Book Review: Ms. Marvel, Vol 1: No Normal by G. Willow Wilson

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Title: Ms. Marvel, Vol. 1: No Norman
Author: G. Willow Wilson
Artist: Adrian Alphona
Genre: Graphic Novels, Comics

The creative team behind the development of Ms. Marvel consists of two women and two men. Which, in the comic book world, historically dominated by white men, could be considered progress in and of itself. Much of the heart of the Kamala Khan story comes from the life experiences of Sana Amanat, a Marvel editor on the creative team.

Kamala Khan is a 16-year-old Jersey girl, a Pakistani-American teen who likes superhero fan fiction and like most teens, wants to feel like she belongs. I love that the first scene we see in her home is of Kamala sitting at her computer writing Avengers fanfic. When she is suddenly bestowed with superhuman, shape-shifting powers, she begins an adventure of her lifetime.

Writer G Willow Wilson said in 2013, “I wanted to make a story in which the Muslim woman narrates her own life.” But Kamala’s story is also about being a geeky misfit, and confronting the labels that have been assigned to her. In Volume 1, Kamala has to directly confront how she is seen by others, and how that influences the way that she interacts with the world around her. How she can do so while remaining true to herself.

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This inner turmoil is a big part of Volume 1. In fact, we don’t get much of a hint of who or what the villain is until the very end of the volume. Much of the story is Kamala’s conflict within herself and her family when she expresses her wish to be like other American teenagers at her school. Or how she deals with people like Zoe, a white student that passive-aggressively taunts Kamala and her friend Nakia about their “otherness”.

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The one issue I did have with Volume 1 is the portrayal of Kamala’s devout older brother. To me, I felt that it bordered on stereotypical, particularly because he seemed to be portrayed in a way that was almost ridiculed: the lazy, religious family member that mooches off of everyone else. Based on the reviews I have read, Kamala’s family and the friends and religious leaders from her mosque are more fleshed out in the next few issues. I hope that is the case.

Overall, I really liked Ms Marvel! Kamala is very relatable, and I quickly became interested in her journey, and where she will go from here. While the villain has yet to be fleshed out, I love her friends Bruno and Nakia. And I find Kamala’s family very sweet, although her dad seems to have more depth than her mom, so I hope that is improved upon in future volumes. Her parents are loving but overprotective, much in the same way that mine were growing up (I grew up in a strict Christian household).

I have also heard that fans of Agents of Shield will have a better understanding of how exactly Kamala gains her powers. Anyone out there want to help clarify that aspect? I am not that well versed in the Marvel universe…although after watching the amazing Doctor Strange last weekend I will certainly be rectifying that!

Rating: 4/5 stars

 

#DiversityDecBingo Challenge

Happy December 1st!! Oh wait…that ship has sailed, it’s already December 2nd! Happy December 2nd!!

If you can’t tell, my life is running a day or two behind schedule at the moment. And therefore, so are my blog posts!

 

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I recently saw that Aimal @ Bookshelves and Paperbacks , as well as a few other bloggers, are hosting a Diversity December Bingo Reading Challenge, and I decided to participate!

This is how #DiversityDecBingo works: participants choose one line on the Bingo sheet – horizontal, vertical, or diagonal – and read one book from each category on that line. Once you finish your 5-book challenge, you are entered into a giveaway! You can follow the challenge by tracking the #DiversityDecBingo hashtag,

MY #DiversityDecBingo TBR

I have decided to do one of the vertical columns.

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These are the books I have selected for the challenge:

  • PoC Superheroes: Ms. Marvel, Volume 1 by G. Willow Wilson
  • Diverse Non-fiction: The Algebra of Infinite Justice by Arundhati Roy
  • #OwnVoices: Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
  • SFF w/LGBTQIA+ Main Character: Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova, or Timekeeper by Tara Sim.
  • Neurodiversity: Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine

I hope you will consider joining myself and others on this fun literary challenge! It will be a month full of reading books by marginalized authors and/or marginalized characters.

ARC Book Review – The Blazing Star by Imani Josey

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Title: The Blazing Star
Author:  Imani Josey
Publisher:  Wise Ink Creative Publishing
Release Date: 6 December, 2016
Genre: YA Fantasy

*This ARC was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.*

Book Blurb:

Sixteen-year-old Portia White is used to being overlooked—after all, her twin sister Alex is a literal genius.

But when Portia holds an Egyptian scarab beetle during history class, she takes center stage in a way she never expected: she faints. Upon waking, she is stronger, faster, and braver than before. And when she accidentally touches the scarab again?

She wakes up in ancient Egypt—her sister and an unwitting freshman in tow.

Great.

Mysterious and beautiful, Egypt is more than they could have ever imagined from their days in the classroom. History comes alive as the three teens realize that getting back to the present will be the most difficult thing they’ve ever done. Stalked by vicious monsters called Scorpions, every step in the right direction means a step closer to danger.

As Portia and the girls discover that they’re linked to the past by more than just chance, they have to decide what it truly means to be yourself, to love your sister, and to find your way home.

The Blazing Star contains so many incredibly awesome components: time travel to Ancient Egypt and Egyptian mythology, a diverse cast of PoC characters, strong female protagonists, and a gorgeous, breath-taking book cover. I know, I know, a book cover in no way represents the quality of writing inside of a book, but LOOK AT IT. I bow down at the feet of the artist who designed it, because I love the cover THAT much.

Much of the story revolves around the twinning, or lack of twinning, going on between Portia and Alex, as they try to find out why they were pulled back in time into ancient Egypt, and how they can get home. It’s a fun, original mash-up of fantasy, Egyptian mythology, and magic. Imani Josey truly did an amazing job of making me, the reader, feel as if I was back in Ancient Egypt with the girls. What makes the time travel plot work so well is the characters that Portia, Alex, and Selene meet. My favorites were definitely the Priestesses of the Temple of Isis: High Priestess Weret, Sikara, and Tasherit. The Prince of Egypt was exasperating.

The first half really held my attention, and did a moderately successful job of setting up the world and mythology that we learn about as the novel progresses. However, sadly, the story begins to lose its way in the second half, and in my opinion, starts to fall apart a teeny tiny bit. It became harder and harder to keep track of the timeline, and all the characters that come in and out of the story. The plot advances, but there are definitely some holes and gaps, and character’s actions that don’t make a lot of sense, which started driving me batty about 2/3 of the way through the book.

The ending is unresolved and definitely leaves room for a sequel, but also had me feeling as this was a case of lost potential. I really, really wanted to love The Blazing Star, but ultimately, it fell a bit short.

Rating: 3/5 stars.

Diversity Spotlight -17 November 2016

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I am slowly making my way through The Blazing Star, which was on my Diversity Spotlight list last week. I feel like every time I pick it up, I get interrupted, and have to put it back down. I hate when that happens! I don’t know if it is the constant interruptions, or my mood that is still down in the dumps, but I am having a hard time getting into the book.

Wildfires are still raging in the North Carolina mountains, and for the past 3 days, my home in the Charlotte area has been hazy and smoky. So much so, that the local school district has cancelled outdoor recess and sporting practices until the air quality improves. The Code Red air quality, combined with all the drywall repair work currently underway in our bathroom renovation, has really triggered my asthma, so I am back on a nebulizer and frequent inhaler use at the moment. Ugh.

Hopefully, it will rain soon, but there is still no sign of rain in the forecast.  2016 certainly is continuing on its path of being the year of constant yuckiness.

On a positive note, I am extremely excited to participate in an upcoming Love Wins rally. You might be scratching your head on that one, in light of the recent election, but a group of mothers involved with a local nonprofit, OurBRIDGE, decided to unite together and send a message to our neighbors, city, country, and the world, that we stand together in the belief that the United States is stronger for its diversity and inclusion.

OurBridge Kids is a Charlotte-based nonprofit that provides a safe, nurturing and respectful environment for refugee and immigrant students and their families. The rally is getting a lot of attention locally, with an excellent line-up of speakers and attendees. It should be a very empowering and uplifting event, what so many of us need right now.

In honor of all the refugee families I have come to know over the years, all of my selections this week will focus on the experience of refugees.

Diversity Spotlight Thursday is a weekly feature hosted by Aimal @ Bookshelves and Paperbacks. Each week, you discuss three books featuring diverse characters or authors, that fall into each of following three categories:

  • A diverse book you have read and enjoyed
  • A diverse book that has already been released but you have not read
  • A diverse book that has not yet been released

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What is the What by Dave Eggers

Book Blurb:

In a heartrending and astonishing novel, Eggers illuminates the history of the civil war in Sudan through the eyes of Valentino Achak Deng, a refugee now living in the United States. We follow his life as he’s driven from his home as a boy and walks, with thousands of orphans, to Ethiopia, where he finds safety — for a time. Valentino’s travels, truly Biblical in scope, bring him in contact with government soldiers, janjaweed-like militias, liberation rebels, hyenas and lions, disease and starvation — and a string of unexpected romances. Ultimately, Valentino finds safety in Kenya and, just after the millennium, is finally resettled in the United States, from where this novel is narrated. In this book, written with expansive humanity and surprising humor, we come to understand the nature of the conflicts in Sudan, the refugee experience in America, the dreams of the Dinka people, and the challenge one indomitable man faces in a world collapsing around him.

I have had the incredible privilege to get to know two Sudanese doctors who worked with the Dinka people during the Civil War, who eventually had to flee and became refugees themselves. The courage and optimism of so many Sudanese refugees, and most especially the Lost Boys, is beyond belief. This book is powerfully written, and is a must read for everyone.

Little known fact: Many, many refugees celebrate their birthday on January 1. Here in Charlotte, a local refugee agency holds a big birthday party every year in January for their clients. The reason for this is due to the fact that many refugees don’t know their actual date of birth. When that is the case, a new birthday is assigned to them during the resettlement process. The date always assigned for those who don’t know? January 1.

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The Bone Sparrow by Zana Fraillon

Book Blurb:

Subhi is a refugee. Born in an Australian permanent detention center after his mother and sister fled the violence of a distant homeland, Subhi has only ever known life behind the fences. But his world is far bigger than that—every night, the magical Night Sea from his mother’s stories brings him gifts, the faraway whales sing to him, and the birds tell their stories. And as he grows, his imagination threatens to burst beyond the limits of his containment.

The most vivid story of all, however, is the one that arrives one night in the form of Jimmie—a scruffy, impatient girl who appears on the other side of the wire fence and brings with her a notebook written by the mother she lost. Unable to read it herself, she relies on Subhi to unravel her family’s love songs and tragedies.

Subhi and Jimmie might both find comfort—and maybe even freedom—as their tales unfold. But not until each has been braver than ever before.

From 2001 – 2005, I worked with asylum seekers in Brisbane, Australia. The clients, many of whom became dear friends, that I worked with were community-based asylum seekers. This novel details the experience of asylum seekers who don’t get that opportunity. Australia has both “onshore” and “offshore” detention centres, and the characters in The Bone Sparrow live in one of the onshore detention centres.

Fact: There are many myths surrounding refugees. One such myth is that “Boat People” – those who arrive via boat to Australia – are not “genuine refugees”. This is UNTRUE!! There is no such thing as a ‘genuine’ or ‘non-genuine’ refugee. Refugee status should not be influenced by method of arrival, and 93.4% of asylum seekers who arrived by boat to Australia in 2011-12 were found to be refugees and granted protection.

However, Australia discriminates against asylum seekers based on their method of arrival. If they arrive with a valid visa – often a student or tourist visa – and then apply for protection, they are allowed to live in the community until their application is processed (this can take years). If an asylum seekers arrives on a boat, or another method, without a visa, they are sent to detention centres.

Some people end up stuck in a no-man’s land, denied protection by Australia, but unable to be sent back to their home country, and end up living in the detention centres for years upon years.

This includes children. And the conditions can be abhorrent, and so incredibly inhumane.

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The Refugees by Viet Thanh Nguyen

Book Blurb:

Viet Thanh Nguyen’s The Sympathizer was one of the most widely and highly praised novels of 2015, the winner not only of the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, but also the Center for Fiction Debut Novel Prize, the Edgar Award for Best First Novel, the ALA Carnegie Medal for Fiction, the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature, and the California Book Award for First Fiction. Nguyen’s next fiction book, The Refugees, is a collection of perfectly formed stories written over a period of twenty years, exploring questions of immigration, identity, love, and family.

With the coruscating gaze that informed The Sympathizer, in The Refugees Viet Thanh Nguyen gives voice to lives led between two worlds, the adopted homeland and the country of birth. From a young Vietnamese refugee who suffers profound culture shock when he comes to live with two gay men in San Francisco, to a woman whose husband is suffering from dementia and starts to confuse her for a former lover, to a girl living in Ho Chi Minh City whose older half-sister comes back from America having seemingly accomplished everything she never will, the stories are a captivating testament to the dreams and hardships of immigration. The second piece of fiction by a major new voice in American letters, The Refugees is a beautifully written and sharply observed book about the aspirations of those who leave one country for another, and the relationships and desires for self-fulfillment that define our lives.

I don’t usually read collections of short stories, but I might make an exception for this one. I find it particularly interesting that the stories were written over a period of twenty years!

The Refugees will be published on 7 February, 2017.

Diversity Spotlight -10 November 2016

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I am still taking a mini-hiatus through Sunday, but I decided to pop back to participate in Diversity Spotlight Thursday, for the first time. I am going to start participating in this meme more often, but it seems particularly important this week.

Diversity Spotlight Thursday is a weekly feature hosted by Aimal @ Bookshelves and Paperbacks. Each week, you discuss three books featuring diverse characters or authors, that fall into each of following three categories:

  • A diverse book you have read and enjoyed
  • A diverse book that has already been released but you have not read
  • A diverse book that has not yet been released

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Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

I have read almost all of Adichie’s novels. This was my first, and remains my favorite. Published 10 years ago, Half of a Yellow Sun won the Orange Prize for Fiction in 2007, as well as the PEN Open Book Award, and the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award for fiction.

1960’s Nigeria is one of turmoil. This epic story follows the plight of Odenigbo, Olanna, and Ugwu, as they are caught in the middle of the Biafran War. Following discrimination and massacres against Igbo in northern Nigeria, the south-eastern provinces of Nigeria seceded to form their own nation of Biafra. What follows, both in history and in this novel, is a brutal civil war in which hundreds of thousands lose their homes, are forced to flee numerous times, and ultimately face starvation and disease.

This is not a feel good novel. It is a novel about the realities of a post-colonial nation burdened by distinctions of class, race, and ethnicity. It is a novel about the horrors of war. It is a novel about death and destruction. That Chimamanda portrays such devastating topics with such depth, clarity, and compassion, is a sign of a masterpiece. And ultimately, in many ways, it is a story about love and survival.

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George by Alex Gino

Book Blurb:

BE WHO YOU ARE.

When people look at George, they think they see a boy. But she knows she’s not a boy. She knows she’s a girl.

George thinks she’ll have to keep this a secret forever. Then her teacher announces that their class play is going to be Charlotte’s Web. George really, really, REALLY wants to play Charlotte. But the teacher says she can’t even try out for the part . . . because she’s a boy.  

With the help of her best friend, Kelly, George comes up with a plan. Not just so she can be Charlotte — but so everyone can know who she is, once and for all.

As a cis female, I have no idea what it feels like to be a transgender youth. What I do know is that every trans person I have met has faced incredible hardship and discrimination during both childhood and adulthood. This book, written from George’s perspective, gives readers a glimpse into understanding the frustrations, discrimination, and fear that a trans kid faces.

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The Blazing Star by Imani Josey

Book Blurb:

Sixteen-year-old Portia White is used to being overlooked—after all, her twin sister Alex is a literal genius.

But when Portia holds an Egyptian scarab beetle during history class, she takes center stage in a way she never expected: she faints. Upon waking, she is stronger, faster, and braver than before. And when she accidentally touches the scarab again?

She wakes up in ancient Egypt—her sister and an unwitting freshman in tow.

Great.

Mysterious and beautiful, Egypt is more than they could have ever imagined from their days in the classroom. History comes alive as the three teens realize that getting back to the present will be the most difficult thing they’ve ever done. Stalked by vicious monsters called Scorpions, every step in the right direction means a step closer to danger.

As Portia and the girls discover that they’re linked to the past by more than just chance, they have to decide what it truly means to be yourself, to love your sister, and to find your way home.

I received this book via Netgalley, and I am really looking forward to reading it! I am very selective in what books I request on NetGalley, and there are a few things that attracted me to this one. First, they time travel to ancient Egypt – and I love the idea of a fantasy novel set in ancient Egypt! Additionally, the majority of characters, including the heroine, are PoC, which is sadly still rare in the fantasy genre.

The Blazing Star will be published on December 6, 2016.

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Picks for a “Read the World” Book Club

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week the theme was Top Ten Books to Read if Your Book Club Likes __________. My fill in the blank choice is a focus on diversity and authors from around the world. I have a personal long-term challenge goal of reading a book by an author from every country, and I think  it would be equally awesome to be a part of a book club whose goal was to “Read the World”! 

Top Ten Books for a Read the World Book Club

The Yacoubian Building by Alaa Al Aswany (Egypt)

All manner of flawed and fragile humanity reside in the Yacoubian Building, a once-elegant temple of Art Deco splendor now slowly decaying in the smog and bustle of downtown Cairo: a fading aristocrat and self-proclaimed “scientist of women”; a sultry, voluptuous siren; a devout young student, feeling the irresistible pull toward fundamentalism; a newspaper editor helplessly in love with a policeman; a corrupt and corpulent politician, twisting the Koran to justify his desires.

These disparate lives careen toward an explosive conclusion in Alaa Al Aswany’s remarkable international bestseller. Teeming with frank sexuality and heartfelt compassion, this book is an important window on to the experience of loss and love in the Arab world.

Why I recommend it: Captivating writing and storytelling.

Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese (Ethiopia/America)

Marion and Shiva Stone are twin brothers born of a secret union between a beautiful Indian nun and a brash British surgeon at a mission hospital in Addis Ababa. Orphaned by their mother’s death in childbirth and their father’s disappearance, bound together by a preternatural connection and a shared fascination with medicine, the twins come of age as Ethiopia hovers on the brink of revolution. Yet it will be love, not politics — their passion for the same woman—that will tear them apart and force Marion, fresh out of medical school, to flee his homeland. He makes his way to America, finding refuge in his work as an intern at an underfunded, overcrowded New York City hospital. When the past catches up to him — nearly destroying him — Marion must entrust his life to the two men he thought he trusted least in the world: the surgeon father who abandoned him and the brother who betrayed him.

An unforgettable journey into one man’s remarkable life, and an epic story about the power, intimacy, and curious beauty of the work of healing others.

Why I recommend it: Despite a slow beginning, I fell in love with the characters and setting. Verghese writes a moving family drama set against the backdrop of medical practice in Ethiopia, and the turmoil between Ethiopia and Eritrea. If you do not know the history of Ethiopia or Eritrea, I definitely recommend a quick bit of research into Emperor Selassie, Mengistu, the Eritrean Liberation Front, and the history of  Ethiopian and Eritrean relations before delving into this excellent novel.

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Nigeria/America/Britain)

As teenagers in a Lagos secondary school, Ifemelu and Obinze fall in love. Their Nigeria is under military dictatorship, and people are leaving the country if they can. Ifemelu—beautiful, self-assured—departs for America to study. She suffers defeats and triumphs, finds and loses relationships and friendships, all the while feeling the weight of something she never thought of back home: race. Obinze—the quiet, thoughtful son of a professor—had hoped to join her, but post-9/11 America will not let him in, and he plunges into a dangerous, undocumented life in London.

Years later, Obinze is a wealthy man in a newly democratic Nigeria, while Ifemelu has achieved success as a writer of an eye-opening blog about race in America. But when Ifemelu returns to Nigeria, and she and Obinze reignite their shared passion—for their homeland and for each other—they will face the toughest decisions of their lives.

Why I recommend it: Because I love everything written by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I loved Ifemelu’s blog posts, and her commentary on the different societies portrayed in the novel.

 

 

The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie (India/Britain)

One of the most controversial and acclaimed novels ever written, The Satanic Verses is Salman Rushdie’s best-known and most galvanizing book. Set in a modern world filled with both mayhem and miracles, the story begins with a bang: the terrorist bombing of a London-bound jet in midflight. Two Indian actors of opposing sensibilities fall to earth, transformed into living symbols of what is angelic and evil. This is just the initial act in a magnificent odyssey that seamlessly merges the actual with the imagined. A book whose importance is eclipsed only by its quality, The Satanic Verses is a key work of our times.

Why I recommend it: A fascinating novel for those who like magical realism. The content of The Satanic Verses is also the reason why the Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa against Rushdie when it was published. It would make for an extremely interesting book club discussion.

The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri (India/America)

The Namesake takes the Ganguli family from their tradition-bound life in Calcutta through their fraught transformation into Americans. On the heels of their arranged wedding, Ashoke and Ashima Ganguli settle together in Cambridge, Massachusetts. An engineer by training, Ashoke adapts far less warily than his wife, who resists all things American and pines for her family. When their son is born, the task of naming him betrays the vexed results of bringing old ways to the new world. Named for a Russian writer by his Indian parents in memory of a catastrophe years before, Gogol Ganguli knows only that he suffers the burden of his heritage as well as his odd, antic name.

Lahiri brings great empathy to Gogol as he stumbles along the first-generation path, strewn with conflicting loyalties, comic detours, and wrenching love affairs. With penetrating insight, she reveals not only the defining power of the names and expectations bestowed upon us by our parents, but also the means by which we slowly, sometimes painfully, come to define ourselves.

Why I recommend it: If you can’t tell by now, I love reading books about the immigrant experience. This is an excellent introduction to the work of Jhumpa Lahiri. I love all of her books!

The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai (India)

In a crumbling, isolated house at the foot of Mount Kanchenjunga in the Himalayas lives an embittered judge who wants only to retire in peace, when his orphaned granddaughter, Sai, arrives on his doorstep. The judge’s cook watches over her distractedly, for his thoughts are often on his son, Biju, who is hopscotching from one gritty New York restaurant to another. Kiran Desai’s brilliant novel, published to huge acclaim, is a story of joy and despair. Her characters face numerous choices that majestically illuminate the consequences of colonialism as it collides with the modern world.

Why I recommend it: Kiran Desai’s writing reminds me of The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy, one of my favorite books I have ever read. The Inheritance of Loss delves into the topic of post-colonialism, interesting subject matter for book club discussions!

Annie John – Jamaica Kincaid (Antigua)

Annie John is a haunting and provocative story of a young girl growing up on the island of Antigua. A classic coming-of-age story in the tradition of The Catcher in the Rye and A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Kincaid’s novel focuses on a universal, tragic, and often comic theme: the loss of childhood. Annie’s voice—urgent, demanding to be heard—is one that will not soon be forgotten by readers.

Why I recommend it: I read Annie John while vacationing in Nevis this past August, another small Caribbean island. Jamaica Kincaid is a brilliant writer, and the universal theme of the relationship between mothers and daughters would make it an excellent group read near Mother’s Day.

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabríel Garcia Márquez (Colombia)

The novel tells the story of the rise and fall of the mythical town of Macondo through the history of the family. It is a rich and brilliant chronicle of life and death, and the tragicomedy of humankind. In the noble, ridiculous, beautiful, and tawdry story of the family, one sees all of humanity, just as in the history, myths, growth, and decay of Macondo, one sees all of Latin America.

Love and lust, war and revolution, riches and poverty, youth and senility — the variety of life, the endlessness of death, the search for peace and truth — these universal themes dominate the novel. Whether he is describing an affair of passion or the voracity of capitalism and the corruption of government, Gabriel Garcia Marquez always writes with the simplicity, ease, and purity that are the mark of a master.

Why I recommend it: In my opinion, Márquez is one of the greatest writers of our time. If you or your book club like magical realism, he is the master and creator of the genre.

I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai (Pakistan)

I come from a country that was created at midnight. When I almost died it was just after midday.

When the Taliban took control of the Swat Valley in Pakistan, one girl spoke out. Malala Yousafzai refused to be silenced and fought for her right to an education.

On Tuesday, October 9, 2012, when she was fifteen, she almost paid the ultimate price. She was shot in the head at point-blank range while riding the bus home from school, and few expected her to survive.

Instead, Malala’s miraculous recovery has taken her on an extraordinary journey from a remote valley in northern Pakistan to the halls of the United Nations in New York. At sixteen, she has become a global symbol of peaceful protest and the youngest-ever Nobel Peace Prize laureate.

I Am Malala is the remarkable tale of a family uprooted by global terrorism, of the fight for girls’ education, of a father who, himself a school owner, championed and encouraged his daughter to write and attend school, and of brave parents who have a fierce love for their daughter in a society that prizes sons.

I Am Malala will make you believe in the power of one person’s voice to inspire change in the world.

Why I recommend it: The only non-fiction book on my list, but a story that needs to be heard by everyone. The writing is not perfect, but Malala’s indomitable spirit and perseverance shines through.

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami (Japan)

In a Tokyo suburb a young man named Toru Okada searches for his wife’s missing cat. Soon he finds himself looking for his wife as well in a netherworld that lies beneath the placid surface of Tokyo. As these searches intersect, Okada encounters a bizarre group of allies and antagonists: a psychic prostitute; a malevolent yet mediagenic politician; a cheerfully morbid sixteen-year-old-girl; and an aging war veteran who has been permanently changed by the hideous things he witnessed during Japan’s forgotten campaign in Manchuria.

Gripping, prophetic, suffused with comedy and menace, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle is a tour de force equal in scope to the masterpieces of Mishima and Pynchon.

Why I recommend it: It’s brilliant. BRILLIANT.

What is on your Top Ten Tuesday list this week?