Books Read in March

Here’s what I read in March. Not as impressive as February but still some good stuff in the mix!

The Daily Show: An Oral History as Told by Jon Stewart, the Correspondents, Staff and GuestsThe Daily Show: An Oral History as Told by Jon Stewart, the Correspondents, Staff and Guests by Chris Smith
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I read half of this and then listened to the rest. I was a little disappointed the audiobook wasn’t narrated by anyone from the show but that would be pretty amazing to get that cast back together. That being said, the readers did a wonderful job mimicking the voices and tone where they could without it being too distracting.

I was watching the Daily Show with Craig Kilborn in high school and I remember when it changed hands to Jon Stewart. I have always been relatively progressive/liberal in my world view, so I wouldn’t say that Jon changed that, but The Daily Show did let me know that I was not alone in thinking that way, it made me want to stay up to date on the news, it made me understand how politics really work.

The show, Stewart’s version of the show, played a HUGE role in my young adult life and this book does an amazing job covering its evolution over the course of 12 years. If you are a fan of the show, if you remember watching it every night, if you attended the ‘Rally for Sanity’ — pick up this book or give it a listen. You will be impressed by how much hard work this entire cast and crew put into keeping us both informed and entertained all these years, and how that ended up changing the media as a whole.

MooseMoose by Max de Radiguès
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I read this because we were discussing how it made it onto lots of top comic lists for teen readers but we cataloged it in adult. I understand the cataloging since our YA section is both a mix of middle and high school materials and this definitely is very mature content.

The story deals with bullying, and not just being picked on, but physical violence and a level of abuse that was disturbing.

I think it is a powerful story that will find its way into the hands of readers that need to find it, but I can understand why we opted to put it in the adult collection.

Me and Marvin GardensMe and Marvin Gardens by A.S. King
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A.S. King is one of my favorite young adult authors so I was surprised to see this title cataloged as Children’s Fiction. It still has that trademark King bit of magical realism, but the characters and themes run a little bit younger, or maybe just things that work for a wider age range of readers.

While not my favorite King book, this has a great story to give to kids who have a passion about the environment and interest in humans finding that balance between nature and progress. Definitely for the more thinky middle school reader who has already realized that their parents are not perfect and that the world has shades of gray.

Paper Girls, Vol. 2Paper Girls, Vol. 2 by Brian K. Vaughan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Even better than the first volume (I did not think that would be possible). This series is amazing.

Don’t read anything about it, don’t find spoilers, just find the books and read them.

Samanthasaurus RexSamanthasaurus Rex by B.B. Mandell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

How could I not read this? Adorable dinosaur with my name. The trick with the diamond seemed like a stretch. If there is a Samantha in your life, this is a solid purchase.

I Am Jim HensonI Am Jim Henson by Brad Meltzer
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Sweet and simple book, this would be great for a read-aloud to older elementary kids. The author does not mention that Jim has passed away, though kids can see it if they look at the timeline included on the last couple pages.

One of my personal heroes and I’m always glad to see his story being told and shared.

They Can't Kill Us All: Ferguson, Baltimore, and a New Era in America’s Racial Justice MovementThey Can’t Kill Us All: Ferguson, Baltimore, and a New Era in America’s Racial Justice Movement by Wesley Lowery
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I think Lowery does a good job of staying objective in his recounting of the tumult of the last few years. I knew about most of these events, but not all of them, and lumping them all together in this book, realizing that this is just a snapshot of two years in America, you can’t help but wonder what, if anything, has changed.

The saddest part is how optimistic the afterward sounds when it comes to continuing to deal with these issues as a country…I feel like this has all be pushed out of the spotlight since November and the national rhetoric is not one that encourages discussion of racial issues.

The Private EyeThe Private Eye by Brian K. Vaughan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It is becoming VERY DISTURBING that every book I pick up this year has some kind of “THE CLOUD WILL END US ALL!” message to it…and Private Eye wasn’t even a NEW book!

BKV does it again with a twisted story about a not-to-distant future where the world has gone to shit and, as usual, most people just deal with it. Loved the characters and their hints of backstory. I’m kind of glad this is a one-off, that the little teases are all we get and we have to make it up from there. The main story is enough to satisfy.

Sci-Fi Noir Action Thriller Graphic Novel.

Decelerate BlueDecelerate Blue by Adam Rapp
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Another commentary on our short-attention span world. I liked the ideas here but I wish it had a little more to it all. I never felt like I got to know Angela and Gladys as well as I could have.

Still, some cool themes and ideas to talk about.

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Books read in February

Whoa, hey, I swear I did not forget about this blog…or maybe I did. I just always feel like I need to have something to say when I post here versus my usual ramblings about life, the universe, and everything over on my livejournal. I’ll try to get this blog back into the posting mix at some point.

But anyway, here are the books I read in February 2017:

In which I discover I like novels written in verse and then become a raving Neal Shusterman fangirl again:

Skip School, Fly to Space: A Pearls Before Swine CollectionSkip School, Fly to Space: A Pearls Before Swine Collection by Stephan Pastis
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

One too many Crocodile comics in this one for me as they tend to be my least favorite of the strips. Not sure why but this one didn’t have as many stand-out strips as the other two.

The 13 ClocksThe 13 Clocks by James Thurber
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My uncle that worked in a bookstore gave me a copy of this quirky title back in 1990. I remembered loving it though I couldn’t tell you a thing about it. So when I found it in my parent’s garage, I decided to read it again to see if the magic was still there.

James Thurber’s humor is not for the uninitiated. He loves wordplay, rhyming and non-sequitur silliness. My Mom had copies of his short stories so I was familiar with his quirky sense of humor before starting this book, which reads like a blend of Dr. Seuss and Peter Beagle if they were both slightly tipsy.

It’s a children’s book but also not…you have to be old enough to get the nods and winks to how fairy tales work.

It’s an odd book, but I love it.

Princess Leia: Royal Rebel (Backstories)Princess Leia: Royal Rebel by Calliope Glass
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Written as though it was a real biography, this book doesn’t really have any new information about Leia, which was kind of disappointing. The book is a short 125 pages which I guess all that is canon now according to Disney. Though this could be used as a good teaching tool for what a biography should look like since it includes a chronology, timeline and even an index!

Catching a StoryfishCatching a Storyfish by Janice N. Harrington
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I don’t know why I always shy away from books written in verse. I don’t consider myself a fan of poetry so I suppose the idea of reading a story in that format doesn’t appeal to me. Yet the few times I have taken a chance, I have been very impressed. This is one of those times.

The short lines of verse are more powerful than any prose paragraph, capturing Katharen’s emotions in a way that a normal sentence might not.

This is a beautiful story about a girl who moves from Alabama to a town further north, where she hides her talent for telling stories after the other kids mock her accent. She finds solace with her grandfather, hanging out with him and talking about fishing – well, she thinks he is talking about fishing, but he is giving her little life lessons.

Great story for middle grade readers (4th grade and up) and this actually might be a good pick for someone reading out loud to a classroom of students.

Scythe (Arc of a Scythe, #1)Scythe by Neal Shusterman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I loved this book, it’s my favorite kind of science fiction – taking something to an extreme and playing out the consequences. In this case, we have The Cloud becoming the all knowing Thunderhead and science conquering death.

What I really liked about this book was that there were so many plot lines that could have been dragged out but instead were wrapped up by the end, leaving us with new options for book 2. There were plenty of loose ends but nothing so frustrating as to make you feel like you are being strung along as a reader. So if you are sick of series, fear not, you can read ‘Scythe’ and enjoy it.

I’m surprised this is a series because I think this first book wraps things up relatively well – but I said the same thing about ‘Unwind’ and that turned into an amazing series. So I will definitely pick up the second book when it comes out.

This Is Our StoryThis Is Our Story by Ashley Elston
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Great mystery thriller, definitely would be great for fans of shows like Riverdale or Veronica Mars.

I was a little annoyed by how often the author had characters roll their eyes or put their hands on someone else to “frame their face” – these were overused and I’m not sure why the editor didn’t flag them.

You’ll also need to suspend your disbelief for how much a high school student would be allowed to do in a criminal case, no matter how small the town.

But whatever, if you can overlook those things, the story was tight enough that I could not stop reading and I had to know what would happen next.

Loving vs. Virginia: A Documentary Novel of the Landmark Civil Rights CaseLoving vs. Virginia: A Documentary Novel of the Landmark Civil Rights Case by Patricia Hruby Powell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I didn’t realize this was a novel in verse when I ordered it, but as I had just finished another fantastic book in verse, I decided to read it. I am so glad I did. The book and the illustrations weave a beautiful story about two people in love, just trying to live their lives while a racist world spins around them. The story is told alternating voices between Richard Loving and Mildred Jeter Loving. The focus is on their relationship and personal suffering more than the actual Civil Rights case.

Powell conducted interviews and did lots of research to make the story as real as possible. I was really impressed and highly recommend this title. Sadly, it is still relevant in 2017. As we struggle for equality for all, it is good to read a story like that, about the people behind the headlines and what they might think or feel. The Lovings did not set out to be the poster couple for interracial marriage, they just wanted to be able to live their lives, unafraid.

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What I Read in April

What I Read in April

Not too shabby this month, all things considered (especially since the first week of the month I was out of town and not as much reading happened as I had hoped)

The MartianThe Martian by Andy Weir
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this book though I think having just seen the movie made it a bit easier to digest the “science speak” that happens a lot. Andy Weir’s writing reminded me of Michael Crichton, blending science fact with a little bit of science fiction. I feel like I learned a bit about surviving in a desolate Martian wasteland and had fun too!

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Rocket and Groot: Stranded on Planet Strip Mall!Rocket and Groot: Stranded on Planet Strip Mall! by Tom Angleberger
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Great book to suggest to fans of ‘Captain Underpants’. I mean, there are killer toilets so half of the book are the evil robots trying to convince Rocket to use the bathroom.

So, yeah, if that is your thing. Or your kid’s thing, there ya go.

Not Angleberger’s greatest, but perfect for the target audience.

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PaxPax by Sara Pennypacker
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book was beautiful and I’m not even referring to Jon Klassen’s illustrations (which were nice touches, scattered through-out). It was the language of this story, it flowed in such a way that it felt like an old story even though it was brand new. It is a story you will want to read twice, once for the surface tale of Peter and Pax looking for each other and then again for the story within the story, about growing up, moving on, and that we are all looking for something.

The ending is bittersweet but not as sad as it could have been (I know about halfway through I was getting concerned).

This book is for elementary and middle school readers who want a story with emotional depth.

Is it just me or are we entering the age of the great Middle Grade novel?

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To Be or Not To Be: A Chooseable-Path AdventureTo Be or Not To Be: A Chooseable-Path Adventure by Ryan North
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book is ridiculous and I love it!

Whether you know everything there is to know about Hamlet or you maybe read it once when you were in high school, there is plenty to love about this silly retelling.

North does give you little *clues* as to which choices match the original story, though that doesn’t necessarily guarantee this book will take the same paths.

I was laughing out loud as I read this during my lunch break (note: this is a hard book to read during lunch break because you’re flipping back and forth between all of the 700+ pages) and even though I am marking it as “done” I have barely scratched the surface of the endings and paths that I can take. But I think i will return this copy to the library and purchase it for myself later on down the road because this is a keeper!

Can’t wait for the next book, Romeo and/or Juliet: A Chooseable-Path Adventure

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Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales: Alamo All-StarsNathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales: Alamo All-Stars by Nathan Hale
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Full disclosure: Nathan Hale books are DEAR to me, as in I Drop Everything And Read them as soon as they land on my desk. They satisfy the history nerd in me in a way that no other series has. I am in my mid 30s and I have learned more history than I have ever forgotten reading these books.

I grew up on the east coast of the US so my knowledge of Texas history is that Texas exists. The end. I’m sure someone who grew up in Texas might have a different view of this book, but for me it was all knew and fascinating, if a bit insane.

Get this into the hands of any kid who wants to learn about history. Sneak it into the hands of those kids that say they want a war book or a book with fighting (there’s plenty of it but it’s history so it’s good for them). Slip it into the pile of graphic novels that your comic book readers ask for.

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Amulet: Firelight (Amulet, #7)Amulet: Firelight by Kazu Kibuishi
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

OH MY GOSH THE FEELS!
(completely different feels than Pax, but still, FEELS)
I read this book in a single sitting and now I have to endure the long wait for volume 8…UGH! NO!

Part of me wants the series to end so I can know what is happening. But another part is enjoying the adventure so much, I want it to go forever.

I need to start from the beginning though, it has been so long since I read the first few books.

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I also read Lafcadio Hearn’s “The Faceless Ghost” and Other Macabre Tales from Japan: A Graphic Novel but the GoodReads review wasn’t pasting right.

Books read in February

I could go on and on about these Star Wars books for kids that are just SO well done. I might go on about them later in their own post but for now, they will just be mixed in with all these reviews. I did well this month!

Saga, Volume 5Saga, Volume 5 by Brian K. Vaughan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Oh Saga, you are so messed up, I just can’t even. But as you have been so wrong/right since the first issue, it is almost comforting in twisted way. As usual, I couldn’t put down this volume until I finished it and then I was sad it was over again. Lots of twists and turns I did not see coming!

I can’t wait for this series to be over so I can sit and read it all the way through as I am sure I miss so much when it comes to the story/foreshadowing etc but only picking these up every few months.

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Moving Target: A Princess Leia Adventure (Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens)Moving Target: A Princess Leia Adventure by Cecil Castellucci
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Fun middle-grade read that fills in the story between ESB and RotJ for Princess Leia. The “tie-in” to Force Awakens is pretty slim (the prologue/epilogue, only a few pages, make the connection). I thought Castelluccci and Fry captured the voice of characters we already know and did a good job adventuring around the galaxy far far away.

Definitely recommended for Star Wars fans. I hope there are more Princess Leia adventures some day! I would love to see some stories that take place prior to A New Hope (though I know the ‘Rebels’ TV series is using a lot of that time period and Leia makes at least one cameo)

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The Bazaar of Bad DreamsThe Bazaar of Bad Dreams by Stephen King
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

3.5 stars

FINALLY finished this today. I had it as an audiobook and my commute is fairly short now, plus with the week of snow I didn’t get to listen. I’m happy I listened to it rather than continued to read, I think the voices really brought some of the stories to life. The collection gathered stories that had been previously published elsewhere. They weren’t perfect, but it was a great variety and showed King’s range and that he’s still got it.

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Descender, Vol. 1: Tin StarsDescender, Vol. 1: Tin Stars by Jeff Lemire
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I picked this up because of Jeff Lemire, but it was Dustin Nguyen’s artwork that really made this book perfect. In a story about a strange attack by gigantic robots, Nguyen’s gorgeous style (reminiscent of watercolor paintings) keeps the story grounded. I loved this first book and cannot wait to see where the story goes! I already adore Tim-21 and I want to see him save the galaxy!

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Ms. Marvel, Vol. 4: Last DaysMs. Marvel, Vol. 4: Last Days by G. Willow Wilson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This may be my favorite volume since the first one, lots of forward momentum with the story and the characters, especially Kamala. I can’t wait to see what happens in Volume 5! Honestly, the weakest thing was the “bonus” comic which was a team up with Spider-Man. It was cute but after the awesome that was the rest of the book, it felt a little out of place.

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Star Wars: Princess LeiaStar Wars: Princess Leia by Mark Waid
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this comic, far more than I expected. Mark Waid does a wonderful job keeping the action and adventure of the films in this comic, along with creating a good side mission for Princess Leia. I liked that it didn’t depend too much on inside jokes and winks to the rest of the Star Wars universe, which I find can sometimes derail this kinds of collections.

A pleasant surprise! I hope we get more stories of Leia’s solo missions (NOT Solo missions…that’s the realm of fanfic!)

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A New Hope: The Princess, the Scoundrel, and the Farm Boy (Star Wars: Episode IV)A New Hope: The Princess, the Scoundrel, and the Farm Boy by Alexandra Bracken
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

While not as strong as Angleberger’s RotJ novelization (and that may have more to do with the source material than anything else) Bracken’s take on ANH was a really fun read. This would also be a great book for kids to read and then discuss the different ways to tell a story, especially when it comes to film versus writing.

Bracken’s approach was to break down the story of Star Wars to each of the main trio’s point of view. The first part is all told from Princess Leia’s side, with her getting the quest to take the Death Star plans to General Kenobi and being captured by the Empire. Bracken pulls from not just the film, but the previous novelzations and the radio drama to imagine scenes of what happened to Leia before Luke and Han arrived.

The second part is from Han’s point of view, picking up where we meet him in the movie, in the cantina on Tatooine. The third is Luke’s story, starting right after the escape from the Death Star.

Well written and unique, definitely a must-read for Star Wars fans.

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Lafayette in the Somewhat United StatesLafayette in the Somewhat United States by Sarah Vowell
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I’m really glad I listened to this book rather than reading it. Even though it is only 268 pages, it isn’t a quick read, with so many names and dates being thrown at you. It has been a long time since I revisited American history and even longer since I thought about the Revolutionary War. This book taught me more than I ever knew about MY OWN COUNTRY’S HISTORY! It was a little depressing to realize how little I knew.

But I loved the audiobook because Sarah Vowell reads it, with her own unique voice, and has a cast of famous actors that lend their voices and help you keep some of the “characters” straight. (Nick Offerman as George Washington is now my official voice for Washington.)

So if you feel like being reminded of how much history you have forgotten (or maybe you were never taught) this is a great listen for your commute (especially if you are like me and live on the east coast and regularly drive past some of the Revolutionary war battle fields)

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So You Want to Be a Jedi? (Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back)So You Want to Be a Jedi? by Adam Gidwitz
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I cannot say enough about these Star Wars books written by some of my favorite children’s authors. Adam Gidwitz’s take on ‘Empire Strikes Back’ not only puts YOU in the role of Luke Skywalker, telling his story from first person, it also provides lessons on how to be a Jedi, teaching the reader ways to calm their mind, meditate, think before acting, and focus.

If you know a kid/were a kid who loves Star Wars, this series is a great way to explore the many ways a story can be told.

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Books read in January 2016

This was an off month for me because I *started* a lot of books and either didn’t read them fast enough and had to return them (so they will show up on the list later on) or they were huge disappointments so I didn’t technically *finish* them. And then there was another book that I enjoyed but it’s not really a “sit and read” kind of book so it might get returned and picked up later.

Return of the Jedi: Beware the Power of the Dark Side! (Star Wars: Episode VI)Return of the Jedi: Beware the Power of the Dark Side! by Tom Angleberger
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The bar has been set VERY high for all future Star Wars novelizations. This isn’t just a straight retelling of what you saw on the screen, this is clearly a labor of love. Angleberger is a fan and it shows. This reminded me of the radio dramas, with lots of extra bits of story and ideas that you can only include because of the format. The inclusion of the storyboard sketches and McQuarrie artwork makes this a must have for Star Wars fans of all ages. It is a book a child could read on their own, but it would be even more fun to snuggle up and read together with a friend, a sibling, or parent.

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Cock-a-Doodle-Doo-Bop!Cock-a-Doodle-Doo-Bop! by Michael Ian Black
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This would be a really fun book for a storytime if you feel comfortable scatting in front of a group and could get all the instruments or sound effects to play. It would actually make a fun little play. It wasn’t as good as some of Black’s other picture books, but definitely cute. I could see this being a hit as a family read aloud.

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Bream Gives Me HiccupsBream Gives Me Hiccups by Jesse Eisenberg
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Stopped on page 125, just not feeling it. I really enjoyed listening to Jesse Eisenberg on NPR a few months ago reading selections from the book, but sitting down to read it, even knowing how Eisenberg sounds, I just wasn’t thrilled or amused enough to keep reading. I might like listening to it if Eisenberg reads it, but I’ve got too many other books right now to keep trying to get through this one.

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The Complete Chi's Sweet Home, Part 1The Complete Chi’s Sweet Home, Part 1 by Kanata Konami
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

So cute !! We had watched some of the anime so it was fun to read the whole story. Chi is definitely every kitten ever. Must read for anyone with a cat!

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The NestThe Nest by Kenneth Oppel
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Well, if it says anything about this book – I had to stop reading last night because it was getting late and I was starting to fall asleep but as soon as I woke up this morning, I felt compelled to finish it.

I don’t want to give too much away, other reviews have said it better. This is a children’s story, but in the classic vein of Grimm’s Fairy Tales and the “be careful what you wish for” dark fable that stays with you. Give it to a kid who likes those kinds of darker stories…

If you liked the movie Labyrinth or the book A Monster Calls or The Rest of Us Just Live Here, I think you will enjoy this book as it tackles similar themes.

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The 5th Wave (The 5th Wave, #1)The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

I was really enjoying this book until the stupid “going to be a love triangle later” moment. It’s the end of the world, she is fighting to survive in a Earth that has been taken over by aliens, ALIENS THAT HAVE KIDNAPPED HER BROTHER…but oh this boy has puppy dog eyes and I want to make out with him and now I’m so embarrassed that he might have seen my body when he was patching up my gunshot wounds. BLAH! I kinda rage!quit this one. Might come back after the request list goes away so I can try to finish it because it was really good until then.

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Fox Tossing, Firework Boxing, and Other Curious Pastimes from the Far Corners of HistoryFox Tossing, Firework Boxing, and Other Curious Pastimes from the Far Corners of History by Edward Brooke-Hitching

Fun book to pick up and flip through, though I want to read some other books now and let this one sit for a bit. You can only read so much about how awful humans were to animals before you need a break (while bear baiting bothered me a lot, the “baby boxing” at the Naval Academy amused me to no end…I’m a bad person)

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Books read in December

As I doubt I will finish reading anything tonight, I think it’s safe to post this. 🙂

Ink and Bone (The Great Library, #1)Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Really cool spin on the YA dystopian fantasy genre. It has a few of the cliches (though thank goodness what could have been a love triangle was a red herring!) It ends on an epic cliffhanger too, so be warned!

I listened to the audiobook and Julian Elfer did a fantastic job with all of the voices and accents. Impressive.

Hope the rest of the series can live up to this one.

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Black Widow, Vol. 1: The Finely Woven ThreadBlack Widow, Vol. 1: The Finely Woven Thread by Nathan Edmondson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Great collection of ‘Black Widow’ stories. I only really know Natasha from the movies and her cameos in other Avengers comics so it was great to read her adventures on her own.

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The Rest of Us Just Live HereThe Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

There is so much to say about this wonderful book. When I read the premise, I was expecting something very goofy. The basic story is that these are the people, the teens, who are going about their lives while our Heroes run around fighting the monsters. So, instead of reading Buffy’s story, we’re reading about the rest of the students at Sunnydale High, the ones who wander the halls in the background of shots while the Scooby Gang discusses the Big Bad they are fighting.

Ness could have just written a screwball comedy, but instead he takes patience and care in crafting a story about real teens who are dealing with real issues, like fears about going off to college, crushes on friends, alcoholism, anorexia and anxiety that leads to OCD behavior.

And Ness does it right, because the story is still a joy to read, even with all of these serious topics. I really missed all the characters by the time I closed the book. I was sad I wouldn’t see them again but very satisfied with the ending.

One of the best YA books I’ve read this year.

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I Really Like Slop! (Elephant & Piggie #24)I Really Like Slop! by Mo Willems
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Another fantastic edition, letting kids know they should TRY things and it is okay not to like the same things as your friends, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t at least try. Valuable lesson.

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The Story of Diva and FleaThe Story of Diva and Flea by Mo Willems
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Adorable story about a small dog and a large cat that become friends. I love the bits of French tossed in, that bit of Paris flavor. This is the kind of book that you give a child who is just starting chapter books with the hopes that when they are older, they will want to go explore Paris with you!

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Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books I Read in 2014

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s theme is:

Top Ten Books I Read in 2014

(in the order that I found them while searching my GoodReads page)

Boxers (Boxers & Saints, #1)Boxers by Gene Luen Yang
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I know absolutely nothing about the Boxer Rebellion so Yang’s “Boxers & Saints” is really the introduction to this part of history for me. I haven’t read “Saints” yet though, so I’m not quite sure how fair it is to review this book alone. But I loved “Boxers”. Beautifully drawn and easy to understand. I will post more once I have read “Saints”.

Reality BoyReality Boy by A.S. King
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

There is a reason A.S. King gets my “favorite author” tag. She has yet to disappoint me when it comes to realistic fiction about young adults facing difficult situations. Notice I didn’t say difficult young adults or troubled teens. These are stories of good kids who have dealing with life as best as they can.

“Reality Boy” is about a young man who, as a child, was featured on a reality tv show and became infamous for defecating around his parents house. Now he is in high school, and as you read the story you find out about what happened in that house his entire life and how he is dealing with it now.

It’s not for the faint of heart. It’s a tragic story. Gerald has been damaged by his family and it’s sad to read about how it all happened. This may not be my favorite of King’s books, but it is still a solid story. Adults and teens should read her books and sit down to discuss.

Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales: Treaties, Trenches, Mud, and Blood (Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales, #4)Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales: Treaties, Trenches, Mud, and Blood by Nathan Hale
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

World War I was hard to understand even when people were living through it. You sort of gloss over it in history classes because there is no clear-cut “bad guy” like in World War II. World War I was a mess, not only when it came to who was allied with who, but also because of all the new technology that was emerging so we had lots of different ways to kill each other.

Nathan Hale has managed to condense it all down to 124 pages and it works! I came into this book only knowing WWI from watching Young Indiana Jones Chronicles as a kid and basic high school history lessons. Even though it feels like he is being goofy, assigning different animals to each country really helped keep the players clear.

This is a fantastic introduction to The Great War, for kids, teens, or adults. I know I learned so much.

The Fifth Beatle: The Brian Epstein StoryThe Fifth Beatle: The Brian Epstein Story by Vivek Tiwary
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a MUST read. Not just for Beatles fans, Brian Epstein’s story is still relevant today and even if you are not a huge fan of the Fab Four, you will enjoy this beautiful graphic novel biography.

I’m not sure what else to say about this book. It gave me so many feels, a roller coaster of emotions and by the final page, I was starting to get a little choked up. Even though I knew how it all ended, it was just so heart-breaking.

This is the 2014 Eisner Award Winner for best non-fiction graphic novels and it definitely deserved the award.

Ready Player OneReady Player One by Ernest Cline
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

If you can LISTEN TO THIS BOOK. Having Wil Wheaton read this out loud may be the best thing that could have happened to this story. It is definitely written by a geek for a geek. If you grew up during the 80s or have a passion for classic video games, 80s movies, and geek culture, you will love this book. Otherwise, you might just be mildly amused by it.

The story itself is the usual hero story, the poor, uncool kid who manages to rise up against the evil empire. There’s a reason we see that story all the time though – it works. It speaks to us. And it is SO satisfying when it all ends, even if you knew it had to end the way it did. The journey is so much fun.

The Storied Life of A.J. FikryThe Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A very sweet book and a very quick read. It’s funny but I tend to not like these kinds of stories, but Zevin’s writing was very accessible and it was just the right length.

Perfect gift for the book-snob in your life with lots of references to literature and popular culture in the current book world.

SecondsSeconds by Bryan Lee O’Malley
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I don’t know what it was about “Seconds” but I just loved it. I think I loved how you don’t exactly love the main character, she has some major flaws (which is apparently O’Malley’s speciality – crafting characters I am both frustrated by but identify with too?)

Honestly, I didn’t know anything about this book except that it was the new Bryan Lee O’Malley and I loved going into it totally unaware and being surprised by the twists and turns.

SistersSisters by Raina Telgemeier
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another strong story from Raina Telgemeier’s childhood that will still strike a chord with tween today because siblings, especially little sisters, will always have a very unique dynamic. And growing up will never be easy. Plus a family road trip and reunion? Always traumatizing, no matter when it happened. Smile is still my favorite but Sisters is really good too.

Saga, Volume 3Saga, Volume 3 by Brian K. Vaughan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another great entry in this series. This volume has lots of action and ties up a few plot lines while setting up some new ones. Staples art is fantastic, as always, and Vaughan manages to work in plenty of humor no matter how dire the situation.

Definitely considering buying these when they are published in hardcover sets.

UnSouled (Unwind, #3)UnSouled by Neal Shusterman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The thing that makes me LOVE the “Unwind” series is how Shusterman takes what could have been a one-note songs and turns it into a symphony. Even though this takes place in a not-so-distant future, everyone who reads this book will be forced to think about a variety of issues we are facing right now, every day.

While the seed of Unwind is the “what if the abortion war ended with people being allowed to get rid of their teenagers” as the story has progressed the theme has gone on to question science, war, leaders, government, terrorism and so much more. It’s what makes this series so disturbing yet so fantastic.

Of course, being that this is book 3, there was a lot of things being set up for the grand finale that will be book 4. Right now, this book gets a tentative 4 stars out of 5 because Book 4 will decide if this was all worth my while.