January Round-Up!

Jan. Totals

Hello everyone! Welcome to my first post of 2021! I hope that you all had a nice holiday season. Did you get any books for Christmas? I got Ready Player Two by Ernest Cline and a few others that I bought with Christmas money. I really enjoyed Ready Player One, so I’m excited to read book two! Now onto the books!

The first book that I want to talk about is Beetle & the Hollowbones by Aliza Layne.

In the eerie town of ‘Allows, some people get to be magical sorceresses, while other people have their spirits trapped in the mall for all ghastly eternity.

Then there’s twelve-year-old goblin-witch Beetle, who’s caught in between. She’d rather skip being homeschooled completely and spend time with her best friend, Blob Glost. But the mall is getting boring, and B.G. is cursed to haunt it, tethered there by some unseen force. And now Beetle’s old best friend, Kat, is back in town for a sorcery apprenticeship with her Aunt Hollowbone. Kat is everything Beetle wants to be: beautiful, cool, great at magic, and kind of famous online. Beetle’s quickly being left in the dust.

But Kat’s mentor has set her own vile scheme in motion. If Blob Ghost doesn’t escape the mall soon, their afterlife might be coming to a very sticky end. Now, Beetle has less than a week to rescue her best ghost, encourage Kat to stand up for herself, and confront the magic she’s been avoiding for far too long. And hopefully ride a broom without crashing.

This was such a cute graphic novel! I really enjoyed reading about Beetle and all her adventures. As a homeschooled kid I understand how she felt about school and it was nice to see a homeschooled character in a graphic novel! The artwork in this book was so adorable and colorful, I really loved reading about badass girls who kicked ass and got to fall in love. This is just overall a great read and a graphic novel that I think anyone would love.

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Beetle & The Hollowbones

The next book that I enjoyed in January was Gotham High by Melissa de la Cruz!

After being kicked out of his boarding school, 16-year-old Bruce Wayne returns to Gotham City to find that nothing is as he left it. What once was his family home is now an empty husk, lonely but haunted by the memory of his parents’ murder. Selina Kyle, once the innocent girl next door, now rules over Gotham High School with a dangerous flair, aided by the class clown, Jack Napier.

When a kidnapping rattles the school, Bruce seeks answers as the dark and troubled knight–but is he actually the pawn? Nothing is ever as it seems, especially at Gotham High, where the parties and romances are of the highest stakes… and where everyone is a suspect.

I know that there are mixed feelings on this version of Batman but honestly, I really enjoyed the story. Keeping in mind that this graphic novel is targeted towards younger children, I was still entertained by what happens in this book. I loved the fact that Bruce is now Asian and Alfred is his uncle! Bruce is as broody as he usually is and you can really see how he’ll develop into Batman later in life. I actually liked the fact that a lot of the classic Batman characters show up in this as well. Some of them are just passing by and we don’t really get to see them as much but it’s like a fun Easter egg hunt to figure out who all the background characters are. Overall, if you are a diehard Batman fan this may not be for you. But I say give it a try anyway and see if you like it! You may be surprised.

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Gotham High

Another book that I really loved was A Map to the Sun by Sloane Leong.

One summer day, Ren meets Luna at a beachside basketball court and a friendship is born. But when Luna moves to back to Oahu, Ren’s messages to her friend go unanswered.

Years go by. Then Luna returns, hoping to rekindle their friendship. Ren is hesitant. She’s dealing with a lot, including family troubles, dropping grades, and the newly formed women’s basketball team at their high school. With Ren’s new friends and Luna all on the basketball team, the lines between their lives on and off the court begin to blur. During their first season, this diverse and endearing group of teens are challenged in ways that make them reevaluate just who and how they trust.

This book was so good! I don’t know why I’ve been reading so many sports graphic novels and manga but I’ve been really enjoying them. This one was especially fantastic. I loved the way the author portrayed female friendship and how complicated that can be. I also enjoyed the girls learning about being on a team and how to cooperate with each other. High school girls can be hella catty and that was also portrayed very well. I’m excited to read other things by this author.

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A Map to The Sun

Lastly we have Heartstopper volumes 1 & 2 by Alice Oseman!

Charlie, a highly-strung, openly gay over-thinker, and Nick, a cheerful, soft-hearted rugby player, meet at a British all-boys grammar school. Friendship blooms quickly, but could there be something more…?

These books were so CUTE!! I seriously loved both volumes and I can’t wait to read more! Charlie and Nick are adorable and I just love them and all the other characters. I might just order the next volume myself instead of waiting on the library to get them…

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Heartstopper Vol. 1 & 2

The next book that I really enjoyed was Under-Earth by Chris Gooch.

Under-Earth takes place in a subterranean landfill, hollowed out to serve as a massive improvised prison. Sunken into the trash and debris of the past — gameboys, iphones, coffee cups, old cars — we follow two parallel stories.

In the first, a new arrival struggles to adapt to the everyday violence, physical labor, and poverty of the prison city. Overwhelmed and alone, he finds a connection with a fellow inmate through an old, beat-up novel. While these two silent and uncommunicative men grow closer thanks to their book, the stress of their environment will test their new bond.

Meanwhile, a pair of thieves pull off a risky job in exchange for the prisons’ schematics and the promise of escape — only to be betrayed by their employer. On the run with their hope for escape now gone, the two women set their minds to revenge. Yet as they lay their plans, their focus shifts from an obsession with the outside world to the life they have with each other.

Equal parts sincerity and violence, Under-Earth explores humanity’s inextinguishable drive to find meaning, connection, and even family — and how fragile such constructions can be.

There was so much in this book that wasn’t explained. And I loved that. I have no idea if the world ended or if there’s some kind of takeover or what happened. There’s just this underground prison and that’s all you really know. But that’s all you need to know so it works. This graphic novel is pretty long, coming in at 560 pages. Even though the size is pretty intimidating, it flew by. The simple art style and mostly black and white palette kept everything simple and kept the reader focused on the story and the characters. And what characters they are. Overall, this book may seem daunting but it’s well worth the read. I very much enjoyed it and I’m glad that it’s now in my collection.

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Under-Earth

Next up we have Displacement: A Travelogue by Lucy Knisley.

In the next installment of her graphic travelogue series, Displacement, Knisley volunteers to watch over her ailing grandparents on a cruise. In a book that is part graphic memoir, part travelogue, and part family history, Knisley not only tries to connect with her grandparents, but to reconcile their younger and older selves. She is aided in her quest by her grandfather s WWII memoir, which is excerpted. Readers will identify with Knisley’s frustration, her fears, her compassion, and her attempts to come to terms with mortality, as she copes with the stress of travel complicated by her grandparents frailty.

The description for this book is spot on – I definitely relate to Lucy Knisley’s frustrations and fears. As of right now, I am going through a similar time in my life dealing with people close to me starting to decline in their mental capacity. It is very scary and it is also very frustrating at times. Reading this graphic novel comforted me. Knowing that other people have/are going through a similar time in their lives made me feel a lot better about what I’m going through. I guess that’s what a good book will do.

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Displacement: A Travelogue

And lastly we have Be Gay, Do Comics by a bunch of people: Matt Bors (Editor), Alex GraudinsAlexis SudgenAlison WilgusArchie BongiovanniBianca XuniseBinglin HuBreena NunezDelta VasquezDorian AlexanderDylan EdwardsElísabet RúnHazel NewlevantJason MichaelsJB BragerJoey Alison SayersJosh TrujilloJulia BernhardKazimir LeeKendra WellsLevi HastingsMady GMaia KobabeMariah-Rose MarieMatt LubchanskyMax DlabickMelanie GillmanNero O’ReillyRia MartinezRobyn JordanRosa Colón GuerraSage CoffeySam WallmanSarah MirkSasha VelourScout TranSfé R. MonsterShelby CriswellShing Yin KhorTaneka StottsTrinidad Escobar. I have read comics by a few of these authors before but I was very excited to be introduced to new authors that I haven’t had a chance to read before. This was such a great collection of stories. I honestly, can’t pick just one as my favorite. This is one of those books that you need to read for yourself. There are so many awesome comics in here. I would highly recommend checking it out.

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Be Gay, Do Comics

That’s it for January! I hope you guys are all doing good. Things have been a little hectic for me but they seem to be slowing down. I haven’t really been able to concentrate on full length novels lately so I’ve mostly been reading graphic novels, comics, and manga. I recently went to a great store called Tates and went a little crazy buying graphic novels but it was so much fun! If you have any suggestions for some graphic novels please let me know!

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