Are You My Mother? by Alison Bechdel
For many artists, the sophomore effort can be more difficult than the first. After all, you’ve had years and years to put together your first piece, but now you’ve got to do it again, hopefully better, in a shorter span of time. Alison Bechdel’s Are You My Mother? is not a traditional sophomore effort, considering the long-running Dykes to Watch Out For, but it is Bechdel’s second graphic memoir after Fun Home, whose deserved accolades put her on the mainstream map. The fact that it seems to be a matched set with the first memoir—one for her father, one for her mother—invites further comparison.
Palace of Spies by Sarah Zettel
During my last two years of college, I discovered Fanny Burney. While, shamefully, I have yet to pick up the rest of her delightful canon, I heartily enjoyed Evelina. It was so fresh and fun. After examining recent YA-packaged editions of the Burney-inspired Jane Austen, I wondered why eighteenth century coming of age novels featuring actual young adults (only Northanger Abbey features a teenager) weren’t given the same treatment.
The Essential Dykes to Watch Out For by Alison Bechdel
Before I ever picked up Fun Home, I knew of Alison Bechdel’s long-running comic Dykes to Watch Out For. After all, it gave us the Bechdel Test; how could I not? But I never picked up any collections. These past two semesters, I’ve taken to working on homework and other stuff at the public library. The best tables to work on are in the midst of the fiction section, and, one day, while working, I looked up to see The Essential Dykes to Watch Out For on the shelf. I was a bit swamped then, and then it was checked out, but eventually, I got my hands on it, right in the middle of a reading slump. Which it promptly cured.
The Tigress of Forlì by Elizabeth Lev
Out in the real world (i.e., libraries and bookstores), I’m a very picky reader. There are ways to appeal directly to my lizard brain—have an impossibly gorgeous cover!—but for the most part, I tend not to pick up books up without a recommendation from a fellow bibliophile. All of this, of course, goes out the window when I’m window-shopping on NetGalley, as I click “Request!” willy-nilly based on whether a premise sounds cool or not and end up with a pile of digital galleys to read. On one level, it’s a fantastic problem to have; on another, I end up with reads like this—neither really good or really bad. Hmm.
Animals Make Us Human by Temple Grandin and Catherine Johnson
I’m fond of dogs. (There’s a Westie in my closet as I’m writing this; Charlemagne is nesting in my boots, the little adorable freak.) I’m forever fascinated by the relationship humans and dogs have. Dogs, for instance, instinctively know that when a human points to something, she wants you to look at it—but they have little to no pointing behaviors and, of course, no hands. I’m forever looking for a good book that explores our unique connection. After seeing many positive reviews for Animals Make Us Human, I confidently added it to to the reading list hoping to find some insight into how a dog thinks. While I did get that, as well as a interesting perspective into humane slaughter practices, it was poorly executed.
The Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien
As April ends, so does The Lord of the Rings Readalong. This journey through Middle-Earth with all of you has been tons of fun, so thank you guys. I’d also like to give special thanks to my fellow hosts, Eva, Teresa, and Maree. I hope you all enjoyed this readalong as much as I have! Again, although The Lord of the Rings is technically a novel in three parts, I’m still giving each third a review. Everything I said in the other two apply here, so I’ve focused on stories and scenes that particularly struck a chord with me in this review. Let’s dig in!
The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien
The Lord of the Rings presents a particular difficulty in reviewing, since it’s a novel published in three volumes. But I already gave the first volume its own review, and I strive to be consistent. (Other than, you know, disrupting Eric Van Lustbader Week… but this is much more interesting!) So let’s get started.
The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien
When I was but a wee lass, I picked up a mammoth copy of The Lord of the Rings, eager to read the story the film adaptation of The Fellowship of the Ring, which I adored, was based on. I got so lost during the Council of Elrond that I think I put it down, although I may have finished it at some point prior to fourteen. But it all went over my head, because I was really too young to appreciate just how amazing it is.