Books read in June and July

Books read in June and July

Whoops, I guess I forgot to post my June reads since we were away on vacation. Guess I’ll just make this list a teensy bit longer. Not by much though, reading Leviathan Wakes, the first book in The Expanse series has taken up a LOT of my time this month. I haven’t read a 564 page book in a long time!

And if you can’t tell, there was a new cart of children’s books to go through this past month. 🙂

HostageHostage by Guy Delisle
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow, this worked so well as a graphic. I could feel an inkling that lost, lonely feeling that Christophe must have been feeling for all that time. The strange mix of fear and boredom as each day went on, the rush of adrenaline each time the door creaked open. And those last 50 pages, my heart was pounding right along with Christophe.

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The Time MuseumThe Time Museum by Matthew Loux
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

It started with an interesting premise and I got about halfway through and realized that the whole thing was going to be mediocre at best. Skimmed to the end and everything unfolded exactly like I anticipated. Not great, not awful. Just…meh.

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The Witch BoyThe Witch Boy by Molly Ostertag
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Really quick read but a great way to get kids thinking about gender roles without beating them over the head with it. Aster is a boy and boys cannot be witches, at least according to his communities rules. Boys are shapeshifters, they turn into different animals and fight to protect the village. Girls are witches that use magic to help things grow and for protection spells. But Aster has not shapeshifted yet and finds magic to be far more interesting. He begins to listen in on the girl’s classes, taking notes and practicing when no one is watching. But then he learns from his grandmother about another boy who wanted to be a witch and how things went badly for him. When boys around the village start to disappear, Aster wonders if it is his fault for dabbling in magic instead of following the rules.

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SLAM! Vol. 1SLAM! Vol. 1 by Pamela Ribon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My only complaint about this graphic is sometimes it was hard to tell the characters apart when they were all playing together. I mean, obviously they are in their team uniforms, but since they are drawings rather than real people, it was hard to know who was who sometimes.

But otherwise this was a really fun read and I love the idea of telling the story of these two BFFs while using Roller Derby to frame it all. It’s like Roller Girl but all grown up!

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Unicorn of Many Hats (Heavenly Nostrils, #7)Unicorn of Many Hats by Dana Simpson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Usual level of whimsy and fun. Perfect reading for a rainy day.

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A Day in the Life of Marlon BundoA Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo by Jill Twiss
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

That final page. I want to frame it and put it on my wall. “Stink bugs are temporary. Love is forever.”

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Pink Is for BoysPink Is for Boys by Robb Pearlman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Perfect in its simplicity. Colors are colors and everyone can enjoy them. The end.

And also unicorns. Because unicorns.

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Rock Candy Mountain, Vol. 2Rock Candy Mountain, Vol. 2 by Kyle Starks
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Wraps up the story well, part of me wished there was more but I know that dragging it out wouldn’t have made it better. Quick read.

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Lennon: The New York YearsLennon: The New York Years by David Foenkinos
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Beautifully illustrated and I love how the images are framed, then cropped to evoke different emotions. I don’t think I learned anything I didn’t already know about Lennon but I’m a pretty hardcore fans, but I still found this very readable and could have read more in this style.

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SquareSquare by Mac Barnett
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

3.5 stars

Another really odd little book by Barnett. I just love his quirky sense of humor. I didn’t know this was a trilogy! I guess circle must get the final book?

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Snotgirl, Vol. 1: Green Hair Don't CareSnotgirl, Vol. 1: Green Hair Don’t Care by Bryan Lee O’Malley
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was such a strange story, I’m not sure what the heck it is all about, but I am compelled to keep reading! We will see what happens in the further adventures of Lonnie Person in Snotgirl Vol. 2!

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This Jazz ManThis Jazz Man by Karen Ehrhardt
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The only thing that would make this better is if it came with an audio bonus that had all the instrument sounds. Or even a mp3 of the melody using jazz instruments. I’m already plotting finding a way to get the high school jazz band to visit and maybe use them in a storytime…

but even without that, this is a really fun book. Sing it to the melody of “This Old Man” and have fun with it. I did it with the toddlers today and we counted every time we turned the page and then acted out the instrument. Another librarian did it with preschool age and it was also a big hit. So this one is staying on the storytime shelf.

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The Big Bad FoxThe Big Bad Fox by Benjamin Renner
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

While you know where this book is going right off the bat, the journey is worth it. Renner’s art is great and the fox’s antics, it made me think of Looney Tunes cartoons, with Bugs and Daffy running around and getting whacked by things (or each other). Really fun read. Can’t wait to see the animated version!

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Most PeopleMost People by Michael Leannah
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A book with the best intentions, too bad the editors didn’t pick up on a few lines of text that feel a little problematic (see other reviews). But I did love the idea of assuming that most people want to do good things, want to be good and helpful. It is true!

(Also, I’m really tempted to do a nerdy parody of this with all of the apparent strife going on in the fandom world right now…)

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Teddy's Favorite ToyTeddy’s Favorite Toy by Christian Trimmer
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

So adorable! Though not sure we should tell kids that once something has been picked up by the trash collectors that we can ever see it again because…yeah nope. 😦

But otherwise SO CUTE!

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Books read in October

Lots of kid’s books and comic books, making my list seem more impressive than it really is. But I still feel pretty good about getting through this many in a month!

The Worst Class Trip EverThe Worst Class Trip Ever by Dave Barry
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Something about this book rubbed me the wrong way. I think if I was a 12 year old boy, I probably wouldn’t care so much, and that is the target audience so it’s not that big of a deal. But reading this as an adult that lived through 9/11, it was hard for me to feel comfortable while reading about supposed terrorist plots and assassinations. It just kept me from laughing at all the fart jokes…I wanted to laugh but it was just really hard with that plot line yanking me out of the funny and into the real world.

I was really hoping that this was just going to be a story of shenanigans as the kinds bumbled around, I felt the terrorist plot was unnecessary. Wyatt and his friends were clearly dufuses and they didn’t need a wacky plot to make idiots of themselves. Just wandering D.C. as a class should have been funny enough.

Oh well…kind of a let down from some one who loved Dave Barry when she was 13…

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Everyone Loves BaconEveryone Loves Bacon by Kelly DiPucchio
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book was a real treat to find on the new cart today! We all had a good LOL.

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Space DumplinsSpace Dumplins by Craig Thompson
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Just so disappointed. I loved Habibi and Blankets, so I was really excited to read Thompson’s venture into children’s comics. But this fell flat to me. Too many agendas, too many soap boxes, far too text heavy and the panels on some page were a mess. And in the end, it had a cliche ending that didn’t even make the rest of the story worth my time.

The art and coloring are very nice. The story was a huge letdown. I had to speedread the last few chapters just to get it over with so I could make sure there wasn’t some twist I was missing. But, no, it was a huge letdown.

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The Dumbest Idea Ever!The Dumbest Idea Ever! by Jimmy Gownley
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I could have read even more, I loved this story and how honest Gownley was about himself. So good. Get this into the hands of as many kids, tweens, and teens as you can. It is a story about not just living your dream, but making a dream work with reality. It’s about respecting your friends and family and the power of art. Fantastic.

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Baba Yaga's AssistantBaba Yaga’s Assistant by Marika McCoola
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Perfect spooky story for older elementary with a satisfying ending where everyone has learned a bit about themselves and each other.

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Hilo Book 1: The Boy Who Crashed to EarthHilo Book 1: The Boy Who Crashed to Earth by Judd Winick
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

3.5 stars, cute and fun little science fiction story. Really like the relationship between D.J. and Gina.

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Fraggle Rock: Journey to the EverspringFraggle Rock: Journey to the Everspring by Kate Leth
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Cute story with everyone’s favorite Fraggles. I think kids will really like it if they are familiar with the series…

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Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College TownMissoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town by Jon Krakauer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have to set this one aside for a little while. I’m close to being finished but it has become bogged down in all the legal stuff and I’m having a hard time getting through all the court reports. I need to switch to something lighter for a bit then come back. It’s been a struggle to read this, not because it isn’t well written – it IS well written and researched. It is just a horrible topic that makes you frustrated and sad.

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ArmadaArmada by Ernest Cline
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

3.5 stars.

Ready Player One was going to be a hard act to follow, so I knew Armada was already in trouble. I opted to listen to this one because Wil Wheaton once again reprised his role as The Reader. Which is good because as one of the geek royalty, he knew how to pronounce all the names and did his best at impressions of famous geek icons, along with making unique voices for all of the characters.

But, in the end, Armada fell flat. I think Cline had a lot of fun thinking of movies and games and music to reference. Maybe too much fun. Especially since we knew from the first page that this was going to be a riff on The Last Starfighter in some way. From page one, any geeky reader had a very good idea where this is all going. It didn’t make it a bad story, but it didn’t keep me on the edge the way Cline’s first novel did. I found myself daydreaming while the story went on. I wish things had happened faster and that the epilogue had been the second half of the novel.

For his sophomore effort, Cline could have done worse. The book is enjoyable enough but it can’t top Ready Player One. But it was fun and I will definitely stay abreast of any new books he puts out over the next few years (though I’m guessing he might be preoccupied with the RP1 movie)

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GeorgeGeorge by Alex Gino
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book was fantastic. I think Alex Gino did a wonderful job getting into the mind of a 4th grade transgendered girl. I felt that Melissa’s thoughts, feelings, and reactions were spot on for how a child of that age would behave. I hope there are plenty of Kelly’s out there too.

This book is going to get you right in the feels. This should be required reading for everyone, children, teens, adults. And NOT limited to friends or family who know a (out) transgendered youth. Read this book, be aware of the people around you – their thoughts and feelings. They may be working through things in their head, things you wouldn’t imagine.

I hope this is the first of many LGBT books for kids that stress compassion and inclusion and also model how to be a good friend or parent to someone coming out.

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Books Read in 2014: Greatest Hits

First – thank you Dunc for posting a list just like this: stuff she wanted to mention sans any sort of ranking or premade form. I do not read enough to create a list of best books of the year or anything like that. So this is just about ME! And it’s my blog so why not!

These are all of the books I read this year (well, I didn’t put all the picture books down because that list would be insane…).

And here are the stand out titles:

Book I Picked Up But I’m Not Sure Why: Not My Father’s Son by Alan Cumming
I’ve always liked Alan Cumming but I’m not a rabid fan or anything. But for some reason when I got wind of his memoir, I put myself on the hold list for it. And when it arrived on my desk at work, I felt compelled to read it. And I did, in under 3 weeks which for me is pretty good. He manages to take a very personal story, a story that could just be one of woe and misery, and transform it into one of overcoming and making the best of things. I couldn’t put it down.

Book Everyone Loved and I thought I would hate it but…I loved it!: Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
If Stephanie hadn’t told me to pick this one up, I probably would have ignored it. I tend to find when review sites are raving about books that take place in bookstores, I am underwhelmed. But she convinced me to read it and the books can only be described as charming. Lots of in jokes for book fans.

Books I Learned a LOT From: Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales: Treaties, Trenches, Mud, and Blood AND Red Madness: How a Medical Mystery Changed What We Eat
Both of these books have a target audience of middle grade readers but I learned a heck of a lot from reading them! ‘Treaties’ is about World War I, which is glossed over in most textbooks because, let’s face it, it was a clusterf*ck. Hale manages to show the confusion but also make it a bit clearer. It was quite an endeavor, trying to cram that entire conflict into one book, bu the managed to do it.
‘Red Madness’ will give you all the backstory on why our white breads are pumped full of random vitamins and also show how the more things change…the more they stay the same.

Material Elevated by Audiobook Narrator: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, read by Wil Wheaton
Seriously, the king of nerds reads a book about geek heroes playing video games in a virtual world? It was beautiful.

(Honorary Mention to Kristen Bell reading ‘Veronica Mars: The Thousand Dollar Tan Line’ for not just reading the book but doing impersonations of her co-stars whenever possible).

Books read in November 2014

Books read in November 2014

You guys, I read not one but TWO grown-up books in November!!! I KNOW! Neither of them blew me away, but the fact that I managed to finish two novels targeted for adults…I feel so accomplished! It means I have at least two books I can now recommend to adults who ask for suggestions LOL.

Anyway, here is November’s list:

I Am JazzI Am Jazz by Jessica Herthel

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a tricky book to write. The idea of gender identity for a child is not something easy to explain (not that it’s really that much easier for adults). I think the author did the best she could to get the idea across on a level that would make sense to another young child.

But, as other reviewers have said, she examples of why she must be a girl weren’t quite solid enough and I could see them confusing some younger readers who are comfortable with their gender but don’t like the things that they are “supposed to” according to the toy people. As a kid (and today still) I loved Star Wars, video games, action movies and Ninja Turtles but I didn’t have any gender identity issues.

It is hard to communicate what it must actually feel like for a transgendered child to know they are being treated as the wrong gender. This book does it’s best to get that across and I have to applaud the effort. Hopefully this will pave the way for even more titles with similar themes and issues to help young children start to understand the multicolor rainbow of a world we live in and maybe grow into more tolerant teens and adults.

My Little Pony: Rarity and the Curious Case of CharityMy Little Pony: Rarity and the Curious Case of Charity by G.M. Berrow

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Cute story. Rarity is probably my least favorite pony so I wasn’t as engaged in her story, but it was cute and Rarity fans will love it. Adults will spot the Single-White-Pony story line coming from the start but it’s still a fun read for fans of the show.

Attack! Boss! Cheat Code!: A Gamer's AlphabetAttack! Boss! Cheat Code!: A Gamer’s Alphabet by Chris Barton

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I saw this on the cart this morning and KNEW I would love it.

This is NOT an ABC concept book so you probably don’t want to buy it for that pre-reader. But if you have an elementary school gamer in your life, then this would make a fantastic gift (or a new geek parent).

Also, I love and adore Joey Spiotto’s artwork. Always have. His style is so easy to spot.

Gotham Central, Vol. 1: In the Line of DutyGotham Central, Vol. 1: In the Line of Duty by Ed Brubaker

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

That was an intense read. If the Gotham TV series had the same premise, I would actually be interested in it. Good cop drama.

Sam and Dave Dig a HoleSam and Dave Dig a Hole by Mac Barnett

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I cannot wait to use this for a preschool visit and see the kids’ reaction to Sam and Dave digging past the underground treasures. I love Klassen’s artwork. Plus, “spectacular” is such a great vocabulary word.

Star Stuff: Carl Sagan and the Mysteries of the CosmosStar Stuff: Carl Sagan and the Mysteries of the Cosmos by Stephanie Roth Sisson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Cute picture book biography about the life of Carl Sagan. I love the art style. Great gift for the little astronomer in your life, or any child with an interest in space and reaching for the stars.

RevivalRevival by Stephen King

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I think this lost a star because of the hype and everyone saying it was a “return to form” for King. The bar is set very high when reviewers say things like that.

The book was very readable. I did actually finish it, as opposed to Mr. Mercedes which I started then set aside. King still writes very well, but the story I was hoping for came too late. And the ending felt like it would have been better suited for a short story or novella instead of a 400 page novel.

Not his best, but not his worst. I just wanted so much more.

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, Volume 1My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, Volume 1 by Katie Cook

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This comic is great for kid and adult fans of the My Little Pony series. Katie Cook includes lots of little inside jokes that only older fans will get (there is an EVIL DEAD reference!!) but the story will appeal to anyone who has enjoyed this series. SO MUCH FUN!

The FuriesThe Furies by Natalie Haynes

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

3.5 stars really. I’m not sure how to categorize this book or even rate it really. The fact that I finished an adult book is a pretty big deal for me since I tend to stay in YA. But I really did enjoy Natalie Haynes’ writing style and the story did pull me in. I sorta knew where it was going by about halfway through, but then I kept reading because I wanted to know the specifics.

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 August

Another light month for FINISHING books though I have started quite a few that ended up having holds…hopefully they will be on next month’s list if I can get them back.

My Teacher Is a Monster! (No, I Am Not.)My Teacher Is a Monster! by Peter Brown
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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.

Rat Queens, Vol. 1: Sass & SorceryRat Queens, Vol. 1: Sass & Sorcery by Kurtis J. Wiebe

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Read this on my lunch break today, definitely a quick read, but lots of fun. This comic got a lot of attention online because of the character design for the heroines. I liked the artwork a lot.

This book reads like a D&D session where all of your friends are sorta fed up playing the game, possibly drunk, but for some reason they keep showing up for the game night.

The Misadventures of Salem Hyde: Big Birthday Bash (The Misadventures of Salem Hyde, #2)The Misadventures of Salem Hyde: Big Birthday Bash by Frank Cammuso

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Salem Hyde is at it again! This little witch learns a lot about friendship, BIG wishes, and magic. And also why you shouldn’t buy a slushie for Whammy before going on a roller coaster ride. Cute and funny. Only slightly concerned about the PINK of this volumes cover, which may deter boy readers, who Salem’s hijinks would appeal to just as much as girls.

Amulet, Vol. 6: Escape From Lucien (Amulet, #6)Amulet, Vol. 6: Escape From Lucien by Kazu Kibuishi

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I stayed up all night reading this book. I don’t know why I had it in my mind that this was the finale…maybe because it took SO LONG to come out. But it’s not the end, though you can feel it winding down. Definitely surprised by at least one major event in this story. I think I need to reread the entire series before 7 comes out.

Currently Reading:
Monica Never Shuts Up (short stories) by A.S. King
Loot by Jude Watson
The Girl with All the Gifts by M.R. Carey (waiting for it to come back to library)
Carsick: John Waters Hitchhikes Across American by John Waters (audiobook)
One More Thing: Stories and other stories by B.J. Novak (audiobook)

book thoughts: The Fifth Beatle: The Brian Epstein Story

Usually I wait until the end of the next month to post the books I have read but this book…this book needs it’s own entry.

I had already had it on hold because BEATLES and then it won the Eisner Award for best non-fiction graphic novel. And let me tell you, it DESERVED IT.

First of all, the story. I’m a HUGE Beatles fan, I know who Brian Epstein was. But this story, which was both well researched but then also elaborated on in ways that the author admits are fiction since he has no way of knowing what the exact conversations were like between Brian and other people. This isn’t The Beatles story, this is Brian’s story, with the Beatles as a backdrop. It’s the story of a young man, trying to find his place in the world. But it’s not just as simple as being successful. Brian Epstein was gay and in the 1960s, being gay in the UK was ILLEGAL. So here is a man who is in charge of the band that becomes the symbol of “All You Need is Love” and he feels like he can never be loved. It’s heartbreaking.

And then the artwork. Oh my god, it is just beautiful. There is nothing more to say, it is just so gorgeous, so well laid out. The colors are perfect. The imagery…

This book has so much to offer. Even if your knowledge of the Beatles is just a few songs, the basic history, this book is worth looking at to see the social and cultural issues that are the same and that have changed (or have they?). It’s a look into that world, a peek behind the curtain of the man behind Beatlemania. Of the naive and innocent man who tried so hard to dive into a business he knew nothing about, and how it pulled him under.

Go get this book now. You can read it in an afternoon. But it will stay with you long after.