Shadow Hero by Gene Luen Yang
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Shadow Hero Review

The Shadow Hero by Gene Luen Yang & Sonny LiewThe Shadow Hero (2014)
by Gene Luen Yang & Sonny Liew

The Shadow Hero is based on golden-age comic The Green Turtle, whose hero solved crimes and fought injustice. But this masked crusader was hiding more than your run-of-the-mill secret identity…The Green Turtle was the first Asian American superhero.

Seventy years later, Gene Luen Yang revives this nearly forgotten, pioneering character and creates an origin story for the golden-age Green Turtle.

Pin for laterAdd The Shadow Hero to Goodreads or see more reviewsMy result: Recommended
4 Stars - Recommended

Graphic Novel Review

Shadow Hero is a fun superhero story with great family dynamics and a lot of humor. Hank’s mom is a powerful force, and her prodding to make Hank a superhero keeps the story moving at a fast clip. Their interactions will make you laugh, as will the quiet reactions of Hank and his dad in the background.

Shadow Hero reclaims a little known figure from golden age comics and brings his story into the limelight. Yang and Liew bring us the origin story of the first Asian American superhero. The comic works in details from immigrant life at the time, and Hing’s artwork provides a vivid vintage feel. It’s a fascinating look into the history of comics, containing an excerpt from the original Green Turtle comics and research notes. We need more kinds of stories in the comic world, and Shadow Hero is a welcome addition.

Recommended for:
Shadow Hero by Gene Luen Yang* Light, funny superhero story
* Charming family relationships
* Cultural reclaiming of golden age comics

Add The Shadow Hero to Goodreads or see more reviews

Read for the 2015 Eisner challenge
2015 Eisner Nominee: Best Publication for Teens

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Top 5 Fantasy Releases – September 2015

Top Five Fantasy Releases for September 2015

September promises to be a good month for fantasy. With new series from Jim Butcher and N.K. Jemisin, plus several promising debuts, there’s plenty here to keep fantasy fans busy reading. Here are the top five most intriguing fantasy novels for adults this September. Don’t miss these great new releases!

Add The Fifth Season to Goodreads or see more reviewsThe Fifth Season by N.K. JemisinThe Fifth Season – N.K. Jemisin
Three terrible things happen in a single day. Essun’s husband murders their son and kidnaps their daughter. The mighty empire whose innovations have been civilization’s bedrock for a thousand years collapses. Worst of all, across the heart of the vast continent, a great red rift opens, spewing enough ash to darken the sky for centuries. Now Essun must pursue her family through a deadly, dying land. The world is falling apart, but Essun will break it herself, if she must, to save her daughter.
The Fifth Season comes out August 4 from Orbit.
By the author of the Dreamblood series!

Add The Aeronaut's Windlass to Goodreads or see more reviewsThe Aeronaut's Windlass by Jim ButcherThe Aeronaut’s Windlass – Jim Butcher
Captain Grimm commands the merchant ship, Predator. He’s taken the side of Spire Albion in the cold war with Spire Aurora by attacking their cargo vessels. But when Predator is damaged, Grimm is offered a deal: join a team of agents on a vital mission in exchange for restoring Predator. But the conflict between Spires is merely the beginning. Humanity’s ancient enemy, silent for ten thousand years, has begun to stir.
The Aeronaut’s Windlass comes out September 29 from Roc.
By the author of The Dresden Files and The Codex Alera!

Add Sorcerer to the Crown to Goodreads or see more reviewsSorcerer to the Crown by Zen ChoSorcerer to the Crown – Zen Cho
Zacharias Wythe, freed slave, proficient magician, and Sorcerer Royal of the Unnatural Philosophers, ventures to the border of Fairyland to discover why England’s magical stocks are drying up. But a woman with immense power and an unfathomable gift sets him on a path which will alter the nature of sorcery in all of Britain and the world at large.
Debut author!

Add The Traitor Baru Cormorant to Goodreads or see more reviewsThe Traitor Baru Cormorant by Seth DickinsonThe Traitor Baru Cormorant – Seth Dickinson
The Empire of Masks is coming. They’ll conquer Baru’s island, rewrite her culture, criminalize her customs, and dispose of one of her fathers. But Baru is patient. She’ll swallow her hate and join the Masquerade to learn the secrets of empire. She’ll be what they need. And she’ll claw her way high enough up to set her people free.
Debut author!

Add Updraft to Goodreads or see more reviewsUpdraft by Fran WildeUpdraft – Fran Wilde
In a city high above the clouds, danger hides in the wind and the ground is lost to legend. Kirit Densira cannot wait to pass her wingtest and trade at her mother’s side. When Kirit inadvertently breaks Tower Law, the city’s secretive governing body demand she become one of them. To save her family from censure, Kirit must give up her dreams and train at the Spire. But the Spire hides secrets that could change her city forever.
Debut author!

The Wrath and the Dawn Review

The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee AhdiehThe Wrath and the Dawn
by Renee Ahdieh (2015)

In a land ruled by a murderous boy-king, each dawn brings death. Each night Khalid takes a new bride only to have her strangled come morning. When Shahrzad’s friend falls victim, she volunteers to be his next bride. She vows to end the reign of terror once and for all.

Each night, Shahrzad beguiles Khalid with stories to survive another night. But incredibly, Shahrzad finds herself beginning to fall for Khalid. All is not as it seems in this palace of marble and stone. Can love survive in this world of stories and secrets?

Pin for laterAdd to Goodreads or see more reviewsMy result: Highly Recommended
5 Stars - Highly Recommended

Book Review

The Wrath and the Dawn is a lushly written retelling of the Arabian Nights. Rich language and silver-edged dialogue live up to the premise, while the romance provides something new. By fleshing out the world and characters of Arabian Nights, Ahdieh accomplishes something special: a hate to love romance that actually makes sense.

The slow-burn, complicated romance made this story for me (which is rare). Highlight, for minor spoilers:

There’s none of that hate is just the other side of love nonsense. Instead, they get to know each other, and find that many of their reasons for hatred aren’t quite true. As they learn more about each other, they find reasons for love. But that still doesn’t forgive the things that they have done.

With dark magicks and deadly curses, The Wrath and the Dawn satisfies as a fantasy too. The world building, though based on our own history, is elaborate and well-developed. Rich details and beautiful prose paint a landscape that’s a pleasure to sink into as you read.

Recommended as:
* Beautifully-written retelling of Arabian Nights
* Swoon-worthy slow-burning romance
* Diverse read from non-Western culture

If you like The Wrath and the Dawn, check out these book recommendations!

None of the Above Review

None of the Above by I.W. GregorioNone of the Above
by I.W. Gregorio (2015)

Kristin Lattimer has everything. She’s homecoming queen and a champion hurdler, with a full scholarship. She’s madly in love, and ready for the next level.

But her first time doesn’t go as planned. A doctor reveals the truth: Kristin is intersex. She has male chromosomes and boy “parts.”

Dealing with her body is difficult enough, but when her diagnosis is leaked to the whole school, Kristin’s entire identity is thrown into question. As her world unravels, can she come to terms with her new self?

Add to Goodreads or see more reviewsMy result: Recommended
4 Stars - Recommended

Book Review

None of the Above is a thoughtful and sympathetic view of what it means to be intersex. It’s emotional and informative, without feeling like it has a message to push.

It’s easy to get caught up in Kristin’s story. You learn along with her, and deal with the emotional fallout as her condition is exposed. Her reactions, and those of her friends and classmates, are 100% believable. None of the Above will make you think about gender sensitivity in a new way.

Recommended for:
* Fans of thoughtful, realistic drama
* Explorations of identity
* Anyone interested in gender roles & sensitivity

If you like None of the Above, check out these book recommendations!

Status

Ten Diverse Books

Ten Books Featuring Diverse Characters

Five diverse books I’ve read in the past year and loved:
The Stranger
The Wrath and the Dawn
Signal to Noise
Saga
Ms. Marvel

Five more I want to read:
The long way to a small, angry planet
Shadowshaper
Three Parts Dead
El Deafo
Killing Moon

Late and graphics-free, because I’m running behind on life at the moment. But I love this topic too much not to participate.

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. This week’s topic is Ten Books That Celebrate Diversity/Diverse Characters.

Signal to Noise Review

Signal to Noise by Silvia Moreno-GarciaSignal to Noise Add to Goodreads or see more reviews
by Silvia Moreno-Garcia (2015)

Recommended for:
* Music as magic and as the soundtrack of life
* Friendship & magical realism in Mexico City
* Twin story lines in the late 80s and the present

A literary fantasy about love, music and sorcery, set against the background of Mexico City.

Mexico City, 1988: Meche, awkward and fifteen, has two equally unhip friends, Sebastian and Daniela, and a whole lot of vinyl records to keep her company. When she discovers how to cast spells using music, the future looks brighter. With help from this newfound magic, the three friends will piece together their broken families, change their status as non-entities, and maybe even find love.

Mexico City, 2009: Two decades after abandoning the metropolis, Meche returns for her estranged father’s funeral. It’s hard enough to cope with her family, but then she runs into Sebastian, and it revives memories she thought long buried. Is there any magic left?
4 Stars - Recommended
My result: Recommended

Read the full review!

Stranger Review

Stranger by Rachel Manija Brown & Sherwood SmithStranger (2014) Add to Goodreads or see more reviews
by Rachel Manija Brown & Sherwood Smith

Recommended for fans of:
* Post apocalyptic stories full of hope, not bleakness
* Old West adventures with action and frontier life
* Diverse stories! Racial and cultural diversity, LGBTQ

The area once called Los Angeles retains its cultural diversity, but its technological marvels have faded to legend. Las Anclas is now a Wild West frontier town where the Sheriff possesses superhuman strength, the doctor can warp time to heal his patients, and the desert bristles with crystalline trees that take their jewel-like colors from the clothes of the people they kill.

The story begins as most Westerns do: with the arrival of a stranger in town – teen prospector Ross Juarez, with a bounty hunter on his tail and a precious artifact in his pack.
5 Stars - Recommended
My result: Highly Recommended

Read the full review!

Saga by Brian K. Vaughan
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Saga Review

Saga by Brian K. VaughanSaga, Volume 1-4 (2012-14)
by Brian K. Vaughan, art by Fiona Staples

When two soldiers from opposite sides of a never-ending galactic war fall in love, they risk everything to bring a fragile new life into a dangerous old world. Fantasy and science fiction are wed like never before in this sexy, subversive drama for adults.

Add to Goodreads or see more reviewsMy result: Highly Recommended
5 Stars - Highly Recommended

Read the full review!

Status

Reading Diverse Books

This weekend, I spoke at Denver Comic Con on a library panel for LGBTQ in science fiction and fantasy. It was a great experience before a full room. The audience laughed and cheered, and stayed engaged with everything we had to say. Plus had lots of great recommendations of their own. (You can find our book list here if you’re interested. We focused on recent suggestions rather than a comprehensive list.)

Most of all, I enjoyed finding books to talk about. I read a fair amount of LGBTQ books, but preparing for the panel made me realize how few of them matched up with my regular genre preferences. It’s one of the few topics that makes me stray into realistic fiction or mystery, and I realized how much of the LGBTQ books I read are realistic YA. In other genres, I’m much more likely to pick up a book with a queer character, but I don’t actively seek them out. I read what I come across from other bloggers and new release sources, which isn’t much. And I fill the rest of that need with fanfiction, which I don’t share at work or with many real life contacts.

Actively seeking out the kind of characters I want to read has made me enjoy reading again. Genres that I’ve been burned out on felt new again. Reading a different kind of story made even the most familiar worlds interesting. And a lot of stories I loved, but never would have found otherwise.

I want that experience year round. I want diversity in all forms, not just what I personally identify with and therefore reach for easily. I want to see myself on the page, yes. But I want to see other people on the page too. I’m making a commitment to seek out more diverse books, of more different kinds of people. Everyone should be able to find themselves in the books they read. Now I want to read further outside my experience, and find other people there too.

What about you? How often do you read characters from outside your own experience? Do you seek them out or read what you come across? How does it affect your enjoyment of what you read?

Lumberjanes by Noelle Stevenson
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Lumberjanes Review

Lumberjanes by Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, Brooke A. AllenLumberjanes, Volume 1 (2015)
by Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, Brooke A. Allen

At Miss Qiunzilla Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet’s camp for hard-core lady-types, things are not what they seem. Three-eyed foxes. Secret caves. Anagrams. Luckily, Jo, April, Mal, Molly, and Ripley are five rad, butt-kicking best pals determined to have an awesome summer together… And they’re not gonna let a magical quest or an array of supernatural critters get in their way!

Add to Goodreads or see more reviewsMy result: Recommended
4 Stars - Recommended

Read the full review!