Stamped from the Beginning is an exhaustive history of the development and perpetuation of racist ideas in America. Historian Ibram X. Kendi argues that all ideas about race belong to one of three major philosophies, which he refers to as segregationist, assimilationist or anti-racist. Kendi demonstrates that the history of race relations is a story of the three-way debate between these ideas. Understanding this ongoing conflict gives readers some perspective on America's racial past and provides a framework for interpreting race relations today. This book could have been a very dry, 600-page, chronological inventory of facts and figures, but Kendi chose to frame the history lesson around five life stories, making it much more engaging. Each section of the book follows the life of a different public intellectual, chosen to represent the dominant racial beliefs of their respective eras. This is an essential read for anyone interested in understanding the current state of race relations.
This book takes a look at a World War II figure that many overlook, Deputy Fhrer Rudolf Hess. After years of being excluded from Hitler's inner circle, Hess devised an insane idea to get himself back in the good graces of the Fhrer. All on his own, Hess stole a plane and flew to Scotland in May 1941. The plan was to find an old acquaintance, Douglas Hamilton, Scottish nobleman and Duke of Hamilton. The expectation was that the Duke would get Hess an introduction to Winston Churchill, at which point Hess would broker a peace between Great Britain and Germany so the Nazis could focus all their efforts on a single front against the Soviet Union. As can be expected, nothing went according to plan. A multitude of problems plagued his daring mission, ranging from his inability to land the aircraft to being captured by a confused Scottish farmer. This book discuses many questions that have circulated around this event: Why did Hess really fly to Scotland? Had Hitler authorized this plan? Was British Intelligence involved? It is a fascinating look at the madness of Rudolf Hess and illustrates that sometimes history is stranger than fiction.
'dem crawfish ain't the only thing happenin' in da bayou
What do you get when you mix sibling rivalry, family dysfunction, slimy land tycoons, aspirations of political grandeur, the thrill and danger of the Louisiana swamp, an uptight city girl and an irresistible Cajun bad-boy with an artistic heart of gold? You get a compelling story full of deceit, greed, anger, lust, love and betrayal. As you navigate the twists and turns of the book, you will find your skin crawling at the underhanded dealings of the antagonists. The imagery presented leaves you picturing the hidden beauty and violence of the bayou, all the while becoming a cheerleader for the antagonists. A very good read, whether you prefer mystery or romance.
All Oscar wants is love and happiness, but there's this curse
Disguised at first as a casual romp through the life of a young nerd named Oscar, Diaz unveils the literary equivalent of chaos theory. Immediately, we fall in love with Oscar, and we see how the world around him complicates his life in full Murphy's Law fashion, from his troubled sister to his tortured mother, to his inability to meet society's expectations of masculinity. Somehow, Diaz has beautifully created a pageturner somewhere between joy and longing.
Everywoman Ellie Jordan works for Eckhart Investigations as a private detective... with a specialization in the ghosts haunting Savannah's historic homes, hotels, farms and everywhere in between. Ellie and her partner/tech advisor/trainee Stacey Ray are very genuine characters. They're plucky, funny and brave in the face of danger. It's easy to imagine them doing what they're doing - and sometimes making it up as they go along. They're as relatable as they can be while facing down the darker side of their city. In this story, the first in a series, Ellie is called in to unravel the mystery behind a territorial ghost trying to drive a family out of their new home. What makes this so much fun is that Ellie is such a strong character, and it's easy to believe in her and her ability to figure things out and save the day. I have a huge soft spot for women who are doing the rescuing, and this book does that in spades. I was surprised by how much I liked this, and maybe you will be too!
After reading Bellatin's beautiful but heartbreaking Beauty Salon, I had to explore more of his work, but I wasn't quite ready for these imaginary autobiographies that intentionally belie all expectations of how narrative should unfold, which can be bewildering. Once that's been accepted, the journey is worth it.
When a high-ranking Wall Street executive is found ritually murdered in his home, a New York City detective must delve into the dark underbelly of international finance. Jonathan Hickman has a real thing for occult forces corrupting the highest levels of power, and has finally managed to build a whole series around the idea. Hickman's knack for cryptic, ominous narration and acid-tongued dialogue works like gangbusters. Illustrator Tomm Coker brings the characters to vivid life, balancing his own sketchy, impressionistic style with incredibly lifelike renderings. A real dark delight. Imagine if True Detective actually delivered on its supernatural Lovecraftian allusions.
A mysterious sombrero falls out of the sky and causes a small town to burst into chaos as a man tries not to call his ex-girlfriend. If there was ever a "Brautigan" plot, Sombrero Fallout is the one. He's fantastic at finding the beauty in life, along with the tragic. He writes simply and straight to the point. You can tell why he was Haruki Murakami's favorite author. I don't hear too many people talk about this one, which is a shame. It's his most absurd but also most poignant.
A modern superhero tale in the classic 'shonen' format
My Hero Academia is the story of a version of our world where people are born with Quirks - superpowers that can range from making a pencil float to shooting explosions out of their hands. It follows Izuku Midoriya, a boy born "Quirkless", but regardless of this he wants nothing more than to grow up and be like the number one hero in the world, All Might. Kohei Horikoshi takes the modern popularity of the superhero world and aptly puts it in the "shonen" (obstacle) jump format - a popular format of manga storytelling. My Hero Academia is a must-read for any fan of the manga superhero or shonen genre.
by Miura, Kentaro/ Deangelis, Jason/ Nakrosis, Dan
The ultimate tale of vengeance about a man doomed by fate
Berserk is the long-running story of Guts, a man doomed by fate, constantly forced to overcome every struggle to survive and get his revenge on the one man he viewed as his equal, Griffith. Kentaro Miura's series has been going on since the late '90s and still continues to this day; a true testament to excellent storytelling and incredible world-building. No manga/anime fan should miss it.
Deftly blending humor, horror and social satire, Palahniuk's latest is a winding political thriller that speaks volumes about our current political landscape, and where we as a country could be possibly heading. If you find yourself to be included in what they call the "Millennial" generation, it truly is a must-read.
In this alternative history, shamblers (zombies) rise from the ground at the battle of Gettysburg. From here, the history of the United States takes an unexpected turn. Jane McKeene, our headstrong, brave, biracial, female protagonist is enrolled in a combat school. Once Black and Native American children reach a certain age, they are forced to join these combat schools to learn how to kill shamblers as well as to learn "proper etiquette." The plot was thought-provoking and suspenseful. There was a balance of fighting, romance and strong female characters that find themselves in some messed up situations. I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a good zombie read, or if they're just looking for a thrill.
Q: What has superheroes, hard science, real feminism *and* talking squirrels? A: The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl! I'm not sure who loves Squirrel Girl more: me or my five-year-old. Why? Ryan North's plots are exciting, funny and intelligent. Erica Henderson's drawings are engaging and portrays our hero in realistic human proportions. Squirrel Girl can, and does, beat the bad guys through punches and fighting, but she prefers to use science and/or friendship. In no other comic does the hero win by using Galileo's Square-Cube Principal (and explain how Pym Particles and Gamma Rays circumvent it). In no other comic book does a fight end with phrases like "mutually acceptable compromise" or "while I don't agree with you, I respect your lived experience." Wherever she goes, Squirrel Girl makes more friends than enemies, and carries her determined optimism into every situation, no matter how dire. And that, in the end, is why she is, and always will be, Unbeatable.
A double-historical novel, where a character from the past goes to a different past which turns out to be nothing like she was told. Thirteen-year-old Sophie doesn't want to spend the summer with her aunt and ancient grandmamma at the old plantation deep in the bayou, but she doesn't have a choice. But once she's there, her summer doesn't seem so bad. She swims in the bayou and avoids her grandmamma's stories about the good old days. Sophie draws the attention of a trickster spirit, who grants her wish to go back and see the plantation in its glory days. In 1858, her great-great-grandmother assumes that she must be the daughter of Uncle Robert, her profligate son living in New Orleans, and one of his enslaved women. From her family's "generosity", Sophie is sent to be trained as a house slave. Sophie's 1960 life was mundane but her 1858 life is chilling. I cannot say enough good things about the Freedom Maze. It's an important book about the random cruelty of America's past. It is a children's book, but everyone should read it.
I have been an avid follower of Rick Riordan's work since Mark of Athena came out back in 2014, and The Burning Maze does not disappoint. Quirky and hilarious, yet somehow still heart-wrenching, this book will keep you guessing at every turn. Even I was surprised, and I thought I knew all of Riordan's tricks!
My book club was reading this, and to be very honest, I was a little skeptical at first. Printed back in the late 1800s, I was worried it would be drawn-out and boring, but Jane Austen changed my mind immediately. Elizabeth Bennett thinks she can understand anyone's background and mannerisms just by meeting them once. Fitzwilliam Darcy is a socially awkward Duke that likes his small group of friends, and doesn't want anything to do with anyone else. Pride and Prejudice is the story of these two beautiful characters discovering that maybe they don't quite understand how the world works after all. I would seriously recommend this book to anyone who loves the classics and romance.
One of the best books based on Greek Mythology I've read
I cannot accurately express how much I loved this book. Novels based around Greek Mythology rarely have good, strong female protagonists - and even rarer are novels that have sensitive, strong female protagonists. Circe is all of the above and more. The way Miller makes Circe both nurturing and powerful enough to scare the gods is so inspiring. A definite must-read for anyone.
A necromantic legal thriller (seriously, need I say more?)
In a world where magic is based on bargains struck between gods and mortals, and magicians act suspiciously like lawyers, Max Gladstone has managed to effortlessly blend two genres I thought were like oil and water: the fantasy adventure and the legal thriller. The setting feels familiar, a world that is refreshingly modern in tone, yet is unmistakably not-our-own by virtue of its strangeness. The plot moves at a swift pace, and the characters are sketched with talent and a steady hand. I devoured the whole book in a sitting, and immediately did everything I could to get my hands on the next in the series.
Just six days into Mars mission Ares 3, astronaut Mark Watney wakes to find that he has been left behind on the surface. With no way to contact Earth, Mark draws on his plant biology and engineering degrees to stay alive until the Ares 4 mission landing. Watney's irrepressible humor in the face of impossible odds keeps you engaged and makes the over 400-page book a quick read.
Cautionary tale about the dangers of mixing alcohol and small mammals
This is a great parody of the If You Give a Mouse a Cookie books, which most of us grew up reading. Very humorous and the satire is on point - but definitely not a book for the whole family. I can't wait until the other books in the series come out.