23. Ms. Marvel, by editors Sana Amanat and Stephen Wacker, writer G. Willow Wilson and artist Adrian Alphona. This fulfills the Book Riot challenge category for reading a superhero comic with a female lead. I really liked this one! Kamala Khan is the daughter of parents who immigrated from Pakistan. Their household is a conservative, traditional one, but Kamala, a teenager, is questioning her future. She loves the adventures she sees in comics but is shocked one evening to find herself turn into a superhero. Kamala finds it tough to adjust to her new powers and reality, and struggles to weigh her parents wishes and concerns for her with her wishing to go out and help people and, ultimately, find her own identity. This is Marvel's first Muslim superhero, and the religion and culture make up an important part of Kamala. Still, her struggles at growing up, of wanting to know how she fits in, is something every preteen and teen will relate to. What I like is that her parents are real people. Her mother is overprotective but she's not a caricature. She has good reason. And I just love the father, who often has to play peacemaker between the rebellious Kamala and her traditional mother. The illustrations are beautifully done, rich and vivid.
24. Changing Planes, by Ursula Le Guin, illustrated by Eric Beddows. This fulfills the Book Riot challenge category for reading a collection of short stories by a female author. This...was strange. I'm still on the fence as to whether I liked this collection or not. The idea certainly is an interesting one- Le Guin writes a series of related short stories about various other worlds, or planes, which can only be accessed through a certain level of stress and aggravation, most notably the type one experiences at an airport. The first chapter covers how this was discovered, and the following chapters go into the various worlds. The stories read more like allegories- you have a world where people are constantly fighting, you have a world where the rich are the spectators and the commoners are more like celebrities. You have another world where growing wings is a curse. The best stories are the ones where the author (much of this is written in the first person) is interviewing one of the residents on any one of the worlds. There are some stories which merely relate the history and describe the inhabitants, which, if nothing else, are descriptive and imaginative, but also made me think "OK, this is interesting...I guess... but why should I care??" I admit skimming some chapters towards the end because my interest really started to lag. Le Guin especially seems to be fond of birdlike people- there are at least three stories/worlds where people have avian attributes. The illustrations are interesting, not sure they add much, except parents who might be checking out the book may want to be aware that some images are not exactly suitable for younger children.
Currently reading: Infamous Scribblers, by Eric Burns.