October 24 2021

Long Way Down, by Jason Reynolds

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Long Way Down, by Jason Reynolds

Title: Long Way Down
Author: Jason Reynolds
Genre/ issues: Graphic novel. YA fiction. Black lives matter. Generational trauma.

Shop local where you can: For Australian readers, you can find this book on Booktopia, or support your local independent bookstore. US readers, check out Bookshop.org.

“Another thing about the Rules
They weren’t meant to be broken.
They were meant for the broken

to follow.”

I thought I’d be prepared for the graphic novel version of Long Way Down by @jasonreynolds83. I read the verse novel last year and was in awe of the strength and sensitivity of the storytelling. Add the graphic illustrations by @novgorodoff, and it’s a whole added level of punch.
Will is 15. His older brother has just been shot, and the Rules say that it’s Will’s duty to get revenge. To find the man who killed Shawn and shoot him. He takes the gun from his brother’s hiding place, and gets in the elevator, pressing the button for the lobby with a plan laid out.
But as the lift descends, the doors open on each floor of the building, admitting people from Will’s past who definitely shouldn’t be there, and who all provide another perspective on the Rules.
Reynolds’ poetry is stunning, sparse and powerful, and Novgorodoff’s watercolour artwork drives this tragedy of generational trauma and gang violence home even deeper. If you’ve not read this book, I’d highly recommend it. So incredibly good, words don’t seem to do it justice.

#TamaraReads #2021readingchallenge 180/2021

Happy reading,

Tamara

 

 

October 24 2021

The Lost Boy, by Greg Ruth

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The Lost Boy, by Greg Ruth

Title: The Lost Boy
Author: Greg Ruth
Genre/ issues: Graphic novel. YA. Fantasy.

Shop local where you can: For Australian readers, you can find this book on Booktopia, or support your local independent bookstore. US readers, check out Bookshop.org.

Some mysteries are too dangerous to ignore …
The Lost Boy by Greg Ruth is a beautifully illustrated graphic novel suitable for upper primary readers. Nate reluctantly moves into a new house and town with his family, and finds an old reel to reel tape recorder hidden in the floorboards. As he listens to the tapes, he discovers the mystery of Walt, who had lived here decades ago, and disappeared under strange circumstances. Walt and his new friend Tabitha discover that the curious tales that Walt recorded on his tapes aren’t quite as far-fetched as they might have first appeared.
Mysterious hidden worlds, an army of talking animals, and trees that aren’t quite what they seem … it’s a good solid middle-grade urban fantasy, made better by stunning black and white illustrations that sometimes take on a surreal life of their own. Worth the read just to check out the artwork!

#TamaraReads #2021readingchallenge 176/2021

Happy reading,

Tamara

 

 

October 23 2021

Nimona, by Noelle Stevenson

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Nimona, by Noelle Stevenson

Title: Nimona
Author: Noelle Stevenson
Genre/ issues: Graphic novel. Fantasy. Queer fiction.

Shop local where you can: For Australian readers, you can find this book on Booktopia, or support your local independent bookstore. US readers, check out Bookshop.org.

“You can’t just go round murdering people. There are rules, Nimona.”
I’ve had Nimona by @gingerhazing on my shelf since last Christmas, and it’s been a joy finally getting to read it! Nimona volunteers herself as sidekick to Lord Ballister Blackheart, a villain with a vendetta against his childhood best friend Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin, who defeated him in a jousting tournament and is the “hero” of the kingdom. Blackheart is determined to prove once and for all that Goldenloin and his pals at the Institute of Law Encorcement and Heroics aren’t as good as they seem, and with Nimona’s shapeshifting ability and her healthy disregard for authority, he may just succeed this time.
This is so much fun, and I really enjoyed the subversive and irreverent take on heroes and villains. The “who’s actually the good guy?” trope isn’t really new, but this brings a fresh take on it, with integrity uncovered in some unlikely ways, with a sweet (although not entirely unexpected) “queerly ever after” ending which warmed my heart. Stevenson’s writing and art are both fantastic, and they really capture the voice of rebellious and impulsive Nimona perfectly. A great addition to a high school library graphics shelf, and it’ll be staying on my bookshelf, too, for future heartwarming reading purposes.

#TamaraReads #2021readingchallenge 175/2021

Happy reading,

Tamara

 

 

October 16 2021

Eric, by Terry Pratchett

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Eric, by Terry Pratchett

Title: Eric
Author: Terry Pratchett
Genre/ issues: Fantasy.

Shop local where you can: For Australian readers, you can find this book on Booktopia, or support your local independent bookstore. US readers, check out Bookshop.org.

“Hell, it has been suggested, is other people.
This has always come as a bit of a surprise to working demons, who had always thought that Hell was sticking sharp things into people and pushing them into lakes of blood and so on.”
Eric is book 9 and one of the shorter books in the #Discworld series, and it was just the dose of delight I needed today to keep me company on a drive up the coast and an afternoon on the couch.
Eric is a Faustian parody, in which the 13-year-old demonologist, Eric Thursley, summons a demon to get his three wishes – he wants the mastery of all kingdoms, to meet the most beautiful woman who ever existed, and to live forever. Unfortunately the demon he summons is not actually a demon at all, but Rincewind, who became trapped in the Dungeon Dimension after the events of Sourcery (book 5). Eric at first doesn’t believe Rincewind, but they then end up on an adventure which results in his wishes being granted … kind of, sort of, in true Pratchett style.
I had hoped to get through all of the Discworld series this year, and given that I’m less than a quarter of the way there I don’t think that’s likely to happen, but I am very much enjoying this journey. I’m discovering books that I thought I’d read but I hadn’t, and rediscovering old favourites – and through all of that, I’m reminded just what a genius Terry Pratchett was. I miss him.

#TamaraReads #2021readingchallenge 174/2021

Happy reading,

Tamara

 

 

October 15 2021

Julia and the Shark, by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

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Julia and the Shark, by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

Title: Julia and the Shark
Author: Kiran Millwood Hargrave
Genre/ issues: Middle grade. Family/ relationships. Mental health. 

Shop local where you can: For Australian readers, you can find this book on Booktopia, or support your local independent bookstore. US readers, check out Bookshop.org.

“I am ten years and two hundred and three days old. I had to ask my dad to work that out for me, because numbers are not my favourite. Words are. You can make numbers into words, but you can’t make words into numbers, and so words must be more powerful, mustn’t they?”
Sigh. Have I already said I had a favourite middle grade book for the year? Whatever it was, I think it has some serious competition. Julia and the Shark is written by @kiran_mh and illustrated by @tomdefrestonart, and it’s a stunning book. Julia tells us the story of the summer she spent at a lighthouse with her father, who was trying to fix the lights, and her marine biologist mother, who was trying to find a shark. Not just any shark, though. One older than the trees, moving though the water slowly for centuries, and possibly holding a secret that might help people, if only they could unlock the mysteries it holds. Julia loses her mother, though, and she finds the shark. Don’t worry. That’s not spoilery.
There is something deeply poetic about this novel, pure and passionate, and at once both deeply profound and deeply simple. If I had read this as a child, I’d have resonated deeply with Julia. As an adult, I feel strongly connected to both her father, struggling to hold everything together for the people he loves, and her mother, who (spoiler alert!) is dealing with some mental health issues.
Content warnings: this book depicts a parent with bipolar, and the impact of their extremes on the people around them, including an overdose of pills which is presented with a profoundly sensitive touch. The emphasis is very much on the power of acknowledging mental health issues and seeking appropriate help.
I know, it sounds heavy. It’s really not. It’s such a beautiful narrative, supported and enhanced by the incredible art of de Freston. I am in awe of this book. I’ll be reading it again.

#TamaraReads #2021readingchallenge 173/2021

Happy reading,

Tamara

 

 

October 15 2021

Horrostör, by Grady Hendrix

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Horrostör, by Grady Hendrix

Title: Horrostör
Author: Grady Hendrix
Genre/ issues: Horror.

Shop local where you can: For Australian readers, you can find this book on Booktopia, or support your local independent bookstore. US readers, check out Bookshop.org.

I’m not generally a horror genre fan, but the concept and design of this book was just too appealing to pass up. Horrostör by Grady Hendrix may remind you of a certain furniture and homewares store that specialises in flat pack furniture and an iconic Scandinavian aesthetic, but Orsk is definitely NOT IKEA. It is, according to Amy, a low-rent IKEA knock-off. And working here is not how she envisaged her life would pan out. But now, in an effort to keep her boss happy so he’ll approve her transfer, she finds herself on a clandestine overnight watch shift with 2 other employees, tasked with making regular inspections of the store and making sure that nothing weird happens. What they’re expecting is to hopefully find whoever has been trashing the store overnight. What they find is far more chilling.
This is a quick, engaging read. It takes place largely over the course of one night, and is a pretty simple read, without a lot of complexity in its backstory or world building. For those who are true horror aficionados, this may be horror-lite for you. For me, who deliberately read this in daylight hours, and will be rethinking any future IKEA trips, it was just creepy enough, thank you very much. The real highlight of this book is the design, from the iconic cover art, to the incorporation of furniture story advertisements to mark the beginning of chapters. The narrative itself also critiques the consumerist philosophy of major corporations as they attempt to force customers to follow the path of least resistance. If you need a good read for Halloween, but don’t want to be too scared out of your wits, this could be the book for you!

#TamaraReads #2021readingchallenge 172/2021

Happy reading,

Tamara

 

 

October 14 2021

Sandman volume 6, by Neil Gaiman

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Sandman, by Neil Gaiman

Title: Sandman
Author: Neil Gaiman
Genre/ issues: Comics. Audiobook. Fantasy/ horror.

Shop local where you can: For Australian readers, you can find this book on Booktopia, or support your local independent bookstore. US readers, check out Bookshop.org.

“Never trust the storyteller. Only trust the story.”
Volume 6 of #Sandman by @neilhimself is one of my favourites. Fables and Reflections aptly conveys what you’ll find in these pages – myths, histories, and religious tales from the Garden of Eden to Ramadan, all woven with the unique magic of the Dreaming and Morpheus. It’s truly a celebration of the power of stories throughout time, culture, and personal experience.
Finishing this volume also brought me to the end of the Sandman audiobook volume 2, which has been breathtaking, and worth every second of the 17 minute long credits that were required to acknowledge all the incredible voice actors who brought it to life.
I mentioned in my last post about this how impressed I was with the changes to the audio script with regards to trans representation, and I was similarly impressed with some of the minor changes made in this section, particularly in Ramadan. There were a few small but significant omissions which made this chapter much more sensitive in terms of racial representation. Did I mention I think that both the audiobook and the comics are incredible? I did? Good.

#TamaraReads #2021readingchallenge 170-171/2021

Happy reading,

Tamara

 

 

October 13 2021

The Curiousities, by Zana Fraillon and Phil Lesnie

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The Curiousities, by Zana Fraillon and Phil Lesnie

Title: The Curiousities
Author: Zana Fraillon
Illustrator: Phil Lesnie
Genre/ issues: Picture book. Neurodivergence. Fantasy.

Shop local where you can: For Australian readers, you can find this book on Booktopia, or support your local independent bookstore. US readers, check out Bookshop.org.

I usually do picture books posts in a set of 3 or 4, but the couple I wanted to share today are worthy of their own posts. The Curiosities by @zanafraillon and @phillesnie is breathtaking. Miro wakes one morning to find that the world is a little different. The Curiosities have chosen to nest on him, and they help him to discover all the marvels that hide in the shadows where no-one looks. Sometimes it’s wonderful, as he explores the world in new and different ways – but sometimes, the shadowy Curiosities that float around him make Miro feel alone and invisible.
There are so many layers to this wonderful book. On the surface, it could be seen as a lovely story about looking at the world differently, but there are myriad beautiful celebrations of disability and diversity, and a strong message about taking pride in who you are and what makes you you. Zana talks in the endnotes about drawing on her family experiences with Tourette syndrome, and about the importance of recognising how differently abled we all are. Phil reflects on the impact of his Filipino heritage on his illustrations, and his musing on how neurodivergence might be different in a world which valued and elevated brain difference, rather than viewed it as an impairment.
A powerful book, told with gentleness, sweetness and sensitivity. This is my favourite picture book of the year.

#TamaraReads #2021readingchallenge 169/2021

Happy reading,

Tamara

 

 

October 13 2021

There’s a Ghost in This House, by Oliver Jeffers

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There’s a Ghost in This House, by Oliver Jeffers

Title: There’s a Ghost in This House
Author: Oliver Jeffers
Genre/ issues: Picture book

Shop local where you can: For Australian readers, you can find this book on Booktopia, or support your local independent bookstore. US readers, check out Bookshop.org.

What a delightful book! There’s a Ghost in This House by @oliverjeffers takes us on a journey through a house which on the face of it, appears to be largely empty. The young girl who lives there is convinced it’s haunted, but she’s not actually ever seen a ghost. As we turn the pages, though, we get a glimpse of some of her ghostly housemates. Translucent pages add additional layers to the existing beautiful artwork. Did you know that the collective noun for a group of ghosts is “a Fraid of ghosts”? Neither did I, but that’s just one of the joys I discovered in this beautiful picture book. Stunning.

#TamaraReads #2021readingchallenge 168/2021

Happy reading,

Tamara

 

 

October 11 2021

Locke & Key, by Joe Hill

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Locke & Key, by Joe Hill

Title: Locke & Key
Author: Joe Hill
Genre/ issues: Fantasy. Horror. Comic books.

Shop local where you can: For Australian readers, you can find this book on Booktopia, or support your local independent bookstore. US readers, check out Bookshop.org.

“Books are no more than dreams manifested on the page, after all.”
It’s no secret that I love Neil Gaiman’s work, and I’m a big fan of Sandman. When I heard that there was a Locke & Key/ Sandman universe crossover coming, I was a little unsure. I’d not read Locke & Key, and had enjoyed the Netflix series of it, but didn’t quite see it as on the same level of intensity as what I’ve enjoyed so much about the world of Morpheus and the Dreaming. So ordered it anyway, because – well, Sandman.
Yesterday, I finally started reading Locke & Key, and you know what they say – the book is always better. Holy crapballs, are the books better. A breathtaking mix of horror, family history and compelling personal narratives, one page you’re rushing through weeks, months of mind blowing action, and the next you’re sitting with a soul as they reflect on their relationships, their traumas and their life. A fantastic story, brilliantly written and illustrated, and I’m so glad I decided to visit the source material after watching the show.
Today, my crossover volumes arrived, just in time for me to jump straight into them. Yeah, I can see why Sandman and Locke & Key are the perfect crossover now. I’m sorry I doubted you, @neilhimself and @joehill.

6 trade paperbacks, 3 comics, 2 days. Not a bad way to finish lockdown and ignore MY anxiety from everything opening up again here in NSW. I’m sure there’s a clever key metaphor in their somewhere!

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Locke & Key / Sandman

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#TamaraReads #2021readingchallenge 159-167/2021

Happy reading,

Tamara