Almost the entirety of both May and June have been summer for me (thank god for long college breaks) and in that time I’ve been able to not only catch up on my Goodreads goal, but get ahead by 7 books (this could be because I’ve been reading a lot of comics….whatever, it counts). I’ve decided to only write full reviews for books that were sent to me for review, so doing another ‘Recent Reads’ installment is perfect for sharing my thoughts on some non-review books I’ve read in the past month or so! Let’s do this.
1) The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli
Okay, so I spoke too soon about that review books policy thing. I got sent Upside from HarperCollins because they want to put a blurb from me on the book cover. They want to put words that I wrote on Becky Albertalli’s next book. This was such a cool opportunity and I’m so happy about it and with the blurb that I gave HarperCollins. But the book doesn’t come out until April of 2017 so it’s waaaay too early for a full review which is…why I didn’t write a full review. BUT I can say that Upside is everything you could want and more from her sophomore novel. I cannot wait for everyone else to read it because it’s really something special.
2) Under the Lights by Dahlia Adler
Under the Lights is the second in Dahlia Adler’s Daylight Falls series. I haven’t read the first book (oops) but they’re more of companions so it didn’t really matter. Under the Lights follows the dual POV of two teenagers, Josh Chester and Vanessa Park, who are famous actors in Hollywood. Josh is dealing with the fact that maybe he likes the famous lifestyle more than he likes the acting work while Vanessa worries about her future in Hollywood as a Korean-American actress. I thought this was fun–the drama that comes with their jobs and lifestyles is a very different kind than in other YA contemporaries that I’ve read. Although I liked both MC’s, I was definitely more invested in Vanessa’s POV than Josh’s because it was honestly just more interesting, especially since she was also figuring out her sexuality throughout the book. I really, really liked Vanessa’s coming out story because she just starts thinking about her sexuality when she’s 18, rather than having known she was gay her whole life which is the norm of YA coming out stories. It’s always bothered me that that’s the norm in YA because in reality it’s not like that for everyone, so I really appreciated how Vanessa’s coming out differed in that way. I also liked how Vanessa’s race and sexuality brought up really important conversations about intersections of one’s identity which is something not usually discussed in YA. Just lot’s of good stuff in this one.
3) Shrill by Lindy West
Each month I collaborate with the Book of the Month Club to share their selections and this month one of the books they sent me was Shrill, writer Lindy West’s memoir. I absolutely LOVED this. At the end of 2015, I really got into reading memoirs both as novels and graphic novels, but this is the first time in 2016 that I’ve read a memoir and, man, do I love them. Lindy West is just so incredibly smart and insightful. I really enjoyed reading her comments on some issues I’ve given a lot of thought to and some issues I’ve never thought about before. She discusses what it was like for her growing up fat, what it’s like being fat as an adult and how much that has all affected her life. She talks about her abortion and her history with her dating and her husband, but my favorite part was when she discussed being a woman in comedy and how misogynistic comedy still is. My family is really into SNL and watching stand up together and late night talk shows, so comedy always has been very prevalent in my home life and I’ve thought a lot about certain things Lindy brought up in her book about comedy and women. She talks about her own experience being a comedy writer and all the online abuse she has gotten throughout the years due to the blatant misogyny in comedy. My favorite story she told was about how a lot of male comedians tell jokes about rape in all the wrong ways and how she fought to teach people the right way to tell those kinds of jokes, if that makes sense. Lindy West is just so brilliant and wise and anyone who is interested in feminism and interesting people should read Shrill.
4) Doctor Who: Death Riders by Justin Richards
So, in high school I was a really big Doctor Who fan and I loved the Eleventh Doctor and the Pond Era more than anything. After The Doctor regenerated into Twelve, I tried to keep watching but I just missed Eleven too much (actually, I still haven’t see the episode where Eleven regenerates, it’s just too painful). Recently I’ve discovered the glory of Doctor Who books and graphic novels that star Eleven and Amy and Rory. Now I can still experience their adventures together, just in a different format and I’m loving it. Doctor Who: Death Riders was a DW book I found for $9 in Barnes and Noble so I grabbed it, but it’s not the best DW book out there. I found the characterization of Eleven and Amy to be off at times and the story was lacking the emotion and meaning that I loved about Eleven episodes. Everything really meant something to him, every planet and person they saw and saved had real emotion behind it and I didn’t feel that at all in this, which was really disappointing. It was a fun story, I suppose, but really not the best. I will continue my quest of finding Doctor Who stories that are great and just add this to the list of ones that aren’t.
COMIC BOOKS/GRAPHIC NOVELS
1) Seconds by Bryan Lee O’Malley
This lil work of magical realism was super cute and fun. It takes the whole idea of ‘second chances’ and plays with it. MC Katie has a restaurant called Seconds that she is no longer totally happy with so she decides to build a new one. While living on the second floor of her original restaurant, she encounters a house spirit who has magical mushrooms one can use to fix a mistake. Katie goes a little crazy using the mushrooms to fix things in her life, at first living like her actions have no consequences to becoming obsessed with making her life as perfect as possible, but nothing really satisfies her. It was a really nice story about second chances and how you’re life will never be perfect, especially if you try to make it that way. The art was wonderful, as usual; Bryan Lee O’Malley has a very distinct style that’s very cartoonish and bubbly that I really enjoy. It was also pretty funny. Katie is the main character but there is also a disembodied narrator who Katie can hear and interacts with at times, which I just loved. I don’t know if you would call that breaking the fourth wall? Anyway, it was breaking some rule where the characters can’t hear the narrator and I thought it was a nice touch. Just a really nice story, I always like what I read of Brian Lee O’Malley.
2) Giant Days, volumes 1 & 2
Giant Days is a comic book series that takes place in England and might also be originally published there. It follows three girls–Susan, Esther, and Daisy–during their first year of university (or college, if you’re a US-ian). That….that is pretty much it. There isn’t a bigger, over arching plot besides friends figuring out this new part of their lives together. When it comes to narrative/prose novels, I prefer character growth and development or character driven plots more than but flashy storylines. But when it comes to comics and graphic novels, while the characters are still important, I really just want a good visual story. This series is much more just focused on the characters. I liked the first volume, but it was mostly about character establishment. I enjoyed the second volume more because I already knew the characters and liked seeing them live their lives. Usually I would prefer a bigger storyline, but by the second volume I just enjoyed watching the girls go through uni. I actually just finished my first year of uni/college, so I liked seeing how their first years compared to mine and I saw some similarities, which was nice. It is a really enjoyable and funny series, even if it’s pretty lowkey. I’ll definitely be continuing with the series, even if I’m not running to the store the second volume three comes out.
3) Doctor Who: After Life (volume 1)
Told you I’ve been diggin’ these Doctor Who stories. This is the first volume of an Eleven series that I got from the library. I got 3 volumes of this series out, but only read this first one before I had to return them, whoops. I…liked it. The story was good (better than Death Riders) but not amazing. I think the Eleven’s writing was better than in Death Riders. It was fun to read about Eleven again, blah blah blah, but apparently not good enough to continue with the series. Or at least to remember to. Hm. Maybe I’ll get the rest out of the library again some time but it’s not a top priority. It was just a fun thing to read for nostalgic reasons, I guess.
4) Saga, volumes 1 & 2
OKAY, SO. I talked a lot about Saga in my last post so I’ll try to keep this short and sweet. Saga is amazing and everyone should read it (unless you don’t like super graphic stuff because….this is super graphic). I’m making my way through volumes 1-5 because volume 6 comes out soon (next week, maybe??) and I’m having so much fun reliving this incredible series. The story follows Alana, from planet Landfall, and Marko, from Landfall’s moon called Wreath. Landfall and Wreath have been in war with each other for years, but Alana and Marko fall in love, run away, and have a baby together. The rest of the galaxy thinks this is disgusting (because Landfallians and Wreaths are supposed to hate each other) and numerous planets, kingdoms, governments, and Freelancers want to kill them and their baby. Violent shenanigans ensue. It’s amazing and I love it. The world building is flawless, the characters are so great, it discusses real social justice issues we have on Earth without even being about Earth and I’m just ????? love it so much ???? ahem. Sorry, I just reverted into my fangirl state, I’ll try to keep that under control. Saga is just incredible, please read it.
And that’s it!! There are so many more books I want to read this summer, I have to fit a lot of reading into July and August. Once I get back to going to classes, fun reading time will be limited. But before then, lot’s of reading will happen and I’ll continue to update you on how it’s going!!
Tell me: have you read any of these? What are your most recent reads?