Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Review: Phasma

Phasma Phasma by Delilah S. Dawson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Part of the Journey to Star Wars: The Last Jedi series, Phasma gives the reader some background information on the enigmatic, chrome-clad Captain Phasma of the First Order. Our narrator is a spy who recently gathered intel on Phasma and other key First Order officials, like Captain Cardinal. Cardinal, like our spy Vi Moradi, is a brand new character and he feels usurped by Phasma and wants anything Vi can give him that can help him take Phasma down. Vi hopes that by complying, she may be set free and maybe even flip Cardinal for the Resistance.
Phasma grew up on a dying planet and took any measure necessary to ensure her survival and that of her clan. She was a dedicated warrior and when a First Order ship crashes on the planet, she butts heads with her brother over what her clan should do about the fallen ship and the supplies it most likely carries.
While this book will not satisfy an itch to learn about what Phasma does between The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi, it does give insight into her character. She is established as ruthless, crafty, and more than formidable. I only wish the films focused a bit more on her character. Star Wars completists will want to read this for sure, but it will also appeal to Mad Max fans, given the world on which Phasma grew up.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Review: Tunnel Vision

Tunnel Vision Tunnel Vision by Sara Paretsky
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Vic Warshawski is a private investigator whose office building is being closed and whose bank account is feeling a bit slim. She finds a homeless mother and her children living in the basement of her office building and tries, but fails, to help them. She also gets involved an investigation into why her friends’ contracting company has lost funding. Another friend is found murdered in her office. Somehow this is all connected and Vic has to sort it all out. With the cops (including her boyfriend) not trusting her judgment on this case, she definitely has a struggle ahead of her.
While this is the 8th book in the V.I. Warshawski series, I had no trouble at all getting into the story and characters. It’s a long and complicated mystery here, and I truly enjoyed it. Vic is a great character and while she has her flaws, she is definitely an awesome lady. I will gladly read more in this series, to get to know her better.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Review: Mystic: The Tenth Apprentice

Mystic: The Tenth Apprentice Mystic: The Tenth Apprentice by G. Willow Wilson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

In a vaguely steampunkish world, magic is taught almost exclusively to the nobility, until two orphans learn a bit on their own from the headmistress's library. In the hopes of being chosen as an apprentice, Giselle and Genevieve go to the palace in disguise. When Giselle (who was pretty ambivalent about the whole magic thing to start with) gets chosen and Genevieve (who was really the one eager to learn magic) is left behind, Genevieve takes up with a set up revolutionaries. All this puts a serious strain on their friendship. Can they reconcile and save the world at the same time?

I picked this up because I love Wilson's Ms Marvel. This work is based loosely on a previous Mystic series, and maybe the fact that this is a reboot makes it harder to hear Wilson's voice in the work. While it lacks the charm of Ms. Marvel, Mystic is a fun little book. The artwork especially is very good, with a diversity of character design not often found in popular comics.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Review: Black Panther: World of Wakanda

Black Panther: World of Wakanda Black Panther: World of Wakanda by Roxane Gay
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Whether or not you’ve kept up with the current continuity of Black Panther comics, this is a great supplemental book which focuses on the background stories of a few of the female characters as well as revisiting a character we haven’t seen recently. The stand-out story is Gay’s five issue arc about Ayo and Aneka, the two warriors who basically start a rebellion of the Dora Milaje against King T’Challa (A.K.A. Black Panther). The story shows how they met and become lovers and their growing dissatisfaction with the way T’Challa rules Wakanda. (The three invasions in a row really didn’t help matters.) Next we have Harvey and Coates’ story about the mysterious Zenzi and her strange powers. Lastly, though he hasn’t really been seen since Christopher Priest’s run on The Crew ended in 2004, we find Kaspar Cole focusing on making detective when T’Challa asks him to take on the White Tiger persona again as a favor.
As I said, the best part of this is Ayo and Aneka’s story. Theirs is not an easy romance, as Aneka is constantly concerned with always doing the right and proper thing, and Ayo is a little more brash, to say the least. Still, it’s sweet to watch the two women fall in love. Through this story, we can see exactly why the Dora Milaje lost faith in their king over time, leading us to where the story starts in issue # 1 of Black Panther (2016-). If you’ve been reading Black Panther, you absolutely should read World of Wakanda. I’m just sorry that the series was cancelled after only 7 issues, because I really would have liked to read more stories from Wakanda.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Review: Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood

Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

Host of the Daily Show, Trevor Noah shares stories of his childhood in South Africa. A child of a black woman and a white man, he was a living piece of evidence of his parents’ crime: that of being in an interracial relationship during Apartheid. Because of this, he didn’t see his father much, and mostly grew up with his mother in a black neighborhood. Being mixed, he found he didn’t really fit in with any one group, but he could often travel between groups, using his humor and skills at hustling to get by.
Noah’s stories here are often funny, sometimes horrifying, and always personal. The love between him and his mother shows through on every page. If you’re a fan of Noah’s comedy and/or The Daily Show, you’ll definitely want to give this book a read. It can also appeal to a wider base, of those not necessarily familiar with Noah’s work, but curious about life in South Africa.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Review: Behold the Dreamers

Behold the Dreamers Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Immigrants from Cameroon, Jende and Neni, find out that the American Dream isn’t necessarily what it’s cracked up to be. Things start out well, with Jende finding a position as a chauffeur for a wealthy Wall Street executive and Neni getting help in her classes so that she can get good enough grades to keep her student visa. They grow closer to the family Jende works for, but after the market crashes, everything comes tumbling down.

I enjoyed the book for the unique perspective on the immigrant experience. The writer comes from the same hometown as our main characters and as such was able to give them an extra dimension of realism. This was Mbue’s first novel and I look forward to her work in the future.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Review: The Underground Railroad

The Underground Railroad The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Many young children, when they first learn about the Underground Railroad, envision a literal railroad. What if it was a literal railroad, secretly built and running enslaved people to free states? That’s the basic premise of Whitehead’s novel. It follows the flight of Cora whose mother escaped the Georgia plantation and now she makes a run for it as well. She has some help along the way, not all of it particularly friendly. Hot on her trail is a slave catcher named Bridgewell who failed to catch Cora’s mother and doesn’t plan to make the same mistake twice.
The book is intense, and its depiction of slavery is both graphic and historically accurate. My book club was trying to think of other tales of the Underground Railroad to compare this story to and came up short: there simply aren’t that many tales which cover this aspect of running from slavery. And that is what makes this a necessary book. It’s entertaining too, certainly keeping the reader on their toes wondering what will happen to Cora next. There are even brief (though very few) moments of humor. Mostly, though, this is a fictional tale that rings all too true. It highlights a part of American history that doesn’t get discussed nearly often enough. I really liked this book and would gladly recommend it to anyone.

View all my reviews