Flash Review, Issue #001

Though I do enjoy writing nice, long book reviews, my normal modus operandi when finishing up a title on Goodreads is to write a few quick paragraphs instead. Here are some flash reviews based on what I’ve been reading lately. (For more, you can always follow me on Goodreads!)

This was inspired by my friend Emily’s book reviews on her blog.

The Geek’s Guide to Dating by Eric Smith

geeksguideWhile I’m most definitely out of this book’s target audience – I’m female and in a relationship already – I found this book truly funny and helpful. From the point of view of the type of person on the opposite side of most of these situations, I’d agree with basically all the advice the author gives out (yes, it’s nice for the gentleman to offer to pay for the date; yes, he should accept when I tell him I’d like to pay half; no, a gentleman should NOT wear a geeked-out logo shirt on a first date.)

But the best part of The Geek’s Guide to Dating is the voice, which is incredibly funny and jam-packs the advice with geeky references (including a how-to guide on dressing like geekdom’s most debonair dudes.)  Even if you’re not in need of some lady-chasing advice yourself, it’s a fun book to check out and would make a really good gift for a geeky guy in your life who’s currently looking for love.

- 4.75 out of 5 stars

The Almost Girl by Amalie Howard

TheAlmostGirl_CoverI love sci-fi, I love alternate history and alternate universes, and I love kickass female heroes, but The Almost Girl just didn’t do it for me. Between the dialogue – which I found a little stiff, cumbersome, and unnatural – and the let’s-make-vauge-and-ominous-allusions style of the plot, I had a hard time reading it in a single sitting, despite the fact that I can read most YA sci-fi in a very short amount of time (when engaged.)

There were some problematic things in the story – a LOT of comparisons between the heroine and other, more sexualized and consequently inherently bad female characters being my biggest annoyance – as well as the fact that I’m just NOT the reader this book is intended for. It’s much more of an action-y romance than a sci-fi story, and I think romance readers will enjoy it much more.

- 2.5 out of 5 stars

Boxers & Saints by Gene Yang

#1: Boxers – Wow. Just – wow.

I sat down to review this after finishing Boxers – directly after reading Saints – and it’s incredibly overwhelming. This historical fiction graphic novel follows Little Bao from his quiet village to the capital of China as he attempts to free China from Western military and political influence and “keep China whole.” But his journey isn’t precisely like the ones in the operas he loves so dearly, and his path wavers in places.

While I’d recommend this graphic novel to absolutely everyone, it would be best read by someone interested in learning more about world history or a particular interest in colonialism in literature.

- 5 out of 5 stars

boxers&saints

#2: Saints – To start off, allow me to preface with the following statements: I read this book before reading Boxers, which is a longer story and seems to be intended to be read first, and I am Catholic myself.

That said, I found Saints to be an incredibly compelling historical fiction. It didn’t shy away from the ugliness of religious-based politics – in fact, almost the entire story is about religion and war – but at the same time explored why people would choose to convert to a faith when it could be so potentially deadly to do so.

I’d recommend this graphic novel for those interested in world history, especially those not well-versed in Chinese history or imperialism, and for anyone interested in colonialism or post-colonialism in literature.

- 5 out of 5 stars

December 2013 Review

It’s always sad to close out a year. But I can honestly say that 2013 has been a wonderful year for me: I’m officially halfway through my graduate degree program, Girls in Capes launched and met with wonderful successes, and I had the opportunity to meet some of the most interesting people yet.

December was a great month, though: I had the opportunity to speak at an event in my hometown and ended the year at Girls in Capes with a bang.

Here are a few pieces I did this December:

This month, I read a ton of books to catch up on my 100 Books in 2013 challenge.  There were several graphic novels – SWEET REIN Vol. 1, WONDER WOMAN: THE HIKETEIA, WHO IS WONDER WOMAN?, RINNE vol. 1 & 2, and THE COMPLETE PERSEPOLIS – along with a few prose titles as well, including ALLEGIANT and HOSTAGE THREE.

Of the new-to-me books, I think the best was probably RINNE, written and illustrated by one of my favorite mangaka. Naturally, though, my overall favorite read in December was WONDER WOMAN: THE HIKETEIA, which was a re-read for me. It’s the first American graphic novel I ever read, and it inspired me to read more comics. But beyond that, it changed my life in many ways, which I spoke on earlier this month during my appearance at Women Unbound in Toledo.

[Guest Post] Writing for Graphic Novels

I had the feeling that it would be easier to achieve the minimum of 100 pages for Script Frenzy than the 50.000 words for last year’s NaNoWriMo and till now that seems to be the case, even being my first time writing a script and not having written much on the second week.

It was a bit tough deciding what to do, the novelty of it and the many possibilities making me euphoric (a videogame? A comic? Oh, how about radio plays?) but I ended up choosing to script a story that I had on my mind for a while in graphic novel format.

Usually, before I draw the final comic or graphic novel pages I make thumbnails of them first with the dialogue for each panel and notes scribbled on the margins, so adding scripting before all that was a new approach to me.

I started piecing the outline together and developing the characters around a month before the event started. I was pretty excited to try something new and developing a (sort of) new story, especially after the fun I had last year with NaNo. Having a lot of free time then helped the want of doing something, of being productive and work on personal projects.

In the first couple of days, still struggling with the new writing format, I was a bit too focused on how the layout of the page would look in the end which made me slow (I was indecisive and second-guessing it a lot) but slowly I started to try to just keep the number of panels per page in check and not be so perfectionist about where exactly they would go. I realized it was more important for me to spare most of the effort for the flow of the story right now. Layout problems can be solved later (or so I hope), even if some tweaking is needed. Still, I have to constantly remind myself to write first and edit later.

Each panel description was either a pain or an enjoyment. I have a pretty strong visual for some of the panels so describing them exactly the way I want them makes my mind at ease. However when I don’t have a specific image my vague and/or short descriptions leave me feeling that my script is lacking. Then again, not all panels will be all action packed right? I don’t think it’s a bad thing, even if the feeling doesn’t quite leave me be.

On the first week the story I’ve been keeping only on my mind just ran with abandon, filling pages and pages of interactions and angles and expression, but then assignments sucked my time and energy and I felt inertia starting to creep. The second week was spent trying to keep up, finding a couple of minutes to write a page, seeing the goal of 100 pages by the 22nd to get a 100 euro donation to OLL start to circle the drain. I was afraid my descent from run to crawl would end on a full stop. And that’s why this weekend I’m metaphorically glued to my office chair unless the house is on fire.

Tomás is a Visual Arts student aiming for Concept Art. He draws, writes, plays games and turns junk into other stuff among other things. You can see some of his works at tomsp.tumblr.com.