Black Canary: Breaking Silence (Alexandra Monir)

Black Canary: Breaking Silence is a novel by Alexandra Monir. It is part of the DC Icons novels.
Finished on: 16.4.2022
[Here are my reviews of the other DC Icons novels.]

Content Note: cissexism/gender plague

Plot:
Dinah Lance lives in Gotham City under the rule of the Owl Council who have made sure that the women in Gotham City don’t have a voice – figuratively, but also literally: singing is outlawed for women, and has been made physically impossible, much to Dinah’s chagrin. She dreams of singing, and of the one time she is sure she remembers hearing a girl sing when she was a child. When she and her friends Ty and Mandy try to find out more about the female singers of the past, Dinah gets in deep trouble though, drawing the attention of the Owl Council, with worse consequences only avoided through the intervention of her cop father Larry. Dinah should be keeping her head down under the circumstances, but with an old friend of her dead mother, Barbara Gordon, making an appearance, and new and very cute student Oliver Queen arriving at her school, Dinah can’t help but continue to question the way things are. And maybe she can find her voice after all.

Black Canary: Breaking Silence takes a very different approach from the other novels in the DC Icons series so far, setting its story decades in the future in an dystopian version of Gotham. While that’s interesting, a lot of it seems a little half-baked and not quite thought through, making it a little disappointing despite its obvious(ly) feminist mission.

The book cover showing a drawn blond girl with bandages across her mouth, a black canary on the shoulder of her torn leather jacket.
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Re-Read: Fire (Kristin Cashore)

Fire is the second of the Graceling Realm novels by Kristin Cashore. It is both a prequel to and a spoiler for Graceling.
Finished on: 25.3.2022
[Here are my reviews of the Graceling Realm novels.]

Content Note: ableism, animal abuse, rape (mentioned)

Plot:
In the Dells, there are monsters: Animals that look quite normal, except that they are brightly colored and with the power to control the minds of others. Monsters are carnivores with a special hunger for monster meat. Fire is the last of the human monsters. She’s impossibly beautiful, has bright red hair and is jealously guarded by her childhood friend and lover Archer. Fire would have probably enough on her plate just by being herself – alternately admired and feared by everyone around her and struggling with the memories of a father who used his monsterness for cruelty – but she gets caught up in the young king’s struggle for the throne and has to worry about assassins with weirdly clouded minds.

It’s been a while that I read Fire, and much like with Graceling, I’m very happy that the book still holds up. I really loved returning to this novel as well.

The book cover showing a red-haired woman in a red dress with a bow and arrow in front of a dramatic sky.
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No Filter and Other Lies (Crystal Maldonado)

No Filter and Other Lies is the second novel by Crystal Maldonado.
Finished on: 4.3.2022

Plot:
Kat loves photography, and she has carefully curated her instagram to show the best of her photos. Nevertheless, her follower count remains low – much lower than her best friends’, Hari, Marcus and Luis. She suspects this might have to do with the fact that she is fat and Brown. After a fight with Hari, with whom she has been making out despite the naggling suspicion that he likes her more than she him, Kat makes a bad decision: she takes the photos of her friend Becca who is blond, thin, beautiful and not on social media and creates a fake account with them. Kat starts regretting it pretty immediately but when the account keeps raking in likes and this really cute girl, Elena, starts messaging the fake profile, Kat can’t quite give it up.

No Filter and Other Lies is cute and has a queer, fat Latina as the protagonist which is something I am completely here for. And yet, it didn’t quite make me happy.

The book cover showing a drawing of a fat Latina with a camera. Behind her a snapshots of a fat girl with pink hair, a blond girl, and a Brown guy.
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Re-Read: Graceling (Kristin Cashore)

Graceling is the first Graceling Realm novel by Kristin Cashore.
Finished on: 30.1.2022
[Here are my reviews of the other Graceling Realm novels.]

Content Note: ableism

Plot:
Katsa is Graced: she has a special and extreme talent. Unfortunately, her Grace is to kill. She has suffered her whole life for it, constantly pressuring herself to get herself under perfect control, while having to work as a common thug and contract killer for her uncle, King Randa. But Katsa sees the injustices in the kingdoms around her and decides that she can atone for her Grace by setting some things right. Therefore she forms a council that works for the people. When Katsa and the council rescue an old man who has been kidnapped and Katsa meets another Graceling, a fighter, she soon has to see that something is really very wrong in her world.

Last year, a new Graceling Realm novel finally came out and since it’s been practically a decade, I decided it would be time to give the series another go. And I’m happy to report that it’s still a wonderfully engaging read.

The book cover showing a woman with a sword over her shoulder in a barren, green-tinted landscape.
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Re-Read: Tintenherz (Cornelia Funke)

Tintenherz, translated as Inkheart, is the first novel of the Inkworld trilogy by Cornelia Funke.
Finished on: 26.7.2021
[Here’s my first review.]

Plot:
Meggie and her bookbinder father Mo have always lived rather withdrawn lives surrounded by books. When a stranger shows up on their doorstep one night and introduces himself as Dustfinger, it’s clear that he is actually an old acquaintance of Mo’s. He warns of Capricorn and his men who are coming for Mo, and the very next day, Meggie and Mo pack their stuff and head towards her greataunt Elinor, Dustfinger in tow. Elinor lives even more withdrawn and with even more books. But danger follows them even there because there is something that Mo can do and that Capricorn desperately needs.

Tintenherz is a book for people, especially kids, who really do love books and reading. Not just because of the contents of the book, but also because it’s not a quick read and you need some patience to read it. But I think it pays off.

The book cover showing a mosaic of illustrated letters like at chapter beginnings. There's also a castle, shadowy figures in front of a fire, an open book and a weasel standing on a book.
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Superman: Dawnbreaker (Matt de la Peña)

Superman: Dawnbreaker is the fourth DC Icons novel, this one written by Matt de la Peña.
Finished on: 13.7.2021
[Here are my reviews of the other DC Icons novels.]

First, let me just say that I wasn’t aware of the sexual harrassment accusations against de la Peña, or I would have steered clear of the book and definitely not have spent any money on it. I only just learned about it when I googled him for this review. So, please think carefully before you throw any money at him.

Content Note: (critical treatment of) racism

Plot:
Clark Kent would be a normal teenager in Smallville – if it wasn’t for the fact that he has superhuman powers. He has always had them, not knowing why or how, but now they’re getting stronger. As does his urge to help, even though heroics run counter to his parents’ plea that he keeps his powers under wraps. When he hears about people disappearing from Smallville from his classmate Gloria Alvarez, he asks his best friend and school reporter Lana Lang for help figuring out what is going on.

Superman: Dawnbreaker is a slightly disappointing take on Superman, I thought. The character’s potential remained untapped for me, although I did appreciate it that the book talks a lot about racism and the precarious situation of (Mexican) immigrants.

The book cover shwoing a young boy with glasses wearing a red hoodie and a backpack in front of a field that is hit by lightning. In front of him is the Superman symbol.
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Fat Chance, Charlie Vega (Crystal Maldonado)

Fat Chance, Charlie Vega is the first novel by Crystal Maldonado.
Finished on: 8.7.2021

Content Note: (critical treatment of) fatmisia, diet culture, racism

Plot:
Charlie and her parents used to be a good team, but since her dad died, her mom has gotten obsessed with her own weight – and with Charlie’s. Constantly leaving her diet suggestions, Charlie feels that her mother is never happy with her. It feels like the only person who is firmly in her corner is Amelia – who is everything that Charlie is not: beautiful. Athletic. Popular. In a relationship with a cute boy. When Brian takes an interest in Charlie, instead of easier, things get even more complicated for her.

Fat Chance, Charlie Vega is an absolutely lovely, wonderful and cute book that I wished I could have read when I was a (fat) teenager. But better now than never!

The book cover showing a fat, Brown girl with glasses in front of a few flowers.
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Hush (Dylan Farrow)

Hush is the first novel in the Hush series by Dylan Farrow.
Finished on: 2.7.2021

Plot:
Shae lives at the edge of a small village with her mother. They are just about tolerated in town since Shae’s brother died of the Blot, a highly contagious illness transmitted by ink which is why reading and writing are outlawed. The only people who don’t seem to fear that Shae might still be carrying the Blot are her best friend Fiona and Mads, the neighbor boy who may be more. But not even with them Shae has shared the fact that something is wrong with her, that her dreams and her embroidery are bleeding into reality. When the Bards come to town, Shae hopes to receive their blessing and healing, just like the entire town. While the town receives rain from them, Shae isn’t so lucky. And after they are gone, Shae’s mother is murdered, leaving her without hope and with very few options. So she risks it all and travels to the High House, where the Bards live, hoping to get help from them.

Hush is a pretty good read, albeit not deviating far from young adult fantasy standards. As it is being touted as a feminist book, I was expecting a little more from it in that regard, but I did like reading it overall.

The book cover showing a starry sky over the ruins of a castle overlooking the sea.
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Felix Ever After (Kacen Callender)

Felix Ever After is a novel by Kacen Callender.
Finished on: 25.6.2021

Content Note: (critical treatment of) transmisia, queermisia

Plot:
Felix is a student at an art school, hoping to get into a good college to pursue his art further. He therefore attends summer school with his best friend Ezra. He is also Black, trans, queer and desperate to fall in love for the first time, but secretly afraid that he has one marginalized identity too many. And maybe he is not all that sure about his identities anyway. Before he figures anything out, though, Felix arrives in school one morning to find pre-transitions photos of himself and his deadname plastered all over the school gallery. Suspecting his classmate and rival Declan, Felix hatches a plan to make him pay. But that plan leads him somewhere else entirely.

Felix Ever After is wonderful. Simply wonderful. It’s the kind of novel that queer people everywhere should grow up with, really. It made my heart swell in the best of ways.

The book cover showing an illustration of a Black guy in a tank top. His arms are covered in small tattoos, he is wearing a flower crown and underneath the tank top, we can just make out scars from top surgery.
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The Knife of Never Letting Go (Patrick Ness)

The Knife of Never Letting Go is the first novel in the Chaos Walking trilogy by Patrick Ness.
Finished on: 19.2.2021

Content Note: cissexism, animal abuse, colonialism

Plot:
Todd Hewitt is the last boy in Prentisstown, a settlement town on another planet. When the human settlers arrived, they waged a war against the original inhabitants of the planet and they struck back with a weaponized virus that killed all women and girls, and gave the men and animals telepathy. Todd grew up knowing nothing but the Noise of the men and animals around him, and as the youngest settler is just about to reach adulthood. But one day he is out and about with his dog Manchee and finds a quiet spot in the Noise. Disturbed, he returns home where his guardians Ben and Cillian turn his entire life upside down, send him away and hint at the fact that Todd doesn’t know the whole story. From one moment to the next, Todd finds himself on the run, but how can you run when everyone can hear your thoughts?

I bought The Knife of Never Letting Go many years ago and never got around to reading it. Now with a movie adaptation coming out, I decided to give it a go, although by now I had started to see the premise of the book very critically. Given how much I loved A Monster Calls, I didn’t want to give up on it prematurely, but maybe I should have. The book really didn’t work for me.

The book cover showing a red knife on black background.

[SPOILERS]

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