Great Graphic Novels (#GGN2022) Featured Review of Renegade Rule by Ben Kahn, Rachel Silverstein, and Sam Beck

Renegade Rule Cover Art

Renegade Rule by Ben Kahn, Rachel Silverstein, and Sam Beck
Dark Horse Books
Publication Date: June 2, 2021
ISBN: 9781506718019

Renegade Rule follows up-and-coming team The Manhattan Mist as they compete for a spot in the national Renegade Rule Tournament. Renegade Rule is a virtual reality video game similar to capture the flag where two teams play against each other, trying to eliminate players from the other team or find the prize objective on different maps. The Manhattan Mist team is composed of four friends who enjoy spending time with each other and playing the game, all while handling other complications such as family illness, impostor syndrome, and more. 

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Graphic Novels and Comics to Enjoy for Black History Month — or anytime!

Thanks to YALSA member Annierra Matthews, a Research Services Librarian at Mercer University, for compiling this collection of excellent graphic novels and comics featuring Black characters and/or produced by Black creators. Click here for the fiction collection she curated earlier this month.

Bingo Love by Tee Franklin, Jenn St.-Onge, Joy San, and Genevieve FT

Bingo Love by Tee Franklin, Jenn St.-Onge, Joy San, and Genevieve FT: Hazel and Mari fall in love with each other at church bingo in ’63. Torn apart by others around them, they can’t be together. Years later, they meet again at bingo and find the bravery to share their love with the world.

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Amazing Audiobooks (#AA2020) Nominees Round Up, November 6 Edition

Click here to see all of the current Amazing Audiobooks nominees along with more information about the list and past years’ selections.

Pet by Akwaeke Emezi; Narrated by Christopher Myers
Listening Library / Random House Children’s Books
Publication Date: May 21, 2019
ISBN: 978-0593153994 

The residents of Lucille claim they’ve eradicated the monsters.  Angels of a generation past ensured the safety of all, Jam was taught that in school.  Statues honor the children whose names had been hashtagged battle cries, those who had died at the hands of the everyday monsters in a time of great violence and cruelty, back before the revolution.  But then Pet appears, clawing forth from Jam’s mother’s painting, a hulking and feathered creature born of Jam’s blood, a hunter in search of a monster in Jam’s plain sight.  Can Jam protect her best friend when joining Pet’s hunt means confronting a truth that others would rather stay buried?

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Great Graphic Novels (#GGN2020) Nominees Round Up, October 3 Edition

Click here to see all of the current Great Graphic Novels nominees along with more information about the list and past years’ selections.

LaGuardia by Nnedi Okorafor, art by Tana Ford
Berger Books
Publication Date: July 30, 2019
ISBN: 978-1506710754

In an alternate future where aliens have arrived and integrated into world society, Dr. Future, Nwafor Chukwuebuka, has just fled her home in Nigeria. Heavily pregnant and leaving her partner behind, Future lands at LaGuardia International and Interstellar Airport in New York with a secret: an illegal sentient alien plant named Letme Live, who is fleeing a genocide of his people. Future and Letme take refuge at the home of Future’s grandmother and settle in with a supportive community of human and alien immigrants and activists. But as the birth of her child grows closer, protests for and against alien immigration break out at home and abroad, and her partner searches for her from across the globe, Future must make choices that will change her world forever.

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Great Graphic Novels (#GGN2020) Nominees Round Up, June 13 Edition

Click here to see all of the current Great Graphic Novels nominees along with more information about the list and past years’ selections.

Shuri: The Search for Black Panther by Nnedi Okorafor, illustrated by Leonardo Romero
Publication date May 7, 2019
ISBN 978-1302915230

Shuri is more than just the Black Panther’s little sister—she’s the star of her own comics series in this graphic novel by bestselling Africanfuturist author Nnedi Okorafor and artist Leonardo Romero. Okorafor and Romero’s Shuri is thrilled with her own genius inventions, unsure of her place in the larger world, devoted to her family, and itching to get out of her big brother’s shadow. Shuri—intelligent, curious, and powerful—is more than up to the challenge when T’Challa disappears during Wakanda’s first manned space flight, but her mission to find her brother is complicated by astral projection, black holes, and pressure to take up the Black Panther mantle herself. The nation’s cry is “Wakanda forever”—but where does Shuri fit in, and what does she want for herself?

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#GGN2019 Nominees Round Up, October 4 Edition

Orphans, Vol. 1: The Beginning by Roberto Recchioni and Emiliano Mammucari
Lion Forge
Publication Date: June 26, 2018
ISBN: 978-1942367178

When an energy beam strikes the Earth, it kills a sixth of the world’s population. It was clearly an act of war by an alien planet. A scientist and a colonel gather together many of the surviving orphaned children to turn them into soldiers to invade the alien planet. The training is difficult and not everyone will survive, but after several years, they have created an elite force of soldiers. When they invade the planet they find a strange alien life form that has the ability to appear out of nowhere and kill without the use of weapons. The reader follows six orphans, all from Spain, as they figure out what they are dealing with and how to survive in this harsh environment, while protecting each other too. Each of the three chapters in this volume go back and forth between the original devastation of Earth, the training camp and the current invasion.

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#AA2019 Nominees Round Up, June 6 Edition

Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor, narrated by Yetide Badaki
Audio Published by Tantor Audio
Publication Date: March 30, 2018
ISBN: 9781977302427

Akata Witch follows the story of twelve-year-old Sunny who lives a life of liminality. She is an Albino Nigerian-American girl living in Nigeria where her peers call her “akata.”1 She feels she belongs nowhere and has no heritage until she discovers she is part of the magical world of the Leopard people. Within this world, she discovers not only true friendship and magical abilities; but, she discovers what true darkness and evil lie within the world too. Befriended by Orlu, Chichi, and Sasha, Sunny discovers the world of the Leopard people is a fascinating yet dangerous one. They study and train becoming a new Oha coven who are destined to carry the burden of the world due to their magical potential. The four combat the evil Black Hat Otokoto, who has been kidnapping children for blood magic and other diabolical purpose.

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Cute and Creepy Autumn Anime for Book Lovers

I love horror, but sometimes I crave a little sweetness mixed in with my scary stories. If you too enjoy some cuddles with your creep-outs here are a few anime titles that you may enjoy! Continue reading Cute and Creepy Autumn Anime for Book Lovers

Is This Just Fantasy? : Catching Up On Current Series

Just Fantasy catching upAs summer comes to a close, I inevitably look at my increasingly dusty ‘to be read’ piles and worry about the many books I failed to read during my vacation. Simultaneously, I peer towards the flood of shiny new titles set to be released over the next few months and I am overwhelmed.  This feeling only increases when I consider the number of current fantasy series with new installments hitting the shelves soon! It is a constant dilemma–how to catch up on current series while keeping up with the new ones? I admit I have yet discover a true solution but at the very least, I’ve found that it helps to step back and take stock of the current series that might be most timely to revisit.
Here are few series worth adding to any fantasy fan’s ‘catch up’ checklist.
of metal and wishesOf Metal and Wishes  – Sarah Fine (2015 Best Fiction for Young Adults)  Wen assists her father in the medical clinic that serves the Gochan One slaughterhouse. While Wen and her family are trapped by their debts to the factory, they remain better off than the Noor, workers brought in as cheap labor.  And now a ghost seems to be haunting the slaughterhouse– a of dreams and rustghost who will do anything to protect and please Wen. As Wen becomes increasingly involved with the Noor and their charismatic young leader, she must face both the volatile ‘ghost’ and the brutal system and decide if she dares to take a stand.
 The sequel, Of Dreams and Rust,  was just released earlier this month.
The Diviners – Libba Bray (2013 Best Fiction for Young Adultsdiviners
It’s 1926 and glamorous New York City is simply the only place to be—at least in small town flapper Evie O’Neill’s mind. So when her parents ship her off to visit her uncle in the Big Apple, Evie is thrilled. However, the trip also means staying in Uncle Will’s highly creepy museum and Evie is hiding her own supernatural secret. lair of dreamsThen, within days of her arrival, a young woman is found murdered and branded with strange occult symbols. Uncle Will is asked to consult on the case and soon Evie is in the middle of murder investigation—and perhaps something even more sinister.
 The long awaited sequel, Lair of Dreams, will be published the end of this month!
The Burning Sky – Sherry Thomas
the burning sky
Iolanthe Seabourne is an elemental mage with an special gift for fire.  Brought up in obscurity with her drug-addicted mentor, Iolanthe has never thought of her abilities as particularly extraordinary.  But when she pulls down a massive lightning strike from the sky in an attempt to mend a failed elixir, Iolanthe suddenly gains the attention of Prince Titus,  the young royal determined to follow through on his mother’s visions, revenge his family, and regain power over Atlantis.  Convinced that Iolanthe is the mage prophesied to battle and defeat the tyrannical ruler Bane, he leaps into action to hide her the immortal heightsin the non-magical world of London as they prepare for their possibly deadly fate.
The second book, The Perilous Sea, is currently available and the third volume, The Immortal Heights, is set to be released in October.

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Is This Just Fantasy?: It’s A White, White World–And That’s Got To Change.

Just Fantasy PoC fantasyAs a life-long devotee of fantasy fiction, I’ve frequently defended the value of stories that feature dragons, magically gifted heroines, or angst-ridden werewolves.  And while I’ve often stated that fantasy fiction isn’t necessarily an escape from reality simply because it includes magic or ghosts, even the most committed fan must acknowledge that the genre is incredibly disconnected from reality in fatal ways.  For one, fantasy fiction remains an overwhelmingly white world–an area of literature where you might find vampires or psychic detectives but rarely characters of color.

This lack of diversity is a widespread problem in young adult literature and the larger publishing industry but speculative fiction is especially guilty of inequitable representation within its stories and industry.  Just last week, The Guardian published an article by speculative fiction author & essayist Daniel José Older  discussing the insidious ways that systemic racism and white privilege has permeated the science fiction and fantasy publishing & fan communities.  At last month’s YALSA Young Adult Literature Symposium, there was an entire panel titled “Where Are The Heroes of Color in Fantasy & Sci-Fi?”, which Hub blogger Hannah Gómez recapped with great accuracy & insight.

So, how do we, as readers, fans, & promoters of these genres, demand & nurture fiction with imaginary worlds as diverse as the one we live in?  To start, we need to read, buy, promote, and request titles by and about people of color.  Accordingly, I pulled together some authors and titles to check out, focusing on fiction that falls on the fantasy side of speculative fiction.  This list is far from comprehensive; for more titles, I recommend checking out Lee & Low’s genre-specific Pinterest board, Diversity in YA, and We Need Diverse Books.

High Fantasy

2004 Edwards Award winnerearthsea Ursula K. Le Guin has long been considered one of the best and most beloved high fantasy writers; she’s also consistently written stories with people of color as protagonists–although film adaptions & book covers have often blatantly ignored this, white-washing characters like Ged, the brown-skinned protagonist of A Wizard of Earthsea.  The 2013 Edwards Award winner Tamora Pierce also includes characters of color in her novels; her Emelan books feature both black & multiracial protagonists.

silver phoenixFans of thrilling adventures & complex heroines should try novels by Cindy Pon, Ellen Oh, or Malinda Lo for rich high fantasy tales rooted in a variety of East Asian cultures.  Cindy Pon’s lush & exciting Silver Phoenix and its sequel, The Fury of the Phoenix follow young Ai Ling as she discovers her unique abilities and battles an ancient evil based in the royal palace. Ellen Oh’s Dragon King Chronicles (beginning with Prophecy) also focuses on a powerful young woman struggling to embrace her destiny–the yellow-eyed demon slayer Kira who might be the key to saving the Seven Kingdoms from destruction.  Malinda Lo’s Ash (2010 Morris Award finalist, 2014 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults and Huntress (2012 Best Fiction for Young Adults, 2012 Rainbow List, 2012 Amelia Bloomer List) are richly imagined, romantic novels I recommend to all fantasy readers! Continue reading Is This Just Fantasy?: It’s A White, White World–And That’s Got To Change.