The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy by Sam Maggs (2015). This short book by Sam Maggs of The Mary Sue ostensibly introduces the uninitiated into the life of a fangirl, briefly outlining major fandoms, lingo, meet-ups, feminist issues, and resources. It is an irritating book without any real information and no clear audience. More often than not, it paints fangirls as vapid, materialistic tweens. Do not recommend.
Sex Criminals, Vol. 1: One Weird Trick by Matt Fraction (2014). In this new series, Matt Fraction and artist Chip Zdarsky introduce us to Suzie and Jon, two twenty-somethings who, when they orgasm, can stop time. And what do they do with this power and their sudden meet-up? Why, rob banks and try to save a library, of course. While many people seem to like this series, I found it a bit boring. The pacing is very slow and none of the characters are especially interesting or relatable. The introduction of Kegelface and the Sex Cops is interesting but not fully explored. I’m pretty ambivalent about this.
Sex Criminals, Vol. 2: Two Worlds, One Cop by Matt Fraction (2015). In this second installment, Suzie and Jon have a falling out, lose themselves, find themselves, find each other, get back together, lose the library, and declare war on the Sex Police. Also, a new gynecologist enters the picture, and we get to learn more about Jazmine St. Cocaine, Jon’s first fantasy girl and a really interesting woman in her own right. This volume corrected a lot of the problems inherent in the first one and actually made me more interested in the series. I still won’t buy it, but I’ll gladly read it if I can borrow it.
Sally Heathcote: Suffragette by Mary M. Talbot (2014). This graphic novel written by Mary Talbot and illustrated by Bryan Talbot and Kate Charlesworth details the suffragette history in England from the late 19th century through the early 20th. It mostly follows Sally Heathcote, a fictional suffragette who goes from orphan to a leader of the movement. I’m happy that this book exists, and the information was absolutely spot-on, but the writing was often too stilted and academic, and the plot was clunky. I’d definitely recommend reading it, and I want to buy it, but it’s just not as masterful as March by Representative John Lewis or Woman Rebel by Pete Bagge.
Memories of Kazakhstan: A Report on the Life Experiences of a German Woman in Russia by Berta Bachmann (1983). This memoir details Berta Bachmann’s life in the Soviet Union prior to and after World War II when she and other ethnic Germans were deported to Siberia. Mrs. Bachmann has a gift for storytelling but can get repetitive and contradictory at times. Nevertheless, this is an invaluable memoir that I thoroughly enjoyed.
Ongoing manga series:
Vagabond by Takehiko Inoue (1998 – ongoing). This beautifully written and illustrated manga follows Miyamoto Musashi, a renowned swordsman in Sengoku era Japan. The pace varies, but at this point I’m learning about Sasaki Kojiro, a beautiful, deaf swordsman who lives for the sword and can only communicate through it. I am really into it. If you can, absolutely read it.
Ansatsu Kyoushitsu (Assassination Classroom) by Yusei Matsui (2012 – ongoing). This silly but well-written and well-drawn manga is about a classroom of kids who must kill their monster teacher before the year is up or he’ll blow up the Earth. Along the way, Koro-sensei (their monster teacher) teaches the kids how to see their own value and fight for their place in their elitist school. Right now we’re finally learning about Koro-sensei’s tragic backstory, and it is very well written. Such a fun manga.
Shokugeki no Soma (Food Wars!) by Yuto Tsukuda (2012 – ongoing). Shokugeki no Soma (which better translates to “Soma’s Cooking Battles”) follows Soma, a brash young man who’s just entered the prestigious Tootsuki Academy, the top chef school in the world with a graduation rate of only 1 – 10%. Soma meets many interesting characters and engages in numerous food challenges while trying to carve out his own flavor and style. I am a sucker for food and battle manga, and I love all the characters in this series. Right now we’re recovering from an intensive training session and are revved up to start the new year. I can’t wait for the issues to come out.