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review 2017-06-15 20:38
Black White Jewish
Black White & Jewish - Rebecca Walker

Never before has a book so completely spoken to my heart. I originally found this last year when I was looking around for around for women's memoirs to be put into my Diverse Books Tag focused on that genre (a book with a biracial protagonist). I recommended it to my library but got quickly absorbed in a number of other books while I waited for it to be available or for the right time to pop up. At last, my library purchased it and I was the first one to get it when it came out.

I have to say that waiting for the right time worked out fantastically. Some books just seem to know when you need them. As I said, this one just spoke right to my heart. That's not to suggest that I "know" what it was like for Rebecca Walker to navigate her life or what it's like to be black and white and Jewish all at the same time. What I do know is that I am quite familiar with that sense of not quite belonging to anyone, but maybe belonging enough to be claimed here and there for this or that trait. I have drifted from one home to another within my family or neighborhood or group of friends and felt that change that Walker describes as "switching radio stations". I've felt the sting of being in one group while people denigrate the other part of you, the part that they don't claim, while they insist that it's not you but you know that it is, even if only in part. I've felt it on both sides of me.

We've lived vastly different lives in different times within this country and I couldn't possibly relate to all of Walker's experiences, but I had never known anyone to describe this being and not being so well, so beautifully. The idea of being a "movement baby" sounds terrifying, like for too much to live up to. Later, I found it far easier to relate to what happened when the ideas of the movement were gone and she was treated like her existence was half-oppressor and half-oppressed, when people asked her navigate those waters and explain what it felt like. I was never able to explain what it was like to be fragmented this way and now I have someone to turn to for that.

I loved Walker's style of writing and relating everything back to memory and the way that memory shifts, that way that it can be wrong and right at the same time and the way it shapes us and perceptions of us without ever asking for permission. I loved the poetic feel that accompanies most of the book. I peaked at some other reviews and it's not the kind of book that everyone loves, but I still find it an important book to read and discuss. Perhaps it would make a great book club memoir because it does bring in questions of race on several fronts and it could open conversations about sex in adolescence, the effect of divorce and/or neglect on a child's upbringing and other important issues that Walker goes through that still plague us.

The downside to that, of course, is that using the book that way invites criticism of Walker and her parents as people who were theoretically doing the best they could. I don't mean to sound like I doubt that anyone was doing their best but I also don't want to make it sound like I'm making assumptions about what could/should have been done. The point is simply that getting judgey about someone's life and story like this would miss the point of reading the book.

Despite what others might think, I found this book engaging, even at it's lowest moments. I appreciated the way it was a little episodic, moving through periods in her life and only stopping to fit in the moments that best sums up the time-frame for her rather than dwelling on incidentals. As mentioned above, what I loved the most was the way she relates what it is like to not fit succinctly into any single category of race, to be a part of something and not a part of it at the same time, close and yet removed from it. I have felt these things so many times in life when I am in Hispanic or not Hispanic depending on the way whoever I'm talking to feels about it and it rarely seems up to me to let them know who I am and how I fit into these categories and whether or not I even want to.

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review 2017-06-15 20:37
Written in the Stars
Written in the Stars - Aisha Saeed

This is my Letter W for the Litsy A to Z challenge this year. I picked it because of that cover. Isn't it gorgeous?

This is also one of those books that I had read the synopsis for when I first chose it and just trusted my earlier judgement, having put it on a challenge list and all. Then I promptly forgot what it was actually about, which is always fun for me because I know its about something I'm interested in but still get to be surprised.

Let me say that I enjoyed a lot about this book but it was greatly helped by the fact that I had finished Dear Zari directly before it which provided me with great information on the realities of life for Afghan women. Though our protagonist in this book is Pakistani-American, the understanding of cultural traditions is similar enough to be helpful in this book and not see that none of the characters who live in Pakistan are behaving unusually, nor are they written in a way to be seen as villainous. They are doing what they know to do for the situation they are in.

Naila, our protagonist, is born and raised in American and her parents try to hold her the cultural expectations of their extended family back in Pakistan. They want her to be a good Pakistani girl and she can't begin to comprehend what is wrong with being a good American girl instead. Her general attitude about these traditions while in the US reminded me a little of Ms. Marvel too. When her world turns upside down in Pakistan, the story really turns.

I spent the rest of the book unsure of which direction the resolution to Naila's issue the author was gonna go until close to the end. I felt pretty sure that a happy end was coming though. 

Overall, I really enjoyed it. Its a great YA that fits in a rather underrepresented demographic, those teens whose lives fall somewhere between the US and the Middle East. It also falls solidly into chick lit, in my opinion, which is part of the fun here. The characters aren't exactly well rounded, but I don't think that was the point anyway. Its enough that they are entirely different manifestations of familiar archetypes in YA or chick lit. It made them a little unpredictable for me, which is always fun. I think anyone who reads either of those genres would enjoy this.

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review 2017-01-18 19:39
Invincible Iron Man (2016-) #1 - Brian Bendis,Stefano Caselli
Invincible Iron Man (2016-) #2 - Brian Bendis,Stefano Caselli

This is actually for both Invincible Iron Man #1 and #2 since #2 came out when I finally got a chance to read #1. It's also my Read Harder 2017 superhero comic with a female lead cause she's taking over the title, for at least a while.

I wanted to read this one as soon as it came out but I wanted to buy a physical copy to read because I've been loving having all the first issues of the new fabulous women that Marvel have been making the headliners of comics like Thor and Ms. Marvel. But no. This one does not yet have a physical copy available at the time of this writing, even at Amazon. So disappointing.

But alas, I decided to go ahead and get the Kindle/comiXology version and check out the story. As soon as I sat down to write this, I noticed on Amazon that #2 was also out, so I scooped it up and took the break to get that one in too because I had been intrigued about the way #1 ended.

Can I just say, though, that I loved the idea of Riri Williams from the first moment I saw her? Yeah, there was some controversy over the horrible hyper-sexualized version of the cover that lots of people wrote about. My favorite article about it was this one from Sublime Zoo. I couldn't agree more with the essential problem of that cover and everything it implied. At the same time, Ms. Marvel had been written and drawn so well and not sexualized that I held out hope that Marvel would listen to the outcry and fix it, which they totally did. But before they fixed it so that she looked like a teenager instead of a grown woman, there was this awesome display of cosplay in the outfit from that cover. It's so great to get a character that people want to cosplay as. It has to be the dream, right?

Okay, now let me get my main criticism out of the way and I'm going to do this without spoilers. There was one seen in the first issue that made me go, WTF? I am interested in seeing how it plays out in the media or if it gets any attention at all. Not being from Chicago nor sharing race, ethnicity, or any background with Riri Williams or anyone in the scene that gave me pause, I have to wonder what people who do share those things will think about that scene. It came off a little too stereotyped. It's one where I have to wonder how much of it is really an aspect of that location and how much is just a stereotype or whether there is some truth to find there.

The author is Brian Bendis, who is a white male comic writer for Marvel. I won't pretend that it wouldn't have be nice for this series to follow the Black Panther model for having POC write characters of color, but I get it. This is an established writer for comics who, according to his Wikipedia page, has won most of the awards he's been nominated for. He probably knows what he's doing and it was probably a decent call to get an established Marvel writer to transition the title from an established character to a new one because the established Iron Man audience that he normally writes for may not be quite so estranged by Iron Man's title being taken over by a black girl if the author is someone they feel they have a relationship with. And yes, she is a girl and not a woman just yet.

As the comic stands in the first issue, she is still a girl and very much looks like one. She is not the hyper-sexualized version that was in the problematic variant cover from this summer and honestly made a teenager look like she was closer to 25. Thank goodness. So glad they listened. Not only is she not in the hyper-sexualized version, but she doesn't even appear in that outfit. She is presented as a kid more interested in building things than her appearance and literally anything else. As in, virtually no skin is exposed ever. They must have gone back to Ms. Marvel and noticed what was done there. Nothing wrong with dressing sexy as a teenager, I did it as much as I could get away with, but it's entirely different for people to draw these girls as something for men to look at the way the older versions of most female heroes were. A little modesty in the superhero world is not a bad thing. We can stand to be, you know, treated like heroes and not eye candy in completely insane outfits and heels. But they appear to know already, so I'll stop here.

Aside from the scene that really felt unnecessary and stereotyped to me (though it could be my ignorance or privilege hiding that it's a general truth in Chicago, Idk), the rest seemed pretty gender and race neutral. What I mean is, none of the rest seemed put there to focus on either her gender or race in a negative way that might dehumanize or unnecessarily underestimate her nor did any of it look showy like it was only designed to show how great they were for attempting diversity. It was just there in that she was just a girl with a big brain on her kind of way.

Is she a perfect hero right out the gate? No. But that's normal. Neither was Spider-Man in any of the movies (I don't read his comics, not my thing but loved the old Tobey Maguire moveis), Silk, or Ms. Marvel. She should have a bit of a learning curve here. I still really enjoyed her first fight and the conversation that opens the entire comic between her parents and a head shrinker. I enjoyed his insights and the parent's responses. It had a little extra tinge of beauty because I had just seen Hidden Figures the day before and that movie opens with a similar, though not identical, conversations about the potential of a black girl (or African-American, if you prefer).

Moving on to #2.

Her backstory continues but no reveal as to her main motivation. Yes, her backstory contains reasons but so far it's more "she can" and not so much of a "why she does it". The art for her continues to be awesome and not sexualized while being gorgeous in a realistic way.

A fun little thing for me is the mention of my all-time favorite Disney princess by Riri (The Little Mermaid) though not whether or not she likes that one.... it was just cute to see the reference.

Other than that, #2 mostly just continues the activities of #1 and gives a few more details. I really like the little intros in both of these issues where she's making a video for what seems like a journal.

I came into these two issues without having read Civil War II and I'm starting to feel like I need to go back and do that before going further. Okay, I don't currently have a choice about going further since #3 isn't out yet, but you get my point. I'm almost caught up with Lumberjanes and then plan on catching Ms. Marvel up to that point and then giving Captain Marvel another shot to get into the whole Civil War thing and see what must have been Riri Williams's debut, because it's mentioned that she was in it.

So far, the comic is living up to the promise, at least for me. Riri is a genius and treated that way with no excuses or anyone trying to downplay her intelligence, just as Tony has been in the movies. She is what she is and her family at least pretends to be okay with her habits and abilities while still trying to get her to have a more normal childhood experience. I thought it was cute in the first issue when her mother, like so many of us these days, was telling her to go outside. I love the way her parents and her friend, Natalie, took it in stride when they asked what her projects were too. Most people would have scoffed at these ideas, but they have obviously normalized her genius level already because they just go with it. The mother even offers an alternate and more mainstream use for her first one. She's not treated like a freak or too smart or any of the other crazy things that we see sometimes when people talk to or about women in general being smart and all that negativity can be magnified sometimes when the discussion is women of color.

In individual issue form, they only seem to be available online for now, so I went to Amazon for these. They can be found here for #1 and #2.

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review 2017-01-03 12:11
[Kurzrezension] Weihnachten mit Katze - Neue Geschichten
Weihnachten Mit Katzeneue Geschichten - ... Weihnachten Mit Katzeneue Geschichten - Mario Leis
Wie aufregend ist die Weihnachtszeit für die geliebte Samtpfote … überall glitzert und blinkt es, Lametta und Glitzerkugeln verlocken zum Spiel, und in der Stube ist es zum Schnurren warm. Heitere und besinnliche Geschichten entführen uns in die winterliche und weihnachtliche Katzenwelt.
Taschenbuch: 155 Seiten
Verlag: Insel Verlag; Auflage: Originalausgabe (20. September 2010)
Sprache: Deutsch
ISBN-10: 3458353364
ISBN-13: 978-3458353362
Größe: 10,8 x 0,9 x 17,7 cm
In Weihnachten mit Katze - Neue Geschichten sind 27 schöne Geschichten von bekannten Autoren wie Kurt Tucholsky, Sarah Kirsch, Erich Kästner, Andrea Schacht, Heinrich Heine, Theodor Storm, Robert Walser, Rainer Maria Rilke, Ernst Jünger und anderen Autoren versammelt, einfach um den Leser die Weihnachtszeit zusammen mit ihren Katzen zu versüssen.
Im Gegensatz zu dem ersten Buch mit dem Titel "Weihnachten mit Katze" sind die Geschichten in diesem Band etwas besser gemischt, man findet also lange und kurze Geschichte / Gedichte oder Geschichte vor und das macht die Mischung besser.
Durch den verschiedenen Stil der Autoren ist es schwierig, eine durchgehende Bewertung in Stil und Dramatik schwierig, aber die Zusammenstellung an sich ist stimmig und auch der Wechsel zwischen kürzeren und längeren Passagen gelingt besser als in der ersten Zusammenstellung.
Wer ein nettes kleines Buch über Katzen zur Weihnachtszeit sucht, ist damit gut beraten.
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review 2017-01-03 11:57
[Kurzrezension] Weihnachten mit Katze
Weihnachten Mit Katze - Gesine Dammel Weihnachten Mit Katze - Gesine Dammel
Weihnachten ist auch für die Samtpfoten ein besonderes Fest. Was es da drinnen und draußen plötzlich alles zu entdecken gibt! Es glitzert und blinkt, raschelt und knistert – und aus der Küche kommen ganz wunderbare Düfte … Die schönsten Katzengeschichten zum Fest!
Taschenbuch: 101 Seiten
Verlag: Insel Verlag; Auflage: Originalausgabe (21. September 2009)
Sprache: Deutsch
ISBN-10: 3458351612
ISBN-13: 978-3458351610
Größe: 10,8 x 0,7 x 17,7 cm
In Weihnachten mit Katze sind 10 Kurzgeschichten von bekannten Autoren wie Rainer Maria Rilke, Charlotte Link, James Herriot, Erwin Schrittmacher und anderen Autoren versammelt, die immer wieder einen Bezug zu einer süssen Katze haben.
Manche Geschichten sind leider sehr kurz, nicht mal eine Doppelseite, aber manchmal braucht man nicht viele Worte, wenn man etwas erzählen möchte.
Nun ist es eben eine Sammlung von mehreren Autoren, daher ist eine Stilanalyse schwierig, aber die Zusammenstellung an sich passt schon recht gut zusammen, man muss eben Kurzgeschichten mögen.
Ein Buch, was sicher für Katzenfans und Katzenliebhaber geeignet ist und auch für Menschen, die sich einfach mal mit einem kleinen Büchlein einen Abend versüssen wollen. 
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