Sunday, May 27, 2018


My Thoughts:

Citizen, by Claudia Rankine is a multi-genre examination of racial aggressions towards African Americans. Some of these essays, poems, artwork, media have to do with being invisible, slips of the tongue that are taken differently based on one's positionality or marginality, public lynching, police brutality. 

Although I have not quite come up with an answer, as I was reading this I kept trying to figure out what the author is saying about citizenship in the United States. As an Indigenous reader who believes that our nation was illegally overthrown by the United States, this question of who is  a "citizen" from the lens of marginalized, oppressed, non-white citizens is profoundly important.


When you are alone and too tired even to turn on any of your devices, you let yourself linger in a past stacked among your pillows. Usually you are nestled under blankets and the house is empty. Sometimes the moon is missing and beyond the windows the low, gray ceiling seems approachable. Its dark light dims in degrees depending on the density of clouds and you fall back into that which gets reconstructed as metaphor.


Claudia Rankine's bold new book recounts mounting racial aggressions in ongoing encounters in twenty-first-century daily life and in the media. Some of these encounters are slights, seeming slips of the tongue, and some are intentional offensives in the classroom, at the supermarket, at home, on the tennis court with Serena Williams and the soccer field with Zinedine Zidane, online, on TV-everywhere, all the time. The accumulative stresses come to bear on a person's ability to speak, perform, and stay alive. Our addressability is tied to the state of our belonging, Rankine argues, as are our assumptions and expectations of citizenship. In essay, image, and poetry, Citizen is a powerful testament to the individual and collective effects of racism in our contemporary, often named "post-race" society. 

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Can't Wait to Read

Release date: August 28, 2018
Writer, illustrator: Brenna Thummler
Publisher: Lion Forge

I got a little preview of the advanced digital reader copy of this graphic novel from my Diamond Bookshelf newsletter and I will definitely put this on my watch and wait list. The cover is already charming and the voice of the main character fits the coloring and art style.

Congratulations to Brenna Thummler on her first original graphic novel. I can't wait to read this. 


A practical thirteen-year-old in charge of the family laundry business, Marjorie's daily routine features unforgiving customers, unbearable P.E. classes, and the fastidious Mr. Saubertuck who is committed to destroying everything she's worked for.

Wendell is a ghost. A boy who lost his life much too young, his daily routine features ineffective death therapy, a sheet-dependent identity, and a dangerous need to seek purpose in the forbidden human world.

When their worlds collide, Marjorie is confronted by unexplainable disasters as Wendell transforms Glatt's Laundry into his midnight playground, appearing as a mere sheet during the day. While Wendell attempts to create a new afterlife for himself, he unknowingly sabotages the life that Marjorie is struggling to maintain.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Undead Girl Gang (sneak peek)

My Thoughts:

I received the first six chapters of this book and I have been seeing this on other sites like Goodreads and the Bookly summer 2018 YA reading list. With just six chapters, I did not get as far as the publisher description, but I get the basic premise: teen protagonist and Wiccan Mila Flores, the pariah who does not give a shit about what people think of her, is pissed off that her best friend Riley is included with the other two students as committing suicide when Mila is sure that she was murdered. By the end of chapter six, Mila is collecting items to cast a resurrection spell. 

I think this is a girl book for those who like a dark, mystery with a slightly neurotic main character. If you are a reader who finds the humor in Heathers, this book is for you. 


Veronica Mars meets The Craft when a teen girl investigates the suspicious deaths of three classmates and accidentally ends up bringing them back to life to form a hilariously unlikely--and unwilling--vigilante girl gang.

Meet teenage Wiccan Mila Flores, who truly could not care less what you think about her Doc Martens, her attitude, or her weight because she knows that, no matter what, her BFF Riley is right by her side.

So when Riley and Fairmont Academy mean girls June Phelan-Park and Dayton Nesseth die under suspicious circumstances, Mila refuses to believe everyone's explanation that her BFF was involved in a suicide pact. Instead, armed with a tube of lip gloss and an ancient grimoire, Mila does the unthinkable to uncover the truth: she brings the girls back to life.

Unfortunately, Riley, June, and Dayton have no recollection of their murders. But they do have unfinished business to attend to. Now, with only seven days until the spell wears off and the girls return to their graves, Mila must wrangle the distracted group of undead teens and work fast to discover their murderer...before the killer strikes again.

Sneak peek provided by Net Galley and the publisher for an honest review

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Romeo and Juliet (Manga Version)

Manga Classics
Publication date: May 25, 2018

I donʻt think anyone needs a description. This is the standard 9th grade Shakespeare read in high schools across the United States and has been for the 23 years that I have been teaching English. The cover with the sword between them is meant to be a metaphor and not a spoiler. After all, this is not how they die. This is not a murder suicide domestic abuse story. I mean, this is a tragedy after all. Like all Shakespeare tragedies, the hero along with a multitude of other characters dies, but usually after a series of poorly timed misunderstandings (by the hero).

My thoughts:
Comics doing classics is not new. I think the first classic canonical literature piece that I read as a comic (graphic novel) was Mary Shelley's Frankenstein followed by Victor Hugo's The Hunchback of Notre Dame. I went on to read one in its prose form (Frankenstein) and not the other. I tell that story because I think as a reader of graphic novels (GN) and as an English teacher, I think the power of the GN for students is to give them enough of the story and its appeals to then make the reader more comfortable to read the original novel. I read Frankenstein because what was evident in the GN was that the "monster" was the most humane character. He was the moral center and I wanted to learn more. That GN led me to Shelley's novel but it also led me to Paradise Lost which was Shelley's influence for her Frankenstein. 

For struggling readers, I feel like the GN or manga classic is an even more crucial opportunity to bring readers to the original text. What this one did well in that arena is to use the over exaggerated manga faces to emote shame, fury, sorrow, ridicule. As I read the notes at the back of the book, I can confirm that I saw the illustrators really trying to capture the text and the metaphor in manga style. I disagree with the hooded metaphor since the writer describes a hooded eagle when the metaphor is a falconry metaphor, but that is a minor point and perhaps a faux pas lost in translation. 

What it does exceptionally well is that this manga captures the comic nurse character in all of her jest like qualities. It does not pull off the puns or "pun y ness" of the original text like the back and forth with Juliet and the nurse or the way she goes o and onn in Act I with Lady Capulet until the Lady has had enough. However, I found the comic relief well timed.

I think what will stop struggling readers is that there is just too much of the text. While it is good to grab texts from Shakespeare, at 400 pages, it's daunting for non readers. Maybe if it was whittled down to 125 I would be able to put this in the hands of struggling readers to just get enough of the story to feel more confident in the full text rather than having the full text as interpreted by the artists and illustrators. 

This advanced digital copy provided by Net Galley and the publisher for an honest review. 

Herding Cats

I was a middle school teacher for a long time so I can relate to the simile for classroom management that is like "herding cats." This collection of "Sarah's Scribbles" holds that same kind of chaotic, quirky glee and awkwardness .  I am new to Sarah Andersen but I looked up her work and her daily scribbles and it has the same humor that I find charming.

This one talks about the growing pains of becoming an adult, a journey that most of us struggle with until we realize that we must be adults, even if we don't feel different. I think readers and non readers can relate to this as she deals with deadlines, social situations, awkwardness (like teens and tweens).

The bonus on the author's "Guide for the Young Creative" is a timely, honest message to young artists that things will get better, so don't give up.

A digital advanced copy was borrowed by Net Galley and the publisher for an honest review.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

This is a Taco!

This fun book is about a precocious squirrel who takes charge of the informational squirrel book to write his own story about Taco, the taco loving squirrel who refuses to be a predator of hawks, but instead becomes his own predator of yummy tacos. When things go awry on his plan, he just takes his favorite red crayon and edits again.

This is a great writing workshop mini lesson resource on the power of editing to show voice, character and humor, even for middle school kids.

Last words:
Kids, remember: if you want tacos in your story, then YOU make sure there are tacos in your story. 

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Puerto Rico Strong (Comic Book)

My thoughts:

As someone who lives on an island, as someone who is Indigenous to a nation that has been colonized and illegally overthrown by the United States, I know a little bit about the struggles of living and thriving on an island. I know that when times get tough, we rally together because if not us, who? If not now, when?

That island survival mentality is what makes Puerto Rico Strong so powerful. This is comics at its most political and most powerful. The authors/artists saw that help for their people was not coming from the US, and they were left with the questions if not me, who; if not now, when? The introductions tell a moving story of why them and why now.

These 21 pieces in this anthology are different in voice, style, coloring. However, what they all have in common is the immense pride and love they have for Puerto Rico. These stories educate, entertain and imagine a future for Puerto Rico that carries forward culture, values and sovereignty. These stories privilege what we Hawaiians call aloha ʻāina, in simplistic terms not just a love for land but a political connection to the land, her people, her culture. 

This is a book worth owning and all profits go to the disaster relief and recovery programs.


Puerto Rico Strong is a comics anthology that explores what it means to be Puerto Rican and the diversity that exists within that concept, from today's most exciting Puerto Rican comics creators. All profits will go to towards disaster relief and recovery programs to support Puerto Rico. Despite being a US territory, Puerto Rico is often thought of as a foreign land, if it's even a thought in the mind of the average American at all. Its people exist in all corners of America; some of them have parents who immigrated from the home island, others are a part of families that have been on the mainland for generations. Then there are those who have come to the states in search of a dream but struggle to integrate into an unfamiliar culture, while there are those who have lived in the United States all of their lives but still have the same struggle because of the color of their skin or their sexual identity. These stories follow individuals from diverse walks of life but are all part of the culture that is Puerto Rico.Puerto Rico Strong features art and writing by Rosa Colon, Vita Ayala, Naomi Franquiz, Javier Cruz Winnik, Sabrina Cintron, Ronnie Garcia, Fabian Nicieza, Joamette Gil, and many more!

I received an advanced digital copy from Net Galley and the publisher for an honest review. 

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Solo (audiobook)

My thoughts:

After unsuccessfully trying to listen to several audiobooks that are part of the weekly paired audiobooks offered free by SYNC Audiobooks for teens, and just as I was going to opt out of their emails, this book in verse read by the author caught my attention. This is a great guy book if they are interested in music and poetry and family secrets and rock and roll. 

What really appealed to me was the way the author read his own work. Only authors know how they want their piece to sound and as a reader, I appreciate hearing poets like Jacqueline Woodson (Feathers, Locomotion, Brown Girl Dreaming) and Kwame Alexander read because they have a definite rhythm to their work that is musical and haunting. 

One thing the audiobook has that is not in print is the music and performance of the songs. For a stark look at contemporary issues and for the musicality, this is a must listen. I take back my opinion on audiobooks. This one must be listened to. 


Blade never asked for a life of the rich and famous. In fact, he’d give anything not to be the son of Rutherford Morrison, a washed-up rock star and drug addict with delusions of a comeback. Or to no longer be part of a family known most for lost potential, failure, and tragedy, including the loss of his mother. The one true light is his girlfriend, Chapel, but her parents have forbidden their relationship, assuming Blade will become just like his father.
In reality, the only thing Blade and Rutherford have in common is the music that lives inside them. And songwriting is all Blade has left after Rutherford, while drunk, crashes his high school graduation speech and effectively rips Chapel away forever. But when a long-held family secret comes to light, the music disappears. In its place is a letter, one that could bring Blade the freedom and love he’s been searching for, or leave him feeling even more adrift.

Last words:

But most of all/I sing for myself, the spider,/I'm finally ready to face./ I play the song inside that's been waiting for me to listen,/the one I'm finally ready to hear.
Since this is an audiobook, I do not know where the line breaks are. The line breaks are just my best guess based on my reading. If this is not correct, I sincerely apologize since I was not reading the print version.

Noble V2: Never Events

I compared Noble V1: God Shots to the X-Men movie Logan or the TV series Gifted but this second volume comes right after Black Panther has made Afrofuturism a utopian response to the violent struggles of African Americans that birthed movements like #blacklivesmatter.

Noble is not quite the political statement that Black Panther is, however, I appreciate the strong role models of African Americans in this series. David finally remembers his wife Astrid and his son Eli. He is committed to his family and to being a present father in his son's life, but he is also aware that his new powers give him the obligation to save the world, so he understands the "with great power comes great responsibility" motto from Spiderman.

Granted this volume ends right before the action starts, however, the artwork and the vibrant colors of this comic really create an aesthetically pleasing story.

After months of hiding in South America and running from the ever-watchful eye of the Foresight Corporation, David has begun to fill in the gaps to his missing memories. Armed with a new suit, David continues his search for answers to regain his lost identity.

Meanwhile, Astrid continues her mission to bring David back home. Their reunion and David’s missing memories of her leave her emotionally raw but more determined to bring him back to their family. With aid from an unlikely ally in Lorena Payan, the two combine forces to bring David back while fighting off Doctor DeMarcus Mayes’s newly formed group of enhanced humans.

Collecting the second arc of Catalyst Prime’s Noble series with art by series regular Roger Robinson and Jamal Igle (Supergirl, Black) is collected in this action packed second volume!

Last Words:

I'll save them all.

Dark Days: The Road to Metal

Author: Scott Snyder

Release date: May 22, 2018

My Thoughts:

The superhero genre with the DC and Marvel cast of characters are huge again because of the success of the new movies. But just like the X-Men movies, the sustainability of this genre depends on new writing that infuses the character with new life to hold older fans and bring in new fans. The humility and release of anger by Wolverine in the movie Logan actually was a great segue to the new movies. Wolverine was able to model the kind of humanity necessary to survive in this world as a "superhero." 

I really think readers and viewers are interested in seeing the way these superheroes are humanized and struggle with similar emotional issues as everyone else. 

This new series shows Batman as a little less sure about the path he is taking and the decision he made. He doesn't listen to others and seems to be fated to the fact that he may have made a foolish decision, but there are no answers, at least not here. For loyal fans of the DC world like my husband who has been reading these comics off and on for 40 years, the characters are still here. He had to fill me in on the genealogy of Wonder Woman and Nightwing which made things clearer for me, but the back story was not necessary in the reading of this. I think new readers have a good base for these new problems. Will Wonder Woman and Batman every get through the hordes? Stay tuned.


The prologue to the next great DC epic starring Batman, Green Lantern and the rest of the Justice League is here from Scott Snyder, Jim Lee, Andy Kubert and John Romita Jr., with DARK DAYS: THE ROAD TO METAL!

Aquaman, The Flash and more of DC's pantheon of heroes suspect Batman of hiding a dark secret that could threaten the very existence of the multiverse! It's an epic that will span generations--but how does it connect to the origins of one of DC's most legendary heroes?

The unforgettable team of Scott Snyder, James Tynion IV, Jim Lee, John Romita Jr. and Andy Kubert combine forces to set the stage for the epic Dark Nights: Metal. Leading directly into this blockbuster event, DARK DAYS: THE ROAD TO METAL collects DARK DAYS: THE FORGE #1 and DARK DAYS: THE CASTING #1, as well as classic DC stories that built the foundations of METAL, including FINAL CRISIS #6-7, THE RETURN OF BRUCE WAYNE #1, BATMAN #38-39, NIGHTWING #17 and more!

An early digital release was provided by Net Galley for an honest review

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

And I Darken

This trilogy is touted as YA's answer to Game of Thrones. Set in the Ottoman Empire, this first book  has all the necessary elements that will keep readers connected. If teen readers like the backstabbing, court intrigue, spying and naked ambition of the Westeros folks, this book has all of that, minus the supernatural threat of the white walkers.

The female protagonist, Lada Dragwyla will remind readers of a mix of Cersei's ambition, Daenerys' leadership and Arya's brutal fighting skills. Although she goes soft for Mehmed and her brother Radu, unlike some of YA's bad ass heroine's like Katniss Everdeen and Beatrice Prior, she is willing to more quickly turn her back on others who do not giver her what she wants, even if it means being alone.


NO ONE EXPECTS A PRINCESS TO BE BRUTAL. And Lada Dragwlya likes it that way. Ever since she and her gentle younger brother, Radu, were wrenched from their homeland of Wallachia and abandoned by their father to be raised in the Ottoman courts, Lada has known that being ruthless is the key to survival. She and Radu are doomed to act as pawns in a vicious game, an unseen sword hovering over their every move. For the lineage that makes them special also makes them targets.

Lada despises the Ottomans and bides her time, planning her vengeance for the day when she can return to Wallachia and claim her birthright. Radu longs only for a place where he feels safe. And when they meet Mehmed, the defiant and lonely son of the sultan, who’s expected to rule a nation, Radu feels that he’s made a true friend—and Lada wonders if she’s finally found someone worthy of her passion.
But Mehmed is heir to the very empire that Lada has sworn to fight against—and that Radu now considers home. Together, Lada, Radu, and Mehmed form a toxic triangle that strains the bonds of love and loyalty to the breaking point.
From New York Times bestselling author Kiersten White comes the first book in a dark, sweeping new series in which heads will roll, bodies will be impaled . . . and hearts will be broken.

Last words:

"Not Dragwyla," she said. "Lada Dracul. I am no longer the daughter of the dragon." She lifted her chin, sights set on the horizon. "I am the dragon."

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

The Game Canʻt Love You Back

My thoughts:

This is the classic hate to love to hate to love story. Teen girls will eat it up. What makes it different and refreshing is that Eve is a tomboy, star athlete on the boys baseball team and she does not have to change who she is to get the boy. We finally get a character, Eve, who is a good daughter, a good sister and a good best friend. She is not angsty or awkward. She is smart, competitive, driven and innocent. 

Cozzo follows the romance formula, but I like the way these females are written.