August flew by! I had a really fun weekend at the end there with my friends. We drove to a place in Florida called Devil’s Den. You can dive and swim in the cave systems there. We also floated down the Rainbow Springs River and went horseback riding! It’s been so long since I’ve been on a horse, I really loved it. I think floating down the river was my favorite thing though. I did get a lot of reading done this month too! I read some really great graphic novels and one that I wasn’t really a fan of. I also read a really cute juvenile fiction book called Gertie’s Leap to Greatness that was so good! Anyway, onto the books!
First up we have a book called Half World by Hiromi Goto and illustrated by Jillian Tamaki. It took me a minute to get into this book but once I did, I really enjoyed it. This story is about Melanie, a human girl who’s parents are from Half World. What is Half World? Well, it’s a kind of limbo between the afterlife and our world. Melanie soon finds out all about Half World as she travels there with the help of a Magic 8 Ball and a jade rat pendant. She’s on a mission to find and save her mom, Fumiko, who disappeared a few days earlier. Melanie faces many trials as she embarks on her quest, but her love for her mom drives her to continue on. Will she find her mom? What does the Magic 8 ball do? Why did that racoon give it to her? Find out all this and more in Half World!
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. There’s a little bit of set up at the beginning which is a little bit of a slog but the action picks up pretty quickly. I enjoyed Melanie as a protagonist – she is a sullen teenager and acts like it. At one point she just sits down on some steps and doesn’t want to move forward at all. But then she does. I also really liked the world building in this book. The descriptions are fantastic, I could clearly picture all of the characters and their surroundings. I only wish there had been more illustrations. This is labeled as an illustrated book but there’s only like three pages with illustrations. But, if you like adventure books laced with fantasy elements throughout, then this is the book for you!
Next up is a graphic novel called The Hazards of Love by Stan Stanley. This is another book where someone goes to another limbo-like world. I didn’t realized I read two books in one month with such similiar plots . Here’s the blurb from Goodreads!
Amparo’s deal with the talking cat was simple: a drop of blood and Amparo’s name to become a better person. Their mother and abuela would never worry about them again, and they’d finally be worthy of dating straight-A student Iolanthe. But when the cat steals their body, becoming the better person they were promised, Amparo’s spirit is imprisoned in a land of terrifying, flesh-hungry creatures known as Bright World.
With cruel and manipulative masters and a society that feeds on memories, Amparo must use their cleverness to escape, without turning into a monster like the rest. On “the other side,” Iolanthe begins to suspect the new Amparo has a secret, and after the cat in disguise vanishes, she’s left searching for answers with a no-nonsense medium from the lesbian mafia and the only person who might know the truth about Bright World.
Honestly, I started this not really knowing much about it and I fell in love with it as I read. This art style is funky and at first, I was like I hate this but I was wrong because it’s amazing. I cannot wait for the next book to come out! I have to find out what happens to Amparo and if they make if back to our side.
Next I read an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) of a graphic novel called Weeaboo by Alissa M. Sallah. This book will be coming out in November and it is the debut for Ms. Sallah. This graphic novel follows three friends as they go through their senior year of high school. They are all prepping for an anime convention that they’re going after graduation. They’re making costumes and hanging out, all the fun stuff that you do to prepare for a con. But they soon have to grapple with real world issues that may end up tearing them apart.
Overall, I liked the plot of this graphic novel. It’s a plot that is seen a lot. Kids graduating high school and then possibly realizing that they might not want the same things in life and now they might grow apart! This one did have a little more nuace to it than the average graphic novel on this subject and I’m grateful for that. The artwork took a little while to grow on me. It’s very angular and harsh, but as the book went on I got used to it. I like this enough to recommend it but not enough to add it to my personal collection. If you are an anime/manga fan, I think this would be right up your alley though.
Did I cry while reading this book? Yes. Mostly because the older I get the more frustrated I am at how women were/are treated in most STEM fields. Like, oh you’re a lady you can’t possibly do complicated math. It’s math dude it’s not easier because you have a dick. Math doesn’t have a gender. But anyway… back to the astronauts. Astronauts: Women on the Final Frontier is written by Jim Ottaviani & Maris Wicks. I’ve read one other graphic novel by Jim Ottaviani and hated it so I was hesitant to give this book a try, but I’m very glad that I did. Here’s the blurb from Goodreads:
“The U.S. may have put the first man on the moon, but it was the Soviet space program that made Valentina Tereshkova the first woman in space. It took years to catch up, but soon NASA’s first female astronauts were racing past milestones of their own. The trail-blazing women of Group 9, NASA’s first mixed gender class, had the challenging task of convincing the powers that be that a woman’s place is in space, but they discovered that NASA had plenty to learn about how to make space travel possible for everyone.”
Astronaut Mary Cleave is the narrator throughout this book. She and the author’s do a great job of taking us through the history of the space race, the shuttle program, and how women fought to go to space. I enjoyed the book immensely and I would recommend it to anyone. But I would especially recommend it to young girls who love space and want to see the stars some day.
Gertie’s Leap to Greatness by Kate Beasley (illustrated by Jillian Tamaki) is all about Gertie and her quest to be the greatest fifth grader. She wants to be the best fifth grader so that her absentee mother will notice her and not move out of their little town. Gertie lives with her great-aunt and her dad – who she only sees every few weeks because he works on an oil rig. Gertie desperately wants her mother’s attention and seems to be willing to do almost anything to get it. Her plan to become the greatest fifth grader is going great, until a new girl – Mary Sue Spivey – moves into town. It seems that Mary Sue Spivey is perfect and can do no wrong. Gertie and Mary Sue become almost instant rivals, butting heads over everything from seats to the environment (and how bad oil drilling is – which I mean Mary Sue isn’t wrong on that one really). There’s not enough room for two greatest fifth graders – Gertie is going to have to do something about Mary Sue (I realize that sounded ominous – don’t worry there is nothing maniacal that happens).
This was a really cute book. I loved Gertie’s great-aunt and how she encouraged Gertie and try to redirect her over-the-top-ness without fully killing her enthusiasm.
If you want to read about a dead beat dad that cares more about his comic strip than his family, then this is the book for you! Honestly, I didn’t really care for Fictional Father (by Joel Ollmann). I just found it repetitive after awhile and boring. The main character was a disaster and just so whiny that I couldn’t empathize with him at all. Like dude just go get some therapy like everyone else and shut up. Overall, if you dislike unlikeable main characters definitely skip this one – it isn’t worth your time.
One of the last graphic novels that I read last month was an ARC that I received in exchange for an honest review – so here it is! Eighty Days by A.C. Esguerra follows a skilled pilot named Jay Corvidae who works for Avo, a company that runs most of the world. All Jay wants to do is fly. But then he is given an assignment – to transport a thief named Fix. And that’s pretty much where everything takes off. Alliances are tested, loyalties are destroyed, long friendships shattered. There’s a war on the horizon and Jay must decide which side he wants to be on. Will he put his piloting skills to use for Avo? Will Fix and Jay get together and live happily ever after? You’ll have to read it to find out!
I very much enjoyed this graphic novel. It was a little on the long side at 336 pages but this is another one that had amazing artwork and such an engaging story that the pages just flew by. There were a few sections that weren’t super clear as to what was happening on the page, I found it mostly happening when there were fight scenes. But other than that, I would highly recommend this book. Also, it just came out on the 7th! I’m finally getting an ARC review done in a timely manner! (It probably won’t happen again…)
When I tell you this last book’s artwork blew my mind, I’m not exaggerating. The Dragon Ark by Curatoria Draconis and illustrated by Tomislav Tomić, is gorgeous. I included some photos that I took of a few pages. The dragons, the backgrounds, everything is so well drawn that it looks like those dragons are real. This is definitely a book that you need to check out. I can’t do it justice here. Any page could be hung on your wall as a piece of art and not look out of place – it’s just amazing.
That’s it for August! I hope you guys had a fun month and got to do lots of end of summer-y things. No promises but I’ll try to get the September round up out on time, unlike this that is three weeks late. See you all later!