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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books read in July

Hm…not as many as I thought…you know why? Because I signed up to be a moderator at a book conference in October, got the list, checked out all those books…and then immediately set out at finding other books to read instead. Because that is what happens when I get any kind of assigned reading, even when I assign it to myself!

ANYWAY, it’s a short list. I’m including a couple picture books because why not?

Wolfie the BunnyWolfie the Bunny by Ame Dyckman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another fun, fantastic book about family, specifically dealing with siblings. Because when your parents bring home a little brother, you assume he is another species. Great for a school visit.

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I Am Princess XI Am Princess X by Cherie Priest
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I had no idea what this book was about and it was a pleasant surprise the whole way through! Very quick read, just enough suspense to keep you reading one more chapter and I love the Princess X comic! Highly recommend it!

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Popular: Vintage Wisdom for a Modern GeekPopular: Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Geek by Maya Van Wagenen
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

3.5 stars. Really cute book, perfect for geeky teens who want reassurance that popularity is more about point of view. I don’t think this was works as well for an adult read, but I think middle schoolers (Maya is in 8th grade when she write this) will identify with Maya and her classmates and her grand experiment.

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Modern RomanceModern Romance by Aziz Ansari
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book gets an extra star for being such a surprise! I’ve read plenty of books by comedians and usually they end up either being transcripts of their stand up acts or a strange mix of memoir and gag chapters. Aziz Ansari was smart. Instead of just signing a book deal and taking the easy way out of copy+pasting his jokes, he instead decided to use this time to dig deeper into something that has inspired much of his observational humor – dating and relationships in the modern, mobile phone world. He teamed up with a sociologist, did his homework, and created a fascinating book about the pros and cons of dating in 2015, about how much has changed in the world of relationships and how things have stayed the same. A really fun read!

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The Princess and the PonyThe Princess and the Pony by Kate Beaton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is going on the school visit list for sure! I love Kate Beaton’s adult comics and she managed to write a children’s book that is just as much fun. LOVE IT!

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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 January

The Black Cauldron (The Chronicles of Prydain, #2)The Black Cauldron by Lloyd Alexander
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Wow, Disney really did butcher this series, didn’t they? I’m glad that Tim made me read them and I am looking forward to the next 3 in the Pyrdain Chronicles. I was surprised by how INTENSE the last few chapters were, with actual threats to our heroes lives and one character going off the deep end in a big way. Wow. Great for fans of the LotR movies who might not be ready to read those books, but want a good fantasy series.

Star Wars: Jedi AcademyStar Wars: Jedi Academy by Jeffrey Brown
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is a cute idea but it never quite pulled me in the way that “Origami Yoda” did. Both of them want to be a Star Wars Wimpy Kid but Roan’s story was missing…something. I’m wondering if it is because this was the first in the series and so many introductions had to happen and setting up the whole Jedi Academy plot line. I might pick up book 2 and see if it has a little more to it.

I did REALLY like that Brown has, as the final page in the book, instructions for how readers can start their own journal like Roan’s. He encourages them to draw and paste in newspaper articles etc.

I would recommend this to late elementary school aged Star Wars fans. I think anyone older would probably enjoy the The Strange Case of Origami Yoda series more, but this could tide them over while waiting for Princess Labelmaker to the Rescue: An Origami Yoda Book to be released.

A Wrinkle in Time: The Graphic NovelA Wrinkle in Time: The Graphic Novel by Hope Larson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ve never read the original book but I thought this graphic novel was very accessible and it did make me want to read the other books in the series. I have been a fan of Hope Larson’s art style since I happened to pick up ‘Mercury’ randomly one day. I really like the whole feel of it. The blue-gray-black color scheme worked well too.

I think reading this as a graphic worked best when it came to explaining all the mathematical theories behind the tesseract and time travel.

Would definitely recommend this to someone who is a fan of Doctor Who and other science fiction/fantasy stories with lots of weird but also lots of heart.

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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”.

Saints (Boxers & Saints, #2)Saints by Gene Luen Yang
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I finished this in one sitting. It really is the companion to “Boxers”, you shouldn’t try to read it on it’s own because there will be several parts that don’t quite make sense. The ending, particularly, won’t pack as much punch if you haven’t read “Boxers”.

This book wasn’t exactly what I was expecting but I still enjoyed it. While “Boxers” focused on one boy but ultimately gave you a view on why a group of Chinese wanted to rebel against the “foreign devils” and their religion, “Saints” is all about Four-Girl/Vibiana and I don’t know if it really explains why so many other Chinese converted to Christianity during this time, which by the end of “Boxers” I was really curious about.

I liked the story though and it was an interesting look at the other side of this conflict.

Year of the JungleYear of the Jungle by Suzanne Collins
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

3.5 stars

I’m not sure what to do about this book. I’m not sure who to give it to. But it was an interesting peek into Collins’ childhood. I really liked the art style too. It would be a good conversation starter for kids who are becoming aware of the news going on around them.

…but I’m still not sure who I would actually give this book to…

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