Reviewlets and updates

There’s a whole lot of Opinions rattling around in my head right now, and if it’s okay with everybody (LOL, it’s not up to you) I’m going to dump all of them into one post. Woo-hoo reviewlet city let’s goooooooo!

I read a fair amount of YA, but until now I’ve not really dipped my toes into middle grade novels, which is a genre I haven’t really touched since I was a Language Arts teacher back in Chicago. The honest truth is that I picked up Matt Wallace’s Bump less because I was interested in it specifically than because I like Matt’s other work a lot and want to support him as an author. And it worked out, as these sorts of reading decisions often do: Bump is about a third young-girl-coming-of-age story, a third of a nonfiction book about professional wrestling, and a third honest-to-goodness Scooby-Doo episode without the supernatural bent, right down to the villain literally having a mask torn off in one of the final scenes.

And it’s delightful. It’s a touch more predictable than I want from my books, but I’m going to let that slide since it’s middle grade and a touch of what comes off as predictability to adults is actually helpful with young readers, and it’s very clear that Matt has kind of been bursting at the scenes to tell a story about wrestling and wrestlers, but I’ve yet to find a book that I thought was hurt by the author’s enthusiasm. This is a much sweeter, more grounded story than anything I’ve ever seen from him before– not a trace of the magic or swords or demons or alternate planes of existence that are all over his other work– and I’m really glad I grabbed it. There’s a lot of Spanish in it but it’s well-contextualized, and I may put it in my son’s hands and see what he does with it.

Plus, that cover. C’mon. How can you see that cover and not want to read this?

I have now read three of Akwaeke Emezi’s books, and I am pretty certain that their The Death of Vivek Oji is their best book yet, although it’s one of those books that is really difficult to talk about very much without spoiling details that ought not to be spoiled. I can say this much: it’s a family story set, as all of Emezi’s books have been, in Nigeria (and how much do I love that I have multiple books by Nigerian authors on my shelf right now? Nigerian literature is the shit right now, y’all, get in on this) and the title character is already dead as the book begins, and the whole story is centered upon finding out what happened to Vivek and learning about his life. Emezi’s writing is as beautiful as it ever was. I had spent most of January thinking that it was going to turn out to be a bit below-par in terms of the quality of the books I was reading, so I’m glad to finish off strong with this and Bump.

The chair continues to work out quite well. I have precisely two gripes about it and they’re both very minor: one, that because the armrests are so adjustable (they can be moved up and down, inward and outward, and can also be set at angles) they tend to feel a little loose, and while the fabric that the chair is upholstered in feels great to the touch and looks like it’s going to be durable (and doesn’t seem to attract cat hair, which I was a bit worried about) I’m used to a slidier leather seat, and I find myself not as able to quickly reposition myself as I was in a leather chair when I feel the need to do that.

Yeah, that’s the bet I’ve got on gripes: the armrests are a little wobbly and my fat ass doesn’t slide across the seat the way I’m used to. It’s a good chair. I’m glad I bought it.

These are the last six albums I’ve purchased, and I’m not sure what it says about me:

I have discovered that I didn’t give the Black Crowes enough credit when I was in high school. That album is magnificent.

The boy is deeply into Greek mythology right now, and we bought him Immortals: Fenyx Rising for the PS5 for Christmas. He ended up not being terribly enthralled with it, but I’ve picked it up recently and … well, I’m having fun with it, I suppose, but it’s going to end up being a 7/10 game or so, and it’s mostly because Ubisoft is such a terrible Goddamned publisher. The game is clearly ported from the PC and still retains tons of PC-centric UI and interface decisions, which is annoying, and Ubisoft has slathered all of their usual “Hey! Want to spend more money?” microtransaction bullshit all over the game, as well as their stupid membership thing that I refuse to sign up for. They do this with every one of their games and I think I’m done buying stuff with their logo on it, because they always manage to make their games shittier in the exact same way. I didn’t spend sixty or seventy bucks on your game so that you can ask me to spend more money every time I turn around.

Also, and this isn’t the game’s fault, it’s a PS5 thing: the damn touchpad in the middle is too sensitive and is too close to the square button. Hitting the touchpad in this game brings up the menus, and because it and the square button are so close together I am constantly bringing up the damn menu in the middle of tense fights, because the square button is dodge and that button tends to come up a bit in combat. Now the good news is that this does pause the action, so it’s not getting me killed, but it’s insanely annoying and now that I think about it I probably can blame the game because there has to be a programming way around this and I can’t believe it didn’t come up in play testing. I kept accidentally throwing myself into photo mode, too, which requires clicking the thumbsticks– never ever map anything that can fuck up combat to clicking the thumbsticks, game— and nah never mind I can totally blame the programmers for this. Photo mode, at least, can be turned off, and the thumbstick thing has been the bane of my existence for years, but I can’t be the only guy with fingers big enough that they’re scraping the edge of the touchpad when hitting square.

I feel like I had something else when I started this, so if I remember what it was I’ll put it here.

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Luther M. Siler

Teacher, writer of words, and local curmudgeon. Enthusiastically profane. Occasionally hostile.

2 thoughts on “Reviewlets and updates

    1. I mean, bad print runs happen. A bad batch of glue or something could cause that. Side note: I remember reading somewhere once that consumer books are generally printed at lower quality in the UK than in the States anyway. Do you have any idea if that’s still true, or if it ever was?


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