What’s in a Lady?: Review for Rucka’s Alpha #52Challenge

Alpha by Greg RuckaAlpha by Greg Rucka
Rating: 2/5 stars

#52Challenge prompt: an adventure/espionage novel

My initial impression: Rucka went on a vacation to Disneyland, got disgusted by the ridiculous capitalism, and wrote a book about terrorism in “WilsonVille,” a Disneyland-like place by a Disney-like company. I will admit this didn’t put me on the right foot with Alpha. I greatly enjoy going to Disneyland.*

However, Rucka is not wrong in that theme park terrorist attack would be eye capturing and make for a good thriller setting. Many other reviewers referred to Alpha as “Die Hard, but in Disneyland.” Which is why I won’t be talking too much about its plot details. And warning, Alpha is set up to flow into a sequel.

Rucka plays to many of his strengths here with precise detailing and his incredible knowledge of the workings of the military, intelligence organizations, terrorist cells, and weapons. He gives credit in the back for a park map drawn to assist his writing, but not shared in my paperback version.

So, why the 2 stars? (And yes, my rating isn’t about Disney.) Continue reading “What’s in a Lady?: Review for Rucka’s Alpha #52Challenge”

It’s a Trap: Review for Wild Seed #52Challenge

Wild SeedWild Seed by Octavia E. Butler
Rating: 4/5 stars
#52Challenge prompt: a sci-fi novel

This wasn’t what I expected. Of course, I can say that of most any Butler book I’ve read so far. Wild Seed is both the first and the last book in her Patternist series. It’s chronologically first in the universe and set between the 1600s and the 1800s, and it’s chronologically in Bulter’s real world publishing, the final book she wrote for it.

Having read a couple of Butler’s later and more famous books, it’s interesting to see how she evolves as a writer. She plays with themes around freedom, slavery, genocide, genetic manipulation, and gender, but they don’t stand as deep meditations on them like the later books. I appreciate being able to see how Bulter grew as a writer.

The biggest theme here is freedom and slavery. While Wild Seed is set against the backdrop of the very real African slave trade — both on the African continent and then in pre-Civil War America — Anyanwu seeks freedom from Doro, who becomes both her master/husband and her only companion. Continue reading “It’s a Trap: Review for Wild Seed #52Challenge”

Eyeballs in an I-84 Toilet: Evil at Heart #52Challenge

Evil at HeartEvil at Heart by Chelsea Cain
Rating: 5/5 stars
#52Challenge prompt: a mystery novel

Chelsea Cain’s Archie Sheridan and Gretchen Lowell novels are perfectly dark and twisty. Evil at Heart (#3) is no exception to this rule. In fact, this book may be the grossest and most over-the-top yet. Which is truly saying something.

This series follows Archie, an FBI detective who specializes in catching serial killers, and Gretchen, the first serial killer Archie caught. Spoilers: book three sees Gretchen on-the-run, having escaped prison in the previous novel, but still with her promise to Archie not to kill anyone.

Evil at Heart literally starts at a rest area on Oregon’s I-84 highway — pretty sure I’ve peed there — featuring a toilet clogged with a spleen (a Gretchen favorite), eight human eyeballs, and hearts drawn on the walls (usually Gretchen carves hearts in her victims’ chests). I was glad I hadn’t eaten anything. Continue reading “Eyeballs in an I-84 Toilet: Evil at Heart #52Challenge”

Gender Theory before Gender Theory: Woolf’s Orlando #52Challenge

OrlandoOrlando by Virginia Woolf
Rating: 4/5 stars
#52Challenge prompt: A novel that is considered classic

Virginia Woolf, where do we start? This is the third Woolf novel I’ve read. I place it in the middle, having adored Mrs. Dalloway and having struggled to read To the Lighthouse. Orlando is funny in ways those other books are not. It also features avenues of fantasy — namely Orlando’s ability to change genders at will and their extraordinary long life — that Woolf’s hyperrealistic other work doesn’t dare venture into.

(Arguably, Woolf wrote this for her girlfriend, Vita Sackville-West, and speculation is that she didn’t mean to have it published to the world. Woolf like realistic books. Orlando is not one.)

For the purpose of this review, if Orlando’s gender is specific, I will use those pronouns, and if unspecific, I will use “they.” Continue reading “Gender Theory before Gender Theory: Woolf’s Orlando #52Challenge”

A Cat Lady Named Alice in Wonderland: Book Review

Alice's Adventures in WonderlandAlice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
Rating: 3/5 stars
Prompt: A childhood favorite #52Challenge

This was perhaps a bit of cheat when it comes to nature of the challenge. I’m not one to go back and reread books at the moment. (I have reread my three favorite childhood books as an adult.) Instead, I picked a book that I wanted to read, which I’d never read the proper version of. Of course, I’ve watched Disney’s Alice in Wonderland, the animated children’s movie from 1952, and read books based on that telling.

Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland reads like a surrealist novel for children. Or the beginnings of what would become fantastical surrealism. Carroll definitely foreshadows future literary techniques, but I’m still a little puzzled over Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’s continuing popularity, and I’d bet Disney has helped with that. Disney is certainly why I read it. Continue reading “A Cat Lady Named Alice in Wonderland: Book Review”

The questions of lesbian romance in The Price of Salt

The Price of SaltThe Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith
Rating: 4/5 stars

The Price of Salt asks a lot of questions:

  • What does lesbian romance look like?
  • Are there happy endings for queer relationships?
  • Do adult women still have romantic attraction to each other?
  • How do you know you’re attracted or in love with someone?
  • Can you be a grown up and queer?
  • Does romantic love formed before growing up or major life events continue after them? Or do we change so much to make it unstable?
  • Can femme and femme romance be a thing? Or do queer relationships need to mirror heteronormative gender roles?

Continue reading “The questions of lesbian romance in The Price of Salt”

Books I Read in 2017 & Think You Should Read in 2018

The 2017 Goodreads clock-in is 119 books. I’m continuing on my quest to read more books from diverse authors and books on my shelves. Though I also needed comfort books, which also meant I finished up some series I’ve been enjoying or leaned on authors who I knew would deliver stories (or had a higher likelihood to do so).

By the numbers — 76 (+9% compared to 2016) were written by women, 54 (+4%) drawn by women, 45 (+16%) written or drawn by people of color, and 28 (+5%) written or drawn by queer people. (The latter two categories may be slightly off.) 19 had been sitting on my shelves for at least one year, which is not a stellar number.

I’d like to say for 2018, I’d like to read more prose. However, I also want to clean off my comics to-read pile, meaning those two goals are at odds with each other.

Here are the books I highly recommend and rated 5/5 stars:

Heartsick (Archie Sheridan & Gretchen Lowell #1) by Chelsea Cain1. Heartsick (Archie Sheridan & Gretchen Lowell #1)
by Chelsea Cain

Genre: crime, serial killer, thriller
Recommended for: those who enjoy the PNW rain, the twisty inside

Holy crap, this book was great. I’d wanted to read more of Cain’s writing since her Mockingbird comic, and this didn’t disappoint. The plot features a Portland police detective who hunts serial killers. The case he’s working on features dead high school girls. But you also find out that the last serial killer he tracked and how he was captured by her and continues to visit her in prison. It gets twisted in the best ways. Continue reading “Books I Read in 2017 & Think You Should Read in 2018”

Launching My Patreon

In order to help support what I do on this blog, on my comic review site, in my newsletter, and many more places, I’ve decided to launch a Patreon. If you’re like, finally, and where do I go?

Become my patron

Erica McGillivray
Let’s get stuff done. 😀

And now for everyone who’s like, what?

What’s Patreon?

Patreon functions like a subscription to art. If you like what I’m doing, you can support me on an on-going basis and get access to exclusive content. Patreon’s mission is to support creators for their art in every form, especially that which we often publish on the internet for free.

You can set up a monthly subscription to creators on the platform. Most creators, including me, allow you to do as low as a $1 monthly pledge. That’s less than a single issue comic book! 😉 Of course, you can always cancel this subscription at any point. Patreon takes credit cards or PayPal.

In exchange for support, you — the patrons — are given different levels of access, previews, exclusive content, or really anything a creator decides to do. For myself, I currently have four levels: $1, $5, $10, and $20. These levels will have different access to different content. At $1, you’ll get previews of what I’m reading/watching. At $5, you’ll get a follow from me on Twitter, plus $1 level. At $10, you’ll get sneak peeks at what I’m working on, a look inside my process, and likely some cat photos. And at $20, you’ll get to be my librarian, or help decide what I read/review next and get exclusive content, plus $10 tier stuff.

Why am I using this platform?

I’m using it to help me as a creator expand my reach and ability to create art. Recently, I had two major life events that made me decide to try Patreon.

1. I was laid off from my steady, full-time job. This worked as a kick in the pants (motivation) to consider my current path and what I wanted versus what I was doing. This also means the financial support of Patrons, like you, is even more critical to continuing my writing.

2. I’ve written over 800 comic book reviews on my blog since 2007. It’s a great milestone. But those reviews were all published for free, and actually cost me money as I buy the books to support creators I love.

At the end of the day, Patreon is an experiment to figure out if it works and fits into my creative process. If it works to help connect me to my community and enable me to focus more energies on creation, then it will be a success.

If you’re onboard:

Become my patron

A huge THANK YOU to everyone who’s already starting supporting me! You are the very best. ?

Books I Read in 2016 & Think You Should Read in 2017

This year, according to Goodreads, I read 110 books. My goals this year were to continue to read more diverse voices and read books on my to-read shelves, instead of buying new ones. By the numbers — 60 (+13% compared to 2015) were written by women, 46 (+19%) drawn by women, 24 (+1%) written or drawn by people of color, and 21 (+8%) written or drawn by queer people. (The latter two categories may be slightly off.) 25 had been sitting on my shelves for at least one year.

Here’s some amazing stuff you should read too:

The Fifth Season1. The Fifth Season (The Broken Earth, #1)
by N.K. Jemisin

Genre: sci-fi, fantasy, apocalyptical worlds, geology
Recommended for: Those seeking something fresh in sci-fi/fantasy

A pretty amazing storytelling feat about a world where its complete destruction is held off by an oppressed people who can control geology. Jemisin weaves an interesting tale, building a world and incredibly strong characters. I couldn’t put this down, and I don’t want to say much more about the book in case of spoilers. This world is full of women, people of color, and queer people, and this story centers on them, for those looking for stories starring marginalized groups in sci-fi and fantasy. Continue reading “Books I Read in 2016 & Think You Should Read in 2017”

17 Books to Build Your Social Justice Knowledge

In light of our current climate, I wanted to share some of my favorite books to up your social justice knowledge and walk in someone else’s shoes for a while. This is in no way a complete list. But all these books influenced my thinking and life.

Social Justice books


Feminism is for Everybody by bell hooks

1) This book is FREE, so download it now. 2) hooks addresses intersectional feminism, and her whole entire mission as a feminist is to make previously academic-level rhetoric accessible to everyone. This book is short, easy to read, and speaks to everyone. Continue reading “17 Books to Build Your Social Justice Knowledge”