September 15, 2014

Recent Reads

125. Finding Nouf (Nayir Sharqi & Katya Hijazi #1)
You know what occurred to me the other day? It has been way too long since I read a book with camels in it.

What caught my attention about this book is the premise: In a blazing hot desert in Saudi Arabia, a search party is dispatched to find a missing young woman. 

I poured myself tall glasses of passion ice tea and settled in for what I hoped would be a great read. Alas, it was not. There is a mystery at the heart of the story, but as far as mysteries go, it was rather light. More interesting were some of the behind the scenes cultural insights shared, but it also felt rather cliched and written for a Western audience who might not have read other books that take a reader behind the veil. And while I appreciate the author's writing skill, it is not enough to read the next couple of books in this trilogy. Rating: 2 stars.

126. Boxers (Boxers & Saints #1)
Book blurb: China, 1898. Bands of foreign missionaries and soldiers roam the countryside, bullying and robbing Chinese peasants. Little Bao has had enough. Harnessing the powers of ancient Chinese gods, he recruits an army of Boxers - commoners trained in kung fu - who fight to free China from "foreign devils."

This historical graphic novel is targeted at a teen audience, and is an excellent reminder of all the gaps of knowledge I have about China's long, long history. War is hell. For all sides. This colorful book explores the cultural differences, propaganda, misunderstandings and consequences of this chapter in China's history from one perspective. I will be reading the companion book Saints, which explores this same period in history from the other side. Rating: 3 stars.

127. Saints (Boxers & Saints #2)
Book blurb: China, 1898. An unwanted and unwelcome fourth daughter, Four-Girl isn't even given a proper name by her family when she's born. She finds friendship--and a name, Vibiana--in the most unlikely of places: Christianity. 

This historical graphic novel is a companion novel to Boxers, and I would recommend reading that one first. Yes, Boxers does have spoilers for Saints, but in my opinion the story is stronger for reading it first. 

I quite like how these two books complement each other. Often we only hear one side of a story, but we all know full well that there is another version that is equally true and valid. One person's terrorist is another's freedom fighter. 

Targeted for a young adult audience, this graphic novel explores an alternate point of view of the Boxer rebellion, but more importantly how the personal struggles of a young girl can be a part of a national and historic moment in time. Rating: 3 stars.

128. Beautiful Darkness
Book blurb: This unsettling and gorgeous anti-fairy tale is a searing condemnation of our vast capacity for evil writ tiny.

This fairy tale is disturbing on many levels. The art is light and quaint, and then you see what you are really looking at, and there isn't anything quaint about it. This dark tale explores a different type of prince and princess, and how things can escalate until the world around you is unrecognizable. This is not a graphic novel I'd recommend for kids. Rating: 3 stars.

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