So I’ve Also Been Reading: Runaways by Brian K. Vaughn and Adrian Alphona (artist)

runaways In July, one of favorite authors, Rainbow Rowell  announced her next project would be writing a new series of Marvel’s Runaways, we were intrigued.  True I was hoping she would be releasing a new novel.  It’s been over a year since Carry On came out.  I wasn’t all that familiar with Runaways. I knew of them from all the years shelving graphic novels while working at Barnes and Noble but never really paid much attention.  Well, the Runaways are having a moment.  Not only are they being revived by Rowell but next year Hulu is premiering a TV show based on them.  I’m a big fan of Rowell’s.  I enjoy her writing so for the first time I’m going to read issue by issue instead of waiting for Trades to come out because let’s be honest, even with a star writer and an only cult following there is no guarantee that they will come out in trade.  I didn’t even know you could pre-order comic books like you can book books!  It’s a whole new world for me people.  I’ve decided that even though Rowell’s Runaways is a reboot so I don’t need to be a fan to runaway, I would go ahead and read the previous stories.  So far, I’ve made it through the original series by Brian K. Vaughn and artist Adrian Alphona (2003-2004) and they are delightful.  I can see why so many people latched on to them.  It follows a group of teenagers with seemingly nothing in common except for once a year they are forced together as their parents get together to catch up and fund raise for charities.  Alex, Nico, Karolina, Gert, Chase and Molly discover that their parents are not who they think they are.  They are in fact super-villains and they call themselves the Pride.  They runaway as they try to figure out what to do next.  They also discover that some of them have powers of their own.  Molly is mutant with super strength.  Karolina is actually from another planet and has the ability to fly and glow. Nico is a kind of a sorceress who can cast spells. Gert has a psychic connection to a dinosaur.  That’s right a dinosaur!  Being a teenager is hard enough but being a teenager on the run from your evil parents while trying to figure out how to use your powers is down right stressful!  It’s a full cast of diverse characters with different backgrounds and different personalities.  I’m quite enjoying them.  Now on to the next series.

Diverse Stacks, Diverse Lives Narrator Reading Challenge UPDATE

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We are now halfway through June so I can accurately say we are halfway through the year.  It’s time to check in and see how we are doing with our reading challenges.  This year we decided to split up our Diverse Stacks, Diverse Lives Reading challenge into two different.  One for authors and one for narrators.  I’m doing the Narrators and I have to say, I’m doing pretty well.  Now, I think there may be a few arguments over some of my books but who doesn’t love a good debate?  Going off my list of the books I’ve read, I discovered that there were a few things we should have discussed before setting the challenge out.  For instance, can you use the same book for different categories if they have more then one Narrator?  I’m going to go with yes because you are getting different perspectives from different characters.  So  here we go.

  1.  Book with a Queer Narrator: The Dark Prophecy by Rick Riordan.  Narrator: Apollo.  Ok, so this maybe a stretch because as Kate asked me Can we apply modern categories of sexuality to ancient Gods?  Well I don’t know, but in The Dark Prophecy, Apollo is currently exiled to Earth as a mortal and while being on Earth has shown equal interest in both Men and Women.  So, in the context of the book, I’m counting it.
  2. Book with a African American Narrator: March Vols. 1-3 by Congressman John Lewis. Narrator: John Lewis
  3. Book with characters from various socio-economic backgrounds Silver Stars by Michael Grant.  Narrators: Frangie, Rainey and Rio
  4. Books with Asian American Narrator: Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han and The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon. Narrators: Lara Jean and Daniel.  I decided to count both since they are both Asian Americans but they have very different perspectives on growing up in America.  Lara Jean is definitely your more typical middle class teenage girl who grew up in the suburbs.  She’s also mixed because of her Dad is white so she straddles both sides.  Daniel grew up in New York City and is the son of two immigrant parents. (I thought about using Natasha from The Sun is also a Star as my African American Narrator but technically speaking she’s not American as her family was living in the US illegally)
  5. Book with a Narrator who has survived abuse: A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas. Narrator : Feyre.  I really could have picked any character in this book but since it’s all from Feyre’s point of view she gets the top billing.
  6. A Book with a Mexican Narrator: Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare. Narrator: Cristina.  I admit I maybe stretching it a little thin with this one.  Cristina is one of six narrators in Lord of Shadows and not one of the two main characters but she is an important to the story as a whole so for now I’m counting it but it might change before the year is out.
  7. A Book with a Muslim Narrator: Ms. Marvel Vols. 2-4 by G. Willow Wilson. Narrator: Kamala
  8. A Book with a Jewish Narrator: Silver Stars by Michael Grant. Narrator: Rainey I know that I have already used Silver Stars before but Rainey is a fascinating character.  I love reading her.
  9. A Book with an atheist Narrator: Believe Me by Eddie Izzard. Narrator: Eddie Izzard.  He doesn’t go too much into his atheism but he does make it very clear he doesn’t believe in any god.

9 out of 15 is pretty good.  Even if you take out the few iffy ones, I’m still over halfway done with my challenge.  How are you doing?

March: Discussion Part 4

9781603093958_p0_v6_s192x300Today is the last day of February and as such the last day of our group read of John Lewis’ March. Were you able to finish all three volumes of March?  What are your final observations?  What will you take away from John Lewis’ story?  I was really moved by his story but it also illustrated my own privilege.  There are many small things that I have taken for granted. Obviously, I was raised in a different time and place but I’ve never had to worry about where I had to sit on a bus or be concerned about what truck stops to stops at when traveling with my family.  My life would never be threatened because I wanted to register vote.  Even now,. as more and more states tighten of voting laws, I don’t feel that my constitutional rights will be threatened but I do worry for minorities and marginalized groups having their rights stripped away.  We have not come as far as we think we have.  Old prejudice are hard die and I worry about how much farther we will fall back.  It’s also makes me think about what I’m willing to go to jail for or willing to be beaten for.  I’m not really sure.  This year, I’ve already participated in my first protest march and have called my Congress representatives more then I have ever in the past.  I’m not sure I have the bravery of John Lewis and Fannie Lou Hamer, Rosa Parks and so many others.  I seriously hope that it won’t come to that.  That we will be able to keep our protest peaceful and those we opposed will to as well.  The importance of this book is so we don’t forget the mistakes of our past.  To remind all of us about our history so we are not doomed to repeat it.  Knowledge is truly power.

 

 

March: Discussion Part 3

9781603093958_p0_v6_s192x300I would like to discuss the format. What do you think about John Lewis presenting this story as a graphic novel instead of a straight narrative story?  I personally, I loved it.  I think it was kind of genius. It’s one thing to read about the sit-ins, marches and the violence that followed but it’s another thing to have it visualized.  The illustrations are truly powerful and really make his story and the story of the Civil Rights movement come to life.  The graphic novel format also makes it more accessible.  How many kids or teens willing read history books?  All three books were quick reads but still powerful.  Giving the readers a full look of all the challenges that John Lewis and the movement faced.  The sacrifices that they made, knowing that they could be arrested or killed.  The visual aspect of the novel makes all of these more powerful because the illustrations are simple, yet specific.

Do you agree with me? What do you think of the presentation?

March: Discussion Part 2

9781603093958_p0_v6_s192x300 Hello, Beth here.  

I have had many reactions to this trilogy so far. I’ll admit it’s not an easy read as there are a lot of hard truths here. The question I keep asking myself is how can I be shocked when I know what’s going to happen? I know my history. I know this was not one of America’s proudest moments in our history. I studied in school about the protests and violent reaction to them. I’ve read about Emmit Till, Medger Evers and Freedom Rides.  So why am I’m still shocked to read how violent they were? How am I still shocked to read how angry, hurtful and full of hate people can be? It’s not like they were asking for huge things. They wanted to eat at the counters of stores they just bought merchandise in. They wanted to go to the movies. They wanted to ride the bus. They wanted to vote. How are any of these extraordinary requests? How am I still shocked by these when the news lately are full of people saying angry, hurtful and full of hate? Why do I feel like we are repeating history?

What is everyone else’s reactions so far?

Ms. Marvel is the hero we need now

ms-marvel-trump If you are like Kate and I then you are horrified about the actions of the current administration. All throughout the campaign, through his transition period, we were told not to take what Trump says seriously. He isn’t going to build a wall. He wasn’t going to ban an entire religion. He has seriously begun one and made steps to do the other. I’m almost afraid to turn on the news or go online. Even if you try to avoid social media, you can’t escape the outside world entirely.  Really, for the first time, I truly feel afraid. I have now lived in New York City for almost nine years.  I work on the World Trade Center.  Everyday I am reminded of the terrible effects of what terrorism does to people, to cities, to nations and to the world.  I see the hatred, but I also see what comes after.  The love and caring for perfect strangers, the kindness that brings us all together after such horrific events.  Since moving to New York, there have been two possible attacks and yet I have never been afraid.  I have never been scared of being injured in a terrorist attack until the last couple of days.  In one day, he has made us more of a target than we were before.  He turned his back on our American ideals. I understand wanting to keep our country safe.  I want to keep our country safe and the current Immigration Order will in no way keep us safe.

Last year I started reading Ms. Marvel Graphic Novels.  Ms. Marvel’s alter-ego is Kamala Khan,  a Pakistani-American Muslim teenager from New Jersey.  She is a normal American teenager.  She reads comics and writes fan-fiction about the Avengers. When she meets her idols like Wolverine and Captain America she freaks out like any of us would.  She cares for her friends and her family. Like most kids, she toes the line between fitting with her friends and making her parents proud.  She is full of confidence and insecurities. She has doubts and fears about what she has done and what she could do.  When she comes into her power, the first thing she does is save a fellow student who bullied her earlier in the comic without hesitation.  When her best friend’s brother gets in trouble, she puts her fear aside and puts on her costume and goes to the rescue.  She does this because her religion tells her to help others if she has the ability to.  Isn’t that what we all should strive for?  Isn’t that what we all should be doing?  If you have the ability to help someone, shouldn’t you?  Even if they are a stranger to you?  Kamala Khan is a brave girl who goes out into her community and her city and helps those in need because she loves her city and community.  She is brave. Muslim, Christian, Jewish, White, Black, Asian, LGBTQ+. We could all use a little bit of bravery right now.  We all could use a little Ms. Marvel in us and we need to remind our representatives and our President of that, too.  Ms. Marvel and Kamala Khan are the Heroes we need right now.

Review: Ms. Marvel Vols 2-4 by G. Willow Wilson

generation-why Ms. Marvel is every fan girl or boy who has ever wrote or read fan-fiction or squeed over their favorite celebrity.  She is everyone who has every suffered from self doubt but still fought through it.  She is everyone who still sees the good even though she has seen some pretty awful things.  Ms. Marvel is a hero.  I love her.  She is beyond funny.  She is smart. She is brave. She is relatable.  She is everything you want in in a hero.  Why isn’t she in the Marvel Cinematic Universe yet?

Since vol. 1, Ms. Marvel has defeated the Inventor.  Fought along side Wolverine and Captain Marvel and took down Loki. She’s making a name for herself. She discovered that she is an Inhuman, which I’m not sure what that is.  I think it has to do with the Kree, who we met in the Guardians of the Galaxy. I think.  I guess somewhere in her families past, they got some Kree blood in their bloodline and when the terrigan gas released that part of her DNA to give her superpowers.  This makes them different from Mutants and the X-Men because their powers are just natural part of human evolution.  Yeah, that sounds right.  Like the X-Men, there are good Inhumans and bad Inhumans and for Ms. Marvel, they may be the most dangerous foes of all.  In Crushed, Kamala meets Kamran, the son of an old family friend.  He’s perfect. He likes World of Warcraft, he’s Muslim and he is also Inhuman.  He kidnaps Kamala to get her to join in him in and off short of Inhumans who feel that their abilities make them superior to other humans and they should rule. When she turns him down and escapes, he then goes after her brother and tries to turn him.  He’s not a good guy but do you know who is a good guy? Bruno..Kamala’s best friend and really the closest thing she has to a sidekick.  He’s always there when she needs him, no questions ask.  I’m totally shipping Kamala and Bruno but I agree with Kamala decision that with everything that is going on.  Her powers, her family, high school that she needs to focus on her.  She’s only 16.  Romance can wait.  Now Last Days sort of ended on a hopeful but also the world is ending kinda note, that I need to read the next volume ASAP!  Ms. Marvel is truly the best!

Review: Ms. Marvel No Normal by G. Willow Wilson

ms-marvel You don’t need to be a girl, Muslim or a superhero to identify with Kamala Khan.  She’s your typical teenage girl living in the world of social media and SAT’s.  She wants to fit in with the kids at school but also please her family.  She wants to be her own person and not be defined by her gender, race or religion.  She wants to make a difference and help people and when she is given that chance she jumps right in.  Kamala lives in Jersey City, NJ and loves the Avengers. She even writes fan-fiction about them, which I would really love to read. Are those anywhere online?  Like all parents, her parents want the best of her and to them that means that she follows her Islamic teachings and listen to her parents.  Kamala is a girl fof both worlds, she is a Muslim but also an American teenager.  She wants to go to parties and do normal teenage things.  One night she sneaks out of her house to go to a party when a mysterious fog rolls in.  Soon Kamala is having a vision of Captain Marvel and she finds out that she has morphed into Carol Danvers old identity of Ms. Marvel.  A not so nice girl from the party is in trouble she saves here.  When the brother of his best friend, Bruno, gets into some big trouble Kamala uses her new powers to help.  Bruno is also a genius and just so happened to developed  a new compound that makes her clothes stretch when she does.  To say that Kamala is likable would be an understatement.  When she gains her powers she doesn’t shy away from them but embraces them.  Just like her heroes, she doesn’t hesitate to help those in need.  Even when of those is the girl that just made fun of her earlier in the evening.  I’ve already bought the other volumes in this series.  I can’t wait to read them.

What I’m Also Reading Now: Ms. Marvel No Normal by G. Willow Wilson

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B&N had a sale on Marvel and DC comics, buy 2 get the 3rd one free. So, I got this one, the latest collection of Black Panther and Vol. 1 of A Force.  Super excited to read about new and different heroes!