Books read in October

Rupert Can DanceRupert Can Dance by Jules Feiffer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ve always loved Feiffer’s artwork and the story in this book is so cute. Rupert just wants to dance his own way and he doesn’t want anyone to see him dance. But one night his owner wakes up and catches him. Can Rupert ever bring himself to dance again?

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.

Red Madness: How a Medical Mystery Changed What We EatRed Madness: How a Medical Mystery Changed What We Eat by Gail Jarrow
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Fascinating look at a little known medical epidemic, pellagra, which hit the United States south very hard in the early 1900s. The target audience is definitely middle school and up, but honestly this book is perfect for anyone with a passing interest in the subject. I learned a LOT about that time in US history along with why we eat the way we do today.

The Shadow HeroThe Shadow Hero by Gene Luen Yang
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Extra star for being inspired by a forgotten comic from the 1940s which featured the first Chinese-American superhero. (well, if you believe the rumors).

But even without this, this is a fantastic graphic novel and original origin story.

Adventure Time Vol. 5Adventure Time Vol. 5 by Ryan North
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A strong addition to the ‘Adventure Time’ comic book series, lots of fun with POV. And the “narrator” was extra hilarious.

HorrorstörHorrorstör by Grady Hendrix
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

5/5 for style but minus lots of points for just being your cliche horror story. I think this might have worked better as a short story. I know the main idea was to make a book that physically looked like the IKEA catalog, with products advertised at the start of each chapter, but the charm wears off pretty quick. I forced myself to speed read to the end last night and was left underwhelmed.

A Perfectly Messed-Up StoryA Perfectly Messed-Up Story by Patrick McDonnell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Very cute, reminded me a lot of Battle Bunny. (though the librarian in me was cringing at the thought of food getting stuck in my picture books and what would grow inside…)

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.

Books read in May

Yay, I actually managed to make up for the big goose egg list that was April!

The Lost BoyThe Lost Boy by Greg Ruth
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This reminded me a lot of A Monster Callsfor some reason. I guess the artwork was very similar – the black and white, the creepy trees. It is a cool style but at the same time I found it hard to tell characters apart. In the end, I was left feeling wanting. It was a cool concept but I didn’t really get the need for the twist at the end.

Also, there were a few lines that the kids said that didn’t feel like kid lines. It made me unsure of how old they were. Our copy is shelved in the children’s section so in my mind, I made them 12. Near the end of the book, Nate and Tabitha had a few exchanges that were a little too snarky, made them sound like older teens. It threw me and pulled me out of the story.

I almost feel like this would have been better as an illustrated novel vs. a graphic novel.

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.

Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated AdventuresFlora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures by Kate DiCamillo
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

DiCamillo is quickly becoming one of my favorite children’s authors. Between this book and the Bink & Gollie series, I have fallen for the dry humor that I know would have appealed to 10 year old me as much as it does now.

Flora & Ulysses is a quirky, sweet and funny story about a girl and a squirrel. It’s mix of text and comic book style pages flow perfectly.

I’m so glad this won the Newbery award and that it is on the summer reading list this year. Def one I will recommend!

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.

Madison Square Tragedy: The Murder of Stanford WhiteMadison Square Tragedy: The Murder of Stanford White by Rick Geary
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another piece of American History/True Crime I knew nothing about and Rick Geary has once again enlightened me. Even though you know exactly who committed the crime from the first few pages, Geary does a great job letting the facts of each person’s life unfold in three chapters and then bringing it all together at the end.

And, as usual, you find the more things change, the more they really stay the same. Everything in this book could happen today.

My Little Pony: Rainbow Dash and the Daring Do Double DareMy Little Pony: Rainbow Dash and the Daring Do Double Dare by G.M. Berrow
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was SO MUCH FUN to read. Again, Berrow did a great job of capturing the feel of the My Little Pony tv series and characters. And I think you’ll be hard-pressed to find a series reader who hasn’t experienced the frustration of not being able to talk to their friends about the latest book a in a series. Perfect book for MLP fans of any age.

Adventure Time Volume 4Adventure Time Volume 4 by Ryan North
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another fantastic entry in the Adventure Time series. You should be caught up with the TV show (at least up to Season 3) before reading this since there are a lot of references to characters and situations from those episodes. Funny, smart, but with that hint of sadness hidden between the lines, the comic captures the magic of the television series. And don’t forget to read all the secret notes at the bottom of each page! They are the best part.

Charm & StrangeCharm & Strange by Stephanie Kuehn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’m bouncing between a 3 and 4 star rating for this book because I have read at least 2 other books with similar themes so I can’t decide if the knowledge of those books lessened my enjoyment of this one or not.

I really liked the short, alternating chapters. Kuehn did a good job of having the bits of Drew’s backstory trickle out as we navigated Win’s current life. I don’t really want to say much more, for fear of spoiling it. It just barely 200 pages, you can read it over the course of a few evenings (and once you figure out what is actually happening, it’s hard to look away, the same experience I had when reading Living Dead Girl, another disturbing YA book, many years ago).

I’m also a little perturbed because our library put a Supernatural label on the side and it is NOT a supernatural story at all. This falls more into the realm of Liar and Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock. Ellen Hopkins did the blurb for the front and this story would appeal more to her crowd than it would to fans of vampire slayers. (I hate genre labels, especially in YA but that is another rant for a personal blog)

Attack on Titan, Volume 01Attack on Titan, Volume 01 by Hajime Isayama
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I didn’t pick up the manga until after having watched the ENTIRE anime series on CrunchyRoll. I’m happy I did because I don’t think you can capture the movement of the 3D maneuver gear on the page. When Eren fights the Titan about halfway through, it’s just a flurry of images across several panels.

I haven’t read a lot of manga but this anime grabbed me and did not let go and I wanted to know more and figured reading the manga would help keep me occupied until Season 2 was made. But I’m sorta having the same issue as the debate about reading the A Game of Thrones books — I enjoy the story more on the screen than on the page, so should I spoil myself and read ahead or just wait for the show so I can enjoy it all as it unfolds on my tv.

It is an action packed series, but I think the anime might actually have improved on the story, expanding on some sequences. And what a difference full color makes! Much easier to tell everyone apart in the show than on the page.

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What did you read this month? Anything you loved or hated? Share in the comments or link to your entry.

Review: Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales: Treaties, Trenches, Mud, and Blood

Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales: Treaties, Trenches, Mud, and Blood
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 for the people who 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.

Truthfully, everything I knew about World War I came from Blackadder Goes Forth and Young Indiana Jones Chronicles. As you can imagine, that was not a very complete view of the situation.

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.

In a recent podcast on Comics Alternative, Hale mentions that his primary goal was to write a fun story. He doesn’t want these books buried in the non-fiction collection, but on a shelf where readers interested in war and history might find them and learn something new.

This is a fantastic introduction to The Great War, for kids, teens, or adults. I know I learned so much. I recommend this book and ALL of Hale’s books.

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book thoughts: October

I read a lot of books this month though most of them were graphic novels so this list will look more impressive than usual. My “librarian shame” is that I am a very slow, distracted reader and I tend to only read during my lunch break or right before bed…if I go to bed at a decent hour which depends on how much time I’ve spent goofing off online or watching TV.

Anyway, here is a rundown of the books I managed to get through this month:

The Surprise Attack of Jabba the Puppett: An Origami Yoda Book (Origami Yoda #4)The Surprise Attack of Jabba the Puppett: An Origami Yoda Book by Tom Angleberger
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I think this book was a big improvement over Darth Paper Strikes Back and slightly better than The Secret of the Fortune Wookiee. You can tell that Angleberger lives in the MD/DC/VA area because the students of McQuarrie Middle are being “punished” for the low score on the previous year’s standardized tests.

I like this book a lot more because it got the entire student body involved and there was just as much story and plot as there was silly Star Wars references. It does end on a cliffhanger, so be warned! I am very curious to see how Angleberger wraps up this story, since the tests that the students are rebelling against are nationally mandated now. Can he write a conclusion that is satisfying to readers?

You're All Just Jealous of My Jetpack: CartoonsYou’re All Just Jealous of My Jetpack: Cartoons by Tom Gauld
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Hilarious collection of one page comics with lots of literary and geeky humor.

Adventure Time Vol. 1Adventure Time Vol. 1 by Ryan North
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

These comics are hilarious. I do recommend watching the TV series first, at least a few episodes, so you know what the characters sound like. The dialogue is written just like they talk and if you know how they sound, it makes it that much more enjoyable. Also, make sure you don’t miss the little author notes at the bottom of each page, many of which had me laughing out loud. I also read Volume 2 which was good (though not quite as good as Volume 1)

Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales: Donner Dinner PartyNathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales: Donner Dinner Party by Nathan Hale
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I love non-fiction graphic novels. LOVE THEM. They are the gateway books into finding out about all kinds of random history. Nathan Hale’s series is fantastic since it is written for middle school age readers, the age when most kids start the “history is boring” mantra. Get these books into their hands (especially if they are boys) and you will see students who learn to love history.

Amulet, Vol. 1: The Stonekeeper (Amulet, #1)Amulet, Vol. 1: The Stonekeeper by Kazu Kibuishi
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

From the first few pages of intense action, what feels like the opening scenes to a movie, Amulet pulls you in. Being that this is the first book in the series, the majority of the pages are setting up the rest of the series, but what a set up it was.

This series is perfect for those older elementary/middle school readers who are fans of adventure movies like Indiana Jones and Star Wars – where the plot-driven story moves fast and furiously in all directions. I’m on the fourth book now and the action has not stopped, and now you can include elements of Lord of the Rings and survival stories like Hunger Games in the mix.

Forgive Me, Leonard PeacockForgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Tried too hard to be cool and funny, lost me about halfway through, by the end I was disappointed, even more so when the final page was not a list of ways for readers to seek help if they were faced with similar feelings or problems.

How Not to Be a Dick: An Everyday Etiquette GuideHow Not to Be a Dick: An Everyday Etiquette Guide by Meghan Doherty
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

3.5 stars. Not at all what I expected. What looks like it’s going to be a totally ridiculous book on the cover, inside is just a simple guide to etiquette, albeit with more mentions of “dick” and “dickishness” than most Emily Post titles. The advice is great and if someone did bother to read it, they would learn some very good behaviors.