My thoughts on this are a pretty mixed bag. On one hand, I'm glad there's a book that young geek girls can go to for interviews with grown-up geek girMy thoughts on this are a pretty mixed bag. On one hand, I'm glad there's a book that young geek girls can go to for interviews with grown-up geek girls, and be inspired by them. On the other hand, I also think it oversimplifies the geek girl experience, at least for me. I found myself bored with the chapters that focused on the "types" of fans or "types" of trolls, and the chapters on how to be a fangirl (cosplay, room decor, etc.) I recognize that this is likely because I've been in fandom for most of my adolescence, and many young geek girls may not have had the chance to explore fandom yet. So maybe this really isn't a book that's meant for me at my age and experience. And that's fine.
I would have liked to read more in-depth interviews and the chapter on geek girl feminism almost struck the right balance I was looking for. I would also like to see more discussion of intersectionality and racism in the geek girl experience. How do we transform our fandom love into careers? How do we constructively criticize things and try to respect each other? Maybe Maggs' next book will have that?...more
Tell Me More: Female friendship is a staple in my life, but I don't feel I see nearly as much of it as I would like inI LOVE IT I LOVE IT I LOVE IT
Tell Me More: Female friendship is a staple in my life, but I don't feel I see nearly as much of it as I would like in YA fiction or comics. Enter the Lumberjanes, five best friends at a summer camp that promises not just outdoor fun, but thrilling adventures that challenge their wit and ingenuity. And by the kitten holy was it an absolute blast to read!
via Comic Book Resources
Volume 1 opens with the girls on a nighttime trek, and any reader would be hard-pressed not to be charmed by them and their interactions with each other. The Lumberjanes look out for and protect their fellow girl, even when they come face-to-face with foxes howling to "Beware the kitten holy." Tiny red-headed April says it herself when Camp Director Rosie asks them how they ended up in the woods: "So Jo and I woke up all of our friends because 'FRIENDSHIP TO THE MAX,' obviously and we went after it..." These girls value each other tremendously, and they pride themselves on being able to rely on each other no matter what.
Yes, Lumberjanes is a feminist comic, with characters that have a variety of body types and facial features, and zero slut-shaming/fat-shaming/anykindof-shaming. April might be more stereotypically feminine than Ripley or Molly, but it's never an issue. All five of them are stubborn and confident and happy with who they are, and their friendship only ever reinforces that. There's also a hint of romance between two of the girls, and its slow development through the first four issues is a joy to notice.
Noelle Stevenson and Brooke Allen's art reflects the vibrancy of each girl's personality. The colours are always warm, and the girls, as previously mentioned, are of all different shapes, sizes and skin tones. When the colours go into cooler shades, they remain just as rich:
I love April so much.
via Comic Book Resources
Lumberjanes rewards rereads, and my second time around was even better than the first, because I could spend more time noticing the smaller details and seemingly throwaway jokes. There's a cleverness to the dialogue that is never condescending. Stevenson and Grace Ellis invite the reader to laugh with the girls, and even when there were references to people or places that I didn't understand, it only made me want to learn about them, and why the Lumberjanes might have mentioned them.
The adventures they go on are similarly engaging, and they give the girls ample opportunities to share their knowledge and skills. I was especially delighted by one particular challenge in a cave, where the girls need to figure out how to safely cross between cliffs. Each girl brings something to the table, and are never made to feel less because of what they don't know and can't do.
The Final Say: I'm a newcomer to comics, and I won't lie about feeling extremely by the thousands of stories I could choose from. Picking up Lumberjanes on the strength of some trusted friends' recommendations is a decision I could never regret, and isn't that the Lumberjanes way? #FriendshipToTheMax
Tell Me More:You never remember things the same way twice. One day, you might focus on a single detail, your emotional investment tied directly to theTell Me More: You never remember things the same way twice. One day, you might focus on a single detail, your emotional investment tied directly to the existence of that detail on that particular day--a red scarf, a white drink, a brush of fingers against your arm. Another day might find you recalling the feeling of contentment or overwhelming anger or despair mixed with a strange taste of relief. Memories shift and grow as humans do, and it is the indelible impact those shifts have on us that Kazuo Ishiguro considers in his newest book.
Let me be clear: this is not a book you read for straightforward answers. The Buried Giant meanders much like its protagonists, and it doesn't really wait for you to catch up. You're either on the journey with Axl and Beatrice or you're not. Should you commit to that journey, it might take more than the first few chapters for you to really find your bearings, as Ishiguro lays out the path in slow, sweeping paragraphs. The setting is both familiar and strange, reminiscent of Tolkein's descriptions of the Shire but with a touch of fog, similar to the mental fog that seems to dog Axl, Beatrice, and their fellow villagers. The writing style that Ishiguro employs can make it difficult to remember exactly what is happening and what has happened as you move through each chapter. While this style might be fitting for the story, when it comes to enjoying it, your mileage may still vary.
Ishiguro uses several fantasy tropes to highlight themes in Axl and Beatrice's journey, not the least of which is an appearance by a legendary knight of King Arthur's court. It doesn't feel like Ishiguro ever truly commits to these tropes, however, and while I could see what he was trying to accomplish on a technical level, it wasn't emotionally compelling to me. The Buried Giant seems to want to rest within a peculiar middle ground between fantasy and realism, but isn't quite magic realism either. Axl and Beatrice are the nucleus of the story, and the various magical creatures eventually felt like small distractions.
Were the distractions worth it? Again, your mileage may vary. Never Let Me Go, another Ishiguro novel, only ever gave vague hints as to the true nature of its protagonists' school and their secret, and I found it more effective than if he had stated it clearly from the beginning. The Buried Giant, on the other hand, fills its pages with new shiny things to look at, and it was hard not to feel impatient after getting to the halfway point of the book.
The Final Say: The Buried Giant may be best consumed without expectation or knowledge of Ishiguro's previous work. Fantasy fans will likely enjoy the throwbacks to the genre, though Ishiguro doesn't quite commit to those tropes wholeheartedly.
Tell Me More:Maybe I built things up too much in my head. After the throw-my-copy-across-the-room ending inThe Madness Underneath,the next Shades of LTell Me More: Maybe I built things up too much in my head. After the throw-my-copy-across-the-room ending in The Madness Underneath, the next Shades of London book set itself a high hurdle to jump. Unfortunately, I didn't feel that The Shadow Cabinet managed to scale that hurdle very well, even as it continues to set up for the final novel in the series.
Where the first two books were centred around Rory's discovery of MI5/the spooks, Shadow Cabinet finally expands upon the ghost mythology, the connection between Jane's group and the paranormal events dogging Rory's steps, and why it's so important for Rory to stay safe. Readers get a flashback to Jane's beginnings, and the people who have influenced her for almost her entire life. These characters are truly chilling, and they heighten the sense of danger in the series. That said, their appearances basically bookend the story, and I would have loved to see more of them to really cement the stakes that Rory has to face.
Unlike the first two books, however, pacing was more of an issue in The Shadow Cabinet. While there were chapters that felt almost breakneck in speed, there were others that moved much more slowly, enough that I'd have to reread some parts to make sure I hadn't forgotten a crucial piece of information. I'll also admit that the years between The Madness Underneath and Shadow Cabinet didn't help with the confusion I experienced. It was also harder to get a sense of where any of the events were happening--I found myself wondering more than once if I'd missed a sentence telling me which part of London the characters were in, because there wasn't a whole lot of description to set the scenes.
This might not sound like a big thing to consider, but it becomes an important point in regards to backstory that we gain in this novel. The titular Shadow Cabinet is dependent on geography for very specific and life-threatening reasons, and as a reader who's never been to London, I needed more reinforcement of where events were occurring so I could understand how they affected the plot.
The Final Say: Sophomore syndrome may have skipped right over onto The Shadow Cabinet, as this third installment of the Shades of London series doesn't manage to carry the momentum of the first two books forward.
Tell Me More: A new Ally Carter novel is the best way to get me to slow down and take some time for readSO GOOD OMFG I NEED THE NEXT ONE IMMEDIATELY
Tell Me More: A new Ally Carter novel is the best way to get me to slow down and take some time for reading, without ever once worrying that the story won't live up to expectations. All Fall Down, the first book in the new Embassy Row series, is no different. The story Carter tells this time around feels more intimate though, with a smaller nucleus of action. That said, the ramifications of Grace's actions have farther reaching consequences because of the setting: a street on which several countries have situated their embassies is not a place where one can sneak into the house next door as part of a prank. A single wrong move could, as the kids themselves realize, start the next world war, and Grace has always believed herself to only be capable of the wrong moves.
At first glance, Grace is not like Gallagher Girl Cammie, secure in her mother and her friends and her school, or like Kat, confident in her abilities and her crew. Grace is unsure and scarred, her mother's death a weight and a responsibility that she can't shake. Even more intriguing is how the reader can't be sure of Grace either. She's an unreliable narrator, and I loved the way Ally Carter developed that uncertainty throughout the novel. The hints are never overdone or too few to notice--we know that there is something off about Grace, and the mystery itself did not seem predictable once revealed.
What is familiar is Carter's penchant for found families, a very welcome trope. Grace's relationship with her grandfather is distant at best, and seeing her open up to Noah and the other teens on Embassy Row is just as fulfilling as seeing her gain more confidence in herself. They help her to trust herself, and to face the truth about her mother's death. The lack of a central romance highlights the burgeoning friendships even more, though there are tiny hints scattered throughout the novel of possible future relationships.
The Final Say: All Fall Down heralds the start of a strong new series, with Ally Carter's deft hand guiding Grace's story. Readers will not only be satisfied, but yearn for the next installment immediately after closing the cover.
I loved "His Face All Red" when I read it online, and the rest of the stories don't disappoint. "My Friend Janna" was particularly creepy, and I probaI loved "His Face All Red" when I read it online, and the rest of the stories don't disappoint. "My Friend Janna" was particularly creepy, and I probably should not have read it just before going to sleep.
Tell Me More: When I first found Emily Carroll's webcomic "His Face All Red" on a quiet summer afternoon, I had no idea what I had stumbled upon. The comic takes up your entire screen, surrounded by black space, and drawing your eye to the horrifying revelations that come in later panels. Through the Woods cradles this story in the middle of its pages, and its familiarity is surprisingly comforting as the rest of the short stories work their unsettling magic.
"An Introduction" does a superb job at setting the tone of this collection: who hasn't spent nights reading by the light of a single lamp? Who hasn't felt like there was something in the darkness, waiting to draw us down, and curled up closer to the light? It only takes three pages for the chill to settle against the back of your neck, a testament to the strength of Carroll's writing style and art.
All six of the stories involve travel through the woods, easily a metaphor for change and transformation. Death itself is just a transition, not a permanent shift, coming back to pick at the bones of what is left behind. "Our Neighbor's House" starts out with white space, playing at the security we feel in the daylight. The pages never grow completely dark, just shadowed as the story builds to its climax. It may be a polarizing and confusing ending for some, but the various implications of that ending were enough for me to be thoroughly creeped out.
Carroll's use of colour is superb, building the suspense just as deftly as the melody of her words. In "A Lady's Hands Are Cold," our protagonist comes to live in a blue house, blue walls, blue tones. It is cold, deathlike, sterile. But as the story goes on, the colours shift to oranges and red, raising alarm in the reader. There is something coming for her, even as she begins to take control of her own story. "His Face All Red" is similarly enhanced by Carroll's use of colour: the pages are already singed red at the start, only growing darker.
"My Friend Janna" is a strong cautionary tale about playing with forces you can't see, and the greys and dull browns do a fantastic job of drawing a haze around the characters and the reader. It leads perfectly into the final story, "The Nesting Place," which I must admit still makes me uneasy months after reading. It is viscerally frightening, and I do feel that readers should be warned for some body horror that will live with you past the final page.
The scariest thing about all of Carroll's stories are what the characters don't say. It's a reflection of real life, and how we are made uneasy when we aren't sure what people are thinking or doing. The father in "Our Neighbor's House" doesn't explain why they should go to the neighbor if he doesn't come back, just that they should. In "A Lady's Hands," our protagonist's curiousity is stoked by the mystery of the singing voice, something her husband never mentioned. We aren't sure what happens to "Janna," but our imaginations happily take on that challenge. Carroll doesn't have to give us straight, clear-cut explanations, because horror can always be found in what we don't know.
The Final Say: Through the Woods is a stellar collection of beautifully drawn tales, best read as the winter sun begins to set, and the curtains ripple with the wind you're sure can't be coming from outside. Because that window is closed. Right?
Tell Me More:If there's one thing the internet has granted to introverts, it's the opportunity to be part of a community without having to give up theTell Me More: If there's one thing the internet has granted to introverts, it's the opportunity to be part of a community without having to give up their anonymity. It's possible to find safe spaces and trustworthy people online (with some caution, of course), and to form friendships that last. In Real Life (hereafter referred to as IRL) is about those connections, and the very real circumstances that bring people together.
IRL’s protagonist Anda is a quiet young girl who is drawn to Coarsegold Online, a massively multiplayer online role-playing game or MMORPG. She thrives there, accomplishing quest after quest, and participating in the gaming community. Her avatar is a leader, and Anda’s own confidence steadily builds the more time she spends in the game. Her experiences mirror that of thousands of gamer girls, introvert and extrovert alike, who enjoy not only a game, but the interactions with players from all over the world.
Jen Wang’s art is a pleasure to view on each page, illustrating Anda’s tendency to draw into herself with vibrant, curved lines. Her avatar’s stance is straighter, shaded with brighter colours, reflecting Anda’s newfound confidence. Wang’s use of colour seems to pull from simple RPG games, jumping off the white pages and bringing the reader into Anda’s world.
It’s a great complement to Cory Doctorow’s text, which carefully builds Anda up and out, leading her and the reader into the world of Coarsegold. We understand Anda’s appreciation and love for the game and what it gives her. The main conflict isn’t introduced until nearly halfway through the book, but it’s a necessary delay because the story wouldn’t work without that initial investment into Anda and her life as she begins playing the game. Seeing how important it is to her helps the reader to understand why she goes out on the limbs she does for a stranger, a Chinese boy who she’s never met in real life (ha, wordplay).
I have read criticism of that particular plotline, citing White Savior Complex and dismissing Anda’s actions. While I can understand why some readers could come to that conclusion, I think it would also be remiss of us to ignore the fact that the internet has also provided opportunities for people of all races to learn about other cultures. Raymond’s life is a reality for many kids. Not once does IRL say that a white kid from the West could single-handedly change that for them. What it does espouse is understanding and compassion and a willingness to learn. The internet is absolutely capable of being a horrible place. Anda discovers a way to make it less horrible. Let’s start from that, and work our way up. The story doesn't need to end there. Call it a quest, and kick some butt.
The Final Say: In Real Life packs a heavy story into vivid art, and will leave readers with a new perspective of the gaming community and what it can accomplish with a little compassion.
Tell Me More:2014 was the year I started learning about and reading comics, and no matter who I talked to, one recommendation was consistent: G. WilloTell Me More: 2014 was the year I started learning about and reading comics, and no matter who I talked to, one recommendation was consistent: G. Willow Wilson's Ms. Marvel. I'll admit to being intimidated at first--my only experience with the Marvel universe thus far had been the first issue of Avengers Civil War and the movies. But Wilson and artist Alphona deliver an exhilarating and extremely relevant story in these first five issues, and I'm only sorry I didn't pick this comic up earlier.
Kamala Khan is irresistible, a fidgety teenage girl who wants to make her own place in the world. While it might seem like a familiar story, there is one marked difference: Kamala is a practicing Muslim. Her religion isn't the sole focus or driving force of the story, but it does play a role in how she approaches situations, learning to balance her faith with her life. Kamala also seems to be a 2nd-generation immigrant child, and that's a whole other set of traditions and mindsets with which to grapple. G. Willow Wilson's text masterfully hints at these points of tension, and how Kamala may have to deal with them sooner rather than later.
Alphona's art is full of movement, filled with curved lines and a sense of urgency. It complements Kamala's restlessness, the vivid colours getting punchier as she discovers her new abilities. The panels that detail her transformation are almost ethereal, like watching wisps of a dream you can’t quite fully remember.
Speaking of dreams, Kamala aspires to be like Carol Danvers, former Ms. Marvel and now Captain Marvel, right down to the blonde hair and arresting presence. Volume 1 hints at how Kamala will come into her own power and confidence, with Carol as a positive influence, and I know I would love to see them interact in later issues. No Normal does a great job in general of setting up future mysteries for Kamala to take on, such as the Inhuman mythology.
The Final Say: Ms. Marvel: No Normal is an excellent way in for readers new to the comic world, and a satisfying, insightful first volume of this new series. How could I not be a comic reader with Kamala Khan by my side?