Recent Reads| Nonfiction, Fantasy, Poetry & Two SF Comics

Hi there! I’m Jen. This is Remembered
Reads. And this is going to be a wrap-up of sorts. So I picked up a couple of new
releases and the first of those is Myke Cole’s The Killing Light. This is the
third volume and The Sacred Throne series which is a very entertaining. I
guess you could say it’s a low fantasy/ military fantasy hybrid in that kind of
pseudo medieval setting. The main character goes from basically teenage
girl to warrior slash leader – although one of the kind of flaws that I would
have with this is that she’s a bit too much of an authentic teenage girl. She’s
sometimes a little annoying in a way that is I think authentic to teenagers
but not necessarily enjoyable in terms of reading. However as with the rest of
this series the battle scenes are really well done Myke Cole writes quite a bit of
urban military fantasy and he also writes nonfiction about ancient military
formations and stuff. He has a very entertaining social media presence. He
describes it as him trying to experiment in branching out into a different style
I don’t know that pseudo medieval military fantasy is so different from
contemporary urban military fantasy but this is a fun series. The main issue that
I have with this is that I don’t see why this was published as three separate
books. This one it took me a while to get back into the characters and I felt like
if I had read the other two immediately before that I wouldn’t have felt the
same way. And unlike a much longer series because sometimes you do get these
massive fantasy trilogy is where each volume is 800 pages and they have to be
published separately just because the books would be too ridiculously heavy to
carry around. But with this this is this is 230 pages the second one I think was
250 the first one was around 200. These could easily have been published as a
single volume and I think it would read better as a single volume. So I kind of
cynically feel like this should not have been published as a trilogy because I
don’t feel like the story flowed. Especially the first one in this where
there was so much exposition at the beginning of that even though I enjoyed
the final quarter of that book quite a lot, the pacing felt off. Where
as if that had just been the first bit of this full you know 600 something page
novel instead of the first of three I think that would have been more
successful. Still if you enjoy military fantasy in a pseudo medieval setting I
do thoroughly recommend this. I will note that despite the fact that I’m talking
about the main character being a teenager this is not a YA novel with
any kind of uplifting moral to it. This is very cynical in terms of the world
religion, a lot of people die, a lot of people are tortured. So if that is the
kind of story you’re looking for that’s not what this is I would say the
universe is slightly closer to grim dark but I would not call this grim dark. It’s
not quite as grim for the sake of being grim as that genre would call for but it
is closer to that than it is to an actual book aimed at teenagers. I
definitely think that that’s one that will either be in line with your tastes
or not and you know fair enough either way I’m speaking of genre fiction I also
picked up the first volume in the masked series. This is called Anomalies. This is
written by Serge Lehman and drawn by Stefane Crety. And it was translated by
Edward Gauvin, who has done a lot of great BD translations. He is probably one of my
favorite translators if you’re gonna read these in translation. This is set in
Paris in the dystopic near future. There are robots, there are possible mutant
things going on. The main character is an ex-military guy who is dealing with both
physical and emotional problems, his girlfriend is in prison. And it’s mostly
a setup for the rest of the series. I found this thoroughly entertaining the
art is fantastic I really enjoyed this. And I kind of like that Titan has made
them slightly smaller than the standard albums because these actually fit on a
bookshelf a little more easily. But if I do have one complaint about this it is
that the pacing is a little off in almost every scene that we get I felt
like this would have been stronger if it had two to four additional panels of
almost every scene that we have – the main character with his sister, the flashback
sequence at the beginning of the main character with his military unit – almost
everything felt like it could had just a little bit more background or
a little bit more story to it. Still I did quite enjoy this. Next up I have
another kind of post-apocalyptic piece of science fiction
this is Volume one of Ab Irato, which is called Riel, which is the name of the main
character. This is written and drawn by Thierry Labrosse, and hilariously the
author is from Montreal, this book is set in Montreal, and these books are almost
impossible to get in Canada. The first volume you can get the Kindle version of
but the rest of them like if I want to read this not only does my library not
have them, but I basically have to order these from France. And I find that really
weird because this is a book by a Canadian author set in Canada! I do love
the art this is the kind of book that you normally do see set in Paris, maybe
London, or New York, or something and so it was kind of fun to see this a setting
like this in Montreal. It is weird being that as Montreal I did
think the it seemed to be clearly aimed at a European audience rather than a
Canadians. So I guess maybe that was part of the publishing like when people swear
they swear in a very European way and not a Canadian way which is to say
because – if you’re not familiar with the swearing difference ,Canadian French
swearing tends to be really religious and like European French swearing tends
to be a lot of prostitute brothel kind of references – and it’s more of the
latter than the former. Which I thought was a little weird. Also one of the
characters is a police officer in here who is Mohawk and he wears a feather in
his hair – which I thought was ridiculous. But I think it’s because for European
audience when you draw a character there tends to be a kind of there’s the white
guy of the brown guys who are Arab and the black guys, and they here he’s the
brown guy so they have to indicate that he’s indigenous and not Arab in a
different way – and I thought that was a little heavy-handed. But again I think
that’s a matter of the audience. But aside from those two things I did enjoy
this and I wish they were easier to get. One piece of very popular nonfiction
that a lot of people were reading this month is “My Time Among the Whites: notes
from an unfinished education” by Janine Caop Cruset.
I always want to say Cruset, but I’ve watched multiple videos and you seem to
pronounce the T. So I found this to be a really quick read. It was compellingly
written in terms of style. I read this all in one day, basically in one and a
half sittings. And the bits that are dealing with her personal life where she
talks about her experience being the first person in her family to have gone
to university and having chosen to go to a very expensive university as opposed
to a local less expensive State one – I mean American universities are all super
expensive regardless but – and what that meant career-wise and in terms of class
mobility. As well but also culturally and what that meant being among people who
were in general wealthier and having a different educational history
cross-generationally. She also talks about being the first person in her family to
be born in the United States her parents were Cuban. And she talks a bit about the
particularness of being Cuban-American because there was that whole embargo so
they couldn’t travel back as Americans. It’s interesting because she talks about
being annoyed by Americans who would ask her as someone who identified as Cuban
American “have you ever been to Cuba?” And that they didn’t appreciate that she
wasn’t able to do that. Which i think is funny in terms of just the broader
awareness of that because I know in Canada and a lot of Western Europe, Cuba
has always been a place where a lot of people go on resort or beach vacations
and the running joke is in there no Americans. “It’s great because there are
no Americans!” Not to be insulting to Americans because everybody has stereotypes of one or two nationalities who “travel poorly” or whatever.
So it’s funny because here that’s a place that you hear people go to
resource specifically because they know Americans can’t go there and the US
people don’t seem to realize what they can’t go there. Or couldn’t go there, I
think that’s changed over the past few years. So I thought that was interesting.
And so those bits were quite compelling. But the more she talked about the racial
picture especially in terms of there’s one story where she’s on a dude ranch in
Nebraska and she talks about essentially passing for white, where while I feel
like she what she was actually passing for Anglo? And and it kind of baffled
me that she didn’t differentiate between the
levels of race prejudice versus ethnic prejudice. Because to be Latinx, to be
Latin American, Latino, latina whatever label you’re using is a cultural label.
It’s not a racial label. And because she has the discussion of her parents were
white in Cuba, they weren’t when they first moved to the US, they were sort
of as Miami’s demographics shifted. She grew up feeling white and then she
wasn’t when she left. And there is that discussion but it seems to never get
into the difference between say racism or xenophobia or color prejudice versus
ethnic prejudice. Because she’s talking so much about the perceptions and about
that kind of shifting, it felt like this glaring lack of something there. Because
Latin America is one of those places like North Africa and West Asia in which
people can be natively of the culture in terms of heritage and be white or brown
or black or any variation within that. It just seemed weird that it was missing. So
even though I like to this and found this really compelling and engaging I
felt like she was having a conversation about three things and there’s a fourth
one that makes the set and the fourth one was never discussed. There was also a
weird thing about Disneyland or Disney World which probably makes more sense if
you’re from Florida. I read it and went – I just didn’t get it. But if
you’re from Florida or you’re a big Disney fan I think that part might be more for
you. I was kind of baffled by that one. It was a lot of let’s read some really
heavy social stuff into Disney World and I just went “I don’t get it.” But I’m not
from Florida. If you’ve read that and you connected with the Disney one I’d
love to hear how it connected with you and or how it connected for you? With you?
I don’t know. Those were books that I had some complaints about, but here’s a book
that I don’t have complaints about. This is Tommy Pico’s Feed, which is part of his
series of poetry memoir releases. This stylistically reminds me a lot of Ducks
Newburyport which everybody’s been reading this year. But unlike that
thousand page beast this is 78 pages and it’s basically the same kind of feeling
obviously from somebody of a different set of demographic categories, but in terms
of the style it’s a very similar feeling – but successfully of doing that in 78
pages versus doing it in a thousand pages. Normally when I talk about poetry
I fold over some pages and to decide what to read and I have just dozens of
them folded over because so much of this is it’s just great. I’ll read one
page to give you a feeling of it “dear reader, I’ve been thinking about fuel
sources that produce the heat of the fire that burns inside you and the term
resistive circuit and active networks and mainly about Kirchhoff’s current law
that the sum of all currents entering a node is equal to the sum of all currents
leaving the node by which I mean its pollen season again and it’s got my
circuitry inconsolable and the city stopped texting me back
which WTF I’ve never been go stood on by a whole city
it’s very men TFW you want the city to know you hate it but also like it
doesn’t even occur to you to think about the city wait who are you oh yeah yeah
whatever anyway I’m having the Baja fish tacos you should go to shell sorry I
mean have the macaroni I hear it’s wait a minute who are you
again I’m talking to the freaking reader can you give me a minute
JFC I’ve been thinking a lot about stretch denim that doesn’t also have a
stretchy waistband by which I mean nature’s cruelest disagreements I’ve
also been thinking about the slobbering of heat that is the promise of spring in
her book and everlasting meal tomorrow Adler waxing poetic on boiling
cauliflower writes heat is a vital broker between separate things in the
insanely popular early 90s alternative rock banger linger Dolores O’Riordan
sings if you if you could return don’t let it burn
don’t let it fade today to wear out the Woo’s to giddy the skittish dizzy into a
sip rush of stillness i buttered around the
city listening to the cranberries as the air around me bounded into its summer
self but literally two weeks ago there was a blizzard that thought into a song”
Anyway, I loved this. But I don’t think that will be to everybody’s taste,
because not everyone wants stream-of-consciousness even if it is 78
pages and not a thousand pages. But I was thoroughly entertained by that. I’ve read
a few other things but some of them I’m discussing elsewhere I think. So we’ll
talk about that later. All right, if you’ve read any of these I’d love to
hear what you thought with them. Yeah, that’s it for now. Ciao!

9 thoughts on “Recent Reads| Nonfiction, Fantasy, Poetry & Two SF Comics

  1. I still don’t quite understand what Ducks was about and why it’s so long. Thanks for your analysis of My Time…

  2. I follow Mike Cole on Twitter but have yet to read his books….I've been wanting to pick up The Sacred Throne series, though.

  3. I love so much that you read nonfiction and comics/graphic novels, and we are both Canadian. I really want to read my time among the whites. A really good book I’ve read is the inconvenient Indian. I would recommend it!

  4. Love watching your dad at the end running around in the snow:)

    Odd that you have to order that Canadian book from france?

  5. How odd that you cannot this very Canadian graphic novel in Canada…

  6. Very interesting. I'm reading and enjoying The 5th Wave, currently. (I tagged you in my "Shit Down in Flames" tag btw. Hope you can get to it, someday lol!)

  7. I've always noticed the differences between North American and European cursing, but you're the first person I've heard to actually bring it up. Always found it interesting.

    European = "I can't wait to finish up University and go on Holiday so I can visit some brothels and snog a courtesan. But first, I need to sit my arse down on a privy"
    North American = "I can't wait to finish up college and go on vacation so I can visit some whore houses and shag some skank. But first, I need to sit my ass down on a toilet"

    The differences are subtle LoL

  8. I frequently long for vacation places where there are no Americans and I am one, so no offense taken.
    Bonus dog in the snow footage was very welcome.

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