Thursday, December 19, 2013

Allison's Top Five Reads

by Allison Pang

Well, you'd think I would have had more time to read this year (and at certain times, like surgery recovery, I did, though I also spent more time catching up on anime, frankly since I almost never get a chance to watch it anymore.)

But I've got a mish-mash of things, all the same.

5) London's Shadows: The Dark Side of the Victorian City  by Drew D. Grey - Non-fiction and was meant for some base research on my current book. (Which isn't really steampunk and it's not really set in a Victorian anything, though there are some similarities. When it comes down to it, I just like making up my own stuff.) That being said, I thought it was going to be a book about criminal activity in London and  that sort of thing. Turns out to be a rather thorough look at Jack the Ripper. The author doesn't pretend to indicate who they thought was the actual murderer, but does look at many of the current theories and the mystery surrounding it all. Fascinating stuff, especially given the amounts of corruption in the seedy underbelly of the city.

4) The Victorian City: Everyday Life in Dickens' London by Judith Flanders  Again, another research sort of book that I've probably only used nominally, but still fascinating. I was looking for some rather depressing examples of life in a semi-modern age and I definitely found it. Easy to read and never boring, even given its size. (And it's got over 100 pages of bibliographic notes, so there's a lot of great information to be found.)

3) Skip Beat by Yoshiki Nakamura - Yes, it's a manga. It's been ongoing for several years now - it's up to volume 32 in the US, and slightly ahead of that in Japan. (And I do chase down the raw scans when they come out every month even though I can't read them.)  I caught up with the story during my surgery (as well as the first season of the anime) and it's definitely one of the top Shojo manga I've read in a long time. There's a lot more meat than the typical romance vibe of many Shojo manga, and I definitely appreciate it. Lots about discovering who you are as a person and breaking out of your shell and that sort of thing. Is there romance? Yes, but it's nicely stretched out and there's no rush for proclamations of undying love. It feels real. (And yes, it's got a couple of bishies. I like teh pretty. Sue me.)

2) Young Avengers by Kieron Gillen and  Jamie McKelvie   - 15 issue comic series that was put out this year. Issue 14 came out yesterday and the whole thing is really well done. In an industry where most comic heroes are cis, white, and male...YA is a breath of fresh air. There's an extremely diverse cast of characters and I think it would definitely appeal to pretty much anyone with an interest in hero comics. There's enough back story  to give new comic readers the run down of what's going on and it never gets too complicated. Plus, Loki. *cough*

Also, the creation of YAmblr - which is by far one of the funniest things I've ever laid eyes on. (Essentially Young Avengers tumblr, but it's spot on.)

1) Saga by  Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples - Another comic - issue 17 also came out yesterday and it's probably one of the best series I've ever read. It's won a number of awards (and deservedly so.) Unlike YA, this is definitely an adult comic - both graphically and story-wise. Imagine a semi-typical star-crossed lover scenario, but with space and magic and literal grease monkeys and cats who can determine if you are lying and ghostly baby sitters and tree rocket ships and one-eyed authors of romance books and bounty hunters with 8 legs and no arms and robots with tvs for heads that sometimes show pretty graphic porn...and it's pretty much the best thing. Ever. I wish to hell I'd written it.

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