Showing posts with label autobiography. Show all posts
Showing posts with label autobiography. Show all posts

Thursday 8 December 2016

Comics Wrap-Up - Setting Fire To The Sky

Graphic Novels

This week, I reviewed Rendez-Vous in Phoenix by Tony Sandoval (UK - USA ) a generally great graphic novel about a young man crossing the border into America.

There are some issues with the representation of black people, which I went into further in my review, but overall it's a great book.

Other Stuff

I read a fairly damn cool ghost-based webcomic called 'The Auntie' by Alyssa Wong and Wendy Xu.


Over on Women Write About Comics, Sergio Alexis wrote an awesome post about queer rep.

Alexis, quite rightly, points out that The Big Two (Marvel and DC to those who don't speak hard-core nerd,) are cr*p at selling queer comics, but that queer comics do sell elsewhere.

It's a really interesting piece, so give it a glance :)

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Wednesday 7 December 2016

Review! (Graphic Novel Edition!) Rendez-Vous in Phoenix by Tony Sandoval

Title: Rendez-Vous in Phoenix

Author: Tony Sandoval

Genre: Graphic Novels, Autobiography, Non-Fiction, Contemporary

Amazon: UK - USA

A few starting notes:

I received a free digital review copy of this book via NetGalley. NetGalley provides review copies from publishers in exchange for fair and honest reviews.

This looked... intriguing.

And after making my list of graphic novels with Latinx characters, I became aware of just how few of them there are - particularly in terms of #ownvoices graphic novels available in English.


Tony's girlfriend is in America. Tony is in Mexico, and can't get a visa. So he decides to do what so many others do, and cross the border illegally.

This graphic novel is based on the creator's true story of crossing the border for love.

Best bits:

Even though this is so short (it's only about 80 pages in all,) the voice is so strong, unique, and authentic, that you will feel thoroughly satisfied by the end.

I love finding new and different voices in graphic novels - and this was so strong!

There's a definite confidence to this - maybe it comes from telling your own story - and that shines through.

It took a little time to get used to the artwork but I really warmed to it after a while.

It's certainly distinct - but with the hint of an air of Belleville Rendez-Vous that maybe comes from the author currently living and working in France, but without the slightly unnerving edge that I've always found that film to have.

This little book is, above all, a love story - a story about humans and love and hope and happiness. And that's beautiful.

Not so great bits:

The art style does take some getting used to it - but as I said in the previous section, I warmed to it.

There's a bunch of swearing and some racial slurs directed at Tony, as well as references to the harrowing journeys of some of the other migrants which may upset some.

My main problem with this book, though, was with the black people, when they featured, being portrayed mainly negatively - as leering criminals lurking in the shadows, for example.

I know that this book is based on personal experience, but I still think that the rep., and the images, could've been tempered - at least a little.

That note did sour things a bit.


In the end, though not perfect, this is a book about hope and love; it's about looking for something better, reaching for the stars; it's about people.

And that's pretty damned awesome.

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Wednesday 16 November 2016

My Diverse Welsh Authors TBR

Okie dokes my dearest nerdlets - it's time to combine two of my obsessions, diverse authors and Welsh authors.

A lot of these actually came from a post on black Welsh authors I read the other day, which I will link to here.

So, I give you my modest TBR list of diverse Welsh authors:

Ash on a Young Man's Sleeve by Dannie Abse

Amazon: UK - US

This is a semi-autobiographical novel by Jewish Welsh author and poet Dannie Abse. If you've never read any of his poetry - go. Go and look it up. Read. READ NOW.

dat's love by Leonora Brito

Amazon: UK - US

This is a short-story collection by a black Cardiffian author, and looks pretty awesome.

Sugar & Slate by Charlotte Williams

Amazon: UK - US

This is an autobiography which explores the intersection of Welsh and Guyanese identities - which sounds pretty cool.

Telling Tales by Patience Agbabi

Amazon: UK - US

This is like a re-telling of The Canterbury Tales I think? So I'd probably better read the original first!

Asylum: Docu-Drama by Eric Ngalle Charles

Amazon: UK

This bills itself as a docu-drama(?) based on the true stories of asylum seekers in Wales.

Vicious by Bevin Magama

Amazon: UK - US

This is an autobiography of a Zimbabwean immigrant to Wales, and the tale of his time in the Zimbabwean military.

Proud by Gareth 'Alfie' Thomas

Amazon: UK - US

This is the autobiography of Welsh rugby star Gareth Thomas - the first professional sportsman in a team sport to come out as gay, national superstar, and nice local boy t'boot.

Fingersmith by Sarah Waters

Amazon: UK - US

I only realised recently that Sarah Waters is Welsh! And I really want to read this, and possibly some of her other books, because F/F historical fiction dammit!!!!

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Monday 4 April 2016

Charity Reading Challenge 2016 Update - March

Yes! I have finally read something for this challenge!
Charity Reading Challenge 2016

Host: Becky's Book Reviews
Duration: January 2016-December 2016

The Challenge: 'Read for a good cause! Buy books at a charity shop, or, even a friends of the library book sale, or, donate a certain percentage of money for each book you read for the challenge. You can choose your own goal of how many books to read, what charity you'll be donating money towards, how much money, etc.'

The full rules can be found on Becky's Book Reviews here.

My sign-up post can be read here.

March 2016

Number of books read so far: 1/20
This Month: 1

Born on the Fourth of JulyTitle: Born on the Fourth of July (UK Click Here - US Click Here)

Author: Ron Kovic

Price: £0.25

Charity Helped: Local cause - sale to help a local child with medical care and equipment.

My Thoughts:

This is a non-fiction book detailing Ron Kovic's experiences as a Vietnam veteran; there is also a film of the book, starring Tom Cruise, of the same name.

Born on the Fourth of July is one of those books that everyone needs to read simply because it is a snapshot of history, and a testament to the uncomfortable truths that we need to remind ourselves of, and never let the world forget.

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Sunday 22 November 2015

Nerd Church! - Four Tales of Incredible Courage

I think we could all do with some courage (no, not the Dutch kind - shh!) How about you? You want some courage? These four books (in my humble opinion,) have characters who show real courage, in the most difficult of times.

The Courage of Friendship and Compassion

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
The Book Thief front cover

This a beautiful book, and I will always, always, always recommend it - to anyone, at any time. And Liesel, to me, is courage.

A girl growing up in Hitler's Germany, Liesel is trying to wind her way through the challenges of her life and times. Things are about to be made ever more complicated by the actions of her foster father, Hans, in hiding the Jewish son of an old friend.

Liesel never lets the challenging circumstances make her any less than who she is. Her friendship and kindness are more courageous than any bullet.

Buy now UK - Buy Now USA - Goodreads - Author's Facebook Page

The Courage of Survival

Blood Red, Snow White by Marcus Sedgwick

This is a book that I haven't read in years - but that I still think of as something truly memorable and remarkable.

Blood Red, Snow White book coverWritten by Marcus Sedgwick, this is a YA book with no teenage characters. All of the characters are, in fact, adult.

Set in the Russian Revolution of 1917, this book follows the true story of Arthur Ransome - the author of Swallows and Amazons - who acted as a double-agent at the heart of the new Communist regime. Such a double-agent, in fact, that no-one actually knew for sure which side he was on.

I loved the way this book tried to show the human story, and to portray the way that Ransome was an ordinary man, trapped by truly extraordinary circumstances, and just trying to survive in a world that had turned upside-down.

Certainly, if you're into spy stories, history, or both, then this book is worth the read.

Buy Now UK - Buy Now USAGoodreads - Author's Website

The Courage to Endure

Twelve Years a Slave by Solomon Northup

This memoir of the life of a man kidnapped into slavery in the US is made all the more incredible and poignant by the fact that it is non-fiction.

Solomon Northup writes beautifully and with dignity, and as far as I'm concerned this should be required reading on anyone's list.

Buy Now UK - Buy Now USAGoodreadsFull Review

The Courage of Love and Sacrifice

A Tale of Two Cities book coverA Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

A true 19th Century classic, this is a novel of the French Revolution. Featuring some of the most beautiful lines in English literature, this is Dickens (as far as I'm concerned,) at his best.

True, I disliked the character of Lucie - a bit two-dimensional in my opinion - but overall, this is a stunning book.

Without giving away any spoilers, I can tell you that Dickens brings the French Revolution, and the terror it brought with it, to life. But this is fundamentally a tale of love and sacrifice. It is honestly worth reading just for the beautiful tragedy it reveals.

Buy Now UK - Buy Now USA - Goodreads

Sunday 19 July 2015

Reviewing the Evidence (Classics Edition!) - 12 Years a Slave

Title: 12 Years a Slave (US Link)
Author: Solomon Northup
Genre: classics, non-fiction, memoirs, autobiography

A few starting notes:

I approached this book with a mix of trepidation and interest - I'd heard of the film, but not seen it, and knew a little about the story, but didn't know what the writing would be like or how the tone would be. I needn't have worried.


Solomon Northup was a black man born free in the time of slavery in the USA. He is tricked, kidnapped, and enslaved, enduring the life of a Southern slave for a period of 12 years. This is his own account of his time spent in slavery.

Best bits:

The very best bit is our narrator - Solomon Northup himself. He never lacks perspective, considers the opinions and feelings of others, and speaks with a strong voice that reverberates through the pages. His account keeps a level of admirable dignity up throughout its entirety, and he weaves the prose together better than many bestsellers today.

Mr Northup never shies away from the realities of slavery - we are told of the whippings and beatings, and the pain of separated families, whilst maintaining that same dignity. He never includes gratuitous levels of violence or suffering simply for their own sakes, and is honest about everything - the good times and the bad.

He also always gives credit where credit is due in a gracious and understanding way. He refrains from judging slave-owners simply for being slave-owners. His first master, William Ford, he has genuine affection for and Ford joins the ranks of white men who put themselves out for Mr Northup's sakes (the others including but not limited to an English sailor, and the Canadian carpenter, Bass.) Northup insists that, in his estimation, Ford was only a slave-owner because he had been born and raised in the South - something which he could not help any more than Solomon could help being black.

Not so great bits:

Slavery is understandably an uncomfortable subject - and though Solomon Northup is an excellent narrator, he uses the language and the attitudes of his time. He thinks nothing of classifying people according to their skin colour - something which actually becomes very interesting in the case of the slave Celeste who is paler than her owner - and this can jar with modern sensibilities.

He also uses the 'n' word a lot - simply because this is how black people were referred to by those he is in contact with. This is historically accurate but mightily uncomfortable.

The subject matter, as can be expected, is not always pleasant, though is not gratuitous.


This book is excellent. It is written sublimely with a voice that is not often heard in accounts of slavery - that of an actual slave. More than just an outstanding piece of literature, this is also a work of historical importance - and should be just as much as a necessity on reading lists as the likes of Anne Frank's Diary.