Book Reviews

Voice to Books: See It, Read It, Love It

Graphic novels intertwine words and illustrations to allow their authors to say what they need to without descriptions. Their audiences don’t need to imagine their worlds; they can see them. Art and words are used strategically to tell stories. Simplicity and silence, lavish details, and verbose prose, or vice versa, tell these histories. The Black Panther Party: A Graphic Novel History by David F. Walker Reviewed by Pallavi Yetur Graphic novels contain multitudes. Comic book writer Alan Moore, who penned the groundbreaking Watchmen series-turned-graphic novel from 1986 to 1987, has lamented the term “graphic novel” as a marketing ploy devised…

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Book Review: We Two Alone by Jack Wang

by Yennie Cheung If the saying holds true that readers discover books at the right time in their lives, perhaps now is the right time to discover Jack Wang’s We Two Alone. Each short story in the collection focuses on Chinese migrants and their children, living around the globe—the United States, South Africa, and Canada (Wang’s home country). Spanning about a century, the seven stories chronicle just a fragment of global anti-Chinese racism and serve as a reminder that the anti-Chinese animosity currently plaguing the Western world is far from new. Through them, Wang shows us that members of the…

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Book Review: The Final Revival of Opal & Nev, the debut novel from Dawnie Walton

by Adam Zemel The Final Revival of Opal & Nev, the debut novel from Dawnie Walton, sizzles with energy and attitude as it unspools a recognizably American story of self-invention and systemic injustice, unmet expectations and dramatic turns of fortune, the legacy of public trauma and the pressure of society, and the role of complicity in the persecution of the other. In the book, Sunny, a music journalist and the novel’s protagonist, sets out to report a definitive oral history of the moment that claimed her father’s life before she was born––which also happens to be one of the most famous…

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Voice to Books: Sharing Personal Experience Through Poetry

Poetry speaks to our souls. From songs to spoken word, sonnets to free verse, there’s poetry for any mood or moment. Poetry is a form that can take on many shapes, tackle any subject, and help people express themselves. All of the collections in this column revolve around poets sharing deeply personal experiences. The poems found in these collections move within cities and dreams, time and space, language and culture to release a truth, an emotion, a thought in the hope that others will connect with them. Finna by Nate Marshall Reviewed by Pamela Pete Full of ethnic slang slung…

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Book Review: In That Endlessness, Our End by Gemma Files

  By Brian Asman With her latest collection of horror fiction, In That Endlessness, Our End, Canadian writer Gemma Files delivers a panphobic meditation on what it means to be alone and, even worse, aware in an inscrutable universe. Less paranoid than honest, these fifteen tales faithfully depict an all-too-recognizable world in which literally nothing can be trusted. Threats come swiftly, silently, from the strangest of places—a house on a neighboring street, a viral video, a therapy session, even a transcript of an interview with a retired dentist, of all things. Files has a knack for finding something to fear…

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Voice to Books: Memoirs on Overcoming Struggles and Trauma

In this episode of Voice to Books, our readers review memoirs written by people from a variety of backgrounds. Everyone has a story to tell, and firsthand accounts of struggles are powerful instruments of change and understanding. Reading underrepresented voices, especially in memoir, helps to cultivate compassion and awareness for cultures and experiences that are not our own. Consent: A Memoir by Vanessa Springora (translated from the French by Natasha Lehrer) Reviewed by A.E. Santana Writing can be transformative and healing. It can thread together themes in the lives of authors or make sense of a situation they’ve lived. For…

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Book Review: ­­World of Wonders: In Praise of Fireflies, Whale Sharks, and Other Astonishments by Aimee Nezhukumatathil

By Jessica Bremmer When considering World of Wonders, poet Aimee Nezhukumatathil’s collection of essays about the wonders, great and small, of the natural world, perhaps it is best to begin at the end. The book’s final essay, “Firefly (Redux),” contemplates the Photinus pyralis: “Its luminescence could very well be the spark that reminds us to make a most necessary turn—a shift and a swing and a switch—toward cherishing this magnificent and wondrous planet. Boom. Boom. You might think of a heartbeat—your own. A child’s. Someone else’s. Or some thing’s heart. And in that slowdown, you might think it’s a kind…

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Book Review: The Doll by Ismail Kadare

By Linda Romano Many people may  not be familiar with Albania, a small country bordering Greece on the western part of the Balkan Peninsula, or of Ismail Kadare, a renowned Albanian poet and novelist. In Kadare’s autobiographical novel, The Doll, this lack of familiarity does not prevent us from identifying with the common question of how our childhood, and especially our mothers, impact our life. At seventy-eight, Ismail Kadare explores the relationship with his mother and her influence on the political writer he became. Kadare not only survived but flourished in a country under communist dictator Enver Hoxha, where writers…

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Voice to Books — Romance Episode

This month’s episode of Voice to Books is all about love. Romance is one of the biggest money makers in publishing, but, despite being so popular, the romance genre does not always get the credit it deserves. Romance is the perfect escape genre. There is a bit of drama, some flirting, sometimes there is sex, and you know the characters are going to end up happy—it’s a promise the genre makes to its readers. Here at Voice to Books, we’re excited to see BIPOC, LGBTQ+, and disabled characters get their happily ever afters. Fireheart Tiger by Aliette de Bodard  Reviewed…

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Voice to Books: Episode 3

January is the month of new beginnings. This is the time when people look toward the future with hope and bright intentions. Science fiction has long been lauded as the first step to imagining our collective future, be it with technology, arts, or health advancements. This month, our reviewers examined science fiction novels written by authors from underrepresented groups. The contributions of people from minority communities to science fiction are often overlooked, but incredibly impactful, nonetheless. The books reviewed this month highlight marginalized writers who have influenced the genre, adding to the possibilities of our society’s future. A Memory Called…

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Book Review: Big Bad Wolf

By Sara Marchant In Suleikha Snyder’s Big Bad Wolf, the world is full of strangers and strangeness, but it is recognizably our world. “Different,” she tells us, “unequal, but same.” The novel is set in the Divided States of America after the Darkest Day of 2016, where Sanctuary Cities are more than lip service and operate to protect the rights of the LGBTQ, women, and Black and Brown brethren as well as supernatural citizens, and the only unbelievable aspect of the story is a hero who prefers giving head to receiving it. Joe, an anti-heroic (literal) alpha male, is awaiting…

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Book Review: Atomizer

by Sara Grimes Elizabeth A. I. Powell doesn’t pull any punches when satirizing her lovers in Atomizer. The collection is a sassy, whip-smart treatise on the deceitful nature of love, using the extended metaphor of scent as a cover-up. Powell brings each love under the microscope of her fierce poetry to see if it is in fact a gem or a lump of coal. Oftentimes it is the latter. She extends the same analysis to all love relationships—romantic, imagined, or familial. In “The Book of Sires”: “My homage: He was an atelier of garbage. How his microaggressions of Paco Rabanne…

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