Rapid-fire review catch-up!

Procrastinating always creates more work in the long run, so here are the reviews I kept meaning to write toward the end of 2017. Ready? OK!


Out on Good Behavior by Dahlia Adler

This may have been the one book I finished of the handful I downloaded before my trip to Africa (WAKANDA FOREVER!). It's a sweet, low-stakes F/F romance with pansexual and gay heroines, one out and proud and not at all interested in settling down, the other in the closet and only willing to be with someone who is serious about her. They make a deal to give dating exclusively a test drive.

Now, I'm messy and I live for drama, so as much as I say that I want to ready a lighthearted romance, it's just not true, yinz. This was cute and sexy, and it did have some heavier elements, but I kind of hate manufactured stakes that only exist because the characters are too immature to talk like adults. And yes, the heroines are only in college in this one. But still. STILL.

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle

I read this one as a kid but had to revisit it before the Ava DuVernay movie comes out. I listened to the audiobook on a long drive. It was delightful. My favorite quote: "You see, though we travel together, we travel alone."

Also ... Oprah 2020? I love the woman, but I hope she runs for Senate or something first. Although we could do a lot worse. A LOT worse.

One Day We'll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter by Scaachi Koul

Another long-drive listen. Koul is a Canadian writer of Indian descent who works for Buzzfeed, and this book of essays delves into her experiences as a young woman dealing with racism, body image issues, love and just being a human being. I may have to re-listen to this, because I remember it was amazing and that I laughed so hard it made my ability to drive safely questionable.

Also, Koul is executive producing a comedy based on her book.

Also also, she was in South Africa like the week after I was there, and I really think if we'd been there at the same time we would have met and become best friends.

Forbidden by Beverly Jenkins

This is a historical romance about a freed black slave who passes for white and becomes a wealthy and influential politician, and a black cook who is traveling West in hopes of opening a restaurant. This one had insanely high stakes, and I question how well everything got resolved. And I also just don't love historicals in general. The ones I've read (and to be fair, I haven't read many) are too tame, and I don't connect as well to the characters as I do in contemporary. But Ms. Bev is a queen and a legend, and this is still a great read for any romance fan, so I enjoyed it as much as this hardened contemporary fan can enjoy a historical.

Ms. Marvel Vol. 6: Civil War II

This volume broke me a little. I wish that this had taken an even deeper look at the idea of predictive justice in the broader context of current events and racial profiling, but it just scratched the surface of some very complex issues. It scratched thoughtfully, though, and I continue to enjoy seeing Kamala grow and become more nuanced as a hero and as a person.

But what I did not enjoy, especially when I went back and took a look at some of my older issues, was seeing Kamala become disillusioned with her hero, Captain Marvel. I love seeing people meet their heroes — when Oprah surprised Tiffany Haddish on Ellen, I lost my mind, and I haven't even seen Haddish in anything other than her Daily Show interview. So seeing someone lose her hero is really heartbreaking. This is just a very sad chapter of the Ms. Marvel story, and I hope things brighten in the next installment.

Spider-Gwen Vol. 0: Most Wanted? and Spider-Gwen Vol. 1: Greater Power

Surprising me is no fun, because I hate being surprised. I will guess and guess and badger and badger until I get pretty close to an answer or break the gift-giver's will entirely. I guessed totally wrong when I saw those graphic novel-shaped presents under the Christmas tree. But, I was thrilled because Spider-Gwen has been on my radar for a bit.

Gwen Stacy is cool, funny, tough, sensitive, and, in her corner of the multiverse, she's the one who got bitten by a radioactive spider instead of Peter Parker.

I was really excited about how this series avenged one of the most famous dead girls in popular culture. Gwen Stacy is best known as Peter's girlfriend whom he may or may not have accidentally killed while trying to save her from the Green Goblin. She exists in our collective memory as a tragic tale, another girlfriend among the Famously Fridged who exist as emotional lynchpins for a male hero. So it's really nice that the multiverse has granted her an alternate narrative, one where we get to know the smart, funny, capable girl who got taken too soon, and see everything she would have been able to offer. These books resonated with me for so many reasons, I was crying on planes while reading them.

Plus, there's a ton of multiverse fun to be had with new versions of beloved characters. Matt Murdoch as the villain? A black woman as Captain America? Uncle Ben is alive?! Yes, please.

Girl Logic by Iliza Shlesinger

Iliza is one of my favorite comedians, and I had the privilege of meeting her when she performed in my city. Girl Logic is Shlesinger's dissertation on why women think the way they do, and how the seemingly irrational behaviors society roasts us for actually stem from a logical place. Feminism is a journey, not a destination, so there are moments when I felt like Iliza was punching down, not up. There's an ongoing and important conversation about comedy and what's acceptable as we become more aware of the impact of our words. So I'm hyper aware of how jokes that make me cringe now would have been hilarious three years ago. But even if Shlesinger can be problematic at times, she's still smart and insightful, and demands that you listen to her.

Adultolescence by Gabbie Hanna

I've watched a few of Gabbie's videos on YouTube, and she's pretty entertaining. I was intrigued by the marketing of the book as a millennial answer to Shel Silverstein. And while some of the poems are poignant, most of them feel shallow and poorly executed. It feels like the sort of thing I scribbled into my notebooks in science class in high school. Which is fine. It just didn't move me. But Gabbie's workout videos on the ATighterU Instagram account do move me. Damn, girl. Gains! I've been taking  barre, aerial yoga and trampoline classes, and I can't imagine doing one of those upside down bat crunch things. Nope. Nope. Would sooner die.