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Archive for the ‘graphic novels’ Category

Another month has come and gone, and I’m back with my favorite books of the month.

Queen of Blood (Durst):  In Renthia, a Queen, a woman with the power to keep the spirits in check, brings balance to the country for as long as she is able.  The current queen Fara is powerful, yet the spirits still harm her subjects.  Daleina, a young, weak student, and her mentor, a crusty knight, struggle to bring balance to the kingdom, but, in doing so, uncover a dark secret.  I really enjoyed Daleina as a character; she is aware of her faults, but learns to work with them–something I deeply respect.  The story is also extremely compelling with lots of twists and turns–I will be watching out for the sequel.

Hillbilly Elegy (Vance):  Hillbilly Elegy has been getting a lot of recognition, and it’s well deserved. In this memoir, J.D. Vance describes his family’s history and the experience of growing up in a hillbilly family and how he managed to escape the vicious cycle of poverty that traps so many.  He also ruminates on what the hillbilly community needs to do to move out of the vicious cycle of poverty and addiction.  This is an essential read for anyone trying to understand the needs of marginalized communities.

The Stone Heart (Nameless City #2-Hicks): The sequel to Nameless City begins where Nameless City left off: the General of All Blades is working to establish the council, but other members of the Dao occupation are reluctant to give up power.  Meanwhile Kai and Rat uncover a secret the Monks of the Stone Heart have protected for centuries, and this is one that could change everything.  The Stone Heart was just as compelling as The Nameless City, and Faith Erin Hicks’ full-color illustrations excel at portraying the world and the characters’ personalities.  Fans of Avatar the Last Airbender series and stories that talk about difficult issues in lighter ways will enjoy this graphic novel series.

In the Garden of Beasts:Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin (Larson):  Nonfiction writer Eric Larson tells the story of  William E. Dodd, the American ambassador to Hitler’s Germany.  Larson takes the reader through Dodd’s experiences navigating encounters with key Nazi officials while dealing with the power struggles and indifference to the results of Nazis’ hateful rhetoric from home.  Given that we all know the end of the story, this is a fascinating and accessible look at individual and national response to a crisis in the making.

That’s all!  Catch you next time!

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Towers Trilogy (Karen Sumner-Smith):  In a world where magic is currency and status, Xhea, who has no magic of her own, scrapes out a meager existence in the Lower City by plying her ability to see ghosts.  One day, a man from one of the floating Towers, brings her a glowing ghost and asks her to hold onto it.   The ghost Shai and Xhea form a friendship that will change the world of the Lower City and the Towers.   Xhea and Shai’s characterizations are both excellent, and their friendship drives a compelling story about privilege and change.  Read this series if you’re looking for  a good story about female friendships changing the world.

How to understand Israel in 60 days or less (Glidden): Cartoonist Sarah Glidden documents her experiences on a Jewish birthright tour to Israel and her struggles to understand the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Glidden effectively takes the reader through her reflections and gives a nuanced picture of life in Israel.  While this would not be a good primer on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, readers will find themselves wanting to know more.
Passenger Duology (Bracken):  Etta is a world-class violinist; on the dawn of a major performance, she is spirited away from her world and flung back to the American Revolution.  The patriarch of the Ironwood family, the most powerful time traveler family, wants her to track down an astrolobe, a powerful time travel artifact, and he holds her mother hostage to ensure her cooperation.  Nicholas-a young man under the thumb of the Ironwood family, is pulled into the quest as well.  Together, Etta and Nicholas  have to work against the clock and learn about this new world.  Bracken delivers an engaging time travel story about discovering your place.  This YA series will be sure to leave readers on the edge of their seats.
Binti: Home (Okorafor):  While Binti has been enjoying her time at the Oozma University, she still struggles with her experiences during her trip out to the intergalactic University.   To settle herself, she decides to return home in order to center herself.   However, Binti’s experiences have significantly changed her–will she be able reintegrate herself into the community she left behind?  The sequel to Okorafor’s Binti is just as imaginative as the first book; Nnedi Okorafor expands the setting considerably as Binti navigates her time at home.  Check this out if you are looking for awesome science fiction!

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Hi all, I’m back with another top books post!  This month was pretty busy for me–I was doing Nanowrimo and had some job interviews–but I still found some time to read!  Here is my short list for this month.

Toil and Trouble (Scott): Smertae, Cait, and Riata–also known the Fates or”the weird sisters”– have always protected the island of Scotland.  When Semetae gets into a disagreement with Riata, she helps Macbeth earn a crown that does not rightfully belong to him. This retelling of Macbeth explores the story in fresh new ways and has gorgeous art to boot.

Born on the Edge of Race and Gender (Wilkinson): In this collection of essays and poems, activist and educator Willy Wilkinson shares his experiences as a queer, transgender, and disabled Asian. Among his stories are his experiences with transition, parenthood, and chronic fatigue syndrome.  Wilkins has an approachable writing style, and the vast breadth of subject matter means many people will find something that engages and touches them. This would be a great read for a gender studies class or anyone interested in the intersection between race, health, and gender issues.

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Hi all, I’m back with another top books of the month post!  I apologize for being late with this post; I am doing National Novel Writing Month, and I didn’t have a chance to get around to it until now.  So, here we go!

The Obelisk Gate (Broken Earth #2, Jemisin):  Essun has fled her village; her former mentor is trying to teach her to use the floating obelisks to carry on his work to destroy and rebuild a brutal world.  Meanwhile Essun’s missing daughter comes into her own powers, but she is in the hands of someone extremely dangerous. The sequel to The Fifth Season delivers a compelling narrative; Jemisin has created a unique  world, and the reader has the opportunity to explore the world’s secrets alongside the characters.  If you are looking for a fantasy series with a unique world and engrossing story, pick up the Broken Earth series.

Princess Princess Ever After (O’Neill):  When Princess Amira rescues Princess Sadie from her tower, the two instantly hit it off.  As they wander the countryside, Sadie’s jailer forces a confrontation, and Amira and Sadie will have to figure out who they really are.   This adorable graphic novel is a heart-warming story about friendship and self-discovery.  Amira and Sadie are awesome characters, and their relationship emphasizes the importance of finding your true friends.   If I have one complaint, it’s that this awesome graphic novel was not long enough.  I’m looking forward to seeing more from Katie O’Neill.

The Nazi Hunters (Nagorski):  The Nuremberg Trials are known throughout history for their judgement of major Nazi figures, but what happened when trials of Nazi war criminals stopped occurring?  Andrew Nargoski tells the story of the Nazi hunters–men and women who took it upon themselves to track down the still-free Nazis and push to hold them accountable.  Andrew Nagorski weaves the exciting stories of the hunts with a discussion of accountability and collective memory; the result is a fascinating read.

The Motion of Puppets (Donohue): Recently-weds Kay and Theo are living in Quebec while Kay performs in a circus.  Kay is fascinated by a puppet shop and one puppet in particular.  One night, she hides in the shop in order to escape someone following her and she disappears.  The frantic Theo begins a long, grim search for his beloved, but, unbeknownst to him, Kay has become a puppet.  The only Kay can escape her new existence is for someone to recognize her in her new form and lead her away from the show before dawn comes.  Kevin Donohue remixes some classical ideas into a fresh, hair-prickling read.

That’s all, folks!  Good luck to any readers who are also doing Nanowrimo!

 

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Another month has gone by, so here are my favorite books from this past month!  I hope you find some materials that catch your fancy!

Shrill: Tales of a Loud Women (Lindy West): In this collection of essays, writer and activist Lindy West shares the story of her abortion, her experiences flying while fat, and the time she took on an Internet troll who pretended to be her dead father (and so much more!).   West’s writing is witty and engaging, and I found myself both relating to her and learning from her in equal measures.  If you care about women’s rights, check this one out.

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet (Wayfarers #1; Becky Chambers): Earth was destroyed, and humans joined the Galactic Commons, a united group of aliens.   Ashby commands the Wayfarer, a spaceship that creates tunnels through space.  As the crew heads to dangerous territory for a major job, the story explores the characters and their relationships. Chambers’ compelling world-building (complete with very original aliens!) and strong character relationships make this a strong and tender narrative.  I loved how the characters–many of who were alien species–navigated their relationships with one another.  Fans of character-driven narratives–particularly the show Firefly– will enjoy this one.  I cannot wait for sequels!

Haikyu! (vol. 1 & 2) (Haruichi Furudate): Ever since he saw a player called “The Tiny Giant” in the High School volleyball championships, Hinata dreams of playing volleyball. After playing one middle school game and losing badly, Hinata joins Karasuno’s volleyball team, only to encounter his rival.  However, Hinata and his rival, the arrogant Kageyama, have a powerful dynamic on the court, and they, plus their teammates, might just have what it takes to go all the way to the championships.  I originally picked Haikyu because I loved the anime, and I wasn’t disappointed.  The action is top-notch, bur the focus on character growth is what makes this series so engaging.  If you love the anime series like I do or are looking for a great sports graphic novel, pick up Haikyu.

Dragon Girl: The Secret Valley (Weigel): In Alanna’s world, dragons are rare, yet feared. When Alanna finds a dragon’s nest, she quickly discovers that these winged giants are actually pretty great!  However, a greedy knight is after the dragons and their minerals, and Alanna, her brother, and her new dragon friends will have to outfox him!  This graphic novel was great fun–Alanna is a wonderfully clever rambunctious kid, and Weigel’s dragons are absolutely adorable.  If How to Train Your Dragon holds a place in your heart, definitely give this one a try.

The Masked City  (The Invisible Library #2; Genevieve Cogman):  The Invisible Library maintains balance between the natural-order obsessed dragons and the chaotic Fey by collecting books; Irene is a Librarian, trained to retrieve materials from alternate worlds.  When her apprentice Kai gets kidnapped and taken to the heart of Fae territory–an alternative Venice– Irene will have to use every ounce of her skills, brains, and training to get him back.  I enjoy the world and the magic (a Language that allows you to manipulate objects), and the plot is full of action and wit.  Add a clever female lead (who loves tea!), and I was sold.

The Aeronaut’s Windlass (Cinder Spires #1; Jim Butcher):  Long ago, humankind left the earth for spires high above the sky.  Disgraced air force man Grimm captains The Predator, a mercenary airship for one of the spires; after a particularly nasty encounter severely damages The Predator, Grimm is trying to find a way to keep going.   Gwen and Bridget are new spire guards struggling to learn the ropes, under the guidance of Gwen’s cousin, Benedict .  When their spire gets attacked, the two groups will have to work together to rescue their spire from destruction.  Clever characters, witty, whimsical dialogue, and an action-packed plot make this a fun read.  If you like steampunk, you should definitely go for this.

That’s all for this month–I’ll catch you next time!

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Hello, I’m back with my top books of the past month!  This time around, I have a short story collection, a couple of graphic novels, and a young adult novel.  If any of those sound interesting, read on!

The Paper Menagerie (Liu):  Ken Liu combines history, science fiction, and fantasy in this engaging short story collection.  My favorite stories include a mother who creates magical origami animals for her son and a story about a man who is able to pull memories from history in order to bear witness to a horrific crime.  Liu’s writing is engaging, and I really enjoyed how he blended history, mythology, and science fiction concepts in his stories.  If you like thoughtful,engaging, and/or genre-bending stories, you will definitely want to read this collection.

And I Darken (Conqueror’s Saga #1) (White): Ladislav Dracul is the daughter of the leader of Wallachia.  Ladislav–or Lada–and her brother Radu learn harsh lessons at the hands of their ruthless father, whom neither can seem to please .   When her father sends them as hostages to the Ottoman Empire, they meet Mehemed, the heir to the throne.  The trio form a close-knit relationship as they struggle to secure their power in a harsh world. This alternative history is a fast-paced story that explores decisions and the way they shape individuals.  Lada is a compelling and terrifying heroine, so if you tend to like darker protagonists, this one is for you.

Faith: Hollywood and Vine #1 (Houser): Faith is  a nerdy young woman is also the psionist Zephyr, who is able to use telekinesis and fly.  After tragedy strikes her superhero team, Faith decides to strike out on her own in Los Angeles.  She takes a job as a content writer for an online publication and looks out for those in need.  When potential psionists start disappearing, Faith is on the case!  This is a fun superhero comic: although the plot is fairly brief, it proves a solid introduction to Faith and her world.  Faith’s warm personality will endear you to her, and her struggles have nothing to do with her appearance (Faith is “plus-sized”).  I’m looking forward to reading more stories about Faith!

Ghosts (Telgemeier): Cat and Maya’s family move to Northern California’s coast so that Maya, who has cystic fibrosis, will be able to breathe more easily.  Cat is uncomfortable and uncertain, while Maya explores their new home with her usual enthusiasm. One of the locals informs them that the dead come to visit for the annual Day of the Dead festival.  As the Day of the Dead festival, Maya’s condition worsens.  Will Cat be able to adjust to her new home?  Telgemeier’s colorful illustrations are eye-catching, and her characters’ struggles are realistic and relatable.  The mix of real life problems and supernatural element make for an engaging, bittersweet story that will have you reading it over and over again (I certainly did!).

That’s all for this month.  Catch you next time!

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It’s that time of the month again: it’s time to discuss my favorite books from July!  This month, I have two fiction books, one non-fiction, and a graphic novel.
Every Heart a Doorway (McGuire):  All Nancy wants to do is to return to the Underworld she found after she went through a door; however, her family just wants her to go back to a normal life.  When she is forced to attend a special school intended to achieve that goal she instead finds children like her; all have the ability to open doors to worlds that they could call home, and each one wants to return but must learn to live where they do now.   However, someone starts killing children, bringing darkness to this newfound sanctuary.  I found the concept behind this story unique; the plot is quick and engaging, and I found the underlying message satisfying.  Fans of stories such as Harry Potter and Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children will find much to enjoy in Every Heart a Doorway.
Monstress, vol. 1: Awakening (Liu and Takeda):  Maika Halfwolf, a seventeen year old Arcanic (half human, half animal), has a monster inside.  Desperate for answers, she breaks into the Cumea stronghold to interrogate a woman about answers.  Leaving with more questions, Maika begins a quest to find answers and control the monster.  However, thanks to her actions, forces that have long lain dormant have awakened, and war may once again be on the horizon.  Monstress is a compelling story with plenty of action and strong world-building; Maika is a compelling, well-rounded heroine.  Her anger is terrifying to behold, but Liu provides little details–such as her love of her friend Tuya–that make her sympathetic.  Takeda’s beautiful and detailed illustrations bring this story to life; her backgrounds are intricate, and her drawings of characters convey so much.  This graphic novel will pull you right in, so do not miss this one (especially if you like epic fantasy and horror)!
Time Salvager (Chu): James Griffin-Mars is a chronman–he time travels into the past in order to salvage key resources so that humankind can continue to subsist another year.  James is exhausted, worn down by the lives he’s seen snuffed out and the loss he has suffered; he is seeking a way out. When James jumps back to acquire equipment from a research facility,  he rescues Elise, a research scientist, breaking the first of the Time Laws.   James’ actions force him and Elise to go on the run and will uncover some hard truths about this universe. The gruff, miserable James and passionate Elise balance each other out well, and the plot has all the marks of a fun, fast thriller.
Invisible Man, Got the Whole World Watching (Smith): Last, but far from least, is Mychal Smith’s Invisible Man, Got the Whole World Watching.  In this book, Smith explores how to grow up to be a black man.  He unfolds his story about growing up torn between expectations and the things he thought he needed to do to become a Black Leader.   Smith uses his own experiences to discuss and challenge the racist and sexist systems; for me, his ability to talk about those big issues was made this book so excellent.  His writing style–which is colloquial and intense–pulled me in, and I devoured this one in about a day.  If you care about racial and related social issues or found Between the World and Me powerful, you should definitely check this one out.
 
 
That’s all for this month!  See you next time!

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