Faith Vol. 1 by Jody Houser

I heard so much about this comic that I thought there was no way I wouldn't love it, but I'm afraid I just don't understand the hype. I didn't find Faith to be a very interesting character and this seemed like such an ordinary superhero story to me with no nuance. I also found a few small things problematic. For example, I've never seen a character in any comic I've ever read eat so frequently. There were so many scenes where she is eating things like greasy Chinese food. Is it because of her size that we have to see her eating all the time? Also, she fantasizes frequently about men with washboard abs and perfect features (and these attributes are emphasized in her fantasies). I don't understand why a supposedly body-positive comic would emphasize this so much. She certainly doesn't need to fantasize about heavy men or anything, but it seems like a weird double standard and I think people would call that out if this were a male superhero. I was excited about Faith as the real world female superhero I've always wanted to see, but this seemed like a lackluster attempt. Two out of five stars. Back to Book Reviews  

Black Panther: A Nation Under Our Feet Vol. 1 by Ta-Nehisi Coates

An interesting and complex story, I was intrigued enough by this first volume to have some interest in reading the next. There's several story lines running at once, so it did get a little confusing at times and I felt like I had to pay close attention to keep up. Also, we don't really get any origin story for Black Panther which is always something I look forward to in a first volume with a new take on a character. While the story and visuals were captivating, it seemed obvious Coates is not used to the comics medium. The dialogue felt really awkward in spots and he relies on narration a lot more than I'm used to in a typical comic. If you're interested in comics, I wouldn't miss this one, but, if you're new to the format or only marginally interested in it, I'd read something else. Three out of five stars. Back to Book Reviews  

Solo by Kwame Alexander

Kwame Alexander once again crafts an amazing novel-in-verse (if you haven't read Booked or The Crossover, get on it!). This story is about a teen boy who struggles with his place in his family, and feeling like he really belongs. He learns a long-kept secret that sends him to Africa in search of love, understanding, and identity. He's also a musician of a famous rockstar, yet struggles with finding his own musical voice. A wonderful story told by a masterful writer. Back to Book Reviews  

Space Battle Lunchtime, Vol 1: Lights, Camera, Snacktion! by Natalie Riess

I loved this graphic novel!!! It's all about space travel, food, and reality TV - what's not to love? An earthling baker gets transported to space to participate in a cutthroat cooking elimination show where she's pitted against master chefs from around the galaxy! Can she hold her own in this alien environment and survive the underhanded tactics used by the competition in order to win? I'm already waiting in line for volume 2. I dare you to read just one volume in this exciting new series! Back to Book Reviews

Black History in its Own Words by Ron Wimberly

This book features quotes from influential African Americans throughout American history, as well as gorgeous portraits of the person quoted. It's a thought-provoking compilation for anyone who wants to learn more about people who have shaped the United States in a myriad of ways, from a woman who enlisted as a male soldier in the Civil War to Black Panthers to musicians, artists, activists, and many others. Back to Book Reviews

Honor Girl by Maggie Thrash

A coming of age tale in which a young girl at summer camp comes to terms with feelings she has for a female counselor. This is a graphic memoir so it is entirely illustrated with simple yet emotionally fraught artwork. Maggie is a complex, witty, flawed, sympathetic character who I loved reading about. She captures the feeling and spirit of summer camp perfectly. Maggie's crush is innocent, sweet, and obsessive much like any 15 year old girl crush making her relationship with Erin (the female counselor) incredibly relatable. Watching Maggie navigate the norms of Southern tradition that are emphasized both at home and at camp, while harboring a secret that could ostracize her, underlines the ways in which we compartmentalize ourselves to fit in, especially in our youth. Maggie also rebels against these norms in many ways often without much grace but with a spirit and heart that I found very admirable. I have a soft spot for coming of age tales with comic relief and precocious narrators and this one completely fit the bill! Five out of five stars. Back to Book Reviews  

Arab of the Future by Riad Sattouf

Great slice of life graphic novel that provides a glimpse into everyday life in the region during that time. The story is told through a child's eyes making the political fervor surrounding them seem somewhat muted but still present, often in the background via the stunning visuals. Riad's parents are well-developed characters with complexities that are captured subtlety and artfully. Full of humor and a poignant memoir of family and place. A great read-alike for fans of Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi (especially if you enjoyed the family dynamics more than the politics), or anyone who enjoys memoirs and/or glimpses of life in this region. Four out of five stars. Back to Book Reviews  

Seconds by Bryan Lee O’Malley

This book was clever, original, surprising, and all-around awesome. The art is manga-style and the story reflects many manga elements while also playfully mocking them. Katy is a likable but seriously flawed character whose bound toward disaster when she discovers she can "erase" yesterday's mistakes. As you might guess, things get out of hand as she erases mistake after mistake and weird stuff starts happening. Though a somewhat cliche premise, the humor is spot-on and Katy proves to be an irresistible protagonist as she rushes headfirst into something she doesn't understand. I couldn't put it down. Five out of five stars. Back to Book Reviews