Rejected Princesses: Tales of History’s Boldest Heroines, Hellions & Heretics by Jason Porath. ★★★★
Several years ago I stumbled across the blog Rejected Princesses. Jason Porath, a former animator at Dreamworks, one day had a conversation about what women were too out there to ever become a Disney princess movie. The result was Rejected Princesses, a blog full of illustrated entries of women from history and folklore. This book collects twenty entries from the website plus eighty entirely new entries, the vast majority of whom I’d never heard of before.
Slipping: Stories, Essays & Other Writing by Lauren Beukes. ★★★
Lauren Beukes is a white South African journalist and fiction writer, who often uses speculative elements in her stories. Prior to reading Slipping, the only work of her’s I’d read was her novel Zoo City, which had an interesting enough concept that I was willing to try other works by her.
Slipping is a collection of shorts stories, flash fiction, and essays, although the fiction predominates. Most of the stories are set in South Africa, and many involve a science fiction element. Overall, the collection has a dark tone, and I’m not sure I can recall a truly happy story in the bunch.
The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage by Sydney Padua. ★★★★★
The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage is an absolutely delightful graphic novel that contains a wealth of historical information regarding Ada Lovelace, Charles Babbage, and the history of computing while at the same time being relentlessly entertaining.
The book begins with a brief history of Ada Lovelace, Charles Babbage, and their work on the invention of the computer and computer programming. However, both died before any of the machines Babbage planned were ever invented. And so Padua imagines an alternate ending – a world where their Analytical Engine reached completion and adventures ensue.
The Geek Feminist Revolution by Kameron Hurley. ★★★★
The Geek Feminist Revolution is a collection of essays by science fiction and fantasy author Kameron Hurley, who’s written a continually growing number of novels (hint, readGod’s War!) and the Hugo Award winning essay “We Have Always Fought.” While the topic of the collection is nominally the intersection of feminism and SFF pop culture, the collection actually spans a broader array of subjects varying from analysis of media such as Mad Max: Fury Road, to what it takes to be a writer, and to elements of her personal life, such as her near death experience and living with a chronic disease.
Many of the essays are adapted blog posts. Since I occasionally read Hurley’s blog, I was already familiar with some of the essays included in the collection, such as “On Internet ‘Bravery'” and “Wives, Warlords, and Refugees: The People Economy of Mad Max“. There were also some new pieces written specifically for the collection, although I couldn’t always identify which these were. Was the Hugo Award mess a new essay? Going in, I was fairly certain going in that I would enjoy Hurley’s collection. I’ve previously enjoyed her essays for her insights as well as the sense of focused anger that comes through almost everything she writes.
If you’re interested in this collection but unsure if you want to commit, I’d suggest reading some of the essays which are posted online to get a feel. “We Have Always Fought” would be a good one to start with.
Fun Home by Alison Bechdel. ★★★★
Fun Home is a memoir told in the form of a graphic novel. When Alison Bechdel was twenty, her father died, four months after Alison came out as a lesbian and shortly thereafter found out that her father had affairs with men.
The Prince of Los Cocuyos by Richard Blanco. ★★★★
Recently I had the chance to attend a reading by Richard Blanco, who was the inaugural poet for President Obama in 2012. He was the first Latino, gay person, and immigrant to ever hold this position. I loved his reading so much, that I immediately rushed off to get two books of his poetry and his memoir on his childhood, The Prince of Los Cocuyos.
Richard Blanco was born in Cuban exiled parents and entered the United States of America when he was only forty-five days old. Most of his childhood was spent in a Cuban neighborhood in Miami, in a house his parents shared with his paternal grandparents.
Funny in Farsi by Firoozeh Dumas. ★★★★
Funny in Farsi is a memoir by a woman who grew up in both Iran and the United States. Her family moved to the United States in 1972, when Firoozeh Dumas was seven years old. Neither she or her mother spoke any English, although her father had some experience with the country from graduate school. After two years, they moved back to Iran, but later returned to the United States. More family members followed until almost all of the family was living in California. Funny in Farsi is a collection of antecedents and stories about Firoozeh Dumas’s life and family.