Just so, so, so good

Girl Mans Up by M-E Girard

I love, love, love this book. There is so much excellence I’m not sure where to start.

It is the story of Pen, short for Penelope, a queer first generation Canadian teenager. At the start of the book Pen is doing her best to slide by unnoticed. She avoids fighting with her parents when she can by hiding in the basement where her older brother lives. Her best friend Colby defends her against anyone who bullies her in exchange for her help picking up girls. But when Colby tries to pick up the girl Pen has a crush on, Pen makes a choice for herself. Soon after events in her life start to spiral out of her control, forcing to her to evaluate the decisions she’d made so far, their consequences and man up.

There’s a lot of really, really good things about this book. The tone is great, Pen’s voice is unique and strong and she’s a great character who’s relatable to anyone who’s every felt like an outsider (every single person ever obviously). It’s also a great story of LGBT+ story in a delightful, un-simplistic way. Pen is a lesbian, 100%. Blake, her girlfriend, has dated boys but also dates a woman, implying she’s bi or possibly pan. Pen is very masculine – she cuts her hair short, she dresses in her brother’s hand-me-downs, she loves TMNT and hates Barbies but she also is very sure she’s not transgender. She really recognizes her identity as a masculine woman. But most of this isn’t really stated, it just is. There are scenes that really touch on these issues – for example Pen tells Blake she wants to be touched like a boy – but they aren’t resolved either and as far as all the characters, or at least the sympathetic ones, are concerned, that’s okay. And I think that’s a really good thing. We don’t need every single person to fit into a box.

This book has a lot of really heavy content. Here there be spoilers. The struggles of first generation Canadians are woven throughout the story – Pen struggles with vastly different expectations she has for her own life versus her parents. Language gaps, extended family, food and cultural expectations are woven throughout the book as challenges and advantages for Pen and her brother.

Finally there is some sexual assault. Pen’s internal dialogue does an amazing job of describing her frozen fear, when Colby makes sexual advances on her. Although she clearly doesn’t want them and is not interested in them but she feels like she has no power in their relationship, she’s afraid to find herself without Colby’s friendship so she has to let it happen. It’s really upsetting to read.

There’s also some pretty serious violence, alcohol, drugs and an abortion, which is handled carefully and complexly but is obviously challenging for readers.

I recommend this book enormously,  for teens and adults. If younger readers would like to take a stab at it, I’d recommend that too but encourage an adult conversation about some of the content. Just read it, enjoy it and embrace the really satisfying but not completely happy ending.

Last movie I watched:

Thor: Ragnorak. Pretty excellent, I have to say.

Last TV episode I watched:

The Red Tent. I’m actually really enjoying it, although I’m sure the book is better.

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How not to end a love triangle

Infernal Devices: Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare

Here there be spoilers.

This is the last in the series, and resolves both the story and the love triangle. There were a few really, really big twists that were all pretty good and definitely squee worthy.

I would like to address the love triangle though, because that was a pretty good  and big part of the story that was kind of a cop out. The love triangle has to end of course because the book is over. And it was  a really good love triangle because Tessa loved both Will and Jem for real reasons that make sense for her. Both bring something into her life that makes her feel special and beautiful and brings love to her heart.

So how does the author get out of these two excellent character being equally deserving of the love of the heroine?

Well she kills one of them. But it’s a trick kill – they aren’t really dead. And then as it turns out, two of them are immortal. So naturally, Tessa stays with one of them until he dies of old age and then eventually catches up with the immortal one when chance allow.s

This was a very satisfying ending because I liked both potential lovers but it was also not, I don’t know – emotional I guess? It felt like 2.75 novels building up to Tessa having to make a terrible choice but then she lucks out, circumstance just takes her decision away from her and she just gets to have both. And something about that just made her seem like a victim of circumstance, not her own heart. That was a little disappointing, that’s all.

Last Movie I watched:

Nope. No clue.

Last TV show I watched:

Supernatural. I’m getting through it.

The triangle continues to grow. As does my love for Magnus Bane

Infernal Devices: Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare

This book continues the love triangle/Shadowhunter history started in Clockwork Angel. I’m not sure why, if it’s because I read it a while ago or if its a reflection on the book itself, but I don’t remember it as clearly as I remember the first and third book. I’m sure some details are revealed, at least one character dies, and there are a few good “gasp! No!” moments but overall it was really just a great bridge between a good setup in the first book and a great payoff in the third.

I did really enjoy this series though. Strongly recommend.

Last movie I watched:

Who knows?

Last TV show I watched:

Supernatural.

Love Triangles

Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

Once again, I read this book a long time ago, but like all the Cassandra Clare books, I really enjoyed it. Although it was very heavily based on a love triangle, which I don’t usually like, but Clare did a great job of making all members of of the triangle equally developed instead of having one poor player basically be a straw man there for dramatic tension, instead of being actually lovable.

The supporting cast was also excellent and there were some really, really good reveals, as well as Magnus Bane, making it all in all a great reading experience.

Last movie I watched:

I’m really not sure. Part of 101 Dalmatians I think?

Last TV episode I watched:

How I Met Your Mother. Fun times.

Shadowhunters, historically

Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

As I am continuing to frantically catch up with all the books I’ve months behind on posting about, this will not be a smart post.

Generally I’m over YA titles that focus on love triangles and part of that is because it’s rare you ever see a love triangle where it’s clear what anyone sees in the one partner. There are exceptions occasionally, when the chooser really has a hard time picking between two people they genuinely connect with, but usually it’s a Bella/Edward/Jacob situation where one of them really isn’t in the running.

This book did a really good job at giving both Jem and Will something different to love.

Last moive I watched:

Still Cinderella III

Last TV show I watched:

Santuary. I loved that show when it aired, and I kind of remember why. At least, I remember why I love Amanda Tapping

Space Opera + Graphic Novel = wonderful

Saga Volume Four by Brian K Vaughan and Fiona Staples

As I have previously mentioned, I love Saga. It’s an amazing series which I’m getting depressingly close to being caught up on.

The general pitch for the series is two planets have been at war for generations when a soldier from each side fall in love, marry and have a child which should be impossible. Governments across the galaxy are frantic to get their hands on the baby. The series followed the family as they struggle their way through parenting, marriage and being on the run, but also the people who are hunting them.

If you haven’t read it and are going to, stop here with this recommendation: It’s amazing.

After this point there might be spoilers for the last three books.

Volume Four starts with Prince IV’s son being born, while he is off world wasting time on Sextillion (the sex planet), Alana struggling with her newly established acting career, Marko fumbling his way through being the stay at home parent and The Will’s sister The Brand looking for a way to wake him from his coma.

In addition to the beautiful graphics in this book, the complicated characters and intriguing plot there is also a very basic, human story too. What it means to in a relationship, how easy it for every day stresses to come between people who love each other. What being part of a family means, the good and the bad that love can drive you to. What it means to be a parent and have to put someone else’s needs before your own all the time.

Just a heads up – there’s a lot of mature and graphic content of all varieties – violence, sex, drugs  it’s all in there.

The series is amazing though. I really recommend it.

Last movie I watched:

Part of Deadpool. I love it.

Last TV episode I watched:

Smallville. It’s got a lot of evolution as a show. I think it’s a good thing.

 

Meta Fan Fiction

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

Sometimes ago I read and loved (like really, really, really loved) Fangirl. So I decided to read Carry On which is not the sequel to Fangirl. In Fangirl, Cath is writing a piece of fanfiction for a series called Simon Snow. Carry On is not that piece of fanfiction. Nor is it the original Simon Snow story. It’s an original fanfiction for a fictional story. Even better, it’s a slash fiction.

So Simon (who starts out approximately as Harry Potter) is the prophesied savoir of a magical world that exists as part of ours. It’s his last year at Watford and the inevitable showdown between Simon, his friends and the Mage and the Insidious Humdrum. But what’s on his mind most of the time? How his relationship with his girlfriend Agatha doesn’t feel right and where on earth his archenemy/roommate Baz? But everything’s more complicated then anyone realizes.

This book is really hard to talk about without spoiling but here’s what I can say. You think at the start because the story is a little Harry Potter-esk that it will continue to be Harry Potter-esk and end with an epic showdown that is entertaining and a little cliched but you are wrong. I’m telling you the plot twists are pretty out of left field, which is awesome. The other great thing is the Baz and Simon relationship.  It’s so nice it is to see a same sex couple that aren’t there for tokenism but are actually well developed and interesting both as individuals in a relationship and the relationship itself.

I recommend it. Strongly.

And, yes, I checked, there is fanfiction for the fictional story made up for another fictional story’s fanfiction. It’s great.

Last movie I watched:

Still Karate Kid. I really liked it. Somehow I failed at being a child of the 80s. I’d never seen it.

Last TV episode I watched:

The Musketeers still. So fun.