Best reads of June 2020

It's a little bit early, but here are my favorite things that I read in June 2020. Most of them had been released before this month. It was a month marked by trying to focus on primarily reading work from Black creators. It was also a month marked by having difficulty focusing on reading, spending a good deal of time doomscrolling instead. Nonetheless, I still managed to read quite a bit and discovered some great works from authors old and new to me.

Book Review – Star Wars: Queen’s Peril by E.K. Johnston

Queen's Peril by E.K. Johnston is the latest entry in the Disney-era line of Star Wars novels. It's the second time that Johnston has penned a novel about Queen Amidala, after writing Queen's Shadow last year. Whereas Queen's Shadow found Johnston expanding on Padmé's time in the Galactic Senate after stepping down as Queen of Naboo, Queen's Peril bookends the Padmé story by going back to the time immediately after she was elected Queen. Johnston again focuses heavily on Padmé's relationship with her handmaidens, and fans of the series are sure to recognize some familiar faces as the Queen assembles the group. Much like Queen's Shadow, Queen's Peril is mostly targeted at a YA audience.

Book Review – The City We Became by N.K. Jemisin

The City We Became is the latest from acclaimed sci-fi/fantasy author N.K. Jemisin. Building off of the short story The City Born Great, The City We Became is a fantasy/horror novel about a group of 5 people that have been chosen by New York City to protect itself from an evil threat seeking to destroy it. When I say chosen by New York City, I'm not talking about a democratic election. Jemisin utilizes the mythos of New York City as a core fabric of the book and personifies the city to make it both a character and setting. It's something that I felt to be very unique and original.

Supporting Black Writers – Fiction Recommendations

I was writing a review today about a superhero comic book today and frankly it felt like a pointless thing to be doing this week. Instead, inspired by my friend at Words for Worms, I'm just going to list some of my favorite books and comics written by Black creators in my favorite genres. There's a ton of material going around about anti-racist material written by Black people. These books, poems, films, TV shows, etc are essential, but it seems vitally important to support Black creators in their endeavors that aren't just about explicitly tackling racism. I've put together a short and not-at-all comprehensive of some of my favorite recent fiction from Black creators. Black Lives Matter. Black Art Matters.

Comics Review – Paying the Land by Joe Sacco

Paying the Land is the latest work from acclaimed comics journalist Joe Sacco, who is best known for his works like Palestine and Footnotes in Gaza. In Paying the Land, Sacco turns his eye towards the Dene, who are the people indigenous to the Mackenzie River Valley in the Canadian Northwest. Sacco recounts the the impact that the booming mining and oil industries have had on the lives of the Dene Nation. Sacco then works his way back through other struggles the Dene have faced as they continually weigh the benefits of industrialization with the costs to their way of life.

Book Review – South of the Border, West of the Sun by Haruki Murakami

South of the Border, West of the Sun is one of the most famous works from the acclaimed Japanese writer Haruki Murakami. It is the shortest book that I have read from Murakami, at just over 200 pages. South of the Border tells the story of a man named Hajime. Murakami tracks Hajime's life from a childhood love through adolescence and then through middle-age, which finds him married with two children. At the heart of the book is Hajime's struggle with never having lost the obsession of his childhood sweetheart, Shimamoto, and the threat this obsession poses to his domestic life when circumstances find her re-enter his life.

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