Nerd in the City Book Club

Over-Dressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion

by Elizabeth L. Cline

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October is fair fashion month and I had the opportunity to attend a panel moderated by author Elizabeth Cline at the TrimLab a couple week’s ago. Which then prompted me to pick up her book.

About 6 months ago I was sent down the road to fair fashion, what it’s all about and what it means for my life. If I wasn’t already ignited to change my shopping habits, this book would have done the trick! I had cut out Forever 21 because their production practices are very questionable, but I was still holding onto H&M. The lesser of two evils, right? Well after reading this book, I can’t really continue to shop there. And have made the commitment not to shop at any fast fashion chains. I also have committed to having no fast fashion in my web series, So…This Happened, as of Jan. 20th. (We filmed a few episodes before this conviction.)

What I loved about Over-Dressed is that it delves deep into the problems our country currently faces with production, overspending, high volume of waste and the general mindset that fashion is disposable. The amount of clothing that people purchase and throw away is at an all time high. And big, fast-fashion companies like H&M, Forever 21 and Zara are rendering small boutique designers virtually extinct. When you are able to get a “fashionable” top for $5 at Forever 21, why would you pay $150 for something from an independent zer0 waste designer like Tabii Just or Daniel Silverstein? Quality has turned from “well made” to “good enough.”

Cline talks a lot about her own experience with fast fashion and while reading her story, it felt like it could have been my story. When Cline walked out of an “Kmart with 7 pairs of canvas flats,” that was the moment she started her wake up call. The journey she goes on will enlighten you to what is happening in our world right now and really make you think about how you shop!

Definitely give this book a read and allow it to challenge the way you think about fashion and shopping. Do you know what your wearing? Who made it? It’s quality? These are the kind of questions Elizabeth dared to ask herself and will ask you if you let her.

Get it here.

Nerd in the City Book Club

A New Dawn

by John Jackson Miller

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Once Disney and co. decanonized all of the existing Star Wars novels, relegating them to “Star Wars Legends” they made quick work of ordering all the new novels that would take their place in the new canon alongside the movies and Star Wars: Clone Wars and the brand new Star Wars: Rebels.

A New Dawn picks up about a year before the new Disney XD cartoon, that’s already been picked up for a second season. IT follows future crew mates, Kanan Jarrus an ex-Jedi just trying to survive in the aftermath of the Jedi purge and Hera Syndulla, an impressive Twi’lek pilot with secrets of her own.

Star Wars is always at it’s best when unlikely allies come together to take down a big bad that is doing unspeakable evil. This novel sits comfortably in a world we know and love, employing references to Obi-Wan, Darth Vader, Emperor Palpatine and even Grand Moff Tarkin. Yet it has it’s own story to tell and creates a lovely lead in to the TV show that is just on the horizon (episode 1 has already aired and will be re-aired on ABC at the end of Oct. with a special scene featuring Vader himself, voiced…of course, by James Earl Jones. Don’t miss it!)

It’s great to see a strong female character, which Star Wars has never had a problem portraying. They’ve only ever had too few of them to portray. A problem I hope to see disappear in the new film as well as in Rebels.

A lovely gentleman at the Del Rey booth gave me a copy of this book, officially making him my favorite person at New York Comic Con this year!!

Get it here.

Nerd in the City Book Club

The Truce at Bakura

By Kathy Tyers

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Granted, the Star Wars Expanded Universe is no longer considered cannon. But that doesn’t erase the wonderful stories that came out of it.

The Truce at Bakura picks up after Return of the Jedi. Luke is, seemingly, the last Jedi in the Galaxy. Vader is dead and everyone is trying to navigate a world without the Emperor in control. As Leia struggles to accept that Darth Vader was her father, the Rebels send out a small group to try and help the Bakurans as they are attacked by the Ssi-Ruuk, a strange new foe for the Rebellion to fight.

This is by no means a new book. It was published in 1994, but remains an excellent and fun addition to the Star Wars Expanded Universe. If you love the adventures of your favorite Rebels and can’t wait till Episode VII comes out, why not read what could have been and start reading all of the Expanded Universe. Not for any other reason than that they are great stories in the Star Wars Universe. Is there any better reason needed??

Get it here.

Nerd in the City Book Club

Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Avengers

By Brian Michael Bendis, Steve McNiven and Sara Pichelli

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By now, if you haven’t see Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy in theaters, then you either live under a rock or hate happiness. No matter what the case may be, you should go see this movie. And if you are interested in delving deeper into the world of the Guardians, pick up the Cosmic Avengers series.

It’s an excellent graphic novel that gives good back story on our new favorite band of misfits. It explains about Peter Quill’s father (which may or may not relate to the future story line in GOTG 2) and there’s also an appearance by a certain arc reactor hearted Avenger, Iron Man himself.

If you like action, unlikely heroes and colorful pictures than this graphic novel is the perfect post summer, early fall read for you!!

Get it here.

Nerd in the City Book Club

A Time to Reap

By Jonas Lee

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“After Carter Gabel arrives back from his most recent travel through time, he learns that his unpredictable syndrome isn’t the only thing in his life he’ll have to find control over.” – Back of the book

This day and age YA books about youths with extraordinary skills and powers are pretty common. But Jonas Lee’s voice stands out in the crowd! Carter Gabel is a confused boy who’s world is much bigger than he knows. And when thrust into circumstances beyond his control and understanding he not only rises to the challenge, but becomes better for it. In this future, there is something called Chronological Displacement Syndrome. Basically people with this “affliction” leap back in time at random and without choice. But what Carter doesn’t know if that this power is controllable. Along the way he learns more about his family, a girl he barely knows and about himself.

I had a chance to ask Jonas Lee a few questions about his book. Here’s my interview:

NitC: What were some of the stories and authors that influenced you growing up?

Jonas: It’s hard not to mention the likes of Stephen King being an influence as a writer. He has written something that everyone has seen at one point or another. Other great authors would include the likes of Joe Hill, Clive Barker, Lois Lowry and Madeline L’Engle. One of my favorite books I’ve actually read through the most is called The Thief of Always. I think writing from a younger perspective can help draw everyone toward that age again.

NitC: In a post Hunger Games/ Divergent/ YA centric world, did that effect your writing at all? DId you find yourself actively trying to distinguish your voice or did it come naturally?

Jonas: This novel was very organic. Honestly, I took no inspiration from any other YA novel. They are all very popular, but for me, it just wasn’t how I envisioned a teenager talking or acting. So I had to channel a little of my youth and mix that in with how I envisioned Carter to be.

NitC: Is this the book you set out to write? How did it change along the way, if at all?

Jonas: This book is not what I initially set out to be my first novel. Quite honestly, I completed my first book and tried the traditional route for awhile with trying to find an agent and so on and so on. In the meantime, I started this chapter by chapter story out of the reservoirs of my think tank. It got to be so fluid and fun to put together that there really was nothing much to think of or change throughout the way.

NitC: Do you personally identify with Carter Gabel and in what ways?

Jonas: Carter holds a certain quality of mine in regards to when he talks to himself. I always find myself saying something like a smartass like him inside my head. His outlook on his life is how I wish mine could be at times. Impetuously ready to do something and prepared for anything. I think I tend to overanalyze everything to a fault.

NitC: If you lived in the Star Wars Universe, would you be apart of the Rebellion of the Empire?

Jonas: Oooo, such a difficult one. I’d have to say out of the two, I would have to choose the Rebellion. Something about trying to be stealthy versus flexing might. Although, I would ultimately rather by part of the Bounty Hunter’s Guild. Always loved Boba Fett the most.

If you are looking for some post summer reading that is quick and captivating, the please go pick up A TIme to Reap right now!! And let me know what you think!

Get it here.

When a Man Marches

All week I have been thinking about the impact of Martin Luther King Jr. on the very fabric of our existence in today’s world. Monday saw the birthday of this honorable man and I couldn’t help but wonder what our lives and even more, our world, would look like without his work.

And in that thinking I wrote this down…

When a Man Marches

by Liz Tailor

When a cause becomes too lofty to stay seated on the ground

When the innocent are battered and are smacked across the brow

When the freedom’s everyone deserves are taken from the “free”

Do you stand aside in blindness just refusing what you see?

That’s when a man marches.

Are you scared to speak and scared to yell and scared to raise your hand?

Is the world too rough to carry on, so rough that you can’t stand?

Do you feel betrayed by people who have vowed to raise you up?

Are you praying for a clean way out, are you crying, ‘That’s Enough!”

That’s when a man marches!

It was hot that day in August when the tide began to turn.

With laces tied the people walked knowing how the hatred churned.

Men and women less than they might stop and turn around.

Men and women greater than they had lied upon the ground.

But those who marched knew well the pain a country can inflict.

Yet still they marched upon the soil, though danger near the mortal coil.

A dream was dreamed and given voice and all who heard it had one choice.

To stand and fight or back away, though who would choose the latter?

I ask you now what you would do if given such a matter…

Because THAT’S WHEN A MAN MARCHED!!

Star Wars EU Review

The Old Republic: Revan by Drew Karpyshyn

Revan has quickly become one of my favorite books, not only in the Star Wars Expanded Universe, but among mainstream fiction as well.

This Jedi turned Sith Lord, turned Jedi again plays a pivotal role in The Old Republic as well as the broader Star Wars Universe itself. In fact, Darth Bane (a series also penned by Karpyshyn) later discovers Revan’s holocron which spawns the reinstitution of the Rule of Two among the Sith.

Perhaps it is author, Drew Karpyshyn’s history as a game developer that gives his writing another dimension. At times it feels like you’ve entered the gaming world instead of merely picked up a good book. His imagery is strong and his characters are visceral. In fact, a lot of Revan’s story plays out in the Bioware game Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic.

After fighting in the Mandalorian Wars, Revan and his friend Malak get caught up in a series of mysterious trails taking them far beyond the Outer Rim to the ‘Unknown Regions,’ where they discover the Sith waiting patiently for a chance to strike back at the Jedi Order. Malak and Revan are confronted by the evil Sith Emperor, and are turned to the dark side through his powerful influence.

Able to finally break away from the Emperor’s control, Revan and Malak begin to “establish their own Empire. Resulting in the Jedi Civil War. Revan is betrayed by Malak and is captured by a young Jedi Knight named Bastila Shan.” (Wookiepedia) Eventually Revan’s memory is wiped and he returns to the Jedi fold and marries Shan.

Karpyshyn’s novel begins after these events, once his memory has been wiped and he has been married to Bastila.

If there is a story that I would love to see played out on either the big or small screen, it is Revan’s story! A definite must read if you are at all interested in (obsessed with) the Star Wars Universe.

Review: A Taste of Blood and Wine

A Taste of Blood Wine by Freda Warrington

It’s becoming a tale as old as time. No… not Beauty and the Beast, but rather, Beauty and the Vamp. You know the one… Girl meets mysterious boy. Girl is resistant at first but becomes mesmerized by mysterious boy’s charms. Boy ends up being the princely undead. Love story ensues.

What I liked most about Freda Warrington’s take on this (encroachingly overused) theme is that she makes the traditional vampirical mythology her own. Which I don’t usually enjoy. But her alterations serve to enhance not only the story itself but the strength of her vampires. No wooden daggers or holy water can hurt these vamps. Neither can sunlight destroy them (or make them sparkle.)

Warrington also brings in a very untouched upon concept by exploring the origins of basic vampire existence and ultimate creation. As well as introducing some compelling religious debates. The existence of God and Satan in a world where vampires roam the earth.

Blood and Wine’s veritable ‘Edward” is a vampire named, Karl who comes to the Neville family in order to search out a way to destroy his own kind using science and laboratory studies.  Karl’s counterpart is Charlotte Neville. A quiet, reserved, ‘ugly duckling’ member of the Neville family. Always left in the shadow of her beautiful and charismatic sister. Charlotte and Karl embark on a very exciting journey to save one another and keep their love undead!

I’ve been dying to read a vampire/ human love story where the heroine doesn’t end up sacrificing her warm-blooded, human existence to become a murderous blood sucker. (Buffy never did!!!) Guess you’ll have to read this one to find out if she does or doesn’t! No spoilers here!

All in all this was a very enjoyable book!! I fully recommend giving it a read.

Thanks to Titan Books!

You Gotta Read This…

John Scalzi’s ‘Old Man’s War’ series

At Comic Con this past October, as I passed the TOR publishing booth, I happened to stop by to see if there was any Ender’s Game swag. (I love to show my support to my faves, and I l-l-love Ender’s Game.)

I asked at the booth and the lady working at that particular moment quickly suggested to me John Scalzi’s ‘Old Man’s War.’

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She told me that if I loved Ender’s Game that I’d love this. And she was right.

In a dystopian future, you sign up to join the war being fought on far away worlds. But it isn’t until you turn 75 years old that you actually get to join the fight. The idea being that young men, while lithe of body and full of energy, are foolish and headstrong. On the otherhand, our seniors may be broken of body, but are at their mental peak of wisdom and discernment.

It’s very much the opposite of Orson Scott Card’s ‘Ender’s Game,’ in which children are the ones relied upon to fight the good fight. Their innocence and quick-learning are what makes them an asset.

I’m now halfway through book 2 in the series, ‘The Ghost Brigades.’

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I am loving this series! The writing is solid and the story captivating. Plus, if that isn’t enticing enough, this little jem from book 2 should compel any self-respecting nerd to pick up this book.

-“After watching Star Wars everyone wanted a lightsaber and was irritated that the technology for them didn’t really exist. Everyone also agreed the Ewoks should all die.”
Plus Scalzi even takes a beat to pay homage to Ender’s Game, the series in which he clearly found inspiration.

If you enjoy Sci-Fi by any degree… pick up this series!