One-week warning: August 2017 Girls in Capes Book Club

We’re one week out from our August book club discussion of The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi:

Maya is cursed. With a horoscope that promises a marriage of Death and Destruction, she has earned only the scorn and fear of her father’s kingdom. Content to follow more scholarly pursuits, her whole world is torn apart when her father, the Raja, arranges a wedding of political convenience to quell outside rebellions. Soon Maya becomes the queen of Akaran and wife of Amar. Neither roles are what she expected: As Akaran’s queen, she finds her voice and power. As Amar’s wife, she finds something else entirely: Compassion. Protection. Desire…

But Akaran has its own secrets — thousands of locked doors, gardens of glass, and a tree that bears memories instead of fruit. Soon, Maya suspects her life is in danger. Yet who, besides her husband, can she trust? With the fate of the human and Otherworldly realms hanging in the balance, Maya must unravel an ancient mystery that spans reincarnated lives to save those she loves the most… including herself.

Can’t make it? You can still chat about the books in the comments section on Girls in Capes.

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Join Girls in Capes Book Club to discuss Naomi Novik’s UPROOTED

Uprooted_cover_pictureJoin us at Main Point Books in Wayne, PA on September 24 to discuss Naomi Novik’s award-winning novel UPROOTED!

Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life.

Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood.

The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka is afraid. She knows—everyone knows—that the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia, all the things Agnieszka isn’t, and her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her.

But Agnieszka fears the wrong things. For when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose.

Get more details or discuss online at the official post on Girls in Capes.

Join us to discuss WARM BODIES by Isaac Marion on February 27!

Now that you’ve read all about us at Main Line Today, join the Girls in Capes Book Club on Feb. 27 for our next meetup!

R is having a no-life crisis—he is a zombie. He has no memories, no identity, and no pulse, but he is a little different from his fellow Dead. He may occasionally eat people, but he’d rather be riding abandoned airport escalators, listening to Sinatra in the cozy 747 he calls home, or collecting souvenirs from the ruins of civilization.

And then he meets a girl.

First as his captive, then his reluctant guest, Julie is a blast of living color in R’s gray landscape, and something inside him begins to bloom. He doesn’t want to eat this girl—although she looks delicious. He wants to protect her. But their unlikely bond will cause ripples they can’t imagine, and their hopeless world won’t change without a fight.

Find out more about our book club on the event page at Girls in Capes. If you can’t make the in-person event, let us know on the event page what you thought!

Passing: On Reading FLYGIRL

When trying to pick a book to read for the GIC book club in February, I had a ridiculously difficult time finding a book about a black female protagonist.  (I ended up getting some advice from a Twitter stranger, though it ended up being awesome.) The book I settled on was FLYGIRL by Sherri L. Smith – a compromise, as it wasn’t a sci-fi or fantasy book but a historical fiction about WWII.

FLYGIRL tells the story of Ida Mae Jones denying her identity to fly military planes.

FLYGIRL tells the story of Ida Mae Jones denying her identity to fly military planes.

As I began to read the novel, I found I related incredibly well with the protagonist, Ida Mae, whose fair skin allows her to pass as a white woman in order to fly military planes. Throughout the book, Ida is struggling with her identity and with the social ramifications of pretending to be white.

Being white-passing is a very curious phenomenon. Like Ida Mae, I’m a person of mixed racial descent, and also like Ida Mae, my skin tone is significantly more fair than that of one of my parents. Because of my appearance, I’ve been told I “look white” – also very like Ida Mae. But unlike Ida Mae, who had to teach herself to speak “like a white woman,” my manner of speech is pretty typical of a person who grew up in the middle-class Midwest. Because of that, I grew up hearing comments like “You talk like you’re white” and “You don’t sound like you’re Asian.”

Close to the beginning of FLYGIRL, Ida gets on a bus and asks a black gentleman with a newspaper about what he’s reading, and she seems sad but not fully surprised when he starts to stand and apologize to her; he has assumed she was a white woman and that she wanted to sit in his seat. There’s a distinct sensation of alienation in the story, and it’s one that’s uncomfortably familiar for me.

As Ida experiences in the book, being mixed-race, racially ambiguous, or white-passing can be a strange and very depressing experience. She seems to not quite fit in with other blacks, yet while she fits in with the white girls in the WASP training program, she lives in constant fear of their rejection, and she’s privy to more than one unpleasant remark towards the people she considers her own. She marvels at how much better she’s treated as a white woman, but can hardly contain her guilt over it.

Ida’s guilt – and the uncomfortably familiar scenarios of being privy to incredible racism – hits home for me in ways that some people probably can’t quite relate to, though I’ve met plenty of people who could: friends who have been told “I don’t even see you as black,” and others whose light skin tones make them privy to racist and xenophobic remarks because “you look white.”

After struggling on an emotional level to read FLYGIRL, I find this book incredibly important – not only because of its beautiful writing and different perspective on the World War II era in the United States, but because the issues it addresses through Ida’s experiences and struggles are ones that people in the US continue to face today, and increasing compassionate understanding is important to a more peaceful and kind society.

January 2014 in Review

January’s done, and it’s time to review.

This month marked the first in the GIC Book Club and the GIC 100 Books in 2014 Challenge, and I think I’m doing pretty well with both.  GIC’s book club selection this month was I HUNT KILLERS by Barry Lyga, and I thought it was wonderful.

As for the 100 Books challenge (you can find my challenge page here), I was able to boost the start of my year with 14 titles during January.

I ended up reading a number of books in print and digital formats.  In digital, I read Sherwood Smith’s A POSSE OF PRINCESSES, a rewritten fairy tale in a non-Western setting called TOADS AND DIAMONDS by Heather Tomlinson, and MISTRESS OF THE WIND by Michelle Diener.

In print, I read ACROSS THE NIGHTINGALE FLOOR by Lian Hearn, the first book in the Tales of the Otori trilogy which was loaned to me by a friend, THE SHE-HULK DIARIES by Marta Acosta, and THE LAST POLICEMAN by Ben H. Winters.

There were also several volumes of manga this month: TSUBASA RESERVOIR CHRONICLE Vol. 14, 15, 16, 17, and 28 by CLAMP, RINNE Vol. 3 by Takahashi Rumiko, and NISEKOI Vol. 1 by Komi Naoshi.