown myself in baggy jeans and ratty t-shirts while feeling smugly superior to girls who wore anything cute. Mainstream culture and the gamer culture I clung to taught me that femininity was incongruent with power and control, the two things I craved most as a child.

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Review: Ancillary Justice

Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie

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Ever since Netflix pulled the majority of Saturday Night Live’s back catalog (soul-crushing ennui!), I’ve put a little more oomph into my other big media project: watching the entirety of Star Trek and slowly growing more and more disenchanted with J. J. Abrams’ rebooted films. I’m in season three of Star Trek: The Next Generation right now, which I am loving. It balances very interesting, philosophical questions that can only be asked in such an imaginative setting with a hearty dollop of nuttiness. The episode that’s waiting for me on Netflix right now, “The Most Toys,” finds Data captured by a collector who sees him only as an object, not a sentient being with agency and choices. Of course, the episode also points out that this is complicated by the fact that Data is a military man, and even has the collector ask if Starfleet is all that it seems.

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Review: Two Boys Kissing

Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan

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Another year, another season of RuPaul’s Drag Race. Part of the show’s appeal lies in how deftly it manipulates the reality television template; this season even opened by separating the queens into two teams in order to generate more drama. But one tension that the show always picks up on is the dividing line between the older queens and the younger queens. This tension is especially potent right now, because six seasons in, there are queens competing who grew up with the show professionally. So you end up getting queens who have little to no knowledge of drag or camp history. Case in point: the conflict between Vivacious, an old-school New York City club kid queen, and the spry, shrill younger queens of the season, especially those who seem to think that drag is all looks. (…Gia Gunn. I’m talking about Gia Gunn.)

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Review: Hawkeye — Little Hits

Hawkeye: Little Hits by Matt Fraction, David Aja, Javier Pulido, Steve Lieber, Francesco Francavilla, and Jesse Hamm 

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Reviewing the middle collections of serialized comics is hard for me. Despite my new and eager devotion to longform media (I’m currently picking my way through Star Trek: The Next Generation; the sheer number of episodes left in the real Star Trek canon is heartening and terrifying), I’m unsure how to review something in progress. Book and film series, of course, are the exception, since each installment should be a satisfying story in and of itself. I suppose I should take my cue from those, but individual comics and television episodes are still too fine for me to parse in my journey as a critical consumer of pop culture.

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