August 7 2020

Snowpiercer, volumes 1 and 2

Snowpiercer

Snowpiercer, vol 1 and 2

Title: Snowpiercer Volume 1: The Escape and Snowpiercer Volume 2: The Explorers
Author: Benjamin Legrand
Genre/ issues: Sci-fi. Climate destruction. Class. Graphic novel.

Shop local where you can: For Australian readers, search Indies to locate your closest independent bookstore, or find it on Booktopia. US readers, check out Bookshop.org.

I’ve been working backwards in my journey with Snowpiercer. I started with the TV series, watched the movie, and then tonight I read volume 1 and 2 of the source material, the graphic novel translated from the French. Black and white artwork helps to underscore the stark landscape and even more grim future that humanity survives in, on Snowpiercer, one thousand and one carriages long. If you’re into graphic novels and have enjoyed the series, this is a great read. I think the TV show is still my favourite out of all of the versions of this story so far, but I really enjoyed reading the origin in these two volumes, and am looking forward to the third one arriving soon. For my TL followers, this one probably isn’t a good YA read – it’s mature, adult and graphic in multiple senses of the word.

#TamaraReads #2020readingchallenge 50/52 and 51/52

Happy reading,

Tamara

 

 

August 4 2020

Clap when you land, by Elizabeth Acevedo

Clap when you land book

Clap when you land, by Elizabeth Acevedo

Title: Clap when you land
Author: Elizabeth Acevedo
Genre/ issues: Verse novel. Family. Culture. Race and gender.

Shop local where you can: For Australian readers, search Indies to locate your closest independent bookstore, or find it on Booktopia. US readers, check out Bookshop.org.

I started reading this book over a week ago, and loved it but have been finding it hard to get back to. Part of me didn’t want to finish reading it. Tonight I dove back in, and read until the end. It’s brilliant, sad, and wonderful, and I’m so glad to have read it … but sometimes books just hit on a scar in your soul that you thought had healed, don’t they? They tap insistently at a hurt you thought you’d moved past, and you’re reminded that some pains endure much longer than you think. They’ll be firmly a part of your past, but their presence can not be ignored.
Clap When You Land is a verse novel by @acevedowrites, about two sisters separated by borders and secrets. They discover each other’s existence when their father’s flight crashes, and they have to figure out how to live without him, and how to reconcile the existence of this hitherto unknown sister into their world.
This is the second book by Acevedo that I’ve read in the past month or so, and both of them are cracking contenders for my hotly contested Top 10 reads of the year. I love verse novels, and the way that different rhyming patterns are used to represent the two sisters, and then woven together as their stories combine, is so good it makes me want to write a verse novel. I doubt I’d do the form justice, though, with this model to look up to.

#TamaraReads #2020readingchallenge 49/52

Happy reading,

Tamara

 

 

July 26 2020

Sandman sundays

Sandman

Sandman, by Neil Gaiman

Title: Sandman
Author: Neil Gaiman
Genre/ issues: Graphic novel. Supernatural. Mythology. Fantasy.

Shop local where you can: For Australian readers, search Indies to locate your closest independent bookstore, or find it on Booktopia. US readers, check out Bookshop.org.

Sandman is arguably one of Neil Gaiman’s most well-known and wide-ranging creations. A stunning comic series, it’s been republished in a few different formats, and the Omnibus edition is one of the most treasured items in my collection. My ex-husband gave me volume one as one of the last gifts of our relationship – and, it must be said, as one of the only gifts he gave me that showed he knew what mattered to me. The second volume was a gift to myself, shortly after our divorce was finalised and I decided to treat myself to something I really wanted. And volume 3? Well, my wonderful partner gave me that for Valentine’s Day this year. So, it’s safe to say that the whole collection is meaningful to me in more ways than just the epic and fantastic story it contains.

The wonder that is Dirk Maggs is responsible for another fantastic incarnation of Sandman – the audiobook adaptation. It’s sensational, and I’ve been listening to parts of it each Sunday since it came out, and reading along with the comics. So far I’ve listened to the chapters that would have comprised Volume 1 and 2 of the graphic novel editions – Preludes and Nocturnes (#1-8 of the comics) and The Doll House (#9-16). I’m counting the graphic novel editions towards my book tally, rather than the Omnibus, which is 4 graphic novels combined, and also longer than the first installment of the audiobook.

The audio cast is stunning – a who’s who of the entertainment industry. Standouts for me so far have been Kat Denning as Death, the fantastic quirky goth girl who is one of my favourite characters, James McAvoy as Morpheus, and Michael Sheen as Lucifer. The stunning audioproduction is tied together with narration from Neil himself, sometimes reading the narrative elements of the original comic, and sometimes filling in additional details that are needed for context without the visual elements on the page. It’s a masterpiece, and I’m very glad I have it – even if it meant I had to break my self-imposed Am@zon ban, as it’s only available on Audible.

#TamaraReads #2020readingchallenge 47/52 and 48/52

Happy reading,

Tamara

 

 

July 20 2020

The Track series, books 1 and 2

Tracks

Ghost and Patina, by Jason Reynolds

Title: The Track series: Ghost and Patina
Author: Jason Reynolds
Genre/ issues: Middle grade. Sports. Family. Friendship.

Shop local where you can: For Australian readers, search Indies to locate your closest independent bookstore, or find it on Booktopia. US readers, check out Bookshop.org.

I read the first 2 books in Jason Reynolds’ Track series a few weeks ago and loved them. I was planning on posting about them all when I finished the series, but I’ve hit a slump so I’m leaving book 3 and will come back to them later, so here’s a quick review on Ghost and Patina so I don’t forget them in my #2020readingchallenge tally.

I’ve probably read more sportsing books this year than I have in my whole life – I’m making an effort to expand my reading horizons and explore genres and themes I’d usually skip over. This series is a fab middle grade read, 4 books about 4 different members of the same track team, who all deal with their own family and personal issues. Ghost, the eponymous character from the first book in the series, lives with his mother whilst his father is in prison for attempting to shoot them both. He is dealing with bullying at school, and is struggling to find his place, and to be seen for who he is. The metaphor of running in this book sets up a beautiful through line for the stories that are to come. Patina, in book 2, attends an elite private school and lives with her aunt, as her mum is unable to care for her because of her complex medical conditions. They both joined the track team at the same time, but are running their own races, literally and figuratively.
These are both great books, and I love the way Jason writes. He’s definitely one of my favourite author finds of the year.

#TamaraReads #2020readingchallenge 45/52 and 46/52

Happy reading,

Tamara

 

 

July 16 2020

The house in the Cerulean Sea, by TJ Klune

The House in the Cerulean Sea

The House in the Cerulean Sea, by TJ Klune

Title: The house in the Cerulean Sea
Author: TJ Klune
Genre/ issues: Fantasy. Acceptance. Chosen family.

Shop local where you can: For Australian readers, search Indies to locate your closest independent bookstore, or find it on Booktopia. US readers, check out Bookshop.org.

How many times can I post about “one of the best books I’ve read this year” before that phrase starts to lose all meaning? Well, The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune is one of the best books I’ve read this year. I’d venture to say it’ll work its magical way into a future “one of the best books I’ve ever read” list. It’s certainly one of the most whimsically lovely, and the one I’ve shed the most joyful tears over.

Donna Noble is my favourite Doctor Who companion, and one of my very favourite characters from the series, Doctor included. Stay with me here, I know it feels like a tangent. What I love about Donna is that she feels like she’s utterly ordinary and unremarkable, so unimportant that she can’t possibly be special, but she is in fact the whole universe. Linus Baker from The House in the Cerulean Sea reminds me very much of her, and in a book filled with characters of various and wondrous magical abilities, he is the most captivating of them all. Linus is a by-the-book caseworker for the Department in Charge if Magical Youth, and he feels largely invisible in his drab dreary world. A special assignment sees him investigating an orphanage that is home to a special bunch of magical youth, and their equally intriguing House Master. There are secrets to be discovered, but more importantly there are lessons to be learned on the power of the family we choose.

This book is a wonder, a joy, a captivating delight. I don’t know that I would ever have found it if not for some recommendations by a couple of TikTok friends, so I’m grateful to them both for mentioning this one. I’ll be doing the same to anyone who’ll listen – get this book. Read it. It’s powerful and beautiful and I need more people to have read it so I can talk about it with them!

#TamaraReads #2020readingchallenge 42/52

Happy reading,

Tamara

 

 

July 15 2020

Long way down, by Jason Reynolds

Long way down

Long way down, by Jason Reynolds

Title: Long way down
Author: Jason Reynolds
Genre/ issues: Verse novel. Generational violence.

Shop local where you can: For Australian readers, search Indies to locate your closest independent bookstore, or find it on Booktopia. US readers, check out Bookshop.org.

Whilst I was typing up my last post, Mad Sweeney decided for snuggle up with the book. I figured it’s the kind of book that could use some snuggly kitty content. This book is a quick read – a verse novel, sparsely told and spanning the time it takes for the elevator to go from the floor that Will lives on to the lobby. That elevator ride is an incredibly powerful one, that hits with the force of a bullet. Will is on his way to avenge the shooting death of his brother, and he is visited by ghosts of his past. Through their stories, and his engagement with them, we gain a stunning insight into the impact of generational violence. Words like “stunning”, “astonishing”, “magnificent” and “masterpiece” adorn the cover. They may be underselling it. A graphic novel of this is coming out soon. I’ll be buying it. You should too, and get this one in the meantime.

#TamaraReads #2020readingchallenge 44/52

Happy reading,

Tamara

 

 

July 14 2020

Labyrinth: Coronation Volumes 1 and 2

Labyrinth

Labyrinth Coronation

Title: Labyrinth: Coronation Volume 1 and Volume 2
Genre/ issues: Graphic novel. Fantasy. Prequel.

Shop local where you can: For Australian readers, search Indies to locate your closest independent bookstore, or find it on Booktopia. US readers, check out Bookshop.org.

Jim Henson’s Labyrinth was one of my favourite movies growing up, and Bowie’s Jareth was, not surprisingly, my favourite character. I’ve just finished reading the first 2 instalments of Labyrinth: Coronation, a great comic series about how Jareth came to be goblin king. Told through a series of flashbacks whilst he waits impatiently for Sarah to either find the castle or give up, it dives into the nature of generational trauma and class. What do I think of it? Well, I’ve enjoyed the flashes of scenes from the movie that are interspersed throughout. The art is stunning. I like it enough that I’ll read volume 3, and I’ll be glad to have it in my collection. But, truth be told, that’s probably as much for nostalgia purposes as anything else. It probably won’t make any top 10 favourite reads lists for me this year – and that’s probably lucky, quite frankly, because it’s getting pretty crowded at the top of the 2020ReadingChallenge leaderboard. 

#TamaraReads #2020readingchallenge 41/52 and 43/52

July 3 2020

Black brother, black brother, by Jewell Parker Rhodes

Black brother, black brother by Jewell Parker Rhodes

Black brother, black brother by Jewell Parker Rhodes

Title: Black brother, black brother
Author: Jewell Parker Rhodes
Genre/ issues: Middle grade. Racism. Mixed-race families. School. Finding your place.

Shop local where you can: For Australian readers, search Indies to locate your closest independent bookstore, or find it on Booktopia. US readers, check out Bookshop.org.

Another “one session” read for me. I spent a couple of hours last night waiting for my daughter at her ballet class in the city, and smashed through this book in about 90 minutes. Black Brother, Black Brother is a wonderful middle grade novel by Jewell Parker Rhodes, which tells the story of Donte and Trey, mixed race brothers who experience very different treatment at their exclusive private school. Donte wants to disappear, wishing that he could just get through the day without being targeted or compared to his lighter skinned brother. A sensitive and powerful examination of the impacts of unconscious and systemic racism, with references to the impact of the school to prison pipeline effect, and an important message about finding your own strength. A really wonderful read.

#TamaraReads #2020readingchallenge 40/52

Happy reading,

Tamara

 

 

July 2 2020

The Poet X, by Elizabeth Acevedo

The poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

The poet X, by Elizabeth Acevedo

Title: The poet X
Author: Elizabeth Acevedo
Genre/ issues: Verse novel. Gender. Family. Finding your voice.

Shop local where you can: For Australian readers, search Indies to locate your closest independent bookstore, or find it on Booktopia. US readers, check out Bookshop.org.

“One of the best books I’ve read this year” is a category that just keeps expanding, and The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo slammed its way into those ranks last night. I read it in one sitting. I’m planning on reading it again. It’s a stunning verse novel that reminded me why I love words, and how powerful words can be in the right hands. Xiomara is Dominican American from a Catholic family, who goes through life living up to the strict moral code imposed upon her by her mother. Her twin brother is facing his own battles, and whilst they’re connected by their special twin bond, they each need to find their own paths. For Xiomara, that means coming to terms with her relationship with her body, the body in her science class, and her passion for poetry.
This book is exceptional. About a quarter of the way through it I knew a certain special friend needed to read it too, so I messaged her letting her know I’d lend it to her when I was finished. By the time I was done, I had dog-eared so many passages I wanted to remember, and I decided that she needed her own copy so I hopped online and ordered her one. Spoiler alert, Sam – parcel arriving early next week!

You should read this book. You should get the teens in your life to read this book. Have I mentioned that I thought it was outstanding?

#TamaraReads #2020readingchallenge 39/52

Happy reading,

Tamara

 

 

June 30 2020

The hate u give, by Angie Thomas

The hate u give by Angie Thomas

The hate u give, by Angie Thomas

Title: The hate u give
Author: Angie Thomas
Genre/ issues: YA contemporary fiction. Racism. Black Lives Matter. Family.

Shop local where you can: For Australian readers, search Indies to locate your closest independent bookstore, or find it on Booktopia. US readers, check out Bookshop.org.

June saw me reading books by BIPOC authors as I focused on decolonising my bookshelf, and I finished the month with The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. What a sensational book. Focusing on the personal and community responses in the wake of the shooting of a black teen by a white cop, this book is gripping. Whilst we see mostly through the eyes of Starr, the main character and friend of the young man who was killed, we also get significant insight into the motivations and reactions of a range of people who are impacted by this. Why do people protest? How do good cops, like Starr’s uncle, respond when someone they know is in the firing line? How do white friends show their support? I was really moved by this book, and by its subtle insistence that the most powerful weapon we have is our voice. Let’s use it to speak up for what’s right, and to speak out against what is wrong.

#TamaraReads #2020readingchallenge 38/52

Happy reading,

Tamara