Category Archive – Must-Read Fiction

Week of Geek: Form Vortex Post!

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Hiya Geeklings!  It’s August!  Excited?  Sad the summer’s half over?  I say enjoy it while you can!  (Even if we’re getting a lot of rain lately)

So let me tell you about my latest discovered fandom.  I am way late to the party on this one, but who cares?  I found it eventually.  I kept seeing it in places like Tumblr, Pinterest and my usual nerdy online hang outs.  And then a few nights ago, on a whim, I decided to watch the first episode, just to see what the fuss was about.  I finished the first season last night.  Holy heck, it was SO GOOD!

So what is it?  Voltron: Legendary Defender!

Some of you may be asking What the heck is that?  Bit of a story there.  You see, back in the 1980s (yup, we’re going there again; it’s all the rage these days), what some television studios liked to do was to take Japanese anime and heavily edit it to make it an almost entirely new show on the cheap to sell toys.  Cynical?  Maybe. Do people still have fond memories?  Totally.  As this article details, that was the same for Voltron.  It took the anime Beast King GoLion and tweaked it, though not by a whole lot.  The first series made for North American audiences was Lion Force Voltron or Voltron: Defender of the Universe.  It featured five pilots of space ships shaped like lions that could combine into a giant robot named Voltron.  That was another thing that was huge back then: giant robots.  (See: Transformers)  These five pilots used Voltron at the behest of Princess Allura to battle the evil King Zarkon, his minions and his own giant ‘ro-beasts’.  Admittedly I don’t recall watching this when I was a kid but it had, and has, a pretty passionate fanbase.

(Ah, 80s Anime.  Nothing quite like it.)

Fast forward 30-odd years, past a few other versions of the show, to now and to Netflix.  Voltron: Legendary Defender tells a similar story but with updated characters and animation.  Five humans – Shiro, Keith, Lance, Pidge and Hunk – get swept up in galactic intrigue when they end up becoming the new paladins for Voltron, meaning they fly the lions and form the giant robot.  They’ve been recruited by Princess Allura and her majordomo Coran to fight against Emperor Zarkon and his Galra Empire that’s conquered most of the galaxy (think the Empire from Star Wars and all the bad that comes with it, except the Galra have had thousands of years to get it right).   The paladins each have their own unique personalities, hang ups, goals and strengths, and they must learn to work and fight together if they’re going to save the galaxy.

The animation style of Legendary Defender harkens back to shows like Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra; shows that were produced in the United States but have very clear Anime influences.  No surprise for the comparisons; Legendary Defender‘s showrunners worked on both Airbender and Korra.  Similar characteristics exist in each show, such as a good mix of humor and drama, exaggerated facial expressions and some pretty epic action scenes.

It’s colorful, it’s funny, it’s inclusive, it’s compelling, it’s gorgeous.  I recommend it, and I’m definitely not the only one.

So if you don’t have Netflix, how to get in on this?  The first 2 seasons have just been released on DVD, so we’ll look into getting it into our collection, but in the meantime we have the graphic novel series on Hoopla and we have some of the episodes in book form.  Anyone else seen it and would recommend it?  Any naysayers?  Post away in the comments or over on Write It.

Have a good week Geeklings.  Keep your eyes peeled for news about this September’s Fan Con, and until next time, End of Line.

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Week of Geek: Your 2018 SDCC Trailer Round Up

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Hiya Geeklings!

So this past weekend was San Diego Comic Con, and as per usual we got a ton of news coming out of California on some of our favorite fandoms.  So today I thought I’d let them do the talking and post some of the new trailers that you guys might be interested in <3

Movies

Marvel’s Cinematic Universe didn’t have any panels or announcements this year (probably because they’re avoiding spoilers for the last Infinity War film) so that gave DC and Warner Bros a chance to shine.  We got our first trailer for this December’s Aquaman.  We first met the Atlantean royalty in previous films like Batman v Superman and Justice League but now he headlines his own film, and it’s looking pretty epic.

DC also unveiled a trailer for this April’s SHAZAM!.  If you guys aren’t familiar, Shazam is a long-running DC superhero (he used to be called Captain Marvel until Marvel Comics put a stop to that).  His alter ego is Billy Batson, a kid who becomes an adult superhero when he shouts SHAZAM, the name of a wizard who imparts his powers to him and an acronym for Solomon, Hercules, Atlas, Zeus, Achilles and Mercury, all Greek gods and heroes (comics are weird but wonderful, aren’t they?).

This looks like a lot of fun, which is something the DCEU has not been known for lately.  Aquaman looks like it’s going for a more playful tone too, so hopefully that will continue.  These movies are supposed to be fun after all.

To get caught up check out the previous DCEU films.

Warner Bros also released our latest look at the Wizarding World with a new trailer for Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald.

I’m torn about this one, as I mentioned in a previous post.  Still looks amazing and I love this franchise and a lot of these characters so much but man, those two big problems are hard to get past.  We’ll have to see.  But, of course, we’ve got a perfect excuse to watch the other Wizarding World films (not like we really needed one)…

And we’ve got some monster movie fun for you with Godzilla: King of the Monsters.  If you’ve been watching Stranger Things you might recognize the star.

TV

The new Doctor is getting ready to make her debut and this new series looks delightful.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars is coming back!  This was a big surprise at the Con this year.  Fans of the original series had hoped there’d be more episodes, as the show hadn’t really ended the way it was intended too, but there was no real indication that was happening… until the 10 year anniversary panel and this trailer was screened.  Fans are over the moon!  Plus we have the new show Star Wars: Resistance coming soon as well.  Good times for Star Wars animated series.

Netflix and Dreamworks’ Voltron: Legendary Defender screened a trailer for it’s 7th season and announced that there’ll be some representation in their series by introducing Shiro’s boyfriend Adam.

And we got another look at Netflix’s new Matt Groening series Disenchantment (I’ve already hyped this one up pretty hard, take a look).

Other news

Supergirl announced that it has cast the first transgender superhero on network television.  Nicole Maines, a transgender activist and actor, will play Nia Nal, a re-imagined version of Dream Girl, in the shows fourth season.  Awesome!

And Star Wars books.  So many Star Wars booksE.K. Johnston will be returning to the galaxy far far away to pen a stand-alone novel for Padme Amidala, the queen/senator/mother of Luke and Leia that we first met in The Phantom MenaceQueen’s Shadow tells of how Padme transitions from queen to senator and how she and her loyal handmaidens must navigate the metaphorical treacherous waters of the Galactic Senate.  There’ll also be a novel by Claudia Gray about Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi and there will also be a horror comic series called Tales from Vader’s Castle.  LOVE IT!  Read the full list of announced books here.

So that’s all for now.  Anything I missed?  Post away in the comments section.  Keep your eyes peeled for more news about our own Fan Con, coming Sept 29, and until next time, End of Line.

Week of Geek: Pride Month Recommendations Part 4: Books!

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Hi again Geeklings!  Welcome to our final week of Pride Month 2018 and a whole lot more recommendations, just for you.

So let’s get to a library’s bread and butter; BOOKS!  SO MANY BOOKS!  Unlike last week’s post, where I was kind of coming up empty, we have no shortage of titles to suggest this week.

It wasn’t always like that though.  For the longest time the only way stories about LGBTQ+ people got published was if they were marketed to adults and ended in tragedy.  As this article points out, back in the middle of the 20th century if a book showed gay characters having positive experiences the book would’ve been considered obscene and would’ve been confiscated at post offices.  What?  Really?  Really?

I’ll Get There.  It Better Be Worth the Trip by John Donovan is largely considered one of, if not the first, YA queer books to be published, all the way back in 1969, which was the same year as the Stonewall Riots and only a couple of years after The Outsiders kicked of a new wave of YA fic.  In the 1960s homosexuality was still considered a mental disorder and was against the law in a lot of places.  Early YA novels featuring homosexuality still contained a lot of tragedy, and that didn’t really start to turn until the 1980s, particularly with books like Annie On My Mind by Nancy Garden which was published in 1982.  That book has been frequently banned since it’s publication, and was even publicly burned at a school in 1993.  Change came slowly, with many books featuring only side characters that fit the rainbow, and whether side or not most LGBTQ+ characters were male or white.  It was the early 2000s when queer YA really started to take off, and to feature not just gay characters but trans, ace, bi, fluid and all sorts of people.  Though there are still many missteps and many imbalances that continue to this day, the market is there so publishers and authors keep putting new stories and new voices out there.  And nowadays we can expect dozens of queer YA books to be published each year, whereas before we’d be lucky if we got one.

So short overview.  Again, click on that article link to learn more.  But now, let’s get to the books!

Some I like to recommend are…

The Summer of Jordi PerezThe Summer of Jordi Perez (and the Best Burger in Los Angeles) by Amy Spalding – I’m currently reading this one, so the jury’s still out, but really liking it so far.  It’s sweet, it’s summery, and it’s main character Abby, though a girl with quite a few insecurities in some areas of her life, also does not let the fact that she’s plus-sized stand in the way of her fashion dreams or her fashion sense.  She’s someone who knows what she likes and is quite comfortable in the fact that she’s gay.  It’s just finding someone who likes her back that way that’s the problem.  But her fellow intern at a trendy boutique, Jordi, is the latest girl to catch Abby’s attention.  Between that, competing for a coveted job and hanging with her new friend Jax while they taste test burgers in LA, it’s shaping up to be quite the summer.

Carry onCarry On: The Rise and Fall of Simon Snow by Rainbow Rowell – I LOVE Rainbow Rowell.  I LOVE Fangirl.  And I LOVE Harry Potter.  And The Adventures of Simon Snow was Fangirl‘s in-universe version of Harry Potter.  And Carry On is a companion novel to Fangirl featuring Simon Snow.  Confused yet?  I don’t blame you, but here’s the gist; Simon’s attending his last year at Watford School of Magicks.  He’s supposed to be the Chosen One, but certainly doesn’t feel like he’s living up to that, what with his girlfriend breaking up with him and his roommate, Baz, probably plotting against him.  And Baz is also probably a vampire.  Simon’s going to have to figure all of this out and also save the magical world.  It’s kind of a slightly more realistic Hogwarts, as the witches and wizards in this story still live in regular homes and still use tech.  Give it a try.  And there’s a sequel coming!  Wayward Son is not due until 2020, but it is coming and I can’t wait!

The Love InterestThe Love Interest by Cale Dietrich – This one involves teenaged spies and unexpected attraction getting in the way of being a teenage spy.  Caden and Dylan have been raised by a secret organization to be ‘Love Interests’.  Their job is to seduce a young lady who’s bound to make an impact on the world, with the goal being that she’ll choose one of them as her husband, and then the chosen spy feeds information about her to the organization to sell to the highest bidder.  Caden is a ‘nice’ and Dylan is a ‘bad’, so a nice guy and a bad boy.  And the stakes are high, because whoever she doesn’t choose gets hunted down by the organization and killed.  You might’ve guessed the twist.  Caden and Dylan might actually be falling… for each other.  *cue ominous music*

Ship ItShip It by Britta Lundin – This book had made my list of 2018 releases to watch out for, and having read it I stand by that inclusion.  Claire is a 17 year old fangirl, and her favorite show is Demon Heart.  She ships the two male leads hard.  But when she gets the chance to ask the panel of the show’s actors at her local comic con about that ship, one of the actors shoots her down in a less than kind way.  The reaction goes viral, the show needs to repair it’s image, and Claire is whisked away with the cast and creators to hit up other comic cons.  She’s determined to make her favorite ship canon… but she’s also interested in Tess, the artist who keeps showing up at these cons.  As much as I may not agree with everything Claire does in this book, as a proud fangirl I do get where she’s coming from.

Honorable Mention:

GeekerellaGeekerella by Ashley Poston – So technically the two main characters in Geekerella are not queer (or at least not in any way that’s shown in the book), but some of the other characters in the book are.  But mostly I’m including it here because I really REALLY like it!  Seriously, it’s been a while since I’ve liked a book that much.  This take on Cinderella features Elle, a die hard Starfield fan living with her step mother and step sisters and working out of the Magic Pumpkin food truck.  Her favorite show is being made into a movie, and she’s not sold on Darien, the actor chosen as the lead.  She ends up registering for a cosplay contest at the local convention… if she can do it without her step family finding out.  It’s such a good book!  And a sequel is coming for this one too, due out next year, called The Princess and the Fangirl.

Do we have more?  Heck yeah, we have more!  I have a massive list posted below.  We’ve got books featuring gay, lesbian, trans, ace, bi and fluid characters.  Click on the title of the list to see the whole thing.

I SO want to read Noting Happened, Ash, All Out, It’s Not Like it’s a Secret, Let’s Talk About Love, Sometime After Midnight (another Cindrella take), Queens of Geek (can’t believe I still haven’t read that one yet) and The Pros of Cons.  So many books, so little time.

Any books you’ve read that you’d recommend?  Add any suggestions to the comments section or check out WriteIt.

Hope you guys enjoy the rest of Pride Month.  Get ready for Canada Day and the rest of summer, make sure to sign up for the Teen Challenge, and until next time, End of Line.

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Reading Recluse- A New YA Blog in Town

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Hi Everyone,

 

I wanted to introduce you all to a new YA Blog in town. Two of the teens that frequent the Pleasant Ridge teen book club recently started their own blog called, “Reading Recluse.” I asked them to provide a short bio and this is what they had to say:

“Hey we’re Jen and Shruthi! We are avid Potterheads who recently decided that we need a hobby. Since we both happen to enjoy reading, we decided to start a book blog to catalogue all our thoughts and opinions of the various books we are reading.”

Check out their blog at https://readingrecluses.wordpress.com/ and these two recently reviewed contemporary novels:

 

Ramona Blue by: Julie MurphyRamona Blue

American Girls by: Alison Umminger

 

American Girls

 

 

 

Week of Geek: Pride Month Recommendations Part 1: Graphic Novels

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Hi again Geeklings!  Happy June!

And of course, June means Pride Month!  That magical time of rainbows and love and equality and being who you are.  Whether you identify as LGBTQ+ or not, there is something for everyone this month, and plenty to celebrate and to contemplate as we all move forward.

Last year I wrote a few posts about favorite LGBTQ+ characters in fandoms (you can read the posts here, here, here and here).  This year I thought I’d tweak that format a little bit and focus on just recommending the heck out of our collections, because we have A LOT of pride friendly reading, watching and listening materials.  Like, a lot.  So let’s break it down these next few weeks and show you what we’ve got.

This week, let’s start with graphic novels, because they’re awesome.  Graphic novels have often explored people of all colors of the rainbow.  Like other forms of media it can be slow to catch on (hello Comics Code), but unlike others it often doesn’t get quite as much scrutiny as movies or TV shows, so it can take a few risks now and then.

Let me start you off with a few personal favorites…

Jem and the Holograms Jem and the Holograms Vol. 1: Showtime by Kelly Thompson – I’m biased on this one, because I’m a kid of the 1980s and I watched the original Jem TV series, so of course I was stoked that they were getting a reboot (the live-action film doesn’t count).  And I was not disappointed with Thompson’s new take.  Smart, funny, oh so colorful, dramatic in all the right ways, and with great characters and family themes.  It was a blast to read.  It makes the list because they did a new take on one of the band members, Kimber, who in this version is gay.  Not only that but she and Stormer, from rival band The Misfits, are crushing on each other.  *gasp*

Jughead Jughead Vol. 1 by Chip Zdarsky – One of the orientations that still hasn’t had a lot of representation (and that’s saying something) is asexuality.  When Archie comics decided to relaunch itself back in 2015 with new series and new takes on characters, Zdarsky officially confirmed that everyone’s favorite burger-loving, crown-wearing sardonic teen was indeed ace.  Honestly, it was obvious throughout the character’s 77 year history that dating is not a priority for him, so it was a natural evolution.  The series is funny, zany and plain fun.  Volume 2 was especially interesting, as we find Jughead unwittingly on a ‘date’ with a certain teenage witch.

Batwoman Batwoman: Elegy by Greg Rucka – Batwoman was always a bit player in DC Comics until the New 52 Relaunch in the mid 2000s, when the new improved Kate Kane was revealed to be a lesbian.  This volume is a great place to start, as it goes over Kate’s history and how she came to be a caped crusader in her own right.  She lost a lot by coming out, but she also gained a lot, and has been cleaning up the streets of Gotham ever since.  Another series to try is DC Bombshells, which has Batwoman, Wonder Woman, Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy (who are both queer themselves) and a whole host of other DC superheroes fighting during WWII.  It’s retro and exciting.

AvengersAvengers: The Children’s Crusade by Allan Heinberg – No list of LGBTQ+ graphic novels would be complete without the Young Avengers.  As their name implies, they’re a group of younger Marvel superheroes.  Two of the biggest standouts in the group are power couple Wiccan and Hulkling, longtime boyfriends and teammates, but their roster soon grows to include America, who is a butt kicking Latina lesbian.  I’m going to recommend The Children’s Crusade as a starting point, because it’s a really interesting story and features a lot of cross over with teams like the Avengers, the X-Men and X-Factor (who also have their own gay couple).

So there are a few personal recommendations, but for a broader look check out the list below…

I really want to read Moonstruck, Nimona, Bingo Love, Midnighter and Apollo and Secret Six.  Time to pull out my summer reading supplies (lawn chair, hat, sunscreen and footrest), I won’t be moving for a while.

Stay tuned all through June for more lists and more great reads and watchables.  Have an awesome month, remember summer break is coming (and the Teen Challenge), and until next time, End of Line.

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