Posted in Reviews

Review: Banned Book Club by Kim Hyun Sook

Banned Book Club by Kim Hyun Sook – 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Recommended: YES
For a history not well known in the US, for a prime example of how graphic novels so well suit memoirs, for a funny and dramatic story

Do they ban books because they see danger in their authors, or because they are themselves in their villains?

Summary:
hen Kim Hyun Sook started college in 1983 she was ready for her world to open up. After acing her exams and sort-of convincing her traditional mother that it was a good idea for a woman to go to college, she looked forward to soaking up the ideas of Western Literature far from the drudgery she was promised at her family’s restaurant. But literature class would prove to be just the start of a massive turning point, still focused on reading but with life-or-death stakes she never could have imagined.

This was during South Korea’s Fifth Republic, a military regime that entrenched its power through censorship, torture, and the murder of protestors. In this charged political climate, with Molotov cocktails flying and fellow students disappearing for hours and returning with bruises, Hyun Sook sought refuge in the comfort of books. When the handsome young editor of the school newspaper invited her to his reading group, she expected to pop into the cafeteria to talk about Moby Dick, Hamlet, and The Scarlet Letter. Instead she found herself hiding in a basement as the youngest member of an underground banned book club. And as Hyun Sook soon discovered, in a totalitarian regime, the delights of discovering great works of illicit literature are quickly overshadowed by fear and violence as the walls close in.

You can learn a lot about history by figuring out what people wanted to hide.

Thoughts:
Graphic novels are so well suited to memoirs and nonfiction. This is a prime example. The art and coloring complements the story perfectly. With the selective colors it focuses exactly on what needs to be focused on. And again, things that are hard to say in words are sometimes better conveyed in images.

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Posted in Fast-Forward Friday

Fast Forward Friday: Tiananmen 1989

In contrast to Throwback Thursday, I’m using Fast Forward Fridays to look ahead to a release I’m excited about! Today’s is Tiananmen 1989: Our Shattered Hopes, told from a man who was helping to organize the Tiananmen protests on June 4th, 1989.
Expected Release: June 16, 2020

Why wait on this one?

  • This is about an event I know too little about: the Tiananmen square massacre, or June 4th Event. Considering how arguably recent this was, it’s pretty weird that I know so little about it, so I’m taking my education into my own hands.
  • This is told from the experiences of Lun Zhang, the Chinese sociology teacher who was helping to organize the protest. I hope to get an authentic insight that isn’t filtered through a Westernized lens; allow the culture to be shown genuinely the way it felt for the people living it and let those voices be heard.
  • I think I’ve made it clear by now that I love graphic novel memoirs. In general, I think the format is well-suited to difficult realities, particularly historical ones. I don’t know much about this incident, except that it was awful. I expect the image aspect of this to carry some of the storytelling burden.
  • It feels like a good time to learn about this event specifically, given the many protests happening now in my own country seeking political reform (particularly around police brutality). I’m not too familiar with the background of the event, but I believe that I’ll see connections between Tiananmen and modern-day America in the activist movements and what people are trying to change.

Follow the story of China’s infamous June Fourth Incident — otherwise known as the Tiananmen Square Massacre — from the first-hand account of a young sociology teacher who witnessed it all.

Over 30 years ago, on April 15th 1989, the occupation of Tiananmen Square began. As tens of thousands of students and concerned Chinese citizens took to the streets demanding political reforms, the fate of China’s communist system was unknown. When reports of soldiers marching into Beijing to suppress the protests reverberated across Western airwaves, the world didn’t know what to expect. Lun Zhang was just a young sociology teacher then, in charge of management and safety service for the protests. Now, in this powerful graphic novel, Zhang pairs with French journalist and Asia specialist Adrien Gombeaud, and artist Ameziane, to share his unvarnished memory of this crucial moment in world history for the first time. Providing comprehensive coverage of the 1989 protests that ended in bloodshed and drew global scrutiny, Zhang includes context for these explosive events, sympathetically depicting a world of discontented, idealistic, activist Chinese youth rarely portrayed in Western media. Many voices and viewpoints are on display, from Western journalists to Chinese administrators. Describing how the hope of a generation was shattered when authorities opened fire on protestors and bystanders, Tiananmen 1989 shows the way in which contemporary China shaped itself.

bonus! sample page from the book courtesy of Edelweiss
Posted in Fast-Forward Friday

Fast Forward… Tuesday? — Banned Books Club

Well, I usually take the chance each Friday to write a bit about an upcoming release that I’ve been excited for. However… today is Tuesday. Why the change? Uh… I forgot. 😂 That’s really it; no excuses. My days kind of blend together right now what with being home 99% of the time, so I didn’t even realize it was Friday.

BUT, I have been really excited for Banned Books Club by Kim Hyun Sook, Ko Hyung-Ju, & Ryan Estrada to be released, so I absolutely want to call some attention to it!
Expected Release: May 19, 2020 (pushed back from April 21, 2020)

Why wait on this one?

  • Ah, I know you’re tired of hearing it, but I love Korea and will read just about anything related to it.
  • My favorite format for a memoir is probably a graphic novel memoir. Capturing moments that are hard to put into words can be caught with the visuals, which can add so much depth of emotion to the stories the people have to give.
  • While it’s a bit more scary knowing it’s real, the political intrigue is certain to pull me in. Trying to fight for what’s right while not knowing who to trust and risking severe consequences? How can you NOT be on the edge of your seat, gripping the book with white knuckles?
  • While I have a decent awareness of it already, I’m always eager to learn more about the history of Korea. It’s rife with takeovers, rebellions, divisions, unification, inventions, and so much more. I want to know about all of it.
  • One of the focal points of the story is the reading club about banned books that she unknowingly joins. As a reader, that’s obviously going to attract me.

Posted in Release Day!

Just Published: That Can Be Arranged by Huda Fahmy!

Reminder that That Can Be Arranged: A Muslim Love Story by Huda Fahmy (⭐⭐⭐⭐) released today! Check out the full review here or grab a copy of your own at Barnes & Noble!

Recommended: Yes!
For insight into what it’s like to have a modern-day arranged marriage (note it’s not a FORCED marriage), for a funny story about finding yourself and finding love

Summary:
Chaperones, suitors, and arranged marriages aren’t only reserved for the heroines of a Jane Austen novel. They’re just another walk in the park for this leading lady, who is on a mission to find her leading lad. From the brilliant comics Yes, I’m Hot in This, Huda Fahmy tells the hilarious story of how she met and married her husband. Navigating mismatched suitors, gossiping aunties, and societal expectations for Muslim women, That Can Be Arranged deftly and hilariously reveals to readers what it can be like to find a husband as an observant Muslim woman in the twenty-first century.

Posted in Release Day!

Just Published: Snug – A Collection of Comics about Dating Your Best Friend by Catana Chetwynd

Reminder that Snug: A Collection of Comics about Dating Your Best Friend by Catana Chetwynd (⭐⭐⭐⭐) released today! Check out the full review here or grab a copy of your own at Barnes & Noble!

Recommended: Yes!
For fans of her comic series, for anyone who’s been in a relationship (though maybe more of the younger generation for some), for a heartwarming read that will make you smile and happily sigh

Summary:
Why bother getting out of bed when you could stay bundled up with that special someone and a book of cozy, cute comics. From the author of the bestselling Little Moments of Love comes Snug, a collection of comics that perfectly captures the honest, playful, and relatable snapshots of romantic life. Chetwynd’s second book has the same charming and inviting style as her first and includes 50 percent new, never-before-shared comics. Snug is a celebration of the quirks and peculiarities of every one of us—and the magic that happens when we find our matching puzzle piece.

Posted in Reviews

Review: Curse of the Worgen by Micky Neilson

Curse of the Worgen by Micky Neilson – ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Loved it! It was so fun to get the detailed story that you play through when starting as a worgen in WoW. There are parallels through each, but details in this one that add so much to the story. And Genn is such an inspiring badass.

Recommended: yes!
If you’ve played a worgen this will be familiar but give more detail and background, for fans of the series who want gorgeous art on a dark, dramatic, and intense storyline, for a darkly illustrated story about werewolves and a city on the brink of desctruction

Summary:
The world’s most popular massively multiplayer online videogame continues its exodus into comics with this new graphic novel. The best-selling WORLD OF WARCRAFT comic series returns in time for a worldwide cataclysm! A series of grisly, animalistic murders have rocked the walled town of Gilneas. A famous detective sets out to discover the perpetrators and finds far more than he bargained for. To find the truth, he must delve through years of twisted history – both the history of his family and Gilneas itself. 

Thoughts:
My first character in World of Warcraft was a worgen, so the starting area quests for that are really stuck up in my head. Seeing those quests and moments drawn and woven into the comic was like a return to an old friend. Even without that background coming into this, the story is undeniably dramatic – how could an infestation of werewolves and undead at the gates not be? Betrayal, self-discovery, old enemies, new friends… it sounds cliche, but it’s actually fantastic.

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Posted in Reviews

Review: Teen Titans: Raven by Kami Garci

Teen Titans: Raven by Kami Garcia – ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Recommended: yup
For an impressive standalone whether you know everything or nothing about the universe, for likable and dynamic characters, for a clever use of the art to convey elements of story

Be ready for a lot of purple and hidden ravens

Summary:
When a tragic accident takes the life of 17-year-old Raven Roth’s foster mom—and Raven’s memory—she moves to New Orleans to recover and finish her senior year of high school. Starting over isn’t easy. Raven remembers everyday stuff like how to solve math equations and make pasta, but she can’t remember her favorite song or who she was before the accident. And when impossible things start happening, Raven begins to think it might even be better not to know who she was before. But as she grows closer to her new friends, her foster sister, Max, and Tommy Torres, a guy who accepts her for who she is now, Raven has to decide if she’s ready to face what’s buried in the past… and the darkness building inside her.

Thoughts:
I fell in love with the cartoon “Teen Titans” when I was a kid, so I was pretty excited to see this graphic novel come out. I didn’t know much about Raven’s actual story, and was excited to get some details. From the author’s notes, it sounds like they might have changed or adapted some aspects from the original, so if you’re a diehard fan who knows the story keep an open mind.

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Posted in Reviews

Review: That Can Be Arranged: A Muslim Love Story by Huda Fahmy

That Can Be Arranged: A Muslim Love Story by Huda Fahmy – ⭐⭐⭐⭐
I laughed out loud several times, learned some things, and wished I could meet her because she sounds dope.

Recommended: Yes!
For insight into what it’s like to have a modern-day arranged marriage (note it’s not a FORCED marriage), for a funny story about finding yourself and finding love

Summary:
Chaperones, suitors, and arranged marriages aren’t only reserved for the heroines of a Jane Austen novel. They’re just another walk in the park for this leading lady, who is on a mission to find her leading lad. From the brilliant comics Yes, I’m Hot in This, Huda Fahmy tells the hilarious story of how she met and married her husband. Navigating mismatched suitors, gossiping aunties, and societal expectations for Muslim women, That Can Be Arranged deftly and hilariously reveals to readers what it can be like to find a husband as an observant Muslim woman in the twenty-first century.

Thoughts:
This was like having a friend you can ask questions about without worrying you’ll accidentally be offensive. Like the answer to the questions you want to ask but aren’t sure you’re allowed to. It was also HILARIOUS! And so, so sweet. I can never turn down a cute little love story!

Continue reading “Review: That Can Be Arranged: A Muslim Love Story by Huda Fahmy”
Posted in Reviews

Review: Noblesse: Season 1, Set by Son Jae Ho

Noblesse: Season 1, Set by Son Jae Ho – ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Recommended: yep
For an unexpectedly funny tale woven with darkness and ethics, for wonderfully complex characters who grow and change your heart

A rather lovely set!

Summary:
He awakens. For 820 years he has slumbered with no knowledge of mankind’s advancements and scientific achievments. The land which he once knew has become an unfamiliar place with new technologies, attitudes, and lifestyles. Cadis Etrama Di Raizel (Rai), while seeking to familiarize himself with this era, somehow locates a loyal servant of his, Frankenstein, who is currently the principal of a South Korean high school. Rai decides that this high school would be the perfect place to help him learn about the new world. He enrolls, and suddenly becomes the friend of Shinwoo, an immature teenager who is also a master martial artist. But this new world is no safer than the old, and the dignified, bewildered, technologically illiterate Rai finds himself caught up in adventures both ridiculous and dangerous.

Thoughts:
The bandaid on his nose has got to go. Sorry – just had to get that out! It’s been driving me crazy! Though with that out of the way, I can focus on everything that I liked, which was pretty much everything else.

Continue reading “Review: Noblesse: Season 1, Set by Son Jae Ho”