Subtle Lessons in Ms. Marvel, Vol. 3: Crushed

Subtle Lessons in Ms. Marvel, Vol. 3: Crushed

Posted 31 August, 2015 by Akilah in Graphic Novels, Young Adult Lit / 0 Comments

There’s this moment in Crushed where the villain’s lackey legit says to Kamala that it’s her own fault she was kidnapped because she got in the car with him, and everyone saw her and wouldn’t think less of him but of her. And it’s so absurd and ridiculous that I started yelling at the page. But, for a moment, Kamala starts to second guess herself and think that she should have been smarter and known better. And it’s like, “Yes, Kamala, you should have known that the boy who you trusted and who offered you a ride to school would instead DRIVE YOU STRAIGHT TO THE VILLAIN’S LAIR.” Because that is a reasonable expectation to have. So, anyway, if even one teenager/young person reads this book and is struck by how dumb the lackey’s logic is and how of course it’s not Kamala’s fault that this guy she trusted completely […]

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Banned Books 101

Banned Books 101

Posted 25 August, 2015 by Akilah in Middle Grade Lit, Young Adult Lit / 3 Comments

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday is kind of a cheat for me since I have taught a version of this class in the past. So I’m going to basically share my syllabus with you–with a slightly updated reading list. How I framed the class: This course aims to take a critical look at children’s and young adult literature that is frequently challenged and banned in public schools and libraries. While we will discuss issues of censorship throughout the semester, our primary concern will be with understanding these books first and foremost as works of literature. As such, we will consider the choices that authors make in composing these works, focusing on the functions of the literary elements contained within. Throughout our discussions, we will be able to determine how these “bannable” ideas or elements are or are not necessary for the books to function as cohesive narratives with specific themes. […]

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July 2015 in Review

July 2015 in Review

Posted 21 August, 2015 by Akilah in Uncategorized / 0 Comments

So this has been sitting in my drafts for weeks. I have no idea why I never posted it. I read eight books in July! Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed (YA) The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simsion (adult) Gotham Academy, Vol. 1: Welcome to Gotham Academy by Becky Cloonan and Brenden Fletcher, illustrated by Karl Kerschl (YA graphic novel) The Friendship Riddle by Megan Frazer Blakemore (middle grade) Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews (YA) The Living by Matt de la Peña (YA) The Conch Bearer by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni (middle grade) Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin (middle grade) And I even reviewed some of them on the blog! I also reviewed Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, but didn’t post it until August, so it’s not showing up in my nifty pre-populated list. With eight books read, I am […]

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Book Review: Tiger Eyes

Book Review: Tiger Eyes

Posted 14 August, 2015 by Akilah in Young Adult Lit / 1 Comment

I’ll just admit up front that this is my first time reading this book. Judy Blume wasn’t really on my radar when I was a kid, so I’m encountering most of her books as an adult. What do you say about a book that you really liked but don’t have a lot to say about? I don’t know, but I’ll try. The book is deceptively simple in its prose. However, main character Davey is dealing with a lot. Just…a lot. I loved the examination of fear and how it operates at a deep level of control and hypocrisy. I was nervous about Davey’s relationship with Wolf (he’s significantly older than her), but the cover was misleading in that regard, and their connection is well-developed and believable. There’s a great examination of race and class here as well as, of course, the look at grief and the different ways it manifests. […]

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The Artist’s Way: Reading Deprivation

The Artist’s Way: Reading Deprivation

Posted 3 August, 2015 by Akilah in Real Life / 2 Comments

I am currently on week four of the The Artist’s Way, and this week’s big task is the reading deprivation. The reading deprivation is exactly what it sounds like: no reading. For seven days. NO READING. FOR SEVEN DAYS. I am on day four and have officially hit the wall. I am so bored. I might be dying from boredom. It’s possible. So the thing about no reading is that it’s not just books, which is bad enough, really. The whole point of the reading deprivation is to not fill up on other people’s words. Here are the things she lists in the book that should be avoided: novels and newspapers (obviously) TV gossipy conversations radio Why? Because “for most blocked creatives, reading is an addiction. We gobble the words of others rather than digest our own thoughts and feelings, rather than cook up something of our own” (pg. 87). […]

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Audiobook Review: Where the Mountain Meets the Moon

Audiobook Review: Where the Mountain Meets the Moon

  This book is delightful. First of all, it’s a story told in stories, which makes it one big love letter to stories. Second, it’s based on Chinese folklore, which makes it a love letter to folklore. Third, Minli is pretty amazing, and I love her. She is up there with Ella of Frell for me. She’s smart and clever and kind. I love her, basically. The book also has an awesome message of the importance of gratitude and how to avoid sowing bitterness. It also shows why bitterness isn’t just bad for the bitter person, but those around that person. Plus, it’s a quest/road trip, which means meeting lots of interesting characters along the way. I also really enjoyed the narration in this book and the production of the narration. Janet Song gives the book a lyrical quality, almost like she’s reading a lullaby. Plus, there’s a little bit […]

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Recommendation Wednesday: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

Recommendation Wednesday: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

I really liked this book. The voice is so great–it really makes the novel. I also thought the humor was kind of random and spot on. I laughed several times while reading, though I wouldn’t be able to do a pull-quote. Most of it was contextual, and the way everything built up into a moment. The book is also not a traditional narrative; it’s told in lists and in screenplay format and regular prose. Playing with the format also adds to the voice. What I think really works well about this book is that though it’s about a boy who befriends a girl with cancer (she is the dying girl, obviously.), it’s not about cancer. It’s about how this kid (Greg) who is really closed off emotionally and pretty high strung and selfish processes and deals with someone he knows having cancer. His actions aren’t pretty and he’s very self-involved, […]

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Audiobook Review: The Conch Bearer

Audiobook Review: The Conch Bearer

  In an effort to expand my reading horizons, I decided to go through my Goodreads TBR and check out books listed there. Since I was looking for audiobooks, if the book I had listed wasn’t available, but another book by the author was, then I checked out that book. My plan, then, was to read Mistress of Spices, so that’s how I came across The Conch Bearer. I had no idea this was a middle grade fantasy book when I started the novel (not that it matters–I love middle grade), so I thought the book was going to deal with magical realism, not be straight up fantasy. However, I found that I liked the fantasy elements, especially since Anand’s experience with the conch seems to really be about someone who receives a spiritual calling. This book is not about religion, but when Anand communicates with the conch, it responds […]

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It’s time for Battle of the Books!

It’s time for Battle of the Books!

Posted 25 July, 2015 by Akilah in Real Life / 1 Comment

Every summer, our local library hosts a Battle of the Books for the teens from all the branches to come together and compete over books they read. IT IS AWESOME. Unfortunately, my daughter and I won’t be able to attend this year, so I decided to write this ode to the Battle of the Books instead. Okay, I just realized that’s misleading because it sounds like I’m going to write a poem about the event, and I’m not. But I am going to tell you why it rocks so hard.     1. It’s a battle that’s all about BOOKS. So basically it’s book nerdvana. There’s your auto-win right there.   2. The teens pick which three books they’re going to read. They vote! It’s very democratic.   3. They read all the books. This is probably the best part.   4. They get together to practice, which means nerding […]

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Adventures in Coloring

Adventures in Coloring

Posted 23 July, 2015 by Akilah in Uncategorized / 1 Comment

1. There are a lot (A LOT!) of coloring books for grown-ups out there. 2. Picking which coloring books to buy is an exercise in frustration AND fun. 3. Some of the books have so many details that it’s a little overwhelming. 4. However, I discovered that I actually do like the coloring books that have more detail. 5. I do not, however, have any interest in coloring pictures of nature, animals, or patterns. (Unicorns do not count as animals; they are jerks.) 6. Listening to audiobooks while coloring is A+++ (another idea I got from Andi!). 7. It is very, very easy to spend hours coloring. This is not necessarily a bad thing. 8. I can think a picture looks a hot mess while I’m coloring, and, in the end, it turns out fine. I think/hope I will get better at picking colors that go well together. 9. Coloring […]

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