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text 2018-12-10 19:26
Front Desk by Kelly Yang

I cannot find this book on booklikes, and I'm not bothered enough to add it since it's a DNF.


It seems like a great book and everyone should give it a try. I loved the regulars at the motel and really hope that their relationship with the Tangs is explored in a meaningful way.


I had to quit reading because I was anticipating all the ways Mia's family was going to be taken advantage of in the book and it was making me really anxious (like Little Fires Everywhere or Fuzzy Mud levels of anxiety). So I stopped reading.


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review 2018-12-09 19:29
Black Panther: A Nation Under Our Feet, Book One
Black Panther: A Nation Under Our Feet Book 1 - Ta-Nehisi Coates,Brian Stelfreeze

I read this for one of my summer classes. We had to read and annotate 10 comics/graphic novels. Here's the annotation I wrote for that class:


Queen Shuri has vanished, and T’Challa returns home to a people on the edge of revolt and the threat of war from the neighboring country Niganda.


Black Panther: A Nation Under Our Feet is not the easiest entry point to T’Challa’s story. Knowledge from the film assuaged some confusion, but there were still moments where I felt I was missing out because of my lack of knowledge. Since this is the first book in an ongoing series, there's a lot of set up but very little resolution.


The most striking aspect of the book is that, with the exception of one character, every single character in the book is Black. And the best aspect of the book is those characters. Black Panther is populated with complex characters, including several strong, active, remarkable women. In the book, there are clear protagonists and antagonists but there is a much less clear divide between the “good guys” and “bad guys.” T’Challa is the hero of the story, a story which opens with him assailing his own people. Aneka is removed from the Dora Milaje and punished for breaking a law even though her actions were morally right. These moral ambiguities create tension that drive the story forward.


Black Panther is not a book to pick up and read on a whim. It demands readers’ attention and concentration, and rewards it well. When I finished I wished I had Book Two in hand because I need to know what will happen next.

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review 2018-12-09 19:26
The Best We Could Do
The Best We Could Do: An Illustrated Memoir - Thi Bui

I read this for one of my summer classes. We had to read and annotate 10 comics/graphic novels. Here's the annotation I wrote for that class:


The Best We Could Do tells the story of Thi Bui’s family from their lives in Vietnam to their time as refugees in Malaysia to their resettling in the United States all framed by the story of Bui’s journey into motherhood. The result is both a specific, personal reflection of the author’s own family and a larger, more universal search for identity and belonging.


Bui utilizes one single color throughout the entire story. The red she chooses moves between seeming harsh, angry, and dangerous to soft, warm and welcoming. Sometimes it floods the entire page while at other times it is very contained, highlighting one specific moment, one person, one element on the page or in the panel.


In the book, Bui searches for the truth of her parents and their lives and only has their stories to guide her. There are many interesting uses of panels and the gutter throughout the book. The more innovative pages seem to be emphasizing the fact that these are impressions rather than literal interpretations of the past. An inanimate hand reaches across the gutter ominously. A boat drifts into a panel from an undefined place. Family memories are layered over images of war, unrest, and change occurring in Vietnam.


Even though The Best We Could Do was only published last year (2017), I can see it securing a spot in the graphic novel canon and being read for many years to come.

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review 2018-12-09 19:24
March: Book One
March (Book One) - Andrew Aydin,Nate Powell,John Robert Lewis

I read this for one of my summer classes. We had to read and annotate 10 comics/graphic novels. Here's the annotation I wrote for that class:


Alternating between Barack Obama’s inauguration day and defining moments in John Lewis’s past, March: Book One tells the story of Lewis’s childhood and his involvement with the American Civil Rights movement concentrating on the nonviolent sit-in protests in Nashville. The book occasionally draws in moments from the larger Civil Rights movement to give context to Lewis’s story and actions.


The artwork is very striking. The black and white images stand out starkly on the page with intermittent black gutters adding a particularly dramatic flair to the book. One of the images on page 24 is particularly noteworthy. In it Lewis says it’s bad luck to put an even numbered egg under a setting hen. The egg in his hand in the panel is number 13. This seems like a cue to pay attention. Things are not necessarily as they appear. A chicken’s egg labeled 13 does not bring bad luck. An approach of passive resistance can incite huge change.  


The interweaving of the two storylines draws the civil rights movement into the present. It is easy to feel removed from the time of segregation when in reality we are less than a generation removed from those times. March: Book One is as relevant, and hopefully as inspiring, today as Martin Luther King and the Montgomery Story was to Lewis in the 1960s. It would make a great addition to any graphic novel collection.

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2018-11-27 18:23
The Lost Girls of Camp Forevermore
The Lost Girls of Camp Forevermore - Kim Fu

This review contains some light spoilers (maybe?).


I saw this book being recommended on instagram. I'm on vacation but at the end of the semester, so I've really fallen out of reading for pleasure (it's difficult to want to read anything after reading 200 pages for class). This seemed like a quick read, so I picked it up.


I'm torn on how to rate this book. The writing is very good and kept me reading. It reminded me a lot of Celeste Ng's books. I finished in about two days. But the story itself ended up being rather unsatisfying in the end.


The book alternates between the past and the present, but the two timelines felt so disjointed that I wonder why the author didn't just concentrate on one or the other. The girls in the past and the girls in the present (with a few exceptions) felt like entirely different characters. Poor Andee seemed to have no character and isn't even the hero of her own section her younger sister is (though because she is so boring up until then, I found the start of her section incredibly confusing and had to keep reminding myself which kid had been at camp...).


The girls in the past also don't read like kids. I wish they had been aged up a bit. I think their characters and actions would have made more sense for 12/13 year olds than for 9-11 year olds.


In all, I think this book is best enjoyed the way I read it: quickly and with no idea what you're getting yourself into.

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