Archive: January 2018

Book Review: Three-Fifths a Man: A Graphic History of the African American Experience by Sid Jacobson & Ernie Colón (2018)

Tuesday, January 16th, 2018

Essential Reading

five out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free ARC for review from the publisher, Hill & Wang.)

– 4.5 stars –

This is actually the second graphic novel by Sid Jacobson and Ernie Colón that I’ve read in as many weeks – though it didn’t quite register until I was several chapters in. I won a copy of their previous book, The Torture Report: A Graphic Adaptation, in a Goodreads giveaway; and, while I ultimately recommended it, this was due more to the book’s Very Important subject matter than its successful execution. Heavy on text and with a flow that proved hard to follow, The Torture Report was a bit of a slog.

While Three-Fifths a Man: A Graphic History of the African American Experience is similar in style and form to The Torture Report, the narration is infinitely more succinct, engaging, and intuitive. I can count on one hand the number of times I got lost between panels; and, though this still isn’t ideal, it’s a huge improvement over The Torture Report, which led me astray on nearly every page. The chronology also makes more sense, with fewer time jumps; when Jacobson and Colón do flit back and forth in time, it’s in a way that feels natural and doesn’t confuse the reader or disrupt the narrative.

Don’t get me wrong: Three-Fifths a Man is still pretty heavy on text, but given the breadth of the topic, it never feels tedious or repetitive. This sits in stark contrast to The Torture Report, where everything after the first third of the book felt like a bad case of déjà vu.

The title perfectly encapsulates the content of Three-Fifths a Man: from the beginning of African slavery in the so-called “New World” to the birth of the Movement for Black Lives, this is a graphic history of the African American experience. Jacobson and Colón cover a pretty stunning range of events in a mere 179 pages, including but not limited to the trans-Atlantic slave trade; the Civil War; Reconstruction; the rise of the KKK and other white nationalist hate groups; Jim Crow; WWI and the great migration; the Depression and FDR’s The New Deal; WWII, and the (gradual) opening of the US military to black soldiers; the rise of the Dixiecrats; the New Reconstruction and the Civil Rights era; Reagan’s War on Drugs and the advent of the New Jim Crow; the beating of Rodney King and the focus on police brutality and racism; and ending with the election of our first black president, Barack Hussein Obama (and I absolutely do not include his middle name as an insult here).

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tweets for 2018-01-15

Tuesday, January 16th, 2018

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Monday, January 15th, 2018
  • 3 of 5 stars to The Witch Doesn't Burn in this One by Amanda Lovelace https://t.co/JN6HHaVGrC ->
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Sunday, January 14th, 2018

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Thursday, January 11th, 2018
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Wednesday, January 10th, 2018

Book Review: Cry Your Way Home by Damien Angelica Walters (2018)

Tuesday, January 9th, 2018

Walters is at her best when she’s playing Frankenstein with fairy tale tropes.

three out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free electronic ARC for review through Library Thing’s Early Reviewers program. Trigger warning for violence against women and suicide.)

Once upon a time there was a monster. This is how they tell you the story starts. This is a lie.
(“Tooth, Tongue, and Claw “)

Don’t be fooled by the breadcrumbs in the forest. This is not a fairy tale.
(“A Lie You Give, and Thus I Take”)

You won’t catch me in my underwear. I sleep in my fucking coveralls.
(“The Serial Killer’s Astronaut Daughter”)

Between the oft-quoted “Once upon a time there was a monster…” line (reproduced above; I just couldn’t help myself!), and the deliciously dark story titles, I was practically frothing at the mouth to read an early copy of Cry Your Way Home. Alas, this collection of short stories – an eclectic mix of science fiction, fantasy, fairy tale retellings, and the stray piece of contemporary fiction, all bound by a fierce undercurrent of feminism running throughout – is more of a mixed bag than I’d hoped. There are a few gems here, but also a good many underwhelming and ultimately forgettable stories, too.

The collection opens on a strong note with “Tooth, Tongue, and Claw,” easily my favorite of the bunch. A mix of Beauty and the Beast and The Handmaid’s Tale (or perhaps “The Lottery”), the story ends with a surprising twist that’s as satisfying as it is lurid. A mashup of various fairy tales/spin on the entire genre, “A Lie You Give, and Thus I Take” is equal parts beautiful, chilling, and cautionary. While I think Walters is at her best when writing in this wheelhouse, I also quite enjoyed some of her science fiction; “The Serial Killer’s Astronaut Daughter,” “Take a Walk in the Night, My Love,” and “The Floating Girls: A Documentary” are all worth a read or two or three.

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Tuesday, January 9th, 2018

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Monday, January 8th, 2018

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Sunday, January 7th, 2018
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Saturday, January 6th, 2018

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Wednesday, January 3rd, 2018

2017 Book Memories Challenge

Tuesday, January 2nd, 2018


 

  1. The Furies by Natalie Haynes (2014)

    ‘It doesn’t matter that I spent my whole life doing it. What matters is that I spent his whole life doing it. I would take it all back, Robert. Every moment I spent trying to be a fucking director, trying to make people happy, trying to be good at something. If I could go back in time, I wouldn’t do any of it. I’d just stand next to Luke every fucking second and when anything bad looked like it might happen to him, I’d get in the fucking way and I would keep him safe. And when people asked me what I did for a living, I’d say I loved him. That’s what I wanted to do. I thought it was the background, and it was everything. Everything.’

    […] I was so consumed with carrying the weight of Luke. My lungs felt tight with it sometimes. The world was heavier without him in it, and slower, and darker, and it took energy, actual physical energy to move through it. And I didn’t want to let go of it, either. What other way did I have to keep him real? Carrying his dead weight was better than forgetting him. Grieving was better than waking up to realise I couldn’t remember which of his eyes had the brown fleck in it.

    Besides, I had lost patience with therapy after Luke died. I was referred to a grief counsellor who was every kind of idiot. Her capacity for trying to look on the bright side made my mother look like Sartre. I tried not to hate her and everything she stood for, but it was one struggle too many. I didn’t want to be cured of my grief, I wanted to wrap myself up in it like a comfortable old coat which I’d first put on when my father died.
    I wanted to wear it every minute of the day, to sleep in it and wake in it, and never to be rid of it because it was the only thing keeping me warm. I gave up talking to my friends, to Luke’s friends, because everyone wanted to try to make me feel better, to talk about the healing qualities of time and what Luke would have wanted. But what Luke wanted didn’t matter any more. That’s what happens when you die. And I didn’t want time to heal my wounds. I wanted to pick at them until fat bubbles of dark blood formed on my skin, and then I wanted to watch them scab over and pick at them again.

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Tuesday, January 2nd, 2018

fuck yeah reading: 2017 books

Monday, January 1st, 2018

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So 2017 was a terrible year, for a variety of reasons. I wish I could say that the books (like the dogs) were always good, but the truth is that I read some pretty bad ones, and my reading slump wasn’t exactly helped by my depression and anxiety and general state of panic. But 2017 will go down as the year I really dove into comic books; some of my favorite reads this year (shout outs to Fetch, The Last Unicorn, Bitch Planet, and Kindred) were graphic novels, and I suspect I had a little more luck engaging with this format on those days when my brain was feeling especially slow and foggy. This was also a pretty great year for YA fiction that sticks it to rape culture; see, e.g., The Nowhere Girls and Vigilante.

As is the custom, here’s a complete list of my reads this year, with my top picks starred. And you can check out my Year in Books on Goodreads here, which looks lovely but is entirely too much to screencap.

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fuck yeah reading: 2017 book list

  1. The Furies by Natalie Haynes (2014)
  2. The Dark and Other Love Stories by Deborah Willis (2017); reviewed here
  3. The Impossible Fortress by Jason Rekulak (2017); reviewed here
  4. Wonder Woman, Vol. 1: Blood by Brian Azzarello, Cliff Chiang, and Tony Akins (2012); reread: originally reviewed here
  5. Kinski by Gabriel Hardman (2014)
  6. Amy Chelsea Stacie Dee by Mary G. Thompson (2016)
  7. The Last Final Girl by Stephen Graham Jones (2012)
  8. The Devil in America by Kai Ashante Wilson (2014); reviewed here
  9. A Crown of Wishes (The Star-Touched Queen #2) by Roshani Chokshi (2017); reviewed here
  10. Uprooted by Naomi Novik (2015)
  11. The Secret Loves of Geek Girls edited by Hope Nicholson (2016); reviewed here
  12. Everyone’s a Aliebn When Ur a Aliebn Too: A Book by Jomny Sun (2017); reviewed here *
  13. Final Girls by Mira Grant (2017); reviewed here
  14. Final Girls by Riley Sager (2017); reviewed here
  15. Waking Gods (Themis Files #2) by Sylvain Neuvel (2017); reviewed here
  16. The Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit by Michael Finkel (2017)
  17. A Colony in a Nation by Christopher L. Hayes (2017)
  18. 20th Century Ghosts by Joe Hill (2007)
  19. Wonder Woman, Volume 2: Guts by Brian Azzarello, Cliff Chiang, and Tony Akins (2013)
  20. Wonder Woman, Volume 3: Iron by Brian Azzarello, Cliff Chiang, and Tony Akins (2013)
  21. Wonder Woman, Volume 4: War by Brian Azzarello, Cliff Chiang, and Goran Sudžuka (2014)
  22. Wonder Woman, Volume 5: Flesh by Brian Azzarello, Cliff Chiang, and Goran Sudžuka (2014)
  23. Wonder Woman, Volume 6: Bones by Brian Azzarello, Cliff Chiang, and Goran Sudžuka (2015)
  24. By the Silver Water of Lake Champlain by Joe Hill (2014)
  25. The Last Unicorn (The Last Unicorn Graphic Novels #1-6) by Peter S. Beagle, Peter B. Gillis, Renae De Liz, and Ray Dillon (2011) *
  26. Here We Are: Feminism for the Real World edited by Kelly Jensen (2017); reviewed here
  27. The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman (2013)
  28. How to Be Everything: A Guide for Those Who (Still) Don’t Know What They Want to Be When They Grow Up by Emilie Wapnick (2017)
  29. Bitch Planet, Vol 1: Extraordinary Machine (Bitch Planet #1-5) by Kelly Sue DeConnick (2015); reread
  30. Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill (2007)
  31. Bitch Planet, Vol. 2: President Bitch by Kelly Sue DeConnick, Taki Soma, and Valentine De Landro (2017); reviewed here *
  32. Our Endless Numbered Days by Claire Fuller (2015)
  33. For Want of Water: and other poems (National Poetry Series) by Sasha Pimentel (2017); reviewed here
  34. Super Narwhal and Jelly Jolt (Narwhal and Jelly) by Ben Clanton (2017); reviewed here
  35. Best Vegan Science Fiction & Fantasy of 2016 edited by B. Morris Allen (2017); reviewed here
  36. Lady Mechanika, Volume 3: The Lost Boys of West Abbey (Lady Mechanika: The Lost Boys of West Abbey #1-2) by M.M. Chen, Joe Benítez, Peter Steigerwald, Martin Montiel, and Beth Sotelo (2017); reviewed here
  37. Lessons from Shadow: My Life Lessons for Boys and Girls by Shadow Bregman (2017); reviewed here
  38. Feminist Fables for the Twenty-First Century: The F Word Project by Maureen Burdock (2015); reviewed here
  39. Kindred: A Graphic Novel Adaptation by Octavia E. Butler, John Jennings (Illustrations), and Damian Duffy (Adapted by) (2017); reviewed here *
  40. Star Trek Cats by Jenny Parks (2017); reviewed here
  41. Red Rising (Red Rising #1) by Pierce Brown (2014); reread: originally reviewed here
  42. Poisoned Apples: Poems for You, My Pretty by Christine Heppermann (2014)
  43. Getting Grief Right: Finding Your Story of Love in the Sorrow of Loss by Patrick O Malley (2017); reviewed here
  44. Unleashed by Amanda Jones (2017); reviewed here
  45. A Fist of Permutations in Lightning and Wildflowers by Alyssa Wong (2016)
  46. The Ship Beyond Time (The Girl from Everywhere #2) by Heidi Heilig (2017); reviewed here
  47. Golden Son (Red Rising #2) by Pierce Brown (2015)
  48. Fetch: How a Bad Dog Brought Me Home by Nicole J. Georges (2017); reviewed here *
  49. All Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai (2017); reviewed here
  50. From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation by Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor (2016); reviewed here
  51. The Diary of Edward the Hamster 1990-1990 by Miriam Elia and Ezra Elia (2013)
  52. Morning Star (Red Rising #3) by Pierce Brown (2016)
  53. The Little Queen by Meia Geddes (2017); reviewed here
  54. Sorrow of the Earth: Buffalo Bill, Sitting Bull and the Tragedy of Show Business by Eric Vuillard; translated by Ann Jefferson (2017); reviewed here
  55. A Guide for Murdered Children by Sarah Sparrow (2018); review coming next year
  56. Dogs in Cars by Lara Jo Regan (2014)
  57. Vigilante by Kady Cross (2017)
  58. Invisible No More: Police Violence Against Black Women and Women of Color by Andrea Ritchie (2017); reviewed here
  59. Britt-Marie Was Here by Fredrik Backman (2016)
  60. The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah (2015) *
  61. The Hollow Girl by Hillary Monahan (2017); reviewed here
  62. Dread Nation by Justina Ireland (2018); review coming next year
  63. The Bazaar of Bad Dreams by Stephen King (2015)
  64. #Notyourprincess: Voices of Native American Women edited by Lisa Charleyboy and Mary Beth Leatherdale (2017); reviewed here
  65. Writing to Awaken: A Journey of Truth, Transformation, and Self-Discovery by Mark Matousek (2017); reviewed here
  66. Body Horror: Capitalism, Fear, Misogyny, Jokes by Anne Elizabeth Moore (2017)
  67. Get in Trouble: Stories by Kelly Link (2015)
  68. Ghost City by Madeline Claire Franklin (2014)
  69. Comics for a Strange World: A Book of Poorly Drawn Lines by Reza Farazmand (2017); reviewed here
  70. How to Be Perfectly Unhappy by Matthew Inman/The Oatmeal (2017); reviewed here
  71. If My Dogs Were a Pair of Middle-Aged Men by Matthew Inman/The Oatmeal (2017); reviewed here
  72. A Is for Asteroids, Z Is for Zombies: A Bedtime Book about the Coming Apocalypse by Paul Lewis and Kenneth Kit Lamug (2017); reviewed here
  73. Be a Unicorn: and Live Life on the Bright Side by Sarah Ford (2017); reviewed here
  74. Underground Airlines by Ben H. Winters (2015)
  75. Depression & Other Magic Tricks by Sabrina Benaim (2017); reviewed here
  76. Radical Hope: Letters of Love and Dissent in Dangerous Times edited by Carolina De Robertis (2017)
  77. The Creeps (Deep Dark Fears Collection #2) by Fran Krause (2017); reviewed here
  78. The Torture Report: A Graphic Adaptation by Sid Jacobson, Ernie Colón, Jane Mayer (Introduction) and Scott Horton (Afterword) (2017); reviewed here
  79. Touch by Claire North (2015); reviewed here
  80. How to Make Friends with a Ghost by Rebecca Green (2017); reviewed here
  81. My Depression: A Picture Book by Elizabeth Swados (2015)
  82. Blue Is the Warmest Color by Julie Maroh; translated by Ivanka Hahnenberger (2013); reviewed here
  83. Rolling in the Deep (Rolling in the Deep #0.5) by Mira Grant (2015)
  84. Fliers: 20 Small Posters with Big Thoughts by Nathaniel Russell (2017); reviewed here
  85. Three-Fifths a Man: A Graphic History of the African American Experience by Sid Jacobson and Ernie Colón (2018); review coming soon
  86. peluda by Melissa Lozada-Oliva (2017); reviewed here
  87. In My Hands: Memories of a Holocaust Rescuer by Irene Gut Opdyke (1992)
  88. Into the Drowning Deep (Rolling in the Deep #1) by Mira Grant (2017); reviewed here
  89. Menagerie (Menagerie #1) by Rachel Vincent (2015); reread: originally reviewed here *
  90. Survivors’ Club: The Complete Series by Lauren Beukes, Dale Halverson, Ryan Kelly, Iñaki Miranda, Mark Farmer, Eva de la Cruz, Clem Robins, and Bill Sienkiewicz (2016); reviewed here
  91. Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu (2017); I didn’t review it, but if I had, this is what I might have written *
  92. Warm Bodies (Warm Bodies #1) by Isaac Marion (2012) *
  93. Burger (Object Lessons) by Carol J Adams (2018); review coming soon
  94. Down Among the Sticks and Bones (Wayward Children #2) by Seanan McGuire (2017)
  95. Cry Your Way Home by Damien Angelica Walters (2018); review coming soon
  96. The Nowhere Girls by Amy Reed (2017) *
  97. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr (2014)
  98. I Wore My Blackest Hair by Carlina Duan (2017); reviewed here
  99. Helium by Rudy Francisco (2017); reviewed here
  100. Wild Embers: Poems of rebellion, fire and beauty by Nikita Gill (2017); reviewed here
  101. The Mother of All Questions by Rebecca Solnit (2017)
  102. Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah (2016) *
  103. Pines (Wayward Pines #1) by Blake Crouch (2012)
  104. Herding Cats (Sarah’s Scribbles #3) by Sarah Andersen (2018); review coming soon *
  105. Quiet Girl in a Noisy World: An Introvert’s Story by Debbie Tung (2017); reviewed here
  106. Babyteeth, Volume 1 by Donny Cates and Garry Brown (2017); reviewed here
  107. Sugar Town by Hazel Newlevant (2017); reviewed here
  108. POS: Piece of Sh*t by Pierre Paquet and Jesús Alonso Iglesias (2017); reviewed here
  109. Wild Beauty: New and Selected Poems by Ntozake Shange (2017); reviewed here
  110. Lockjaw and the Pet Avengers Unleashed by Chris Eliopoulos and Ig Guara (2010); reviewed here
  111. Comics for Choice: Illustrated Abortion Stories, History and Politics edited by Hazel Newlevant, Whit Taylor, and O.K. Fox (2018); review coming soon
  112. Big Mushy Happy Lump (Sarah’s Scribbles #2) by Sarah Andersen (2017) *
  113. Elsewhere, Volume 1 by Jay Faerber, Sumeyye Kesgin, and Ron Riley (2018); review coming soon
  114. Black, Volume 1 by Kwanza Osajyefo and Jamal Igle (2017); reviewed here
  115. Emma in the Night by Wendy Walker (2017)
  116. Love Is Love: A Comic Book Anthology to Benefit the Survivors of the Orlando Pulse Shooting by Marc Andreyko, et al. (2016)
  117. OINK: Heaven’s Butcher by John Mueller (2015)

 
bonus list: miscellaneous

  1. My Rad Life: A Journal by Kate Schatz and Miriam Klein Stahl (2017); reviewed here
  2. Start Where You Are Note Cards by Meera Lee Patel (2017); reviewed here
  3. Do One Thing Every Day That Makes You Happy: A Journal by Robie Rogge and Dian G. Smith (2017); reviewed here
  4. The Daily Question: My Five-Year Spiritual Journal by WaterBrook (2017); reviewed here
  5. 30 Days to Peace: A One-Month Creative Journal by Waterbrook (2017); reviewed here
  6. 30 Days to Joy: A One-Month Creative Journal by Waterbrook (2017); reviewed here

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tweets for 2017-12-31

Monday, January 1st, 2018