Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Review: Notes of a Native Son

Notes of a Native Son Notes of a Native Son by James Baldwin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

First published in 1955 and reprinted with a new introduction in 1984, Notes of a Native Son is James Baldwin’s first collection of essays. While one might suppose that the title essay is the one that critiques Richard Wright’s Native Son (that would be “Many Thousands Gone”), “Notes of a Native Son” is actually about Baldwin’s father and their tumultuous relationship. The book also includes a critical essay on the film Carmen Jones and on protest novels, specifically Uncle Tom’s Cabin. He tells the story of a remote Swiss village which he favored for writing a couple of winters and how the villagers thought him a complete novelty, never having seen a Black man before.

Baldwin has so much to say in this short book and so much wisdom to share that I could read it twenty times and still glean something new from it each time. Read this book. Read his other works. I know I will.


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Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Review: The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Beats Up the Marvel Universe

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Beats Up the Marvel Universe The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Beats Up the Marvel Universe by Ryan North
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The first original graphic novel for the Squirrel Girl team starts with Tony stark doing something scientifically irresponsible (shocker!) and Squirrel Girl gets cloned as a result. At first all is well and good because the clone is an exact duplicate of such an awesome person. So how could things possibly go wrong? Obviously, they do, or it would be a super-short book. Let’s just say they react differently to an incident and the clone decides she needs to conquer the entire world and put squirrels in charge. Naturally.

My love for Squirrel Girl has no bounds and this book made me laugh and cry and wish it was about five times longer. Seriously, it’s that good. If you’ve never read the comic before, this is a great place to start. If you have read the comic before, why have you not already read this? Come on! It’s an all-ages comic appropriate for anyone who likes a lot of fun in their funny books. Enjoy!


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Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Review: I Am Malala: The Story of the Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban

I Am Malala: The Story of the Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban I Am Malala: The Story of the Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Malala is an outspoken Pakistani activist for girls’ right to an education. She made many speeches and became quite a public figure, not just in Pakistan, but around the world. In October 2012, the Taliban shot her on her way home from school. She was only 15. Malala survived to become a household name and garner an even greater spotlight on the need for girls’ education. She won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014.
This book covers her life in Swat, the region of Pakistan where she lived, and her education and activism. She is an amazing young woman and hearing her story in her own voice is remarkable. She shares so many stories of her childhood, both happy and sad. It’s a great book and I really look forward to whatever Malala has planned for her future.


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Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Review: Aya: Life in Yop City

Aya: Life in Yop City Aya: Life in Yop City by Marguerite Abouet
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Yop City is in Ivory Coast in Africa and takes place in the heyday following France leaving as the colonizing government. Loosely based on Abouet’s childhood experience, this is a comedic story of love and miscommunication, which could as easily have taken place anywhere really. The trials of love and the upwardly mobile are nearly universal. Oubrerie’s artwork highlights the comedic tone of the story and creates such distinct characters. Aya wants to become a doctor and her father wants her to marry his boss’s son. Her friends have their own romantic problems and make some wildly terrible decisions, but it all seems to work out alright, thanks to a large family support structure and good humor. Readers interested in African culture, (and specifically Ivorian) will enjoy this book. It would also appeal to readers of romantic comedy.

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Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Review: Spilt Milk: A Collection of Stories

Spilt Milk: A Collection of Stories Spilt Milk: A Collection of Stories by D.K. Cassidy
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This collection of short stories shines light on the darker sides of humanity. The stories are very short and tend to be little episodes in the lives of the characters involved. One story is about Cinderella’s stepmother. Another focuses on a woman who gets migraines which trigger memories of her unhappy childhood. There is a story about a woman who cannot use her legs but she learns how to swim, and this makes her free. I confess that I didn’t catch on that some of the stories interweave until I was already about three-quarters of the way through the book. Once I figured that out, the book seemed a little more interesting, but on the whole I found the stories too depressing. It just wasn’t my cup of tea, or perhaps I should say, not my glass of milk.


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Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Review: Adulthood Is a Myth

Adulthood Is a Myth Adulthood Is a Myth by Sarah Andersen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Do you ever feel like you will never really be a real adult, like ever? Do you ever fantasize about going home and watching TV in your PJs while you’re at work? If so, this book is for you. Andersen has compiled a set of comics that perfectly illustrate the struggle of learning to be an adult when cuddling with kittens is really so much more preferable. I love this book and laughed out loud several times while reading it.

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Thursday, October 12, 2017

Review: Last Chance

Last Chance Last Chance by Betty R. Anderson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I am pleased to feature a local author in today’s review. Betty R. Anderson is a native of Vermilion County and will be attending Danville Public Library’s Authors Fair October 14, 2017. Stop by and say Hello to her.
This collection of short stories is very aptly titled, for all of the stories involve people who are at a crossroads and need to make a decision to right wrongs or otherwise better their circumstances. Sometimes they take the chance to help others in need. Most of the main characters are strong black women, who though they may have suffered or shown weakness in the past, are now prepared to create a better life for themselves and their families. I really enjoyed this book and look forward to more short fiction from Anderson.


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