Month: April 2022

Graphic Novel Review: Wash Day Diaries

By Jamila Rowser and Robyn Smith

Pub Date: 5 July 2022

Description

From writer Jamila Rowser and artist Robyn Smith comes a captivating graphic novel love letter to the beauty and endurance of Black women, their friendships, and their hair.

Wash Day Diaries tells the story of four best friends—Kim, Tanisha, Davene, and Cookie—through five connected short story comics that follow these young women through the ups and downs of their daily lives in the Bronx. The book takes its title from the wash day experience shared by Black women everywhere of setting aside all plans and responsibilities for a full day of washing, conditioning, and nourishing their hair. Each short story uses hair routines as a window into these four characters’ everyday lives and how they care for each other.

Jamila Rowser and Robyn Smith originally kickstarted their critically acclaimed, award-winning slice of life mini comic, Wash Day, inspired by Rowser’s own wash day ritual and their shared desire to see more comics featuring the daily lived experiences of young Black women. Wash Day Diaries includes an updated, full color version of this original comic—which follows Kim, a 26-year-old woman living in the Bronx—as the book’s first chapter and expands into a graphic novel with short stories about these vibrant and relatable new characters.

In expanding the story of Kim and her friends, the authors pay tribute to Black sisterhood through portraits of shared, yet deeply personal experiences of Black hair care. From self-care to spilling the tea at an hours-long salon appointment to healing family rifts, the stories are brought to life through beautifully drawn characters and different color palettes reflecting the mood in each story.

At times touching, quiet, triumphant, and laugh out loud funny, the stories of Wash Day Diaries pay a loving tribute to Black joy and the resilience of Black women.

Review

The worst thing about this book was that it ended! This slice of life graphic novel hit the absolute spot for indulgence: gorgeous artwork with moody colors, cute outfits and apartments, and cool-ass women you wanna be friends with. I loved how the creators showcased the steps in each girl’s hair routine with such detail: you get to follow the twist and turns of hair, the application of products, and every routine is as unique as their personalities.

I wanted more though. Not in a bad way but ugh, it was too short! More of these characters and their stories, more of this style of easy, relatable writing. Just MORE! It felt like there was a lot left unsaid and much more going on that we need to be a part of. Here’s hoping we get a whole series of these girls because I feel sad I was only a part of their lives for the one hour I read this.

Thank you to the publisher Chronicle Books for providing an eARC of this graphic novel for review!

🧼🧼🧼🧼/5 soaps!

ARC Review: 12 Notes

Pub Date: 5 April 2022

⭐⭐⭐⭐.5/5

12 Notes: On Creativity and Life by Quincy Jones

Wisdom and musings on creativity and life from one of the world’s most beloved musicians, producers, and mentors, Quincy Jones

12 Notes is a self-development guide that will affirm that creativity is a calling that can and should be answered, no matter your age or experience. Drawing from his own life, and those of his many creative collaborators past and present, Quincy Jones presents readers with lessons that are hardworking and accessible, yet speak to the passion of self-expression. He includes sections as deep as how to transform grief into power, and as practical as how to set goals and articulate intentions through daily affirmations. Weaving his story throughout, Jones lets readers in on his own creative process, as well as the importance of letting honesty, hard work, and good relationships drive your career.

Review

Quincy Jones is a monumental figure in the music world, and being the music lover I am I jumped at the opportunity to read this. First of all, The Weeknd’s foreword was like a red carpet being rolled out for royalty and felt like the perfect introduction. It made me excited for what came ahead. But what I loved most about this work was that it wasn’t a memoir or biography, and every story had a reason, a moral or lesson to be learned. Jones is writing this book at the age of 88 and the wisdom he has to impart comes from years of experience on the road, in the studio, and through the trying times of the civil rights era.

Not only has he worked with greats like Michael Jackson and Ray Charles, but Quincy Jones earned countless awards, many times as the first African American to do so. Despite the many doubters to his career, Q came out on top and writes this book from a place of power. His passion beams through the pages and you can’t help but take that with you after the last page has turned. It was a concise read, every word spoken with purpose, and I truly enjoyed it. Highly recommend for music lovers and creatives who speak from their soul.

Thank you to the publisher ABRAMS for providing a copy of review via Netgalley.

Find 12 Notes: On Creativity and Life on Bookshop.org

Graphic Novel Review: Alice in Kyoto Forest, Vol. 1

🐇🐇🐇/5 white rabbits

Description

After being orphaned at a young age, Alice lives with her aunt and abusive uncle. At 15 she finds her ticket to freedom: heading back to her hometown of Kyoto to train as a maiko and eventually becoming a geisha. Kyoto is nothing like she remembers and it soon begins to feel like she’s in a completely different world.

Review

An interesting take on the classic Alice in Wonderland, this wasn’t quite what I expected. I understand that the character was supposed to be confused so that created some confusion for the reader as well but it was kinda clunky and I felt like that could’ve been done better.

Her two companion creatures, the rabbit and frog, were cute until one of them starts making perverted remarks which was just unsettling. Other than that, the circumstances of the mysterious boy from another time was absolutely captivating and really snagged me to wanna read the next issue.

Thank you to TokyoPop for providing a copy for review.

Find Alice in Kyoto Forest, Vol. 1 on Bookshop.org

ARC Review: Gathering Blossoms Under Fire

Alice Walker’s Journals

Pub Date: 12 April 2022

I love a good journal. There’s something absolutely fascinating about getting inside someone’s head and journals are the best way to achieve that. A favorite I read recently was Kurt Cobain’s controversial Journals. Controversial because he didn’t exactly authorize their publishing and were considered more of a cash grab by Courtney Love, or so the interweb rumors go.

That controversy makes it a great read for the voyeur, who just can’t help but “read and judge”. (Reference to Kurt’s handwritten cover, “If you read you’ll judge.”) Highly recommend for the Kurt/Nirvana fans and anyone else who adores slinks into other stoner/rocker/rebels’ minds.

Alice Walker’s journals are an awe-inspiring collection. They range from her early twenties all the way into her fifties, and you get the chance to follow along her whole adult life, a rare written journey. Starting in 1965 and ending in 2000 the world around her changes dramatically, but my favorite part was how her focus shifted inwards.

In her younger years she was more concerned about world issues and politics, but as she ages she focuses much more on personal relationships, on what’s best for herself, and connecting with nature. She learns lessons and thinks through situations through her writing, and another cool aspect was seeing her develop ideas for future published works. I really enjoyed this journal and I believe anyone who wishes to be a successful writer would enjoy reading Alice Walker’s journals.

Thank you to the publisher Simon and Schuster for providing an eARC of this book for review.

Find Gathering Blossoms Under Fire on Bookshop.org