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 August

Filmish: A Graphic Journey Through FilmFilmish: A Graphic Journey Through Film by Edward Ross

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a fantastic graphic non-fiction exploration of the power of movies. I would compare it to Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art in how it helps break down things that we sort of know in our gut, but putting those feelings into words. At first I was like “Why is this a book? It should be a documentary!” but making that film would be impossible because getting the rights to all the movies references would cost millions! This graphic novel is an amazing introduction to film studies and remind you that those images on the big screen are more than just eye candy.

French MilkFrench Milk by Lucy Knisley

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

About what I expected for an early book. It really is just Knisley’s journal from her trip to Paris, nothing amazing, no real self discovery like in ‘Relish’. But you can see all the potential in the pages for her books to come.

Becoming Maria: Love and Chaos in the South BronxBecoming Maria: Love and Chaos in the South Bronx by Sonia Manzano

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I can’t think of anyway else to describe this but a first-person limited memoir. Sonia Manzano tells her own story of growing up in the South Bronx and channels her childhood, writing the book from her point of view as a girl growing up in the 1950s New York City. She does not make any reference to her life today, she does not talk about the things that happened to her as a child in the context of how we view things today. She and her mother are both beaten, they live in the ghetto, she talks about being felt up by strangers, but she tells it as if it is just happening, never stepping out of that moment.

This is definitely a young adult/adult biography, if only because of the abuse that takes place and the occasional f-bomb that gets dropped.

To me, this felt like an honest and revealing look at growing up as a child of Puerto Rican immigrants in the United States and also growing up a girl and also growing up ethnic but in a way that is both invisible and visible when it comes to the United States.

Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at WarGrunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War by Mary Roach

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Another fun bit of pop science reading, though this is perhaps more terrifying the the rest of her books because it connects to war. But still a very good read.

Orange: The Complete Collection 1Orange: The Complete Collection 1 by Ichigo Takano

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Picked this up because everyone who read it raved about it and I can see why! Not at all what I expected. Just a dash of sci-fi in this otherwise slice of life story, with a melancholy edge. I don’t want to say any more because I read this spoiler free and so should you. Just have volume 2 ready to go because what a cliffhanger!

The World According to Star WarsThe World According to Star Wars by Cass R. Sunstein

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was so much fun to read! A great way of thinking about Star Wars and stories and how they reflect and effect our society. Even a casual fan can enjoy Sunstein’s thoughts about this movie series.

GhostsGhosts by Raina Telgemeier

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Telgemeier’s first foray into supernatural stories. I enjoyed it, but the bar was set really high by her previous three books. I just didn’t feel like this one packed the emotional punch that Smile, Sisters, and Drama did. I’d say this is a 3.5 star book where Smile is a 5 star book. (which means it is still a really great book! She has just spoiled me!)

Buffy: The High School Years - Freaks & Geeks (Buffy: The High School Years, #1)Buffy: The High School Years – Freaks & Geeks by Faith Erin Hicks

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Within the first few pages of this book, I knew Faith Erin Hicks was a Buffy fan. She had the tone just right – the Scooby Gang had all the same wit and snark of the show. This comic book takes place early in Season 1. It feels like a lost episode. It was really fun to read this, especially since I just finished rewatching the first season of the show recently!

We Stand On GuardWe Stand On Guard by Brian K. Vaughan

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

WOW! This has all the makings of the next epic BKV series, lots of in common with Y The Last Man and Saga when it comes to using science fiction to examine issues happening today. I loved this so much and the final section left me in shock. I need the next volume now!

Saga, Volume 6Saga, Volume 6 by Brian K. Vaughan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another great entry in the series, I really love little-kid Hazel, glad she is growing up now and part of the adventure rather than a prop. Her voice is a great mix of her father and mother.

The Ballad of Black TomThe Ballad of Black Tom by Victor LaValle

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have never read any Lovecraft and I haven’t read any real adult horror stories in a long time. This made me want to pick up both! It had all the flavor of a classic scary story, LaValle’s book could have been published in the early 1900s, his prose felt both new and classic. And CREEPY!!!!!!! Made the mistake of trying to finish the book late one night and gave myself the heebie-jeebies!

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What I watched in July

What I watched in July

Hot summer days means more movies than the rest of the year. Sitting in the nice cool basement of the house with the lights low is the only way to beat the heat. Nice mix of first time viewings and rewatches here.

Show Me a Hero
Historical dramas are tough, even when you are doing a miniseries and especially when you are dealing with more than just one person’s story. But I do applaud the filmmakers behind this miniseries for trying their best and creating an engaging enough piece that I just watched the whole thing over the course of a few days.

The saddest/scariest thing is that these issues still exist in our country, these attitudes still prevail in the way we think about low-income housing and the people who use it. Even though it takes place in the late 1980s and early 1990s, if you told me this was happening in 2016, I would not have blinked an eye, except to hold back the tears.

Sisters
I saw this movie in theaters and had a lot of fun laughing with a crowded room of people. I don’t feel like it was quite as good the second time, maybe because the shock value had worn off of some of the gags, but I still found myself giggling a lot. You cannot deny the power of Poehler/Fey! And who knew that John Cena was so freakin’ hilarious!

If you get this on blu-ray, make sure you watch ALL THE OUTTAKES! There are some great moments with Fey and Cena. That man has a career in improv if that whole wrestling thing doesn’t pan out.

Finding Nemo
Had to rewatch this classic before heading out to see the sequel. It still holds up well and I love it to pieces. Everyone is cast so perfectly.

Finding Dory
While I was blown away by the sequels to ‘Toy Story’, Pixar’s recent returns haven’t left me as enamored. It was fun to go back and hang out with Marlin, Nemo, and Dory again while making some new friends but this one didn’t quite hit the same level as Nemo for me. But it was close and much better fair than anything else in the theater at that moment, especially for families!

Zootopia
This movie was so well done on so many levels. It managed to stay light and fun while dealing with some very real issues of prejudice and stereotyping. Using animals might seem cute, but it also gave a great way to show inequality and other obstacles while managing not to be heavy handed (pawed?).

Brooklyn
So, after watching a movie like ‘Zootopia’ that was relatively edgy for family fair, I found the well-reviewed ‘Brooklyn’ to be the safest movie I have seen in a long time (yes, that INCLUDES Finding Nemo and Dory!). While the movie was well acted and well directed etc. there is just absolutely nothing new. No surprises, nothing bad happens to this naive Irish girl who makes it on her own in the U.S.. It just made me want to watch ‘An American Tail’…which I think might have had more controversial issues in it!

A League of Their Own
We ran this at the library and had lots of “Oh that is such a great movie!” comments when I told people about it. It really does hold up pretty well. One of the best sports movies I’ve seen and I still find it inspiring.

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
It had been a LONG time since I had watched this one. It is so freakin’ weird. I still prefer it to the mess that was the Tim Burton movie. Though there is something hilarious about watching Charlie attempt to force Grandpa Joe to take his money to buy tobacco. Still, classic. I love Gene Wilder.

10 Cloverfield Lane
I still can’t decide if I love or hate the last 20 minutes of this movie. The rest of the movie was great, edge of your seat tension, waiting to find out what would happen next.

Also, whoever designed the DVD box art should be fired. The back of the box contained MANY spoilery images! COME ON!

The Sure Thing
I hadn’t seen this one since my John Cusack obsession in 1999 was in full swing (thanks to Grosse Pointe Blank, one of my all time favorites). Andy mentioned it on his blog a few months ago and let me borrow the blu-ray. I feel like it holds up really well, even if it is a bit cliche. I know I was laughing out loud at a few moments.

Ghostbusters (1984)
CLASSIC! Still funny. Though the effects look extra cheesy on a blu-ray LOL. But that doesn’t matter because no one watches this movie for the ghosts, it’s all about the guys.

Voltron (2016)
Not a movie, this is actually a new NETFLIX series, only 11 episodes though and surprisingly solid! Great voice acting and the story was engaging. I had never seen any of the original show so I have nothing to compare it to on that front.

Ghostbusters (2016)
This was such a pleasant surprise! I won’t lie, I assumed it was going to be bad. Not because of the all female leads, but just because I felt the odds were against it. I’m not a huge Paul Feig fan and tend to find his humor too gross. BUT he managed (along with Katie Dippold) to keep this movie about as clean as the original (in other words, most of the dirty jokes will fly over the kids heads). On top of that, they managed to create a fresh, new world with new characters rather than just trying to copy+paste the original into 2016. I left the theater with a big ol’ grin on my face, already thinking of things I hoped would be in the second movie. Best surprise of the summer!

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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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Book Series Thoughts: Unwind Dystology by Neal Shusterman

Book Series Thoughts: Unwind Dystology by Neal Shusterman

unwind dystology

When I read Unwind in 2009, I had no clue it was going to be a series. The book was published in 2007 and the story seemed to end on the final page. At least, I felt like Connor and his friends would keep fighting and surviving even if I wasn’t reading along with them.

Then in 2012 I saw Unwholly on the new books cart. I was skeptical – was Shusterman just cashing in on the “YA series” craze? Could the story still be as powerful in a second time?

I was not disappointed, with Unwholly, Unsouled, and Undivided raising even more questions and issues. It was the kind of Science Fiction I loved – one that takes ethical dilemmas we are dealing with right now and throwing them to an extreme, but an extreme that doesn’t seem too far off (as Shusterman regularly points out by including actual articles from the past few years, complete with URL information in case you wanted to follow up).

The Unwind Dystology, as it has come to be known/marketed, is the story of the near future. After the Heartland War, a war that came about because of the abortion debate, a truce of sorts was reached – parents had until the age of 18 to decide if they wanted their child or not. If a parent no longer wanted a child, they could be unwound, a process by which the body parts are extracted and sent somewhere to be used. No waste, the child is technically still “alive” but their body is being “put to good use”. Connor Lassiter makes several mistakes and pushes his parents to the point that they feel he should be unwound. Connor manages to escape from the transport when he takes a hostage, Levi Calder. Levi is a tithe from a very religious family who has been raised to be unwound as a sacrifice. While on the run, they also meet Risa Ward, a girl from a state orphanage who is being sent to be unwound because the government can no longer support the funding.

There is a WHOLE lot more to this story, especially now that it spans four book, but it is better to read it and experience it than me spoiling it for you. You will be confronted with issues like biomedical ethics, terrorism, politics, propaganda and more. I was on the edge of my seat, up until 2am reading the finale and it was worth it. The scene from that final page will stay with me. Actually, there are several moments from this series that will haunt me.

A recent Huffington Post article compares it to The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins, though I would not pit the two against each other. While both have to do with the aftermath of war and it’s effects on the next generation, Collins and Shusterman are focusing on completely different issues beyond that.

This is a must-read series for anyone over the age of 16. There is SO much to discuss here. And while the last two books falter a little bit (I think Shusterman could probably has published a HUGE third book and gotten away with it but he clearly had one too many ideas he wanted to get down so the fourth book came to be as he hashed out the details) this series is one of THE BEST SCIENCE FICTION SERIES.

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.

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.