So let’s rewind February so I can tell you ALL that happened. Well, nearly all and no juicy details will be included either, so it’ll be a boring post for you if you’re not interested in books and bookish things.
BTW, Let’s Rewind is my version of a monthly wrap up but instead of talking about only books, I include all types of other shit, like articles… bookish news… commercials… random-ass links… movies… art… podcasts… cartoons… and whatever the hell happened to me in the month. You know, usual stuff that people talk about in monthly wrap ups. So read on and see what I say. You might stumble upon something that interests you.
So February, right. January had just ended and I was feeling a little bummed because as pumped as I was to set some goals for the year, I wasn’t knocking them out as fast as I thought I would. I mean, sure, I read a lot and am ahead on my Goodreads goal, but the personal ones are lagging behind. I’ll have to do something about them.
But other than that February was okay. I worked a whole lot at my two jobs, but I got to travel for one to get away from the cold weather and the other is at a book store so that’s just fun in itself. I was exhausted and a little irritable because of it but not too much so; plus, I got to see one of my favorite authors this month: MARLON JAMES. His debut fantasy novel just dropped — Black Leopard, Red Wolf — and I’m so excited to have it SIGNED and to have been able to meet him again. He gave a reading from his book in D.C. and answered some questions from the audience. It was such a wonderful outing and I was glad for the turnout, especially since I bumped into other Jamaicans there, one of which was a friend I hadn’t seen in a while, and we took up about 2 rows in the audience (that I know of), AND I was sitting right behind Jason Reynolds (never read any of his books but that didn’t stop me from having a fan girl moment!).
Oh, yea! MARLON JAMES is an award-winning author from Jamaica. He’s known for A Brief History of Seven Killings, which is a historical novel about the attempted assassination of Bob Marley. It won the 2015 Man Booker Award. His other novels include The Book of Night Women (LOVE it and HIGHLY recommend) and his first novel, John Crow’s Devil. Y’all gotta check out his work, man!
Anyway, back to me. I spent the rest of the month being very boring by constantly working, playing Sims Freeplay, marathoning The Magicians TV show on NetFlix to catch up on it, and trying to save while giving all my money to Uber because it’s a godsend.
So yea, decent month.
I kicked off February by completing MarcyKate Connolly’s Comet Rising, the sequel to her middle-grade fantasy novel Shadow Weaver, which is about a girl who can manipulate shadows. In Comet Rising, the villain mentioned in the first book, Lady Aisling, becomes more of a threat and the protagonist, Emmeline, and her friends prepare to confront and defeat her. It was an entertaining read but not as strong as the first book. However, I enjoyed seeing what other talents people received from the Cerelia Comet.
Next, Emily of Embuhlee liest and I completed Blood of Dragons by Robin Hobb. It’s the last novel in the Rain Wild Chronicles, a fantasy quartet that makes up the larger Realm of the Elderlings series. I enjoyed it and liked how some characters developed throughout this book. It was a decent ending to the Rain Wild Chronicles but not a strong one (it’s obvious there’s more to come), so Emily and I are looking forward to jumping into the Fitz and the Fool trilogy later this month.
I then gave Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow a try and enjoyed it. It was the Captain’s review that lured me to this loot! Nevermoor is a middle-grade fantasy novel about a girl who everyone believes is cursed but who later finds a place where she truly belongs. Umm… oh! It’s by Jessica Townsend. It’s such a fun read and Townsend did a great job of injecting such a strong sense of wonder in it that I can see how the book would appeal to fans of the Harry Potter books.
Speaking of wonder, there seemed to be none in Behind the Canvas by Alexander Vance, a middle-grade fantasy novel about a girl who can enter paintings to visit the world behind the canvas. She does so to save a friend. I’m glad to have read this book and I think it does some great stuff, like the bits of art history facts sprinkled throughout the story, but I thought it quite boring and I think a major reason for the boredom is the lack of wonder. It wasn’t very exciting.
After that dryness, I dashed through a couple illustrated books. The first was Baba Yaga’s Assistant by Marika McCoola, illus. by Emily Carroll. It’s a YA fantasy graphic novel about a teenage girl who seeks out Baba Yaga, a witch who flies around in a mortar, after her grandmother dies. It’s a decent read and I enjoyed it though I thought I wouldn’t when I started it. The story grew on me. I wasn’t crazy about the art though.
I picked up The Dam Keeper: World Without Darkness after that. It’s a middle-grade fantasy graphic novel-adaptation of a film short by Robert Kondo (illus.) and Dice Tsutsumi (illus.) about a pig on an adventure with his friends to find their way back to their town and fix its dam to stave off the harmful black fog. I enjoyed the first book but this one didn’t have much substance to it. The art is still great.
The sweet Little Red Wolf by Amélie Fléchais (illus.), transl. by Jeremy Melloul was next. It’s a children’s fantasy picture book originally published in French that’s inspired by the fairytale Little Red Riding Hood, except it’s from a wolf’s perspective. It’s a sweet story. I loved it and the illustrations are beautiful. Highly recommend!
After that sprint of illustrated books, I FINALLY got around to completing Holiday’s on Ice by David Sedaris. I listened to the audiobook, which is narrated by him. I highly recommend it! It’s a great Christmas read, though it does it’s best to thrash the spirit of Christmas. It’s a handful of essays/short stories about Christmas and celebrating Christmas and, of course, it’s hilarious! The audiobook is worth listening to.
I wrapped up February with The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey, a magical realism historical novel about an old couple living in Alaska who dearly want children and one night create a snow girl who supposedly comes to life. I’ve been curious about this book for several reasons and have had it on my selves for a while. I’m glad to have finally read it but though I think it’s a great story and love the writing and highly recommend it, I wasn’t as taken by it as I thought I would be. I wasn’t enraptured by it or lost in it. I appreciate the story and admire Ivey’s talent, but this isn’t the favorite I expected.
Those with a star (★) are the ones that stuck with me.
Social issues & current affairs
★ On Decolonizing the Postcolonial African Classroom (lithub.com)
— An excerpt from Dear Upright African: A Call to Action for Taking History Into Our Own Hands by Donald Molosi. In this excerpt, Molosi talks about the need to remove colonial influence from African classrooms and integrate more African history and culture and to uplift African students more than punish them.
“The school systems all over Africa remain thus troublingly nostalgic for colonial rule, seeking to defeat the African child by all means necessary.”
PayPal Quietly Took Over the Checkout Button (bloomberg.com)
— How PayPal started and expanded
Want to Transform Your Life? Stop Chasing Perfection (guardian.com)
— About the anti-perfectionist trend in self-help books these days
“The pursuit of wealth or social mobility might not bring happiness, but it does fuel economic growth — while marriage, parenthood, fitness and the rest keep the whole operation running smoothly into the next generation.”
Writing & storytelling
— Marlon James speaks with NPR about his new book, Black Leopard, Red Wolf, a fantasy novel inspired by African folklore.
“…And it’s important that we know slavery and we understand it … but if I continue thinking the origin of my story, the origin of the story is colonialism and slavery, then eventually I’m going to feel as if I’m nothing more than a displaced person. So I think that’s one of the things — to actually tap into the original narratives, to tap into this sort of reservoir of stories. I think every society needs its myths, it’s what tells us who we are. So if I come from a people who didn’t have them, I’m going to start searching for them and trying to make some up.”
On Dogs and the Unique Hell of Writing Novels (publishersweekly.com)
— Jen Beagin on writing her recently published Vacuum in the Dark.
— An interview with Jamaican author Nicole Dennis-Benn, who wrote Here Comes the Sun, about her writing process and writing life
The Four Elements in Magic (thoughtsonfantasy.com)
— Ken Hughes, an urban fantasy author who recently published Freefall, talks about elemental magic and how it’s used in fantasy novels.
How Astounding Saw the Future (nytimes.com)
— About the “evolution of the mid-20th-century magazine whose pages gave rise to the genre of science fiction”
Profiles: history & the arts
★ The Untold Story of Queenie, New York City’s Notorious Female Crime Kingpin (broadly.vice.com)
— Can’t remember if I mentioned this article before, so I’m placing it here in case I didn’t. Madame Queen, a.k.a. “Queenie,” was quite a woman. She immigrated from the Caribbean to New York in 1914, ran an illegal lottery system, was the only woman of her time to be a crime kingpin in NYC, and was known to empower Black people.
The Quiet Defiance of Mahershala Ali (rollingstone.com)
— A profile of the actor who recently won an Oscar for his role as Dr. Donald Shirley in Green Book
The Untold Story of the Man Who Sang “I Got 5 on It” (theringer.com)
— Everyone knows this song or has heard it at some point. I’ve never thought about the people who worked on it before.
This Mysterious Website Generates Weird Short Stories About Phone Numbers (electricliterature.com)
— About an eerie (it’s eerie to me!) website that, as the article title says, generate short stories about phone numbers
I saw this video circulating on Facebook a while back and am FINALLY able to find it on YouTube. I think it’s great. Check it out!
If for some reason it’s not showing, the video features photos of traditional African hairstyles.
Movie, TV, and other adaptations
— So excited for this!
— I’m excited for this even though I haven’t read Adjei-Brenyah’s book of short stories yet.
— More superhero stories to come
Stage Adaptation: I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter (steppenwolf.org)
— I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sánchez will be adapted for a play at Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago.
It’s been a month of surprises where movies and TV shows are concerned.
Who knew that I’d be hooked on this TV show? I was excited for it when it had just aired on SyFy, but lost interest in it. Now I wonder why and what was wrong with me then because the show is so good! It’s funny and I like the characters. There are some things that could be done better, but for now they don’t bother me. I’m hooked and all caught up and can’t wait to see what happens next.
I started watching this purely at random and I. Am. So. HOOKED! I love it! I didn’t know it was based on a comic book series until I mentioned it at the bookstore and someone told me. The show is so trippy and I love how they incorporate animation in it. It’s hilarious too, which makes it fun to watch. Man… that trip to Vegas episode kinda blew my mind. I went to sleep right after watching it and had one of the weirdest dream I’ve ever dreamt in my life.
Into the Spiderverse
Ok, I finally gave in and watched Into the Spiderverse because EVERYONE said it’s good and worth it — even the Oscars. I was staying away because I thought it would be silly, but I saw it and LOVED it!! It was such fun and I love the different types of spider people (and pig). I didn’t know there were so many. Love the beginning story for the new Spider-man. Love how this begins. It’s dope.
Still watching this but am no longer feeling it. It’s not the vampire show I thought it would be and it’s not exciting. Something about it bores me.