Review; They Called us Enemy

They Called Us Enemy
by George Takei (co-writer),
Justin Eisinger (co-writer),
Steven Scott (co-writer),
Harmony Becker (Artist)

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Summary from Goodreads:

In 1942, at the order of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, every person of Japanese descent on the west coast was rounded up and shipped to one of ten “relocation centers,” hundreds or thousands of miles from home, where they would be held for years under armed guard.

They Called Us Enemy is Takei’s firsthand account of those years behind barbed wire, the joys and terrors of growing up under legalized racism, his mother’s hard choices, his father’s faith in democracy, and the way those experiences planted the seeds for his astonishing future.

What is American? Who gets to decide? When the world is against you, what can one person do? To answer these questions, George Takei joins co-writers Justin Eisinger & Steven Scott and artist Harmony Becker for the journey of a lifetime.

Goodreads.com

George Takei’s The Called Us Enemy is a captivating work of art. The story he has to tell is a horrible one, and one of great injustice to a portion of America’s citizens. And it’s one story that is, unfortunately, still relevant today. There are terrible acts going on in America today, right now, and while this is a tale of the country’s history it’s also relevant to the present day.

The art of this book is also spot-on, and Harmony Becker’s attention to detail is admirable. The artistic style works in unison with the story, hitting the high and low points with precision.

I picked it up today, intending to sit down and read a few pages, and finished the book without moving from my spot. This is a book I would recommend to everyone. There are great lessons to learn here, and should be considered required reading.

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Review; The Braindead Megaphone by George Saunders

The Braindead MegaphoneThe Braindead Megaphone by George Saunders

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Summary from Goodreads

The breakout book from “the funniest writer in America”—not to mention an official Genius—a trade paperback original and his first nonfiction collection ever.

George Saunders’s first foray into nonfiction is composed of essays on literature, travel, and politics. At the core of this unique collection are Saunders’s travel essays based on his trips to seek out the mysteries of the “Buddha Boy” of Nepal; to attempt to indulge in the extravagant pleasures of Dubai; and to join the exploits of the minutemen at the Mexican border. Saunders expertly navigates the works of Mark Twain, Kurt Vonnegut, and Esther Forbes, and leads the reader across the rocky political landscape of modern America. Emblazoned with his trademark wit and singular vision, Saunders’s endeavor into the art of the essay is testament to his exceptional range and ability as a writer and thinker.

In an effort to read more work outside of my usual comfort-zone (which consist mainly of science fiction, fantasy, and their sub genres) I have picked up a few collections of essays to peruse. I have mainly read “for fun” recently, and try to pick out books I am likely to enjoy, either based on knowing the author’s work or seeing a review from an author I follow that rates a work favourably. While still hoping to enjoy these essays, it’s definitely outside my usual reads… so I am trying to keep an open mind!

While published in 2007, much of what is here is still relevant today. In particular, the first essay about the “Megaphone Guy” and the simplification of language in media.

Here’s an excerpt from that section:

Last night on the local news I watched a young reporter standing in front of our mall, obviously freezing his ass off. The essence of his report was, Malls Tend to Get Busier at Christmas! Then he reported the local implications of his investigation: (1) This Also True at Our Mall! (2) When Our Mall More Busy, More Cars Present in Parking Lot! (3) The More Cars, the Longer It Takes Shoppers to Park! and (shockingly): (4) Yet People Still Are Shopping, Due to, It Is Christmas!

There’s a fair bit of truth to this which, and I have often found a lack of interest in the news for this reason… When worded this way, though, it’s clear how silly the process really is. I have noticed similar setups on the news, both in American and Canadian television. It’s a good reminder though, for what to avoid in one’s own writing. Wasting time and being unnecessarily repetitive to take up more time, rather than being concise. I would much rather be concise. What was the line from The Simpsons?

From Wikiquote, for the Season 5 episode Bart Gets Famous:

[Marge convinces Bart to perform one more time.]
Bart: You’re right, Mom. I shouldn’t let this bother me. I’m in television now. It’s my job to be repetitive. My job. My job. Repetitiveness is my job. [to Marge] I’m gonna go out there and give the best performance of my life!
Marge: The best performance of your life?
Bart: The best performance of my life!

(I should note that, in conversation, I quote The Simpsons a fair bit.  I grew up watching the show and, as young-me thought was necessary at the time, perfecting a Ralph Wiggum impression. Maybe I should be ashamed of it but, to be honest? I’m not. 😉 )

Anyway! While I found a few of the essays to be interesting, many were not of topics that could not keep my attention for long. I found myself skimming, or skipping some essays outright after a few paragraphs. There were others, though, about storytelling which I found useful and are likely to also appeal to those with similar interest.

Overall, the essays are well-written and the author has a distinct voice in his writing. His work is easy to read and follow and is, oftentimes, humerous as well.

Review; Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson

Steelheart (Reckoners, #1)Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

 

Summary from Goodreads.com

Ten years ago, Calamity came. It was a burst in the sky that gave ordinary men and women extraordinary powers. The awed public started calling them Epics. But Epics are no friend of man. With incredible gifts came the desire to rule. And to rule man you must crush his will.

Nobody fights the Epics…nobody but the Reckoners. A shadowy group of ordinary humans, they spend their lives studying Epics, finding their weaknesses, and then assassinating them.

And David wants in. He wants Steelheart — the Epic who is said to be invincible. The Epic who killed David’s father. For years, like the Reckoners, David’s been studying, and planning — and he has something they need. Not an object, but an experience.

He’s seen Steelheart bleed. And he wants revenge.

Brandon Sanderson quickly became one of my favourite authors with his Mistborn series, so discovering Steelheart on Audible.com was awesome. I hadn’t been keeping up with any upcoming books, and had no context other than the blurb for the book on what was coming in this novel. My expectations were high though, because hey — it’s a new series (at least for me, not paying attention) from Brandon Sanderson — and I was not disappointed.

The way Sanderson builds the world and lays down the rules for magic and abilities is, as always, a strength of his that is put to good use. Understanding how the world works is made easy, and the characters feel real despite their… shall we say Epic… abilities? The main character, David, is an awkward teenager and I’m constantly feeling embarrassment on his behalf. The type of character works for the book, though, and while I found him a bit annoying at first that quickly dissipated and I found his character to be a great choice for this type of story. It didn’t worsen my enjoyment of the book, but I guess I wanted someone more badass rather than awkward and… well, relatable. (I might have been an awkward kid, too, okay? It hits too close!)

Another thing to note is that I listened to the audiobook version of this title, narrated by MacLeod Andrews. I had not heard any of his voice work previously, and was quite impressed with his range and consistency with the characters in the book. I’m glad he’s the choice for the remaining books in the series, and will definitely keep a lookout for more of his work in the future.

Steelheart is fast-paced and concise. I really enjoyed the ending, and what it means for the next book in the series.  I look forward to checking out the next one.

Review; Adulthood is a Myth by Sarah Andersen

Adulthood Is a Myth: A Sarah's Scribbles CollectionAdulthood Is a Myth: A Sarah’s Scribbles Collection by Sarah Andersen

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Summary from Goodreads:

These casually drawn, perfectly on-point comics by the hugely popular young Brooklyn-based artist Sarah Andersen are for the rest of us. They document the wasting of entire beautiful weekends on the internet, the unbearable agony of holding hands on the street with a gorgeous guy, and dreaming all day of getting home and back into pajamas. In other words, the horrors and awkwardnesses of young modern life. Oh and they are totally not autobiographical. At all.

Adulthood Is a Myth presents many fan favorites plus dozens of all-new comics exclusive to this book. Like the work of fellow Millennial authors Allie Brosh, Grace Helbig, and Gemma Correll, Sarah’s frankness on personal issues like body image, self-consciousness, introversion, relationships, and the frequency of bra-washing makes her comics highly relatable and deeply hilarious.

Sarah’s Scribbles comics will always be one of my favourite things to read. They’re incredibly easy to relate to and I feel like most apply to my life. (And, based on the popularity, I wouldn’t be surprised if this was the case for most people who love the comics.)

The artwork here is well-drawn, highly amusing, and I am nearly always sharing them with friends and family. It’s a strong collection, and a great introduction to Sarah Andersen’s artwork.

For those unfamiliar with her comics, they can be found on a variety of social media. I prefer reading on Sarah’s Instagram, but they can be found on Facebook, too.

Here are a few of my favourites, not necessarily from Adulthood is a Myth.