ANNOUNCEMENT
After a lot of thought, I've decided to take a break from blogging for the foreseeable future. With my little C creeping its way back into my life and possible long term treatment now, I need to take a couple of things off my plate for the time being, and the blog is going to be one of those things. As it is, it felt like it was becoming more of a chore than anything else. I need my reading time to be more enjoyable right now, more of the escape that I really need, and what I don't need is the little voice in the back of my head telling me how many reviews I'm behind and trying to come up with what I need to say about the book.

I simply want to read.

I'll more than likely occasionally post on here what I've been reading, and if there is something that really blows my mind, I'll probably have more to say about it and may write up a proper post, but for right now, things are going to be very quiet around here.

As always, happy reading!
2017 edit
I will continue to blog according to my health and ability, and connecting my posts thru Goodreads, so please be patient if things get quiet around here again this year.

2017 edit #2
I am happy to report that my bone marrow transplant was a success and that I'm feeling more like myself everyday. That said, I'm going to try to start blogging a little more frequently, but please bear with me as I still continue to recover.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

69. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Century: 1910 by Alan Moore, illustrated by Kevin O'Neill

#69

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Title: The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Century: 1910
Related Series: The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
Authors: Alan Moore, illustrated by Kevin O'Neill
Copyright: 2009
Pages: 80
ISBN: 9781603090001
Publisher: Knockabout Comics
Format: Paperback
Rating: 2.5/5 stars
Finished: 7-29-10
Challenge: 100 Books 10, 1010 Challenge (Graphic novel category)

To be honest, I was not nearly as impressed with this volume of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen as I was with the first two volumes. This is only the first part of a larger story, so hopefully it will improve as the story progresses.

I think part of the problem is that Alan Moore was a little too literarily vague. I mean, I don't mind researching a character to find out more about them and to understand their place in the story, but when well more than half of the cast of the story needs to be researched, that becomes too much of a chore for me. Maybe I'm just not as well-read as I think I am, but it rather struck me that Moore is trying to show us how much smarter he is than the rest of us by using such vague characters.

The current version of the League (Mina Murray, Quartermain "Jr", Orlando, Raffles & Carnacki - if you don't know who they all are, look them up like I had to do) are trying to stop an apocalyptic premonition that Carnacki has. By the end of the volume, I'm still not sure if they know what the premonition is all about or not. Again, it all seems rather vague. Hopefully the story will improve, but if the next volume isn't any better, I can honestly say that I'm not sure that I will care to read the final volume.

Overall, a real "meh" feeling with this one.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Today's literary birthday

Today we celebrate Beatrix Potter's birthday (1866), creator of Peter Rabbit.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Man Booker Prize 2010 Longlist announced

The Man Booker Prize 2010 Longlist has been announced.

The Man Booker Prize is awarded to the best original novel written in the English language in the British Commonwealth or the Republic of Ireland. You can read more on the history of the prize here.

Monday, July 26, 2010

68. Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card

#68

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Title: Ender's Game
Related Series: Ender's Game
Author: Orson Scott Card
Copyright: 1985 (1994)
Pages: 384
ISBN: 9780812550702
Publisher: Tor
Author Website: www.hatrack.com
Twitter: @torbooks
Format: Audiobook
Rating: 5/5 stars
Finished: 7-26-2010
Challenge: 100 Books 10, 1010 Challenge (Scifi category)

From Amazon:
Winnocser of the Hugo and Nebula Awards

In order to develop a secure defense against a hostile alien race's next attack, government agencies breed child geniuses and train them as soldiers. A brilliant young boy, Andrew "Ender" Wiggin lives with his kind but distant parents, his sadistic brother Peter, and the person he loves more than anyone else, his sister Valentine. Peter and Valentine were candidates for the soldier-training program but didn't make the cut—young Ender is the Wiggin drafted to the orbiting Battle School for rigorous military training.

Ender's skills make him a leader in school and respected in the Battle Room, where children play at mock battles in zero gravity. Yet growing up in an artificial community of young soldiers Ender suffers greatly from isolation, rivalry from his peers, pressure from the adult teachers, and an unsettling fear of the alien invaders. His psychological battles include loneliness, fear that he is becoming like the cruel brother he remembers, and fanning the flames of devotion to his beloved sister.

Is Ender the general Earth needs? But Ender is not the only result of the genetic experiments. The war with the Buggers has been raging for a hundred years, and the quest for the perfect general has been underway for almost as long. Ender's two older siblings are every bit as unusual as he is, but in very different ways. Between the three of them lie the abilities to remake a world. If, that is, the world survives.

Holy wow, but did I love this book! My friend Kristin has been after me for years to read it, and for one reason or another, I've never gotten around to it, and for that I am sorry. The book is compelling, touching, riveting, exciting, thrilling... well, I could just go on.

Maybe I'm a little too excited as I just finished listening to the audiobook (which is exceptionally produced), but I couldn't get over how much the story pulled me in. I found that I was genuinely concerned for Ender's well-being and the outcome of his story.

The Earth has been at war with the Bugger's (an insectoid alien race who have attempted two previous invasions) and in preparation of a third invasion, the world's governments have been training the smartest children they have to become commanders in the army. Sent off at an early age to Battle School, these children live and breathe the battle games that they play to learn the techniques necessary for battle. Ender Wiggin is possibly the brightest student that Battle School has ever seen, and will be the final answer to the Bugger invasion. If he can't defeat the impending invasion, the Earth may not have a chance. It is Ender's growth, however, that truly makes this story so unforgettable.

I really don't want to give too much away about the story and ruin what Ender has to go through at Battle School, but needless to say, you may not be able to step away from this story once started.

Highly recommended.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

67. Fair Weather by Richard Peck

#67

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Title: Fair Weather
Author: Richard Peck
Copyright: 2003
Pages: 146
ISBN: 9780439430340
Publisher: Puffin
Format: Paperback
Rating: 3.5/5 stars
Finished: 7-20-10
Challenge: 100 Books 10, 1010 Challenge (Fiction category)

From Amazon:
Thirteen-year-old Rosie Beckett has never strayed further from her family's farm than a horse can pull a cart. Then a letter from her Aunt Euterpe arrives, and everything changes. It's 1893, the year of the World's Columbian Exposition-the "wonder of the age"-a.k.a. the Chicago World's Fair. Aunt Euterpe is inviting the Becketts to come for a visit and go to the fair! Award-winning author Richard Peck's fresh, realistic, and fun-filled writing truly brings the World's Fair-and Rosie and her family-to life.

Richard Peck's story of Rosie Beckett's adventure to the 1893 World's Columbian Expo is, in a word, enchanting. This was my first time reading anything by Peck, and I'm sure to find more by him.

Rosie, her mother, sister and brother are invited by their Aunt Euterpe to travel to Chicago to see the World's Fair. Their mother decides not to go, but thinks it might be a good idea to send the children. Never having traveled farther from home than their horse could travel, Chicago might as well have been an entirely different country for the children. Upon arriving in Chicago, through several accidents of fate, the children and their Aunt's lives are never going to be quite the same. Sprinkled throughout with historical names and places from Chicago's past, Peck deftly recreates that White City and the people that made it happen.

I love the city of Chicago. I visit there all the time, and someday would like to live there. When I can't make it to the city, I love to read about it, and one of my favorite subjects is the World's Fair. I would have loved to have been there, to have seen it firsthand and feel that rush of the possibility of tomorrow that it brought to so many people and Peck's book delivers that thrill through the eyes of his characters.

Recommended.

Book reorganization

So, this weekend my friends, Sarah and Steve, came over to help me get my books reorganized, and it was a complete success! I get a little overzealous in my organizing sometimes as I like to have all of my book alphabetized by author, and over the last couple of months, my shelves were getting rather disorganized and I was getting discouraged at not always knowing where a particular book is.

In the midst of the the "Great Book Migration" (as I was calling it), I was also working through a "Great Book Purge". There were several books on my shelves that I knew I wouldn't be reading again (or at all, in some cases), so away those went. I'll have to see if I can get an exact count on how many books left my shelves.

Now, to try to figure out what to read next. I was working my way through a pile of books that were stacked on the floor next to my bed, but those have been added into my regular books now, so I don't know where to start. Part of me is thinking about just selecting a bookshelf and reading through the books on that shelf that I haven't read yet, just to get an eclectic choice of books. We'll see. No matter how I go around it though, I'm grateful for having my books in order again!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

66. The Adventures of the Princess and Mr. Whiffle: The Thing Beneath the Bed by Patrick Rothfuss, illustrated by Nate Taylor

#66

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Title: The Adventures of the Princess and Mr. Whiffle: The Thing Beneath the Bed
Authors: Patrick Rothfuss, illustrated by Nate Taylor
Copyright: 2010
Pages: 72
ISBN: 9781596063136
Publisher: Subterranean Press
Author Website: www.patrickrothfuss.com
Format: Hardcover
Rating: 3.5/5 stars
Finished: 7-16-10
Challenge: 100 Books 10, 1010 Challenge (Fantasy cateogry)

From Amazon:
This is not a book for children.

It looks like a children's book. It has pictures. It has a saccharine-sweet title. The main characters are a little girl and her teddy bear. But all of that is just protective coloration. The truth is, this is a book for adults with a dark sense of humor and an appreciation of old-school faerie tales.

There are three separate endings to the book. Depending on where you stop, you are left with an entirely different story. One ending is sweet, another is horrible. The last one is the true ending, the one with teeth in it.

The Adventures of the Princess and Mr. Whiffle is a dark twist on the classic children's picture-book. I think of it as Calvin and Hobbes meets Coraline, with some Edward Gorey mixed in.

Simply said: This is not a book for children.

The Adventures of the Princess and Mr. Whiffle: The Thing Beneath the Bed is a perfectly deceptive little book. At first glance, it looks like your typical children's picture book. It's the size of a picture book. It has an image of the young Princess playing with her teddy bear, Mr. Whiffle, on the cover and they are adorable. As you read through, you discover a typical tale of a little girl and her teddy bear best friend. Yet, there seems something slightly dark and sinister about the entire thing.

There are three endings in the book. If you stop at the first, you are left with a sweet little story. If you continue on to the second ending, you are left with something slightly more sinister. And if you continue on to the final ending of the book, the sticker that came with the book which resembles your typical book award sticker and reads, "This shit is not for kids. Seriously." becomes fairly obvious. Yes, the final ending is what really makes this book something not for children. I think older kids will find it amusing, but probably definitely not for the younger crowd.

Would I pick up a sequel to the book? Possibly. There really isn't much to the story itself, but the black and white illustrations by Nate Taylor are fantastic. You really need to look at each one, because while they seem all sweet and innocent, there are dark and creepy nuances scattered throughout. I think fans of Edward Gorey and Tim Burton would really enjoy this bizarre, creepy little book.

Friday, July 16, 2010

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Cover Progression

The Wall Street Journal has an interesting article on the progression of the design for the cover of Steig Larsson's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. I just thought it was an interesting look into the design process for a book cover.

Here is a direct link to a slideshow of some of the rejected cover designs.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

65. Dear Fatty by Dawn French

#65

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Title: Dear Fatty
Author: Dawn French
Copyright: 2008
Pages: 366
ISBN: 9780099519478
Publisher: Arrow Books (UK)
Format: Paperback
Rating: 4.5/5 stars
Finished: 7-13-10
Challenge: 100 Books 10, 1010 Challenge (Non-fiction challenge)

Dawn French (one half of the British comedy duo, French and Saunders) may be one of the funniest women alive today. The other funniest woman alive today is Jennifer Saunders, the other half of French and Saunders. For those not familiar with either, they have had a successful run at BBC with their variety show, French and Saunders; Dawn French may be best known for her role in The Vicar of Dibley; Jennifer Saunders is probably best know for her role as Edina in Absolutely Fabulous; both have also starred in shows too numerous to list here. And every single show that I have seen them in has been top notch.

Dear Fatty is Dawn French's memoir. Like anything that French does, her memoir is frequently laugh-out-loud funny. What surprised me most about her memoir is how unflinchingly honest she is throughout. She relates her life, both its ups and downs, as best she remembers it. Written in the form of letters to her friends and loved ones, Dear Fatty touches on the funny and the sad in French's life. For instance, one letter is to her father, who committed suicide when she was 19, and in one paragraph that goes on for almost two pages, she asks him questions. Why he did what he did; why didn't he ask for help; etc. By the end of this particular letter, I'm not ashamed to say that I had tears in my eyes. Her frustration of 30 years of unanswered questions is so evident, and she does nothing to hide that. Of course, not wanting to keep her readers in too serious a mood, she immediately segues into far more lighthearted material, but that honesty is there and it can be raw and emotional, and I respect her all the more for it.

I never doubted her ability to write; watch any of her sketches or shows, and it's obvious she has a talent, and she excels at proving that over and over again in her book. One of my favorite lines from the book is:
"It's a process of having faith in the self you don't quite know you are yet... Believing that you will find the strength, the means somehow, and trusting in that..."
Words that speak volumes to me in my life right now.

I don't that many people would rush out to buy this book. First off, I'm not even sure it's available in the US yet, and secondly, I don't know that anyone who isn't a fan of Dawn French would really care all that much. But for those of us who are fans, this is a gem of a book, and even if you aren't a fan of Dawn French, I still think you'd find this a funny and revealing look into the life of one of the funniest ladies out there right now.

Highly recommended.

Top-Selling Titles in Chicagoland Last Week

Top-Selling Titles in Chicagoland Last Week

Sunday, July 11, 2010

64. Blockade Billy by Stephen King

#64

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Title: Blockade Billy
Author: Stephen King
Copyright: 2010
Pages: 132
ISBN: 9781451608212
Publisher: Scribner
Author Website: stephenking.com
Twitter: @scribnerbooks
Format: Hardcover
Rating: 3/5 stars
Finished: 7-10-10
Challenge: 100 Books 10, 1010 Challenge (Fiction category)

From Amazon:
From New York Times bestselling author Stephen King comes the haunting story of Blockade Billy, the greatest Major League baseball player to be erased from the game.

Even the most die-hard baseball fans don't know the true story of William “Blockade Billy” Blakely. He may have been the greatest player the game has ever seen, but today no one remembers his name. He was the first--and only--player to have his existence completely removed from the record books. Even his team is long forgotten, barely a footnote in the game's history.

Every effort was made to erase any evidence that William Blakely played professional baseball, and with good reason. Blockade Billy had a secret darker than any pill or injection that might cause a scandal in sports today. His secret was much, much worse... and only Stephen King, the most gifted storyteller of our age, can reveal the truth to the world, once and for all.

Originally published through Cemetery Dance Publications on April 20, 2010 as a $25.00 limited-edition hardcover, Stephen King and Cemetery Dance have made an arrangement with Scribner to make available a less expensive hardcover edition of
Blockade Billy, with an on-sale date of May 25th, the same date the audiobook goes on sale. The Scribner edition will be available in all U.S. and Canadian retail outlets. Both the Scribner book and the Simon & Schuster audiobook will feature a bonus short story ("Morality").

Stephen King's love song to his favorite pastime, baseball, Blockade Billy tells the story of William "Blockade Billy" Blakely, the only player to have his existence wiped from the sports books. Why would such a gifted and talented ball player be erased from the games records? I had a hard time getting through all the baseball-speak at the beginning of the story, and when the reveal finally happened, quite frankly, the ultimate answer left me a little underwhelmed. I think you really have to be both a diehard baseball and Stephen King fan to truly appreciate this story.

The short, "Morality", that was included was King's version of Indecent Proposal, and while I didn't exactly know what the "proposal" was going to be at first, I knew how the story was going to end, so again felt a little underwhelmed.

Neither story is all that bad, but I didn't feel that either was up to King's usual standards.

X-Factor, Vol 1: The Longest Night by Peter David, illustrated by Ryan Sook, Dennis Calero & Jose Villarrubia

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Title: X-Factor, Vol 1: The Longest Night
Related Series: X-Men
Authors: Peter David, illustrated by Ryan Sook, Dennis Calero & Jose Villarrubia
Copyright: 2006
Pages: 144
ISBN: 9780785118176
Publisher: Marvel
Twitter: @marvel
Format: Paperback
Rating: 3.5/5 stars
Finished: 7-10-10
Challenge: 10 Books 10, 1010 Challenge (Graphic novel category)

From Amazon:
In the fallout from House of M and following the surprise film-noir hit Madrox, a new mutant team is forged! X-Factor is an investigative mutant agency that includes Madrox, the Multiple Man; Guido, the Strong Guy; Wolfsbane, the shape-shifter; Siryn, the chorus girl; Rictor, the living earthquake; and Generation X's Monet, the pompous witch. Drawn together in the heart of District X, this rag-tag band of heroes has a lot of answers to find, and fast! Collects X-Factor (2005) #1-6.

A pretty solid introduction to the characters for new readers, and a pretty good start for the series as a whole, X-Factor is written in a film-noir style with an art style to match. The team, based out of District X, the former "mutant town" until the events of House of M negated the X-gene in almost every mutant on Earth, wants to know what happened and why. And who is Layla Miller, and how/why does she she "know stuff" and why doesn't she want X-Factor to learn the truth about the Decimation? Who is Singularity Investigations? So many questions in such a short time for a new series, and yet I was OK with that and want to go back for more.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

62. X-Men Legacy: Emplate by Mike Carey, illustrated by Daniel Acuna

#62

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Title: X-Men Legacy: Emplate
Related Series: X-Men
Authors: Mike Carey, illustrated by Daniel Acuna
Copyright: 2010
Pages: 112
ISBN: 9780785141150
Publisher: Marvel
Twitter: @marvel
Format: Paperback
Rating: 3.5/5 stars
Finished: 7-4-10
Challenge: 100 Books 10, 1010 Challenge (Graphic novel category)

From Amazon:
Emplate is back and he's out for blood. More specifically, for mutant bone marrow. And with the X-Men still reeling from Utopia, he may have picked the perfect time to come calling. Collects X-Men: Legacy #228-230, and Giant-Size X-Men: Legacy.

A return of an old X-Men foe, Emplate. Rogue figures out that her role with the X-Men has changed, again. And that's about all that really happens in this volume. Honestly, what's going on over in Uncanny is so much better than what is happening in Legacy right now. It's not bad, there's just lots of room for improvement.

61. Uncanny X-Men: Nation X by Matt Fraction, illustrated by Greg Land, Terry Dodson, Alan Davis, et al.

#61

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Title: Uncanny X-Men: Nation X
Related Series: X-Men
Authors: Matt Fraction, illustrated by Greg Land, Terry Dodson, Alan Davis, et al.
Copyright: 2010
Pages: 344
ISBN: 9780785138730
Publisher: Marvel
Twitter: @marvel
Format: Hardcover
Rating: 4/5 stars
Finished: 7-3-10
Challenge: 100 Books 10, 1010 Challenge (Graphic novel category)

From Amazon:
A mutant nation has been created on UTOPIA, off the coast of California. But what does that mean to the X-Men? Magneto's return has stunned the X-Men, but that's not the only surprise they're in for as a herd of Predator X's come hungry for mutant tartar. The hits just keep on coming, but can the X-Men, still nursing their wounds from UTOPIA, deal with all this? What about when the island they call home begins to sink and Namor is the only one who can save the day? Plus: Jubilee returns to the X-Men, Gambit has trouble adjusting to life on Utopia, Northstar deals with the distance that island living necessitates and No-Girl has to save all the X-Men from a foe living right under their noses, Magik has banished Anole to Limbo, but why? COLLECTING: Uncanny X-Men #515-522, Dark Reign: The List - X-Men, Nation X #1-4

Cyclops has successfully built a new mutant sanctuary off the coast of California from the remains of Magneto's first Asteroid M, or has he? In the midst of an attack by a pack of Predator X's, the X-Club discovers that they don't have enough power to keep the island floating. Magneto arrives, and wants to help Cyclops, realizing that his and Professor X's time as the leaders of the mutant race has passed. He strikes a deal with Namor; the Atlanteans will build a pillar from the ocean floor to the the underside of the island to keep it afloat, and they can rebuild Atlantis at the base of the pillar, giving both races a new home.

Meanwhile, no one is really sure of Magneto's true reason for coming, and in wanting to prove his intentions are good, he secures the one thing that has been missing in all the X-Men's lives.

I really like where the X-Men stories are going lately. It's not necessarily all about the villain-du-jour, but there is some real character growth going on here, especially with Cyclops and his relationship with Professor X and as his new role of leader of the entire mutant race. I'm anxious to see where things will be going after Second Coming, the next story line that should finally resolve the issue of mutant child that Cable took into the future.

New blog look!

So, in the continually evolving look of my blog, let me know what you think of this latest incarnation!

60. Dark X-Men by Paul Cornell, illustrated by Leonard Kirk

#60

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Title: Dark X-Men
Related Series: X-Men
Authors: Paul Cornell, illustrated by Leonard Kirk
Copyright: 2010
Pages: 120
ISBN: 9780785145264
Publisher: Marvel
Twitter: @marvel
Format: Hardcover
Rating: 3/5 stars
Finished: 7-1-10
Challenge: 100 Books 10, 1010 Challenge (Graphic novel challenge)

From Amazon:
From the dust of Utopia comes Dark X-Men! Never one to say "die", Norman Osborn is keeping what's left of HIS X-Men alive. MYSTIQUE! DARK BEAST! WEAPON OMEGA! MIMIC! They are the public face of mutants in an Osborn world. And what a face they are! But what does Nate Grey, A.K.A. X-Man, have to do with it? The critically acclaimed team of Paul Cornell (Black Widow, TV's Dr. Who) and Leonard Kirk (Captain Britain and MI13) take on the world of X! Collects Dark X-Men #1-5.

Dark X-Men isn't necessarily a bad story, just not all that engaging. We learn that Norman Osborn may be a little more crazy than he's been letting on. Mystique REALLY wants to be free of his influence. Dark Beast is creepy, no question now, but all in the name of science! And Nate Grey is back, he's pissed, but maybe he is a little overconfident these days. Again, this is one of those volumes that may not seem so important now, but may be laying some necessary groundwork for later.

59. Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor

#59

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Title: Who Fears Death
Author: Nnedi Okorafor
Copyright: 2010
Pages: 386
ISBN: 9780756406172
Publisher: DAW Books
Author Website: nnedi.com
Twitter: @nnedi, @dawbooks
Format: Hardcover
Rating: 4/5 stars
Finished: 6-30-10
Challenge: 100 Books 10, TIOLI (Book about Africa), 1010 Challenge (Fantasy category)

From Amazon:
An award-winning literary author presents her first foray into supernatural fantasy with a novel of post-apocalyptic Africa.

In a far future, post-nuclear-holocaust Africa, genocide plagues one region. The aggressors, the Nuru, have decided to follow the Great Book and exterminate the Okeke. But when the only surviving member of a slain Okeke village is brutally raped, she manages to escape, wandering farther into the desert. She gives birth to a baby girl with hair and skin the color of sand and instinctively knows that her daughter is different. She names her daughter Onyesonwu, which means "Who Fears Death?" in an ancient African tongue.

Reared under the tutelage of a mysterious and traditional shaman, Onyesonwu discovers her magical destiny-to end the genocide of her people. The journey to fulfill her destiny will force her to grapple with nature, tradition, history, true love, the spiritual mysteries of her culture-and eventually death itself.

Nnedi Okorafor's Who Fears Death is really an almost impossible book to categorize. At its core, it is a traditional fantasy hero's journey: there is the apprentice sorcerer in the main character, Onyesonwu, who comes from humble beginnings, hears of a prophecy that there is a savior who can help save her people, and decides to go on a journey to discover her past and to help save her people from the evil sorcerer who lives in his stronghold; the journey is arduous but Onyesonwu doesn't go alone, as her friends join her in her quest. From here, however, the story begins to take on elements of magical realism and alternate history, as it is unclear if the Sudan that the story takes place in is a future of our Sudan, or one from an alternate history. Okorafor steeps her story in elements of what is happening there today, so there is some level of realism to the story.

Onyesonwu's story is one of both tragedy and hope, told from her point of view while she is in jail for the "crimes" that she has committed during the rebellion. We follow her story from her violent conception to her time spent in jail, and it's not an always easy story to read, but one that flows almost organically through to its inevitable ending.

There were some elements of the story that I felt were a little incongruous. For instance, this story takes place in an undisclosed future complete with computers and hand held devices with built in maps that can track your location in the desert, yet to these people, there is no knowledge of anything that lies beyond the desert that they live in, as if there has never been any contact with the outside world. This just seemed a little odd to me. I'm probably just overthinking this, though, and really it doesn't detract from the story at all. The key here, I think, is that there is probably a lot lost on readers, like myself, who are unfamiliar with African legend and lore. Nnedi Okorafor, while born in America, comes from Nigerian descent and has spent much time in Nigeria over her life, so her story is steeped in African myth. I'm sure for those readers who are more versed in African legend, many of the names and environments used in the book would have more meaning. What is also important here is that while I am ignorant of the meaning behind many of the names and legends that Nnedi uses in her story, it absolutely did not feel like I was lost at any point during my time reading the story.

I thoroughly enjoyed Who Fears Death and look forward to reading more by Nnedi Okorafor. Recommended.

Friday, July 2, 2010

58. Dark Avengers/X-Men: Utopia by Matt Fraction, illustrated by Marc Silvestri, Terry Dodson, Luke Ross & Mike Deodato

#58

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Title: Dark Avengers/X-Men: Utopia
Related Series: X-Men
Authors: Matt Fraction, illustrated by Marc Silvestri, Terry Dodson, Luke Ross & Mike Deodato
Copyright: 2009
Pages: 368
ISBN: 9780785142331
Publisher: Marvel
Twitter: @marvel
Format: Hardcover
Rating: 4/5 stars
Finished: 6-30-10
Challenge: 100 Books 10, 1010 Challenge (Graphic novel category)

From Amazon:
WHO ARE THE DARK X-MEN? He has his own Avengers team and now Norman Osborn has his own X-Men team. The other shoe has finally dropped and Emma Frost has betrayed Cyclops and the rest of the X-Men. And that's just one of the huge surprises in "UTOPIA". Is that Namor? Cloak and Dagger? Professor X?! The thing that you aren't ready for is that Osborn is right. Collects Uncanny X-Men #513-514, Dark Avengers #7-8, Dark Avengers/Uncanny X-Men: Utopia, and Utopia Exodus.

Well, the X-Men's stay in San Francisco is short lived. The Humanity Now! Organization's march through San Francisco in support of their bill to regulate mutant breeding brings about riots on both sides of the struggle. When the situation seems to be escalating out of control, Norman Osborn and his Dark Avengers descend on the city to bring order back to the city. And on top of that, Emma's secrets finally come to the front as she reveals that she has teamed with Osborn as leader of his newly formed team of Dark X-Men. Cyclops finally has decided that he's had enough and sets in motion his secret, which is the raising of the original Asteroid M, which he claims will be a mutant Utopia. He has decided that mutants need to be removed from the general human populace and so has set up Utopia as a sanctuary for all mutants and their families.

I think this story hearkens back to the X-Men stories of the 80s and early 90s, when mutants were treated as second rate citizens and there was prejudice around the entire Marvel universe toward them. This is one of the aspects of the X-Men stories that has always intrigued me, how the mutants are treated by the government and general populace, and is a mirror sometimes to how minorities (such as gays) are treated in real life. Those were some of my favorite stories from back in the day; the X-Men struggling to be accepted by a world they are trying to protect. It seems like we may be seeing a more prevalent return to some of those themes in the current stories.

Overall, a recommended read for X-Men fans.