February 2017 Wrap-Up!

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January was a really big poetry month for me and February ended up being my graphic novel month. I think I poetry’d myself out…I can’t seem to find any more poetry books that grab my attention! Nevertheless, I found another genre that I love. This month, I read a lot of series that lead me to buying the 2nd and 3rd issues because I liked them all so much. A big theme for February was science fiction and women in science fiction. Cheers to new indie authors that graced my reading list this month! Here’s the 8-book breakdown:

Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher (memoir) 5/5 stars- I meant to pick up this book for the longest time and then, as you probably know, Carrie Fisher died, so it got bumped to the top of my To Be Read. I am SO glad I finally read this. It was super informative and real, which is something I love to read about, especially when it has to do with mental health. Carrie Fisher had a lot on her plate– substance abuse, a mood disorder, and growing up in the spotlight. It was very interesting to hear what she had to say about these issues.

Where the words end and my body begins by Amber Dawn (poetry/LGBT) 2.5/5 stars- I didn’t like this poetry collection very much. I thought I would, because of the LGBTQ themes, but it just didn’t do it for me. I skipped a lot of lines and even full poems at some points. It’s possible that I just didn’t have a deep enough understanding of the topics at hand, but I did NOT get it.

Saga Vol. 2 by Brian K. Vaughan (sci fi/graphic novel) 5/5 stars- This is the second issue in the Saga comic series that I grew to love in January! I’m trying to pace myself with these because they’re just that good. If you appreciate female narrated sci fi with kick-ass characters and a little bit of romance, Saga is the series for you. It’s no wonder that this series is so popular, because it’s absolutely amazing.

Asterios Polyp by David Mazzuchelli (graphic novel) 5/5 stars- I read this book during my 2nd year of college in 2014 and loved it. I had a feeling, though, that I didn’t quite understand it. So, I re-read it. That was a great choice because I definitely got more out of it this time around. In addition, it was a lot of references to The Odyssey which is fantastic (for me, at least).

Love is Love  by Marc Adreyko (graphic novel/LGBT) 2/5 stars- Wow. I really did not like this book. I had such high hopes for it, since the sales benefit the Orlando shooting victims. I mean, what an amazing cause to donate to. This book is catered for cisgender, heterosexual people FOR SURE. Most of the comics were about straight people trying to explain queerness to their kids or accepting LGBT people themselves. Less than half of the stories had a queer main character and only one comic featured a bisexual person. And, get this, bisexuality was explained as being straight, then gay, then straight again. Buy this book for the cause, please, not for the content

Husks: The First Book by Randall P. Fitzgerald (sci fi) 4/5 stars- YAY for the bimonthly bookbox I receive in the mail! It’s called Paper Street Books and you get a graphic novel, a sci fi book, and bookish goodies in each box. Most of the books are by indie authors, too. It’s AMAZING. So, this book was in a past box of theirs and I finally got around to starting it. The main character is totally a kick-ass female protagonist, something I live for. Ultimately, this was a great book by an indie author and I’m so glad it found its way to me.

Dept. H, Volume One by Matt Kindt (graphic novel/mystery) 4/5 stars- This was another book that I received from Paper Street Books. It was from the most recent box of theirs. As soon as I opened it, I knew I had to read this book. I ended up finishing it in a few hours! It is the perfect mystery…but under water!

Astrid: Cult of the Volcanic Moon by Kim W. Andersson (graphic novel/sci fi)- This was the third book from Paper Street Books that I read this month. It was from the same book box as Husks: The First Book. The theme was all about women in science fiction so, as you can probably guess, this graphic novel features a strong, independent female protagonist. What’s not to love? This is easily one of my favorite graphic novels I’ve ever read.

There you have it! I didn’t realize that 5 of the 8 books were graphic novels until just now and I’m pretty impressed with myself. I just started reading graphic novels a few months ago and I’m really happy with the style preference I’ve developed over that period of time. As of right now, March has been more of a fiction month for me. Maybe I comic’d myself out in February! If anyone is interested in the book box I mentioned, here is the website link: x. Thanks for tuning in and I’ll be sure to have another formal review up in a few days.

Review- Wild Seed

Wild Seed by Octavia E. Butler

51zwsfc2vpl4.5/5 stars

Doro is a special spirit, not quite a man, but still living from body to body. He spends his many lives, spanning over centuries, working to create his own population of “gifted” people. Some of these people can hear people’s thoughts; others can move objects with their minds. Although Doro breeds many types of individuals, he has yet to find someone who is capable of living as long as him. That is, until he meets Anyanwu. Anyanwu is a healer. She is unlike any person Doro has ever bred or met. He longs to tame her and mold her into one of his people, but she is a wild seed who acts on her own will. Doro coaxes Anyanwu into his tribe, but he can never predict how long until she tries to leave, and he is forced to kill her.

I love Octavia E. Butler. In 2015, I gave a 5 star review to her Xenogenesis series, which still remains one of my favorite science fiction series. I have a lot of respect for her, as the first influential female, African American science fiction author. I go through her works slowly, to savor them, and always end up loving every one I read. She’s written so many classics and I definitely recommend checking some of her stuff out if you’re looking for a good science fiction read.

Wild Seed is truly something I’ve never read before. Like Dawn, this book has themes that center around human breeding. It’s a bit horrific to read if you think about it too much, but so captivating that it gets you lost in the pages. It brushes upon the topic of human breeding lightly enough for it to be bearable, but makes you think about the issues around it. For example, it makes you ponder the consequences of having one leader, with special powers, who is worshipped by a community as having a god-like status. I’ve never read anything else that has made me think about topics such as this.

If you’ve followed my other reviews, you probably know that I LOVE books with strong, female protagonists. Anyanwu is one of the bravest, strong-willed, open-minded, toughest characters I’ve ever read. I loved getting into her head and seeing her thought process while she figured out how to solve problems and escape Doro. Many times, she had to choose between the lesser of two evils, and I hope I would have the same rationality as her if I were put in a similar dilemma.

Doro, on the other hand, was one of the most manipulative, ill-intentioned characters I’ve ever read. I was angered and saddened by so many of his decisions and motives, but I kept reading for Anyanwu. I was rooting for her the whole time. Wild Seed had me cheering for one of the best characters I’ve ever come across, which is a trait I love in good books.

As always with Octavia E. Butler’s books, I would recommend this to all sci-fi lovers. I preferred her Xenogenesis books a bit more, because I’m a sucker for books set on other planets, but Wild Seed is also a classic to me, now.

Review: Diary of an Oxygen Thief

Diary of an Oxygen Thief by Anonymous

15617034.5/5 stars

“I heard someone say somewhere that it’s possible to write the sickness out of yourself. And who knows, maybe someone will benefit.”

He hurts people, hurts women, to be more specific. He gets these women to fall in love with him and then finds joy in crushing their hearts and getting an emotional reaction out of them. Why does he do this? Well, to start with, he was hurt; he was hurt badly. People who have been hurt tend to hurt others in return. Secondly, he’s an alcoholic. Sometimes, when you’re in a relationship with alcohol, it doesn’t feel like your relationships with real people matter very much. Alcohol becomes your only friend. This is the story of recovery, karma, learning from mistakes, and getting a taste of one’s own medicine.

The back of Diary of an Oxygen Thief compares the narrator to Holden Caulfield. In the first chapter of the book, the resemblance to JD Salinger’s character is undeniable. The only thing missing is the word “phony” and the phrase “sore as hell”. After the first chapter, the resemblance disappears for the most part and the narrator becomes his own person. Still, if you’re looking for a narrator similar to Holden, this book is for you.

I think the most important part of Diary of an Oxygen Thief is the narrators struggle and then recovery with alcoholism. He begins a very real and raw account of the darkness of addiction and the toxic relationship alcoholics and addicts can be in with their substance of choice. The reader gets to witness the narrator’s lowest points and then see him attend AA meetings, become part of a sober community, and eventually get 5 years sober. This book is truly a tale of strength and conquer over some of the deadliest demons.

Yes, the reviews are right, the narrator is very self-centered and paranoid. But, A LOT of best selling novels, and even classics, have protagonists that annoy the crap out of me (Robert Langdon, to start with…). If you can see past all of this and only roll your eyes a few times while reading it, I think you’ll get the real point of the book. There’s a reason Diary of an Oxygen Thief is a best seller, trust me.

This was a very short, but worth it read. There’s not really a typical plot line, as the climax is nonexistent, but the story was enough for me. I’m glad that a book about alcoholism is a best seller right now and I hope it continues doing well. Lets face it, the stigma around addiction won’t be erased for a long time, but educating the public through writing is a good way to begin. Thank you to the anonymous author for putting this work out there.

Review- Milk and Honey

Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur

 

23513349“if you were born with
the weakness to fall
you were born with
the strength to rise”

 

5/5 stars

 

Self-worth, break-ups and make-ups, sexual assault, and a father’s absence are some of the many deep and emotional topics found in Milk and Honey. Rupi Kaur is very honest throughout the book and it truly shows in the quality of her work. Sometimes graphic, these poems articulate so many of the struggles that women and women of color can experience in only their first 21 years of life. The collection of works is split into four different parts: The Hurting, The Loving, The Breaking, and The Healing, and each is its own masterpiece.

I was afraid that this book was over-hyped because almost every bookworm I know absolutely LOVES Milk and Honey. I took it upon myself to go through the book’s tag (#milkandhoney) on Instagram and I found thousands of photographs of Rupi Kaur’s selected poems. As soon as I read a few of them, I knew I must get my hands on this book as soon as possible. The crazy thing is that it seems like everyone can relate to at least one poem in Milk and Honey. This collection speaks to so many different people who have gone through their own unique experiences. Rupi Kaur figured out how to unite hundreds of thousands of women around the world with her words.

Milk and Honey made me cry. Period. Many of the poems resonate so deeply with me that I know Rupi Kaur and I have felt the same way at certain points in our lives. It’s powerful to realize that another human being has been in the same emotional spot as you, even in times when you felt so utterly alone. The experiences that we have, as women, are not isolated events;  many of us go through similar things and can connect with one another through common feelings and reactions after them. It feels good to know that Rupi Kaur, myself, and so many other women are healing and growing together.

I’ve never liked poetry. It was always my least favorite unit in English class and I avoided poetry books at all costs. Now, I have 3 more poetry books on order at my local bookstore. I want to thank Rupi Kaur for reminding me that books and language can bring us together as readers and listeners. I hope she publishes more collections in the future; I’ll be the first in line to get a copy. Please, poetry fan or not, pick up a copy of this book.

November To Be Read!

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I know this is a little late, but I wanted to document my “TBR” for this month! It’s a little ambitious, considering I’m only ¾ way through my first novel of the month (The Nix). My concussion is still slowing me down reading-wise. I’m healing quickly so I hope to get back on track soon! This list contains 5 books that I would like to read in this moment. My priorities will probably change as the month goes on, so we’ll see how many of these I actually get through! Here’s the breakdown:

The Nix by Nathan Hill. This book came out at the end of August and has been at the top of my reading list since I saw it under the Best Seller section at my local bookstore. Every time I walk into the store I see it staring back at me, week after week, so I knew I had to pick it up eventually. I’m currently ¾ done with it and it’s been great. I don’t think I could do justice to the plot with a short summary, so I encourage you to click the Goodreads link to learn more about it!

Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari. My dad and I like to read a book at the same time and this is next on our list. (He’s currently wrapping up A Gentleman in Moscow). I’m an anthropology major with a focus in paleoanthropology/archaeology; This means that I love to learn about pre-Homo Sapiens hominids. I’ve read a lot of anthropology textbooks in the past few years and I’m excited to see paleo information in a book setting. There are a lot of different ways to make the evolution of Homo a very interesting tale, so I have high hopes for this!

The Golden Sword by Janet Morris. Last month, Perseid Press so generously gifted me a copy of High Couch of Silistra by Janet Morris. Janet Morris, herself, read my review and the publisher said she really enjoyed it. I am so honored that she devoted some of her time to my blog and am so excited to read the second book in her quartet! I love science fiction, especially when it has feminist themes and strong female protagonists. I know I’m going to love this next book.

A Door Into Ocean by Joan Slonczewski. This book came out in 2000 and has been called “A ground-breaking work both of feminist SF and world-building hard SF”. Again, feminist science fiction…I can’t stop myself from binge buying books of this genre. This isn’t a very popular book among my book friends, but I hope that I’ll be able to recommend it to them after this month!

Franny and Zooey by JD Salinger. I LOVE this book. The only problem is that I remember that I love this book, but I’m not sure why. In my mind, it’s one of my favorite books but I can’t quite remember what it’s about. I’m making it my mission to rediscover my feelings for Salinger’s less-known works. Catcher in the Rye is actually my all-time, #1 favorite book, so I have a very special place for Salinger in my heart.

I’m keeping my TBR pretty short for this month because I always end up reading books not on my monthly list. I somehow just ordered 4 more books online (I have no idea how this happened…) so we’ll see where November takes me! Please feel free to let me know what you’re reading as well!

October Wrap Up!

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The first 2 weeks of October were great for me– I finished 3 novels and was going strong. I was on my way to my goal of 8 books until I tripped and got a concussion in mid-October. I’m so clumsy, haha. The doctors told me to keep reading to a minimum so I was on a hiatus for about a week and a half. I slowly started reading again, but never quite made it to my goal. Still, I read 6 physical books and 1 eBook (not pictured). I’m pretty content with that! Here’s the breakdown:

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles (fiction)- 5/5 stars

High Couch of Silistra by Janet Morris (science fiction)- 4/5 stars

Mischling by Affinity Konar (fiction)- 5/5 stars

The Book of the Unnamed Midwife by Meg Elison (science fiction)- 4/5 stars

Suck Less: Where There’s a Willam, There’s a Way by Willam Belli (autobiography) -5/5 stars

Graveyard Quest by K.C. Green (graphic novel/fantasy)- 5/5 stars

Sex Criminals: Volume 1 by Matt Fraction (graphic novel/fantasy)- 5/5 stars

Wow, I just realized that I didn’t rate any books under 4 stars this month! I usually have one 2 or 3 star book, so I’m really happy with my decisions in October. In case you didn’t know, you can keep up with my reading progress on Goodreads. I don’t post blog reviews for every book that I read, in fear of spamming email addresses, so add me there if you want to follow along. Also, if you want to see artsy photos of my books and bookshelves, my instagram is @hedgehogbooks. I’m currently doing a November Book Challenge, so I post bookish photos daily. Check it out!

Thanks to my subscribers for tuning in this October, I’m excited to see what November holds for me!

Review- Graveyard Quest

Graveyard Quest by KC Green

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5/5 stars

I received my copy of Graveyard Quest through the Paper Street Books monthly subscription box! I highly recommend it, as my October/November box had so many awesome spooky gifts.

The protagonist of this graphic novel is a gravedigger—he’s the owner of a family business that his late father passed down to him. Unfortunately, the gravedigger’s father will not leave him alone, even in spirit form, and subjects him to frequent visits and negative speeches. The gravedigger’s only solace is his mother’s bones. He talks to her skeleton every day and finds comfort in telling her all about his thoughts and mishaps. One day, the bones are gone and the gravedigger knows he must journey into Hell to get them back from his father, a man who seemingly gets all of his pleasure from making his life miserable. The gravedigger meets a lot of interesting creatures in the underworld, some who want to stop him and some who depend on him. Those bones are the only things that the gravedigger truly cherishes in his gloomy life, so he knows he must retrieve them.

WOW, I loved this graphic novel. It was easy to get through, but full of hidden treasures. The gravedigger meets many different types of people, animals, demons (?) and many of them were really cute.The illustrations were so fun and made the story even more enjoyable. I especially loved the mole, who helps the gravedigger along the way with his extraordinary sense of smell. Now that I think about it, I actually would like a retelling of the story in the mole’s POV…

My favorite part of the graphic novel is a section that shows the gravedigger on a boat with a hooded tour guide. I have a condition where anytime someone is going across a body of water with another person giving directions, I HAVE to point out the Dante reference. This time, finally, I wasn’t being unrealistic. The Dante reference is clear, as the gravedigger is literally being lead across a river to Hell. If you can’t tell, I really, really like Dante’s Inferno.

The entire storyline of this graphic novel was amazing. The beginning was just enough information to create a mysterious journey and KC Green reveals a little bit more about the gravedigger with each page. I thought the plot was wholesome and the ending made me very happy. I’m a huge fan of the gravedigger and the mole (he’s so cute, I can’t get over it)! I wish there were more volumes of their adventures.

This was a perfect Halloween read. I’m so glad that this book found its way into my hands and I would recommend it to anyone looking for a cute but spooky themed adventure!