Wednesday, December 17, 2014

A Wonderful Life

Fantasy Life is basically what it says on the tin.  You get to live a digital life in a fantastical world called Reveria .

You can choose to be a magician, an alchemist, a miner or a blacksmith. In total you can choose from 12 different lives.  Through tasks and quests, you level up and gain more experience in your chosen life.  You can even switch between lives.

Do not think that this game is simply a life simulator.  Like many role-playing games, you have the chance to gain various partners and accomplish tasks with them.

This game also has a story.  It would be kind of boring if it didn't.

In world called Reveria, the comfortable pace of everyday life is broken when a meteorite crashes into town. The King of Castele picks your character to investigate the event and the strange things that have been happening all over the world.  It is up to you to unravel the mystery and save Reveria.

A bonus with this game is that it is long.  You could put a lot of time into it and still have more to do, which I think is pretty cool for a small 3DS game.

Fantasy Life is rated E 10+ meaning everyone who is ten years of age or older.  It does include things such as comic mischief, fantasy violence, suggestive themes and use of alcohol.

And here's a video that sums up a lot of things that I mentioned and shows you some of the gameplay.



From Neverwhere to the Good Omens

Last year around Christmas, BBC Radio 4 released a radio play based on Neil Gaiman's novel Neverwhere.  It had a fantastic cast (i.e. Natalie Dormer, James McAvoy and Sophie Okonedo) and it was so well done.  

This year, Good Omens, which is a novel written by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett, is getting the same treatment.  I am so excited about it because of all the familiar voices I will be hearing.
















Peter Serafinowicz will be playing Crowley and Mark Heap will be playing Aziraphale.  I adore them both and think they are perfect.  The other cast members are such a treat as well like Colin Morgan and Harry Lloyd.  The list is quite long so check it out here.
















If you're worried about not being able to listen to the play because you're outside the UK, don't be worried. You can listen from wherever you are as long as you're on the right website.

The play will be six episodes long and start on December 22nd.  The schedule is as follows:
Episode 1 & Episode 2: December 22, 2014
Episode 3: December 23, 2014.
Episode 4: December 25, 2014.
Episode 5: December 26, 2014.
Episode 6: December 27, 2014.

The times are listed on the website as well but remember timezones will be different.  Also, Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett have a cameo in the production.   I hope you'll tune in because it seems like it will be such good fun. 


Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Personal Libraries


I found this cute little graphic while wandering tumblr and catching up on library news.  It's cool for me because it highlights the different ways we would all organize the books in our lives.

This image is also a print available for purchase on the artist's website, Tom Gauld - Guardian Prints.






A Journey and A Quest

Journey 
written and illustrated by Aaron Becker

A lonely girl finds a red crayon that opens up a world of adventure.

This book has no words.  None.  It doesn't need them as far as I'm concerned because Becker allows the images to show the story.

I believe that this book can be used by parents and librarians to create a fun storytelling experience.  You could add the words to the story yourself.  The illustrations grow in complexity and it is through the background images that the story world really comes to life.  The use of colour in the latter half of the book is so stunning.

This book left me speechless.


****************************************************************

Quest
written and illustrated by Aaron Becker

A king from another world arrives in need of help. The adventure continues but this time with a friend.

This one is still wordless. Consistency is such a great thing.  If this book were to suddenly have words on its pages, it would sort of cheapen the experience of seeing it.

The story becomes a lot more complex this time around as the two characters from the first book must go on an epic quest to restore a king to his throne while also avoiding an evil army.  The first book felt like an exploration of a far off land and this one feels like the characters are being called back to save it.  The scenes really grow and expand.  It's lovely to take in all of the details of the art and see what Aaron Becker is trying to communicate through them.  Stunning work, again.


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This is a trilogy so I am most definitely looking forward to seeing where Aaron Becker takes this series next.  Here's a trailer for the first book if you want to know what to expect.





Friday, November 28, 2014

THE WORLD NEEDS BOOKS

This little girl is amazing.  Watch the video and hear this child speak some adorable words about books and little libraries.


Friday, November 21, 2014

Be the judge of your own happiness.

The next book in the Austen Project has been released and this time it is Emma.  Alexander McCall Smith is the author.  His earlier work includes the series The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency.


Emma Woodhouse has just graduated from University and she's headed  home to Norfolk.  She's ready to enter adulthood with a bang. But on her own terms. 

While trying to get her interior design business up and running, Emma gets distracted by the infinite possibilities of matchmaking.  Soon she's pairing up people in the village, including her friend Harriet.  

Emma thinks she's wise beyond her years but she's about to realize that she still has a lot to learn.

*****************************************************

I have seen some truly scathing reviews of this novel.  Honestly, you'd think they were written using basilisk blood and meant to turn possible readers to stone. But I'm not going to let that stop me.  I'm going to give it a chance anyway.  Waiting on the library for it though so...soon.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Have Courage and Be Kind


I have been waiting for news of this movie for some time now.  The only thing we had was a poster with a glass shoe for the longest time.  Now, we have a trailer for the new Cinderella film.  Press play and feel the magic!



P.S. Hayley Atwell is in it and I adore her to bits.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Remembrance Day: I'm Dreaming of Home


Shooting at the Stars: The Christmas Truce of 1914 
written and illustrated by John Hendrix

During the Christmas of 1914, a great and terrible war was being fought but something miraculous happened.  Soldiers from both sides agreed upon a truce and celebrated Christmas together.  A young British soldier writes home to his mother describing how soldiers who were supposed to be enemies shared songs, gifts and Christmas trees.

Firstly, this picture book is beautifully illustrated.  It also doesn't shy away from depicting fallen soldiers. However, if you're worried about it being graphic.  It isn't.  It does not show gaping wounds or blood. Remember, it's a children's book.

I loved the fictional account of the main character.  It really highlighted the humanity of the soldiers.  That they were people with lives outside the conflict.

This picture book is interesting because from the beginning, it gives you the historical context of WWI.  I really enjoyed the last few pages where the author included a bibliography of what he looked at during the writing process.  He even included a historical photograph of a Christmas Truce from WWI. Hendrix even included a scene in the book of soldiers taking pictures together to mirror the archival photo.  As an adult, I can appreciate this but I don't know if young children will.  Maybe it will lead to an interesting discussion with your children as you read it together.

Overall, a really great picture book that takes a look at an event that does not receive enough attention.


In this same post, I would like to share one of my favorite foreign films, Joyeux Noel.  It too is about the Christmas truce of 1914 and it is an amazing movie.  One of the things I love about it is its range of experiences.  On the battlefield, there are three groups: the Scottish, the French and the German. They are all given a voice.  This movie is also fantastic at showing the politics and ideology behind warfare.  Some of it will leave you in angry tears.

I do recommend the film to an older audience (i.e. 18 years of age or older) just because it has some content that may be considered disturbing and mature. 



Why Pokemon Can Be Great











A lot of parents scoff when they hear the word Pokemon.   Spending that $50 every few years for a game you think is ridiculous chips away at your soul.  I can understand this.  However, I am here to change your mind about that.

Here's 3 good reasons to give the game a chance:

1. LITERACY.  The game requires you to read.  A lot.  You spend quite a bit of time talking to different characters to gather information and having different characters talk to you for battles.  This is great for reluctant readers because it is a game.

I will say this though, your child has to be able to read.  Do not buy this game if they have just started             reading because the game will only frustrate them.  But also pay attention and know when they are ready for it.  Below is an example of the sorts of sentences players will frequently be running into.
       

2. DIVERSITY.  That's right.  This game has got some diversity.  I remember back in the old days when the colour and graphics were so basic and all you could choose as a character was a boy.  You could name him, but it wasn't the same.  You wanted to make your character look like you a little.

And now you can.  You can be a girl and even a person of colour in the video game. 


But wait!  There's more because even characters you meet will be people of colour.  This is progress that I was not expecting.  It's a step in the right direction and I hope that the game developers will keep on that path.


3. IT'S CHALLENGING.  Pokemon may seem very childish because of the TV show and the cute creatures, but it is designed to challenge players.  You start out as a new Pokemon trainer and you're constantly learning the mechanics of the game over and over again.  Players also have to make critical decisions during battles (i.e. what pokemon to use  or what move to use).  

The whole point of the Gym Leaders is about testing the strength of the Pokemon the player has raised and their knowledge.  All Pokemon have their weaknesses and not being aware of them can be costly.  But being aware of them can win you the battle.

Pokemon also has such a diverse audience that includes a hefty number of adults.  If it were strictly a child's game, it would bore an adult within a day. 


I hope this post has opened your mind to the possibilities of  Pokemon.  The next Pokemon games in the series Alpha Sapphire and Omega Ruby come out in North America on November 21st.  


UPDATE: Sad news, everyone.  The character customization offered in Pokemon X and Y will not return in Omega Ruby or Alpha Sapphire.  You can still choose between a boy and a girl but choosing your skin colour is gone.  It is a step back in my opinion because it really gave fans a chance to experience Pokemon with a character that could represent them more fully. 

Ultimately, I do not know why the decision was made but saying that it was left out because it was game specific to X and Y or because this is a remake of an older game doesn't quite make sense.  They're just hollow excuses.


Thursday, November 6, 2014

New New New Chu



The next installment in the Chu series will be out April 21st, 2015.

Glad to see that the Gaiman and Rex team is still going strong.

Friday, October 31, 2014

The Old World Stories

















The All Hallow's Read website has their own section for book recommendations so I thought I would contribute.

The post is about classic creepy novels.  Those books written in another time and in a language we're not used to hearing or speaking anymore.

The Turn of the Screw
by Henry James

A woman takes a job as a governess to two children on a lonely countryside estate.  She soon finds herself bearing witness to ghostly figures that roam the house and gardens, searching for the children under her care.  

This book is a short one but goodness, every word is designed to terrify you.  I made the mistake of reading it in one sitting during a winter night.  The house creaked a lot with the cold and someone kept getting up to use the washroom.  A nightmare of a night. This novel is such a delight not just because it terrifies with its suggestions but also because it allows for each reader to experience it differently.  The novel is ambiguous so readers are informed by the main character and their own feelings about what they read.  Henry James...turning you into your own worst enemy since 1898.


The Woman in White
by Wilkie Collins

On a midnight stroll on the grounds of a great house, Walter Hartright meets her.  A woman dressed head to toe in white.  What follows is a story of betrayal, mistaken identity, amnesia and crime and of a man with a taste for white mice.

I read this for a class during my time as an undergrad at University.  I think I may have been one of the few that got through it.  It is definitely not a book for everyone. It is long and descriptive, and it  takes its time getting to the good stuff but when it all comes together? It's worth the wait.  This story has mystery and atmosphere and gothic horror.  The last half of the book will leave you screaming.


The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
by Robert Louis Stevenson

Dr. Jekyll, a good man, creates a potion that allows another darker nature to come through.  It's name is Mr. Hyde.

What is so scary about this book is the suggestion that each human being has both good and evil inside them.  The dual personality in one body that struggles for dominance (i.e. Jekyll & Hyde).  Despite knowing the story already, watching the events unfold was interesting.  And Stevenson is a fantastic writer because he filled this short book with subtle complexity.



The Illustrated Man
by Ray Bradbury

The Illustrated Man is a wanderer whose entire body is covered in pictures and each one is alive. Each one tells a story.

Ray Bradbury is an amazing writer.  Reading Fahrenheit 451 as a teenager, I laughed at the idea of flat wall to wall televisions.  Look what we have now. He had a knack for seeing the possibilities in fear and anxiety and that is why his writing is timeless. This collection of stories ranges from fantasy to horror to science fiction. I dare anyone to read The Veldt and say they were not scared by the end of it.



The Best of H.P. Lovecraft
by H.P. Lovecraft

A collection of 16 short and terrifying stories.

Everyone always recommends Mr. Lovecraft and after reading this collection of short stories, I know why.  He knew how to write a story that started out creepy and then got creepier until you were so scared that sleeping was no longer an option.  I dare anyone to turn off the lights after reading The Rats in the Walls.



Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Name's John Constantine













Constantine premiered last Friday, and I enjoyed it immensely.  Definitely better than Gotham, which was a bit boring in the first episode? I'm finding it hard to go back to.

Anyway,  I have decided to make a short reading list for those of you who want to give the comics a try and do not know where to start.  While the show is different, reading the source material can't hurt.  And you never know, you just might find a new series to get hooked on.
There's more than what I have listed, but I did not want to overwhelm new readers.  If you make it through the above and are looking for more, then there's a pretty good list over at wikipedia.

And with the New 52 reboot, Hellblazer became Constantine.  There are fewer volumes with the new series.

I do recommend these comics for an older teen reader (i.e. 17 years of age) as there may be content that's a little too scary or strange or violent for a younger reader.


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Just the Sorrow, Thanks.

House of Ivy and Sorrow
by Natalie Whipple

On a day just like any other, a stranger appears at the ivy covered gate.  The stranger brings with him a darkness that Jo has never seen before. It is then she realizes that the curse that killed her mother is now coming for her.  But the more Jo and her grandmother find out about the curse and the person pursuing them, the less things make sense.  They need to figure out how they can fight back or else the Hemlock bloodline ends with them.


If you have skipped ahead and taken a look at the one star I gave this novel then you know that I did not enjoy it.  Goodness.  Let's start out with the positive.  The ideas in this novel were really interesting.

  • Magic is always dark and it takes the strength of character to stay good.
  • Magic has a price.  Always.  Be it flesh or tooth or hair or blood.
  • Places as part of the magical equation.
  • Only women can be witches.
  • The witch lore and writing of histories.
In books, television and movies there has always been good magic and then dark magic. A clear divide that lets us know where the line has been drawn.  To say that all magic is dark makes things so much more intriguing and it raises the stakes in the novel for characters. Also, that magic requires payment from the person involved in the spell makes it painful and a lot more than reading a super secret language from an old book.  However, good ideas can only take you so far.  This book was full of them, but they were not executed well and they did not reach their full potential.

Now onto the major points of the novel that quickly destroyed any enjoyment of this book that I could have had.

To start with, the characters were wooden and stiff.  None of them had individual voices that made them stand out.  They were all just puppets that spoke when they needed to for the main character.  Speaking of the main character, I could not connect with her at all.  She seemed to switch from powerful and adult sorceress to vapid teenager.  There did not seem to be consistency there.

Next, the romance.  I was nonplussed by it.  Their story was not written in a way that made me feel invested in their relationship. If anything, Jo and Winn did not make sense.  There was no build-up.  Also, I got the sense that there might have been a love triangle going on? But it was so forced that I do not know why it was included.  Honestly, the reader knows from the beginning that the other guy does not stand a chance.  So, what was the point of having it?

The villain of the story? Forgettable.  They did not have a presence strong enough to make me scared or fearful for the characters.  This leads me to the resolution of the conflict, it was too easy.  Everything was always too simple and it all worked out too well.  The situation involving her friends, especially.  How they were so accepting and ready to offer up painful payments for spells when they had just been introduced to witchcraft five minutes ago.

It was a disappointing read.  The sad thing is that the first few pages of the first chapter had me..  I think if the writer had slowed down, fattened it up in parts and worked on the characters and the dialogue, then this could have been a better book.


Sunday, October 12, 2014

Keepin' You Hangin': Gwen Stacy












This just in! It seems that the Gwen Stacy as Spider Woman issue I mentioned a few weeks ago is being turned into an ongoing series.  That's the information coming from  New York Comic Con attendee Huw Parry , who works over at Talking Comics.

This is exciting news and I hope it keeps being true.  As a girl who grew up watching the Spider Man TV series on the Fox network, this is so incredible.  More female characters in comics taking the lead is what I have been yearning for.

~*Under the Sea*~

Dolphin SOS
written by Roy & Slavia Miki
& illustrated by Julie Flett

Off the coast of Newfoundland, a town wakes up to the urgent cries of three dolphins trapped in the ice.





Two things were disappointing about this picture book.

1. It lacked the diversity I hoped for.  I wanted the main character to be part of the First Nations peoples and was sad to see she was blonde and blue eyed.  My question is why not someone from First Nations?

2. The text lacked the flow I am used to seeing in other picture books.  Reading it aloud felt stilted.  The writing simply didn't inspire an interesting reading experience.

3. The art was cold and uninviting.  It did not pull you in.

What I do love about this book is its story and the information at the end of the book.  I think the story about a community stepping in to do the right thing is so lovely and touching.  It sounds cheesy but it is true.

The end of the book also gives readers information on the true event that the book is based on and on the type of dolphin presented in the story.  I think that extra bit of information could be fun to share with a child. It could lead to them wanting picture books on marine animals.



The Storm Whale
written and illustrated by Benji Davies

Noi is a lonely boy who lives by the sea with his father.  That is until a small whale washes up on shore.


While this one is not based on a true story, I adored it.  It had a great flow in its writing and each line made you smile.  The art is smooth and cute and the colours are lovely.  I also like the interaction between the art and the story.  The artwork adds to the story instead of just retelling it, which I feel enriches the entire reading experience.

The story itself is sweet.  Noi is lonely despite his six cats.  His father is a fisherman that works for many hours each day.  The whale that Noi saves becomes his friend and because of this new friendship, the father learns something about his son and their relationship becomes much stronger.  Overall, just a very nice book.




Friday, October 10, 2014

Diversity in Books


I follow a lot of blogs about young adult books to keep up with what is happening. Today, I stumbled upon a really cool chart about diversity in YA.    These are just some of the titles that show various social issues, relationships, races, cultures and emotions that can be found in the genre.

But this doesn't mean that it is perfect. Of course not. The amount of books that don't touch the above outnumber the titles that do.  This is simply unacceptable.  Our lives are full of different experiences and people and the stories we read should reflect that reality.

And while the chart only mentions contemporary YA fiction, diversity is needed in every genre and subgenre. Not just in young adult books but also in adult romance novels, science fiction, horror, fantasy and nonfiction.  Think about it.



































This amazing chart is made by 16-year-old Summer Khaleq.  Check her out at her blog over here:  MissFictional’s World of YA Books.  Also read her post over at the YALSA Blog.


Thursday, October 9, 2014

All Hallows Eve + Reading

There is something in the air, something...spooky.  It's October!  If there is one thing I love about the 10th month of the year it is that it is full of strange and scary things.  It's the only time of year that I have an excuse to repeatedly watch Hocus Pocus and those specials about fictional monsters on the History channel.  I mean...where else are you going to learn that decomposing bodies pass gas? That's hilarious.

Anyway, this year in terms of books, Neil Gaiman is promoting a little thing called All Hallow's Read.  To be put simply, it's about buying scary and spine tingling books or comics for other human beings.  They could be young or old.  They could be your favorite person or your least favorite person. What is important is that you spread the terror of reading spooky stuff.  This isn't an event that requires you to be random. Keep the lucky people in mind and pick items that suit them.

Check out the website for book recommendations. If you have any questions and don't know where to start with this, they have this really informative FAQ section.  Spread the word!

I have also included a video below of Mr. Gaiman talking about All Hallow's Read.




Friday, September 19, 2014

Superheroes Stomping Out Bullying

Guardians of the Galaxy with Gamora




This October is National Bullying Prevention Month.  I am just finding this out myself and it's amazing.  I was bullied when I was younger and no one really talked about it much or took action to prevent it so the fact that there is something being done now is incredible.




The Incredible Hulk




This relates to comics because Marvel is teaming up with the STOMP Out Bullying organization to bring awareness to this increasingly important issue through variant covers to some major titles that they publish.







STOMP Out Bullying is also an interesting organization because they work to decrease and prevent not only face-to-face bullying but also cyberbullying, sexting and other forms of abuse through technology. They also educate others on topics such as homophobia and racism and do this through their website as well as going out and educating communities all over the United States.

Go to their website and find out how you or your organization can get  involved or just pick up the following comics this month.

Captain America, Rocket Raccoon & Star Lord












Full title List of Variant Cover Comics:
  • Avengers #36
  • Captain America #25
  • Guardians of the Galaxy #20
  • Hulk #7
  • Inhuman #7
  • Legendary Star-Lord #4
  • Rocket Raccoon #4

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Gwen Stacy: Spider-Woman

Just this past Wednesday, a new comic came out that I have been waiting to highlight for some time now.

For everyone who loved Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy in The Amazing Spider-Man 1 & 2 , here is a new way to keep that love alive and find a new way to interact with the character you love.  

Gwen Stacy: Spider-Woman
Written by Jason Latour
Art by Robbi Rodriguez
Lettering by Clayton Cowles
Colouring by Rico Renzi

In this comic it is not Peter Parker that gets bitten by a radioactive spider but Gwen Stacy.  So naturally, she puts a suit together and gets out there to do some good in the world.

Before you get confused, I should tell you that this story takes place in an alternate universe so while Peter Parker does still exist, Stacy is the focus of the story.  What I am truly interested to see is this new dimension added to the character.  How does she change and what is her backstory that drives her to become a masked superhero?  

What I want from this issue is for it to breathe new life into a character that has been dead for over 40 years in the comic book universe.  I want her to be her own person and not just a love interest for a boy.  

For those of you hesitant about investing in a long running series, don't be worried.  This is a single issue story with no confirmed plans to continue.  This is also sad news because when you really fall for a character and their story, you want to learn more about their lives.  

Hopefully, Marvel will see the interest and buzz surrounding this one-shot title and decide to invest more time in it.  Fingers crossed!



Monday, September 15, 2014

Dream a Little Dream About Bats


Something incredible happened just this past Wednesday.  In a possible future storyline for the Batgirl title called Future's End, they brought back a two familiar faces that I thought would never wear the Bat symbol again.

Batgirl: Future's End #1 - In this issue, the future is bleak.  Batgirl is gone and in her place is the Bete Noir. Not all hope is lost as a league of Batgirls rise from the shadows to take up the mantle that Barbara Gordon left behind.

What we get here is a total treat.  Not a bunch of unfamiliar girls wearing the mask but two familiar faces: Stephanie Brown and Cassandra Cain.  And trust me, they are more strong and alive than they have ever been.  This is such a great thing since most of us thought they were gone for good.  Scott Snyder's Batman Eternal only succeeded in reintroducing Stephanie Brown as The Spoiler but not as Batgirl.  Take a look at them in all their glory in the panel below.


This issue is heartbreaking in a lot of ways and still really touching as well. The art and writing is so tight that you feel the loss and anger and fear and hope. It's a short glimpse into a possible future for these characters and I am glad I got to experience it.  I wish there could be more.


This is the final issue for Gail Simone for Batgirl and I am so sad to see her go.  She worked hard and did well with it.  All the troubles and struggles she faced with the editors at DC and she still leaves the title having done some great work.  I may have had my issues with it, but it doesn't mean that I did not enjoy it from issue #1 to #34.  I wish her luck on her future projects.

My Take on Against YA

Today, I chose to talk about the infamous Slate article, Against YA, written by Ruth Graham.  I am incredibly late with post since the article was written months ago, but I thought I should give the topic time to calm down.  It also gave me some time to really think about the author's points.  

In the following numbered points, I will be presenting the author's ideas and then following them up with my own.  This is not to say she is totally wrong but more to present two different points of view on the matter.  

1. "But even the myriad defenders of YA fiction admit that the enjoyment of reading this stuff has to do with escapism, instant gratification, and nostalgia."

The thing I take issue with here is that Ruth Graham generalizes.  She takes a few opinions and attaches them to the whole group.  Opinions without context.  Because what she grabs onto here are keywords that startle her.  It is not a full explanation of what adult readers get out of reading YA.

I would also argue that if a book is good and well done, it takes us out of our daily situations and struggles, and deposits us into someone else's story.  It diverts and distracts.  This is effectively, escapism.  I'm not just talking about fiction.  This goes for narrative nonfiction as well.  What I am also not understanding from this article is why escapism, instant gratification and nostalgia are so harmful. I am actually very curious to know how these three things have negatively affected adult readers.  Are these readers allowing escapism and nostalgia to take over their lives? 

2. "But crucially, YA books present the teenage perspective in a fundamentally uncritical way. It’s not simply that YA readers are asked to immerse themselves in a character’s emotional life—that’s the trick of so much great fiction—but that they are asked to abandon the mature insights into that perspective that they (supposedly) have acquired as adults."

This rings false for me.  In reading a YA novel as an adult, you are asked to read.  You are not asked to abandon your own beliefs and values.  I think that that is taking it a bit far.  I have never wavered in being critical of a character and their actions because of the age range of a novel.  As the author herself proves in her own article, you can read YA and still find characters to be unrealistic and ridiculous.

To say that authors write a character with the expectation that readers should swoon for them is so strange. They present characters they create and it is up to us to decide what we think.

3. "Most importantly, these books consistently indulge in the kind of endings that teenagers want to see, but which adult readers ought to reject as far too simple. YA endings are uniformly satisfying, whether that satisfaction comes through weeping or cheering. These endings are emblematic of the fact that the emotional and moral ambiguity of adult fiction—of the real world—is nowhere in evidence in YA fiction."

What I find so intriguing about the above idea is that she connects the real world with adult fiction in the same sentence.  She talks about how realistic or contemporary YA is not reflective of the real world and I agree, it is not.  But I do not expect it to be since it is fiction.  It is a story that someone thought up that takes place in a world similar to our own.  There are no spirits or superpowers or angels or futuristic technology.

Do I want loose ends tied up in this fictional universe? You bet I do.  Why should adults reject a happy or satisfying ending to a story that is not real?  Because life is disappointing and unfair and it can end abruptly? Adults and teens know how life truly flows.  Wanting a good ending to a book is not a bad thing or a sign of maturity.

Final Words:  I feel that Ruth Graham's article is a reactionary piece because she fears that young adult novels are replacing literary fiction for adult readers.  It is my opinion, as an adult, that literary fiction is not for everyone and not for every reading moment.  I believe that readers should read widely, across genres and across bookstore age categories or else they will miss out on the joys of reading.  Readers should feel comfortable in trying new things and not be shamed by friends, family or their peers for doing so.  But how can they when a sarcastic article like this one is published a few times a year?

I also think that many adults can relate to contemporary YA fiction because sometimes the situations presented in those books reflect their adult lives.  Before you scoff and close this page, give me a moment to explain.  Life is messy and confusing, obvious right? However, turning 21 or 35 or 48 or 57 does not end that. Some people take decades to figure out what they want out of life, what they want to do and who they want to be.  They also make immature decisions and make painful mistakes. YA contemporary fiction presents all that in the formative years.  

What Ruth Graham lacks is an understanding that adults are people who are ultimately different.  You cannot shoehorn people into your own self-created categories of what a reader is and what they should be reading and what their reading experience should be like.  Truth is that some individuals find literary fiction too boring, formulaic, highbrow and inaccessible.  These are actual comments made by my friends who are tired of academia and their constant need to pretend that literary novels are always 100% amazing.

Just read what you want.  Do not be ashamed of it.  Be critical and question it.  Have fun.


Graham, R. (2014). Against YA. Slate.  Retrieved from http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/books/2014/06/against_ya_adults_should_be_embarrassed_to_read_children_s_books.html

Monday, September 8, 2014

International Literacy Day 2014

Literacy is something I feel very strongly about.  I believe everyone has the right to learn to read and write and to be able to understand how to access information. You may be sitting there reading this and thinking to yourself, "Well, of course.  That goes without saying and without your flowery language."

My point is, however, there are many people in this world (young and old) that do not know how to read, write or access the information they need.  Today is International Literacy Day 2014 and it is a day to be thankful for what we have and to bring awareness.

UNESCO (i.e. United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) has created an amazing infographic.  Below is just one part of the whole thing.  I hope you'll check it out.


Saturday, September 6, 2014

How to Read a Book 101

So September 6th (i.e. today) is Read a Book Day!  In honor of this most auspicious day,  I am posting a graphic that I found on the Quirk Books website .  I thought it was pretty cool and fitting.  It was made by the talented Mike Rogalski.