Sunday, June 15, 2014

Longbourn, a review

Longbourn by Jo Baker
Published by: Vintage (October 8, 2013)
Genre: Romance, literary. retelling. historical
Length: 354 pages
My Rating:★★★★★ 
A sign that you're reading a good book is when you stay up way to late to finish because you won't rest easy until you do. Then, even more so, when you wake next morning too early thinking about it.

Longbourn was that book for me; it caught my eye now again on the internet. ABeautiful Mess did it as part of their book club and it came across my Goodreads account a couple of times. I absolutely adore Pride and Prejudice, but every time I considered picking up a spin-off novel the bad reviews have shied me away from the idea and I choose instead to watch the 2005 movie instead. (Never when my husband's home, though. I always end up crying at weird parts like at the Bingley ball when Darcy starts following Elizabeth. Turn around! Be in love already!) In any event, I heard such great things about Longbourn and decided it was time I gave it a try.
General consensus, and this was true for me as well, is that the story takes some time to get into.
The writing is extremely well done and the imagery paints a vivid picture of the labor it takes to run a home in Britain in the 1800's but the first look at Sarah, the main character, wasn't a pretty one. One of the four workers for the Bennet family, Sarah a girl of sixteen is clearly not happy with her situation.
In all honesty, I wouldn't have liked Sarah if I had met her in real life. Her character is not one I gravitate towards in novels and normally her bitter attitude (no matter how justified) would have turned me off from the story. And for a time, it did. I caught up on Wolverine and the X-men and started on the Uncanny X-Force when I got to a point where I needed to read something without pictures.
The writing, the build up of plot, the very human interactions and James' character pulled me through until Sarah's character grew a bit. The subtlety of the shifts in the story were true to the passage of time and the slow, but noticeable growth in all the characters gave this story more depth and an interesting angle. Jo Baker wrote this story in such a way that by the end of it you wanted the happiness of these characters like you want the happiness of friends in your own life.
The slow burn start of this novel and then the mid-story twist at such a crucial moment is reminiscent of Rebecca, another book I hated until I loved, and is a thing very few writings I've read can do so seamlessly as is done in this story.

If you like love stories, period pieces, or Jane Austen in general read this book; what a great homage to Austen by not tampering with her timeless story but showing a different side of it.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Supergods by Grant Morrison

Supergods by Grant MorrisonPublished by Spiegel & Grau; Reprint edition (June 26, 2012)
Genre: Non-fiction, comics
My Rating: ★★★☆☆

Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Iron Man, and the X-Men the list of names as familiar as our own. They are on our movie and television screens, in our videogames and in our dreams. But what are they trying to tell us? For Grant Morrison, one of the most acclaimed writers in the world of comics, these heroes are powerful archetypes who reflect and predict the course of human existence: Through them we tell the story of ourselves. In this exhilarating work of a lifetime, Morrison draws on art, archetypes, and his own astonishing journeys through this shadow universe to provide the first true history of our great modern myth: the superhero. 

To start things off here at Literally Literary it would be befitting to post a book review. This is actually a revamp of a review I did last March. However, this book still holds importance to me considering it lead me to become more immersed in the comic world despite how little I actually enjoyed reading the book itself.
The book was gifted to me last Christmas and as excited as I was to read it I didn't pick it up till mid February.
 I found the first half of this book extremely informative. Morrison starts with Siegel and Schutser the two young men who drew and created the first Superman concept and then chronologically proceeds to talk about what the industry was at the time and how it changed and grew. He splits the chapters into Ages- "Golden Age, Silver Age, Dark Age" and also the "Renaissance." I found it all very edifying and throughout he added a few autobiographical asides that talked about he's interest in comics and how he viewed them as a child, teen and then young adult. 

It was when he reached the time period in which he started his writing career that the book went down a autobiographical rabbit hole. He spent the majority of two chapters talking about how he as a young adult was over comics and they weren't cool anymore then expounded upon the British punk movement. In part, this was  relevant because he used it to talk about how the overall population that used to enjoy comics outgrew them and moved on to other things-like punk music and drugs. 
My issue isn't so much that he chose to take up sizable chunks of the book with the stories of his life, but the tone which he wrote about himself grated my nerves. 

The latter half of the book was also informative but when I think about the Dark ages or Renaissance sections I have to extract the parts where he spoke of his life and what he was doing personally. It lost an objective look at the comic book evolution and industry that the first half had and every time he complimented a present day writer it seemed left handed and I pictured him smirking as he wrote it. He does seem to have a great respect for comic book artist treating even the mediocre ones with more grace then I would have expected based on his previous writings. 
I had to force myself through to the final pages which did not resonate with me in any way. It's as though when Morrison started this book he had a clear vision of what he wanted it to be about, but then got distracted half way through with the novelty of being able to write about his own life  and ideas for an audience.

Overall, there is one part of me that thoroughly enjoyed the information given in this book. I now know a few things about the comic book universe that I'm sure I never could have learned by just reading comics themselves. 
The other part of me just doesn't like Grant Morrison as a person- (I didn't think I would based on Batman: Arkham Asylum, but I like to give authors several tries) he comes off as arrogant and he's writing reflects that. However, it is his book and if he wants to talk about doing drugs, magic, traveling and his love life he can.

Oddly enough I'm planning on giving Morrison's writing another try. He mentioned in his book his stint on Animal Man and New X-Men which both seem to interest me enough that I might be able to change my mind about his writing though even if I were to end up on the same elevator as him I doubt I exchange as much as a hello. 

(I have since read his stint on New X-Men through Marvel Unlimited and it's sealed my great dislike for him. He's responsible for killing off Jean Grey AND starting Emma Frost and Scott Summer's relationship. I don't think anyone could have made me dislike him more.)

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

In the honor of introductions...

I'm no good at introducing myself.
If we were to meet I would say “hello,” tell you my name and that I was a massage therapist, maybe. Then, I would ask about you. Talking about myself or writing about myself is weird to me. Whenever I was asked to give summaries to companies I worked for to put on their websites I would struggle, feeling the push of stress building in my chest. I'm not sure why; I've been pondering it for awhile.
It's not like I'm not proud of who I am, or aware of who I am, Every time I wrote about myself though, it just seemed fake and mostly silly.
My first blog- a Tumblr I started in 2010 read something like this-

Hi! I'm Lillie! I love my cat, and reading, and nerdy things!

If you were to meet me it would quickly become apparent that there were no exclamation points in my voice probably ever. In my next blog, created early 2012 went thus:

Avid Reader
Comic Lover
Massage Therapist
Wonderfully Married

Concise, and closer to my actual voice, though I don't really talk in bullet points. It's missing eloquence, however. My first blog I created as a hobby to have after a really bad break up, the second as a hobby to get me through an extremely depressive period of unemployment. This time I'm starting a blog as a hobby...because I can. I like having a public platform to share my voice and the things I find important and enjoy. So, in honoring the tradition of introductions-

Hello, I'm Lillian. I live in Southern Indiana with one husband and two cats. I believe in the Grace of God. Literally Literary is my way to ramble about my opinion to the whole of the internet.

It's nice to meet you, too.

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