REVIEW: El Deafo by Cece Bell

REVIEW: El Deafo by Cece BellEl Deafo by Cece Bell
Published by Amulet Books (2014), ARC, 248pg
Filed under: Graphic Novel, Memoir, Non-Fiction
Got my copy from: ALA 2014
Buy your own copy at Amazon or BookDepository (affiliate links | info) or add it to your Goodreads shelf.

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Going to school and making new friends can be tough. But going to school and making new friends while wearing a bulky hearing aid strapped to your chest? That requires superpowers! In this funny, poignant graphic novel memoir, author/illustrator Cece Bell chronicles her hearing loss at a young age and her subsequent experiences with the Phonic Ear, a very powerful—and very awkward—hearing aid. The Phonic Ear gives Cece the ability to hear—sometimes things she shouldn't—but also isolates her from her classmates. She really just wants to fit in and find a true friend, someone who appreciates her as she is. After some trouble, she is finally able to harness the power of the Phonic Ear and become “El Deafo, Listener for All.” And more importantly, declare a place for herself in the world and find the friend she's longed for.

Super adorable comic about being deaf while growing up in the 1970s, told through bunnies! Adorable bunnies!

Personal stories told though graphic novels are always going to be interesting to me, especially if they’re illustrated by the author. (See: Perseoplis, Fun Home.) I think it’s because the author is in control of the art as well as the story. And then…

An alternate history reading list

An “alternate history” story is when a thing that happened in history IRL happened a different way! Like if, for example, the American colonies never broke from England in the 1700s– that’d be an alt history.

As Wikipedia says:

“Alternate History” looks at “what if” scenarios from some of history’s most pivotal turning points and presents a completely different version, sometimes based on science and fact, but often based on conjecture. The exploration of how the world would look today if various changes occurred and what these alternate worlds would be like forms the basis of this vast subject matter.

If you’ve never read an alt history book and aren’t sure where to start, here’s some of my favorites:

  • Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld, an alternate version of World War I where people fight using steampunk/biopunk machines.
  • Boneshaker by Cherie Priest, where post-Civil War Portland becomes infested with zombies. There are also steampunk elements!
  • Pandemonium by Daryl Gregory, where in the 1950s demons start possessing people on a massive scale. I suppose this isn’t a true alternate history book (as it’s not based on a specific historical event), but it’s a really good book and it does the “what if” scenario perfectly.
  • Farthing by Jo Walton, where the UK makes a treaty with Nazi Germany. I haven’t actually finished this yet (I have it on audio) because the idea of a treaty with Hitler made me SO ANGRY I had to take a break for several months. But it’s very good!
  • Witch Week by Diana Wynne Jones, where Guy Fawkes blew up Parliament, leading to crackdowns on witches (who are real). The whole of the Chrestomanci series could be said to be alt history, too, because new worlds are created when consequences of major events could end multiple ways. Each book is set on one of those alt worlds. (More info on that here.)
  • Lord Darcy by Randall Garrett, where Richard the Lionheart never died AND magic is real.
  • His Majesty’s Dragon by Naomi Novik, which is basically the Napoleonic war plus dragons.

What are your favorite alternate history books?

Other book lists: The Most Unusual Alternate History Novels Ever Published @ io9 and Uchronia: The Alternate History List, an AMAZING bibliography of almost every alt history book ever published.

REVIEW: The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey

REVIEW: The Daughter of Time by Josephine TeyThe Daughter of Time (Inspector Alan Grant #5) by Josephine Tey
Published by Touchstone Books (1951), eBook, 206pg
Filed under: Fiction, Mystery
Got my copy from: Scribd
Buy your own copy at Amazon or BookDepository (affiliate links | info) or add it to your Goodreads shelf.

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Voted greatest mystery novel of all time by the Crime Writers’ Association in 1990, Josephine Tey recreates one of history’s most famous—and vicious—crimes in her classic bestselling novel, a must read for connoisseurs of fiction, now with a new introduction by Robert Barnard.Inspector Alan Grant of Scotland Yard, recuperating from a broken leg, becomes fascinated with a contemporary portrait of Richard III that bears no resemblance to the Wicked Uncle of history. Could such a sensitive, noble face actually belong to one of the world’s most heinous villains—a venomous hunchback who may have killed his brother’s children to make his crown secure? Or could Richard have been the victim, turned into a monster by the usurpers of England’s throne? Grant determines to find out once and for all, with the help of the British Museum and an American scholar, what kind of man Richard Plantagenet really was and who killed the Little Princes in the Tower. The Daughter of Time is an ingeniously plotted, beautifully written, and suspenseful tale, a supreme achievement from one of mystery writing’s most gifted masters.

The only thing I knew previous to this book about Richard III was that he was maybe in some Shakespeare play somewhere. Now I know LOTS of things! And most of those things make me sad.

Kudos to Josephine Tey for making me care about a dude who died hundreds of years ago, who I’d previously never even thought of, and who now I can’t stop thinking about because it’s so UNFAIR. He wasn’t a villain! He was popular and a good king and now just because some crappy guys bad-mouthed him after he died (and because Shakespeare wrote that play), everything thinks he murdered his young nephews.

It was hard to sleep the night I finished The Daughter of Time. SO UNFAIR.

This was my first Josephine Tey book! I’ve been meaning to read one of her mysteries for ages, particularly because she gets lumped into the Christie-Marsh-Sayer set. I wasn’t sure where to start, exactly, so when Scribd’s algorithm thing recommended The Daughter of Time, I decided to go for it without even reading the summary. And then…