July Round-Up!

July Totals

I realize that this is about a month late, I just haven’t had the time or energy to write much lately. Work is getting increasingly more exhausting. We’re already short staffed and another person is now leaving at the end of this month. Mostly when I get home all I want to do is eat and sleep. I did have a lot of fun celebrating my birthday with my parents and fiancé at the end of the month. The aquarium was a lot of fun. Most of the animals there were rescues and most of the ticket price went back into their rescue operation. They had a 60 year old manatee there! She was very cute. But, I’ve finally gotten a little bit of time to write about some of my July reads! Onto the books!

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First up we have a really fantastic graphic novel called City of Secrets by Victoria Ying.

This book revolves around Ever Barnes, an orphan that has been tasked with guarding a secret located in one of the city’s strangest buildings – the Switchboard Operating Facility. The young women that work at the Switchboard, connect the city of Oskar while turning a blind eye to Ever roaming the building. As the owner of the building is touring it with his young daughter Hannah, she spots Ever and decides that he needs a friend. Hijinks ensue and Ever and Hannah are put to the test. Can they run from the bandits chasing them and save the city? You’ll have to read it and find out!

I really enjoyed this graphic novel. The story was fantastic but the artwork was just amazing. I loved the illustrations of the Switchboard building and the city itself. There was so much detail! I also enjoyed the characters. Ever starts off not wanting a friendship but we see him grow and come to really cherish his friendship with Hannah. I hope that we see more of that in the next installment as well.

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Next we have a graphic novel with an interesting twist. Love & Lies by Musawo is about a high schooler named Yukari. He loves the most popular girl in school – Misaki. The only issue is that he’s 15, only one year away from receiving his government assigned wife. One of his classmates, Ririna, won’t stop pestering him to confessing his love to Misaki. What’s the harm in confessing? It’s not they’ll ever be able to be together… right? Are they going to defy the law to be together? Does Misaki like him back?? Read volume one to find out!

I enjoyed this twist on the typical high school love story. The government making a law that chooses your partner for you is interesting. In the manga it is said it’s because of low birth rates but I’m wondering if there’s something else here. I’m hoping that more will be explained as the series progresses. I will definitely be checking out the next volume when it comes to the library.

SuperMutant Magic Academy & Boundless

I’ve been reading through Jillian Tamaki‘s work over the last few weeks and I read two graphic novels by her in July. The first one was SuperMutant Magic Academy and then I also read Boundless.

The SuperMutant Magic Academy is a prep school for teen witches, mutants, and others with various paranormal abilities. There are multiple characters that reappear throughout the book such as Everlasting Boy, fox-girl Wendy, and lizard-headed Trixie. We follow all of them as they deal with normal high school experiences as well as super powered problems. Jillian Tamaki’s illustrations are gorgeous as always. I was very excited to be able to read this since I couldn’t find the webcomic in full online anywhere.

Boundless was weird. Here’s the description from Goodreads because I just don’t know how to describe this one: Jenny, post-breakup, becomes obsessed with the mirror Facebook of herself seeing a life that could be hers. An anonymous music file surfaces on the internet and a cult springs up in its wake. A group of city animals briefly open their minds to us. Helen finds her clothes growing baggy, her shoes looser, and as she shrinks, the world around her recedes. A lifetime of romantic relationships are charted against the rise and fall of the celebrity cast of a classic film.

I enjoyed Tamaki’s illustrations in her first collection of short stories. But this wasn’t my favorite of hers by a long shot. Since I’ve been reading through a lot of her work lately, you can really see the changes in her work over the years. I’ve enjoyed immensely reading through all of her catalog and I can’t wait to see what she does next!

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Goth

Next we have a horror manga called Goth by Otsuichi. This is one of the more disturbing manga that I’ve read. We follow the two main characters, Boku and Yoru Morino, as they explore the disturbing and weird things that they find. The two of them love the macabre and anything to do with murder or death. These two high schoolers always seem to find their way into the middle of murders somehow. Morino is constantly taken hostage and almost murdered multiple times. Boku always comes out of seemingly nowhere and saves her. Although, I thought if they were so obsessed with murder that he would have let her die just to see what it looked like. Throughout all the short stories in this we learn about the two characters backstories and we can kind of see how they turned out the way that they are.

Overall, I enjoyed this manga but I wouldn’t recommend it if you are easily disturbed.

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Dark Days: The Road to Metal

Next up is Dark Days: The Road to Metal by Scott Snyder. Honestly, this was (so far) my least favorite Batman comic. You don’t need to read this in order to read the Heavy Metal series. Just skip it. The first ten pages are relevant to the story and then everything else is just blah.

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Flamer

Flamer by Mike Curato was one of my favorite graphic novels that I read in July. Here’s the Goodreads blurb: It’s the summer between middle school and high school, and Aiden Navarro is away at camp. Everyone’s going through changes—but for Aiden, the stakes feel higher. As he navigates friendships, deals with bullies, and spends time with Elias (a boy he can’t stop thinking about), he finds himself on a path of self-discovery and acceptance.

This was a really fantastic graphic novel. It dealt with a lot of heavy themes such as sexuality, feeling completely and utterly alone, trying to fit in (by not being yourself), and suicide. The author deals with these themes very well but didn’t make me feel like he was being trite with overused platitudes that seem to be in a lot of graphic novels regarding sexuality and coming out. Overall, I enjoyed the story and the artwork as well. I would highly recommend you check out this graphic novel.

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The Great Gatsby: A Graphic Novel Adaptation

I have a confession for you guys – I’ve never read The Great Gatsby until I read this graphic novel adaptation. And now I know why I never read it. It’s boring. Why would I want to read about rich people getting away with literal murder? If you liked the book then check this out. If not, skip it – don’t waste your time.

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Suncatcher

The next graphic novel that I read was Suncatcher by Jose Pimienta. This story is about Beatriz. She loves music and her grandfather has just passed away, leaving his soul trapped in his guitar. In order to free her grandfather’s soul she must complete a bargain that he made – complete the perfect song. As Beatriz becomes more and more obsessed with completing the perfect song, she starts to neglect her friends and even her own health.

This was a great graphic novel. I loved Beatriz’s passion for music. You can really feel how much she cares about the band and how good they sound – often to the detriment of her friendships. You can also really feel how much she loved her grandfather. As someone who’s not really close to my grandparents, this part of her story was just meh to me, I couldn’t really understand why she would go through such lengths to save her grandfather’s soul. But that is just me – if you have a strong connection with your grandfather then you will understand that. Overall, this was an interesting take on the kids form a band trope. It had enough twists and turns to keep me interested until the end.

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The Spy Who Raised Me

And lastly, we have The Spy Who Raised Me by Ted Anderson. Here’s the blurb from Goodreads:

Some parents want their children to turn out just like them. Only a few secretly turn their kids into elite special operatives.

Josie Black can infiltrate any building, speak a dozen languages, and fight like a martial arts master. But no one told her that. After J.B. detects gaps in her memory, her mom reveals the truth: she works for a covert agency, and she’s given J.B. the skills of a super spy. After J.B. freaks out, runs off, and tries to escape the weird world of espionage, she’ll have to decide who she wants to be.

I really enjoyed this book! I thought since it was aimed at a younger audience that I wouldn’t like it as much, but I was completely wrong! The pacing of this graphic novel was really great – it moved quickly like you would expect a spy movie to do. I also loved the artwork and the limited colors throughout the book. Overall, I would definitely check this out, especially if you are a fan of spy movies and books.

Sorry again that this is so late! Life has been overwhelming lately but hopefully things will be going back to normal. I’m going on a short vacation at the end of August that I’m really excited about. My friends and I are going to stay in a cabin near Devil’s Den.

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