Review: Habibi by Craig Thompson

May 21, 2018
Habibi, Craig Thompson, Book Review, InToriLex
Published By: Pantheon on September 20, 2011
Format Read: Hardcover Edition (672 pages)
Genre: Comic/ Middle Eastern Inspired/ Adult
Series: Standalone
Source: Library
Sprawling across an epic landscape of deserts, harems, and modern industrial clutter, Habibi tells the tale of Dodola and Zam, refugee child slaves bound to each other by chance, by circumstance, and by the love that grows between them. We follow them as their lives unfold together and apart; as they struggle to make a place for themselves in a world (not unlike our own) fueled by fear, lust, and greed; and as they discover the extraordinary depth—and frailty—of their connection.

At once contemporary and timeless, Habibi gives us a love story of astounding resonance: a parable about our relationship to the natural world, the cultural divide between the first and third worlds, the common heritage of Christianity and Islam, and, most potently, the magic of storytelling.


Content Warning: Rape, Drug Use, Poverty, Sexual Abuse, Genital Mutilation, Prostitution, Violence, Racist


This book broke my heart and stomped on the pieces multiple times. It was engaging and unique but also extremely problematic. Habibi means Beloved in Arabic, and the story follows Dodola and Zam through horrific hardships and pain. The journey is interspersed with stories from Christianity and Islam, using the commonalities between the two to create a hybrid story. The artwork was masterfully done but the portrayals of the people and culture of Wantolia included caricature and stereotypes of the Middle Eastern cultures this drew inspiration from. The author has acknowledged he was inspired by Orientalist artist who interpret the Middle East through a western lens which is often racist. I didn't know this book before reading it. I did enjoy the characters and story telling but wish I knew this before I decided to read it.
Habibi, InToriLex, Craig Thompson
Dodola had to endure sexual violence over and over throughout her life. The portrayals of rape was sexualized at times and woman were usually powerless to the authority around them. The use of magical realism through images helped the author capture powerful feelings and inspire empathy. The religiously based stories bridge connections between Islam and Christianity highlighting their commonalities. However I was hoping that the stories would lead to a interconnected place. I found myself invested in the characters but was shocked by the extreme sexual violence and sterotypes that were portrayed. I did manage to finish the book and it did make me think deeply at times. But I wouldn't have read this book if I knew the author was inspired by racist views, and used inspiration from a culture to further degrade it to western readers. The only reason I gave it two stars is because I managed to finish it and enjoyed the characters.
Habibi, InToriLex, Book Review

Not Recommended for Readers who
- want to  learn about middle eastern culture
- enjoy feminists portrayals and themes
- want to support authors who approach serious topics thoughtfully


Craig Ringwalt Thompson (b. September 21, 1975 in Traverse City, Michigan) is a graphic novelist best known for his 2003 work Blankets. Thompson has received four Harvey Awards, two Eisner Awards, and two Ignatz Awards. In 2007, his cover design for the Menomena album Friend and Foe received a Grammy nomination for Best Recording Package.

Sunday Post #6 May 20, 2018

May 20, 2018
Sunday Post, InToriLex
Sunday Post is a Book Blog Meme hosted at the Caffeinated Reviewer. It's a post used to summarize what has happened on your blog for the past week, and preview what's next. 



Mental Health Awareness Month Book Recommendations 

Review: Habibi by Craig Thompson 

Audio Book Review: The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle #1) by Maggie Stiefvater

Review: We Are The Ants by

Review: Persepolis by



The Optimist's Guide to Letting Go by Amy E. Reichert (Sent to by Gallery Books)
 Every Watering Word by Tanya Manning-Yarde (Sent by Author)


This has been a rough week for me reading and posting wise. I've taken on more responsibilities at work and have been exhausted most weeknights this past week. I'm not beating myself up over it but I am hoping to read more this week. I'm happy the book mail has slowed down, so I can focus on what I have. I'm currently listening to Binti (Binti, #1) by Nnedi Okorafor on AudioBook and reading Number One Chinese Restaurant by Lillian Li and LIFEL1K3 (Lifelike #1) by Jay Kristoff

How did your reading go this week?

Book Scoop May 11- May 18, 2018

May 18, 2018
InToriLex, Book Scoop, Book News Book Industry News, Links & New Book Releases


Ursula K Le. Guin Documentary Trailer Released

May 16th is Tracy K Smith Day in Minnesota

Stan Lee Sues Pow Entertainment for 1 Billion  

Writers Urge China To Release Nobel Laureate's Wife from House Arrest


Cary Davie's Top Ten Wilderness Books 

Suspenseful Thrillers to Listen to on Audio  

Genre Bookshops From Around the World


All of This Is True by Lygia Day Peñaflor
All of This Is True, Lygia Day Peñaflor, InToriLex

Miri Tan loved the book Undertow like it was a living being. So when she and her friends went to a book signing to meet the author, Fatima Ro, they concocted a plan to get close to her, even if her friends won’t admit it now.

As for Jonah, well—Miri knows none of that was Fatima’s fault. Soleil Johnston wanted to be a writer herself one day. When she and her friends started hanging out with her favorite author, Fatima Ro, she couldn’t believe their luck—especially when Jonah Nicholls started hanging out with them, too. Now, looking back, Soleil can’t believe she let Fatima manipulate her and Jonah like that. She can’t believe that she got used for a book.

Penny Panzarella was more than the materialistic party girl everyone at the Graham School thought she was. She desperately wanted Fatima Ro to see that, and she saw her chance when Fatima asked the girls to be transparent with her. If only she’d known what would happen when Fatima learned Jonah’s secret. If only she’d known that the line between fiction and truth was more complicated than any of them imagined. . . .
What I Leave Behind by Alison McGhee What I Leave Behind, Alison McGhee, InToriLex

What I Leave Behind
The Memory of Forgotten Things by Kat Zhang
The Memory of Forgotten Things, Kat Zhang, InToriLex
The Memory of Forgotten Things
One of the happiest memories twelve-year-old Sophia Wallace has is of her tenth birthday. Her mother made her a cake that year—and not a cake from a box-mix, but from scratch. She remembers the way the frosting tasted, the way the pink sugar roses dissolved on her tongue.

This memory, and a scant few others like it, is all Sophia has of her mother, so she keeps them close. She keeps them secret, too. Because as paltry as these memories are, she shouldn’t have them at all.

The truth is, Sophia Wallace’s mother died when she was six years old. But that isn’t how she remembers it. Not always.

Sophia has never told anyone about her unusual memories—snapshots of a past that never happened. But everything changes when Sophia gets assigned a school research project on solar eclipses. She becomes convinced that the upcoming solar eclipse will grant her the opportunity to make her alternate life come true, to enter a world where her mother never died.

With the help of two misfit boys, she must figure out a way to bring her mother back to her—before the opportunity is lost forever.
The Favorite Sister, Jessica Knoll, InToriLexThe Favorite Sister by Jessica Knoll
The Favorite Sister
When five hyper-successful women agree to appear on a reality series set in New York City called Goal Diggers, the producers never expect the season will end in murder…

Brett’s the fan favorite. Tattooed and only twenty-seven, the meteoric success of her spin studio—and her recent engagement to her girlfriend—has made her the object of jealousy and vitriol from her cast mates.

Kelly, Brett’s older sister and business partner, is the most recent recruit, dismissed as a hanger-on by veteran cast. The golden child growing up, she defers to Brett now—a role which requires her to protect their shocking secret.

Stephanie, the first black cast member and the oldest, is a successful bestselling author of erotic novels. There have long been whispers about her hot, non-working actor-husband and his wandering eye, but this season the focus is on the rift that has opened between her and Brett, former best friends—and resentment soon breeds contempt.

Lauren, the start-up world’s darling whose drinking has gotten out of control, is Goal Diggers’ recovery narrative—everyone loves a comeback story.

And Jen, made rich and famous through her cultishly popular vegan food line plays a holistic hippie for the cameras, but is perhaps the most ruthless of them all when the cameras are off.
Did I miss anything in the book world? Let me know in the comments below

Review: The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X.R. Pan

May 15, 2018
 The Astonishing Color of After, Emily X.R. Pan, Book Review, InToriLex
Published By: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers on March 20, 2018
Format Read:  Book of the Month Hardcover Edition (472 pages)
Genre: Young Adult/ Magical Realism/ Contemporary
Series: Stand Alone
Source: Purchased
The Astonishing Color of After
Leigh Chen Sanders is absolutely certain about one thing: When her mother died by suicide, she turned into a bird.

Leigh, who is half Asian and half white, travels to Taiwan to meet her maternal grandparents for the first time. There, she is determined to find her mother, the bird. In her search, she winds up chasing after ghosts, uncovering family secrets, and forging a new relationship with her grandparents. And as she grieves, she must try to reconcile the fact that on the same day she kissed her best friend and longtime secret crush, Axel, her mother was taking her own life.

Alternating between real and magic, past and present, friendship and romance, hope and despair, The Astonishing Color of After is a novel about finding oneself through family history, art, grief, and love.


Content Warning: Suicide, Depression


Throughout this book Leigh has to grapple with the traumatic loss of her parent and confront how she dealt with her mothers depression. I could  relate to her experience because my mother suffers from mental illness. It can be really hard to understand how someone deals with an internal struggle. Leigh has to confront her sorrow but also sets out to discover her mother's past after her mother becomes a bird, she sets off to Taiwan. In Taiwan Leigh is in search of her mother who has turned into a bird. Along the way she unveils family secrets and confronts her own inner struggles. The writing was great and included  great descriptions of how ostracizing it is when people actively point out that your different. Leigh is even referred to as a mixed blood when she's in Taiwan, because she is half white.
"Back at home sometimes people say I look exotic or foreign. Sometimes they even mean it as a compliment. I guess they don't hear how that makes it sound like I'm some animal on display at the zoo." 
The magical realism in the book helped Leigh learn about what her grandmother and mother experienced in Taiwan before she was born. Leigh expresses her emotions by describing colors because she's an artist. There were many colors I haven't heard of in the book, I did have to pause a few times while I looked up what they were. Leigh's dad hasn't always been supportive of her pursuing a career in art and struggle to communicate with her. Her crush and best friend Axel is supportive but aloof of how Leigh feels like most teenage boys are. All of the characters were well developed and made me want to root for them while reading.
"Once upon a time we were the standard colors of a rainbow, cheery and certain of ourselves. At some point, we all began to stumble into the in-between, the murky colors made dark and complicated by resentment and quiet anger."
I was engaged with the story and enjoyed the writing but  the story could have been shorter and as effective. While everything was told thoughtfully there were some plot points that were never revisited again. In the end I felt there were secrets left out there after they were hinted about. I did enjoy learning more about Taiwanese culture and customs, because I don't know much about that part of the world. This is a intimate portrayal of what it means to grieve which portrayed depression realistically and sympathetically. Overall it was a good read and I look forward to what comes next from this author.

Recommended for readers who
-enjoys magical realism and books that tackle serious issues
-appreciate own voice authors and Taiwan History
-like character driven stories


Emily X.R. Pan lives in Brooklyn, New York, but was born in the Midwestern United States to immigrant parents from Taiwan. She received her MFA from NYU, where she was a Goldwater Fellow. She is a co-creator of FORESHADOW: A Serial YA Anthology, and a 2017 Artist-in-Residence at Djerassi. She logs the books she reads in an Excel spreadsheet and a secret other Goodreads account.

Review: Senlin Ascends (The Books of Babel #1) by Josiah Bancroft

May 14, 2018
 Senlin Ascends, (The Books of Babel #1), Josiah Bancroft, Book Review, InToriLex
Published By: Orbit on January 16, 2018
Format Read: Paperback Edition (448 pages)
Genre: Sci-fi/ Fantasy/ Steam Punk
Series: Book One of The Books of Babel
Source: Purchased
Senlin Ascends
The Tower of Babel is the greatest marvel in the world. Immense as a mountain, the ancient Tower holds unnumbered ringdoms, warring and peaceful, stacked one on the other like the layers of a cake. It is a world of geniuses and tyrants, of airships and steam engines, of unusual animals and mysterious machines.

Soon after arriving for his honeymoon at the Tower, the mild-mannered headmaster of a small village school, Thomas Senlin, gets separated from his wife, Marya, in the overwhelming swarm of tourists, residents, and miscreants.

Senlin is determined to find Marya, but to do so he'll have to navigate madhouses, ballrooms, and burlesque theaters. He must survive betrayal, assassination, and the long guns of a flying fortress. But if he hopes to find his wife, he will have to do more than just endure. This quiet man of letters must become a man of action.

The Tower of Babel used as a tangible place where conflict danger and personalities clash sounds not only fascinating but epic. This will be a refreshing take on a hero's journey and I'm here for it.


 Content Warning: Violence, Physical Abuse, Slavery


I thought I would absolutely love this book because I am a big fan of science fiction featuring an epic adventure. Unfortunately Thomas's journey to find his wife involved too much meandering and not enough plot. Marya, Thomas's wife, is described and categorized through the eyes of Thomas because she quickly disappears. When Thomas realizes he must find his wife his journey up the Tower of Babel features strange encounters and devices but his slow trek didn't involve much happening. The Tower of Babel itself was fascinating, I'm sure more and more secrets about how it runs will be revealed in the series. But there was not enough unraveling of the mystery to hook me and make me care about what happens next.
"Love as the poets so often painted it, was just bald lust wearing a pompous wig. He believed true love was more like an education: It was deep and subtle and never complete."
The writing was great, but descriptions of the Tower and other side characters took up most of the book. I wanted more to happen and less to be explained. Also the female characters were all described through Thomas and none of them despite great strength and skill were able to do much without the assistance of a man. The push and pull of the Tower kept me wondering what was next. The villains of the Tower slowly reveal themselves and are genuinely scary and uncaring. But none of the characters made me genuinely care what happened to them.
"The Tower sucks our lives and gives us only a little diversion and a little death. Do not accept a little death! Demand a great, booming demise!"
There was humor, plot twists, and side characters I did enjoy. Overall however I felt like getting through this book was more of a chore than a source of entertainment. Fans of steampunk will find a lot of devices and fantasy elements to love. Many other readers have fallen in love with this series, but I couldn't find the magic while reading.

Recommended for Readers who
- enjoy science fiction epics
- can handle slow burn mysteries
- enjoy steampunk elements in their fantasy


Josiah Bancroft started writing novels when he was twelve, and by the time he finished his first, he was an addict. Eventually, the writing of Senlin Ascends began, a fantasy adventure, not so unlike the stories that got him addicted to words in the first place. He wanted to do for others what his favorite writers had done for him: namely, to pick them up and to carry them to a wonderful and perilous world that is spinning very fast. If he’s done that with this book, then he’s happy.

Josiah lives in Philadelphia with his wife, Sharon, and their two rabbits, Mabel and Chaplin.

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