4 More Ways to #DiversifyAgentCarter

Last weekend ABC announced there would be a second season of Agent Carter, and Twitter lit up like a Christmas tree. Amidst the general jubilation, the devoted internet fan base reiterated what’s been its primary criticism of the show since its inception: a lack of character diversity. Author and activist Mikki Kendall got the party started:

The hashtag caught on like a house on fire, with fans offering up plenty of real-life examples whose inclusion would help make Agent Carter more historically accurate in terms of representation. Curious and inspired, I turned to the library collection for more information. Here are four more character concepts that would be historically accurate if they appeared in Agent Carter.

1. A Latinx* in uniform, civil or military.

In the companion book to his PBS miniseries,  Ray Suarez tells the stories of the many men and women of Latino descent who served their country during WWII. These include Rafaela Muniz Esquivel, a second lieutenant in the Nurse Army Corps, who worked in military hospitals both stateside and overseas**; then there was Guy Gabaldon, who earned the Silver Star and Navy Cross for his actions in the Battle of Saipan; he captured over 1,000 soldiers single-handedly, and because that wasn’t remarkable enough, Hollywood made a fictional version of his exploits. Macario Garcia, the first Mexican citizen to receive the Medal of Honor, helped take Paris back from the Germans and was at Utah Beach during the invasion of Normandy; he also earned a Bronze Star and two Purple Hearts. Eugene Calderon, a company clerk with the Tuskegee Airmen, joined the NYPD after the war, and Dr. Hector Garcia, who could have opted out of military service by virtue of his professional position, chose instead to serve both in the medical corps and as an infantryman. It is not inconceivable, then, that Peggy Carter could encounter soldiers, nurses, or other civil/military folks in uniform as part of her adventures.

Rafaela Esquivel (right) with colleague Adele Bensis, 1943. Photo obtained  from the University of Texas at Austin, which retains all rights. click through to visit source page.

Rafaela Esquivel (right) with colleague Adele Bensis, 1943. Photo obtained from the University of Texas at Austin, which retains all rights. click through to visit source page.

 

2. An African-American co-worker at the SSR.

Black Americans in World War II, by A. Russell Buchanan, devotes an entire chapter to the roles middle-class*** African American women played in American society. Because there were so many jobs to fill during wartime, opportunities and training programs for black women were abundant; these included “training as stenographers, bookkeepers… switchboard operators, and file clerks” (106), making it perfectly plausible that Peggy could meet, and strike up a friendship, with a co-worker of color. Black women also served their country as WACs and WAVES, and were well represented in both civilian and military nursing.

In 1942, Crisis magazine published a series of photographs called “The First Ladies of Colored America,” a tribute to the important work African American women were doing.  Buchanan’s description reveals just how diverse those roles and job opportunities were:

One started and directed a school for delinquent girls, and another headed a private school for Negro children. Some had successful business careers, often in partnership with their husbands.The business enterprises included a candymaking company in Alabama, an undertaking business in Louisiana, a publishing company in Pennsylvania, a fox farm in Alaska, and a chain of beauty colleges throughout the country. Some of the selectees held public office, a first for Negro women; one was a deputy collector of internal revenue in New York and another a member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives (105).

I don’t know about you, but I would love to see Peggy and a bookkeeper hiding from goons on a fox farm in Alaska, aided by a sympathetic entrepreneur with whom she thereafter forms a lifelong friendship.

Although Buchanan fails to cite names of specific people, a quick Google search remedies that, uncovering such fabulous women as Dorothy Height, Bernice Bowman, and Birdia Bush. You might also want to read up on the spy chops of Josephine Baker, the cryptology skills of Annie Briggs (whose story is included here), and the military service of Brenda L. Moore.

 

3. An Asian-American character who is not “the enemy.”

Although the Japanese-American experience during WWII should never be forgotten, it is not the only storyline available to a writer who wanted to give Peggy Carter an Asian-American friend or co-worker. Countless Chinese, Korean, Filipino/a, and Asian Indian-Americans played key roles during wartime. Shelley Sang-Hee Lee documents some of these in her book,  A New History of Asian America:

Between 1942 and 1943, Koreans in Hawaii purchased more than $239,000 worth of bonds, an enormous sum for such a small population, and Filipino Americans oversubscribed by nearly 100 percent above their $1 million goal of war-bond purchases. Chinese Americans formed patriotic organizations, such as the Chinese Young Women’s Society in Oakland in 1944, which provided a welcoming space for Chinese American servicemen passing through the area. Others put their unique skills and knowledge to use against the enemy. Korean Americans who knew Japanese worked as propaganda broadcasters in the Pacific front, agents for underground activities in Japanese-occupied parts of Asia, and for the U.S. government as teachers and translators of secret documents….Older and female volunteers were channeled into civilian support roles, such as working for the Red Cross and serving as emergency fire and air-raid wardens (225-26).

And, of course, like other people of color in wartime, many Asian Americans served their country in a military capacity.

Portrait of Anacieto Soriano, Sr. (at right) and unidentified friend wearing their 1st Filipino Infantry Regiment uniforms from World War II. Copyright © 2011 The Regents of The University of California. Click through for source page.

Portrait of Anacieto Soriano, Sr. (at right) and unidentified friend wearing their 1st Filipino Infantry Regiment uniforms from World War II. Copyright © 2011 The Regents of The University of California. Click through for source page.

With so many roles to choose from, the possibilities are endless. Who knows? Marvel could even give us someone from Agent May’s family tree. But whether they’d opt for a civilian, like actress Anna May Wong, or a military figure like those of the all-Nisei 442nd Regimental Combat Team , they would be historically correct in presenting an Asian-American patriot.

4. A plucky newspaper guy…or gal.

You pretty much can’t have a comics-based story without an intrepid reporter in it somewhere. Sure, Peggy’s job is a secret, but being friends with a newsie could make for all kinds of dramatic tension, don’t you think?

There’s the businessman angle, as represented by black entrepreneur John Sengstacke, who published The Chicago Daily Defender for almost 60 years; wouldn’t you love to see him go toe-to-toe with Howard Stark? For a more boots-on-the-ground experience, there’s the examples of Alice Dunnigan and Ethel Payne; Dunnigan started writing for newspapers at age 13, and Payne’s career began with the publication of a journal she kept while hostessing in a military service club. See also journalist/poet Juan Antonio Corretjer, as well as the husband and wife team of Larry and Guyo Tajiri. Plenty of material there for a well-rounded character of color.

Obviously this is just the tip of the iceberg, but I think you get the idea. What about your family history? Could one of your relatives inspire a historically accurate Agent Carter character? Do you know something about history that I don’t (very likely!)? Share your stories and information in the comments section.

–Leigh Anne****

*Not familiar with this term? Click here for a good explanation. Suarez uses the term “Latino,” so I have retained that when referring to his work. Other terminology includes Latina and Latin@. If you’re not sure what somebody would like to be called, you can always ask.

**Many other Latinas served in WWII.  Suarez does not mention them.

***The role of working class women in WWII is fairly well-known. What most people don’t realize is that African Americans held white-collar positions, too.

****Always learning. Please call me out on any mistakes/mis-representations here.

18 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall, Who’s the Nerdiest of Them All?

I wonder if Einstein knew his image would be everywhere.

I wonder if Einstein knew his image would be everywhere.

Or, if a being travels at the speed of light and looks in the mirror, what will he see*?

It will come as no surprise to readers of a library blog, that people who work in libraries are nerds and darn proud of it. I would postulate further that if you are reading a library blog post, there is a high degree of probability that you, dear reader, are a proud nerd as well. I will define a nerd as someone who is a collector of knowledge and an active seeker of satisfying that intellectual itch.

My favorite thing about libraries is that materials for satisfying your curiosity are readily available and free.

My current obsession is particle physics and quantum mechanics (oh, I see your eyes rolling right now.) I mentioned this to a fellow music librarian, and he quickly gave me a few suggestions, as he is interested in the same subject. Imagine my surprise and delight! Could he possibly be even nerdier than me?

I have a degree in Molecular Biology, obtained 30 years ago, so my background on this particular subject (get it?) was practically next to nil. I wanted to start at the very bottom, looking for accessible language for the lay person.

There is a lot of material to choose from here at CLP-Main. These were my initial selections:

Particle Physics for Non-Physicists : A Tour of the Microcosmos (audio book) –  a series of lectures given by Steven Pollock for the Teaching Company, and the place where I began. I listened to this in my car on my daily commute. It was an excellent introduction and allowed me to follow along with the other material I’m trying to wrap my head around.

The Particle at the End of the Universe by Sean Carroll. This is a very well written and often humorous book about particle accelerators, what makes them work, the physicists behind the theories and experiments, what a Higgs boson is, and how it (or something very much like it) was detectedparticle. I listened to this in my car, and instead of getting bogged down by details that I didn’t quite understand, I let the words just wash over me. This allowed me to get a bigger picture of this part of experimental physics, without throwing the book across the room in disgust. (I would never, never actually do this with any book.)

The equation E=mc2 is cited as the basis upon which all of the understanding of experimental and theoretical particle physics rests. I thought I’d like to get a better understanding of just how this works, and why it is true. I also really want to know if space explorers of the future will age at a slower rate than someone left behind on the earth (I mean, come on.) So, I moved on to Mr. Einstein.

big idea Einstein’s Big Idea. This Nova DVD didn’t really help me to understand the equation, but it did help elucidate the personalities of the scientists behind each of the components of the equation. I liked the way it highlighted female scientists that have made important contributions. This would be a good movie to show girls to encourage them to consider STEM fields.

relThe Meaning of Relativity by Albert Einstein. This slim little volume quickly moved over my head. I will try to tackle this when I have a better understanding of underlying principles.

rela

An Illustrated Guide to Relativity by Tatsu Takeuchi. Simple illustrations and language that are essential to a visual learner like myself.

cosEinstein’s Cosmos : How Albert Einstein’s Vision Transformed our Understanding of Space and Time by Michio Kaku. An excellently written and eloquent book! I’ve only read the first three chapters, and I can already tell that this will be my favorite selection. Michio Kaku is himself quite fascinating.

On my pile:

futThe Physics of the Future by Michio Kaku. I think I’ll listen to the audio book while I’m reading Einstein’s Cosmos. In fact, I think I’ll consume all of his books. This will be my next quest.

quaQuantum Physics for Poets by Leon M. Lederman and Christopher T.  Hill. The authors are very prominent physicists. Lederman won a Nobel prize for discovering a few particles, and is the past director of the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory. Christopher T. Hill is the current director.

-Joelle

*This was Einstein’s question, not mine. Here is my simplistic answer based on my current understanding: Fermions (matter) do not behave like bosons (e.g., photons) and cannot travel with the velocity of the speed of light. If you are approaching the speed of light, the mirror is in the same frame of reference as you are, and you will be able to see yourself the same way as if you were standing on earth with a mirror in your hand. If you understand this, you are at a better starting point than I was. If you think I’m way off base, please comment below.

8 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Bad Moms.

Image from: pinterest.com

Image from: pinterest.com

This month I’m taking a break from my director’s cut series to celebrate moms and motherly love. 

Happy belated Mother’s Day, dear readers. If you forgot to call your mom yesterday, here’s some motivation to pick up the phone: always remember that your mother could have been worse. Much, much worse.

And now…The Music, Film & Audio Department’s Top Ten Bad Moms in Film:

  1. Back to the Future

Not the worst mom, even though hitting on your own son is kind of gross. But really, who could say that they wouldn’t have accidentally done the same if their son traveled back in time and attended their high school?

  1. Friday the 13th

Is Jason’s mom really a bad mom? I mean (spoilers) she does kill quite a few people, but at least she did it out of love.

  1. Throw Momma From the Train

Owennnnnnnnnnn!!

  1. Coraline
coraline

Image from: pinterest.com

Coraline’s new “other” mother seems pretty great, until she tries to sew a pair of giant buttons into her new daughter’s eyeballs.

  1. Dead Alive

At least your mother didn’t keep you from the one you love, and then turn into a zombie who causes a zombie outbreak.

  1. Only God Forgives

Your mother is not a chain-smoking drug kingpin (queenpin?) who forces you to avenge your brother’s death, and you should thank her for that.

  1. We Are What We Are

Did your mother ever make you go out and kill a person just so she could put (cannibal) food on the table? No, she probably did not. Lucky you.

  1. Flowers in the Attic
flowers

Image from: collider.com

And did your mother ever lock you in an attic and slowly poison you, until you had no choice but to form an inappropriate relationship with one of your siblings? I didn’t think so.

  1. Mommie Dearest

 

Image from: Popfilter.com

Image from: Popfilter.com

Two words: wire hangers.

  1. Carrie
Image from:

Image from: litreactor.com

And your mother most certainly did not react like Carrie White’s mother when you told her you had a hot date for the prom, “They’re all gonna laugh at you!”

Now go do something nice for your mom!

Tara

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Recent Adventures in Library Cookbooks, Vol. 2

One of the ways I keep my menus fresh and my cooking skills sharp is to check out cookbooks from the library. Here’s a look at some of the recent happenings in my kitchen:

Dark Chocolate Stout Ice Cream with Chocolate Covered Pretzels

Ice cream…with beer in it. Does it get any better?

Ample Hills Creamery:  Secret and Stories from Brooklyn’s Favorite Ice Cream Shop by Brian Smith and Jackie Cuscuna
What I made:  Dark Chocolate Stout Ice Cream with Chocolate Covered Pretzels, Breakfast Trash ice cream
What I want to make: The Dude (White Russian) Ice Cream, Caught in the Rain (Pina Colada Ice Cream), Nanatella Ice Cream, Cookie Au Lait Ice Cream & the list goes on.
Quick Review: I had never heard of Ample Hills before I picked up this book while browsing the stacks, (My pretentious ice cream of choice to-date had been Jeni’s), but I’m not sure why because these people know what they are doing. The ice cream recipes call for nonfat milk powder, something I’d never seen used in ice cream before, but the authors promised it would make everything creamier and more scoop-able. Guess what? It did!  If you’re an at-home ice cream geek like me, pick this one up.

chiaquionakaleChia, Quinoa, Kale, Oh My! Recipes for 40+ delicious Super-Nutritious Superfoods by Cassie Johnston
What I Made: Greek Quinoa Salad, Rosemary Grapefruit Popsicles.
What I want to make: Chocolate Coconut Almond Butter, Coffee-Rubbed Ribeye, Bok Choy and Apple Slaw with Gogi Berries
Quick Review: There are two kinds of people: those who see the title of this book and are interested, and those who see the title of this book and kinda roll their eyes. I tend to be the former, while my husband tends to be the latter, but both of us were able to find something appealing inside. Besides recipes, this book features one-pager profiles of over 40 superfoods, breaking down the nutritional content, health benefits, and seasonal availability.  The recipes are very simple, so this would be a good choice for someone who is new to cooking.

reinventingtheclassicsReinventing the Classics – Simple and creative ways to rethink recipes America love best, with wine to match. Edited by
Dana Cowin

What I made: Roasted Garlic & Lemon Lamb Chops, Broccolini with Toasted Breadcrumbs, Roquefort Soufflé, Green Curry Chicken Wings, Parmesan-Crusted Rigatoni with Cauliflower
What I want to make:  Chili with Hominy, Quinoa salad with Sugar Snap Peas, Butterscotch Sticky Buns
Quick Review: This is another book I picked up on a whim, and I was happy I did, because it contains exactly what the title promises. This book won’t blow your mind with overcomplicated flavor combinations and hard-to-find ingredients, but it will offer you some simple changes and twists on recipes you probably already know pretty well. I recommend this book for intermediate-level cooks who don’t know what they’re having for dinner tonight. Bonus: it includes the best chicken wing recipe I’ve ever made, and trust me, I’ve tried many.

Afro Vegan by Bryant Terry

This spicy sauce has a secret ingredient: a mashed up banana!

Afro-Vegan: farm-fresh African, Caribbean, and Southern Flavors Re-mixed by Bryant Terry
What I made: Smashed Potatoes with Peas, Corn, and Chile-Garlic Oil; Chipotle-Banana pepper sauce
What I want to make:  Tropical Fruit Salad with Mango Lime Dressing, Fig Preserves with Thyme, Couscous with Butternut Squash, Pecans, and Currants, Grilled Corn on the Cob with Pili Pili Sauce and Spicy Mustard Greens
Quick Review:  If the title alone didn’t grab you, I’m not sure what else I can say except that this book is chock-full of great, well-researched recipes, beautiful photography, and each recipe comes along with a suggested soundtrack and reading material.  Oh, and did I mention the flavors are amazing? Don’t miss this one.

Fiesta at Rick’s – Fabulous Food for Great Times with Friends by Rick Bayless and Deann Baylessfiestaatricks
What I made: Roasted Garlic Guacamole, Roasted Vegetable Enchiladas with Tomatillo Sauce, Mango Guacamole, Coconut Hortchata, Creamy Chicken and Greens with Roasted Poblano and Caramelized Onion
What I want to make:  Tequila-Infused queso fundido, Frontera Grill’s Chocolate Pecan Pie Bars, Mexican White Rice with Sweet Plantains, and, well, let’s be honest, most of the cocktails and guacamole variations.
Quick Review:   To be honest, I wasn’t crazy about the format of this one, but the deliciousness-factor of the recipes is pretty hard to deny. My friend and I cooked up most of the dishes listed above in one night, and then I went back for this book a second time. If you’re into party planning, this will provide some good hosting tips and preplanned menus. If you’re just into good Mexican food, flip past the table setting and mood lighting sections and dive straight into the high-quality recipes.

So – what have you been cooking lately?

-Ginny


5 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

The Tragedy of the Spoiled Victory Garden Canned Green Beans.*

SC180622t-1

United States Army

On this day in 1945 Germany signed an unconditional surrender at Allied headquarters in Reims, France, to take effect the following day. Thus ended the European conflict of World War II. Like so many other institutions, the South Side branch of Carnegie Library was deeply affected by the war, as evidenced by the war-time annual reports. The branch had the same Head Librarian during the Great Depression and all of World War II. The only thing I know about Ann Macpherson is that she was salty, sassy, an advocate for her customers and her community, found the loss of “her boys” devastating and rejoiced in the baby boom at the end of the war (and if I wrote half the stuff she wrote I’d be looking for another job).

It is easy to forget to how long and difficult the Great Depression was, but in 1939 things were finally turning around:

The atmosphere of renewed hope and vigor was as palpable as the bleak depression and finely-strung patient endurance of the past ten years. Not that prosperity had returned, but that a respite had been given.

And a little later:

In the shift from depression to wartime economy, South Side has sent over 6000 men into the armed forces; men are working to capacity; children have left school for jobs in droves; or have obtained work permits for after-school employment; and money is flowing freely.

2

USAAF 3rd Bomb Group photographer Jack Heyn reading at his bunk, Dobodura Airfield, Australian Papua, mid-1943 , Jack Heyn

In 1942, well into the bustling war-time economy, Ms. Macpherson writes:

It has not been easy for many of the unemployed, so prevalent on the South Side during the last ten years, to get in step again with war-time schedules. So many borrowers report exhaustion from the varying shifts, much overtime, unforeseen demands and the inexperience of their help, more recently women. The complain they find no time to do the tinkering around the house their wives expect.  They say they cannot concentrate on books they know are worthwhile, “By the time I read two newspapers and listen to the radio, it’s time for bed.” Yet many borrowers are reading the books of the war of the news-interest type, party of the labor literature, and an occasional academic discussion of the better world they hope to see.

Can you imagine saying you don’t have time for books because you are busy reading two newspapers a day? And when they did have time to read, what did they read?

Books about the war are read with avidity by the younger boys, and normally by older men. Women refuse them absolutely, except where they describe army life or the countries where their men are fighting. War cartoon books lead in popularity. So far the discharged solders in the community seem not to have been overseas; their reading is general, although both they and their families are interested in psychology- not in rehabilitation books.  With the birthrate again on the upswing, books in child care are in demand. (1944)

Soldiers were coming home educated!

Reports of camp and overseas reading have been astounding; psychology in general, but especially Freud, seems to have been given a thorough going over; in fiction, the general fear seems to be that he will be given something namby-pamby, and great as is his appreciation of Pocket Books, he is glad to get away from them; apparently there are too many missing pages at the beginning and the end of the well-thumbed classics. Some are definitely checking war books with their own experiences, some are reading on some certain country- one at least to understand England because he married an English girl out in Australia. There is also a GI crop of babies planned for, and books for expectant mothers are in demand- by the husband. (1945)

6

African-American US Navy Steward’s Mate 2nd Class James Lee Frazer reading the Bible aboard a ship, 9 Jan 1945, United States National Archives

And, of course, the library is always about the questions, the questions, the questions:

The reference work has been as erratic as usual…Most exciting, of course, the chap who wants a contour map as he is to help bomb Pittsburgh or the young doctor back from Casablanca who kept a taxi waiting while the library located his new assignment in Virginia, to which even the recruiting office had been unable to direct him. He stopped in weeks later to report he had made plane connections and been in charge of a small hospital of his own and the next step was the Pacific in the “most coveted position of the Marine Corps.” (1942)

The war was changing our library customers in big and little ways. One thing Ms. Macpherson noted was changes in immigration:

From the time the branch was opened, work with foreigners was the theme of annual reports. The foreigner of those days no longer exists; the foreigner of today is less picturesque, he is almost non-existent in the sense of a helpless immigrant in a strange land…(1943)

But it’s still Pittsburgh. It wouldn’t be home if someone wasn’t starting something:

Recurrent tides of Polish and Lithuanian patriotism may send a few young people to read foreign books, but the young people are little interested in the nationalism which is a hindrance to the Americanism. The children are pretty weary of the old-world quarrels which are brought into the neighborhood and fostered by the nationalistic clergy and foreign-language newspapers. (1943)

4

American sailor reading in his bunk aboard USS Capelin, August 1943, United States National Archives

1945 ended on a high note for the branch, particularly in regards to the returning soldiers:

His experiences have given him in general the following attitudes: he “never wants to see a gun again”; he is “all confused”; he has a profound respect for education; he needs little orientation in intercultural appreciation–as one quotes, “in the army all blood is type O”; he is very modest, and is sure the “heroes” did not return; he thinks his own little niche in world geography, i.e., the South Side, is “pretty swell”; he wants a better job than he had when he went away; he feels pretty rich, if he has been overseas several years with no place to spend his money; he has not faith that there will not be “another war in twenty or thirty years” and sometimes thinks “America is too soft-hearted and should finish the job”; he is already disillusioned about the peace; he is Anglophobe or Anglophile; Russophobe or Russophile in about the same ratio as before the war.

All in all, at the present moment, he is rejoicing in his sanity, his physical stamina, and his retained or regained sense of humor; he realizes the meaning of radar and the atomic bomb; and if he is inclined to be materialistic, he at least still has tremendous zest for living.

And finally, proof that the library has always been and always will be a civilizing force:

When re-registering the servicemen, it is interesting to have them present the old library card with a flourish and remark it has never left their wallet since they left home, while one lad when asked if he had his old card, said, “Until it was taken from me in a German prison camp.” The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh  library cards have traveled over all the war zones, and renewing the card seems to be part of the rite of returning to civilian life.

VE-Day

Happy VE Day! (Tomorrow!)

suzy

*Where did I find the title of this post? It comes from one inexplicable sentence written in 1943: “The tragedy of the spoiled Victory Garden canned green beans was not averted by the library books, but the danger of food poisoning was.” No story, no follow-up…

3 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Grab the Grisha Trilogy!

Credit to firewaterman.wordpress.com

Credit to firewaterman.wordpress.com

WARNING: If you haven’t read any of the books in this series, there are MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD!

The Grisha trilogy is one of many series that was on my never-ending to-read list. I’ll be honest that my initial reasoning behind reading the books is shallow: I liked the covers. They’re really cool covers in my opinion. Later, I read the description for the first novel, Shadow and Bone, and was interested.

The series centers on Alina Starkov, who is a mapmaker, and her best friend, Mal, who is a tracker. Mal is a people person and was always considered the cool one of the two. Alina and Mal have known each other for years because a lady named Ana Kuya adopted them both. Alina always felt inferior to Mal even though she has strong feelings for him. She feels like he doesn’t see her as more than just a friend.

One day when Alina and Mal are captured, Alina discovers this power involving light that she never even knew that she had. She is then whisked off to the First Palace to train to become a Grisha soldier. Also, her training is supposed to help The Darkling to take down this area called The Fold that is separating their home country, Ravka, from other countries. At first, after seeing the chemistry between Alina and the Darkling I shipped them. Later on while reading the book I discovered why that was a terrible idea.

As the story goes on, we learn the Darkling’s true motives with the fold and it has bad repercussions for everyone. When Alina finds this out, she tries to stop the Darkling’s plan but it doesn’t work. In the midst of everything, Alina and Mal finally revealed their feelings for each other.

Fast forward to the second book, Siege and Storm, Alina and Mal are on the run from the Darkling after their battle at the end of the first novel. Of course the running doesn’t last long because the Darkling finds them. There’s another battle, but this time they have help from a privateer named Strumhond and his crew. After that battle, Strumhond takes Alina and Mal back to the palace for what they think is to meet a client of his. We also find out that Strumhond is hiding the truth about his real identity.

Throughout this novel there’s a lot of talk of politics and Alina feels like everyone is only interested in her for what she can offer them. We see a change in Alina from books 1 to 2 in that she’s become a lot stronger. She’s also become more powerful, but with this power comes a hunger and desire for more. This hunger for power almost causes her to lose everything. I would consider Alina to be a feminist character because she’s strong and doesn’t take crap from anybody. Although she is heavily flawed, she still has a lot of redeeming qualities.

There is a lot of romance in this series particularly with Alina and Mal as we see their relationship deepen. In the first book, there was some romance with Alina and the Darkling before she found out his true intentions. Strumhond also acts like he has feelings for Alina, but he can’t be trusted so these feelings don’t seem genuine. With all of this romance comes a heaping amount of drama. In Siege and Storm, there begins to be a strain on Alina and Mal’s relationship because they’re being directed in different directions. Fans of the relationship have to suffer through a lot. Despite the characters going through some tough, scary, and sometimes dire situations there was a lot of humor in these novels. I found myself laughing a lot.

While I’ve yet to read to the last book in the trilogy, Ruin and Rising, I’m looking forward to seeing what happens next. All of the books, which are written by Leigh Bardugo, are available in our catalog. Bardugo has a new series of books coming out. The first one, Six of Crowscomes out this September.

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Opinions, Assemble!

I saw Avengers: Age Of Ultron this past Sunday. Brilliant! A movie with so many important characters and so much action and CGI runs a real risk of becoming a hot mess. Like a great symphony conductor, Joss Whedon kept this film moving, hit all of the right notes, and gave just about every character at least one moment to shine. Movies with large ensemble casts need just the right pacing and attention to detail to pull this off. Being a big Hawkeye fan, I was floored that he played such a pivotal role in the film and enjoyed so many amazing moments. Jeremy Renner did a superb job capturing Hawkeye’s core conceit–the “normal dude” among godlike beings–normal being a relative thing in this case.

Seeing Age of Ultron marks a good time to go back and assess my top three superhero films of recent memory, and just to add a bit of spice, I will throw in my bottom three as well!

Top Three

Guardians Of The Galaxy. Guardians masterfully blends sci-fi and superheroes and only gets better with repeated viewings.

Iron Man. The first Iron Man film remains the best as Robert Downey, Jr. forges the role he was born to play.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier. I loved the first Cap movie, but Winter Soldier establishes Captain America as Marvel’s paragon of what’s best in a hero.

Honorable MentionThor. Chris Hemsworth is The God of Thunder, and his chemistry with Natalie Portman (Jane Foster) flows so naturally it adds a lovely bit of romance to the rollicking action.

Bottom Three

X-Men: The Last Stand. Everything Joss Whedon did right in Age Of Ultron, Brett Ratner did wrong in this hot mess–uneven script, key action occurring off-screen, and not enough special moments for characters.

Superman Returns. Watch this one up to the point where Supes saves the space-plane, then turn if off and put in the original Superman with Chris Reeves and Brando–it’s Supes vs. a bad real estate scheme in both films.

Punisher: War ZoneCosmic villain Galactus has a robotic watchdog named the Punisher; I wish this movie was about him.

Dishonorable Mention: Fantastic 4: Rise Of The Silver Surfer. Significant divergences from the comic book versions of Dr. Doom, Galactus, and the Surfer himself helped ruin this poorly paced film for me.

–Scott P.

winter-soldier-poster

Iron-Man-cover

GOTG-posterx-men-t-last-standThor-coverSuperman-returns-covpunisher-warzone-cci-poster-fullFF-rise

3 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized