Another month has come and gone-which means it’s time to share my favorite books from the past month! There are a number of exciting graphic novels this time around, but I also had the pleasure to return to some favorite settings. Here’s what I’ve got.
The Nameless City (Hicks): The Nameless City, which is placed at a strategically important location, has been conquered and controlled for centuries. The citizens, the Named, are subjugated. Bookish, thoughtful Kaidu, a member of the most recent conquering nation, comes to the city to train in the military. One day, after sneaking out into the city, he meets the urchin Rat. At his request, she starts teaching him to run on the city’s rooftops, and a budding friendship develops. Kaidu and Rat’s characterizations and the humor of their shenanigans, paired with Erin Faith Hicks’ gorgeous visuals, makes The Nameless City a delightful read. The story also begins to unpack the deep underlying issues associated with conquest and colonization and leads to a great set-up for future stories that I can’t wait to read.
The City of Blades (Bennettt-Jackson): The city of Voortyashtan was the home of the war goddess, whose soldiers struck fear into their opponents. The gods are (in theory) long-dead, but mysteries and secrets are still afoot on the continent. General Turyin Mulaghesh arrives in Voortyashtan to search for a missing Ministry spy, but quickly realizes that something much bigger is going on. I was thrilled to return to Bennett-Jackson’s unique setting and thoroughly enjoyed this action-packed fantasy-mystery that both built on the previous story (City of Stairs) and stood well on its own. I was deeply entertained by General Mulaghesh, a frequently vulgar, middle-aged war veteran, whose growth I really enjoyed following.
The Beauty, vol. 1 (Haun): What if you could achieve physical perfection without the stress of dieting and exercise? The sexually transmitted disease, the Beauty, gives its hosts the bodies they want, with seemingly no cost. However, when a young woman with the condition combusts on the subway, that paradigm changes. Detectives Vaughn and Foster seek out the cause and a way to help those afflicted, but quickly come up against forces greater than themselves. I thoroughly enjoyed this graphic novel’s exploration of beauty and its role in our culture and ethics.
The Bands of Mourning (Sanderson): After the death of his beloved, Wax struggles to move on. When the kandra approach him and his comrades, asking for assistance in uncovering the bands of the Lord Ruler, Wax grudgingly accepts in order to stop his uncle, who would be extremely dangerous with access to the Lord Ruler’s great power. One of the things I enjoy about Sanderson is that there is always something new to discover in his world and about his characters, and he delivers. Add great quips and an exciting plot, and you get a delightful read. I cannot wait for the next one.
That’s all for this month. See you next time!
Another month has come and gone, and it’s time to share the books I especially enjoyed.
Let’s begin with Janice Nimura’s Daughters of the Samurai, which follows the stories of three young Japanese girls, who journeyed to the United States to learn English and bring back their knowledge of English and American culture to assist in the education of Japanese girls. Nimura skillfully unfolds the narrative and does a good job of contextualizing these girls’ worlds; I was struck by the girls’ courage in the face of their obstacles and the expectations different cultures had of them. This will be a fascinating read for individuals fascinated by Japanese culture and history or are looking for a true story about strong women.
Up next is Frances Hardinge’s The Lie Tree. Faith’s family moves to an isolated island to help her father avoid a scandal. After he dies under mysterious circumstances, Faith discovers a tree that will reveal truths after being fed lies. Faith draws on her newly discovered lying abilities to find lies to feed the tree, what will it cost? Hardinge has woven a fascinating world and unfolds the plot at a contemplative pace that will draw readers in. Faith is an interesting character who finds her true desires at odd with what society dictates of her.
The Immortals by Jordanna Max Brodsky is an exciting tale of Greek Gods set in modern day New York. When Selene DeSilva, aka the Huntress Aremis, finds a dead woman in hte park, she sets out on a hunt to track down the culprits. She is reluctantly aided on her hunt by Theo, a local classics professor, and, together, they unravel the secret of the woman’s death, which has to do with an ancient ritual that has suddenly come into use once more. Brodsky has created a compelling setting that makes excellent use of classical studies and myth, and the story is engaging, with plenty of hints and twists. I am looking forward to more stories from this author. If you like Neil Gaiman, you’ll love this.
I can’t forget Morning Star, the conclusion to Pierce Brown’s Red Rising trilogy. Darrow has been beaten, but he still has allies. After these allies free him from the clutches of the Jackal, Darrow and his friends rally to bring rebellion to Mars and the Gold’s empire. The scale of worldbuilding is impressive–Brown pulls you right into the action. I also loved the emphasis on friendship in this one; although Darrow is the figurehead for the revolution, he would be unable to accomplish everything without the assistance of his friends. A most satisfying conclusion to the trilogy, indeed.
Last but not least, is Brandon Sanderson’s Calamity, the conclusion to The Reckoner’s trilogy. David and the remaining Reckoners work together to stop their former leader Prof, who has been corrupted by Epic powers. Prof has been working on something big–can David and the Reckoners save him from himself and unravel just what Calamity is? This conclusion had plenty of big reveals and actions–just as I have come to expect from Sanderson–and brings the series to a satisfying conclusion.
That’s all for now. Until next month!
Happy New Year, all! Here is my favorite books I read this month.
Between the World and Me/Coates: Written to his son, Coates describes the discrimination and the vulnerability that is part of the experience as a person of color in the United States. Coates’ honesty and writing makes this an absolutely gripping and powerful read. If you’re looking for some amazing nonfiction, read this.
Hereville(1-3)/Deutsch: This series follows Mirka, a young Jewish girl who dreams of fighting monsters, but is instead stuck in the village of Hereville. When Mirka wins a sword from a troll, her life gets a lot more interesting. From fighting meteorites to saving her sister from a magical fish, Mirka handles her problems with youthful impulsiveness. Yet even though Mirka creates most of her problems, she also fiercely wants to do the right thing. This feisty and caring heroine will be sure to win a spot in your heart, and the books (How Mirka Got Her Sword, How Mirka Met A Meteorite, and How Mirka Caught a Fish ) are great for all ages.
The Sandman: Overture/Gaiman: A prequel to Gaiman’s original series The Sandman, Dream must face down a mad star in order to save the Dreaming and the world. I was captivated by the twisty story-line and the breathtaking art (which reminded me very strongly of paintings). If you liked Sandman, you will enjoy this.
That’s all for January, folks! Catch you later!
2015 has come and gone, which means it is time for me to name my favorite books from this year. Did you read any of these and enjoy them? Do you see something you want to try?
Nonfiction: This spot is secured by Soul of an Octopus by Sy Montgomery. Montgomery unfolds the story of her experiences forging a bond with the octopuses at the New England and her research into these highly intelligent and unique creatures. Montgomery’s passion for her subject and her ability to blend research and personal narrative made this an engaging and thought-provoking read. (Honorable Mentions: Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning (Snyder), Finding Reliable Information Online (Stebbins), and Redefining Realness (Mock) )
Literary Fiction: This year, my favorite literary fiction pick is Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven. Station Eleven follows a traveling performing troupe as they traverse a world recovering from the destruction wrought by a virulent flu. I was captivated by Mandel’s writing style and her ability to mix present and past events to create an emotional and engaging story. This is a good one if you are in the mood for a post-apocalyptic story, but you don’t want a dystopian novel. (Honorable Mention: The Buried Giant (Ishiguro))
Science Fiction/Fantasy: As usual, this was a hard category–there were a lot of really interesting reads this year. The winner for this category is Seth Dickinson’s The Traitor Baru Cormonant. The story–which follows a brilliant young woman who will sacrifice everything to free her home island from conquerors–explores so much (identity, race, and colonialism, to name a few) in a gripping story of political games and betrayals. Don’t miss this one. (Honorable Mentions: Stormlight Archive (Sanderson), Autumn Republic (McClellan) and The Fifth Season (Jemisin) )
Graphic Novels: This was another tough category this year. I’m going to have to name Julian Voloj’s Ghetto Brother as one of my favorites; Voloj presents a compelling story about Bronx gangs who band together to promote peace in their community. I also enjoyed C. and R. Gage’s Lion of Rora (which follows Waldensian Joshua Janavel as he leads a rebellion against his community’s oppressors) and Noelle Stevenson’s two fun and engaging stories–Lumberjanes (a group of girls attend a camp with supernatural themes), and Nimona (“evil” mad scientist and a wild shapeshifter shake things up in a corrupt kingdom ). (Honorable Mentions: N/A–I had too many top favorites this year).
Young Adult: Marie Lu’s The Rose Society secures this spot. The sequel to Lu’s Young Elites delivers a compelling story of a young woman’s descent into evil as she pursues her vengeance. This story dragged me in, and, once I finished it, I immediately wanted the final book in the trilogy (which, alas, I have to wait for). (Honorable Mentions: The Winner’s Crime (Rutkoski), Shadowshaper (Older), and Made You Up (Zappia) )
That’s a wrap, folks. I wish you all the best (and, of course, good reading material!) for 2016!