January 12 2021

Emmie and Friends series, by Terri Libenson

Emmie and friends

Emmie and friends, by Terri Libenson

Title: Emmie and Friends series
Author: Terri Libenson
Genre/ issues: Middle grade. Friendship. Identity. 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.

This is a lovely middle grade series that looks at a range of friendship issues faced by a group of friends and peers in a middle school. All 4 books have a lovely part illustrated text, part comic panel presentation, with a sweet and engaging illustration style and a lovely colour palette. The characters are all flawed and interesting, and face a range of authentic problems that would be recognisable by most 8-12 year old readers navigating their own friendship problems. I love that these books model the process of seeing things from another person’s perspective, and encourage a sense of empathy. I also appreciated the practical methods to dealing with conflict that are modelled by characters on all sides of the issues. Each novel in the series deals with the problems of a different protagonist, and they could be read individually but are interconnected. Each novel also has its own interesting “twist” at the end – I’m not gonna lie, one of them completely threw me, even though I was on the lookout for something to happen!
If you’ve got middle to upper primary children in your life, and you’d like them to read something sweet and engaging with some great lessons to learn about how to be a good friend and to deal with conflict, this would be a great option.

#TamaraReads #2021readingchallenge 6-9/2021

Happy reading,

Tamara

 

 

January 10 2021

The colour of magic, by Terry Pratchett

colour of magic

The colour of magic, by Terry Pratchett

Title: The colour of magic
Author: Terry Pratchett
Genre/ issues: Middle grade. Friendship. Identity. 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’ve decided to do a Discworld reread this year. Jacob is reading me Lords and Ladies as our current bedtime read, but I’m mostly going to read in publication order (which is NOT how I’d recommend you start if you’re new to Discworld, FYI!)
The Colour of Magic is a delightful romp around the Discworld, and I had remembered enjoying it when I first read it 20-something years ago, but was quite surprised to discover just how little I’d remembered of it. The luggage! Pratchett’s writing is masterful, with a witty control of language that simultaneously creates a unique and fascinating new world whilst cleverly critiquing aspects of our own world that we frequently take for granted. 10/10 would recommend – but if you’ve not read Discworld before, maybe start with Mort instead. You can thank me later

#TamaraReads #2021readingchallenge 5/2021

Happy reading,

Tamara

 

 

January 9 2021

Loveless, by Alice Oseman

Loveless

Loveless, by Alice Oseman

Title: Loveless
Author: Alice Oseman
Genre/ issues: YA. Sexuality. Relationships. Ace/Aro representation. Queer identities.

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’ve only recently discovered the work of the wonderful @aliceoseman and it’s fair to say that I am obsessed. Loveless is a book about love, where people find it, and how it can exist outside society’s expectations. As one of the characters says – “The heteronormative rulebook? Fuck that.”
Georgia is obsessed with fanfic romances, and is sure she’ll find her person one day – despite the fact that she’s never kissed anyone, never had a crush, and certainly never been in love. As she starts uni, she starts trying to search for romance or stir up some attraction, and this causes problems both in her friendship group, and in herself, as she struggles to figure out what her feelings mean. Asexual, aromantic – she had heard of these terms, but what do they mean for her?
Oseman’s Heartstopper was one of my favourite graphic novels of last year, in no small part because of the gentle, witty, authentic and wonderful portrayal of the central characters. Loveless is the same, and whilst I know this is primarily Georgia’s story, the struggles of her roommate Rooney to find herself and allow herself to be seen resonated so deeply with me that it hurt to read sometimes. “I just … I hate the idea of people knowing me because … surely then they’ll hate me the same way I hate myself.” Same, Rooney, same.
This is a wonderful book, and I’m extremely glad that Past Tamara planned ahead and made sure that Future Tamara had another Oseman book to crack into once she’d finished it.

#TamaraReads #2021readingchallenge 4/2021

Happy reading,

Tamara

 

 

January 7 2021

The Banks, by Roxanne Gay

The Banks

The Banks, by Roxanne Gay and Ming Doyle

Title: The Banks
Author: Roxanne Gay
Illustrator: Ming Doyle
Genre/ issues: Comic. Crime fiction. Queer rep. Family legacy.

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.

The Banks, by Roxanne Gay, Ming Doyle and Jordie Bellaire. This was a great read, beautifully illustrated in rich and vibrant tones. The Banks family have been the most successful family of thieves in Chicago for 50 years, and whilst the father/ grandfather may have done a few stints in prison, the women in the family have stayed clean by living by their golden rules: get in, get away, get paid, and never get greedy. The youngest Banks woman became arguably the biggest crook, however – an investment banker in line for a lucrative partnership at her firm. She stumbles across the opportunity for the heist of a lifetime, which may be just enough to bring the family back together again – for both an incredible score, and a chance at revenge.
If you liked Ocean’s 8 for its female-led heist narrative, then you’ll love this. The Banks family are strong and fabulous black women, and there’s a wonderful queer relationship thrown in for good measure. A fast-paced short -run comic series in a genre that isn’t one that I usually reach for, but Roxanne Gay’s name on the cover was enough to make me pick it up. I’m so glad I did!

#TamaraReads #2021readingchallenge 3/2021

Happy reading,

Tamara

 

 

January 5 2021

A darker shade of magic, by VE Schwab

Darker shade of magic

A darker shade of magic, by WE Schwab

Title: A darker shade of magic
Author: VE Schwab
Genre/ issues: Fantasy. Magic. Alternate worlds.

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 my first book by VE Schwab last year – The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue was one of my top 5 books of 2020, and is a beautifully written wonder of an urban fantasy that captured my heart. I went into A Darker Shade of Magic cautiously optimistic, because it’s had such good reviews, and wow- it did not disappoint.
Kell is a traveller – a magician with the rare ability to travel between the parallel universes linked by the common geography of London. But whilst the city itself is the same in each of the worlds, there is nothing else familiar, and Red, Grey and White London are all living under different reigns with wildly varying relationships with magic, freedom and power. And then there’s Lila – a pickpocket trying to forge a better life for herself in Grey London, where magic doesn’t exist. But fate – and a special rock – bring Lila and Kell together.
This book is fantastic. Sharp and elegantly written prose, with a unique take on magic that I can’t wait to learn more about. And luckily, it’s book 1 in a series, so guess who has two thumbs and just ordered the rest of it? I’m usually frustrated by the ending of books that are obviously the first in a series, but I have to say I found this one immensely satisfying – I definitely want to know what happens next, and to hopefully catch a glimpse of Black London, mentioned in this book in hushed tones as being sealed off from all the others after magic got out of control – which immediately makes me want to visit, from the safety of the other side of the page, of course!
Content warnings: abuse, torture, control and compulsion/ loss of bodily autonomy.
My second book for the year, and my second 5 star read.

#TamaraReads #2021readingchallenge 2/2021

Happy reading,

Tamara

 

 

January 4 2021

Marvel 1602, by Neil Gaiman

Marvel 1602

Title: Marvel 1602
Author: Neil Gaiman
Illustrator: Andy Kubert
Illustrator: Richard Isanove
Genre/ issues: Fantasy/ sci-fi. Comics. Alternate history.

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.

My first read of the year, and it’s a doozy. Marvel 1602 by Neil Gaiman takes the characters we are familiar with from the Marvel Universe, and transposes them into early 17th century Europe. With clever adaptations of character names (pre-spidey Peter Parquagh is servant to the Queen’s intelligencer Sir Nicholas Fury) and subtle but unmistakable costuming that reflects our modern era expectations but contextualises them to the time and place of the comic, this is the Marvel we know, but also something completely different. Whilst the time period means that the United States of America is not yet on the map, Roanoke features as a looming concern, and despite the action being almost completely set in England and Europe, this still manages to be a text which speaks heavily to the concerns of the US, both when the comic was released, and sadly still today. Equality. Discrimination. Fear. Hatred of the other. Power and privilege.
And the artwork. Holy shit, folks, this is next level stunning. With illustrations by Andy Kubert and digital painting by Richard Isanove, every page – no, every frame is like an oil painting. The colour, texture and detail had me feeling like I was browsing a gallery of art from the Elizabethan and Jacobean eras.
A great first book for the year. Now to decide where to shelve it – both my comic and my Gaiman shelves are packed to overflowing!

#TamaraReads #2021readingchallenge 1/2021

Happy reading,

Tamara