Friday, May 26, 2017

Me on Eliza and Her Monsters

Title: Eliza and Her Monsters
Author: Francesca Zappia
Release Date: May 30, 2017
Publisher: Greenwillow Books (HarperCollins imprint)

In the real world, Eliza Mirk is shy, weird, and friendless. Online, Eliza is LadyConstellation, anonymous creator of the wildly popular webcomic Monstrous Sea. Eliza can't imagine enjoying the real world as much as she loves her digital community, and has no desire to try. Then Wallace Warland, Monstrous Sea's biggest fanfiction writer, transfers to her school. Wallace thinks Eliza is just another fan, and Eliza begins to wonder if a life offline might be worthwhile. But when Eliza's secret is accidentally shared with the world, everything she's built—her story, her relationship with Wallace, and even her sanity—begins to fall apart.

Eliza and Her Monsters is smart and serious, a look at creativity and fame and pressure, at art and fandom and community. At how we isolate ourselves and how we connect with other people.

Eliza is shy, creative, and totally okay with being a loner when she's at school. She's fine with it, because her friends are somewhere else. Easily reachable on the internet. She doesn't need the real world with her health-conscious parents pushing at her to do something else with her life or her sports-focused younger brothers. She knows what she's doing, what she'll keep doing after high school and college. She'll continue on with her webcomic Monstrous Sea, continue chatting with the giant mass of fans online who devour each and ever page. Fans who don't know that a high school student is the comic's creator, which is totally fine with Eliza. Anonymity is something she craves. But then she meets Wallace, then she finds out he's one of her comic's most popular fanfiction writers. Then she wonders if talking face-to-face with people isn't so bad. If there's more to life than Monstrous Sea.

A big part of this story is all about creativity and passion. Eliza came up with Monstrous Sea because she was inspired, because she had a story to tell. And she was happy. But then it blew up, then it became popular. Then it gained an audience of fans, superfans, and trolls alike. Then came the pressure and the expectation. It turned less into something Eliza did for fun and something more for other people so they wouldn't rage in the comments if she had a down week and the art wasn't as good or if she got busy and missed an update or two. The webcomic becomes her life, becomes everything, but that isn't healthy. She's more than an artist, than the person who created the universe of Monstrous Sea and its cast of characters. She struggles with finding the balance between work and play, between school and family and the comic. I think this book accurately covers what a lot of creative types and creators go through, the balance between life and working to pay the bills that many search for on a daily basis.

This book is serious and thoughtful, about the struggles of art and the strain it puts on artists. About the ways we isolate ourselves when we don't want to interact with certain parts of the world. About the ways we can connect to people halfway around the world, have meaningful connections and conversations with them over a shared interest. About how so many can love one idea, like a TV show or comic, because they found something moving and meaningful in it. About how online communities and interactions can be both supportive and a hindrance. About the realities of anxiety and panic, how keeping it bottled up inside isn't healthy. I would definitely recommend this to fans of the author's previous book, for those looking for an honest look at the intersection of art and fandom and mental health.

(I downloaded an e-galley of this title from HarperCollins through Edelweiss.)

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (332)

Waiting on Wednesday is a bunch of weekly fun hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. :)

Title: A Line in the Dark
Author: Malinda Lo
Release Date: October 17, 2017
Publisher: Dutton Books for Young Readers (Penguin imprint)

From Goodreads:

The line between best friend and something more is a line always crossed in the dark.

Jess Wong is Angie Redmond’s best friend. And that’s the most important thing, even if Angie can’t see how Jess truly feels. Being the girl no one quite notices is OK with Jess anyway. While nobody notices her, she’s free to watch everyone else. But when Angie begins to fall for Margot Adams, a girl from the nearby boarding school, Jess can see it coming a mile away. Suddenly her powers of observation are more curse than gift.

As Angie drags Jess further into Margot’s circle, Jess discovers more than her friend’s growing crush. Secrets and cruelty lie just beneath the carefree surface of this world of wealth and privilege, and when they come out, Jess knows Angie won’t be able to handle the consequences.

When the inevitable darkness finally descends, Angie will need her best friend.

“It doesn’t even matter that she probably doesn’t understand how much she means to me. It’s purer this way. She can take whatever she wants from me, whenever she wants it, because I’m her best friend.”

A Line in the Dark is a story of love, loyalty, and murder.

New Malinda Lo? And it's a creepy sort of murder mystery? YES.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Me on House of Furies

Title: House of Furies
Author: Madeleine Roux
Release Date: May 30, 2017
Publisher: HarperTeen (HarperCollins imprint)

After escaping a harsh school where punishment was the lesson of the day, seventeen-year-old Louisa Ditton is thrilled to find employment as a maid at a boarding house. But soon after her arrival at Coldthistle House, Louisa begins to realize that the house's mysterious owner, Mr. Morningside, is providing much more than lodging for his guests. Far from a place of rest, the house is a place of judgment, and Mr. Morningside and his unusual staff are meant to execute their own justice on those who are past being saved. Louisa begins to fear for a young man named Lee who is not like the other guests. He is charismatic and kind, and Louisa knows that it may be up to her to save him from an untimely judgment. But in this house of distortions and lies, how can Louisa be sure whom to trust?

House of Furies is haunting, eerie, and mysterious. It's a tale of fate and judgement, of good and evil and the unknown that lurks in the shadows.

Louisa is alone, homeless and poor. Relying on the kindness of strangers for pennies in order to keep on living. Huddling in the rain telling fortunes. A chance encounter with a strange old woman brings her to Coldthistle House, a boarding house in need of a maid, but soon Louisa learns that the house is no normal boarding house. That the owner is no normal owner, that he is no normal man. Know that she knows the truth, know that it is near impossible for her to leave, Louisa struggles with her new lot in life. She's torn between running from the house and staying in order to keep a new friend safe from the house's clutches. But how can she trust anyone when everyone has something to hide? How can she trust anyone when there's something just as dark and secretive in her own past?

Stories like this rely on atmosphere, on the setting to be suitably off-putting, on the tone to be mysterious and suggestive of the paranormal and the unnatural, and I do think it works here. The house and its nearby spring are haunting, those working at Coldthistle House aren't exactly human, and the shadows that drift the halls are more than meets the eye. It has the same sort of historical and eerie tone of the movie The Others and other haunting period dramas. I imagine fans of the author's previous books will enjoy this, as will fans of gothic-esque historical horror and tales of the paranormal.

(I downloaded an e-galley of this title from HarperCollins through Edelweiss.)

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Me on This Week's Book Week (259)

This Week's Book Week is rather similar to Stacking the Shelves hosted by Tynga's Reviews only with far more rambling and a less witty title. ;)

Hello! It's finally been sunny for more than a single day in the week. It sort of feels like we're heading into summer, but I don't A) want to jinx it, or B) want it to be super hot and unbearable this summer.

I went out to VanCAF on Saturday, soaked up a bunch of indie comic and art fun and creativity that will hopefully last me for a few months. There are pictures of the comics I picked up over on Instagram. :)

Reviews going up this week will feature House of Furies by Madeleine Roux (Tuesday) and Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia (Friday). :)
Bought/borrowed/received:
The Hearts We Sold by Emily Lloyd-Jones (ARC from Hachette Book Group Canada)
Odd & True by Cat Winters (e-galley from Amulet Books through NetGalley)
Caraval by Stephanie Garber (e-book borrowed from the library)

Friday, May 19, 2017

Me on Some Favourite Things (3)

Hi! These recap of favourite things posts seem to be popping up ever couple of months, so I think I'll keep on doing them. :)

Let's start with another webcomic rec. Flowerpot by leehama! This is the story of Ben, a college student with an unusual disease. He's super kind, super friendly, and super quiet, preferring to stay in the background and avoid attention. When Ben was a kid, he was patient zero for a disease called Fleurine when flowers appear and sprout from people's bodies. It wasn't so bad for Ben, his condition means he sprouts dandelions from his scalp, but it was different for others when flowers burst from their skin, from their ears and eyes. When petals would fill their lungs. This is a world where people fear flowers, where people avoid them and those with Fleurine because they don't want to be infected. Ben's happy living a quiet life, but an encounter with a photographer with a project and a plan starts to change Ben's way of thinking, of what it means to be a 'flowerpot.' This comic is super cute and fun, the artwork is bright and colourful, and it's rather diverse in terms of race and disability and illness, both visible and invisible. Here's a link to the start of the comic. :)

Speaking of comics, VanCAF! I love going to VanCAF, seeing what people are doing in terms of their own art and original characters as well as fan art. As someone who can be super visual, who likes comics and isn't that artistic on their own, I really enjoy it. It's the act of creating art, of telling a story through a medium other than straight prose. And it's a chance to support local artists as well. I've been looking forward to going for months and it's finally happening this weekend.

Because we're heading deeper into spring now (where I live) and summer is approaching, here's a quick shout-out to taking walks. I don't know what it is, but it turns out I like going for walks. Especially on my own when I can stick headphones is and listen to music and go for easy-going walks in the sunshine. This sort of started last year when Pokemon Go came out, but walks on their own are also fun. If there are parks or green spaces near you, check them out when it's nice out.

I'm behind on so much Netflix watching, I promise I'll get to you one day, season 2 of Sense 8. And I think I'm pretty much on board for the new Star Trek: Discovery show after seeing that trailer earlier this week. Oh, sci-fi. Kid me loved you so much.

Considering these posts keep happening, see you again with other list of fun things in July! :)