Graphic Novel Fiend – A Collection of Mini Reviews

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Solid State by Jonathan Coulton | ★★★☆☆ | I found this book at my local comic shop and had no idea it was a concept graphic novel paired with an album by Jonathan Coulton. I’d never heard of the artist before and to be honest, the music didn’t make much sense for a sci fi graphic novel in my opinion. I was expecting something more electronic and space-y and the album I ended up listening to isn’t really my style. The graphic novel itself was fairly interesting and unique, albeit a little preachy. The pacing and timelines were a little confusing as well, though the art was clean and easy to follow. All in all, this was a fairly decent graphic novel, but I just wasn’t a huge fan.

The Stonekeeper (Amulet, #1) by Kazu Kabuishi | ★★★☆☆ | It’s hard to judge the first volume of a graphic novel series. I did enjoy the artwork and the story line has potential. I’ll definitely pick up the second one to see where it goes.

Lumberjanes #3 by Noelle Stevenson | ★★★☆☆ | Ehhhh. I love the style and idea of this series, but this volume just wasn’t my favorite. I wanted a more cohesive story, but the snippets of different stories threw me off a bit. I may check out future volumes from the library.

Deadly Class #1 – 2 by Rick Remender | ★★★☆☆ | I borrowed four volumes of this series (are there only 4?) from my best friend, and I’m not sure that I want to finish it. It’s an interesting story and the art style is on point. I love how the darkness is conveyed through color and the various monochromatic spreads are pretty dang cool. This series is just darker and grittier and cringier than I like.

Goliath by Tom Gauld | ★★★★★ | The quickest read gets the highest score. I love this take on the classic story. It’s short and simple, but packs a punch. The simple scenery combined with the sparse dialogue painted a melancholy viewpoint of Goliath and I am so there for it. Read this book!

My Friend Dahmer by Derf Backderf | ★★★★★ | What a piece of work. I am unashamedly obsessed with stories about murder and mayhem and this graphic novel fills that void. It deals with Dahmer’s early years and was created by a classmate of Dahmer. The art style matches the tone and the subject matter really well, too. This is a great one to read before listening to Last Podcast on the Left’s three-part series on Dahmer; If you’re interested in serial killers and weird occult stuff, this is your podcast and this is your book.

The Adventure Zone: Here There Be Gerblins by the McElroys | ★★★★★ | Okay, these last two book reviews are just me raving about podcasts, I get that. But seriously, this podcast is the best Dungeons and Dragons podcast. They’re definitely more story-based than rules-based, but it makes for a great podcast and this graphic novel follows Magnus, Merle, and Taako in the first story in the Balance arc (start here).

I’m back!

Just a quick blog post for today. I just got back from a 2 week long camping trip with my husband and I have so many new ideas for this blog. Don’t worry, I’ll still include book content. However, I do feel that my interests tend to be all over the place and sometimes I just don’t have the content for a 100% book blog. At the moment I am keeping my domain name (it would be too annoying to change it everywhere). Look out for more updates!

Summer Excuses

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Yearning for more summer reads

Summer tends to be my most ridiculously busy season. We travel or have planned events almost constantly. Sometimes it feels so inconvenient to be married. We have to visit his family or my family who are 1-2 hours away from us in opposite directions. Then I visit my best friends and he visits his best friends or we both visit our collective best friends or we all go to concerts or we have friends stay over or… And then who has time for keeping up with the house!? Oof. So instead of a book-related blog post (you know, the reason I have a blog), here is a list of excuses for why I am posting erratically for the foreseeable future.

G E N   C O N

Gen Con is my favorite convention I’ve had the liberty of visiting, and it’s huge and it’s close to my house! My BFF and I are creating a secret Bob’s Burgers/Borderlands crossover cosplay and I am unbelievably pumped. I will definitely post my finished products and our resources for future reference.

M Y   R E C E P T I O N

I’m already married, but in August my husband and I are finally hosting our reception to celebrate with our families and friends. There are under 100 people attending and it will be super low key, but it’s still stressful and time-consuming. Wish me luck, I’m going crazy. I just found out our taco truck double booked us and can no longer cater, so I’m scrambling to find someone to feed my guests.

F E S T I V A L S / S H O W S

This portion of my life is always the hugest. We live near our favorite music venues and take full advantage of that fact. We’re seeing Chicano Batman, L.A. Witch, and Sugar Candy Mountain over the next few months. Festival-wise, we’re going to Back Alley Ballyhoo (a local psych music fest), Desert Daze (a non-local psych fest), and Dirtybird Campout (a house fest). And then we’re also going to two different craft beer festivals. Thankfully, these are all planned out over the next few months into October, but I’m booked. Don’t ask me to go to any more festivals, I just paid for most of them last month and the price of fun is not book hauls (lol jk).

I N   C O N C L U S I O N

Contrary to the vibe of my introductory paragraph, I am actually legitimately excited about everything I’m doing, but these are also all things that eat into my precious reading time. I attempted to force myself to read, but I want to be happy with what I’m reading and produce decent reviews. Instead, I am just reading when I can and I hope you’ll bear with me in this hectic time of my life.

July TBR and Currently Reading

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Welcome to my July TBR (To Be Read) pile, almost midway through June. I’ve kind of gone back and forth on whether I want to continue with TBR lists since lately I’ve been a mood reader to the max. I mean, I was supposed to be participating in the #becausedragonsRAT and then I dropped both books I was loving and started something new. Oops.

U N F I N I S H E D   J U N E   R E A D S

The Weird Fiction Review #8 | So far I’m enjoying this collection. It has some ups and downs, which is kind of to be expected with these types of bind ups.

Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm by Philip Pullman | I must finish this book this summer. I started it in 2016 and never finished all the stories. They’re interesting and I enjoy learning about the Grimm fairy tales, but then I put down the book and never pick it up again. I think August I will work on reading books I’ve held onto for years and never finished.

Total Cat Mojo by Jackson Galaxy | One of my cats was peeing on everything I love, so I’ve been trying to figure out why. I ended up going to the vet and she helped us with some suggestions, but this book has been super helpful in general.

R E A D A T H O N   P L A N S

Emperor Mage (#3) by Tamora Pierce | I’ve been slowly making my way through all of Tamora Pierce’s novels. The Immortals was my absolute favorite series as a kid, but as an adult this series is getting a little weird. I’m about a third of the way through this book and Daine and Numair’s relationship is getting a little swampy.

Amulet Vol. 1 by Kazu Kabuishi | I already finished this and it was decent.

Kiki’s Delivery Service by Eiko Kadono | I also finished this and loved it.

Deathless by Catherynne M. Valente | This book is SO GOOD and I just put it down for no reason during the readathon. I’m a failure, but whatever.

E T C . . .

The Martian by Andy Weir | I’ve been wanting to read this damn book since I saw the movie in theaters ages ago. Wow, I literally just looked it up and apparently the movie came out in 2015. Is this what it feels like to get older? Woof.

I also want to read more graphic novels this month. I keep buying them because I love graphic novels and then I just save them for no reason. I’m just too excited to read everything ever!

June Wrap Up – A Collection of Mini Reviews

 

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June was a fruitful month for me. After literal months of a reading slump, I immensely enjoyed most of what I read this month. Yay me.

N O V E L S

Turtles All the Way Down by John Green | ★★★★☆ | I enjoyed this much more than I thought I would, honestly. I’ve learned since I’ve started reading again that I’m not a huge fan of YA that takes place in high school, but I took a chance on this one since it’s John Green. See my full review here.

The Hating Game by Sally Thorne | ★★★★☆ | “It’s a corporate truth universally acknowledged that workers would rather eat rat skeletons than participate in group activities.” This is an adorable hate to love romance story about two office workers and their slow burn romance. I definitely had the flu while reading this and barely remember it, so maybe one day I’ll re-read it and see if I feel differently. However, I do remember the moments of the fetishization of classic masculinity. For example, the protagonist compares her ex who couldn’t lift her, to her current love, who can pick her up and carry her places. It just rubbed me the wrong way as someone who doesn’t like hyper-masculinity, hence the 4 stars instead of 5.

The Diviners by Libba Bray | ★★★★★ | I listened to this as an audiobook and highly recommend it in this form. I had tried reading it ages ago in book form, but couldn’t pay long enough attention. The audiobook, though? Oof. Yas. The narrator does an absolutely fantastic job of representing each character uniquely. I will definitely be listening to the next book in audiobook form.

The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett | ★★★★★ | “They think all writing is magic. Words worry them. See their swords? They glow blue in the presence of lawyers.” I fucking loved this series as a kid. This is Pratchett’s Tiffany Aching sub-series within the Witches series within the Discworld universe. One of my personal goals is to continue reading all the Pratchett I can get my hands on because it’s pure genius. For anyone that is unfamiliar, the Discworld novels are kind of a huge fantasy version of the Hitchhiker’s Guide in terms of comedy and snark. There are many reading guides, since there are just so many books and I recommend reading them thematically, starting with whichever series snags your interest.

Wild Beauty by Anne-Marie McLemore | ★★★★★ | “The woman who insisted Fel call her Abuela Lila told him that, between the flower beds, the blossoming trees, and the sunken garden, there were more petals in La Pradera than souls in the world. Everything here bloomed. The clouds of hydrangeas and lilacs. The arbors and trellises. The beds of lilies and hyacinths.” This book and author 100%. I have read all of her published works and they have all impressed me. Full review incoming. Wild Beauty definitely leaned more towards fantasy than her other magical realism books. I adored the garden imagery and her dreamy writing style. It’s a fantastic story of love and loss and family and fitting in.

P O E T R Y

Falling Up by Shel Silverstein | ★★★☆☆ | Don’t hate me for giving a Shel Silverstein book 3 stars. I got this at a library book sale for like 50 cents, remembering it as pure genius when I read it at 6 years old. It’s definitely a book for 6-year-olds.

Pansy by Andrea Gibson | ★★★★☆ |Andrea Gibson is lovely. I love that she can combine poems about love and sexuality with humor and light-hearted jokes. The video below is her performance of one of my favorite poems in this collection.

Envelope Poems by Emily Dickinson | ★★★★☆ | This poetry collection was visually very cool. It’s not really a book you read though. I kept expecting a summary or some bit of history, but no. It’s literally just a collection of photographs of bits of paper she wrote poems on and then a digital representation of the piece with words that are easier to read. Very cool though, it definitely humanizes Dickinson.

G R A P H I C   N O V E L S

Explorer: The Mystery Boxes | ★★★★☆ | I’m not sure what I expected from this collection, but it was very cool. My favorites were Emily Carroll’s (of course) and Kazu Kibuishi’s.

T R A S H   R E A D S

Cum For Bigfoot by Virginia Wade | ★★☆☆☆ | Uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

Chuck’s Unicorn Tinglers Vol 1 and Lonely Author Pounded By Dinosaur Social Media Followers by Chuck Tingle | ★★☆☆☆ | “‘All of you?’ I shout, throwing my hands up in the air. ‘Each and every one of you is just a gay dinosaur?’ The crowd of reptilian beasts nods. ‘And I’m just a character in a book? Even though I wrote a book about that very idea?’ I continue, exasperated. The dinosaurs nod again. ‘Then who is writing this book?’ I ask. Bunter steps forward. ‘Chuck Tingle.’ He says.” I don’t–I don’t know what this is. I got these ebooks from a Humble Bundle and then watched this video where Cam from Wolfshot Publishing (jokingly) calls him the best author ever and… I was intrigued. It’s weird, though.

 

Library Book Haul

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You know how it goes. You just got a huge stack of books from your birthday, then you collected a stack of books over the course of a couple weeks, then you think “Gee, the library book sale is coming up!? Sign me up!” I swear, I normally don’t buy this many books, but to be fair (to myself) they’ve all been super cheap. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

T H E   H A U L

Mosquitoland by David Arnold | I’ve been wanting to read more road trip books and this one might fit the bill. This book is about a girl who has to travel across the US to see her sick mother. It sounds like it may be sad, so who knows when I’ll get to this one.

The Woodcutter by Kate Danley | I’m not sure why I got this one… I have it on my Kobo because I think I got a free ebook somewhere? But I’m never going to read it on my Kobo, so I decided to get the physical copy that I’m probably never going to read? Logic.

The Callahan Chronicles by Spider Robinson | Oof, this cover, man. I tried getting a good picture of the illustration along the bottom of the cover and I love it. I love the idea of an alien bar, and that is literally all I know about this bind up. Also, badass author name.

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Jirel of Joiry by C.L. Moore | Yeah, I already own this in a bindup. So? Just look at this badass cover! I had to do some major tumblr sleuthing to find this tumblr post that inspired me to buy C.L. Moore’s books in the first place. She’s credited as the creator of the space western, so I’m here for this.

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Murder for Christmas edited by Thomas Godfrey | This is apparently a short story collection of Christmas-related stories. Authors include Thomas Hardy, Damon Runyon, Baroness Emmuska Orczy, Charles Dickens, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Woody Allen, so we’ll see how it goes when I pick it up in December.

I also picked up a few classics. I’ve been toying with the idea of reading classics and the library book sale is so cheap. I picked up Lord of the Flies by William Golding, The Parasites by Daphne du Maurier, Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë, and Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë.

 

Review: Turtles All the Way Down

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“I realized in the silence that followed that I hadn’t spoken since answering Davis’s compliment about my shirt. Davis, Daisy, and Mychal eventually went back to talking about Star Wars and the size of the universe and traveling faster than light. ‘Star Wars is the American religion,’ Davis said at one point, and Mychal said, ‘I think religion is the American religion,’ and even though I laughed with them, it felt like I was watching the whole thing from somewhere else, like I was watching a movie about my life instead of living it.”

S U M M A R Y

Turtles All The Way Down by John Green is a novel that on the surface is about a girl named Aza who, with her friend Daisy, is searching for clues on the disappearance of Indianapolis billionaire Russel Pickett to claim the $100,000 reward. In actuality, this story is a character dive into an OCD sixteen-year-old and the intricacies of her relationships.

R E V I E W

★★★★☆

I was pretty conflicted about what to rate this book. To be fair, I’m not the target audience and I’m not a huge fan of books set in high school. However, I read many reviews that rated this book poorly due to the fantastical and unrealistic plot elements and in my opinion, Green set the story up like this on purpose. Aza’s mental disability causes her to experience life in third person. She seems to stumble through life and these spectacular events she experiences contrast against her preoccupied and uninterested behavior. That’s why this book isn’t really about the missing person investigation. It’s about living with OCD while trying to maintain relationships and handle the stress of daily life.

This is why I enjoyed Turtles. Aza felt so real and her anxieties hit way too close to home sometimes. The book normalizes therapy and emphasizes the importance of friendships over romantic relationships. It’s a character-driven story that I would definitely encourage young people to pick up. Just stay away from An Abundance of Katherines

The one major thing that irked me, though, was Green’s disdain for Indianapolis. Yeah, Indiana isn’t great, but Indy is this little liberal oasis in a sea of red. I can understand a teenager feeling disdain for anywhere they grow up, I just like my city and John Green got it all wrong, dang it! (Also it’s the Indy Star, not The Indianapolis Star; plus other details that probably make sense for readers from other places but annoy me).

All in all, I enjoyed this book far more than I expected to. Good job, Green. I may even pick up your next one whenever that happens.