Thursday, December 14, 2017

The Regional Office is Under Attack!: Don't be a stranger

Superpowered female assassins

Defending the Regional Office is Sarah (who may or may not have a mechanical arm)

Weaving in brilliantly conceived mythology, fantastical magical powers, teenage crushes, and kinetic fight scenes
I'd seen the book The Regional Office is Under Attack! (don't forget the exclamation mark) a few times around the interwebs and when I finally picked up a copy and looked at the back cover summary, well, those lines jumped out at me. So naturally I had to take the book home with me.

This book probably comes the closet to the book I WANT to exist though it never really gets there*. BUT this is better than any of the other books I thought would fit that mold. There are multiple narrators and POVs (a fav style) as the book opens with the titular attack on the regional office, an underground headquarters for a cadre of assassins under the shell company of a travel agency for billionaires (excellent cover story). The story shifts back and forth mainly between two characters, Rose, a mercenary leading part of the attack, and Sarah, an executive assistant to one of the heads of the organization and one of the few people still at the office. We get what they're doing in the present and how they got to this point.

There are also chapters from a history book The Regional Office is Under Attack: Tracking the Rise and Fall of an American Institution explaining how the office came to be, including some history on the precogs who help identify future employees. There are also a few other POVs though the three above are the main ones.

What exactly do these super powered female assassins do, when their office isn't being attacked? Oh just save the world from total devastation. Alien invasions, inter-dimensional travel, that sort of thing. But the focus isn't on those stories. They're mentioned in passing. Right now the attack on the office is what's important. Why is this happening? Who ordered it? Can the regional office be saved (...well I mean, the title of the history chapters sort of tells you, no) and should it?

Overall the story was entertaining and kept me turning the pages, although the set up was more interesting than the execution by the end. I was still entertained but I was less invested in the characters. Even now I remember wanting to know read on and see all the twists and turns, but at this point, 6 months after I finished it, I can't actually remember exactly what happened.

Good, if ultimately not-that-memorable of a story.

Gif rating:
*The Office but instead of a paper company, it's something ridiculous, like a company of superpowered assassins or a company that deals with zombie removal or some other exciting and action-y professions juxtaposed against the mundane every day office life. Is that too much to ask?

Title quote from page 106

Gonzales, Manuel. The Regional Office is Under Attack!. Riverhead Books, 2016.

Monday, December 11, 2017

2017 Reading Challenge - check in 2

So a hundred years ago (or like, April but really, 2017? Every week is at least a year) I snagged a Reading Challenge thing posted by Etudesque who grabbed it from PopSugar. I thought I'd update the list every couple months. How adorably optimistic of me. Instead I apparently started a draft for "check in 2" and then promptly forgot about it. #MyLifeStory
It's almost the end of the year so let's see where I'm at and how much I have to go to complete this by end of year. You know, something I will definitely be able to do.

  1. A book recommended by a librarian
  2. A book that's been on your TBR way too long
  3. A book of letters
  4. An audiobook
    • Born a Crime by Trevor Noah
  5. A book by a person of color
    • Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
  6. A book with one of the four seasons in the title
  7. A book that is a story within a story
  8. A book with multiple authors
  9. An espionage thriller
  10. A book with a cat on the cover
    • We Are Never Meeting in Real Life by Samantha Irby
  11. A book by an author who uses a pseudonym
  12. A bestseller from a genre you don't normally read
  13. A book by or about a person who has a disability
  14. A book involving travel
    • All Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai (time travel is travel, right?)
  15. A book with a subtitle
    • Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman by Lindy West
  16. A book that's published in 2017
    • Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward (released in Sept)
  17. A book involving a mythical creature
    • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling
  18. A book you've read before that never fails to make you smile
    • Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling
  19. A book about food
    • The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender
  20. A book with career advice
    • Feminist Fight Club by Jessica Bennett
  21. A book from a nonhuman perspective
    • A Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. Maybe? I mean, some of the characters are not human and we get their perspective. Right? Maybe
  22. A steampunk novel
  23. A book with a red spine
    • I'm Judging You: The Do Better Manual by Luuvie Ajayi
  24. A book set in the wilderness
    • State of Wonder by Ann Patchett
  25. A book you loved as a child
  26. A book by an author from a country you've never visited
    • Rich People Problems by Kevin Kwan (Singapore)
  27. A book with a title that's a character's name
    • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling
  28. A novel set during wartime
    • World War Z by Max Brooks
  29. A book with an unreliable narrator
    • Grotesque by Natsuo Kirino
  30. A book with pictures
  31. A book where the main character is a different ethnicity than you
    • The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl by Issa Rae
  32. A book about an interesting woman
    • Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud: The Rise and Reign of the Unruly Women by Anne Helen Petersen
  33. A book set in two different time periods
    • Locke & Key by Joe Hill & Gabriel Rodriguez
  34. A book with a month or day of the week in the title
    • Atlanta Burns by Chuck Wendig
  35. A book set in a hotel
  36. A book written by someone you admire
    • We Were Eight Years in Power by Ta-Nehisi Coates
  37. A book that's becoming a movie in 2017
  38. A book set around a holiday other than Christmas
  39. The first book in a series you haven't read before
    • John Dies in the End by David Wong
  40. A book you bought on a trip
  41. A book recommended by an author you love
  42. A bestseller from 2016
    • The Road to Little Dribbling by Bill Bryson. At least, I assume it was a best seller.
  43. A book with a family member term in the title
    • The Stepford Wives by Ira Levin ('wives' count right?)
  44. A book that takes place over a character's life span
    • Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore
  45. A book about an immigrant or refugee
  46. A book from a genre/subgenre that you've never heard of
  47. A book with an eccentric character
  48. A book that's more than 800 pages
    • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling
  49. A book you got from a used book sale
  50. A book that's been mentioned in another book
  51. A book about a difficult topic
    • White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America by Nancy Isenberg
  52. A book based on mythology

So not that bad. 28. And there's still time, you never know. 

Friday, December 1, 2017

November Reading Wrap-Up

Reading-wise, this was sort of a rough month. I hit a bit of a wall where I wanted to read something but nothing that I had was really interesting me. There were a few false starts. I did get some reading done. It's not even my worst month this year but still, not great. It was pushed forward by a lot of rereads. I guess something known was what I was looking for. No surprises.

Perhaps December will be more successful. Or not and we'll just give it another try in the new year. Trying to set realistic expectations.

Let's see those stats

Total books read
4
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore
Gabi, A Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero
Why Have Kids? A New Mom Explores the Truth About Parenting and Happiness by Jessica Valenti

Total pages read
1,185

Fiction
75%

POC authors
25%

Female authors
50%

US authors
75%

Book formats
ebook: 75%
paperback: 25%

Where'd I get the book
Kindle/Audible: 75%
Chain bookstore (I think...): 25%

Reread
75%
Books by decade
2000s: 50%
2010s: 50%

Books by genre
Fantasy: 25%
Humor: 25%
Sociology: 25%
YA: 25%

Resolution books
50%
The Graveyard Book by a non-US author (Gaiman, UK).
Gabi, A Girl in Pieces is by a POC author (Quintero, Latina)

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Atlanta Burns: Nothing good's gonna come out of this, Atlanta Burns. Nothing

I picked up a copy of Chuck Wendig's Atlanta Burns when it was on sale without actually reading what it was about because there is a level of trust there. I've yet to be disappointed in anything of his that I have read* so if I see something come up, I'm going to give it a whirl.

Once again, I'm glad I did. Atlanta Burns is about the titular teenage girl dealing with some high school bullies. Lest you think that sounds very after-school-special, know there are also neo-nazis and dog fighting and a fair amount of violence because this is Wendig we're talking about.

Atlanta Burns has had some horrors in her past and she is determined to not be a victim. She hopes to just keep her head down and just get through school, but she can't abide by others being tormented either and thus she finds herself helping out a few of the school outcasts. And without getting into plot details, let's just say things escalate. There's tension, there's excitement. Edge-of-your-seat kind of stuff.

Wendig has a skill in making characters feel fleshed out. They don't always make smart choices but they feel like real people making real choices in extreme situations. Atlanta is tough but she's still a teenage girl and there is a vulnerability behind her actions.

Warning that the book is violent and that there is dog fighting so there is some violence around the dogs so if that bothers you steer clear. Why did violence against a dog bother me more than violence against people? Well, because dogs are way better. Obviously.

This wasn't my favorite Wendig (Miriam Black, you are the BEST) but I did really enjoy it. Kick ass, teen girl who kicks all kinds of ass, yes please.

(Also, I love that cover. Wendig has some good covers.)

Gif rating:
*What's that? A link roundup of all of the Wendig I have read and reviewed? If you insist.
Blackbirds
The Blue Blazes
Mockingbird
Invasive
Zer0es

Title quote from page 196, location 2392

Wendig, Chuck. Atlanta Burns. Skyscape, 2015. Kindle

Friday, November 17, 2017

Sex Object: I know I'm meant to be the bigger person

Sex Object is a memoir of resignation. Valenti writes about her life and mostly her experience being treated as a sex object before being treated as a person. It's an experience many women face and she focuses on how this sort of behavior can wear a person down. Some women who write online face an onslaught of constant abuse and are often expected to respond with sarcasm and humor.
Pretending these offenses roll off of our backs is strategic--don't give them the fucking satisfaction--but it isn't the truth. You lose something along the way.
This is not the most uplifting story. There's no silver lining and no real redemption. She starts with cat-calling and guys pressing up against her on the subway, going through her own sexual experiences, and eventually having a daughter and worried about her navigating this world. How your identity gets caught up in this treatment as a sex object.
A high school teacher once told me that identity is half what we tell ourselves and half what we tell other people about ourselves. Bu the missing piece he didn't mention--the piece that holds so much weight, especially in the minds of young women and girls--is the stories that other people tell us about ourselves. Those narratives become the ones we shape ourselves into.
The book doesn't offer solutions how to handle or respond to this kind of treatment. It's why it's a memoir instead of a self-help book. It's instead and opportunity to just acknowledge what happened, how it is tiring and how a funny quip isn't always the answer.
I know I'm meant to be the bigger person; I know you're not supposed to hate people because hate is bad for your soul. But so is getting called a cunt every day for ten years. 
It's hard to get excited over this book. It's good, and I'm glad I read it, but it's not a happy read.

Gif rating:
Title quote from page 141

Valenti, Jessica. Sex Object: A Memoir. Harper Collins, 2016.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Reading Slump-date

Get it? It's like update but because it's a slump, it's a slump-date.

Anyway, I'm apparently in a bit of a blogging slump to go along with the reading slump. OK, that's not entirely true. It's mostly because the next book I need to review is Sex Object by Jessica Valenti and while it was good and I enjoyed it, it is a bit of a downer and I am not in the mood for downer stuff right now. Because everything in the world is a super downer right now? Yeah, probably.

I am getting some reading done. I decided the answer here was to go with a favorite so I'm re-reading Lamb and super loving it. Hopefully this will snap the slump and I can get to all those other books I want to read. Or I just reread another favorite. Life is hard.

Or whatever, I'll keep watching a bunch of Stranger Things and Futurama.