Sorcerer to the Crown

Sorcerer to the Crown_Zen Cho

Title: Sorcerer to the Crown
Author: Zen Cho
Publisher: ACE Books
Keywords: sorcerers, magic, POC main characters, regency era

I might go anywhere and do any magic I pleased if I were Peter, not Prunella.

England’s magic is declining. Relations between Faerie and Britain are neutral at best and familiars, creatures of Faerie that agree to serve a Thaumaturge (magicians in fancy England speak) are no longer allowed in the human realm. As a result of their weakness, the society of thaumaturges’ power is deteriorating in the royal court. Add to that, the successor of the late Sorcerer Royal, sorcerer to King and country, is Zacharias, an African. Not only does he have to deal with racism from his fellow thaumaturges and assassination attempts, he must somehow find a way to restore magic to England. Fortunately, the key to solving his problems may come from outside England’s borders and a woman with an aptitude for magic…

If you enjoyed Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norell, you will most likely enjoy the writing style of this book. I’m one of the few who didn’t enjoy Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. Regency era dialogue is so…difficult for me to read. The stuffy language, the illusion of etiquette and politeness…ugh. Fortunately, Cho’s dialogue seemed like a mix of regency era and modern which made it much more accessible to me. The characters also made it a huge plus: Zacharias (who I may have a tiny crush on) is charming and Prunella though I don’t like her (a bit too calculating for me at times), I ended up respecting her at the end. Especially at the end.

I suppose the main reason Sorcerer to the Crown received so much buzz was because the setting of the story is told from 2 POC (and a woman POC, good heavens!) and highlights the societal issues of living as one in a time and place where that was… not really the best of circumstances. The fantasy and magic are just a very cool bonus. An African receiving one of the most powerful titles in the country? A woman actually practicing magic and being ridiculously powerful? Inconceivable! Speaking of women in this book, the magical issues of women was frustrating, disturbing (at times) and very, very, relatable to read. Women are not allowed to use magic due to a) wasting their precious abilities by using it for glamours and b) being “too delicate” to handle the stress of conjuring magic. In Mrs. Daubney’s School for Gentlewitches, Mrs. Daubney represses the girls’ magic, not encourage them to use it (not that the girls listen). The school is a place to treat an illness, not an ability that’s lauded were it for the opposite sex. The method in which Mrs. Daubney represses the girls’ magic is probably one of the most disturbing parts of the book. A spell drains the users’ magic (and physical health) and releases it to the atmosphere for everyone else (men) to use. The laws and cultural views of a woman’s body in this book should sound pretty familiar to women today.

To be honest after finishing the book I couldn’t tell if I liked the book or not because throughout the story I kept going into mental rants and yelling at the racism and sexism. But I guess that was the point of this book. Sooo I guess that means I enjoyed it.

 

Gem Rating: 💎💎💎💎

A good read if you enjoy your historical fantasy with POC protagonists, Faery mythology, wand magic, and a hefty dash of race and gender commentary!

Of course, mature and constructive comments are welcome!

The Captain’s Back! Captain Marvel #1

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Captain Marvel #1
Writer(s): Michele Fazekas & Tara Butters
Artist: Kris Anka
Colors: Matthew Wilson

Announced waaaay back when, the new Captain Marvel had to be one of the most anticipated female lead comics to come back after the events of Secret Wars (which I didn’t really care much about). After the departure of awesome amazing writer Kelly Sue DeConnick, the Carol Corps were intrigued and excited to hear that Marvel’s Agent Carter producers Fazekas and Butters would take the helm. Did they make the cut? Well, one issue is too short for me to gauge, but so far I think so!

The Captain decides to have a “change of pace” and accepts commanding Alpha Flight, the group now responsible for being Earth’s first line of defense (but let’s face it, *all* superhero teams dub themselves Earth’s first line of defense). Despite the Cap’s close friends’ skepticism, Carol believes the Commander position will be a nice change of pace, only now in space! Of course, next thing she knows she’s in a meeting with a delegation to negotiate waste removal on the space station. Ah yes, administration. Luckily, a massive asteroid and, later, a very old looking warship distract Captain Marvel and finds out she and Alpha Flight have a bit more to worry about contract negotiations.

It will be interesting if the series shows the dichotomy of Carol the Captain and Carol the newly appointed Commander of a badass space station. Commanders usually stay indoors, overlooking a holographic battlefield with a grim, determined eye, but Carol doesn’t seem like that kind of girl. Will her new head position in Alpha Flight cool her down a bit? Hopefully not too much, because I love seeing her punching things in the face.

The art is clean and bright thanks to Anka and Wilson, almost to the point where I felt like I wasn’t looking at events in space. I particularly love Anka’s style in drawing Captain Marvel because abs and the muscular body.

 

KrisAnkaDrawstheBestAbs
More body diversity in women is always a good thing

 

Alpha Flight didn’t really get much of a spotlight in issue 1, but hopefully, we’ll see more shenanigans in the future. I feel like they and the Captain will make an interesting team-up. Unless Brand kills Carol first for causing more trouble and stress for her.

Kelly Sue was such an enormous influence on Captain Marvel (and women’s representation in comics in general) that I’m sure it might be difficult for some Carol Corps fans. I’m still beginning my Kelly Sue run, so my view may not be so biased. I for one will see where Michele and Tara take Captain Marvel and us, the readers.

On Drawing Strong Women: Kris Anka

To celebrate issue #1 of Captain Marvel in the new Marvel Universe, my LCS invited the artist of the new series, Kris Anka for a little Q&A.

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He talked about the process of becoming the artist for Captain Marvel (which he fanboyed over) and the even longer process of revamping the style for the series relaunch (not so much fanboying). The audience was able to see some of his initial sketches of character designs. I’m not too familiar with his art, but I love his clean style and how he draws the Captain particularly muscular (moar abs and moar buffer became the little joke throughout the discussion). Juliette, the comic store employee/moderator commented how she admired that aspect of Anka’s art while he just shrugged it off. “It’s not that difficult to draw different body types of women. I just actually put in the effort.” (Mic drop male gaze centric artists!!) Thanks to social media, artists can listen and get immediate feedback of their work from fans and Anka’s the type to listen. Although, he has no shame of admiring Rob Liefeld’s 90’s style work and would love to work with him (ah well, no one can be perfect I suppose).

It was a nice change to hear the experience of the artist. Anka delved a bit into his work schedule and the business side of the art, advising potential comic artists to “be nice and turn in your work on time”. There’s nothing worse than an unreliable artist who can’t hit a deadline.

Other things of note: his fashion style. He was rocking a bright plaid shirt with a flower patterned tie. Plus his bushy mustache. I dug it. Also, during the time he was visualizing the new costume of our beloved Captain, he noted his drawings had to pass by Marvel’s legal department because the outfit couldn’t be so drastically different that it wouldn’t match future licensed goods. That part made me fangirl a bit because I love that aspect of the publishing business.

The Q&A ended with signings and prints for sale that he drew for this event (yeees). I remember during the discussion he said one his of New Year’s resolution was to draw more women. I gotta say, Anka, you made me a believer and I’ll make it a point this year to look for your art.

The Pull

So…many…good…comics…

Read

Batman & Robin Eternal #13
Writer: Scott Snyder, James Tynion IV
Artist: Marcio Takara
Format: Digital

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Cassandra’s origin story (in this “new” DCU) has arrived!!! I love it. I love the flashback scene between her and Batman and I’m really enjoying the growing relationship between her and Harper. I feel like there can be something more between the two, but I could be just reading into the subtext a bit too much…

As an aside, this was one of the first issues I read digitally on my new Surface Pro 4. Reading each page on a 12.3″ screen is pretty damn beautiful, but it is kinda awkward to hold in portrait mode. I am a bit bummed though there isn’t a Comixology app in the Windows Store. Guess I’ll finally use the backup feature on Comixology so I can read while in transit.

Patsy Walker A.K.A. Hellcat #1
Writer: Kate Leth
Art: Brittney Williams
Format: Print

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I knew nothing about Hellcat and to be honest, I bought this on a whim not really expecting much. I was wrong. So wrong. Written in the fun upbeat tones of The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, Patsy is struggling to find a job and after stopping and converting a would be criminal (and getting a new place to stay, all in one go!) she decides to start a hiring agency for powered beings such as herself. The idea is so down to earth it is just too good. The writing is quirky and funny and art is…well just look at the cover and the teaser for issue 2!  I’m really enjoying Marvel’s stories of the street heroes who want to do good around them, but aren’t billionaires and don’t really want the spotlight and beat up crazy cosmic aliens. I think stories that mix the fantastical with the ordinary things, like finding a job makes it not so ordinary. Instead of using comics to truly escape from real life stuff, comics can reflect that these awesome, larger than life characters have to deal with this crap too, so it’s okay! We can do this! Yeah! Anyway, it’s nice to see the everyday issues pop up in comics; it just makes them more relatable (that being said, comics like The Ultimates are amazing too)

On Queue

Monstress #2
We Stand On Guard series
Pacific Rim: Tales from the Drift

What’s in your queue? Please let me know!

 

 

Bare Lit: The Book Fair We Need

The comic book industry has been slowly stepping up their game when diversifying, or should I say, finally including and spotlighting POC/queer creators and characters. Now in the literature sphere, there is an awesome event that also celebrates and promotes diversity.

The Bare Lit Festival is a book festival that is going to be held in late February that will focus just on writers of color. The event has full day programming and will have several conversations with authors and poets, including Zen Cho, the author of the much talked about Sorcerer to the Crown. The fair is hosted by Media Diversified, a UK non-profit that promotes writers of color and puts out amazing content on their site. My only complaint of this book fair is that it’s going to be held in London.

I’m very sad that I won’t be able to go. I’m looking forward to reading updates once the event hits. If you can’t go like me, but still want to show your support, like me, please donate through their Indiegogo site. I intend to as soon as I figure out how to donate in £…

I hope this festival becomes an annual event and that other countries with major influence in the publishing industry will follow suit. Plus, it would be a great excuse to go to England again.

 

A Must Read: We Should All Be Feminists

We Should All Be Feminists cvr

Besides geeky things, throughout 2015, I have been devouring all things feminism, especially intersectional feminism (what a good year to start being a feminist too!). I read articles on how books, the media, and the actresses and role models we look up to affect the women who idolize them. There are so many articles and reasons why there should be more diversity, more intersectionality in the media and pop culture we consume in order to reflect the reality we see every day.

I stumbled upon an article that stated that every 16-year-old Sweden will receive a copy of “We Should All Be Feminists” by a woman named Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. The definition of the word alone is still being debated, so to hear that 16-year-olds reading about “the f-word” kind of boggled my mind. I’m struggling with feminism, how can 16-year-olds read about this, let alone debate and interpret it?!  (No hate to 16-year-olds, if anything, I’m jealous that they have the opportunity!) After reading the essay, I can see why.

What makes “We Should All Be Feminists” so beautiful is its simplicity. Chimamanda’s writing is simple, down to earth and beautiful. Her reasonings are written so eloquently and naturally that it just makes the issues that feminism addresses so obvious. Why are people still arguing that we need feminism today? Have them read this, and everything shall be clear.

My first experience with Chimamanda’s work was her TED Talk “The Danger of A Single Story” and I was obsessed with her (in a good way) ever since. I immediately bought “We Should All Be Feminists”, read it and was blown away.

The great thing about this work? After reading this, I didn’t think that all men are douchebags. It didn’t make me want to be a man-hater or stop wearing make-up. On the contrary, I felt even more love and the need to be more compassionate to everyone, regardless of the gender, race and other characteristics we define ourselves with.

So Sweden kids, I consider you all very, very lucky. I only hope they’ll get something profound out of it. I know I did. I can only hope that somehow this essay will be passed around in the states somehow as well.

Ugh, there are so many quotes I might as well type out the whole essay in this post, but I won’t! This is one of the (many) passages that made me stop and think, ‘what if’?

The problem with gender is that it prescribes how we *should* be rather than recognizing how we are. Imagine how much happier we would be, how much freer to be our true individual selves, if we didn’t have the weight of gender expectations.

 

 

Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans

New Years is over, but work doesn’t start until Monday so the TV binging continues! Sadly, I caught up to pretty much all the shows I watch currently, so I figured to watch a genre that I haven’t touched in a while: anime!! And since I’ve been in a sci-fi streak, plus hearing good reviews from friends, I decided to watch 機動戦士ガンダム鉄血のオルフェンズ, or Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans.

Mobile Suit Gundam Iron-Blooded Orphans
Mikazuki and Archer Orga

Title: Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans
Animation Production: Sunrise

It’s been 300 years since the “Calamity War”. Mars, or at least one of the Martian cities Chryse wants independence from the Earth governments. A Martian security company called CGS is ordered to escort Kudelia, a key representative for Chryse’s independence to Earth. During preparations of the escort, the CGS base is attacked by another military organization called Gjallarhorn. The “bad guys” seem to have the superior mobile suit, but of course CGS brings out the mech we all watch the show for: the Gundam Barbatos. Conflict ensues.

The boys who headline this Gundam installment are Orga and Mikazuki who knew each other since childhood. I’ve only watched the first three episodes so far, and these two have a very interesting relationship. They seem to switch off, or share the head honcho position. Orga has a strategy, but it will only go through if Mika agrees. Mika will do something (usually something violent) with Orga’s order/permission. Seems like 100% of the time they’ll do what the other asks so it doesn’t really matter in the end. Once again, the resistance rep, Kudelia, is presented as the naive idealistic girl who doesn’t realize the depth of her position. That being said, I think I like her  a lot more than Relena from Gundam Wing*shudder*

gw relena.png

Biscuit and his twin sisters Cookie and Cracker are adorable. Not sure if I’d want to be named after snacks, but it’s still cute.

Man, was Gundam always this…hardcore? I’m enjoying the show a lot and the main reason right now is Orga and Mika. At first glance the plot and characters seems typical of a Gundam series, then all of a sudden I see the CGS 3rd squad perform a coup on 1st squad. Orga pretty much gives them an option: join us or leave. Two men back talk and Mika kills them without batting an eye.

hell yeah
Like a f*ckin’ boss

Maybe it’s been a while since I’ve watched Gundam. Regardless, I’m a sucker for good guys who will step a toe in the dark side to get things done.

In regards to character designs, I’m not sure if I like it or not. It’s taking me a while to get used to. Their bangs alone could kill someone.

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Orga with his literally, killer bang…thing
gundam ironblood_mcgillis
I swear he *twirls* his bang moustache-style in his 1st appearance

gundam ironblood_Barbatos

Also the Gundam seems to be a bit on the…thin side, with the bulk mostly in the chest area. There’s also 3 red marks I’m not sure of.

An aspect I like in this world is the relationship of using the mechs. Orga and Mika are one of few children who survived the surgery to pilot certain mecha. This surgery allows the pilot to have an expanded spatial awareness which helps them pilot. The child-soldier is explained and justifies why these children can kick the crap and kill veteran soldiers.

So far I’m enjoying Iron-Blooded Orphans. Seems like a good installment in the Gundam franchise and good enough to continue binge-watching.

 

 

Looking Towards 2016

Cheers to 2016! My new year was spent being a bum, in my panda suit (yes that’s right) at my dad’s snacking on spinach dip, chugging wine, and binging on movies and TV.

It’s been good to be a geek/nerd these past couple of years. With Marvel taking over the big screens and DC taking over the little ones, my hobbies and interests are actually mainstream (for good and bad). There was so many nerdy things in pop culture in 2015 and it looks like 2016 will be no exception. Here’s what I’m looking forward to this year:

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

I’m still planning to visit the one in Florida, but to have it in SoCal definitely makes it more easier for me. And my birthday hits around the opening so happy birthday to me!!

Captain America: Civil War

captain_america_civil_war_poster

Or for those who have seen the trailer, Civil War: the break up of Tony and Steve. Sorry Tony.

Zootopia

One word: sloths.

Books To Look Forward To

(The Winds of Winter by George R.R. Martin)?: Will 2016 be the year?!

Babylon’s Ashes by James S.A. Corey A couple of posts back I gushed about The Expanse series (TV series review soon to come!) I’m so lucky that I won’t have too long to wait for the newest installment.

The Obelisk Gate (The Broken Earth #2) by N.K. Jemisin One of my favorite authors of all time. I wonder how Essun will take the request of her former partner?

The United States of Japan by Peter Tieryas

USofJ cover

Don’t know much, but from what I gather of this book, it’s a ‘what-if’ story of the Axis Powers winning WWII and Japan oversees the US using mecha. Mecha is an instant win for me.

Masks and Shadows by Stephanie Burgis

masks-and-shadows-cover

Not sure what this is about either, but it looks like a mix of court intrigue, music, alchemy and assassination plots. Plus, the masks!

I’m sure there’s a bunch of stuff I’m missing, but I’m sure those missing things will be gushed over sometime this year. Bring it 2016!!

 

 

Holiday Binge List

Well, the first half of the holiday season is gone and nearly so is 2015. And yes, although it is an awesome time for spending time with loved ones, getting good presents, and a brief…too brief break from work or school we all know another reason why the holidays are great.

Binging. Food, TV, movies, books, games, all of it!! This is what I’ve been catching up on, discovering and obsessing over:

Reading

LeviathanWakes

The Expanse book series by James S.A. Corey

Such a great space opera. I have been reading this nonstop. Finishing up Abaddon’s Gate and my copy of Cibola Burn just came in from Amazon. After that I have one more book, then the new one comes out in 2016. Read and binge!!

Watching

The-Expanse-Syfy

The Expanse T.V. series. Shown Tuesdays on Syfy

This should not come as a surprise. It took me a a couple of episodes to get into, but I’m coming around.  I guess what blocked me were the changes to the crew’s family/team dynamic and the casting choices…okay just Holden. If you’re looking for a space drama along the lines of Battlestar Galactica you might want to give this a shot. With only 4 episodes it almost doesn’t even count for binging!

Marvel’s Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D season 3

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I didn’t watch any episodes of the recent season until this holiday season. I’m glad I did! I don’t know how I would have survived waiting a week for the next episode! I think this is the best season yet. All I need is FitzSimmons to get together (damn you Marvel pleeeease?) and Black Bolt and I’ll be one happy fangirl.

Doctor Who current season

best ship doc who

I…have feels about this season.

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I’m always on/off with Doctor Who. Matt Smith was my favorite new Doctor, and Clara is the first Companion I really loved (next to Donna of course because Donna). Their chemistry was great and they were the first Doctor/Companion I really wanted to ship (sorry didn’t like Rose or Amy at all). I was surprised at how much chemistry Clara and 12 had. Shipping aside, I think this was a really strong season in terms of story and new characters (Ashildr/Me is awesome!!!). And with that ending, I’m praying for some side story/movie of Clara, Me and their adventures. What a great end for that character.

Honestly I’m not sure what else to binge on. I’m almost afraid to seek out more (but please feel free to recommend any!!). Don’t think my nerd heart can take much more. Although, I’ve been meaning to watch Sense8….