I Live in Many Worlds

I'm not one to talk about myself. I will say that I love to read and study languages. I have strong opinions about the things I read. Stick around if you'd like to hear them. :)

One Man Guy by Michael Barakiva

One Man Guy - Michael Barakiva

I'm always on the lookout for cute LGBTQIAP+ books to read. I heard about One Man Guy a couple of years back but never got around to reading it. When my partner read it and told me that it was a cute read, I went looking for it at my library. I found it, read it, and agree. It is a cute book. However, I do have my problems with it.

 

The first being the writing. I am not in love with this writing style. It's almost too simplistic. To the point where I feel some sentences don't make sense. One sentence in chapter four reads, "He cheated his eyes open a sliver." Reading that is awkward. It doesn't flow well and you feel you need to reread it to make sure you didn't read it wrong. Barakiva did a great job in telling a coming-of-age story about an Armenian teenager discovering himself and his sexuality and I loved learning more about Armenian culture. but his writing style I just could not get behind. 

 

Another thing I had a problem with are the characters. Not so much the main character, Alek. He was sweet, kind, moral, and understanding. I liked him. But the object of his affection, Ethan, is another matter entirely. I didn't see the appeal to him. Seeing as how Alek liked him so much, I wanted to like him, too. And there were some things he did that I just was not a fan of. The way he talked about gay culture was a part of it. His use of the F-word rubbed me the wrong way. He said that if you're a part of that culture, it's okay to use such a word. And, yeah, okay, I get it, but I haven't met many people in the gay community who uses that word as if it were nothing. So it bothered me a bit. Another thing that upset me about Ethan was how he explained it's quite common for gay men to experiment with more than one person, even when they are already in a committed relationship. No. Just no. That's a harmful stereotype that's been perpetuated by our society. To say that gay men CHEAT on their partners is not only wrong but harmful. There are many gay couples who are in committed relationships and DON'T CHEAT ON EACH OTHER. As I've said in other reviews before, if you're in a polyamorous relationship, then it's fine if both partners involved are okay with having other partners. It's NOT okay to lump in every gay couple into being "experimental" with other partners without the other's consent! I did not like that Ethan was teaching Alek this terrible stigma about the gay community. And the last problem I had with Ethan was how misogynistic he was. He made comments when Alek didn't want to do something, he was acting like a girl. I didn't like how he treated Becky, Alek's best friend who is pretty awesome by the way, and thought of her immediately as "lesser" because she was a girl. It took her having to "prove herself" in order for him to show her respect. Just everything about his character was disgusting and I just didn't understand why Alek liked him so much.

 

An aspect that I did like about the book was getting to learn so much about Armenian culture. Especially the food! The food in this book sounds delicious. I've never had Armenian food before but I want to have some now! It was also interesting learning about the Armenian Genocide that happened in Turkey. That is a part of history I am not aware of. It was never taught to us in school, but I'm glad I know about it now. I love learning about history. Especially history that is different from my own culture.

 

Another aspect that bothered me, though, were how Alek's parents were. Oh, the hypocrisy with those two. And the fact that they complained about any little thing to the point where they didn't even want to drink water out of a plastic bottle, I was about to flip. Good thing they eased a tiny bit up towards the end. People like them upset me. DX

 

In short, I thought this book was good. I would recommend it to people who want to learn more about Armenian culture and food, who want to read a cute coming out story, and want a pretty quick read. Keep in mind that there are some homophobic slurs and racism towards Turkish people. These things are questioned and rebuked within the text and shows how it's not okay to do those things. The only thing not ever questioned is the sexism, which is a shame. Other than that, it's a good read so give it a shot if you're curious.

Monstress, Vol. 1: Awakening by Marjorie M. Liu (Writer) and Sana Takeda (Artist)

Monstress Volume 1: Awakening - Marjorie M. Liu

So many people have been talking and raving about Monstress. I've heard so many good things about this comic that I immediately placed an order at my library so I could read it ASAP! ...only to wait for months and still not have them contact me to let me know when the comic will be in... only to find it on the shelves as if no one placed a hold on it at all! Ugh... no. No. It's fine. I'm not bitter. (I'm a little bit bitter.) Well, I finally was able to read it and I must say it is well worth the hype.

 

I almost don't want to tell you anything about it. I went in blind and I think that's the best way to go into it. You will appreciate the world more and the characters more. In this world there are humans, monsters, and half-breeds. Throughout the entire comic, you're able to see the mistreatment monsters receive for being "other" and how they're a people being oppressed. I love that this comic touches on inequality, racism, sexism, etc. I love that it's so expressive in the art and story! I will not tell you any more of the story because you HAVE to read it for yourself to fully enjoy it.

 

The artwork, however, I will talk about. Sana Takeda is incredibly talented. The art in this comic is one of the best artwork I have ever seen in any given comic. I am blown away by how stunning it is! It's detailed down to the very last lead in the forest scenes in this book. The colors are breathtaking! It's such a beautiful color palette with browns and greens and golds to match the "earthy" feeling to the story. I could go on and on about the art in this comic. It's just so beautiful!

 

And the characters are great. The main character is Maika Halfwolf. She is bold, strong, a bit sassy, and loyal. She is not without flaws. She tends to be a longer and can be a bit stand-offish but, considering her circumstances, I don't blame her. She is a wonderful character that I cannot wait to get to know. There's also my favorite character, Ren. He's an intelligent, magical, smart-mouth, talking cat. Yes, a talking cat, and I love him. He serves as a guide for Maika and what she can do in order to save herself and her world. I adore him so much and many of the ladies in this comic/  There are so many strong female-characters and they are strong not because they are cruel, but because they have their own goals and ideas and they will fight until they see those goals become a reality. I really enjoyed seeing these women shown to be in leadership roles without falling into the "cruel woman" trope.

 

I highly, highly recommend this comic. If you like strong female leads, action, adventure, magic, and talking cats, then I highly recommend you read this comic. There is swearing, violence, gore, and talk of sexual abuse so keep that in mind when picking this up. Otherwise, I hope you enjoy reading this comic. I had quite a fun time being in this world for a while~

The Water That Falls on You from Nowhere by John Chu

The Water That Falls on You from Nowhere - John Chu

This year I wanted to change a few thing about my reading habits. I have always read a ton of books but not much else. Well, if you've been following me for some time now, you may have noticed I started reading more graphic novels, manga, and non-fiction books. Along with them, I've also wanted to read a few more short stories and I've read a couple that were part of series I was reading, but never a stand-alone short story. Well, today I've decided to change that! I decided to read The Water That Falls on You from Nowhere by John Chu. It's a short story that got a lot of buzz a few years back during the 2014 Hugo Awards and I wanted to see what the story was all about.

 

The story follows Matt, a Chinese biotech engineer, who lives in a world where if you lie, copious amounts of water rains down upon you. In this rain-filled world, Matt must spend a Christmas celebration with his family and work up the nerve to tell them he and his lover, Gus, plan on getting married. However, things become more complicated when his sister gets involved and refuses to let Matt have the chance to come out to his family. It's a hard-hitting tale most queer people must overcome with sci-fi elements thrown in.

 

I really enjoyed this story. John Chu has a very straightforward writing style. What I enjoyed most about it is how he incorporates his own language into the story. I don't read or understand Chinese, be it Mandarin or Cantonese, but I loved seeing Chu's language throughout the story. And he uses the language unapologetically. Mind you, he doesn't leave the reader hanging. You can figure out what the characters are saying either by the author giving you the translation right after the Chinese, or with enough context clues. I'm glad he decided to write his story in such a way.

 

The characters are all beautifully developed, complex characters! Matt is struggling with who he is as a person and not wanting to disappoint his family. He also is having a hard time admitting what he feels because of years of shame and guilt. His lover, Gus, is so loving and supportive but he, too, has his limits. He loves Matt and will do anything for him but also knows when he needs to give space to the one he loves. Matt's family also have many layers to them. I love Matt's mother so much for reasons I cannot describe because it's a HUGE spoiler to the short story but she is amazing! Michele, Matt's sister, is the only one that seems to have a problem with Matt being gay. It's mentioned multiple times throughout the story that she treats him poorly because she loves him and only wants what's best for him. But from the reader's point of view, she is selfish, cruel, and close-minded. One message that I took away from this short story is that, yes, you can love your family but if they are causing you harm, then a bit of separation is healthy for everyone involved. I love this short story.

 

If you love reading short stories about coming-of-age LGBTQIAP+/racially diverse characters with a sci-fi twist, then I highly recommend you give this one a read. The only downside to this story is that I, ironically, found it to be too short. If there were about five to six more paragraphs showing what happened after the last event, then I think it would have been a solid short story. As it is, it's a good story with a bit of an abrupt end. Still, I do recommend this short story. It's such a beautifully told tale about two men in love and the obstacles they must face just to be together.

Foxheart (Foxheart #1) by Claire Legrand

Foxheart - Claire Legrand, Jaime Zollars

I will start off by saying I did not finish this book. I read up to page 139 and decided this book was not for me. I was not enjoying it one bit and I don't believe you should continue reading a book if you're not fully immersed in the story. That being said, you might like this book so if you're interested in reading Foxheart then go ahead and read it! I truly hope you enjoy it. 

 

Foxheart is about a girl who is shunned by everyone around her because of how different she looks. She decides that the only way to survive this world is to make it her own. That's when she becomes a thief... until she witnesses the Wolf King destroying the convent where she is staying. When she escapes and realizes that she has powers of her own, she must learn to control them and collect the bones of the ancient race of witches so that she might one day destroy the Wolf King and bring peace to her land.

 

From the beginning of the book, I did not like the writing style. It's extremely juvenile. Whilst I understand this is a middle-grade novel, I don't feel you should ever write in a way where you're talking down to your readers no matter how young they are. Children are intelligent individuals and will be able to sense when they are being treated as if they are dumb. The way Legrand approaches a subject, explaining to death, as if the reader couldn't figure out what was happening in the scene is demeaning. 

 

Also, the characters acted foolishly every single time. Yes, they're children, but a few of the actions taken were just stupid because "they're children." For example, one of the characters, Anastazia, warns both children, Quicksilver and Sly Boots, that they mustn't tell other witches what they are up to because witches like to hurt and kill one another. Then the boy, Sly Boots, runs off and tells the first pack of witches he see, putting his group in danger. Now that was stupid enough. And it could be explained "Oh, he's a child. He didn't know any better." Fair enough. But what about the scene immediately following that? Where Quicksilver cloaks them to hide from the witches and then Anastazia, an old woman, laughs at a comment one of the other witches make, alerting the witches that they were indeed in the area hiding. And that's not the only time she messes up either! Later, when talking with the witches, she nearly let slip that she can travel through time which is a type of forbidden magic! She's the oldest of the group and she was making stupid decisions left and right! I was never one to fall in love with stories where the characters made dumb decisions in order to "further" the plot. It's lazy writing.

 

In fact, throughout reading these 139 pages, I was just bored. I was bored with the writing. I was bored with the plot. I was bored with the characters. I was not enjoying it at all. Every aspect of this book was mediocre to me. And it's a shame because I saw the potential. I was looking forward to seeing how these characters were going to stop the villain, The Wolf King... until I saw how much of a caricature he was and how dumb the "heroes" acted. It was just a disappointment.

 

That being said, if you're still intrigued by the premise then, by all means, read this book. Just because I didn't like it doesn't mean you won't. I do think it's a very easy read so you could read it in one sitting despite its size. So give it a try. As for me, I was not a fan and will not be reading the rest of this series.

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

The Underground Railroad (Oprah's Book Club): A Novel - Colson Whitehead

Every so often, BookTube host the Diverseathon and I try to participate whenever I get a chance. However, this last time, I could not participate for life got in the way. But I still wanted to read the group book club pick which is The Underground Railroad. Yes, I'm getting to it extremely late but I finally read it and I'm so glad I did!

 

The book takes place during the 1800s in America when slavery was rampant. It follows a slave named Cora and her journey to escape from her slave owner through the legendary Underground Railroad. Only in this version of America, the Underground Railroad is an actual physical railroad running through the underground of the American continent. The story is moving, breathtaking, painful, and horrifying. It was a difficult read but I loved reading about it.

 

I want to start out by saying Colson Whitehead has one of the most beautifully, intelligent writing styles. I am in awe with how rich he paints the scene for the reader. I haven't read such a gorgeous writing style since Catherynne M. Valente so it pleases me greatly to see Whitehead has a similar style. He did a lot of research into the time period, using the same language that people used back in the 1800s. Sometimes I even had to look up some phrases because I am not familiar with such terminology and any book that has me looking up info so I can learn and better understand a story is a great book. And his story hurt me in many ways. It's not easy reading about the atrocities that took place during America's slavery period. Whitehead does not shy away from describing every dark, twisted, sick abuse. It shocks the reader. It educates the reader. It sets out what it must in order to tell the stories and the horrors many black people had to face. The racism, the hatred, the discrimination just because of the color of their skin. He tells his story through the main character, Cora.

 

Cora is strong, brave, sassy, and hard-working. We follow her from when she is a child to adulthood. And her life is a difficult one. From being born a slave, from being abused by her slave owners and fellow slaves, to running away to trying to find freedom. Her tale is a gruesome one... but not without hope.

 

I won't speak anymore about the story or the other characters. This is a book you must experience for yourself. It's such a beautifully written story, taking the reader on a terrible journey many black people had no choice but to take. It shows you the horrible nature in which black people had to live through. How racism defined everything the did or did not do. The story is harrowing and depressing, much like any story about slavery is. But with the way Whitehead writes it, you appreciate how well-crafted a story like this came to be.

 

I highly recommend you read this book. If you want to read a literary masterpiece about an actually existing Underground Railroad, then give this a read. Keep in mind that there is sexual abuse, rape, murder, body mutilation, body dismemberment, racism, and horrifying imagery. If you are not comfortable reading about those subjects, please refrain from reading this book. Otherwise, I think you should read this book. To enjoy the writing. To educate yourself. To never forget the atrocities that took place in America. It's a fantastic read and I'm looking forward to reading more from Colson Whitehead.

Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson

Allegedly - Tiffany D. Jackson

When I first heard about this book, I was intrigued. Allegedly is about a black girl named Mary who was convicted of killing a three-month-old white baby when she was only nine-years-old. The story follows her life of imprisonment to when she is sixteen-years-old and gets pregnant herself. Now she must prove to the criminal justice system that she is a capable loving mother so they won't take her child away from her to put him in foster care. 

 

That premise alone was so enticing to me. I wanted to see how Tiffany D. Jackson was going to cover the subject of race, especially when it comes to a serious topic such as murder and the justice system. I wanted to know what happened to Mary when she was young that ended up with a baby being killed. I was interested in finding out so, naturally, when I saw this book at my library, I decided to bring it home... and I was utterly disappointed.

 

Let's start with the only positive comment I have for this book. The writing. Jackson clearly has talent. She was able to weave a story about a girl and the unfairness of her trial because of her race. And that, I feel, makes this story an interesting one. I managed to read this book in one sitting because it was an engaging read. Her writing is strong and I can see her improving as time goes on and I hope she does continue to write.

 

Now on to things I did not like about this book. Most of them having to do with the perpetuation of stigmas. The main one being of mental illness. There's already the belief that anyone with a mental illness will become murderers at some point. That stereotype is not only false but it's dangerous. For the one who has a mental illness and the people who surround them. Mental illness is something many people must live with, but with therapy and (sometimes) medication, they can live happy and healthy lives. What this book mentions is that mental illness gets you into trouble. You end up hurting maybe even killing people. Especially the people you love. And I do not agree with that sentiment. As I've said, there are many people living with a mental illness that are able to live happy lives. And I understand that the characters in this book have harsh lives, I do. But almost all the characters in this book have a mental disorder and they all end up wanting to hurt someone. Not one person with a mental illness in this book is shown to be a good person. They are all "crazy." That is harmful representation. It uses a stigma that's already well ingrained into our society and further enhances that stigma without challenging it one bit.

 

Another problem I have with the book is the fat-shaming. Every time someone that was slightly overweight, the main character had to call them disgusting. She mentioned that how she couldn't understand why people wouldn't change their diet if they were over two hundred pounds. And there are other times when she just says really nasty things when it came to people's weight. There's also quite a bit of homophobic slurs spread throughout the book in reference to one of the girls who stays at the group home with Mary. The worst part about these two horrendous actions is that it is never challenged within the text. Much like with mental illness, the book further adds to the notion that people who are fat or people who are gay are disgusting. That they are going to "rot in hell." And not once does the main character or another character question it. Meaning they agree with such toxic sentiments.

 

Last thing I want to cover is how there were a lot of unnecessary scenes throughout the book. One is the mutilation of a cat. Why? Why kill the cat? Especially if you're not going to do anything with it. We don't even find out who killed the cat. It's just there to be there. The cat-killing scene served no purpose to the plot whatsoever. I guess it was there just to show that the girls in the group home are "crazy." Another thing that was unnecessary is introducing Sarah, making her to be Mary's (only) friend, just to take that away. Because Mary doesn't have enough to deal with, let's add "crazy" best friend to that list. Oh, and the fact that Mary's only solace is in a man's arms? Really? A man that helped his friends rape a girl? A man who cheats on her? A man who claims he loves her but does everything to contradict that? Not to mention he shows signs of being abusive. There are times when he and Mary get in an argument and he forcefully grabs her and pushes her against walls. But is that ever challenge? No. Mary LIKES that he's being forceful with her. She even says so in the text! So not only does this book maintain the ideas that mental illness, fat-shaming, and homophobia are okay, it's also advocating for abusive relationships. All these aspects are what really ruin the book for me.

 

There's so many things that I don't like about this book. Everything that I mention are the main reasons why this book rubbed me the wrong way. I could go into further details, especially when it comes to Mary because she's another reason why this book didn't work for me, but that will reveal some things about the ending that I don't want to spoil in case you still want to read the book. I will just say that the negatives outshine the positive.

 

If you still want to read this book, go ahead. Like I said, the writing is actually pretty good. Just remember there's rape, strong language, murder, violence to every degree manageable, fat-shaming, homophobia, and domestic abuse. If you're okay with reading about those things, then give this book a read. I hope it enjoy it a lot more than I did.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

The Hate U Give - Angie Thomas

The Hate U Give is a book that has received a lot of buzz lately. If you're somewhat active on Twitter or on BookTube, you've probably heard about it. And rightfully so. I recently went to my library and saw it on the shelves and since I want to educate myself more on important issues like the Black Lives Matter movement, I quickly snatched this book up. I read this book in one sitting. That's how good this is!

 

The book follows Starr, a black girl that lives in a poor black neighborhood but attends a fancy prep school in the suburbs. She tries to keep her two lives separate, but when a night of fun ends up with her unarmed best friend getting shot by a police officer, she finds that both of her lives will intertwine in a way she never wanted nor expected it would ever be.

 

Angie Thomas did a fantastic job in writing her debut novel. Her writing is so engrossing! I could not put this book down. The moment I started reading this book to her acknowledgements in the back, I inhaled her writing, her story, her characters. Everything is so beautifully written and everything felt so real. And that's important in a book like this. You need to feel like it's real because in a lot of ways, it is. How many times have we seen names becoming hashtags because the were the victim of a police shooting? More times than anyone cares to admit, but admit it we must... for this is a very real situation and these a very real people who have yet to receive justice. I am truly grateful to Angie Thomas for bringing more awareness to the movement with this book. To shed light on the darkness that persists in clouding the reality to what's happening in this country.

 

The characters in this book are incredible. Let's start off with Starr, our main character. I love her. She is so strong and fierce. Even when she feels like she's falling apart, she continues to fight and stand up for what she believes in. She was born into a world that literally has everything set up against her and yet she still perseveres! It's incredible to see such strength in this character, to have this example for other little black girls to look up to is important and necessary. I want little black girls to read this book and feel inspired to not keep their mouths shut, even if the whole world tells them to keep quiet. I want them to not feel afraid to stand up for what is right and what they believe in. And by reading this book, I think little girls can see themselves in Starr and do just that.

 

The other characters were just as engaging. Starr's parents are supportive and loving towards one another. In fact, the whole family treats each other with so much love and support. They may have their flaws, but what family doesn't? Still, that matters little when push comes to shove. They are always there for one another to help out in times of need. You truly see the strength of a community come together once the shooting happens. And even the falling out with some people. That's another aspect I love about this book. It teaches you that sometimes, you need to let certain people go. If that friendship is toxic and is doing more harm than good for you, then you need to let that friend go. It'll help you in the long run in finding your happiness.

 

One more thing I want to mention about this book is how Angie Thomas covers race. She was able to talk about race in a respectful, straight to the point way. She stated how different people have different experiences when it comes to race and we should be understanding and try not to hurt one another for it. I love that she destroys certain stereotypes that we are all familiar with when it comes to race. And she didn't only do it with black stereotypes. She did it for white people, too. Thomas took this book and used it as an educational tool not just for black people, not just for white people, but for everyone who may have been brought up in a society that does nothing but perpetuate these harmful stereotypes. Reading this book is truly an educational experience that I encourage everyone to partake in.

 

I love this book. It's such a good read. As I said, I could not put this book down the moment I started reading it. It is such a great book to read, and relevant. The Hate U Give is a beautifully crafted book that everyone should read. Angie Thomas did an amazing job and her message at the end of the book is absolutely stunning. I won't tell you what it is (you should definitely read the book to find out), but trust me that it's something a lot of us needed to hear. Thank you, Angie Thomas, for writing such a beautiful book. It's one that will stay with me for the rest of my life.

They Can't Kill Us All: Ferguson, Baltimore, and a New Era in America’s Racial Justice Movement by Wesley Lowery

They Can't Kill Us All: Ferguson, Baltimore, and a New Era in America's Racial Justice Movement - Wesley Lowery

I will be honest with you. This book is very difficult to read. Especially if you have been paying attention to the Black Lives Matter movement. If you've seen even some of the videos that are referenced in this book, then all those memories of seeing dead bodies on the ground will come flooding back to you in mere seconds. You will be thrown right back to when you saw the videos on your phone or on your computers. You will remember the gruesome acts that were placed upon these people. Because this book is about now. Right now. What's happening in America and the police brutality that's happening mostly to people of color.

 

This book is not easy and it's not meant to be. It's meant to throw you into the pain and suffering that people are facing everyday of their lives because of the color of their skin. It's meant to tear you up whilst also providing facts about the movement and what the family of the victims have gone through, in some cases, are still going through. And it's important. It's important to keep your eyes and ears open. To learn about the world around you, and to realize that not everyone has it easy. Not everyone can just go out and have fun without people racially profiled. And, although this book is written in cold harsh truths, I appreciated every word written down.

 

I am glad for people like Wesley Lowery who are willing to go the extra mile to give us the truth as to what is happening in Ferguson, Baltimore, and Charleston. I'm glad he's constantly working with very little rest to bring some form of justice to these slain Black lives. And I am glad that no matter what he will continue to do so. He writes with an elegance and poise. He doesn't sugarcoat the cruelty that has taken place in these cities and he doesn't just paint one side of the picture. He writes about those who lost their lives and he writes about the police. What both parties are going through during these times of strife. I am glad I read this book because, even though I keep myself politically aware of what's going on in my country and even though I have seen many of these videos and I am aware of the racial injustices in America, I feel I have gained a deeper understanding of what is going on with this country and police brutality.

 

If you want to understand more about the Black Lives Matter movement, if you want to know more about how the police is handling these crimes and their take on it, if you just want to know more about the people involved in these shootings/crimes, if you want to know more about the people who are trying to make a positive difference in this world, then please read this book. You will learn so much from it. Besides, it's important to know these issues so that way we can start making positive changes in better understanding one another. We need to try to help each other now more than ever.

March: Book Three by John Lewis

March: Book Three - Andrew Aydin, Nate Powell, John Lewis Gaddis

And with this, I've completed the trilogy. I am so happy I read this. It helped educate me on the finer details that helped bring about the Civil Rights Movement. In this volume, we follow John Lewis from the streets of Atlanta, Georgia to the entire continent of Africa and back to the streets of Selma, Alabama. This volume covers the events of Bloody Sunday, the 1965 Voters' Rights Act, and so much more.

 

John Lewis has a way of telling these important events in a conversational tone. And sometimes it sounds as if we're getting to sit in an academic setting and hearing his lecture of his time on the battleground. For that's what it was: a battleground. So many people mercilessly killed because they just wanted the same rights as white people. It's horrific and wrong. And although this is a very difficult read, it is also an important one.

 

The artwork is gritty. It's a lovely style, but it does not sugarcoat what went on during those times. And I am grateful that it doesn't. People need to see the blood, the violence, the deaths. They need to be reminded that these events happened and they could easily happen again if we are not careful. We need to be vigilant and help each other as much as we can. Because that's what it means to be human. I've learned so much about these events and I shall continue to educate myself and fighting for the rights of others.

 

Please read all three volumes of March. Especially if you don't know much about what America was like during the 60's. Lewis packs in a lot of information, yes, but it's vital to know who played a role in our history and how we got to where we are today. These are not easy reads, but I think the knowledge and experience you gain from reading these books are well worth it. I love these books and I will definitely be adding them to my personal library.

March: Book Two by John Lewis

March: Book Two - Andrew Aydin, Nate Powell, John Robert Lewis

This is a disturbing, harrowing, yet beautiful and important continuation to John Lewis's role in the Civil Rights Movement. This continues after his early life within the SNCC and how he became one of the "Big Six" as well as what happened during the March on Washington. 

 

Once again, I do not feel right reviewing this book. As I've said in my previous review, this is our history. This happened. The segregation, the violence, the murders... all of this was experienced by people. Real people. People whose lives were taken from them far too soon because of the blind hatred running rampant during those times... that could still rise up today if we are not careful.

 

John Lewis is an incredible man for working as hard as he did. Everyone who participated during the movement were all amazing! Every single one of them. From the leaders in the groups to the ones marching in the streets. Every single one of them were brave, incredible, amazing people who risked their lives... and sometimes lost them... in order for us to be here today. Thank you.

 

I will just reiterate: Please read these graphic novels. If you want to know history, if you want to understand what others went through and sacrificed so that we can have a better future, please read this. Educate yourselves as much as you possibly can. If you want to make a difference, know your history, learn from it, then we can move forward.

March: Book One by John Lewis

March (Book One) - Andrew Aydin, Nate Powell, John Robert Lewis

Lately, I've been trying to educate myself in areas of life where my knowledge is sorely lacking. A part of that lacking is how the Civil Rights Movement came about. Then, recently, I learned about Congressman John Lewis and his role in the Civil Rights Movement. When I heard about this graphic novel, I went to my library and placed orders for all three volumes. Now, after having read just the first volume, I can tell this is going to be one of the most important reads of my life.

 

How does one even begin to review a book like this? This is our history. This is extremely important information to know. Not only if you live in America, but for the world. What John Lewis and so many others did to help put an end (and there's still a lot more we have to do in order to fully put an end to racism and discrimination of any kind) to the injustices that were happening during that time period is astounding and is worth more than what my measly review can cover here.

 

So instead of reviewing this book like I would normally do, I will simply talk about the importance this graphic novel holds and how much I urge you to pick up this book. Or to pick up any book by John Lewis, really. 

 

This graphic novel covers the beginning of John Lewis's life where he grew up in a farm in Alabama and it covers his early teens to when he's a young adult at college. The story is harrowing, to say the least. This is a time where black people were beaten and killed for just looking at a white person... so you know this is going to be a hard read. But it is a necessary one. So please. Read this book. To educate yourself on our history. To learn from the brutal and cruel mistakes of our past. To have a better future.

 

This is not a book I think is an enjoyable read. How can you enjoy reading about people being stripped away of their rights and humanity? No. I will say this is an important read and, in a sense, a good one. Pick it up! The artwork is dark and matches the story perfectly, and the graphic novel might give some insight to how we got to where we are today and how we still have so much work left to do. I highly recommend this graphic novel.

 

I'm off to read the other two books in this trilogy. I have a feeling it's going to be just as painful and important to read.

Saga, Vol. 1 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples

Saga, Volume 1 - Brian K. Vaughan, Fiona Staples

I am fully aware that this comic is loved by many, many people. I know that it has the appeal to reach wide audiences. I also know that it's not the worst comic to ever have been created. This review is here to point out the reasons why I, myself, did not connect with it as a reader. However, I am in the minority here. Loads of people love this comic and if you love it, too, that's great! I just, personally, found some problems with it that kept me from fully enjoying the comic.

 

I'm sure I don't have to talk about what Saga is about. So many people have talked about it enough that, at this point, it's redundant to say it's plot. Put briefly, it's a Romeo and Juliet type story where two different, warring alien species fall in love, have a baby together, and must flee their home worlds since their love is forbidden. That premise sounds pretty good. It's a classic tale of forbidden love with aliens and space thrown in! I really like the idea of that. However, I was not a fan of the execution. 

 

The dialogue felt forced. As if they were written to be in some poorly made sitcom for "edgy" people. There's a part where Alana, female lead, says "I was stupid to think we could ever outrun this retarded fucking war!" That doesn't sound like something a military official, an adult, would say. Yeah, I understand she's supposed to be your non-typical military official. She's supposed to be tough and a "badass," but I didn't get that by the way she talked. Neither did I see the "charm" to her lover, Marko. He's supposed to be the softer side to Alana rough and, yes, he is. But what bothered me the most is that he's still written as a "typical" man. Alana is capable of defending herself, or at least the narrative wants the reader to believe that, yet he still has to come to her rescue multiple times. But you can excuse it because Alana has just given birth. She is not in her top form. Fair enough. However, what I cannot forgive (and we're going to go into spoiler territory so skip the rest of this paragraph if you don't want to know what happens in this comic) is the fact that he's apparently engaged with another woman, even though he's married to Alana, and he never told Alana about this other woman, even though he's madly in love with Alana. Look, that is just shit you DO NOT DO! If you're not in a polyamorous relationships, you don't keep a relationship that's still on-going a secret from your significant other. That's wrong! And Alana just forgave him! She questioned him a little bit about it, but she just let it go. What? Why? This is the father of your baby! Shouldn't you have a few more questions than that? Ugh... I don't know. The comic is fast-paced so I suppose you can't dwell on topics like borderline CHEATING for long. Still, it pissed me off to read about.

 

Not to mention I felt a lot of what they said was crude for no actual purpose. Don't get me wrong. I don't mind crude jokes or sex in the media I consume. But it felt like in Saga there was no purpose to it. I don't understand why in an advance society, we are reduced to slut-shaming, pedophilia, and misogyny yet no one seemed to put a stop to it. It's all seen as very normal in this advance, futuristic society. How is it that there has been no progress in that front? Yeah, this also goes for how they treat inter-species/inter-racial relationships, too. But it just irks me to read how the women are treated so poorly in this comic. And seeing a six-year-old girl being sold into being a sex slave really left a sour taste in my mouth. Yeah, it's somewhat "handled" but that doesn't mean I don't have problems with how this is apparently "normal" in this world.

 

Really the only good thing about this comic is the art. Fiona Staples did an incredible job bringing this world to life! I love how in some panels the colors are just so vibrant! And the character designs are amazing! I also loved seeing the different designs to the different alien species. The backgrounds are fully detailed and really helps you to visualize the type of universe these characters are in. Incredible art all around. I wouldn't mind buying a print from Staples, her art is that amazing!

 

As I've said before, these are just some of the things that bugged me about this comic. I know not everyone is going to feel the same way. If you really enjoyed this comic, I think that's awesome! I can see why it's gotten so much praise as it did. But for me, it left a lot to be desire. The premise was good but the execution was lacking. I am not opposed to reading other works by Brain K. Vaughan, but I think I'll be skipping the rest of Saga for now.

Descender, Vol. 1: Tin Stars by Jeff Lemire and Dustin Nguyen

Descender Volume 1: Tin Stars (Descender Tp) - Jeff Lemire, Dustin Nguyen, Dustin Nguyen

And now I am going back to comics. I am really having a lot of fun reading comics lately. I didn't read many last year so getting back into comics this year has been a real treat. I heard about Descender on BookTube. I heard it was a pretty good sci-fi novel so I thought I'd give it a try. And I'm so glad I did. 

 

The story follows a boy named TIM-21. He's a robot who has been put to sleep for ten years during an attack by The Harvesters, a group of alien robots set to destroy everything! And the story takes off from there. I'll admit that it's not an original story. We have all seen stories about alien lifeforms threatening to destroy the world and one person being the key to prevent that from happening. However, I love the pacing of this story. It's taking a concept we are all very well familiar with and spinning it to fit this expansive world that Jeff Lemire is creating. The beginning of this volume introduces this world and its characters and sucks the reader in and by the end of it, you just want to keep reading. To find out where this ancient technology came from. I wish I had the second volume to read because I am super intrigued by what's happening so far!

 

The artwork is phenomenal! Dustin Nguyen mixes a realistic, soft style with watercolor and it just blows me away! I love how bright some panels are, with light blues and reds, but then it gets dark when the mood is right for it. He is able to balance the serious tone of the book without making it seem dreary. Well, there is a bit of gore... but it's not all bad! In fact, I think it's pretty cool! I am in love with his art and I cannot wait to see more of it in the future.

 

The characters are incredible! Especially the robots! I love the main character, TIM-21. He is sweet, caring, and empathetic towards his human counterparts. He has a dog-bot called Bandit and it's a DOG ROBOT! Need I say more? Then there's Driller who joins the team after he helps protect TIM from Scrappers, beings who try to get their hands on old parts to sell to the highest bidder. Driller is also loving and charismatic. He doesn't like humans very much, seeking to kill them since he is Driller the Killer, but TIM holds him back by teaching Driller to understand that some humans are there to help them. Still, Driller prefers not to put his faith in humans as much as he can, which isn't really a bad thing considering how humans react towards any sentient beings.

 

Speaking of humans, they are the ones who I didn't really connect with. There's Dr. Quon, the so-call "inventor" of the TIM series. He's a coward, a jerk, and plain compared to the robots. There's Telsa (although she is not really human), who is the captain of the UGC, an organization sworn to protect the universe from the Harvesters. She's tough, gets things done, and intelligent. My one complaint with her is that she keeps the reader at a distance. She does seem to have more than she lets on but as of right now, she's not letting anyone know who she truly is. My hope is that in future volumes, she allows for those around her into her heart. And the final character is Tullis, Telsa's second in command. We don't know much about him yet. Except that he's very loyal to Telsa and follows her every command without question. I'm sure we'll see more of him, too.

 

All-in-all, I really enjoyed this comic. I liked the premise, the atmosphere, the setting, the plot, and some of the characters. In fact, I would have loved this comic if some of the characters I mentioned above were a bit more fleshed out. Other than that, I highly recommend this comic. If you love sci-fi, alien races, fast-paced action, and a story we've seen time and time again done differently, then you should read Descender. Just keep in mind that there's a bit of gore towards then end, if that's something you prefer to avoid in your comics.

 

I really like this comic and I cannot wait to read more of it soon!

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda - Becky Albertalli

This has been a book I've been meaning to read since its publication date. So many people have talked about how it's such an amazing book about LGBTQIAP+ characters and their struggles being in a high school environment. And I've wanted to see what all the fuss was about. Well, I finally read it and I have to say that it is a very good book indeed!

 

The writing is so refreshing. Albertalli writes in a way that most teens write/talk. I enjoyed her writing style quite a bit. It's a fun style. It's easy to read through. In fact, I read this book in one sitting. I don't think it's anything mind-blowing, but that's not what Albertalli was aiming for. She was trying to capture the essence of what it is to be a teenager and I think she succeeded fairly well. My one complaint about her writing was whenever she talked about Tumblr. If you have a Tumblr, you know that it's main focus/use is for people to connect with their fandoms. However, within the story, Albertalli uses it more as a tool for gossip... which is an aspect that is used on FaceBook, not Tumblr. Also, Tumblr users don't tend to say "I saw it on the Tumblr." We just say Tumblr. It came off as someone who has heard of Tumblr but never really used it. You know "trying to be hip with the kids" and all that. It was not necessary and felt completely forced.

 

The story itself is quite entertaining. Simon, main character, is closeted and talks to this other boy, nicknamed Blue, about what he's feeling and going through as a gay teen. However, another boy, Martin, finds out about Simon being gay and uses it to blackmail Simon into helping him woo Simon's friend, Abby, and the story goes on from there. It's filled with drama, rivalries, angst, and the like. It's a great contemporary novel about high school life and struggling with sexuality. I also love this novel for not being completely bleak either. That's not to say Simon doesn't deal with some turmoil; there's a bit of that, too. But I like that it's not all tragic. I am sick and tired of reading LGBTQIAP+ fiction and it always ending in tragedies. Queer people are not tragedies waiting to have for heterosexuals entertainment. And I feel that this book understood that and actually gave hope and happiness for the characters, which is something I appreciate tremendously.

 

Now let's talk about the characters! Simon is our lead and he's trying to figure out who he is whilst trying not to change in a constantly changing world. I like him. He's fun and energetic if a bit stupid. No, seriously... he's dumb. Throughout the entire novel, he was trying to figure out the true identity of Blue and it took him until the end of the book to figure it out. The reader is able to figure it out before the half-way mark of the novel so it was just his own stupidity, really, that he couldn't figure it out. Also, there's a thing that happens in the end that involves a T-shirt that I couldn't help but roll my eyes at. I mean, really, Simon? You didn't check the bloody shirt for two weeks? If you read the book, you know what I mean. Anyway, he's a good kid. He's just a little dumb.

 

Martin is a douche. He does so many unspeakable things for no other reason than jealousy. He's a very shallow character who is self-entitled and annoys the crap out of me. Abby is cool. She's a character that was very sweet and loving and I adore how she doesn't judge anyone. She is my favorite character by far. Leah is Simon's other friend and I love that she likes anime/manga. The one thing about her character that I don't like was how she was always treating Abby so coldly because, you guessed it, of jealously. Why is it that female characters can't be friends with each other? And yeah, there are other female characters in the book that are awesome, too, but the main ones are Abby and Leah, and Leah spends the entire book hating on Abby. This trend where females are always at each other's throats because of some GUY really needs to end. Women are more than bratty, bitchy characters fighting over men. Please write better female characters! DX

 

Overall, I did enjoy this book. I had problems with how Simon acted and how the women were sometimes portrayed, but other than that, it was a fun book. I love how Albertalli called out how wrong it is for people to consider being white and straight as the default to all. She did have interracial couples within the book and she had more than two gay characters. So it's a pretty solid read despite what I stated previously. I do see potential for this author to grow and be even more inclusive. So if you're looking for a fun light read about teenagers in high school, then give this a shot. I think you might like it.

Young Avengers, Volume 1: Style > Substance by Kieron Gillen

Young Avengers - Volume 1: Style > Substance (Marvel Now) (Young Avengers Graphic Novels) -  'Jamie McKelvie', 'Kieron Gillen'

The way I stumbled upon this comic is interesting. I first heard about it on BookTube. I heard that it was a great comic so I always kept my eyes open for it. I saw it at the library the other day and decided to bring it home. Then, earlier today, I saw a post about Young Avengers on Tumblr and it piqued my interest. I decided to pick it up and read it. And I did. And I absolutely LOVE everything about this manga.

 

The story follows America, Loki, Wiccan, Hulkling, Hawkeye, and Noh-Varr in trying to set time and space right. I know that doesn't make much sense but I literally can't tell you anything about the story without giving away major plot points. I can say that the story starts off with Wiccan trying to help his boyfriend, Hulkling, feel at ease with their current situation and Loki trying to prevent the worst from happening. It's such an engaging story! I read it a lot faster than I normally read comics because I just HAD to find out what was going on!

 

The artwork is beautiful! I have no complaints about it whatsoever. The colors are vibrant, the character designs are amazing, and the backgroud is breathtaking! I love the art so much!

 

The characters are incredible! This is the first time I've read anything that had America Chavez in it and she is one of my newest favorite hero. She's badass and sassy. I still don't know much about her but I'm definitely looking forward to learning more about her. Loki is so precious. He's a bit of a butt but I love him anyway. He's the perfect blend of hero and villain that I can't help but be drawn to him. Hawkeye and Noh-Varr are not in this much, but what we do get to see of them is good. They are in a relationship and it's a happy and healthy one and that's always a plus in my book!

 

Speaking of characters being in a happy and healthy relationship, Wiccan and Hulkling are just absolutely lovely. This volume focused on their relationship quite a bit and I loved that it's a positive portrayal of a homosexual relationship. I felt the entire story was done respectfully towards them. They are two people in love trying to help each other out when the world is crashing before them. I adore how loving, caring, and supportive they are to each other. It's such a good relationship that my feels just cannot handle! Ah~ 

 

In fact, I love this comic a lot for its diversity. As I've said, there's a positive homosexual relationship and America is a queer Latina who kicks ass! Reading about her in this comic has me quite excited for the current run of America that's being written by Gabby Rivera. I have the first two issues and I cannot wait to read them next! I need more badass queer ladies in my life!

 

Another thing I want to mention before I wrap up this review/gush-fest is how mental illness is portrayed. Billy, (a.k.a. Wiccan) suffers from anxiety and depression. Within the comic, we see a bit of that being touched on. I know from that post on Tumblr that it's something he has struggled with for a long time. I don't know how it's going to be handle in later issues, but in this one, I feel that they handled it well. Obviously, there needs to be more conversations on the topic of mental health, but as an introduction to who Billy is and what he is going through, I think the writers did a good job.

 

In all, I love this comic. It's engaging, fun, interesting, inclusive, diverse, positive, and informative. It's bringing positive awareness for the Queer community and for anyone suffering from a mental illness. I really like what this comic is doing for its characters and audience. I also love that they are adding an extra layer to who Loki is as a character (people are so hard on him). The love between Wiccan and Hulkling is adorable. And America Chavez is awesome. Seriously, if you love Marvel comics then you should definitely pick this one up! It's a great read! However, this does come with a slight trigger warning for attempted suicide. Please keep that in mind before picking this up.

 

Other than that, I hope you end up enjoying this comic. I am really looking forward to reading the rest of this series the moment I get the chance to!

Bleeding Earth by Kaitlin Ward

Bleeding Earth - Kaitlin Ward

I love horror. I love seeing horror movies, listening to horror podcasts, and reading horror novels. Every Halloween, I binge-read the complete works of Edgar Allan Poe because I just find his work so fascinating. So when my partner and I went to the library and saw Bleeding Earth, a horror apocalyptic novel, on the shelves, we just had to check it out. And I'm glad we did!

 

The story follow Lea as she struggles to survive a world covered in blood, bones, and hair. Sounds interesting, no? The premise is so intriguing! I've never read a book where the end of the world is happening as the characters were living their normal lives. Usually books take place after the apocalypse has happened. So this was an interesting take on the genre.

 

I'll be honest, the writing is nothing special. Not that it's bad in any way. It's just very simplistic. I didn't fall in love with the way Ward writes descriptions of scenery nor did I fall in love with her character portrayals. Yet I did fall in love with her ideas and the way she executed them. I loved how she wrote about the world being nothing but an ocean of blood. I love how she described the gore and horror of what this world became. The writing may be simple but it helps the reader envision the dire situations these characters are in throughout the entire novel without making it overly complicated. My one complaint about the story as a whole were how desperate the characters want to hang outside because "there's nothing to do at home." Are you kidding me? With the world ending, there's no way anyone in their right mind would want to be outside. And I know there's the whole "psychosis" disease that comes with the blood if you come in contact with it, but the characters were talking about being outside in the blood before that disease took place. And there's plenty of things you can do at home! You can read a book, watch YouTube video, binge-watch a show on Netflix, play video games, exercise, etc. There's a million things to go at home. Why the hell did these characters only cared about going outside and partying?

 

Speaking of characters, I feel they are the weakest aspect of the book. Lea, the main character, falls into a lot of "teenage drama" tropes. In fact, a lot of the time, she was bratty with her parents just to be bratty. Not to mention that she acted really stupid throughout parts of the novel. Who the hell wants to go to a party in the forest when the world is being swallowed up in blood? Who would even want to party at a time like that!? But I digress. Lea is definitely not the most annoying character I've ever read about but she certainly did a lot of moronic things for no other reason than just because she could do them.

 

Then there's Aracely, Lea's girlfriend. She's actually not a bad character. I found her the most intriguing out of all the characters in the book. She starts off shy and reserved. She really likes Lea but wants to keep is a secret since she is not out yet and that's fine. You should only come out if you're ready and safe to do so. And I love that, throughout the novel, we see her grow and become more comfortable with who she is. Hell, she even becomes a badass! I do like her, I just wish we got to explore her more. Aside from seeing her grow into a more determined person, we literally know nothing else about her. Not her past or where she came from. Very little is known about her and I wish she was explored more.

 

The side characters are really nothing too special. Hillary, Lea's best friend, is kind and always willing to be there for her friend, but she literally contradicts herself when she believes her boyfriend (who's a jerk) over her friends. It made no sense why she would be upset with Lea for treating her boyfriend harshly when he was literally taking advantage over a drunk girl. Speaking of that drunk girl, Mikayla was forgettable. She was only in the book just to have that scene in the park and served no other purpose. Cadence, another friend, couldn't even remember her friends long enough to invite them to said party. Felix is nice but apparently has a big mouth. And they are all just kinda... there. None of them, aside from Hillary, served any point to the plot other than to be a nuisance. All these sides characters were just so shallow that I did not connect to a single one.

 

Another thing that bothered me about this novel was how it ended. No spoilers but... it left a lot to be desired. I was hoping for a bit more closure and I did not get that. 

 

But with all my critiques, you might be wondering why I gave am recommending this book then. Well, because of how engaging it was! I couldn't put the book down. I HAD to know what was going on. I HAD to see where it was going to end. I needed to know why the Earth was like this and how they were going to resolve it all. I liked this book because of its diversity. We have two queer girls in a relationship and one is a PoC. I liked this book for the world it presents. I liked the anticipation it builds and intrigue it instills. Basically, I just had a lot of fun reading this book. 

 

Do I recommend this book? Yes. But to only those who are looking for a horror/gore-filled diverse adventure. It's not without flaws but it is an entertaining book. Keep in mind that this book has descriptions of blood, gore, violence, murder, and suicide. So if any of that might be triggering for you, then do not read this book. Otherwise, I hope you enjoy reading this despite the flaws. It really is quite the fast read.

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