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 September

what I read in September

This was a pretty great month with lots of really good books, some that I had been meaning to read for awhile and others that I stumbled upon (the dangers of helping with the new materials delivery is that I see all the shiny new graphic novels that I’ve never heard of before but sound awesome. Also the same danger of working with people who read a wide variety of books themselves and then you want to read what they say is good).

Citizen: An American LyricCitizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ve never really read a book of freeform poetry before. Luckily, Rankine eased me into it by starting with more of a prose style and then slowly moving into more of a poetry rhythm. A short little book with lots of powerful moments. These feelings and images will stick with me for awhile.

Batman: Earth One, Vol. 1Batman: Earth One, Vol. 1 by Geoff Johns

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I wasn’t expecting much from yet another Batman comic but WOW! I loved the reimagining of Gotham and the Wayne family, and, of course, Alfred. This was not at all what I was expecting and really hard to put down – which I didn’t! Read it all in one sitting.

Wonder Woman: Earth One, Vol. 1Wonder Woman: Earth One, Vol. 1 by Grant Morrison

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

3.5 stars.

I didn’t feel this one was quite as good as Batman. I don’t know why it is so hard to write a good Wonder Woman story. Maybe it is because that she, like Thor, is just born awesome. She doesn’t have the whole “death of her family” like Superman and Batman, nothing to really overcome so her origin story isn’t quite as engaging. They tried to give her some mother issues but she came off more as a spoiled brat than a struggling hero.

Also, the art was just so typical…all the girls have their mouths hanging half open and they were supposed to be shocked when Diana came home wearing makeup but…um, she didn’t look that much different from when she left.

I love that in a world that is devoid of men and no influence from men, everyone likes to imagine women would still wear skimpy clothing and bustiers. Be real – it would be a land of sweatpants and t-shirts, maybe jean shorts when it is cold.

Dark Night: A True Batman StoryDark Night: A True Batman Story by Paul Dini

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I really loved this book and the idea of using your superhero figures to help you cope with life. Dini really took a chance, bearing his soul like this, but he did it right and this is a great book, a great story, inspiring and affirming but not in a cliche kind of way? He’s not perfect but that is what made it such a great read – I could identify with his insecurities even if I wasn’t exactly like him.

Nobody Likes a GoblinNobody Likes a Goblin by Ben Hatke

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Cute story, great illustrations, perfect for the older picture book reader who likes a silly fantasy tale. Pair this with The Princess and the Pony for a quirky family read-together.

Lumberjanes, Vol. 4: Out of TimeLumberjanes, Vol. 4: Out of Time by Noelle Stevenson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This series just keeps getting better! What could have just been a goofy, one-note story about a group of goofy girl scouts has turned into an epic, layered tale of hardcore lady-types. Keep it coming Team Lumberjanes!

Jackaby (Jackaby, #1)Jackaby by William Ritter

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Really enjoyed this book! I would suggest it for fans that lik “Monstrumologist” or “The X Files” – anything with a supernatural twist. I love that all the monsters are not “bad” and that it pulls from a variety of myths and stories to create the creature world.

I definitely plan on picking up the second book soon!

Ms. Marvel, Vol. 5: Super FamousMs. Marvel, Vol. 5: Super Famous by G. Willow Wilson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This might be my favorite Ms. Marvel arc yet! It is a lesson that all of us need to be reminded of from time to time – teens and adults. Just loved it.

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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 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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books read in September

September was a month of children’s fiction. My reading was firmly planted in the land of late elementary and middle school. It was not planned, it just happened. I did listen to one adult fiction title and it was a pleasant surprise. And I picked up the latest graphic novel by Bryan Lee O’Malley, which is definitely for adults. I have already started an adult book that I’m hoping to finish for the October list because I really should read something from that side of the library!

Then again, the new Scott Westerfeld just showed up on my desk today and Undivided comes out in two weeks…**Sigh** at least those are YA!

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.

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.

Moldylocks and the Three Beards (Princess Pink and the Land of Fake Believe, #1)Moldylocks and the Three Beards by Noah Z. Jones

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was sold on this from page one, mostly because Princess Pink has a Darth Vader drawing on her wall. But also because this clever book will find its way into the hands of little girls obsessed with Princesses only to turn the story around on theme, with this adventurous girl who has no problem getting dressing up as a hairy caveman dinosaur hunter and splashing in cold chili.

I think kids will really enjoy the fractured fairy tales and the play on a story they are probably very familiar with.

Cute, funny, and perfect for kids who are ready to move from easy readers into very basic chapter books.

Bandette, Volume 1: Presto!Bandette, Volume 1: Presto! by Colleen Coover

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is really cute, I can’t think of any other way to describe it. Bandette is so adorable, her town so French, everyone so charming. It was a lot of fun to read and I will pick up the sequel.

One More Thing: Stories and Other StoriesOne More Thing: Stories and Other Stories by B.J. Novak

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This collection of short stories, read aloud by the author and some of his famous friends, was a real treat. I feel like I need to star each story separately as some I really enjoyed, others were cute, and a few were sorta…ok.

…actually, there are too many stories to do that! Some of the stories are 5 stars in my book, great to read, even room for discussion afterwards, some are just hilarious one-offs that exist only for the punchline, and others are more shaggy dog stories that kind of go on for awhile but the pay off isn’t that great.

I HIGHLY recommend listening to this because of Novak & Co.s readings. Rainn Wilson, Mindy Kaling, Jason Schwartzman and more make this a treat to hear. (though looking at the table of contents, it appears the audio is in a different order than the physical book? WEIRD.)

Phoebe and Her Unicorn: A Heavenly Nostrils ChroniclePhoebe and Her Unicorn: A Heavenly Nostrils Chronicle by Dana Simpson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

At first, I didn’t think this bright pink book with a unicorn on the cover was for me. Then I saw the unicorn’s name “Marigold Heavenly Nostrils” and started to flip through the book. And THEN I saw the introduction by Peter Beagle and KNEW I had to give this a read. I’m so glad I did! This book is cute and clever and a fun collection of comic strips about a little girl who befriends a unicorn after hitting it in the head with a rock. I was giggling the whole time I read this. Great for kids and young at heart.

OH! Apparently this is a syndicated comic strip and this book is the first collection. If you need more (like I did) you can find them here:
http://www.gocomics.com/heavenly-nost…

Little Red Quacking Hood (Princess Pink and the Land of Fake Believe #2)Little Red Quacking Hood by Noah Z. Jones

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Not quite as adorkable as the first one, but still a fun read and perfect for a new-to-chapter books reader. I do love Princess Pink and her aversion to all things pink LOL. I hope to see a few kids dressed as Moldylocks when Halloween rolls around in a few weeks.

LootLoot by Jude Watson

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

“Loot: How to steal a fortune” is a great read for middle school age kids who are into mystery, suspense, and thrillers. The story opens with the death of March’s master thief father and we follow March as he tries to unravel the events that lead up to that night.

This was my first Jude Watson book (I’ve read both of her the Judy Blundell young adult titles). She does a good job of writing for a younger age group without talking down. The short chapters make this book a really easy read (each chapter is 2-4 pages) so even reluctant readers will find this hard to put down.

The title leaves something to be desired, as does the cover. It doesn’t quite capture the intrigue and dark moments hidden in these pages.

What did you read this month?

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.