Books Read in August 2020

After months of not being able to focus long enough to read anything, I finally got my groove back in August. I think this was mostly because I stuck to graphic novels. I still seem to have trouble concentrating, my brain is always buzzing with random things to think about. But all of these graphic novels gave me an escape, usually just for a night or two, and it felt good to actually START and FINISH a book.

Camping with Unicorns (Phoebe and Her Unicorn, #11)Camping with Unicorns by Dana Simpson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another solid entry in this series, lots of laugh out loud moments.

The Dark Matter of Mona StarrThe Dark Matter of Mona Starr by Laura Lee Gulledge
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Laura Lee Gulledge just keeps growing as an author. I’ve been a fan of hers since Page by Paige. ‘Mona Starr’ clearly draws from her own personal struggles with depression and self-doubt and how she used art to work through it all.

Go with the FlowGo with the Flow by Lily Williams
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Great book for fans of ‘Smile’ that have aged up and are ready for something with a little more to it.

At the core of this story, there are four young women who are friends in high school, just trying to navigate the world of growing up. It has lots of notes and further information in the back for kids who are struggling with their bodies changing and makes it clear that not everyone has the same kind of period struggles, something I know 15 year old me would not have been aware of so it is fantastic that a book like this exists to educate and also make those who do have “abnormal” periods feel less alone.

But it is a good story, no matter what. It is about standing up for your friends, standing up for bigger issues and also the core idea that we all change and grow as people all the time.

Amazons, Abolitionists, and Activists: A Graphic History of Women's Fight for Their RightsAmazons, Abolitionists, and Activists: A Graphic History of Women’s Fight for Their Rights by Mikki Kendall
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book was FULL of information I did not know. SO MUCH INFORMATION. Maybe…too much? It became a bit overwhelming after awhile, as the many different women through-out history flew past on each page. I wanted to know more about them and their stories, but when you are covering pretty much all of history in a single book, it starts to feel like a huge information dump rather than a story. I almost wish this has been published as a series with slightly more in-depth biographies and context for the time periods and societies these women came from.

PumpkinheadsPumpkinheads by Rainbow Rowell
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Very cute little story, all taking place over the course of an evening at a Fall air. Made me want all the Fall foods! Nothing groundbreaking, but adorable art and likeable characters made this a fast, fun read.

Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with MeLaura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me by Mariko Tamaki
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I enjoyed this a lot more than I expected to, mostly because the set up sounds exhausting – Freddy is dating Laura Dean but Laura is constantly cheating on her/breaking up with her and then they get back together the next day. But I think it is supposed to be exhausting because that is how high school relationships feel, especially when you are learning what being with another person is like, learning how to balance friendships, learning how to make new friends. It felt very real and Freddy slowly goes from being co-dependent and afraid to be alone to realizing that she is sacrificing her happiness for what she thinks is love (but is really infatuation).

Dragon HoopsDragon Hoops by Gene Luen Yang
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I almost skipped this book because of the giant basketball that makes up the cover, but I have loved pretty much all of Gene Luen Yang’s books so far so I decided to at least start it…and then I couldn’t put it down.

This book has so many layers, a story about creating a story, a story about how life is not a nice neat story, a story about learning, about growing, about evolving and changing with every single step.

This is non-fiction at its finest because it is a topic I had no interest in, yet I found myself just as wrapped up in the lives of the players and the history of basketball as Yang did and by the end, I was sad for our time together to be over.

Girl on FilmGirl on Film by Cecil Castellucci
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

While Castellucci looked back at her formative years in high school and college, when she dreamed of working in independent film, but she also seemed to struggle with the act of looking back. This memoir starts out as a straight forward autobiography, then suddenly breaks out into a discussion of memory and how it changes over time. This wasn’t necessarily a bad idea, but I started to find that conversation more interesting than her actual story. And I honestly found the final pages kind of depressing…

Blues for Lady Day: The Story of Billie HolidayBlues for Lady Day: The Story of Billie Holiday by Paolo Parisi
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

3.5 Stars – a unique style of storytelling, using the format of a jazz song to tell us about Billie Holiday’s life. Not very in-depth, just meant to give you a taste, as much as you can know about a woman by listening to her sing for a few minutes. It did make me want to find some of her music though so it achieved its most important goal.

The Fire Never Goes Out: A Memoir in PicturesThe Fire Never Goes Out: A Memoir in Pictures by Noelle Stevenson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I read this around the same time as The Dark Matter of Mona Starr and their themes were very similar. While ‘Mona’ was a fictional story, this book is a memoir, literally pulled from Stevenson’s tumblr. It shows us a thing that we all tend to do in the online world – putting that happy face forward, the face we think people want to see, rather than dealing with some of the darker feelings inside us. Stevenson charts her growth as an artist, the rise of her tumblr art eventually leading her to Netflix and She-Ra (that is where the story ends).

I have some knowledge of her work (I have read Nimona and most of the Lumberjanes and watched She-Ra) I was able to keep up but I am not sure if someone who isn’t a fan would get much out of this book.

Get Jiro!Get Jiro! by Anthony Bourdain
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This reminded me a lot of Transmetropolitan, Vol. 1: Back on the Street – maybe because of the art style, but I think mostly because of the attitude. The wacky, messed up future, where chef’s RULE THE WORLD! I mean, on the opening pages, Jiro beheads someone for dipping their rice into the (wasabi filled) soy sauce first, rather than the sushi. Pretty much sets the tone for the rest of the story. Frantic and weird, but perfect for fans of Transmet and other twisted and darkly comedic visions of the future.

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