Comic Review: Deadly Class

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Deadly Class by Rick Remender

5/5 stars

Deadly Class is packed with so much content that I love. It’s set in the late 80s and follows our main character Marcus Lopez during his entrance into King’s Dominion School for the Deadly Arts. I’m a sucker for the time period and the conventions of the high school setting. Anytime I can get a montage of a veteran at a school giving the new kid a break-down of the various cliques and VIPs, I’m in. The fun twist to the genre here is that King’s Dominion is a school that selects and trains the next generation of assassins. The groups here are mostly determined by the student’s family ties–we have “the preps,” rich children of CIA/FBI agents and another group, “sotos vatos,” hail from various cartel families. Marcus is immediately drawn to a group of misfits and the story is off and running.

I read through Volume One in a day. The action (pretty graphic stuff) takes off quickly and the character development is really done well. Lots of threads have been started in this first installment–Marcus’ mental health issues, a self-proclaimed “mortal enemy,” and even the very beginnings of a romance. Think Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters/Mean Girls school setting meets kickass action story and throw in a lot of darkness and moral ambiguity. I’m a big fan of Remender’s Black Science and despite several people recommending Deadly Class to me, I’m just jumping in now and I’d encourage any of you to check it out!

Comic Review: Black Panther

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4/5 stars

I’m a big Ta-Nehesi Coates fan. You can check out his journalism here and my review of his first collection of essays here (Between the World and Me was my favorite book of 2016). So when I heard that Coates would be writing a comic book–his first published fiction–I was excited.

While some of the dialogue is over-written, there was so much to enjoy about this addition to the Black Panther universe. T’Challa, our main character, is absent for much of the action as the book focuses on other key players that make up the political turmoil and murky ethics that plague the world of Wakanda. This move pays off as the other characters are fully rounded and help to flush out the world and the social and political issues Wakanda is facing.

T’Challa fights, but he unlike other superheroes, he is a king and a part of a rich history of duty and tradition. This difference allows Coates to work with some interesting themes that revolve around country, politics, and what powerful people have to do to stay in power.

Also, it’s just really nice to have two powerful, black queer women at the forefront of a story and the art work is simply beautiful. Check it out!

 

Books I’ve Read in 2017 & TBR

I’ve disappeared for a while. A new job, a new city and not enough reading and blogging. I thought I’d jump back in by posting a quick post featuring the books I’ve read this year and what I plan on reading next.

Books I’ve completed in 2017:

At 15 novels read so far, I’m unsure that I’ll make it to my goal of 50 books for 2017. I will aim to beat last years 36 books though.

Here are the books I’m reading next:

I will finally be checking The Nightingale off my list of must reads, finishing the final book in the Mistborn trilogy, the second book in the King Fountain series, reading Elizabeth Strout’s newest novel, diving into another classic Neal Stephenson book after I devoured Seveneves and starting two new fantasy series!

I’ll be posting 1-2 book reviews a month so please check them out!

 

 

January Wrap-up February TBR List

2017 is off to a great start. I completed 5.5 out of 6 books from my TBR January List and reviewed Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood and Commonwealth by Ann Patchett which you can check out here.

I’m halfway done with my final book on my January list, All the Light You Cannot See, and I will be posting a review for it in a few days.

Now, on to my February Reading List:

  1. The Marriage of Opposites by Alice Hoffman–Historical fiction
  2. Eleanor by Jason Gurley–Fantasy, magical realism, YA
  3. The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon–Fantasy, YA
  4. Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo–Fantasy, YA
  5. The Portable Veblen by Elizabeth McKenzie–Fiction, contemporary

I am reading a lot of YA Fantasy this month. I read 4 contemporary novels in January, 2 that focused on the Holocaust, so this month is a little bit lighter.

Okay, so here’s where I’d love some reading suggestions. I’ve decided that March will be my “Classics” month. I want to read Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness, and two other class sci-fi/fantasy books, possibly Asimov’s Foundations series. I also want to read 2 classic lit books.

If you have any classic sci-fi or fantasy novels that you think are essential reading, please comment below and I will add some to my March reading!

Book Reviews: Commonwealth and Hag-Seed

I’ve almost completed my reading list for January! If you haven’t checked that list out, it’s posted here.

The only book I have left to read is All the Light We Cannot See, which I’m very excited to finally read.

I’ve decided that I’m going to post at least 2 book reviews each month, and I plan on reviewing books I have the most to talk about. I LOVED The Bronze Horseman (a historical fiction that takes place in Soviet Russia), and I may do a short blurb on it, but I’ve decided to focus on these two books instead.

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Commonwealth by Ann Patchett

4.5/5 stars

This is a contemporary novel that debuted in September 2016. The novel spans five decades, following the intertwined lives of two families, brought together by an affair, a separation, and several remarriages.

What most intrigued me while I was reading this novel, was how the various connections between the siblings and step-siblings played out throughout the years. The step-siblings only ever spend a handful of summers together, but their actions and relationships have a lasting effect on everyone around them. Caroline and Franny Keating are sisters, the daughters of Fix and Beverly Keating. Cal, Holly, Jeannette, and Albie Cousins are the children of Bert and Teresa Cousins. When Bert and Beverly begin and affair and then marry for several years, the six children become family, until that marriage dissolves as well.

There is an especially poignant moment towards the end of the novel, when Franny Keating cares for Teresa Cousins, in her old age. What an interesting coupling–Teresa is the mother of Franny’s ex-stepsiblings. Teresa and Franny had only ever seen each other once, at a funeral decades ago. The two are basically strangers, but Franny spends Teresa’s final moments with her, and when a nurse asks about their relationship, Franny calls Teresa her step-mother, even though there is no name for what Teresa really is to her. But Teresa is the mother to people Franny loves and sees as brothers and sisters and that’s enough to deeply connect two strangers.

The story is a nonlinear one. Each chapter dances between decades as Patchett slowly reveals more and more about the sibling’s lives. We learn that while in her twenties, Franny dates a famous novelist who writes a book based on the lives of her and her extended family. This fills her with regret, because she has given away a deeply personal story that may not be hers to tell, one that focuses on her ex-stepsiblings and once the story is out there is a struggle and an examination on the ownership of stories and memory.

“All the stories go with you, Franny thought, closing her eyes. All the things I didn’t listen to, won’t remember, never got right, wasn’t around for. All”

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Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood

4/5 stars

The Tempest by William Shakespeare tells a tale of magic, fantasy, desire and revenge. Hag-Seed is such a layered retelling of the tempest, it is a play within a play. The book itself parallels The Tempest: Our main character, Felix is cunningly wronged and deposed of by a power-seeking individual. He is ousted as the Artistic Director of the Makeshiweg Theatre Festival after a praised career. His wife and daughter have both tragically died, and at that moment he is betrayed by his protege who stages a coup and has Felix fired and physically removed from the theater. Felix than completely disappears from the world and spends years living in a shack, growing mad all whilst planning and obsessing over his growing plot for revenge. His daughter, Miranda, has now been dead for 12 years, but she grows up with him in that shack, and ever more real ghost he resurrects as his companion.

A decade into his obsession on revenge, he creates a new identity and gains a job as a teacher at a correctional facility. Years go by as he teaches the Literacy Through Theater class, until the time comes for him to produce The Tempest and enact his revenge. The reader gets to see the production The Tempest and the progression of Felix’s madness.

Hag-Seed is a fun read. It is dark and dramatic, and it pulls you in to Felix’s plot. You both understand him and hope for him, but you also understand that he cannot sustain this life he has carved out for himself, that Miranda cannot be tethered to him forever. I also found the chapter length to be a great set-up. Most chapters are only three pages long which allowed for quick reading and I felt it really fit the feel of the book (it made it more play-like). I would really recommend this to both fans of The Tempest and people who were never able to get into Shakespeare, because this is a really accessible way to jump in.

Happy New Year and January TBR List

Happy New Year!!

It’s officially 2017 and my reading goal for the new year is a big one. I’m aiming to read 50 books in 2017. That will be 14 more books than my 2016 total of 36. It’s almost one book per week and I’m excited to get through many books that I’ve been dying to read for months and even years.

Here is my To Be Read list for the month of January:

  1. Commonwealth by Ann Patchett–Fiction, Contemporary
  2. Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood–Fiction, Contemporary
  3. The Bronze Horseman by Paulina Simons–Historical Fiction
  4. The Thief’s Daughter by Jeff Wheeler–Fantasy, YA
  5. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr–Historical Fiction
  6. Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson–Fantasy, YA

 

2016 Wrap Up, Germany trip, and What’s Ahead

Total Books Read in 2016: 35

Total Comic Volumes Read in 2016: 11

I am really happy with having read 35 books in 2016. I started reading more heavily last May and it has been a pleasure to fall in love with reading once again.

These are my favorite reads of 2016. When I graduated from college two years ago, I scooped up as much contemporary literature I could find. I read Lauren Groff, Rebecca Solnit, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Celeste Ng, and Emily St. John Mande, to name a few. So when 2016 began I felt a shift. The last book I read in December of 2015 was Seveneves, a sci-fi book by Neal Stephenson about the destruction of our moon and a worldwide attempt to save the human race. Only a handful of people survive and the book then jumps 5000 years and we see seven distinct races comprised of 7 million people and I loved every moment of this book. The world-building, the complex female characters, the science. I was hooked.

So 2016 became the year of science-fiction and fantasy reading. Four of my top six picks are within those genres. I also grew to love graphic novels and comics. The first comic I ever read was Ms. Marvel, which tells the story of a muslim girl outsider and boy, did I pick a great character to start my journey with comics. I read the Harry Potter series for the first time. It was, of course, incredible. I also was introduced to Sarah J. Maas’ fantasy series and even got to meet her and get all my books signed. If you love sci-fi and kickass, complex female characters, check her out.

My top book of the year was, without a doubt, Ta-Nehesi Coates’ Between the World and Me. I wrote an in-depth review that you can check out here. Coates paints a striking picture of racism in America and I would recommend anyone read it.

This year was also the first time my boyfriend and I traveled together outside of the United States. We spend two weeks in Germany, exploring Bavaria, and it was an awesome experience. Lots of pictures coming, as I recap my trip via my photo diary.

Our favorite moments included hiking through the Black Forrest:

Visiting breathtaking castles:

Seeing as many museums and art as possible:

Spending two days at Oktoberfest in Munich:

And just enjoying the quiet of the southern Germany countryside:

One thing I will never forget about our trip is the feeling of riding our bicycles through the pouring rain, late at night in the murky darkness that is a midnight downpour, eager to get back to our small home after a day of museum exploring and drinking with new friends. We had taken three buses and then unlocked out bikes at the local train station. It was such a distinct feeling of an unideal situation and feeling exhausted but absolutely loving the moment in this strange country that had started to feel a bit less unknown.

If you read through this entire post, I’d like to thank you for sticking around. 2016 has been a challenging and exciting year. I’ve completed my year-long internship as a Volunteer Coordinator at a Bay Area nonprofit and I’ve been officially unemployed for a month now. I’m working at my internship, and dog-walking, and babysitting while I job hunt. This is the first time I haven’t worked fulltime in about 8 years and it’s a strange experience. I’ve enjoyed my time off but it is also my greatest wish to be able to post about a new job offer at I’ve accepted (at some awesome nonprofit that’s working to combat human right’s issues and systemic racism) sometime within the next two months. I’m excited about the coming year.

Reading Goal for 2017: 50 books!

That’s about a book a week. I plan on continuing to blog and I think I’m going to do a book review once a month on the best book I read for that month. I will also be letting you know which books I’ve read and doing a super quick review at the end of  every monthly TBR list.

That’s it for now. I’ll see you guys next year!