Category Archives: Reading Challenges

The Hub – March

Month number two of Hub reading complete! Once again, my reading was split between the graphic format and audiobooks. None of the books have been outside my reading comfort zone, so I need to try to work on that. Both Salt to the Sea and Kill the Boy Band stand out as favorites, and I’m itching to listen to KBB again (I’ll probably force my step-mother to listen to it during her next visit. Just like I’m going to force her to watch Moana). The one drag for this month was Beast. It has been on my TBR list for a while, but it was utterly disappointing to listen to. I had to DNF it.

Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi
Persepolis was powerful. I couldn’t imagine going from a relatively free, westernized life to a strict Islamic life. Watching Marjane have to reconcile her free spirit with the restrictions and punishments of the new regime was crushing. There were enough details to get the horror of it across, but not so many as to be overly graphic. The last panel was the hardest to read.

 

We Stand On Guard by Brian K. Vaughan
This was one of Brian K. Vaughan’s weaker graphic novels, if only because it was so short and felt rushed toward the end. There wasn’t a lot of room for character development. It packed a powerful punch in terms of geopolitics and an imagined US invasion of Canada, but there should have been more. It offered a glimpse of the resistance, with most of it focused on bringing about the end of the conflict. The story would have been awesome if it had been stretched out into several volumes.

Orange: The Complete Collection, Vol. 1 by Ichigo Takano
A bittersweet story about a group of friends who send letters to their past selves in order to change the fate of their newest friend, Kakeru. I liked the sci-fi, romance, and the characters interactions felt believable, but it did not sweep me off my feet. The timeline jumps could be hard to follow, and I didn’t feel any real connection with any of the characters. It is possible that I was not in the right mindset to fall in love with the story.

Kill the Boy Band by Goldy Moldavsky
I loved this book. A black satire for sure, and its humor is definitely not for everyone. KBB poked fun at the obsessive side of fandom (not fandom in general). It was awesome and horrible in an “I can’t believe they just did that” kind of way. The plot was ridiculous, and all four main characters were on the wrong side of sane, to varying degrees. I liked that the narrator wasn’t entirely reliable – how much of what she presented was the truth or was inside her own head? She would never give her actual name to people, only characters from ‘80’s teen movies, which I thought was a fun detail. The audiobook narrator did a fantastic job nailing the vocal nuances of this character.

Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys
This book was absolutely beautiful; horrible, but beautiful. Not for the younger set, given the content and brutality. I always think of the Titanic as being the worst maritime disaster, and that is what I’ve always been taught. I didn’t know about the Wilhelm Gustloff, or about how absolutely horrific its sinking was. The characters were well-developed, and all of them existed on a scale of moral ambiguity, though Emilia was towards the good end of the spectrum, as she lied for the purpose of keeping her sanity.

The Sword of Summer (Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard #1) by Rick Riordan
I’ve read the Percy Jackson series and the Kane Chronicles, and while I enjoyed them, none of them stood out as being funny (of course it’s been years since I’ve read them, so it’s possible I don’t remember the funny). Magnus Chase however, was very cheeky. I listened to it while doing housework, and my kids kept asking why I was snorting so much. I liked that Norse mythology was finally getting some page-time with a younger audience. The only negative was the narrator. He was absolutely awful.

Ada Lovelace: The Poet of Science by Diane Stanley
I’m not exactly sure why a picture book geared towards younger children would be included in YALSA’s reading challenge, but nominees for the Amelia Bloomer Project Project don’t have to be YA books, so I assume it was included by default. That being said, it was a good book about Ada Lovelace. It was informative, and the illustrations were engaging. My 7-year old liked it, my almost 11-year did not (she felt it was too babyish).

DNF – Beast by Brie Spangler
Beast was one of the books I was excited to read. Then I started listening to it, and I just couldn’t. The mother was so obtusely positive that she essentially invalidated any negative emotions or feelings Dylan had. When he tried to talk her, she didn’t listen. Instead, she would shut him down and jump to her own conclusions. She wouldn’t allow him to express any negative feelings towards himself or how he was perceived by others because it didn’t fit into her perception of him. Dylan also bothered me. When he described his interactions with girls, he came off as a fedora-wearing Nice Guy. It seemed like he expected girls to be there for him, and when they rejected him, he assumed it was because of how he looked and not how he behaved.

PopSugar – March

My wish to complete PopSugar by the end of April is not to be (maybe by June?). I only managed three books from the regular list, and one from the advanced list. While I have only eleven books left on the regular list, and while I can definitely read more than eleven books in one month, some of the books I thought I would read turned out to be duds and I DNF them.

Maresi by Maria Turtschanioff
#26 – Author from a country you’ve never visited (Finland)
Maresi moved at a slow pace, but I loved the descriptions of the abbey, and the maiden/mother/crone mythology. Magic was only brought out as necessary, and its scarcity gave the story a feel of magical realism. It was definitely a dark book, both with character histories (specifically Jai) and what happened when the island is invaded. However, there was a lack of character development, and Maresi felt somewhat two-dimensional. She would have benefited if the maiden/mother/crone mythology had been given more page time.

Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
#29 – Unreliable narrator
My husband read this years ago, and recommended that I read it as well. It is an existential novel about a man who has become unstuck in time, who bounces around on his life timeline, splitting his existence between living on Earth and living on an alien planet as an exhibit. Was this his actual physical experience or was it a psychological experience caused by the trauma of war? It definitely felt like Vonnegut was trying to work though his survival as a WWII POW and the bombing of Dresden. Death and destruction are universal. So it goes.

Ruby Red by Kerstin Geir
#33 – Set in two different time periods
This book gets some flak for the characters acting younger than their age, time travel mechanics holes, and the effects of interacting with people from different eras, but I really enjoyed it. The audiobook sucked me in, and none of the flaws really stood out to me. I was more absorbed in how Gwyneth coped with the bombshell that she was her generation’s time traveler, when she had spent a good chunk of her life being shunted off to the side and ignored by the majority of her family.

ADVANCED LIST

Unmentionable: The Victorian Lady’s Guide to Sex, Marriage, and Manners by Therese Oneill
#42 – 2016 bestseller
This book was cheeky and sarcastic, but the tone became incredibly obnoxious. I don’t need to be hit on the head with a hammer, and trying to make it witty does not lessen the redundancy of repeating information. Most of the information presented wasn’t new to me – I’ve read multiple books about the Victorian era – but for someone who has read a lot of romance or fiction set during that time, and hasn’t delved into the actual history, it would be both fascinating and a bit shocking.

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Read Harder – March

I had five books left for Read Harder, but I only finished…four. I was really hoping to complete the entire challenge, but #13 – Nonfiction about technology, was my sticking point. Reality is Broken is fascinating, but nonfiction is always slow going for me. It didn’t help that my reading challenge focus was weak, and that I spent a decent chunk of time marathoning two non-challenge series.

Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea by Guy Delisle
#8 – Travel memoir
This is the second book about NoKo I’ve read this year, and it was interesting to see the different perspectives between the authors. There was about a ten year difference between the two trips, but there was the same general feel of oppressiveness and craziness with both accounts. A big difference though was that Delisle was less inclined to empathize with the people, focusing more on deficiencies (as compared to the Western world) and how they affected him.

A Long Walk: A Story of War and the Life that Follows by Brian Castner
#14 – Book about war
My husband has been after me to read this book since it was first published, and I’m ashamed to say that it took me this long to get around to reading it. The whole book felt surreal. In part because it’s not written on a straight timeline – the narrative moves fluidly though past and present; fractured because Castner was fractured. And in part because I know some of the people mentioned in the book. My husband has worked with people mentioned in the book; he has been to some of their funerals. Castner brings a different perspective, but also reinforces, what I know of my husband’s experiences.

View with a Grain of Sand by Wislawa Szymborska
#23 – Translated poetry, not about love
After looking at reviews online, I seem to be in a definite minority of not liking this book. Her poems were not accessible and most made no sense at all. It was like a lot of obscure and/or complex words were barfed onto the page without regard for how well they expressed a concept. Out of the entire collection, I enjoyed less than 10 poems. I had to force myself to read this because I didn’t want to hunt down another book for this task.

The Sellout by Paul Beatty
#24 – All POV characters are POC
I really enjoyed this book. It was an scathing satire filled with dark humor and absolutely ludicrous. Beatty twisted and used stereotypes to highlight that no matter how much we think we live in a post-racial America, we really don’t.

 

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Read Harder – February

I managed to gun through nine Read Harder books in March, leaving only five left until I complete the challenge. Go laser focus!

Five Final TBR Books

#8 – Travel memoir – An African in Greenland by Tété-Michele Kpomassie
#13 – Nonfiction technology – Reality is Broken by Jane McGonigal
#14 – Book about war – A Long Walk: A Story of War and the Life that Follows by Brian Castner
#23 – Translated poetry, not about love – View with a Grain of Sand by Wislawa Szymborska
#24 – All POV characters are POC – The Sellout by Paul Beatty

Paper Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg
#2 – Debut novel
I wouldn’t have finished if not for the challenge. If Ceony Twill was training to become a paper magician, then the focus should have been about her gaining and using those skills. While she did learn some rudimentary paper magic, the majority of the book took place while she was trapped inside a human heart, learning about her master’s past. Yes, she did use those skills to save his life, but it felt like it was a detail rather than the purpose. There was also no foundation created for her to start falling in love with her master. It happened because it was “supposed” to happen, but there was no legitimate path toward falling in love.

Death Going Down by Maria Angelica Bosco
#4 – Set in South or Central America, written by a South or Central American author
I chose Death Going Down because it was compared to Agatha Christie’s novels. I can see the similarities in tone and description, and the ensemble aspect of the storytelling reminded me of Murder on the Orient Express. It took a little bit of time to get into the book as the opening pages were a bit clunky and confusing. However, the story and writing evened out.

Hellhole by Gina Damico
#9 – Book you’ve read before
I read this book for Read Harder 2015 (#11 – YA). Since then, it’s been hovering in the back of my mind, whispering that I needed to read it again. It’s snarky and sarcastic, and the whole concept of discovering a devil in your basement, eating Cheetos, wearing a velour tracksuit was definitely different from what I’ve come across before. It had a madcap adventure feel to it. I liked how the characters played off of each other, and how Burg slid between helpful and selfish – it was always a bit unclear as how good or bad he actually was.

City of Light by Lauren Belfer
#10 – Set within 100 miles of home
City of Light is set in Buffalo, which is general geographic area of where I live. And if I had realized that Written in Red by Anne Bishop would have fit this category, albeit in an alternate universe, I would have chosen it instead. I had a very hard time reading this book, and had to set “reading goals” like I do for nonfiction in order to finish it. As a transplant to Buffalo, the historical aspects of the story were interesting, but they amounted to information dumps bogging down plot progression. A good 100+ pages could have been axed, which would have helped immensely with making the book more readable. The plot itself was a bit loose, with too many subplots. The main plot – power company murders – had very little page time.

Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
#17 – Classic by an author of color
I first read this book when for an English course when I was 19. I remember loving the book, and it’s been simmering on my TBR list as a reread for quite some time. In the simplest terms, it is about the unnamed narrator’s coming of age. In more in-depth terms, it’s about alienation, invisibility (because of race, because of socio-economic status, because of not living in a way segments of society believe you should, etc…). It’s a powerful book, and I can see why it left such an impression on my 19-year old self.

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
#16 – Banned/frequently challenged in US
I enjoyed this book more than I probably should have. It was extremely well-written; disturbing, but well-written. Humbert Humbert was vile, but at the same time Nabokov gave him charm, made him a master of deception. HH was constantly justifying his actions to both himself and readers. On some level, he knew it was wrong, but whenever those thoughts bubbled to the surface, he shoved them down before he was forced to acknowledge how reprehensible his actions were. He pushed the blame onto Lolita. A love story this is not. It is a story about abuse and moral depravity.

The Lawrence Browne Affair by Cat Sebastian
#20 – LGBTQ romance novel
I picked this one up because of a mention on Book Riot. It was a nice story, and even if all the romance scenes were cut, would still stand strong. I liked that both men brought the each other out of their respective shells, and allowed each other to be a better person than they thought they could be.

 

The Last Horror Novel in the History of the World by Brian Allen Carr
#21 – Micropress
I first read Brian Allen Carr a few years ago for Read Harder (2015, #4 – Book published by an indie press, Motherfucking Sharks), and loved how weird and completely out there his storytelling was. I figured that I couldn’t go wrong with another BAC book, and I was right. The Last Horror Novel in the History of the World was equally weird and dark and amazing. He has a phenomenal way with words, and doesn’t use more when sparse is perfect.

Always Happy Hour: Stories by Mary Miller
#22 – Collection of stories by a woman
I enjoy reading books with flawed women as main characters, but this was not one of those books. All of the stories were depressing and pointless, and the women blended together to form a single one-dimensional person. They all felt the same, and it made reading the stories a chore. There were also several stories that had gratuitous descriptions or actions that would have had no impact on the plot if removed, but by being left in made it feel like it was there for shock value: “She stands and bends over, makes her anus pulse” is the one that comes to mind (“Big Bad Love”). While it related to a child in a non-sexual way, it had no bearing on the narrative. That being said, there were two stories I almost enjoyed, or at least I could relate to aspects of them: “Always Happy Hour” and “Charts”.

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PopSugar – February

My dedication to timely completing all book challenges this year is paying off. I hit and passed the halfway mark for PopSugar in February. I’ve been trying to stay focused on challenge books instead of being lured by the siren’s song of every other book. If I can finish the main list of 40 books by the end of April, I will be thrilled.

Kindred by Octavia Butler
#5 – Author is person of color
I loved Octavia Butler’s Xenogenesis/Lillith’s Brood trilogy, so I thought I would give another one of her books a try. Time travel is one of my preferred genres, and the concept of Kindred seemed interesting – a modern African American woman traveling back to antebellum Maryland multiple times for the purpose of keeping her white, slaveholding ancestor alive. Dana’s journeys were fascinating and horrifying. She had to learn to navigate the reality of being a slave while attempting to keep herself psychologically separate from it.

The Marvels by Brian Selznick
#7 – A story within a story
I was absolutely in love with the book for the first 400 pages (the illustrated story), and then the prose section happened. The prose story was well-written, but it ruined the magic created by the illustrations. I felt like the rug had been pulled out from under me when the connection between the two stories was revealed. Ultimately, though, it was a beautiful story. A sad story, but a beautiful one.

My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows
#8 – Multiple authors
I remember hearing about this book before it came out, and thought it sounded interesting, but not one I would ever read. While it was a fun, tongue-in-cheek fantastical reimagining of how Lady Jane Grey became queen, it was also trite, mired in tropes and clichés, suffered from a lack of solid rules of magic, and had many moments of characters behaving stupidly.

Casino Royale by Ian Fleming
#9 – Espionage
I grew up loving James Bond (especially Sean Connery), and both of my parents were fans of the books/movies. Espionage isn’t really my genre of choice, but I figured giving Bond a go wouldn’t be too awful. It’s definitely a book of its time, especially in how women are treated. I prefer the movies, even though I know they are equally sexist.

Feed by Mira Grant (Seanan McGuire)
#11 – Author uses pseudonym
A blood and guts zombie book, this is not. It is political espionage set against the backdrop of a post-zombie apocalypse world. Blogger journalists are part of the staff, covering a presidential candidate on the campaign trail, and end up uncovering a conspiracy. Aspects of it are eerily similar to some of the behind-the-scenes machinations going on in current politics.

El Deafo by Cece Bell
#13 – Author/MC has disability
This felt like a down-to-earth telling about Cece Bell’s experience as a child, warts and all. I can’t imagine the social intricacies of navigating elementary and middle school while wearing a phonic ear, the frustrations of dying batteries, or dealing with people treating you like a small child who equate lack of hearing with a lack of competency.

Eleventh Grave in Midnight by Darynda Jones
#16 – Book published in 2017
I really enjoy this series (though I don’t recommend binge reading/listening as the character flaws tend to be overwhelming). Charlie is still willingly obtuse and complains about not understanding how to use her powers, even though she doesn’t make an effort to figure them out. Uncle Bob and Reyes are still keeping secrets from her in the name of “protection”, and then keep getting mad at her when she doesn’t do what they want her to. That being said, Charlie finally, finally started to experiment with her powers, and Reyes finally, finally started showing her how to use them. We also got to learn more about Reyes’ past, which was good. But the overall series plot didn’t advance much.

Rolling in the Deep by Mira Grant
#17 – Involving a mythical creature
My sister has been after me for a long while to read this, and I finally broke down because I realized it fit a needed category. I’ve read books by Seanan McGuire, but found them to not really be my thing (even though I’m a fan of urban fantasy). However, I absolutely loved Rolling in the Deep. Yes, you already know how the book is going to end before it even starts – that’s kind of the point. What makes the story fun and exciting is how it gets there. She did a fantastic job with her mermaids. No buxom beauties here, but instead, highly evolved deep sea predators.

The Bees by Laline Paull
#21 – Book from a nonhuman perspective
The Bees was a quick read, and held my attention, though I was still able to put the book down. The hive was a religious dystopian society, and completely non-human (and completely non Nature Channel). How the bees interacted, how they were controlled by the Queen and Sages, was fascinating. The worldbuilding was a little uneven at times, specifically with regard to the anthropomorphization of the bees. However, it was an enjoyable read.

The Diabolical Miss Hyde by Viola Carr
#22 – Steampunk
Steampunk has been one of my favorite genres since I stumbled upon Soulless by Gail Carriger almost five years ago, so finding a book for this challenge consisted of pulling from an already long TBR list of steampunk titles. I liked the riff on Jekyll and Hyde, but the the pacing was off and there was a lack of plot focus – too much going on. Neither plot nor characters were captivating.

Margaret the First by Danielle Dutton
#27 – Title is character’s name
This book was much shorter than I expected it to be. Given how the book was written, it wouldn’t have worked in a longer format. It had a dreamlike quality to it, and was disjointed, offering fairly superficial snippets of Margaret’s life instead of in-depth narration. That being said, the style fit with her personality of never quite behaving the way an adult should.

Desert Queen: The Extraordinary Life of Gertrude Bell: Adventurer, Adviser to Kings, Ally of Lawrence of Arabia by Janet Wallach
#32 – Book about an interesting woman
Getrude Bell was a very singular woman, and had an incredibly solid understanding of the geopolitical climate of the Middle East. She also had strong personal connections with many of the region’s powerful men. There are definite parallels between how Great Britain et al. wanted to reshape the Middle East after WWI, and how current international relations with the Middle East stand.

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Sophia’s PopSugar Ultimate – Halfway!

Passed the halfway mark on the PopSugar Ultimate Reading Challenge a few days ago!  I also hit 50 books out of the 150 I pledged to read on goodreads.  My goal now is to finish both PopSugar and Book Riot Read Harder by the end of June, if not sooner.  I’m not so much keeping pace with my sister anymore – originally I was maintaining a gap of only 3 books, but she’s since pulled ahead by 8 books.  I’ve had a lot of new movies come in for me at the library, OKAY?

Image result for napoleon dynamite gosh

So far this year, PopSugar has been a lot of fun.  They expanded their task list to include 12 bonus categories, which I had at first intended not to attempt until I finished the main list.  In the interest of efficiency, though, I’ve decided to just consider them part of the challenge as a whole.  A good number of the books I’ve read up to now ended up earning five star ratings from me.  Here are three of them:

23513349milk and honey by Rupi Kaur – I’ve mentioned it in other posts: poetry is not my thing.  It’s often too opaque for me, though I can appreciate the lyricism of it at times.  This volume, however, hit me right at home.  I loved the free verse, I loved the language, I loved the artwork that appeared on some of the pages.  This work is accessible without pandering to any one sensibility.  It was emotional and moving.  At some point, I intend on purchasing a copy.

30555488The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead – This book was brutal and compelling.  It often gave me chills, made me cry, and had me on the edge of my seat.  I liked how he conceptualized the Underground Railroad as a literal subterranean train system – the descriptions of the different stations made me wonder about the people who protected them and the places they were hidden.  The book also contains what has become one of my all-time favorite quotes.

29358401Trainwreck: the Women We Love to Hate, Mock, and Fear…and Why by Sady Doyle – Participating in reading challenges has really pushed me to read beyond my fantasy/sci-fi/lady classics comfort zone and start picking up more books like this one.  Social and cultural analysis has always fascinated me (anthropology major), and feminism is becoming more important to me – this book makes a great contribution to the discussion in both areas.  It’s well-researched, nicely balanced, and very readable.

Completed tasks:

2) On your TBR list for way too long – The Hobbit, J.R.R. Tolkien
3) A book of letters – Griffin & Sabine: an Extraordinary Correspondence, Nick Bantock
4) Audiobook – Gemina, Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
8) Multiple authors – The Blumhouse Book of Nightmares, ed. Jason Blum
10) Cat on the cover – The Female of the Species, Mindy McGinnis
11) Author who uses pseudonym – The Bad Beginning, Lemony Snicket
12) Bestseller from genre you don’t normally read – milk and honey, Rupi Kaur
14) Involving travel – The Underground Railroad, Colson Whitehead
15) With a subtitle – Trainwreck: the Women We Love to Hate, Mock, and Fear…and Why, Sady Doyle
17) Involving a mythical creature – The Gentleman, Forrest Leo
18) Read before that never fails to make you smile – Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
20) Career advice – The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck, Mark Manson
21) Nonhuman perspective – Hammers on Bone, Cassandra Khaw
22) Steampunk novel – Etiquette & Espionage, Gail Carriger
25) Loved as a child – From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, E.L. Konigsburg
26) Author from a country you’ve never visited – Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood, Trevor Noah
27) Title is a character’s name – A Study in Charlotte, Brittany Cavallaro
28) Novel set during wartime – All Quiet on the Western Front, Erich Maria Remarque
30) With pictures – The Singing Bones, Shaun Tan
35) Set in a hotel – The Witches, Roald Dahl
36) Written by someone you admire – Scrappy Little Nobody, Anna Kendrick
37) Becoming a movie in 2017 – Annihilation, Jeff VanderMeer
39) First book in a series you haven’t read before – These Broken Stars, Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
42) Bestseller from 2016 – The Couple Next Door, Shari Lapena
47) Eccentric character – Trouble Makes a Comeback, Stephanie Tromly
51) Difficult topic – Between the World and Me, Ta-Nehisi Coates
52) Based on mythology – Norse Mythology, Neil Gaiman

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The Hub – February

YALSA’s the 2017 Hub Reading Challenge has started! There are definitely some good books on the list this year, though not as many of them catch my attention as last year. This isn’t an issue as there are still many interesting books that will take me out of my reading comfort zone. My reading challenge focus is still on PopSugar and Read Harder, so I haven’t done lot of Hub reading yet. That being said, I did manage to read/listen to seven titles in January, but  six of those titles are graphic novels, which tend to be fast reads.

Some of the books on the list I’ve already read, and don’t plan on rereading for this challenge:

*In the Country We Love: My Family Divided by Diane Guerrero (just read it in January)
*The Regional Office is Under Attack by Manuel Gonzalez
*The Geek’s Guide to Unrequited Love by Sarvenaz Tash

Of the books listed below, I had Paper Girls (both volumes) and Giant Days (first three volumes) at home already, not knowing that they were going to be a part of this challenge. It was only because I was trying to plow through other books first that I hadn’t already read them. Gemina I’ve had downloaded on my phone for months, but put off reading it on the chance it would be included. Good guess on my part.

And last, but not least: what I read for the 2016 Hub Reading challenge. I read 36 books last year and will probably read a similar number this year.

paper girlsPaper Girls, Vol 1 by Brian K. Vaughan and Cliff Chiang
I read this last year, and decided to read it again because the second volume came out recently. PG is very much a WTF is going on graphic novel. There are two groups of “others”, and the intentions of both are ambiguous enough that it’s hard to tell who’s good, who’s bad, and who’s in it only for themselves. The tree of knowledge imagery (apples, specifically) is worked in throughout the story, and I’m curious as to what those references are setting up.

giant-days-1 giant-days-2Giant Days, Vol 1 & 2 by John Allison & Lissa Treiman
Both volumes were fun and enjoyable. There were moments of snorting, but nothing really jumped out at me as being amazing. Possibly because it was completely different from my college experience? I didn’t go until I was in my 20’s, lived off-campus by myself in a crappy apartment, and balanced a full course load with working full-time.

geminaGemina by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
The sequel to Illuminae was very good, but not quiet as good, because how do you follow up the awesomeness that was HAL900 and reavers? You don’t, really, but you give it a good shot. The suspense wasn’t up to par, but the plot twists were satisfying. Hanna was also a surprisingly strong lead once she got past her spoiled, entitled existence.

 

mighty-jackMighty Jack by Ben Hatke
Mighty Jack is the opening volume of what looks to be an interesting reimagining of Jack and the Beanstalk. It is a bit slow in and of itself, but it is a strong set up for the adventure to follow. Jack and his sister, Maddie, buy seeds at a flea market and plant a garden once they get home. The garden seems to be the one thing that gets Maddie out of her non-verbal shell, so they spend most of their time caring for it. However, the garden starts to get out of control, and for the sake of protecting Maddie, Jack destroys the garden. Jack and Lilly (an awesome, intelligent, sword-wielding homeschooled neighbor) must rescue Maddie from the results of the final packet of seeds she planted after she realized what Jack did.

plutonaPlutona by Jeff Lemire & Emi Lenox
The positives: the kids weren’t cookie cutter. Each had their own definitive personality, and acted like real teenagers, warts and all. The concept was interesting, a nice twist on superheroes, looking at their fallibility and what happens if that fallibility is discovered. The ending also fit the mood of the story. It is somewhat abrupt and “this is it?”, but at the same time, it’s similar to what the characters are feeling. It works. The negative: because Plutona is one contained volume, there wasn’t enough character development or story depth. I would have been a much better story if spread out over several volumes. So much potential, not enough pages.

prez-1Prez, Vol 1: Corndog-in-Chief by Mark Russell & Ben Caldwell
A very good satire of current politics, and the way politics could potentially go (blatant corporate ownership versus the more behind the scenes wheeling and dealing of today). Beth is a fabulous dark horse who isn’t owned by any of the corporations or lobbyists. Once she’s elected, she starts cleaning house and trying to do what’s right regardless of how politicking is supposed to be done. I’m looking forward to seeing what she does in future volumes.

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