October 17 2020

Diamonds by Armin Greder

Diamonds

Diamonds, by Armin Greder

Title: Diamonds
Author: Armin Greder
Genre/ issues: Picture book. Consumerism. Diamond trade. Inequality. Corruption.

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 read 6 picture books last night, so be prepared to be bombarded with reviews. Diamonds by Armin Greder is as complex and thought-provoking as you’d expect a Greder book to be. A child asks their mother where her diamonds come from, and after a detailed explanation of the buying and gifting process, the mother eventually mentions that they’re mined in Africa. “Where Amina comes from”? the child questions – and what follows is a nightmarish depiction of the process of diamond consumption from the ground to the consumer, with the corruption and exploitation of the industry illustrated in signature Greder style.

The majority of the story is wordless – a few pages of text at the beginning and end provide a frame for this powerful parable of the deeper impacts of greed and consumption. It’s hard to describe this book as enjoyable, but it’s certainly powerful and important. Greder’s work is always one of the ones I mention when people say that picture books are for kids!

#TamaraReads #2020readingchallenge 66/100

Happy reading,

Tamara

 

 

October 16 2020

The unbeatable Squirrel Girl vol 1: Squirrel Power

Squirrel girl

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl vol1: Squirrel Power

Title: The unbeatable Squirrel Girl vol 1: Squirrel Power
Author: Ryan North and Erica Henderson
Genre/ issues: YA. Superheroes. Graphic novels.

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.

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl could have been written for me. Curvy girl superhero. Quirky. Funny. Clumsy. Easily distracted but totally loyal to her friends. I adore this comic, and I’m glad I ordered the first three trade paperback editions at once, so I don’t have to wait for the more! A good friend recommended this one, and I’m so glad she did. Doreen Allene Greene is an absolute joy.

#TamaraReads #2020readingchallenge 65/100

Happy reading,

Tamara

 

 

October 10 2020

The extraordinaries, by TJ Klune

The extraordinaries

The extraordinaries by TJ Klune

Title: The extraordinaries
Author: TJ Klune
Genre/ issues: YA. Superheroes. Friendship. Queer fiction. Mental health.

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 love a good superhero story. Can’t get enough YA fiction. And books with great queer characters? Sign me up. I read The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune earlier this year and it’s easily one of the best books I’ve read, this year and for a long time before that really. So I was excited to read some more of their work.

The Extraordinaries tells the story of Nick, who struggles with his ADHD, has a fantastic group of friends, and writes a popular fanfiction about the superheroes in Nova City with a heavy dose of teen lust over Shadow Star. If I had to describe this book in one sentence, I’d say it’s what The Boys would be if it was a wholesome quirky queer YA novel.

I personally found some of the plot twists a bit predictable, but that didn’t in any way minimise my enjoyment of it – and, let’s face it, a mid-40s cishet woman is probably not the target audience for this book! I loved the characters – Nick’s feelings for Seth and his bow ties, Jazz and Gibby’s banter, and Nick’s dad’s overwhelming desire to protect his son all felt really authentic and engaging. The way that Nick’s struggle with ADHD is represented was particularly great, and I think would resonate will readers who deal with this themselves. I’m assuming given the stinger at the very end that we’ll see more in this universe, and I’m here for it.

#TamaraReads #2020readingchallenge 64/100

Happy reading,

Tamara

 

 

October 2 2020

Lumberjanes, Vol 2 Friendship to the Max

Lumberjanes

Lumberjanes Vol 2: Friendship to the Max

Title: Lumberjanes volume 2: Friendship to the max
Author: Noelle Stevenson
Genre/ issues: Comics. Mystery. Adventure. Supernatural.

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.

A quick catch up post – I thought I’d posted about this, but then realised I had expected to read a lot more graphic novels last month so was going to post them all together. Instead, this was one of only 4 books I read in September. It’s worthy of its own post, regardless. I love Lumberjanes. It’s smart, funny, quirky and cool. The diversity of strong female characters gives me endless seratonin. Volume 2x Friendship tor the Max, sees the campers encounter some characters you might be familiar with from Greek mythology, but in a whole new way. Such a great comic series!

#TamaraReads #2020readingchallenge 63/100

Happy reading,

Tamara

 

 

September 28 2020

Anxious People, by Fredrik Backman

Anxious people

Anxious people by Fredrik Backman

Title: Anxious People
Author: Fredrik Backman
Genre/ issues: Adult contemporary fiction. Mental health. Relationships. 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.

“It ‘s such an odd thing, how you can know someone so perfectly through what they read.”
I’ve learned that when people whose bookish opinions you respect from different facets of your life recommend the same book to you within hours of each other, you listen. And boy, am I glad I listened when both some from my real life and my TikTok circles reviewed this book and sung its praises. I’ve been listening to the audiobook over the past few days, and I can’t remember the last time I felt so -seen- by a book.
Anxious People by Fredrik Backman is beautifully sweet and sensitive comedy about a bank robbery that wasn’t, a hostage situation that isn’t, and a group of people who are brought together by life, death, and circumstances beyond their control.
This book is magnificent. It’s my first by Backman, and it won’t be my last. Powerful, affirming, and poetically passionate, which is no mean feat for a novel in translation.
“We need to be allowed to convince ourselves that we’re more than the mistakes we made yesterday. That we are all of our next choices, too. All of our tomorrows.” Beautiful, and what I needed to read right now.

#TamaraReads #2020readingchallenge 62/100

Happy reading,

Tamara

 

 

September 28 2020

Hollowpox, by Jessica Townsend

Hollopox

Hollowpox, by Jessica Townsend

Title: Hollowpox
Author: Jessica Townsend
Genre/ issues: Fantasy. Middle grade fiction.

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.

There’s something to be said for reading a book at the right time, huh? When I first read Nevermoor, I remember thinking it was ok but nothing spectacular. I reread it last year when I read Wundersmith, because I thought perhaps I’d not been in the right head space for it the first time around, and I was right. So, what a joy it was today to revisit this wonderful world. Hollowpox is definitely my favourite of the three books so far in this series, with its effortlessly diverse cast of characters, and complex and powerful dilemmas to be faced. I love that we got to see more of Miss Cheery in this book, and I think I’ve found a new contender for favourite fictional library.
Hollowpox deals with some pressing and timely concepts. How do we handle a virus that’s spreading uncontrollably though the population? How do we deal with the even more dangerous spread of intolerance and hatred towards those who are different? How do we decide when and how we take a stand?
This is a fascinating and lovely book, which didn’t end up where I thought it would, but I was thrilled to go on the journey regardless. Jessica Townsend has expanded further on this magical world, and I’m here for it. Hollowpox is out soon – if you’ve got middle grade or YA readers in your life who haven’t discover the joy of Nevermoor yet, get them on it! 🌂

#TamaraReads #2020readingchallenge 61/100

Happy reading,

Tamara

September 19 2020

Truel1f3, by Jay Kristoff

Truelife

Truel1f3, by Jay Kristoff

Title: Truelife
Author: Jay Kristoff
Genre/ issues: Sci-fi. YA fiction. Dystopian fiction. Artificial intelligence.

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 make no secret of my love for the work of Jay Kristoff, and this final instalment in the Lifel1k3 series does nothing to change that. As it’s book 3, I’ll try and keep this post as spoiler-free as possible, but if you’ve not read the first couple of books, and gritty action-packed dystopian sci-fi with AI, robot battles and smart-mouthed teens with hearts of gold is your jam, get on it.
This book is a great end to the series, which shows us a future YouSay in which two Corp States race for supremacy over what’s left of the country after a nuclear and environmental disaster. It’s not uncommon in dystopian novels for us to see a grim picture of technology, virtual reality and automation having taken over. We often see futures in which a Borg-like collective has “improved” life for humanity, and sees individuality as inferior to the well-being of all. We frequently see mutations, genetic evolutions that see what’s left of humanity change in ways that more conservative factions see as freakish or wrong. This series gives us all of that and more. With Kristoff’s recurring focus on the potential impacts of AI, Truelife brings into sharp focus the questions around life and free will – what they are, and who is entitled to claim them. As is frequently the case, some of the most compelling and engaging characters are the non-human ones – Cricket, the tiny robotic companion and body guard to one of our main characters from book 1, really gets to flex his muscle in this book, and his story arc is undoubtedly my favourite.
Kristoff writes with a sharp and clever nod to pop culture, and his YA work is a great introduction to the sci-fi and dystopian genres for teen readers. He doesn’t talk down to his audience, and whilst there were times in this series I was reminded that I am not a member of that esteemed group, I still thoroughly enjoyed this finale to a gripping series.

#TamaraReads #2020readingchallenge 60/100

Happy reading,

Tamara

 

 

August 29 2020

You brought me the ocean, by Alex Sanchez and Julie Maroh

You brought me the ocea

You brought me the ocean, by Alex Sanchez and Julie Maroh

Title: You brought me the ocean
Author: Alex Sanchez
Illustrator: Julie Maroh
Genre/ issues: Graphic novel. DC universe. Queer fiction.

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.

You remember a few months ago I posted about wanting to get into reading comics and graphic novels more? Well, this shelf is now officially full and I need to shuffle the bookcase to start a second one. I think I’ve done it!
I picked up You Brought Me the Ocean at Kings Comics last weekend when I visited, and I’ve just read it in one sitting. Sweet, thoughtful, and beautifully illustrated by Julie Maroh, it’s the story of Jake, who lives in the desert but is obsessed with the ocean. Jake is dealing with a lot of complications – his best friend, who wants them to go to college together and stay close to home. His mother, who wants to keep him safe and as far away from water as possible. His strange blue birthmarks which glow when he comes into contact with water. And his developing attraction for Kenny, swim team captain and class rebel. This is a great coming of age graphic novel, with lovely messages about family and communication, a super-sweet romance and coming-our story, and some pretty cool appearances by some iconic characters from the DC universe. A good solid 4/5 read for me, nothing too confronting or difficult, some great racial diversity amongst the main characters and the types of families presented, and a relatively quick read. Not a bad way to spend an afternoon!

#TamaraReads #2020readingchallenge 56/100

Happy reading,

Tamara

 

 

August 28 2020

Comic catchup

Comics

Snowpiercer and Umbrella Academy

Title: Umbrella Academy
Author: Gerard Way
Illustrator: Gabriel Ba
Genre/ issues: Graphic novel. Superheroes.

Title: Snowpiercer
Author: Oliver Bocquet
Illustrator: Jean-Marc Rochet
Genre/ issues: Graphic novel. Dystopian fiction. Climate change. 

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.

A few more graphic novels – all finished last month but I forgot to post about them for posterity/ tracking purposes for my reading challenge. Volume 3 of Snowpiercer, which was probably the most disturbing of them all for me, and volume 1 and 2 of The Umbrella Academy. I love Umbrella Academy, and enjoyed reading these after watching the series. Snowpiercer 3/5, UA a solid 4.5/5 for me.
Streaming services have really tapped into something, haven’t they? Comics and graphic novels are excellent source material for TV adaptations, and some of my favourite comic reads this year have come about because I’ve backward mapped – watched the show, loved it, read the comics, and then moved on to whatever else those creators were responsible for. I’m definitely adding Gabriel Ba to my list of people to investigate more – the artwork in UA is stunning.

#TamaraReads #2020readingchallenge 57-59/100

Happy reading,

Tamara

 

 

August 25 2020

The Fifth Season by NK Jemisin

Fifth Season

The Fifth Season, by NK Jemisin

Title: The Fifth Season
Author: NK Jemisin
Genre/ issues: Fantasy. Science fantasy. Dystopia.

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.

 

Well. This book has taken me 2 weeks to read – not because I’ve been a reading slump, or have found it lacking in engagement, but because it’s so deeply complex and intricate that to rush it felt like paying a disservice to the incredible word that NK Jemisin has created.

This book is unlike anything I’ve read. A science fantasy in a completely original style – no comparisons to Tolkien here, a stunning diversity of race but described in its own unique way with descriptions that take some time to get your head around because they don’t rely on comparisons to any racial features or characteristics that we’re used to. Diversity, too, in the depiction of sexual and emotional relationships. The world ends, and this book carries you through one such ending, as we are introduced to “roggas”, a derogatory term for erogenes, who have the genetic ability to literally control the earth, but are feared and often reviled for their difference even though their skill is essential in maintaining and protecting life and civilisations.

This is the first book in the Broken Earth series, and both book 1 and 2 won Hugo awards. I’m not surprised, quite frankly. Jacob had already read this, and I bought him the box set for his birthday, but then cheekily decided to read The Fifth Season before sending them to him. Thank you, Jacob, I’m really looking forward to us reading the rest of the series together. A truly stunning read. 

#TamaraReads #2020readingchallenge 55/100

Happy reading,

Tamara